After a strong showing abroad, Shiv (Sarah Snook) needs to keep the house of cards in order. Her brothers Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) went rogue and tried to throw off the deal. If not for Shiv, the team might have been dead in the water. Shiv helped play Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) against her brothers. Whether the brothers ever realize her play or if Matsson played into her hand to get a deal done is still a question. Can she keep her momentum, or is Shiv just as blind as her brothers? Directed by Lorene Scafaria, Succession Season 4, Episode 6 – “Living+” tests the bond of family once again.
The Recap — ‘Succession’ – “Living+”
In a pre-taped segment, Logan Roy (Brian Cox) explains a new service, “Living+,” to the stockholders. The product is meant to bring synergy between the various brands of Waystar Royco. When the director stops Logan, he turns on her and sometimes turns it into a rant about the kids. Kendall (Strong) watches the tape with Hugo (Fisher Stevens). Hugo apologizes for it, but Kendall asks to watch it again.
Shiv watches the video from her phone when Matsson calls her. His private jet landed next to hers, and he wants to meet. She tells him she’s not leaving the plane, and he walks over. He’s confused about why the Roys are proceeding with a product launch when he’s got a different plan. Matsson mocks “Living+,” and he hates the product outright.
Matsson turns the discussion into a pitch to Shiv. He does not want to deal with large pieces of the company and wonders if she might want to stay to oversee these parts. Shiv reacts with curiosity but declines. Matsson reveals her brothers were unprofessional in their last meeting with him. Shiv tells him no again and tells her pilot to take off. As he disembarks, Matsson calls Shiv his “girl on the inside.”
Roman arrives at the product launch and walks inside to a C-Suite meeting. Kendall enters the room as well, and the two hold court. They once again block out Shiv from even sitting near them and question Matsson’s “understanding” of the business. They begin accusing Matsson of being unprofessional and incoherent, but their story contradicts the facts. At one point, they even say he did not want the deal, but as Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) points out, he offered them an even higher number. Shiv asks what they’re asking, and Kendall asks if they should recommend a deal with a person of Matsson’s character.
Gerri (J. Smith Cameron), Tom, and Karl (David Rasche) make obvious points. Matsson’s reputation as a genius gives him some immunity. Acting weird adds to that mystique. GoJo’s lawyers work professionally. Any risk they perceive does not seem evident to the rest of the team. Everyone but Shiv walks out of the room.
Shiv confronts them about their behavior. She knows they’re trying to mess up the deal. They both deny it several times, and she asks them to lie. Kendall says they were trying to keep her clean, and Roman says they would not screw her over. Shiv appears furious at their actions. Roman asks for the three of them to hug it out. After they do, Shiv goes to a scheduled meeting.
She arrives at her “meeting,” which gives her a conference room to cry. As she expresses her emotions about her brothers, Tom and Greg (Nicholas Braun) walk into the room. Tom ushers Greg out and asks Shiv if she’s okay. At first, Shiv plays it cool, but she tells Tom she’s scheduling time to cry. Tom shows concern, and they begin to kiss.
Kendall and Roman go over the Living+ product launch, adapting their Dad’s speech for themselves. They pump each other up and also discuss ways to sabotage the deal. Roman leaves to meet with Joy Palmer (Annabeth Gish). After an awkward Grouch Marx impression from Joy and Roman spreading drug rumors about Matsson, they discuss upcoming content.
The upcoming Kalispitron movie continues to struggle and should result in some firings. Roman wants to invest more in the studio, but they need hits. Joy voices concerns about ATN’s right-wing politics, especially concerning democratic institutions. Roman refers to Mencken as “IP,” while Joy wants him to distance ATN from Mencken. It’s affecting the studio’s ability to lure talent. Roman turns on Joy, firing her for the Kalisptiron debacle, and walks out of the lunch.
Kendall walks through the speech with the production teams. He divides up the speech to his siblings and asks that the lights team builds him a Living+ house for the presentation. Roman does not tell his brother what happened, but Kendall has new ideas to pitch about the launch deck.
Shiv sees Tom enter the investor party. She walks over, seemingly ignoring their last rendezvous, and begins pestering him with questions about women he slept with during the separation. Tom apologizes for messing with her emotions. She downplays what they’ve been through, and they play “bitey” (a game where they literally bite each other). Shiv loses but throws a dagger “Tom Wambsgans finally made me feel something.” It hurts Tom, but they both seem oddly happy.
Kendall pitches “unbelievable growth” to Greg and Roman. If they can get the price of Waystar high enough, GoJo cannot buy it. Greg immediately reminds them that Living+ is more of a rebrand than a new idea, but the brothers push forward. If they can get tech to see Waystar differently, they could price out Matsson. Greg leaves, and Roman opens up and says that Logan’s death shocked him. Before they can continue, Gerri storms in and pulls Roman out of the room.
In another conference room, Gerri asks what happened with Joy. When Roman tells her he fired Joy, she loses it. She calls him a “weak monarch” and says that Joy has more power than he realizes. Roman says his Dad would have done it, and Gerri tells him he’s not Logan. After hearing that, Roman threatens to fire Gerri, and she realizes he’s trying to throw the deal. She points out his Dad knew he could not hold up against tech, but Roman follows through. He fires Gerri and storms out.
Kendall continues to trip over “sick” ideas in the pitch room. He’s ready to work through the night and asks Roman to show face at the party. Roman tells Kendall about firing Gerri and Joy. At first, Kendall shows surprise but begins spinning it. Speaking in cliches, they continue to fire each other up.
At the party, Tom and Shiv get dressed. Tom asks if he should host the upcoming election party that Logan would have hosted. Shiv begins getting phone calls, but she turns to Tom for advice about Matsson. Tom’s impressed she’s keeping all options open but tells her to be careful. He wants to get back together with Shiv, but she reminds him about the betrayal.
For the first time, Tom opens up about why he made the move in Italy. He did not grow up with money, so he’s always been worried about it. Shiv shut him out. He loved his job and did not think she would love him without money. They sit in the moment and laugh with each other.
Greg works with an audio technician on Logan’s speech. They need Logan to say “double the earnings,” and the tech tells him it’s not possible. Greg will not accept that and tells him to figure it out.
Kendall pushes an analyst named Pete (John Quilty) to juice the numbers. The analyst grows frustrated and tells him what he’s asking for does not seem doable. Kendall tells Pete the info has to be accurate.
Shiv and Tom come in the following day and meet with Matsson over Zoom. She gives him a heads-up about Living+. He asks her to kill it again. She tells him she will do her best.
At the rehearsal for the launch, the house and sets are not even close to ready. Kendall wants to see it, but it doesn’t look good. The “clouds,” in particular, cause a meltdown from Kendall. It is not close to his vision. Roman sits in the audience and begins questioning Kendall on the numbers. When Ken returns to the building on stage, Shiv confronts Roman in the audience. She does not believe the words, and the numbers are projecting too high. Shiv pitches pulling the plug because Kendall is out of control.
People begin to file into Investor Day as Roman meets with Kendall. Since their last talk, Kendall juiced the numbers again. He even got his brother a “flight jacket” because their stock is “going to the moon.” Finally, Roman tells Kendall they need to put the brakes on everything. Kendall becomes distraught about the pitch, but Roman lets him proceed.
In the hallway, Karl confronts Kendall about the changes. He does not know what’s been changed, only that changes occurred. Kendall tells him it’s not a good time to discuss. However, Karl will not take that for an answer and tells Kendall he will squeal if anything goes off that he does not like.
Gerri, Karl, and Frank sit together in the audience. Kendall gets ready in the wings for his speech. In the green room backstage, Tom practices for his ATN speech. Shiv asks Roman how Kendall’s doing, but he seems dodgy. Kendall gets announced to speak and walks out to “Harder Than You Think” by Public Enemy.
He steps out on the stage and immediately begins riffing. He thanks everyone for their condolences and then steps to the side to discuss Living+ with the pre-tapped video of Logan. While everyone seems scared about what’s coming next. Surprisingly, Kendall appears to handle the spotlight well.
Matsson calls Shiv to get her to kill it. Considering Kendall is already on stage, there’s not much there. The doctored footage Greg made for Kendall plays, and Logan says he believes the estimates would “double” parks revenue. Kendall then closes the speech by saying another year with his Dad would be priceless.
Karolina notes that social media is reacting well to the announcement. Things in the greenroom change when it turns out that Matsson tweeted out a picture of a Concentration Camp and the “Living+” logo. They begin trying to quash the Q&A that’s about to follow, but Kendall kicks it off. When the question brings attention to Matsson’s response, Kendall says he would not have responded that way. Shiv calls Matsson and tells him to back off.
Kendall steps offstage, and Tom jumps out to give his speech. Backstage, everyone cheers for Kendall. Stocks rise, Matsson deletes his tweet, and Hugo cheers on the Roys. While everyone begins to fawn over Kendall, Roman gets frustrated and bumps Shiv on the way out.
In his car, Roman gets a text from Kendall. It’s a deepfake of Logan telling Roman he has a small dick and is always wrong. The video continues to play on repeat. In their car, Shiv and Tom discuss the party for Election Night. Kendall walks on the beach and goes for a swim in the ocean.
The Breakdown — ‘Succession’ – “Living+”
The initial read on “Living+” will heavily favor Kendall’s night. Jeremy Strong delivers one of his best performances of the season while leaning into every absurdity of the Kendall character. He seems strung out, even though he appears sober. He blasts hip-hop music and talks in cliches. Yet for fifteen minutes, he scales the mountain and potentially takes WayStar Royco back from Matsson. On its face, he’s the winner.
However, anyone who has ever wanted Succession knows success destroys Kendall. He cannot contain himself and cannot leave well enough alone. He’s a gambling junkie that hit big on one hand in Vegas. Even though he scores because he won the River card, he believes he made the right play. Yet until the very minute he stepped on stage, the cards read another outcome.
This frustrates Roman more than any other character, and Kieran Culkin‘s performance matches that angst. Few actors can bring out so many sides to their characters. At different points in “Living+,” he pulls out anger, resentment, trauma, and envy. The unhinged and power-drunk first half of the episode fades away when he comes off the high that Kendall gave him. Yet in doing so, he misses Kendall’s one great performance. To then be taunted by his brother, by way of their passed father, was a knockout punch. Kendall pushed it too far once again, and how Roman responds will bring out a reckoning. Not for nothing, but it seems genuinely plausible he may kill Kendall by the end of the season.
Shiv and Tom getting their groove back feels a little scary. Their relationship’s evolution over the season allows both Sarah Snook and Matthew Macfadyen to deliver top-tier performances. If not for Strong’s unhinged performance, they would have stolen this one away too. They deliver the most consistent chemistry and powerful moments in most of their episodes.
However, Tom opened up to Shiv in a way that should worry everyone. His comment about losing money and the lifestyle could be the bone that Shiv breaks first. If she ends up in control of ATN, or the whole company, she could then skewer Tom in the ultimate act of betrayal. They may harbor feelings for each other, and we want the kids to work it out, but ultimately they each are too dangerous to ever gain full trust.
Finally, Jesse Armstrong and the team deliver a beautifully written and paced episode. It’ll be hard to imagine Scafaria outside many best-of-the-year directing lists unless Succession dominates the category again. The episode is the best of the forms Succession likes to take. The kids fight, their Dad pushes them to act out of character, and someone makes a big splash against all odds. When Succession feels like it’s shown every card, it pulls another out of its sleeve. Ironically, Kendall did the same this week, but unlike this show, Kendall’s best days are likely behind him.
Next week is election night. We might finally get Mencken on the show. His shadow looms large, and the night of free-flowing alcohol does not bode well. Matsson’s arrival at the party will officially pull Skarsgård out of the “Guest Actor” categories at the Emmy, which means Emmy prognosticators will need to adjust their predictions. We still have four episodes to go and plenty of time for things to go awry in the Roy family.