Succession: Of Pain Sponges & Face Eggs

One of things I love most about Succession is its use of language. It’s truly a writer’s show led by creator Jesse Armstrong. If you haven’t read his revealing piece in the Guardian yet, CLICK HERE.

The series finale, With Open Eyes, had two classic Succession-isms. The ultimate yes man Tom Wambsgans agrees to be Lukas Mattson’s pain sponge. The billionaire who bought the Roy empire is planning to go Elon on the company and he needs the pliable Tom to take the heat for him. Tom was born to be a pain sponge.

The other phrase cited in the title comes from the mother of the warring and deeply unserious “adult” Roy children. Lady Caroline called eyes face eggs. A gorgeously eccentric term for the jelly like things that allow us to see.

When I was a child, I met a man with a glass eye who was neither Sammy Davis Jr. nor Peter Falk, He noticed me staring at his glass eye, so he extracted it much to my glee and my mother’s horror. She was embarrassed, I was admonished, and Glass Eye Man was amused.

Jesse Armstrong played hide the ball before the series finale. This ending was in plain sight but ignored by many in favor of more elaborate denouements: Logan Roy got his way and Kendall lost again.

The leadership ambitions of Shiv and hapless wingnut letch Roman were thwarted as well. In Shiv’s case, dramatically by Mattson and Tom’s betrayal. She was being strung along because Mattson coveted her body, not her brain. Shiv turned around and stuck the knife in Kendall at the last board meeting. Was it a pocket knife?

Betrayal is the Roy family’s jam. Village Idiot Greg betrayed his fellow weird brother Tom to Kendall who lost anyway. Rule Number One of Succession: Kendall always loses; Logan always wins. This time from the grave. He would have found Greg’s latest betrayal hilarious. It was proof that the Roy village corrupted its idiot:

Succession is about a stupendously rich family, but everyone can see a bit of the Roys in their own gene pool. In theory, the death of a loved one should bring out the best in people. But money often gets in the way of decency. Big money, big fight, big shoes, big, big shoes as Kendall would surely say at this point.

Did Shiv betray Kendall for the reasons she stated? Unlikely. It was partially driven by Kendall’s lie about the death of the Cater Waiter on Shiv’s wedding day. BUT sub-text is a Roy family specialty. I think that it boiled down to a classic childhood taunt: If I can’t have it, nobody can.

On one level, I feel sorry for the “adult” Roy children. They were raised by wolves, which left them clueless about the real world. In the end, I don’t feel sorry for spoiled rich brats whose loss left them even richer. Like the wolf of the song, the Roys will survive:

I originally planned to recap the final season of Succession but the timing was off. I’m glad Jamie O took the comprehensive approach yesterday. It allowed me to write a more impressionistic take today complete with musical commentary. Thanks, man.

Finally, where do I think the main characters will be in five years?

Gerri will be embroiled in class action sexual harassment cases alongside Mattson’s PR flack, Ebba.

Frank will retire to his island and reminisce about his days playing the nice postman father on Brooklyn Bridge.

Karl will use his golden parachute to hire people to play boar-on-the-floor with. He’ll paste on a goatee and pretend to be Logan. Karl is a weird dude beneath the corporate normie facade.

Hugo will keep leaking stories for his next plutocratic overlord.

Greg will keep his head up Tom’s ass until they’re both shitcanned by Mattson.

Mattson will become a vampire, move to Shreveport, and join the cast of True Blood. Oops, that’s already happened.

Roman will buy an estate on Capri and re-enact Tiberius’ debaucheries after watching I, Claudius.

Tom and Shiv will stay together and fall deeply in hate. Their child will be raised by nannies.

Kendall will live out his days rapping in his indoor pool.

Logan will laugh at them all from the cat food magnate mausoleum.

Repeat after me: Logan always wins; Kendall always loses.

The last word goes to The Who with Logan Roy’s theme song:

I forgot to mention Connor. Oh well, that’s his lot in life.