OK, so remember when I spent all of last week’s recap doing a “Kendall is Prince Hal” seminar? I was an idiot to do that because if “Kill List” is any indication, Kendall’s leadership skills are so deficient that if he were delivering the St. Crispin’s Day speech it would probably go “uh, he who sheds his blood with me today goes on the kill list, provided that I don’t tank the deal, which I definitely will not not do.” And he’s not Michael Corleone, another reluctant-to-lead son whose true character comes out when he takes power, either. If anything, Kendall is a Buddhist, self-loathing Sonny Corleone, impulsive and willing to tell to anyone outside the family what he’s thinking.
“Kill List” is another home run for Succession in a season that’s been full of them, and the payoff to the Matsson subplot that we’ve been waiting for — not to mention a potential guest actor Emmy for Alexander Skarsgård. As the coked-up billionaire who holds all the cards, Matsson is the version of Kendall who does drugs, listens to cool music, has hot girlfriends, and actually has business savvy — not to mention a bro sense of humor that leaves Roman unable to get the better of him.
Compare this to Kendall’s first day as acting CEO, sitting in his town car and listening to Jay-Z to pump himself up. He thinks he’s got it all figured out. But just as he settles in for a routine day at the office, Matsson asks him and the board to drop everything and meet him in Norway to finalize the deal. Kendall immediately calls Matsson’s bluff and takes Waystar to meet him in a location that looks like what would happen if Blofeld* and Oscar Isaac’s character in Ex Machina designed an estate together.
Of course, the meetings are a disaster. Matsson, who didn’t think Kendall would actually bring the whole board, shows up alone and pulls the rug out from the B-Roll Brothers (Shiv’s nickname) by eliminating the ATN carve-out he promised Logan and taking all of Waystar for himself. Kendall and Roman have no idea how to take this, given Matsson’s penchant for sarcasm and incredible poker playing skills.
The unspoken subtext of Kendall and Roman’s unwillingness to let ATN go is their attachment to their father. Logan loved ATN more than any other company asset, and they can still feel him breathing…