Skip to main content

‘Succession’ 3.04 Review: Lion in the Meadow

What if neither Kendall nor Logan is winning the blood feud at the heart of 'Succession'?

Succession Nicholas Braun
(Image: © Macall B. Polay/ HBO)

Our Verdict

Nearly every interaction has someone jostling for power and leverage, which creates a fascinating back and forth.

For

  • - Adrian Brody guest stars as a deliciously awful shareholder
  • - The tension between Kendall and Logan
  • - All it took for Greg to sign was one very strange interaction with Tom, which tracks
  • - The location scouts continue to find the most exclusive homes

Against

  • - Are we ever going to see the president?
  • - The Greg and Tom scene is fun but edging toward parody

This post contains spoilers for Succession 3.04, "Lion in the Meadow." Read our latest review here.

It is going to take a lot more than an FBI raid or a disparaging letter from a family member to keep Logan (Brian Cox) or Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) down for too long, but they do have a shared crisis when shareholder Josh Aaronson (Adrian Brody) threatens to pull his support for the Roys with mere days to go before the crucial shareholder vote. While the blood feud is still going strong, the ownership threats are enough to cause a temporary ceasefire between father and son. Although, it doesn’t take long before childish point scoring methods are utilized. 

“Lion in the Meadow” is a lesson in how business deals are rooted in posturing and inflated male ego. In true Succession tradition, buttons are pushed and it gets nasty, which highlights why this series is appointment television in a year when this doesn’t really exist. We love the show's flashes of empathy and yet it's devious acts are equally satisfying — if not more so.    

Kicking off at Kendall’s self-named “command pod” depicts a man reveling in the raid he “manifested,” though last week’s embarrassments (Shiv's press release and him ghosting the comedy show) has not dialed down the cringe. Kendall's cockiness takes a hit when he is summoned with barely any time to spare to a conference call that he thinks is an attempt to fire him. Instead, all of the major players are on hand to roll their eyes at his terrible conference line humor (he announces himself as Little Lord F***leroy) before laying down the issue with Josh wanting to pull his 4% in favor of Sandy (Larry Pine) and Stewie (Arian Moayed). After last week’s guns blazing affair, Succession keeps up the momentum with a tense hour that sees everyone jostle for pole position and almost “everything’s coming up fuck” — as Logan so eloquently puts it. 

Considering it is only four days until the shareholder vote and negotiations have stalled with Sandy and Stewie, it is safe to say the future of the company is in peril. Kendall cannot be swayed by this talk of being on a razor’s edge or Josh needing his pound of flesh from the quarreling family members. It doesn’t help matters when Logan reveals his presence on the call and it takes a follow-up conversation with Frank (Peter Friedman) for Kendall to get on board with this sucking-it-up plan. This is another case of Logan sitting in and his ability to keep quiet ensures his estranged son agrees to a meeting that quickly turns into a clout battle.

Josh has the upper hand from the jump, as not only do they have to grin and bear things to secure his support but he also makes the Roys come to him. His reasoning is his daughter is sick, but this is clearly a power play and Logan’s knowing expression when he sees her diving into the pool speaks volumes. Josh speaks of how quickly kids bounce back and the point isn’t that Logan and Kendall believe the lie, rather that they realize who is in control here. 

Before they get to Josh’s private island — his wealth is evident — the plan is for Logan and Kendall to have a chat on the runway so they are on the same page. Unfortunately, because Logan asserts his authority with the helicopter and private jet departures, Kendall does his own flex by ditching the chat with dad in favor of a quick phone call. It backfires on Ken as he then has to make awkward chit-chat with Josh before his dad rocks up. It is all so petty and exactly what you would expect from the one-upmanship of the Roys (and who they associate with). 

Logan knows better than to chew his son out in front of a valuable asset, so this reunion even includes a hug. Josh has already called Kendall out on the “it’s all good” BS and what follows is father and son doing their best faking it through the pain. Brody is particularly good at poking the bear in this role as a guy who claims to be just asking questions to protect his investment — part of it seems like he really wants to get the inside scoop. He is also getting a ringside seat to a relationship that hangs by a thread. When Josh leaves the room the painful silence is hard to bear and neither man wants to break the silence. “F***ing King Kong came out to dance for me” is how Josh describes this occasion (Brody starred in the 2005 King Kong remake); Logan’s mouth might be smiling but his eyes are throwing daggers. 

The suggestion to go for a walk infuriates the senior Roy, however, he doesn’t want to lose face and agrees to this plan — something he will come to regret. Image is everything and he doesn’t want to appear weak in front of the younger men. While it is ultimately fine on the way to the beautiful clifftop eating area, the desire to show his masculinity is a stumbling block on the return stroll. Josh keeps promising carts and makes nonsensical comments like it being “the quick way but sometimes it takes longer,” which makes it sound like he is purposefully messing with the old man. Kendall tries to save face (and maybe earn some brownie points) by referring to his dad as a bear even when it becomes clear he is struggling. 

Alan Ruck in Succession

Alan Ruck in 'Succession' (Image credit: Macall B. Polay/ HBO)

During oysters, both Logan and Kendall do a good job of selling the fact that they like the other better than Sandy and Stewie, and yet Josh is not convinced. 

“It will be okay because he’s a good kid,” Logan says about his son before repeating the “good kid” comment. He even goes so far as saying that he loves him and that “maybe he's the best one of all of them.” Basically, all the things Kendall has always wanted, but it rings false thanks to Logan following it up when they walk back with “You’ll say anything to get f***ed on a date.” 

What makes Logan’s relationships with his children so twisted is he knows how to puff them up and deflate them with a sentence. The compliments are why they keep returning, even if they know abuse is more likely. So quickly the twinkle of approval can turn into pure disdain and Brian Cox is a master at both. Neither Logan nor Kendall comes out on top and both men wind up looking desperate as they can’t even do the job they were sent to do. 

They aren’t the only ones struggling to assert dominance. Back at ATN, Shiv (Sarah Snook) is finding out how little respect anyone has for her. Even first pancake Connor (Alan Ruck) compares her new role as a glorified version of the time she had a post office that stamped all the mail in the house when she was a kid. 

Connor is looking to make moves to aid his political bid and doesn't think Shiv's pitch of a lifestyle channel gig is going to play well in the Rust Belt. Typically, the younger siblings learn from the oldest, but not in the Roy family and Connor is finally catching up to those that came after him. He has zero time for her and neither does Karl (David Rasche) who goes so far as to call Logan to let him know Shiv is overstepping. To her credit, she doesn’t back off, and when Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) comes up short with telling Mark Ravenhead (Zack Robidas) about the new editorial direction against the president, she uses her rage at the lack of respect to get him to bend to her (well, Logan’s) will.

Tom suggests she is messing with his masculinity and this is another occasion that shows the married couple struggling to communicate. After his offer to act as a jail sacrifice, Tom is preoccupied with looking at what prison he might end up being sent to and reading blogs about prison wine-making methods. His nerves are frayed and Shiv is distracted by her own power struggles to offer too much sympathy. 

“Terminal Tom” as he is now being called (because he has cancer of the career) finds solace in Greg’s (Nicholas Braun) new office and his visit is laced with an attempt to feel better. He knows he can assert his dominance over Greg, which takes a dark direction when Tom tells Greg the story of Nero and Sporus — Greg is not familiar with this IP and is surprised by the castration plot twist. “I’d castrate you and marry you in a heartbeat,” Tom tells Greg, which is I guess is a compliment. The vibe goes from unsettled to unhinged when Tom wants to fight like chickens before Tom claims it is all a joke. This scene is both the best of this duo but also suggests that the writers' are edging toward these characters becoming a parody of themselves if they don't watch out — it is a little too self-aware. 

Before this descent, Tom has helped Greg work through his Logan dilemma as earlier in the episode his meeting with his uncle suggests he will be flip-flopping no more. Kendall underestimated Greg’s loyalty (he really should’ve bought him that watch) and while Greg is terrified of Logan, the protection of this legal umbrella makes more sense. After seeing Tom he signs his allegiance over, making it one thing that goes Logan’s way this week. 

The other matter with the president ignoring him in his time of need is why he is using his star ATN player to come after his mental faculties, with it having the desired effect. While his methods with Josh fail, Logan is still a tactical pro. The lack of presence of the president has worked in the past but the more he gets factored into the narrative makes his offscreen role go against the show. Will we ever get to see the "Raisin?"   

While Shiv struggles, Roman (Kieran Culkin) is hatching a plan against Kendall using his insider knowledge. While he refused to sign Shiv’s letter, he isn’t against finding “Tattoo Man” as a weapon for humiliation. This story is abhorrent (even for Succession) and is far from a surprise. Roman explains that for Kendall’s bachelor party around 15 years ago they did an ironic bar crawl in New Orleans and paid a “friendly hobo” to have Kendall’s initials tattooed on his forehead. “It doesn’t feel good” is how Tattoo Man describes Roman’s request for him to pick a number to pay for photos of the inscription — he has since had it removed — but it turns out that Roman’s suggestion of $1 million is enough. The scene of Roman and Ray (Fisher Stevens) squinting at this man’s forehead shows how detached from empathy they are (if you needed reminding) and Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) is once again the voice of reason when she tells Roman the photos will look bad for him too as he was on this bachelor trip. 

“How does this advance my personal position? You need to think about that 24/7,” is what Gerri argues Roman needs to drill into his brain, and while this would be a bad look for “Wokeahontas,” he is also one of the “Tattoo Brothers.” Gerri also goes on a date, much to Roman’s disgust and he barely conceals his jealousy in his mocking tones. This date is also a strategy from Gerri to find out more about the DOJ investigation and everyone is willing to mix business and pleasure. 

All hands are on deck as they are being targeted from all angles and this season of Succession somehow ups the stress levels each week — and we haven’t even got to the shareholder meeting yet.