You best believe Logan Roy sits at the head of the table.
Okay. Let’s get the important stuff out of the way: 1) I can no longer watch this show without singing Succession to the tune of “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof. You are all very welcome. 2) The woman who is writing Logan’s unauthorized biography is played by none other than Jessica Hecht! a.k.a. Susan from Friends. (She recently also appeared in The Loudest Voice on Showtime—about the actual Murdoch family—and it turns out she was born in my hometown, so for all these reasons I am very happy to see her.) Her character has ensnared Cousin Greg into her reporting web and he is very much out of his depth. Sure enough, within moments he casually calls Logan “scary and paranoid and vindictive.” Interesting, she says, writing notes. He freaks. She tries to give the same lecture all reporters must (always) give about what off the record means versus on background. She also gives him that old chestnut: I’m going to write this book—do you want to present your side or are you happy for everyone else to tell their version?
Logan is feeling the squeeze; he has aches and pains, which he blames on his doctor for making him work out too much. (Same.) He has convened a big proxy meeting and lets his team of children and lawyers and whoever Ray is that he wants to acquire PGM, a.k.a., Pierce. There’s a stunned silence and Logan explains that if they have an acquisition this “chunky” (blech), they’ll be too big to fight with Stewie and Sandy. Also, this will happen because Logan says so. Gerri points out that when they’ve tried in the past, they’ve been dragged for being cultural vandals and poison in the well of public discourse. Hey, says Logan, times have changed!
After Logan leaves, a Waystar underling—it’s Ray!—exposits why Logan keeps coming back to Pierce. Kendall says because it’s a plug and play and names multi-sectors. Roman’s take is more Shakesperian: Their uncle Ewan watches PGM and Logan wants to buy it to piss him off. (Also, maybe because “The Mail” once criticized Logan for serving warm white wine at the Getty.) Why can’t all these things be true? The room is uncertain and Roman takes note that Kendall manages to shut the doubters at the table down rather quickly.
Anyhoo, Logan huddles to talk about how to take these blue-blooded Pierces down. Apparently, the oft-fired Frank is the solution. Kendall is fine with that—but, as Roman points out, that’s because Frank is basically his godfather. But no matter: The company retreat is happening in Hungary—Gerri later explains that it’s a place you can shoot a gun—and Frank is going to be honored and so a plan is in place.
I’ve sort of resisted writing about crazy Connor and his lunatic presidential bid (maybe because it feels far too likely in 2019). But now he’s releasing lunatic videos about the government and taxes. Tabitha laughs and Roman moves swiftly to the next topic: He asks if she is still friends with Naomi Pierce. At least Roman now knows what his strengths (schmoozing) are versus his weakness (reading documents, doing real work in general). Tabitha is alarmed that the Roys are going after a legit news organization—one that her family watches even—but Roman says (with a garbled Hamlet analogy), this is the way to be top dog. He wonders how Tabitha knows Naomi and she makes the universal “I slept with her” face. He wonders if there is anyone that she hasn’t slept with. She responds simply: “You.” (God, what I would give to write 10,000 words on Roman’s impotency issues.)
Logan calls Shiv. He seems less than into her: While she asks if she will get to go with the rest of the company to Hungary, he sends her instead to tell Connor to zip it. (Not for nothing, Shiv is also her father’s daughter in her choice of knitwear. Stupendous.) He hangs up on her and she confronts Tom: She thinks that trying to buy the Most Respected Name in News is ridiculous. “If we do own all the news I do wonder where I’ll get my news,” she says. Take that one in for a second. She thinks they need to stop him and tells Tom he should talk to Logan in Hungary. Ever notice that Shiv “jokes” with Tom a little harshly? She calls him a replicant meat puppet—jokes of course!—and sends him off.
At the private air hanger, Roman immediately gets competitive about guns—he has a Blaser rifle which he feels is superior to Kendall in every way. (Insert your joke here about Roman’s own, um, gun not exactly working.) Logan pulls Kendall out to talk business. Meanwhile, Cousin Greg can’t believe he’s on a private plane. I can’t believe that he can fit on one!
Logan is screaming at Gerri and Carolina about that unauthorized book coming out. Logan says that anyone who talks to the writer is dead to him. Cousin Greg gulps almost audibly. Turns out Gerri and Faux Maura Tierney know someone, an insider, has already talked to her. Logan turns first to Ken, since historically he’s the one always about to betray Logan. Kendall later tells Greg that whoever talked to the biographer will most definitely get rooted out. Cousin Greg pales.
Hungary looks real nice! Everyone is whispering about hating the Pierce deal but clam up about it when they see Logan. This place has a lot of antlers, and everyone is wearing a lot of waxy Barbour or Burberry jackets (also, everyone in this episode seems to be wearing oxblood-colored clothing.) Frank shows up and Logan tries to pretend like it’s not awkward he fired him last season, and gives him a watch with a line from Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” “Some work of noble note, may yet be done.” Can’t believe they didn’t go Shakespeare on this one, but what’s interesting is the words in the poem that follow directly after and did not make the watch but that Frank knows anyway: “Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.” Put that in your diety pipes and smoke it!
A hired helper comes in to remind them to attend a safety briefing. Logan takes the opportunity to chanel Jack Nicholson in The Departed (who, of course, was channeling Whitey Bulger): “Here’s a safety briefing: if you move against me, I’ll put a hole in the back of your f-n head.”
Shiv goes to see Connor and is surprised he has legit political strategists working for him. I gotta say, Alan Ruck (who will always always always be Cameron from Ferris Bueller to me) is a genius, and I could listen to him talking about hyperdecanting (a real thing, btw) all day long. She pleads with him not to release the video. He offers an “Indecent Proposal” (Willa assures Shiv he’s seen the movie many times): He offers her a job. He casually mentions Gil fired her and Shiv bristles, wondering who else thinks that is the word on the street. Shiv tries to work Willa (wearing Gucci, carrying a Dior purse) and more or less invites herself along to Willa’s cast drinks. She tries to do the just-between-us-gals thing with Willa, as a route to shut down that video. Willa is all, hmmm, I’ll think about it and then Shiv gets distracted by quite the handsome actor named Chris. Shiv starts flirting with him pretty hard but is distracted by Connor’s video going live.
Aw, hooray: It’s time for this season’s installment of the Greg & Tom show! Tom fills his lungs with that Hungarian vaguely vampiric air and tells Greg (who is not blending in, despite his camo pants) that it’s good to see him. He asks if he can trust Tom—”To a point,” Tom says, rather honestly. He asks what’s the likelihood that he’ll get found out as the one who talked to the biographer. Tom tells him not to tell anyone else. Greg looks vaguely sick.
The Roy brothers stalk boar and compare notes about the biographer. Each sniffs at but falls short of true confessions. We get some shots of fancy outdoor gear. Roman takes a mystery call that gets Kendall curious. They basically play The World’s Most Dangerous Game with pigs, and it is rather sad and fitting for this entire thing. (Are the Roy children the hunters or the boar–ask yourself that question why don’t you).
Frank and Gerri talk to Tom, trying to get him to talk to Logan about their doubts. No one wants to talk to Logan themselves, you see. Tom points out that Logan once called him the “C–t of Monte Cristo.” Gerri is like, yeah, Shiv told me you’d talk to him.
Meanwhile Logan hears that word of the Pierce deal has leaked and Logan gets biblical. “Snakes in the basket!” “Lice!”
At the retreat dinner in a grand hall, in a breathtakingly bad sense of reading the room, Tom whispers to Logan that people are actually very much against Pierce. (Not him, of course, no no no no). Logan silences the room for a toast. It is not a very happy one. He doesn’t want anyone to leave the room, and it goes from tense to scary pretty quickly.
While there’s general conversation about boar tasting like chicken (no), Logan commands the room. He wants Fran to make a toast, who does: “To old friends.” Logan immediately starts to attack Frank, calling him a creep, and questioning why he’s even there. Logan starts bellowing that someone has been talking to the biographer. And that someone has leaked the Pierce deal. He doesn’t trust anyone—he tells everyone to put their phones on the table. Carl doesn’t fare very well. Tom is told to shut up till he gives Logan a grandson.
Then comes a delightful game of something called “Boar on the Floor.” That’s when Logan basically calls people out, makes them say how they like the Pierce deal, and then tells them to go boar-on-the-floor. Gerri is spared. Tom is not. Greg is not (but his sweaters are getting better).
Logan puts his arms around Kendall as he tells Roman to stand up. Roman tries to deflect, saying that it was Kendall who got a call from the biographer and Kendall calmly replies he was, in fact, smoking him out for dad. It gets exceedingly more and more like Lord of the Flies: Before you know it, Tom, Carl and Greg have to sit in on the floor as the rest of the table starts chanting and now the boars on the floor have to oink for their sausages. “The last piggie to eat the sausage is the mole.” Tom tries to point out that’s not exactly how science or detection works, but before you know it they’re crawling in a circle. It’s important to point out that Tom, even under duress, does not sell out Greg. Whether that’s because he’s a good man with morals deep down inside or because he was worried about calling more attention to himself is left unsaid. Eat up, piggies. (This might be the most insane thing I’ve seen on TV and people, I watch the news nightly.)
While Tom has become the hunted, Shiv is on the hunt. She’s gone home with the handsome actor and his scarf.
Kendall steals Roman’s phone, in an awesome display of older brother power puts Roman in a headlock and uses facial ID to unlock—just like Steve Jobs dreamed of!—and discovers that Roman took a call from Naomi Pierce.
“Boar on the floor?” says Kendall hopefully. (Sorry, no.) Logan is going on and on about how much a gallon of milk costs and Roman doesn’t know. Logan screams about snakes and morons and wants to know who backs him on Pierce. “None of them do,” says Kendall. Logan screams about winning and leaves.
In the morning Tom comes downstairs and is all WOW we sure all drank too much, definitely no one saw me scrabbling around for a sausage. Peach, bless her, makes sure to bring it up immediately. Everyone is a bit abashed. Logan—in an incredible chunky knit, maybe the best one yet—learns from Carolina (the Maura Tierney lookalike corporate publicist) that she heard it was Mo who talked to the biographer. Logan explodes. Then she tells him Mo is dead. Hmmm, that takes the wind out of his sails. But only for a moment; he still wants his goon, Sam, to crack his email and find out what he said.
Tom sits down with Greg and Greg whispers, “Thanks man.” AND THEN: Tom puts his hand on Greg’s arm in a show of affection. LOVE DOES EXIST ON THIS SHOW! AHHHHHH.
Gerri gets maternal with Roman and helps him button his shirt. He ruins that vibe by telling her that if he could, he’d pounce on her. Gerri, bless her, is unfazed. Roman admits he’s not doing great and blames Tabitha. He asks how to get Logan to take him seriously. She advises starting at the bottom, a management training course.
On the flight home we learn the deal with Pierce is not so dead. The CEO wants to talk. Kendall looks out the window and thinks Kendall thoughts.
Tom comes home and tells Shiv it was pretty tough back there: “Your dad was a little peppery.” Of course, all talk of Boar on the Floor goes unsaid. But Tom does say that as a member of the “team” he’d love a little more input into team tactics. He asks how her weekend was. She’s like, uh you sure you want to know? They share an awkward hug with so many secrets between them.
Logan calls Shiv, and they whisper on the phone with almost an affair-like intimacy. They decide it’s time for a date to bring her in. Dun dun dun.