This article contains spoilers for “Kill List,” the fifth episode of the fourth season of “Succession.”
With a refreshing change of scenery, “Kill List” highlights the ensemble work that makes “Succession” shine. The characters are locked into ruthless business negotiations that benefit some and leave others in the dust.
With Kendall and Roman in charge of operations, the Waystar RoyCo team is invited to Norway to finalize GoJo’s acquisition of the company. Logan and Lukas Matsson — the CEO of GoJo — were about to complete the deal before Logan’s passing, so it makes sense that his family wants to finalize it.
Upon arriving at a luxurious mountain resort, Kendall and Roman are caught off guard by Matsson’s latest offer. The team anticipated Matsson’s bid to start at $141, but he proposes to buy each share in the company for $187, only under the condition that ATN is included in the acquisition.
This price increase is ideal, but since ATN was Logan’s pride and joy, the news network was previously carved out of the deal. Handing ATN over gives Kendall and Roman cold feet, even if Shiv doesn’t share their concerns.
“It’s a toxic asset,” Shiv notes, referring to the network.
When the Roys try to counter Matsson’s pitch, his response is brutal. Matsson tears into the company, undermining its current conduct and alluding to Kendall’s failed dealings with Vaulter in the show’s second season.
“It’s a parts shop,” Matsson retorts. “Good parts, yes. Bad brand.”
Alexander Skarsgård’s performance as Matsson in this episode proves he is one of the best additions to the cast ever. His embodiment of an arrogant tech giant is as precise as it is unsettling.
Along with cutthroat corporate dealings, “Kill List” features a return to the cringe comedy that permeated past episodes. The scene in which Tom and Greg humiliate themselves in front of Matsson’s team is extremely hard to watch.
Later that night, Kendall proposes tanking the GoJo deal — an idea Roman eventually agrees to without informing Shiv. The duo is already omitting their sister from important conversations about the company’s proceedings.
To sabotage the acquisition, Kendall authorizes a bad press run about the Norway trip. He presents a disastrous rough cut of “Kalispitron: Hibernation” — a production from Waystar RoyCo’s film branch — to Matsson’s unenthused team. Matsson sees right through this deceit and prompts a confrontation atop a mountain.
A fierce battle of words ensues between Matsson and the Roy brothers, culminating in Roman snapping on Matsson in a last-ditch attempt to destroy the deal.
“We are gonna grind you down, man,” Roman lashes out. “It’s not happening, okay?”
On the plane leaving Norway, however, Frank gets a call from Matsson with a new offer — each share would now be worth $192. The Waystar RoyCo board is thrilled with this news, much to the disappointment of Kendall and Roman, who must follow the board’s wishes.
As part of Mattsson’s takeover, he also aims to replace certain Waystar employees with his own team. A hypothetical “kill list” includes Frank, Hugo and Karl.
Gerri, Karolina and Tom are absent from the list — three people that Shiv vouched for during a conversation with Matsson. This may establish that Shiv will be Mattsson’s person on the inside of the deal going forward.
If there’s one thing this season has proved, it’s that power is temporary. Shiv’s leverage could be turned against her at any moment in the upcoming episodes.