“Sometimes it is a big dick competition.”– Logan Roy (S01 E04)
Logan’s advice to Kendall is at the core of their business clash and represents a significant tension upon which Succession hinges. Logan uses an old school business mind, no game plan other than his honed precision in decision making after years of being the man in charge, no data needed outside hunches and gut feelings. And in negotiating, sometimes you make a deal or retract an offer because “Fuck you” that’s why.
In contrast, Kendall represents a new generation of smart and savvy up and coming minds, struggling to find purchase in a world still dominated by boomers in charge. Kendall will always make the “right” decision, often backed by data and analytics, and can’t understand why Logan would ever expect him to do anything differently. Kendall may or may not need to heed this advice, but he should pay attention to it, because it says a lot about his inscrutable father.
“I am spiritually, ethically, and emotionally behind whoever wins.”– Stewy (S01 E06)
If the previous quote was a declaration of sentiments for Logan Roy and the old guard, this squishy and soft statement by Stewy is an equally as revealing statement about the approach Stewy employs as a corporate bottom feeder in search of an investment for his billions of dollars. The intrigue in Stewy as a businessman, and therefore his advice, is that he is equal parts reprehensible in his approach, but also, he may be the modern killer Logan is looking for in Kendall. What does a Logan Roy look like in his youth, if his youth was in 2020? It may be similar to the sockless investor himself. I am always intrigued as I watch Logan’s initial disdain at Stewy’s involvement with Waystar Royco turn to begrudging respect in a matter of one meeting in season 1 episode 7 (But can we please fix the visuals?= great line). Stewy may be without morals, but he is not without business acumen.
“You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few dicks.”– Sandy Ferness (S01 E08)
Not much is known about how Sandy operates outside of being Logan’s major competitor and his parasitic invasion of Logan’s company with Stewy. But these two facts, coupled with this wonderful metaphor, help us understand that the sweater wearing, soft spoken old man who looks like he could be ‘Grandpa’ at your family’s Christmas isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The skeletons in his closet might be as numerous and haunting as the Roy’s. And this advice is another way to let us know that the old guard didn’t get there on accident. Dicks were broken.
“You can’t make a Tomelette with cracking a few Greggs.”– Tom Wambsgans (S02 E09)
One too many times to the metaphorical well? Absolutely not. This advice from Tom to Greg, as he urges his little R2 unit to illegally destroy incriminating documents, is my business mantra, and my name is neither Tom nor Greg. This advice lets us all know that no one gets to the top alone. Every man is made by lesser men sacrificing their morals at the altar of business.
“No one’s ever gone broke overestimating America’s love for violence.”– Brian, the norm-o (S02 E04)
One of the norm-os had a word of advice for the one percent, letting Roman know that providing America with violence is a sound business investment. This advice is further solidified in that episode when a shooter takes their own life in the ATN building causing everyone to disperse into safe rooms of differing quality and dominating the news cycle for the day. Rhea captures it well when she responds to Shiv asking her if the coverage is ‘her taste,’ “Well depends on what you think news is public utility or entertainment option.”
Brian’s advice becomes even sounder when Roman and his norm-o buddy win the competition for their Amusement Park idea based on this concept. The only question is, did they win because Roman is a Roy or because he has a sound business mind after all?
“Take the fucking money.”– Logan Roy (S02 E05)
The Piers family is an interesting breed. Not quite at home in their own greed and moral decrepitude, they hold onto business ideals and ‘sound’ business practice more than the Roys, who, at this point, have descended into profit by any means necessary. These conflicting views clash with each other in the episode ‘Tern Haven’ (which I wrote about here), and the episode culminates with a business stand-off, something of a specialty of Logans. His advice, in this scenario, was a bit of Shakespeare, “Take the fucking money.” Maybe the best advice in the entire show.
“Control the narrative.”– Kendall Roy (S01 E02)
In the wake of Logan’s stroke and unknown state of health, Kendall wanted to control the narrative. Sound advice in the digital age, to be sure, where hiding any story is paramount to damming the ocean, and certainly, in a story of this magnitude, the goal should be to create the story rather than hide it. But let’s be honest, we all just want to know if this is actually what Kendall says when he cums.
“Getting your dick in there is easy. Getting them in bed… that’s hard.”– Logan Roy (S02 E09)
This advice to Roman is probably in a top ten list of things you don’t want to hear from your dad, regardless of if it is in the context of business or not. And I am not sure if it speaks more to Logan’s views on business deals or relationships. He draws a distinction between sex and taking someone to bed, which is either a beautiful and subtle nuance, or the cold take of a heartless monster.
Succession is show about the lives of the monetarily rich and morally bankrupt, this perspective of always being able to make a deal (have sex in the chosen metaphor), but making the right deal (going to bed) is the challenge, is foreign to most of us plebians on both the real and the metaphorical level.
“You have to be a killer. But nowadays, maybe you don’t. I don’t know.”– Logan Roy (S02 E10)
This is the advice that defines Logan’s conflict in both family and business. Logan spent his life getting to the top of the business world from his childhood spent shitting outside (maybe). We can only imagine the bridges he burned, backs he stabbed, deals he fucked along the way. He is the way he is through years of being molded in the forge of American Capitalism. Now he is in a new day and age, faced with handing over his hard-won company to children who were born into this, who never had to do a deal they didn’t have done for them.
He was a killer. Logan believes he is where he is because of that attribute beyond anything else. But here is Shiv and Kendall and Roman and Stewy and Carl, suckling from the teat of his business, and they are not killers, at least he doesn’t think so. Can they do his job? Can he pass it down to them? Absolutely not, they don’t have what it takes… but maybe times have changed… Depending on the day, the minute, the hour, how good his shit was that morning, Logan waffles and wavers on who has what it takes to succeed him, and more importantly, what it will take to succeed him. This quote shows that internal struggle.
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