‘Succession’: The Roys Begin a Political Search in ‘What It Takes’ (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Succession, Season 3, Episode 6, “What It Takes.”]
Have the Roys made a deal with the devil? It’s a question that’s raised in “What It Takes,'” the latest episode of HBO‘s Succession in which the family attends the Future Freedom Summit in Virginia, an event that aims to find a potential political frontrunner for the upcoming presidential election.
As viewers may recall, the president, or “raisin,” as Logan (Brian Cox) so affectionately refers to him, isn’t running for another term, leaving Waystar’s sway in the balance. And just as the company may be losing a grip on the political climate, likewise, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) is discovering that his case against the company isn’t as strong as he once thought.
The installment opens with Kendall being briefed by Lisa Arthur (Sanaa Lathan) and the rest of his legal team who try to prepare him for what questions he’ll face when sitting down with the Department of Justice to present the damning paperwork he supposedly has against Waystar. When he begins to realize the case isn’t a clear win he tells the team to work and try harder.
The rest of the Roys, cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) included, head down to Virginia for the Summit, and Shiv (Sarah Snook) expresses concerns about who her father will lend his support to, noting that the current vice president Boyer (Reed Birney) is a bad choice. Meanwhile, Greg’s more concerned about whether or not he’s going to be burned by Kendall who would clearly explore any option to find success with his case against Waystar.
When the Roys enter the summit, guest star Stephen Root‘s character says the next president could be standing among them. Connor (Alan Ruck) easily believes that could be him as he makes the rounds with girlfriend Willa (Justine Lupe). Meanwhile, as usual, Greg is a little slow to pick up on the situation as he asks his cousins Shiv and Roman (Kieran Culkin) along with Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) what the purpose of the event is.
Presidential aid Michelle-Anne Vanderhoven (Linda Emond) who is also in attendance suggests that the Roys back Boyer against Shiv’s wishes otherwise. As the party continues, Roman is approached by a man who congratulates him on his mother’s engagement, something he was previously unaware of, and begins to have a meltdown over.
Caroline (Harriet Walter) is supposedly betrothed to a man named Peter Munyon and Roman calls to inform Kendall about the incoming wedding. In another corner of the event, Greg asks Tom for some advice as he can’t stop “obsessing over the prison of it all,” as Kendall’s burning threat still remains. Tom tells his pal that he embraces the fear because any kind of relief feels so extreme by comparison that it’s the best method for mental survival.
Back in his hotel room with Shiv, Tom samples wines from their vineyard as she continues studying possible presidential candidates on her tablet. The sour wine he complains about could symbolize the soured relationship between the spouses as Shiv is forced to comfort her husband and his anxiety over possibly going to prison. When she tries to make something more out of the situation, he passes on sex saying there’s no point, especially since she’s made it clear she doesn’t want to get pregnant right now.
Down in the lobby, Connor and Willa chat up Stephen Root’s character who makes uncomfortable banter with Willa. Connor reassures that they have to keep up appearances if he wants to be a true contender in the presidential race. Roman on the other hand makes conversation with another possible candidate, a man named Mencken (Justin Kirk).
As for Tom, he’s still dealing with the nagging worry of prison life and invites Greg to join him at a nearby diner for a bland meal in preparation for his possible future. During their conversation, Greg worries aloud that he’d be an automatic target in prison for his stature and asks Tom if he’d be willing to take on the possible blame attached to Greg so he could forgo to possible fate. At this point, Tom is hopeless anyway and agrees to carry the burden.
Back in New York, Ken’s meeting and testimony don’t go well, and although he blames Logan for the issues, Lisa tries leveling with her client that he’ll need more ammo if he wants to make the paperwork evidence stick. Unsatisfied with this conclusion, Kendall plans to push Lisa out and seeks to hire a new lawyer but no one picks up his calls. This leads the lone Roy to begin plotting his next move which involves a little trip down south.
Just as he’s plotting, Logan is making moves of his own when he comes face to face with Boyer who mentions his biggest policy plan is to control tech, something that Logan didn’t want in a candidate. Meanwhile, Shiv takes a shine to Salgado (played by Yul Vazquez) who asks for her support and in return, he’d make it his mission to make her Waystar’s CEO.
On the floor, Logan is asked by others about considering Connor for president and he reluctantly answers he’d back that option. As conversations swirl, Shiv can’t help but be disgusted by certain thoughts the politicians share about republicans being the new working class in America. Her opinions are brushed off by the men who spout this rhetoric.
With much to consider, the Roys convene for a family meeting where Greg is told to be a silent participant upon entering Logan’s suite. Connor, of course, throws his name in the race, Shiv pushes for Salgado, and Roman mentions Mencken who scares Shiv. She warns Logan that the candidate’s policies are dangerous and choosing him could unleash horrible things on the country.
Coming back to Connor, his siblings are hesitant to fully back him, but Greg offers to “spoil” his vote in Connor’s favor if they decide to back him. But Logan wants a better gauge and calls for Boyer to stop by his room as Roman seeks out Mencken with Salgado effectively shut out of the conversation.
While this meeting is going on, Tom receives a call from Kendall who asks to meet at the same diner he visited with Greg earlier in the episode. Kendall levels with his brother-in-law that he’d need Tom’s word that Logan signed off on all paperwork in order to solidify the case against Waystar. In return, Kendall would welcome Tom to his side and support him, offering a nice set-up that could prevent jail time on his end.
Ultimately, Tom decides against jumping ship telling Kendall that he expects Ken to “get f**ked” because he always does, whereas Logan never does. Attempting to blackmail Tom, he snaps a photo as the man heads to his car, proving that they met. Tom isn’t pleased by the stunt and leaves Kendall on a negative note.
As Logan’s meeting with Boyer proves unsuccessful in his attempts to control the candidate, Roman questions Mencken about his policies and asks the man how he feels about fascism. Mencken tries to assure Roman that he’s not of that mindset, but there’s a definite bad vibe that reverberates when Logan decides to back this unique candidate against Shiv’s wishes.
The episode concludes with a photo opportunity alongside Mencken, something that Shiv wants to back out of. Logan pushes her to participate though, asking if she’s part of the family? She agrees as long as she can stand on the opposite end of the line from Mencken who smiles wide with his new backers. Have the Roys made a bad decision? And is Kendall’s efforts to take down Logan all for nothing? Only time will tell for certain.
Succession, Season 3, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO