“Lion in the Meadow” finds the Roys at a crucial turning point, as Logan’s health begins to fail at the worst possible time and everyone has a decision to make regarding which side they’re on.
This recap of Succession season 3, episode 4, “Lion in the Meadow”, contains spoilers.
Succession has always been about dysfunction, about the children of an abusive father who just can’t bring himself to love them the way they want him to. But only rarely has that theme been as obvious as it is in “Lion in the Meadow”, which puts Kendall and Logan on equal footing for the first time in the season and lets them communicate how they really feel, and how they don’t, under the guise of a happy family unit trying to secure support from an investor played by a guest-starring Adrien Brody.
Succession season 3, episode 4 recap
With Sandy and Stewy making a play, Kendall and Logan have to team up to keep Waystar under Roy control, which involves play-acting an alliance that neither man wants. It’s an excuse for comedy and awkwardness, as usual, but it also ventures into less-explored territories of sympathy and compassion, boiling Kendall down to a child starved of affection and Logan to a powerful man forced to confront his own mortality. In a couple of real stand-out scenes, these ideas are brought to the forefront with expert finesse and truly virtuosic performances from Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox.
The first of these scenes is when Logan explains to Josh (Brody) how he “really” feels about Kendall, a calibrated play to convince the investor that there’s nothing to worry about. It’s all lies, obviously, and both men know it, but Kendall takes a visible moment to imagine a world in which what Logan is saying might be true, and it’s a crushing moment, for him and us. There’s a flicker, just for a moment, of earnestness in Logan, the suggestion that perhaps even if he doesn’t believe what he’s saying, he might have done once upon a time. Maybe he hoped that Kendall would one day become the man he’s describing, even if, in Logan’s mind, he never did. Who can say? Either way, whenever Josh isn’t in earshot, the two men resume savagely bickering; Kendall takes shots at his physical and mental decline, Logan at his dwindling allies. These two extremes of the relationship occurring so close together make one wonder which is the put-on, and it only gets worse in the second scene I mentioned, when Josh takes Kendall and Logan on a roundabout hike, Logan’s health begins rapidly failing, and the two can’t decide if they want to keep arguing or call an ambulance.
There is a very fine line between love and hate, anger and compassion, madness and sanity; they’re so close together here that they keep alternating. This is where, I think, you see Logan as an old man more clearly than ever, in his steadfast refusal to ask Kendall for help until it’s too late. He’s used to just powering through, but this time, the sheer force of his will isn’t enough. He needs help. His son unthinkingly gives it, but he gives it later than he might have were either of them capable of being open and honest with one another, even for a second.
For all Roman’s faults, at least he knows who he is. And, “Lion in the Meadow” confirms, he’s deeply awful. We knew that anyway, of course, but it’s brought into starker relief when he’s forced to bring up an incident in which he and some others at Kendall’s bachelor party convinced a homeless man to get Kendall’s initials tattooed on his forehead. This is intended to defame Kendall, but Roman is shrugging about his own involvement in it. This, like many other things he says and does, is a simple consequence of being rich and privileged; he’s the embodiment of someone doing something simply because they can, and he has no particular shame in it any of it. He speaks to the power of the Roy family in general and of Waystar particularly, a power that is only reinforced elsewhere in the episode when Tom and Shiv force ATN anchor Ravenhead to disparage the president publicly in the press. Exerting this kind of power over anyone is one thing, but exerting it over the entire mainstream news cycle at the expense of the leader of the free world is quite another. There’s no wonder these kids are so dysfunctional. There’s no wonder Logan is so reticent to take his hands from the wheel.
Of course, there are always victims of the Roys’ behavior, but it’s rare they – or us, the audience – are confronted by them. Pictures of that homeless guy, and Tom having to reckon with the very likely possibility that he’s heading to jail and isn’t quite ready for it, are the chickens coming home to roost in some respects. Tom isn’t as detestable as the other siblings, but he’d like to be, which is perhaps just as bad. Either way, he’s really a puppet that Shiv keeps around for menial tasks and moral support. Just as she blithely suggested he volunteer himself as a sacrifice in the first place, she sees his worrying about prison as an inconvenience. Even Greg, after cozying up to Kendall, has decided to go above Tom and cozy up to Logan instead. Historically, Greg has been Tom’s way of narrowly avoiding the bottom link of the food chain. And he has lost even that minor point of pride now.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, though, which is how you get even Connor trying to negotiate a high-ranking position in the company by essentially blackmailing Logan, through Shiv, with going public about all the things he has been made privy to over the years. His attempts are unconvincing, but you never know. The reality is that Sandy and Stewy are finessing shareholder support and that Logan and his children might be unceremoniously booted from their own company. The wolves are at the door. Very soon, a decision is going to have to be made whether to try and fight, and rely on the lingering after-effects of Logan’s terrifying public image, despite his worsening health, the cruise controversy, and Kendall’s opposition, or settle up with Kendall or Sandy and Stewy. For people so used to absolute power, divvying it up hardly seems likely. But if the Roys are determined to stick behind their ailing patriarch, there’s a good chance that none of them will end up with any power at all.