Succession Season 4 Episode 5 Recap – What is the Kill List?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: April 24, 2023 (Last updated: March 18, 2024)
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Succession Season 4 Episode 5 Recap - What is the Kill List?


Negotiations get tense in the latest episode of Succession as the Roys all try cosplaying their father to mixed effect.

This recap of Succession Season 4 Episode 5, “Kill List”, contains spoilers.

Ever since its inception, Succession has loved an excuse to stuff as many characters as possible into a location that is either ill-suited or actively hostile to them. In “Kill List”, it’s Norway, for a very Scandinavian GoJo retreat that isn’t just the setting for some archery, axe-throwing, and natural wellness treatments, but also the battleground for the acquisition of Waystar.

Succession Season 4 Episode 5 Recap

As we learned in Episode 4, Kendall and Roman are now co-CEOs of the company following Logan’s death in Episode 3, which mostly amounts to swearing at their respective team about the latest movie in the Waystar-produced Kalispitron franchise.

What is the new deal that Matsson offers?

In short, Waystar needs to be sold. It’s a flagging operation with Jurassic ethics, a waning reputation, and a plummeting stock price. But Kendall and Roman are still happy to be even ostensibly in charge of it after lifetimes of begging for scraps at their father’s table, so they still think they can squeeze Matsson for more, even if neither is necessarily sure that they want to let go so soon after being handed the reins.

The original offer was for $144 a share, without ATN, which is good news for Tom since he thinks he doesn’t have to worry about the outcome too much since his position is safe. However, the revised offer is $187 a share, but including ATN. Matsson wants the whole operation.

The smart money is to take this deal. Everyone knows it. Gerri, Frank, and Karl, the seasoned business old-timers, are ready to bite Matsson’s hand off. Shiv is happy to ditch ATN, partly because of its politics, partly because Cyd is now dialing Mencken into editorial meetings, and partly – one assumes anyway, but more on this later – because she wants to spite Tom.

But Roman is reticent. He remembers how precious Logan was about ATN and wants to preserve his legacy by completing the deal as he outlined. But Kendall sees it as an opportunity to push back – not because he has any particularly vested interest in ATN, but because he’s childish and insecure and what’s to make the decision he thinks his father would have made, or at least the one that he wouldn’t have thought of.

What is the Kill List?

At no point do any of the Roy siblings consider the fates of anyone else involved in this. GoJo already has a robust operation, so many of Waystar’s current employees would be surplus to requirements in the acquisition. This is where the titular “Kill List” comes into play. Gerry, Frank, Karl, Hugo, and Karolina, among other members of senior leadership, would all potentially be on the chopping block.

The appeal of this episode, beyond the stakes, are the negotiations themselves, which begin with faux friendliness but just get sharper and nastier as things go. Kendall and Roman are both just ineffectually cosplaying as their father, and Matsson has them outmatched. He’s on his own turf and has more money to throw around than even the Roys can comprehend.

What’s more, unlike most of the people that Kendall and Roman interact with, he knows what they’re up to and isn’t afraid to call it out.

What’s going on with Matsson and Ebba?

Thank goodness for Shiv, then. She positions herself as the voice of reason, and Matsson takes a shine to her. He even confesses that he’s currently in a bit of a pickle with Ebba, a woman on his comms team, because when their relationship fizzled out, he began sending her half-liter blocks of his frozen blood.

Why Matsson would do this is anyone’s guess, and why he’d confess it to Shiv, of all people, is another matter entirely. I’m sure it’ll be important in some sense down the line.

Either way, we’re not privy to the entirety of this conversation, so what Shiv said, promised, or advised is a little nebulous, but what we do know is that she made clear that the deal will remain on the table, whatever the terms, provided Matsson simply offers enough money.

How does Kendall try to tank the deal?

Kendall would like to believe otherwise. He pitches to Roman, in private, that they tank the deal and just run Waystar together, and Roman agrees without much fuss since that’s all he ever does. They plant stories in the press about a culture clash at the retreat and screen the new Kalispitron movie, which they all know is garbage, for the assembled GoJo employees.

The idea is to terrify Matsson into backing out of the deal because if the board knows the brothers killed it, they’ll go over their heads to get it through.

But Matsson sees straight through this. After calling Kendall and Roman a tribute band earlier, he equates them to Scooby-Doo villains here. Roman loses it about Matsson’s insensitivity and lack of compassion, calling him out on everything from asking when he thinks Logan will die in “Too Much Birthday” to forcing them to Norway mere days after their father’s passing just to finalize a deal. He tells Matsson the deal’s off and they hate him.

Succession Season 4 Episode 5 Ending Explained

On the plane home, Matsson calls Frank and offers $192 a share – a deal so generous that Kendall and Roman can’t not take it. He wins, just like that.

Matsson even asks a very chirpy Shiv to send him a picture of Kendall and Roman’s faces. She’s happy to oblige. With the Kill List being revealed to include many names, including Karl, Frank, and Hugo, it curiously doesn’t include Karolina (Ebba’s potential replacement?), or indeed Tom. We don’t know what Shiv told Matsson in private to influence this deal but given her wry smile at the end of the episode, it was certainly something.

You can stream Succession Season 4 Episode 5, “Kill List” exclusively on HBO and HBO Max.

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