Photograph by David Russell/HBO
Yikes, he’s aliiiive!
What a shocker for this episode to open on a close-up of Logan’s giant, pock-marked face. Having recorded a video pre-mortem, he’s shown standing in front of a green screen, voicing some uninspired promo for Waystar/Royco’s newest boondoggle, a senior living community called “Living+”
In addition to stealing Martha Stewart’s logo, the “product” promises eternal life, which is a con as old as time.
Plus, there’s the tiny irony of Living+ being brought to us by a dead man.
Yet lest anyone shed a tear about Dad of the Undead, Logan’s caught on tape excoriating the crew. He snaps at the female director who asks him if he could perhaps put “a little more excitement” into saying the word “excitement.”
To add to the gratuitous fun, he throws in a line about the crew being as bad as his “fucking idiot kids.”
Kendall hears it in the control room. But as with the decades of abuse he’s taken from Logan, he says it’s OK.
Yes, the kids are in L.A, meeting the troops at Waystar Studios, preparing for “Investor’s Day” and the Living+ product launch.
It was intended to be Logan’s run, and the kids are not alright with it. That includes Mattson, who as his takeover looms, is becoming more like a moody, manic, fourth Logan kid.
As he told Shiv earlier when they sat on the tarmac, private jet to private jet, and he ran over barefoot to borrow a cup of sugar, he has no interest in this landlocked nightmare of a business. It angers him that they’re birthing it at all when he plans to kill it.
Meanwhile, the boys, in an attempt to act like dad, are turning into two-bit dictators. Kendall gets manic and grandiose, Roman’s manic and firing people.
Shiv is actually “scheduling her grief” which seems like a good idea. Still, she likes to triangulate, which she’s always done with her two brothers. Now she’s triangulating with Mattson and Tom.
Still smarting over Mattson calling them “a tribute band,” the fragile-ego bros call a board meeting with the elders to share a concern about the GoJo deal. As Roman puts it, with unusual corporate rectitude,“Mattson exhibited some erratic behavior that has us concerned.”
Kendall adds that Mattson “had a meltdown, like Chernobyl.”
This is a mighty rich projection, since it was Roman who had the meltdown on the mountaintop.
But the elders and Tom all want their money out of the deal (and Karl needs that island in Greece) so they defend the bratty genius.
Shiv lets her sibs know that she’s on to them trying to kill the deal without telling her.
“Lie to me” she says, “lie to my face.” Kendall (lying to her face) tells her that he was trying to “protect her.” Roman, apologetic, suggests a group hug. Shiv stands like a stone while they tap her back. In fairness, she herself is acting as a double agent.
L.A. has its own joys. I loved the scene showing Roman going to lunch on the Waystar lot. Over swelling, heroic music, we see him being driven in a golf cart, riding in the back seat like an imperious four-year-old. Once he’s there, Joy the studio head fails to show the proper reverence, instead mentioning her discomfort with the company’s politics. He fires her.
Speaking of disasters, I get advance PTSD even thinking of Kendall performing before a crowd.
At rehearsals, Kendall tells the crew that he’d like a prototype house with cotton clouds built for the stage, overnight. The next morning he’s disappointed in the raw plywood outcome. He asks to see the clouds, and they come down in a creepy spray, like Zyklon B.
Actually, I got Hitler vibes throughout the episode. Ken tells the crew he saw the clouds in Germany. He and Roman are in their own, sadly irrational tyrannical world. He’s jacking up the Living+ data, with the idea of inflating the stock price, forcing Mattson to pay more, which he won’t. It’s like he's selling his own Final Solution, this time with movies, security, and access to the newest pharmaceuticals.
Taking Shiv’s advice, Roman backs out of a co-performance. Ken goes it alone on stage, in his cosplay Maverick pilot jacket, spiraling while repeating “Big Shoes.”
Mattson tweets “ Doderick macht frei” with a visual mix of Nazi death camps and Waystar theme parks. Doderick is the Waystar theme park character that Greg played, vomiting through its eye holes.
Still, Greg was the one putting the screws to the sound engineer to manipulate Logan’s mouth and words so that his screen presence is doctored to say Living+ will “double the company’s revenue.”
But editing on the fly while onstage, after Karl threatens him, Kendall manages to temper his insanity. He somehow ends up in a grounded, sympathetic place, with real tears streaming.
“What would I give to have more time with my Dad?’ he cries. “To say the unsaid?”
It goes over big.
And he’s even handled the issue of Mattson’s offensive tweet in a grown-up, professional way.
Shiv, the turned-on loser of the “Bitey” game, appears to be returning to Tom. A question: How did they have sex without his realizing that she’s pregnant?
An additional question: When is Logan’s funeral? Hasn’t he been moldering for days?
Throughout this episode, I had a terrible feeling that the funeral might be for Kendall instead.
Especially at the end, when he jumps into the Pacific. Kendall has a terrible history with water (murder, possible suicide) so I feared that he’d end it. Instead, we see him floating face-up. Neither underlined, nor crossed out, he’s drawn a number one in the sand.
As such, he ungenerously sends Roman an email of a newly engineered bit of tape showing Logan saying, “My kid has a microdick and always gets it wrong.”
Desperate for any dad attention, Rome listens over and over, hitting his head with the phone in a gorgeous piece of acting.
Sadly, he’s locked into Punishment+.
Logan, still pulling the strings, is the only one who is Living+.