Everybody growing up in the family business has the “Moment” when they decide whether they want to be part or not part of the Family Business. That Moment can occur when they are 5, 15, or 35 years old. A number of items factor into the decision including gender, country and the type of family business. Ultimately, it boils down to one thing: Yes or No; In or Out; and are you doing the Family Business thing?
At the beginning of Succession, Kendall was the only sibling with an on-going, active role in the family business. Did he grow up thinking he was going to take over the family business? Did he ever express interest in a different career? Was Connor always a non-factor which makes a difference because he’s the oldest son?
Of course, the $64,000 question is what about Dad?
The father – son relationship can be extremely difficult. However, a son taking over the family business heightens the traditional father – son problems and also creates an entirely new set of issues for the next generation. These issues include: living up to the father’s success; believing that the NxtGen earned his place in the business; and making sure the business remains viable.
When discussing their business, one successful NxtGen pointed out that nobody refers to a farmer’s son as “farmer’s son”, he’s simply a farmer. “Why does ‘the son’ moniker apply to every other family business?”
Family business stuff is hard. Having a father that hangs on too long and wraps it in distain for the next generation is hard. Not being able to have a conversation with a sibling because you’re competing against them for control of the company is hard. Questioning your own self-worth is hard.
Whether its nature vs. nurture, nurture vs nature or all of the above, Kendall has lost his ability to navigate his role in the family business. Episode 7 showcases the transition from The Heir Apparent to The Heir Apparently Not.
Season 3; Episode 7 – Too Much Birthday – spoiler alert
If Episode 7 is about layering on moments to help destroy Kendall, here’s the list:
- Kendall rehearsing Billy Joel’s “Honesty” with a construction of a cross in the background
- Revelation that the Kendall overplayed his hand and that the DOJ cruise controversy won’t harm the company
- The only reason Shiv and Roman are attending the party is trying to make a business connection’(On the flip side 80% of the A-Listers will attend so there is a brief moment of happiness).
- Entering Kendall’s world through Kendall’s mother’s vagina
- Receives a term sheet from his father offering to buy Kendall’s interest in the holding company
- Learning that Waystar sends goons to the park to talk to Nanny about how often Kendall loses his temper with his kids.
- Cancelling the grand finale including the harness, Billy Joel song, the cross, etc. because it’s a horrible idea.
- Frantically searching through all of presents to find his kid’s birthday present with rabbit wrapping paper.
- Receiving a birthday present watch from Morgana Pierce which she didn’t even have inscribed.
- Roman pushing Kendall in the back and knocking him over in front of guests and then laughing about it.
- Kendall wrapped in a blanket and resting his head on Naomi’s lap.
Kendall has one moment of clarity during the party, “Look, it just feels like an asshole’s birthday party and my thing from the very first meeting that it shouldn’t feel like an asshole’s birthday party”.
It also feels like an asshole’s episode.