What’s the deal with the Kill List in Succession season 4 episode 5?
The Waystar-GoJo deal has been in the works since season 3 of “Succession,” first mentioned in “Lion in the Meadow.” Initially, the assumption was that Waystar, the bigger and older company, would buy GoJo. However, over the course of the season, the deal escalated from an acquisition to a merger before the tables flipped completely; Logan decided to sell his company to Matsson rather than the other way around. That means GoJo holds the cards about employees’ futures.
Whenever one company acquires another, there will be layoffs. Tom mentions a previous acquisition GoJo made, where there was only a 10 percent retention rate of the old firm’s employees (“very meritocratic”). In real life, the usual culprit of these merger layoffs is redundancies; both companies previously had employees who served similar functions, so when they merge into a single operation, there’s no need to keep two people around to perform duties that only one of them can handle. That’s why on the flight to Norway, Karolina (Dagmara Dominczyk) and Hugo (Fisher Stevens) were both reading up on GoJo’s head of communications — they’re both concerned that they come up short next to him.
Importantly, pay attention to who is fretting about the kill list in the episode: Tom, Greg, Karolina, Hugo, and Ray (Patch Darragh), the lower-level members of the senior staff. It’s never the people on the top who are hurt by these mergers. The Roy kids either get a handsome payout from the sale or, if the deal fell through, they’d keep the conglomerate they’ve wanted their entire lives. COO Frank (Peter Friedman) and CFO Karl (David Rasche) are also ready to cash out and retire, hence why they’ve been pushing the kids to shepherd the deal through. Everyone else though, isn’t old or rich enough to live off a severance package.