Have you ever been to sleep away camp? I did, for two summers in 5th and 6th grade. There’s something lawless (sorry, YMCA) about being in an unfamiliar environment, learning new things about yourself, usually with a new group of people. Work retreats are the adult equivalent of summer camp: a new place meant to inspire new ideas and ~growth~ as Kelly from Insecure would say. There’s group dining, group brainstorms, and group bonding. But sometimes, work retreats can be weird. Bad and weird and scary and involving a game called “Boar on the Floor.” Welcome to Waystar Royco’s Hungary retreat. You’re gonna hate it here!
Following in the footsteps of episode 2’s clusterfuck of drama, episode 3, “Hunting,” opens up some brand new Pandora's boxes. Most of it goes down during the mostly male — sans for Cyd Peach (Jeannie Berlin), Karolina (Dagmara Dominczyk) and Gerri (J. Cameron Smith) — exec retreat, led by a secretly ailing Logan Roy (Brian Cox). The short trip is less chanting kumbaya around a fire, and closer to a glimpse into Dante’s third circle of hell. It’s unclear if, based on early scene with Logan and his concerned doctor, his health is on the decline – thus affecting his mental stability — or if he is truly just trying to scare the shit out of everyone that works for him to put them in their place. Either way the trip is a disaster.
Before any of that, Logan shares his latest plan to protect Waystar Royco from Stewy (Arian Moayed) and Sandy’s (Larry Pine) bear hug: purchase Pierce Media News (PGN), a respected rival media company. (They make “actual news”). The Roys and the Pierces (PGN is also a family-run company) have some history (Gerri’s immediate response is, “Again?”), and the idea of Waystar spending $20 billion on the company is absurd to everyone except Logan. He’s trying to prove a point, but never lets anyone “in” on the point he is trying to make — not Shiv, not Marcia, not his board, surely not his sons. He’s not acting rationally (Roman [Kieran Culkin] thinks his dad wants to buy the network because it’s his brother’s favourite and it’ll "piss him off"; Gerri says it’s because they run a paper that put out a “hit piece” on him saying he served warm wine at a party), but everyone’s too afraid to tell him what they really think. On top of that, there’s also a sly reporter working on a tell-all biography about Logan’s legacy (best summarised as indomitable and deplorable) who squeezes a meeting out of the weakest Roy link, Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), despite his self-proclaimed status as “time-pressed executive” unable to “eke out time” for an interview in his calendar. Logan finds out that someone in his inner-circle spoke to the reporter (it turns out that she spoke to more than just Greg, so he’s in the clear), and uses the confines of their retreat in an isolated part of Hungary as the perfect surroundings to smoke out the rats. He feels like prey, so he’s going to hunt right back.
Speaking of hunting, here’s how the rich hunt: They release boar in a confined space as they stand from a vantage point with a gun aimed right at their pathway. It’s savage. There’s no strategy or talent involved, and it ultimately reflects Logan’s own current business strategy: Corner and shoot. Come dinnertime, Logan’s heated over the book, and the fact that not everyone is on board with the plan to purchase Pierce. He takes out his anger on everyone in attendance — including familiar face Francis ‘Frank’ (Peter Friedman) who comes back because he has a useful Pierce family connection, and is as power hungry as Logan — and demands to know who doesn’t support the Pierce plan. If Logan doesn’t think one of them is lying when he asks them if they A. spoke to a reporter or B. have qualms over Pierce, he tells them to be a “boar” on the floor. Greg, Karl (David Rasche), and Tom (Matthew Macfayden) are chosen as potential Judases, sent to sit on the floor while everyone gathers and watches them act like piggies. The scene climaxes when everyone screams “BOAR ON THE FLOOR” and throws sausages at them as they “oink” in unison.
I cannot imagine filming this. I was losing my MIND at Brian Cox’s performance during this scene — he’s the human embodiment of unchecked power. I also feel like we’re inching closer to Tom’s breaking point — after his side convo with Karl and Gerri, it’s crystal clear that everyone thinks he’s their personal pawn and he’s sick of it. Shiv even calls him her personal “meat puppet.” Not only that, but Greg is starting to drift away, closer to Kendall because of the literal proximity of their apartments, but also because Greg has “principles” and hates ATN.
Ultimately, the “fruity” game, which Logan blames on jet lag, proves his all-being, all-ending power. If you don’t agree with me, then you’re nothing more than a pig. In the words of Logan: There. Are. No. Fucking. Rules.
Meanwhile in New York, Shiv hooks up with one of Willa’s (Justine Lupe) actor friends, one who also doesn’t believe in news (for different reasons), much like her own family. It’s interesting that we see this one-night stand after Logan asks Tom if he’s “shooting blanks” since Shiv isn’t pregnant yet. I’m not sure if having kids is part of Shiv’s powerful rise to the top because it’s something we haven’t talked about before. As she points out in a (hilarious) conversation with Tom about the potential acquisition (which she is firmly against), if Waystar buys PMG, where will America get its actual news? Tom says that it will keep the same “truth-y oatmeal branding” and be a “separate brand,” but Shiv is legitimately worried about the idea of men like her dad and fucking Tom helming the news alongside the Times and the Post. And as if that weren’t enough, she also has to worry about Conor, whose campaign video is basically a Clickhole video come to life. His slogan is, TL;DR: I won’t pay my taxes, so Uncle Sam can send me to jail. Shiv enlists Willa to stop him from releasing the video, but he does it anyway, because he’s Conor. He also “hyper decants” his wine using a smoothie blender which is a thing?
Another takeaway from the bizarre retreat is just how dedicated a hollow man can be. Kendall is a soldier for his dad again, first ratting out his Roman for taking a call from Naomi Pierce, potentially messing up the deal, and later giving up the rest of the board who privately voiced their hesitations in the Pierce deal. Much like his final conversation with Lawrence (Rob Yang) at Vaulter in episode 2, he is blindly allegiant to his dad because he literally has nothing else going for him.
Logan uses Roman’s misstep to call him a moron, and put him, and everyone else in the room, in check: How much is a gallon of milk? he bellows, daring anyone to answer. No one can. (Well, maybe Shiv. Once he’s stateside again, Logan calls his ‘Pinky’ and tells her it’s time she’s come in. They have work to do.)
Gerri uses the embarrassing moment to give Roman some sound advice: Start from the bottom up: learn the price of milk, go to an on-boarding to actual learn about the company he’s COO for, and come to her if he ever needs anything. Might I add that this is my favourite duo, even with their extremely soft sexual tension.
Cousin Greg’s Corner
On his way to European hell, Greg experiences his first private plane experience. He’s psyched. “It’s like I am in a very white, very wealthy, band,” he tells Kendall. “I feel like I’m in U2.”