Adrien Brody brings a Jewish character and anti-Semitism to ‘Succession’

Spoiler alert: This piece contains plot details about HBO’s “Succession,” including extensive details about the season 3 episode “Lion in the Meadow” that first aired on November 7, 2021.

(JTA) – In the first shot of Kendall Roy entering the island where Waystar investor Josh Aaronson lives in the latest episode of the hit HBO series “Succession,” a massive mezuzah is seen in the doorway behind he.

The mezuzah, which appears to be about 8 inches long, sits neatly around Kendall’s head (it’s low) and sets the tone for the encounter – Aaronson’s Jewish identity is present and looming.

Kendall and Logan Roy (Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox) are called upon to retire Aaronson to the island because the investor is concerned that their feud, and the FBI investigation it has sparked, is detrimental to business.

Aaronson, who has not previously appeared on the show, is played by Adrien Brody, the Jewish actor who won an Oscar for his portrayal of a Holocaust survivor in The pianist. His presence offers a new lens for the viewer to watch the father-son conflict unfold, and for Logan’s anti-Semitism to regain front and center.

Logan’s anti-Semitism has been briefly mentioned on the show before, and his eldest son, Connor, alludes to it again in this week’s episode, when he tells his sister about Waystar: “What was it they used to say around here? ? No blacks, no Jews, no women on the fourth floor?

But “Succession,” a lifestyle psychodrama for the rich and famous revolving around the petty squabbles of a family-run media empire, had never fully shown its patriarch’s anti-Semitism until the episode in which Brody appears. .

The first proof comes not from Logan, but from his confidant, Frank Vernon, who tells Kendall as he sends him to Aaronson’s Island, “You want your pound of meat, okay?” The line is from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”, considered by many to be a reflection of anti-Semitism, in which the Jewish moneylender Shylock demands a pound of meat from a character who cannot pay his debt.

But Logan is the main offender, starting just minutes after he arrives at Aaronson’s glass-walled house and tells him not to worry. “Support me, sit back, count all your gold in your castle right here, and I’ll heal you,” he says, a look of concern crossing Kendall’s face. Are you leaning toward an anti-Semitic stereotype about Jews who only care about money, or are you just being honest with an investor who, well, really only cares about money?

The answer comes a moment later, when Aaronson rejects the argument and suggests a walk. “Look at this fucking sneaky from New York,” says Logan Roy. He wouldn’t have been the first to use “New York” as an anti-Semitic dog whistle.

Your walk through the dunes ends at a table where waiters leave trays of lobster and clams, which Aaronson digs up as his companions squirm. (Aaronson later refers to the menu as “damn rodents”, a possible allusion to the fact that they are not kosher). At the end of the meal, Logan promises to try to get Aaronson what he wants to stay with an investor, Aaronson says he wants to make the way back easier.

“Oh city boy, huh?” Logan says mockingly. “Well, you’re a bit far from your closest coffee and bagel.”

Everyone loves bagels, right? The show makes it clear that this was also intended to be an anti-Semitic dig when Kendall Roy confronts her father on the way back. During his tirade, he tells Logan about Aaronson: “He hates you too. Your fucking anti-Semitic bagel and your gold shit! “

The moment is meant to offer one more distinction between father and son: that while they are both ruthless boardroom actors, Kendall lacks some of the hateful tone that Logan is known for and has likely contributed to his success.

Brody will not say if he will appear on “Succession” again, although he did tell Variety that he would like to do so. Fans of the show said on social media Sunday night that they would like it too.

The encounter isn’t the only Jewish content in the episode, a rarity for a show that has rarely alluded to the existence of Jews. (A senator in a past season who clearly follows the model of Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Jewish Democrat, has no particular identity; he is played by Eric Bogosian, who is not Jewish.)

At one point, Tom Wambsgams (Matthew Macfadyen), the WASPy husband of Siobahn Roy (Sarah Snook) who is about to take the blame for Waystar’s criminal practices, is seen flipping through a prison folder. He tells Siobahn that he is leaning towards Otisville (it is unclear if he will actually go to jail or will be able to choose where).

“Otisville is in the north of the state. You know, the Jewish jail? Tom says. “I keep hearing a lot of really good things about it. Kosher vending machines and sturdy bunks and … “

Among the Jewish prisoners who spent time in Otisville were Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s associate; Sholom Rubashkin, the kosher meat executive convicted on fraud charges; and Sheldon Silver, former New York Assembly Leader. One former prisoner called it “the federal Jewish paradise” and said he fondly remembered Shabbat dinners and Passover seders in Otisville.

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