Recap: Amid a Whistleblower Scandal and the Best Worst Rap Ever, Shiv Makes Her Move in ‘Dundee’ as ‘Succession’ Nears its Endgame
“Since I stan Dad, I’m alive and well,” Kendall Roy spits in “Dundee,” and it’s not the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen on television (actually, no, that might have been the hero’s welcome Sean Spicer received at the goddamn Emmys, which paved the way for his enraging Dancing with the Stars appearance now, or maybe that “bad pussy” line from Game of Thrones), but it is pretty goddamn rough. What is Kendall even DOING this episode? Every choice is short-sighted and impulsive and reactionary, and my man needs to chill the fuck out. (But I WILL admit that Ken used “stan” correctly here. THANK YOU, KENDALL.)
Let’s recap what Ken gets up to this episode: Randomly starts seeing that girl Jennifer from Willa’s play, which happens to be hemorrhaging Connor’s money. Flies Jennifer out to Dundee, Scotland, home of Pajiba’s own Kayleigh Donaldson and where most all of this episode is set. Fucks around with Jennifer, smiles genuinely at Connor for maybe the first time ever…
… And then abandons Jennifer as soon as Logan isn’t impressed. Suddenly Jennifer says amazing too many times and their idyllic little rendezvous is over, and he’s putting her back on the same plane to New York City that flew her out to Scotland in the first place. Goddammit, Kendall! I don’t think he would have been happy with Jennifer, but everything he does being a reaction to Daddy Logan IS NOT HEALTHY.
Also, I’m … fairly sure that character’s name was Jennifer? I’m sorry, I cannot be bothered to check, DOES IT EVEN MATTER? IT DOES NOT. (Girl, the end was impending once you said, “Has anybody ever told you that you talk about your dad, like, a lot?” You should have known!)
Kendall’s little mini-drama ranks low, I suppose, in terms of important shit that happens in “Dundee,” because oh, did I forget to mention that Shiv stabs Rhea in the back? And that a whistleblower comes forward and starts talking freely about all the shady shit that was going on at cruises? And that Connor might be going broke by bankrolling Willa’s vanity play, Sands? And that Roman sort of, kind of proposes to Gerri, Logan’s “new thing once”? And that Tom and Greg (whose Uncle Ewan is threatening to cut off his inheritance!!!) are probably in very deep shit? And, again, that Kendall raps???
A lot of these issues are linked, of course, so let’s start with Waystar Royco. As the family is traveling to Logan’s hometown of Dundee, Scotland, to attend the opening of the journalism school Logan has named (with a massive donation, of course), shit blows up. Things get ugly fast when news of a whistleblower leaks (who “supervised a number of ‘Mo aftermaths,’” as Karolina puts it) and when James Weissel refuses the company’s “threat/offer” of $20 million to keep quiet, and then get even uglier when Logan himself receives a robocall about the Waystar Royco shareholders’ meeting. Stewy and Sandy really know how to get to him, huh? (Are they backing the whistleblower, we think?) But Shiv sees an opportunity, and she grabs it: Over the course of the episode, we see her urge Gerri to keep the information about the whistleblower a secret from Logan, who is increasingly distracted. He’s possibly sleeping with Rhea—they’re at least eating dinner out together four nights a week, and Marcia isn’t fucking happy about it—and he’s considering his legacy. When Connor asks about his childhood in Dundee, yearning for some more Logan lore, his father is customarily brusque: “Rosebud is a dollar bill. It’s whatever it took to get me the fuck out of here.” But when Logan sits down with Shiv, he’s uncustomarily tender, telling her “The future is real, but the past is all made up.”
Yet Shiv doesn’t have patience for her father, at least not when she’s on the warpath for what she considers to be her legacy: “He made me a fucking offer, and I’m going to redeem that coupon,” she says to Tom. And so when her plan to round up Tom and her brothers and get them to attack Rhea fails—it’s kind of hilarious, honestly, how Rhea is able to sweet talk each man to her own advantage—Shiv instead chooses business over family. She gets Gerri to keep the latest whistleblower updates from her father, and then she gets her father to think that naming Rhea is the right thing to do. So onstage, when Logan names Rhea as his successor, not only is he blowing up his marriage, but he’s also tying the impending whistleblower explosion to his new CEO. Rhea certainly isn’t going to be pleased about that (remember the look she gave Kendall and Logan when the New York magazine story hit?), but she’s stuck, and Shiv made her stuck. I’m honestly impressed!
Also stuck in shitty situations are, of course, Tom (who is not only dealing with pressure from Shiv, but as the cruises story gets more and more national news attention, must be thinking of his whole corruption and collusion dealio), and Greg, who walks away from $250 million from Grandpa Ewan’s will for … what, exactly? I will admit that I don’t entirely understand Greg’s motivations here. His interaction with Logan in the party bathroom reeked of insincerity on his uncle’s part, I thought, and I don’t know why he would buy Logan’s, what, half-promise of a future with the company? Or is he banking on the documents he’s stashed away that implicate Tom? Does he think he can get Tom’s job if he throws him under the bus? I’M NOT SURE. I’M ALSO NOT ENTIRELY SURE GREG COULD PULL THAT OFF.
And speaking of pulling things off … did Kendall pull of that rap? Are we, as Roman said, getting “sucked into a black hole of embarrassment”? Are we Frank’s face, who was so aghast at what his onetime mentee had become? Here, let’s cycle through everyone’s reactions:
My favorite lines from the rap? Probably when Kendall played to Logan’s ego by saying he’s “Never gonna stop/Fuck Father Time,” or how about “Shaper of feuds, creator of news?” Fuck this show, truly, because “L to the O.G.” has been stuck in my head for two weeks, since I first watched “Dundee,” and it’s not going away! And contrast all that with Ewan’s parting words for brother Logan: “This empire of shit. Time to pay up.” Does Rhea have her checkbook ready?
ODDS AND ENDS
+ Of course it was Greg’s luck that he would get sand mites from the sand in Sands. Who knew that construction sand and desert sand were so different?
+ Loved Tom calling out Shiv when the actor she slept with walked by. “Are you sweating?”
+ When Roman said “If it was perfect, why would I want more?” during the video recording, I felt that.
+ When Connor said, “Hey Dad, it’s me, Connor Roy, your son. You fight the bad guys, and you always win. I super love you, Super Dad,” I DID NOT feel that.
+ A lot of different details about Logan’s background are nestled throughout this episode: We confirm that he did not shit in a bucket outside; that his childhood house was fine, but still holds terrible memories; that Logan and Ewan were once sort-of close, bonding over birdwatching; that the brothers had a sister, Rose, whose death Logan has blamed on himself; and that Connor’s mom, Logan’s first wife, ended up committed at a psychiatric hospital. What the hell happened? Also—does the Logan/Ewan dynamic remind anyone else of Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore? Anyone??
+ On the one hand, of course Roman is an idiot for buying the wrong team for Logan, but on the other hand, this ties him more to Eduard Asgarov, right? So the Waystar Royco-going-private option is still on the table? I guess that’s good? Sort of? Maybe it will sway Gerri toward that marriage proposal? Who could turn down “You eat me, I eat you, like they do in Germany”?
+ I feel for Marcia, but how she reads Logan at the end of this episode really does prove to me that she knows him on a level Rhea—and maybe none of his children—understand. “You’re careless. You’ve been careless of me. I’m bored. You are boring me. Oh God forbid, I miss the plaque … Your shiny little gravestone.” Those are deep cuts! Good for you, lady!
+ I am assuming that Marcia threatening Rhea with “When I lose, the other one will generally lose an eye or so,” is a reference to Hiam Abbass’s own role in Blade Runner 2049. It’s canon!
+ LOGAN BOUGHT SALLY ANN A HARP??? Was she also a “pricktease”? You can’t use that word anymore, Logan!
+ SHIV ROY OUTFIT REPORT. I want all of these items, dammit!
+ Obviously, this Roman/Rhea exchange was awful, but perfect:
Roman: “Fitting right in, like a camp counselor in my butt when I was 12.”
Rhea: “Is that Keats?”
Come on! No Roy child ever went to camp.
+ Another sign that Rhea’s whole “I believe in the Pierces, they’re good news media” line was bullshit: When she and Kendall mock the new journalism school named after Logan with “a whole school for how to intern at a clickbait aggregator” and “10 reasons why you’re never getting paid.” This is some media elite bullshit, and I am tired of it!
+ Let’s end it again on Ewan, shall we? His dialogue is sometimes too on the nose, but I treasure Cromwell’s constantly curmudgeonly vibe and how deeply and easily Ewan dunks on Logan:
“He’s morally bankrupt. He’s a nothing man who may well be more personally responsible for the death of this planet than any other single human being. In terms of the lives that will be lost by his whoring for the climate change deniers, there’s a very persuasive argument to be made that he’s worse than Hitler. … Any other man would have died from the shame. It’s hard to know which is more toxic: your news outlets or your cruise division. All those years, blaming yourself for Rose. That really wasn’t your fault. This, though. This is your fault.”
Whew! See y’all next week!
Image sources (in order of posting): HBO Media Relations, HBO/Succession