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succession season 3-shiv.png

‘Succession’ Episode 2 Recap: All the Pretty Trojan Horses

By Kaleena Rivera | TV | October 25, 2021 |

By Kaleena Rivera | TV | October 25, 2021 |


succession season 3-shiv.png

(spoilers for season three, episode two ahead)

“I need to know where everyone is and what everyone’s thinking,” Logan yells, setting the theme for the newest episode, which picks up immediately where the season premiere left off. Logan is raging in his hotel room in Sarajevo, demanding to know of Shiv’s whereabouts. Shiv, still in the back of the SUV feeling bitter, leaves her father’s calls (an image of Saddam Hussein now operating as his profile photo) unanswered. Logan does get in touch with Roman, using him as his man on the ground (“I need you showing your face for me, son”) while asking him to keep an eye on Gerri.

Kendall is amassing more power. He wants Greg to pull in Ewan, who would be a substantial chess piece in his quest to bring down Logan. Poor Greg, meanwhile, is having doubts. He’s fully aware he’s in over his head, and the pressure is already beginning to get to him (“I’m kinda too young to be in Congress so much, you know?”), especially in regard to his role with the documents proving the cruise ship cover-up. Kendall assures him that he doesn’t have to inform anyone, including the government, how he obtained these documents. Greg is naive enough to believe him, and is slightly soothed by Kendall’s promise to get him legal counsel. But Greg’s stress ratchets right back up when he walks outside and notices Shiv walking into the building. Unfortunately, Tom, who has been calling him relentlessly to intimidate him into providing information about the papers, chooses that very moment to call from a different number, which, of course, Greg answers. After threatening him with Logan’s might, Greg tries to distance himself from Kendall’s cause, as well as the matter of those papers, by tossing out the perfect distraction: telling Tom about Shiv’s arrival. Now it’s Tom’s turn to be blindsided, though he pretends her visit was planned in advance, intent on holding on to that information for as long as it suits him otherwise.

Kendall is in the hallway with a recently delivered replica of a Trojan horse sent by his old frenemy, Stewy. Just as he’s contemplating the snide gift, Shiv steps off the elevator and into the hallway. He wastes no time and asks her outright to be on his team. Shiv denies any interest in doing so, though she’s clearly assessing his situation in order to decide whether or not to defect from Logan’s camp. When Shiv discusses her frustration with the way he handled the press conference, Kendall begins flouting his moral superiority. His desire to frame himself as some sort of savior isn’t only a ploy to appeal to her better nature (a flawed plan out the gate), it’s also his way of convincing himself that everything he’s doing is for some greater good and not simply a means of getting revenge on Daddy.

Gerri has wasted no time in her new role as interim CEO, already at work despite the late hour (taking a moment out to take a few pictures of her name on the evening news). Roman walks in to gauge his (professional) position with her. She tries to acknowledge his strengths, but has no problem conveying his weaknesses as well. Roman’s desire to learn seems genuine, and when Gerri informs him that his “apprenticeship begins,” he seems at peace with it. It’s a move that I can’t imagine any of the other Roy men taking (Kendall would never), and his emerging willingness to take cues from people who are clearly smarter than him may eventually make him a formidable ally or foe, depending on where you’re sitting.

Logan is having a straight-up temper tantrum. Gone is any attempt at stoicism. He’s all too aware of the fact he’s “losing juice,” and the resulting anxiety is enough to throw him off of his axis completely, so much so that his greatest need, aside from crushing his enemies to dust, is to have his family close at hand. His anxiety is large enough that when he’s finally able to talk to Connor, the only Roy who can be reached at that moment, Logan asks if they’re still okay after the harsh dressing down he delivered on the yacht (when Logan told him he’s an embarrassment for his presidential ambitions). It’s almost in the same zip code as an apology, but when Connor doesn’t fully accept that things are okay between the two of them, Logan tries to endear himself to him: “You’re number one, kiddo, you know that.” It’s such a load of tripe that even Connor knows it, simple though he may be. That dangling carrot may have worked at one time, but the last few months of being cast aside and forced to contend with his mediocrity has enabled him to become better able to realistically assess his situation.

While Kendall and Shiv try to one-up each other, they receive word that Roman has arrived. Kendall is thrilled, though he makes a point to tell his sister, “You’re the one I want, Shiv.” As they anticipate his arrival, Kendall goes to talk to Lisa in Rava’s dining room. Lisa is trying to formulate a game plan with him, but Kendall is too distracted to think about minor things like remaining a free man. While Shiv waits on the couch, Tom calls her. She decides to answer him and, when asked, proceeds to lie about her whereabouts. Even if Greg hadn’t already told Tom where Shiv is, her lie is delivered so badly that Tom would instantly know something is up. Once again, Shiv tells him, “I love you,” only to receive a curt “Thank you.” Tom is being a bit petulant, but even though his way of coping with their problems misses the mark, his observation that their “love portfolio” is “unbalanced” is all too accurate.

The three siblings are now reunited and doing what they do best, which is to be constantly suspicious of one another. Shiv and Roman are both there to figure out Kendall’s chances of coming out on top (she claims she just wants to “talk him down,” while Roman half-heartedly claims to be monitoring Shiv). Eager for more privacy (in addition to his team, there’s also various domestic workers going in and out of the common areas), Kendall moves the impromptu meeting into his daughter Sophie’s room. It’s a moment that not only provides the biggest laugh of the night from me (Roman: “He remembered his kid’s name”) but it’s also a hilarious acknowledgment of the question many people have been asking since last week, which is where the hell Kendall and Rava’s kids have been during this time. But just after the conversation picks up again in the bedroom, Connor appears. It seems Logan’s slightly desperate attempt to keep Connor close to him and away from Kendall has backfired. Kendall wants the four of them to go public as a united front, a prospect that is immediately shot down by the others. Kendall keeps trying to convince them of his half-baked vision served up on a platter of edgy corporate-speak garnished with liberal concerns, a tactic which may hold sway over Connor, but has no effect on the cynical Roman and Shiv. “I want to offer you a ticket to the escape pod,” Kendall says. Roman has heard all he needs to hear; he declares his intention to stick with Logan. Kendall tries to press on his ego by bringing up how Roman was passed over for Gerri, though it has little effect considering that it’s probably the best outcome for Roman. It’s only when Shiv gets in a dig about him trying to “hide under the covers with mommy,” along with a shot at his sex life (a combo that gets too close to the truth for his comfort) that Roman storms out of the room, clearly hit in a vulnerable spot. Connor brings him back, however, leaving Kendall able to continue spewing his approximation of a master plan before Kendall excuses himself to say goodnight to his children.

Meanwhile, Greg is at home with a friend when there’s a knock at the door. The visitor identifies himself as Oliver Noonan (John Sanders), a lawyer sent by Gerri. Greg is trying to keep up and process all the information fired in his direction—not fully realizing the bear trap that’s trying to close around his ankle but suspicious enough to know that some caution is necessary—but his knowledge of the law is almost nonexistent. Amazingly, Greg just barely manages to squeak out of the trap Waystar Royco laid out for him by turning down being legally beholden to them. The situation only demonstrates even further that he’s in desperate need of his own legal representation. Greg reaches out to Ewan. As always, he hates his brother but his distaste for “airing out dirty laundry in public” makes him scornful of Kendall. Greg is more concerned with getting a lawyer, and he knows his best chance of making any sense of it all is to ask his grandfather. Though Ewan is suspicious of Greg’s claims that his hands are entirely clean, he agrees to get him a lawyer. Ewan takes him to the same lawyer (Peter Riegert) he’s using, praising him for being “intransigent”—continuing Greg’s amusing habit of nodding away like a bobblehead anytime he’s confronted with a word he doesn’t understand. Greg feels so secure being by his grandfather’s side that he doesn’t realize that Ewan is also taking advantage of Greg, to use him as a means of exposing Waystar Royco’s inner workings, even if it means his grandson eventually winds up in prison.

Back in Sarajevo, Marcia makes an unlikely appearance. She and Logan have been estranged for months now (since he started stepping out with Rhea), but if there was ever a time for Logan to appear like a dedicated husband and father, it’s now. Logan’s legal team (Karolina is notably back in the fold) starts the coaching process so Marcia’s absence can be made more palatable for the press. Marcia is willing to reconcile, but she has a few requests, which can be summarized as a digit followed by a number of zeros behind it. Logan needs her more than she needs him, and she knows it. More importantly, Hugo knows it. As she leaves her rep to put Hugo over the fire, Marcia lovingly lays her hands on an exhausted Logan, secure in her victory.

Unsurprisingly, Kendall is not talking to his children but rather Stewy. Stewy and Sandy, speaking long-distance and physically represented by his daughter, the confusingly named Sandi (Hope Davis), are curious about Kendall’s standing. He assures them that he can get rid of Logan and still see to maintaining the agreement made back in Greece. It’s a win/win situation for Sandy; he keeps his power position and a front-row view to watch his archnemesis be destroyed, all without lifting a finger.

Shiv and Roman are gauging each other as always. They’re pretending to both be there to look out for Logan’s best interests, but it’s Shiv who’s willing to voice that together they can form an alliance powerful enough to take him down. Roman shies away from the thought, because the only thing that outweighs his self-interest is the fear he has of Logan (“He’s like f—king Moby Dick. He can take us all down with his back riddled with harpoons”). Shiv is trying to treat this like an academic exercise, but the more talk there is, the realer it becomes. Connor is also in agreement that they would likely wind up victorious should they band together. By the time Kendall is back inside the apartment, what was once mere musings is now turning into a genuine discussion. Kendall reveals that he was just speaking to Sandy and Stewy, who have stated they would allow the Roys to take the reins (he seems unconcerned with whether or not they can be believed). It almost seems like a done deal, with Kendall already dividing up the imaginary pie among him and his siblings. Unfortunately for him, it takes one simple fact to send the entire plot crumbling down around them: Kendall would be the one in charge. Like kids bickering over the same toy, they proceed to argue over who should take on the mantle of CEO. Shiv still wants it, a proposition her brothers scoff at.

Decisions need to be made. Shiv steps outside to call Tom, who makes a poor showing of acting surprised when she finally tells him she’s at Kendall’s. Once she makes it past his snippiness, she comes clean about the discussion regarding taking down Logan. On another balcony, Roman is having the same conversation with Gerri. While Tom has a cautious curiosity, Gerri is immediately alarmed, though she does her damnedest not to show it. She knows they would have a good chance, probably the best chance, at ruining Logan. But as sneaky as Gerri can be, she’s inclined toward truthfulness, especially when it suits her. So when Roman asks her who among the siblings is most likely to run things, she informs him that there’s no situation in which they aren’t pushed aside by the board. Sandy would likely make the major call (whatever assurances he’s made to Kendall be damned), but either way, none of the Roys come out of this the victor.

Shiv and Roman walk back inside. During their absence, a delivery has arrived. It’s a box of donuts courtesy of Logan, who’s made a bullseye guess as to why his children are incommunicado. Never has a baked good seemed so quietly threatening. As Kendall tries to rally his siblings to go all in by declaring their intentions to their father, the rest go quiet. Logan is the Eye of Sauron, able to see all that goes on in his kingdom, and despite their inability to see eye-to-eye, the one thing the Roy siblings have in common is a lifelong terror of their father. One-by-one they’re out, starting with Connor (the viciousness with which Kendall lays into him is surprising, even for him), then Roman, whom Kendall quickly dismisses. Now it’s Shiv. Out of the three, Shiv’s refusal is the one that disappoints Kendall the most. Both he and Logan have an overwhelming need to have her by their side, which seems to run counter to their insistence that she doesn’t have the experience necessary to run the company.

Now firmly reestablished on the Logan side, Roman and Shiv, sitting together in the backseat of a car, contact Logan. While talking to Roman, Logan questions Shiv’s loyalty. Roman, who has a pretty good idea of exactly how close she was to defecting, covers for her. He tells Logan that she’s all in. Assured, Logan announces his intention to return to New York, because although the legal danger remains, the presence of his family and their allegiance renews his sense of power. A day later, Logan makes his triumphant return to American soil as the press looks on. He makes a show of greeting Roman (though Gerri is given the cold shoulder) before getting into the back of the same SUV Shiv is sitting in. To show his appreciation, as well as a way of making amends (and a leash), Logan declares to Shiv that he wants to put her up as president. Position-wise, it’s meaningless, though it gives her an impressive title, plus it allows Logan to have a dedicated proxy at Waystar Royco while safely hidden behind a human shield who happens to be named Gerri Kellman.

Everyone is a Trojan horse in this episode, even if they don’t know it. It seems ever more likely that bumbling Cousin Greg will be the unassuming brick that brings Waystar Royco crashing down. Until then, most of the Roy family are toys filled with hidden agendas. Roman plans on amassing power with Gerri while quietly vying for his father’s affection and admiration. Shiv is finally getting her big moment to shine at the company, safe in the knowledge that Gerri will receive every arrow that comes their way. Logan’s preoccupation with Gerri seems to be rather sudden. His rudeness toward her in public view strongly suggests that he’s performing a part, one of the embattled titan who’s been forcibly pushed aside, rather than the true puppet master who installed his successor himself. But within this seemingly simple box, seems to lie an as-yet unseen agenda. Though she was secretly one of Kendall’s original co-conspirators, Logan has, until now, had a nearly unwavering confidence in her. It’s possibly his paranoia talking, though I fear that Gerri, excited as she is by her new position, will soon grow to regret her advancement.

Out of his many flaws, Kendall’s most outwardly annoying one is his insistence that the “detoxifying” of Waystar Royco is somehow in the best interest of the world. Like many, Kendall is entirely self-serving in a way that if something beneficial happens by chance, it’s a net positive, but his drug-fueled concern, faux-moral high ground is ridiculous at best (“Information is going to be more precious than water,” says the man who has never known true thirst), not to mention a terrible tactic for recruiting others. As insincere as it is, the conversation does bring in to focus their culpability in the coverup. With all the talk of the general “scandal,” a word repeated so often in the world that it practically loses meaning, it’s all too easy for those at the top to forget there are real people at the center of the fallout. With lines between Kendall and his family redrawn, expect things to get even uglier (Kendall’s raging misogyny is likely only a preamble) during the coming weeks.

A Moment of Zen With Cousin Greg:
“Good. I like it, I like it.”

The Biggest Lie:
“I’m gonna outsource it to my therapist.”

The Biggest Truth:
“‘Rotten Cabal’ is a good name for a band.”

Kaleena Rivera is the TV Editor for Pajiba. When she isn’t repeatedly pausing the screen to figure out where the donuts are from, she can be found on Twitter here.

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