By Kaleena Rivera | TV | April 4, 2023 |
By Kaleena Rivera | TV | April 4, 2023 |
(spoilers for episode two, season three)
Succession has never been interested in navigating character binaries like “good guys” or “bad guys.” From the first episode, it was always generally accepted that everyone was varying shades of awful, and no one should ever root too hard for a particular camp. Arguably though, the series has propped up Logan as the closest thing to a main villain we can get, while his awful kids, a label largely obtained of their own merit, are partially of Logan’s making. But for viewers like me, a shift has occurred this week, something slightly discomforting yet entirely unavoidable:
Logan is right. Also, Logan is going to win.
As we see toward the end of the hour, the rug may get pulled out from under him, but the odds overwhelmingly suggest that when the sun finally sets on all of this, Logan will eventually be the one left ruling on the mountaintop. The only question now is who is going to be perched vulture-like beneath him and whose remains will be dashed upon the rocks below.
Although it’s Logan’s business acumen that’s gotten him where he is, the reason why his kids are never going to unseat him is because they are, as he puts it, “not serious people.” But as we watch the kids kick the tires on their ($10 billion) property, it comes off as an understatement. Seeing them make wry jokes about the less-than-sexy PGN pundits and pitch nonsense like, “a network that teaches you how to watch it,” is like watching a 13-year-old try to handle a Lamborghini.
Twenty-four hours away from closing on the biggest deal of his life, and Logan is already looking ahead. His surprise visit to ATN naturally puts the fear of God into everyone (Greg: “He’s just moseying. Terrifyingly moseying”) before he takes the opportunity to drum up enthusiasm for the next as-yet undefined phase of the network (“I’m gonna build something better. Something faster, lighter, leaner, wilder”). It’s a roaring speech and has the intended effect of riling up the unsettled masses despite his makeshift printer paper box stage. But the self-indulgent modification—inspired by a real life moment in which Rupert Murdoch did that very thing on the floor of The Wall Street Journal—also drives home the fact that despite the boom in his voice and the drive in his spirit, a weakness peeks through; his hatred of the old age status he now occupies stems from a place of fear.
At the moment, however, the fear everyone has of Logan still more than makes up for this. When it’s finally revealed that Kerry wants to be an ATN anchor and her terrible audition tape (kudos to Zoe Winters for fitting so much awkwardness in such a brief amount of time) begins making the rounds among various Waystar crew—including Hugo, who will definitely wait until he’s safely in his office the next time he wants to mock his boss’ assistant/girlfriend—the responsibility of turning her down becomes a game of Hot Potato. Logan doesn’t want to lose her loyalty and/or whatever intimacy may be happening, so he assigns Tom to break it to her. Tom, naturally, tosses the unpinned grenade to Greg. Although his denseness shields him from most of her barbs, her parting, “I’m gonna tear you apart like a human string cheese,” seems to have left an impression. I, for one, look forward to watching Kerry eat Greg alive. Then again, after losing her “betrayal cherry,” Greg may have fallen down her list of priorities.
Like their father, the kids are weak both on an individual level and as a unit. Unlike Logan, who has a glimpse of this weakness, hence the occasional need to put on a show, the kids have zero idea. It’s ‘born on third base’ on steroids, which is what makes their shock over being denied the use of the family helicopter pathetically funny. “We are the company, our dad is the CEO,” an indignant Shiv tells the employee, as though they haven’t been waging war against Logan for months.
Well, two out of three of them, at least. Because it turns out Roman has been quietly texting Logan ever since the day of the birthday party. He’ll talk an (unconvincing) game to his brother and sister, but he dearly wants his family to get along. For someone who makes a hobby of disturbing people, it’s surprising what lengths Roman will go to to avoid conflict.
Once the trio makes the trek into the city—sans helicopter, oh the indignity of it all—Stewy and Sandi ambush them on the way to Connor and Willa’s wedding rehearsal, requesting a deal to vote no on the GoJo acquisition for more money. Of course, Shiv only has to feign surprise seeing as how she’s the one who instigated the thing. But Shiv is operating solely on rage at the moment. Because after their bittersweet moment last week, Tom, at Logan’s suggestion, has gone on the offensive and made contact with the biggest divorce attorneys in New York City, leaving her unable to hire them. But Kendall and Roman have no desire to lengthen the process any further and soundly reject their proposal.
That situation changes drastically only a few short hours later. After Willa flees from the rehearsal, Connor pleads with his siblings to provide him a night out to keep his mind off of his runaway bride. At his request, the gang play at being tourists in a hole in the wall (Connor: “A real bar with…guys who work with their hands and grease and sweat from their hands and have blood in their hair.” Roman: “I don’t like these guys. They sound like a medical experiment”). But while Connor romanticizes the middle class and Shiv and Roman sneer at it all, Kendall gets an unnerving phone call from The Swede, Lukas Matsson, who has somehow uncovered Sandi and Stewy’s scheme. It’s a straightforward call: waylay the deal to pinch more money, and Matsson will walk.
It’s open and shut. Who in their right mind would risk literal billions? The answer is someone who has nurtured a lifetime grudge and a habit of breaking things only to be left tearfully cleaning it up later. When comparing the Roy children, Roman is often the one pinned with a Loki-like inclination to feed off pandemonium, but little evidence bears that out—if anything, the Sick Puppy is the most risk-averse of them all. Whereas level-headed Kendall a week from now would regret the loss of a couple billion dollars, but emotional Kendall of the moment is okay with many people, himself included, losing billions merely because it’s the only way he can ever truly hurt Logan.
When imagining the inevitable face-to-face confrontation, I expected dramatic fireworks. What I wasn’t ready for was how forlorn it would be, nor that it would be due to Connor. I’ve talked before about how much Ruck’s performance has flown under the radar, which has a lot to do with the fact that Connor’s buffoonery is much easier to overlook (comedy rarely commands the respect so freely given to drama). But Ruck gets to bring it this week:
“You’re needy love sponges. And I’m a plant that grows on rocks and lives off insects that die inside of me. If Willa doesn’t come back, that’s fine. Because I don’t need love. It’s like a superpower.”
Of course, we know that there’s a bit of a lie nested within that tragic declaration. Connor’s body wrapping around Willa on that bed, shoes and all, attest to the fact that although he’s able to survive without love, he desires it with a profound intensity.
With the deal almost certainly headed down the drain, the suspense now comes from waiting to see the colossal reaction. On the other hand, Logan may have a Hail Mary pass by way of Roman, who’s helpless when it comes to seeking his father’s approval. “I mean, you really want me at ATN?” Roman asks, to which his father responds, “More, Romulus, more. I need you.” For once, Logan is telling his son the God’s honest truth.
Greg: “He’s wearing sunglasses inside. It looks like if Santa Claus was a hitman.”
Greg: “It’s like Jaws. If everyone in Jaws worked for Jaws.”
Connor: “I’ll just have whatever a regular Joe would have, just a Belgian Weissbier. Not Hoegaarden, ideally.”
Tom: “It’s like Israel-Palestine, except harder and much more important.”
Kaleena Rivera is the TV Editor for Pajiba. When she isn’t counting the days before Connor and Willa’s drama-filled nuptials, she can be found on Twitter here.