Succession has always been a show about an empire needing to change its guard. Way back in the pilot episode, we saw Logan hospitalized and panic ensue as nobody knew who was truly next in line. Since then, the show has been about the aging emperor clinging tightly to his power, denying his need to plan for the future as his own ego is telling him that nobody can do what he does.
While we’ve watched Logan refuse to name his heir apparent, we’ve also watched his children and other power players close to him each jockey for position. We’ve seen attempted coups. We’ve seen Logan stand tall time and time again, despite the odds, showing us that despite all his flaws, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. This week’s episode, “Argestes,” not only brought us full circle in a sense, it moved all the chess pieces on the board in the game we’ve been watching.
This was a very Logan-heavy episode, and the running theme of the night was that the pressure coming at him from all angles was finally getting to him. We got to see that manifest physically a few times, first at the table with Kendall and later when he vomited in front of Shiv and his lawyer. We got to see Logan lose control and literally slap a tooth out of Roman’s mouth. This doesn’t even include his paranoid behavior on full display throughout the episode as well as his eagerness to give Pierce what they want to make the deal happen that day. Yes, the pressure was on, but Logan operating at his full capacity would’ve been in fight mode, not “give them what they want to make this deal happen” mode.
Seeing Logan on such shaky ground had me stop and think—when is he going to die? It’s going to happen sooner or later and when it does, all hell will ensue. Logan’s ego has created a huge mess to deal with, much like when he was hospitalized before and the kids found out about the massive amount of debt the company was in. With as intriguing as the characters are and how well crafted the stories are, Succession did the viewers a huge favor this week by bringing us back to the conflict that started the series. It was a much-needed reminder that this game for power will enter a new chapter at some point. The question is, who will have the upper hand when it does?
This week we got to see most of our main players at Argestes, a Davos-inspired gathering of the most powerful people in the world. This provided the show a reason to give us more Stewy, a character we’ve absolutely been lacking in Season 2. Watching Stewy and Kendall’s encounter where Kendall tried to back Stewy down made me long for more of this dynamic. Logan being in close quarters with the men who conspired to take his company away from him (along with his son Kendall) added to his increasing stress levels, and I couldn’t help but wonder if Stewy’s partner in crime really had syphilis. It’s funny, c’mon.
The other big news this week was the scandal involving their cruises finally broke, with a New York-based publication taking the story public that women had been put in situations where they were expected to exchange sex for jobs and one woman wound up dead. This is where we really got to see the chess pieces move around the board, as I mentioned earlier.
Shiv, using her background in politics, had one approach, which was to condemn and move on, whereas Kendall came to life a bit more this week and wanted to take a stance saying that they would investigate and not sweep this under the rug. The battling siblings, as well as their younger brother Roman, all wanted to be the one to handle the crisis on behalf of the company. This three-way competition led to the whole thing being handled really poorly and the Pierce deal being lost.
Logan erupted after his three children shared a stage together and collectively dropped the ball due to their ego-driven bickering. In a shocking moment, Logan backhanded Roman so hard it knocked out at least one of his teeth. Equally as shocking was seeing Kendall yell at his father and come to Roman’s aid. It was the first time Kendall has opposed his father all year long. I couldn’t help but notice that Kendall felt a lot less robotic this week. A sign of things to come, or will he cower back to his father next week? Only time will tell.
To circle back to the central conflict of the show, Roman may have been the biggest winner of the week, despite the obvious embarrassment. In what was his most shrewd move yet, Roman again went knocking on Gerri’s door this week, only this time with an idea. In typical awkward Roman fashion, he essentially pitched to her that they form an alliance, since she’s on paper the successor to Logan and he’s got the last name. While Gerri was seemingly dismissive, this has to be something she’s thinking about. While Shiv and Kendall are busy trying to one-up each other to win their father’s approval, Roman and Gerri could essentially sneak in the back door and take control.
Roman is definitely getting more aggressive in his personal pursuit for power, and Gerri is pushing him. Their bond is real, made up of much more than awkward sexual experiences. Gerri pushing Roman to approach a potential business opportunity in this episode and then also not letting him back down in a sibling squabble shows that she’s behind him. Gerri has become the secret weapon Roman needed to get on equal footing with his siblings.
This week’s episode ended with the wonderful Holly Hunter (Rhea) being fired by Nan and the Pierce deal falling through. The cruise scandal is in the open. Logan is in a weak position both personally and professionally. Shiv and Kendall’s feud is heating up. Roman’s ready to make his play. There’s a lot that could potentially happen in the final few episodes this season, and knowing Succession, there will be a few surprises too. Until next week…