”We’re going to need a blood sacrifice.” Logan’s words to Shiv as the penultimate episode of Succession‘s second season ended can’t stop playing through my head today. This season, we’ve seen how ruthless the patriarch of the Roy family can be, perhaps becoming even more ruthless as he begins to slip due to age and health. While the Internet is throwing around a few possibilities as to who Logan may be talking about, there is only one answer. Next week, in the Season 2 finale, Logan is going to sacrifice the son he’s spent all season beating into submission. The only question is how deep does he plan on burying Kendall?
This week’s episode saw all of the stakes raised. The family was summoned to testify before Congress, Roman was actually held hostage, Tom finally vocalized his innermost fears, Rhea’s gone, and Shiv is sitting pretty next to her father. Then there’s poor Greg, likely out a quarter of a billion dollars for not quitting his job. Why, Greg? Why? It seems a life of power and greed has seduced the once innocent “Greg the Egg.” What’s Greg going to do when he finds out (as I predict) that his grandfather Ewan is the one backing the whistleblower, not Stewy and his allegedly STD-ridden business partner?
All season long, Succession has had this “ripped from the headlines” feel to it. If you’ve kept up with my coverage this season, I’ve written at great length about the use of mirrors both literally and figuratively this year and how series creator Jesse Armstrong is challenging us to take a long deep look at who we really are as a society. This week’s episode heavily revolved around a whistleblower, which despite this episode being filmed months ago, is a headline dominating cable news right now. I suppose it’s not too shocking that Succession was able to predict this real-life story but something about the show and reality colliding like that really grabbed my attention. Succession is a show about the people who run the world—the ones who tell people how to act and feel. It’s staring right back at us how on the nose this show can be and, in some act of fate, this week the lines blurred more than ever.
Perhaps my biggest takeaway from this week’s Succession was how, while Logan faltered, the three younger Roy siblings each stepped their respective games up. Logan couldn’t pacify Rhea when she realized she didn’t want to be a part of a company so toxic. Logan couldn’t stand the heat during the congressional hearing, throwing Kendall under the bus to deal with it. Logan couldn’t procure investors, work with his inner circle on a plan, or even display any signs of leadership, but his children did.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen Logan disqualify his kids from the running to be his successor yet it’s never been more evident that Kendall, Shiv, and even Roman have many of the same characteristics that made their father a media mogul. Roman, despite all of his quirks, can seize opportunities and close deals. He has an eye for it, even if his level of confidence isn’t there. Kendall is very reminiscent of his father, knowing exactly how that generation would handle any problem that came their way. Shiv is similar but also represents some degree of evolution.
In watching Shiv speak to the witness in an attempt to silence her, we saw that Shiv has her father (and brother’s) shark-like tendencies, but her solution wasn’t to ruin the woman or throw money at the problem. Shiv spoke to both what the woman wanted to hear (cleaning up the corporate culture) and what she feared (being labeled the rest of her life the way so many other women are who step forward with serious allegations). Shiv is far more in touch with the modern world and its unique problems, which in a sense makes her more dangerous than her father or brother.
Before I move on, I have to acknowledge how difficult it was to watch the scene with Shiv and the would-be witness. Everything Shiv said to that woman was true and it was another moment where I had to stop and think about the culture we live in today. We as a society want women to step forward when they are either victims of abuse or witnesses to abuse but the price they pay for their bravery is a story rarely told. Women who don’t come forward right away are waging these internal debates over whether it’s worth it or not to speak up, and then they’re accused of being liars for waiting and weighing their options. It’s a no-win situation and Succession painted that picture clear as can be.
Tom finally blew up after cracking under the pressure during questioning from Shiv’s former employer, Gil. Tom’s always known on some level that he had the potential to be the family’s patsy when the dam broke and those fears poured out post-questioning. Besides that moment, the other part I found to be the most interesting was Tom’s desire to cover for Greg. His first instinct was to lie and say he didn’t know him. The argument could be made that Tom was in self-protection mode and didn’t want to go along with anything being asked of him but we’ve seen other instances of him being protective over Greg this year. Greg, however, doesn’t trust Tom. We’ll see if more comes out of that next week.
Roman, along with two members of Logan’s inner circle, took a trip to Turkey in an attempt to take the company private and cash in on the relationship Roman’s been trying to build all season. When it became apparent that something was going awry during the negotiations and that the situation had the potential for violence, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the storyline. Now, a little removed from watching the episode, my biggest takeaway was how calm Roman remained during the situation AND how he still managed to close the deal. It seems very likely that Roman is going to be in great standing with his father after pulling this off.
So what should we expect from next week’s finale? Will Tom finally snap on Shiv? Her love of their open relationship and her dismissiveness of his feelings have been building up and Tom’s basically a ticking time bomb at this point. Will Ewan be revealed as the one behind the whistleblower? My gut says yes, which is going to put Greg in a very difficult situation.
Most importantly, what’s to come between Logan and his children? Kendall has been slowly rebuilding all year long and there’s something almost Shakespearean about Logan trying to sacrifice him now, a year after Kendall tried to take him out. Will the siblings allow it to happen out of their own desire for power? What role will Marcia have in the power struggle? There are a lot of questions left to answer. This has been a tremendous season of television and I can’t wait to see how this chapter ends and what seeds they plant for Season 3. I’ll be back next week to discuss the Succession season finale. Until next time…