Keeping Up With the Roys: Succession Season 2 Episode 2

Kendall kills his passion project, Shiv pushes her chips all in, and Cousin Greg finds a new apartment. It's Keeping Up with the Roys!

Obscenely rich and richly obscene, the Roy family of HBO’s darkly comedic family drama Succession is back for Season 2, and more deplorable than ever. Why do we love watching awful people behave badly on television? If you encountered a family as awful as the Roys live in person, you’d be appalled by their sniping, vulgarity, and general lack of regard for anything other than their massive egos and bank accounts, but somehow this band of contemptable buffoons has us enthralled. It’s the guiltiest of TV pleasures, like bingeing on ortolan every Sunday night. After a failed coup, a Chappaquiddick-like incident, and an ill-advised marriage, the Roys enter Succession Season 2 more strained, yet dependent on one another to stave off the slings and arrows of their many powerful adversaries. Follow along with Den of Geek this season as we chart who’s leading the line of succession, determine who’s behaving the worst, and sing the praises of the series’ one pure soul, Cousin Greg.

This is the Keeping Up With the Roys for Succession Season 2 Episode 2, “Vaulter.”

Read our spoiler-free review of Succession Season 2 here

The Roys

Shiv attends a dinner party with Tom hosted by Roman on Succession

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Siobhan Roy

As we almost implicitly knew after Logan offered her the gig last week in the season premiere, Shiv’s ascension to CEO of Waystar is going to be a long, difficult climb, if she ever gets there at all. “You come in, six months with Gerri, six months with Carl, Hong Kong for, say, another 12, Berlin or London, management training for six, come back, spend 12 months alongside me, and when you’re ready, I’ll step aside,” Logan tells her in their first meeting about how the transition will happen. That’s certainly longer than what Shiv, and the board members who are looking for a clear-cut succession plan, had planned. Though Logan appears willing to fast-track things a bit when Shiv pushes back, this is all starting to feel like the same bait and switch that Logan pulled on Kendall in Season 1.

Shiv’s desire to have the job will also likely cause a strain between her and Tom, who coveted the gig for himself. Shiv basically glides right over Tom’s palpable jealousy and asks for real advice on how to handle the situation at her other job, helping presidential hopeful Gil Eavis with his campaign. Gil has already made it clear to Shiv that he’s eyeing her for Chief of Staff should he win, which is definitely something she should consider. Tom suggests that she keep both plates spinning, especially considering Logan’s rash, temperamental nature. It’s a smart call, but Shiv self-destructively goes to work the next day, picks a petty fight with Gil, and quits in a huff. All of her eggs are now in the Waystar basket; let’s hope Logan doesn’t get hungry for an omelet.

Kendall appears hopeless on Succession

Kendall Roy

Depressed dad Kendall starts the episode unable to even stomach a hug from his daughter, such an obvious sad sack move that Roman comments on it, calling him a “broken robot,” before I could even bring attention to it here. If Kendall’s soul wasn’t compromised enough, he spends the episode gutting Vaulter, his personal pet project. Logan demands to know whether Vaulter is worth keeping around and asks his co-COOs, two favorite toys, and sons Roman and Kendall to investigate. Kendall puts his head down and does the work, pouring over metrics and KPIs. He determines that though the analytics are sort of a shit show, he still believes that Vaulter could be of value. Roman, looking only to best his brother, blows the exact kind of hot air that Logan loves to bask in and declares the company hopeless and worth dismantling. Logan unsurprisingly agrees and tasks Kendall with the job as sort of a sick joke.

At first, it looks like Kendall is going to attempt to save Vaulter behind his dad’s back, much to the anger of Roman. He promises Lawrence, the company’s CEO and a Kendall hater, that he’s trying to change Logan’s mind, but he’ll need a real look at the financials and a hard-line assurance that the threat of unionization in the office is snuffed out. Once both are done, Kendall does an about-face. The financials suggest that Logan is sort of right, and with the threat of unionization stomped out, Kendall is ready to steamroll his baby. With his signature dead eyes, he shutters the company, saving only the weed and food verticals, the site’s true profitable areas, which he plans to operate with outside contractors. When a furious Lawrence demands an answer as to why, a shell-shocked Kendall only replies “because my dad told me to.” After doing daddy’s dirty work, Kendall is welcomed to work from within his dad’s office, to Roman’s chagrin. Firmly under Logan’s thumb, Kendall is back to being Logan’s Number One Boy.

Roman slacks off in a meeting on Succession

Roman Roy

Roman is going to continue to be his father’s yes man until the strategy works. Incredibly threatened by his brother and his ability to actually, you know, work, Roman decides to stick to business 101 and both fake it until he makes and suggest every CEOs favorite money-saving strategy “downsizing.” He’s the picture of confidence until his father actually embraces his ideas, then immediately starts doubting whether or not his ideas are right in the first place. That’s what happens when you don’t actually know what you’re talking about, I suppose. In his crisis of confidence, he calls Gerri and asks her to come over like she’s some sort of safety blanket or his doting girlfriend, highlighting just how pathetic and needy that he truly is.

Roman than hosts a dinner party, inviting Tom and Shiv over. He spends most of the time ripping on Tom, but he also spends time confiding in Shiv about how he’s the front-runner to be CEO. Roman doesn’t see Shiv coming at all, which is quite amusing to Shiv. Roman’s only motivation seems to be crushing and belittling Kendall at every turn, and as long as Roman is doing it for her, Shiv doesn’t have to worry much about Kendall. Still, Roman ends the episode being dismissed from Logan’s office while Kendall is invited to pull up a chair, so it looks like perhaps the youngest Roy’s plan needs a bit of tweaking.

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Connor Roy on Succession

Connor Roy

Other than dropping WWI references that would make Dennis Miller say “huh?” Connor spends the episode reintegrating himself into the NYC world. He and Willa are back in the city, renting a hotel to live in because that’s the sort of thing you can do when you’re stupid rich without a care in the world. He’s renting a girlfriend, why not a place to live as well? Being back in New York is a welcome move for Conner, despite his love of his ranch, because he’s going to need campaign headquarters for his Presidential run that is still absolutely happening. Gil has been campaigning hard, shaking hands with strangers and hitting the trail, but Conner is just throwing hotel-warming parties and talking about his intentions. Seems like a great approach. At least Lawrence thinks he’s the serious one!

read more: Why Succession Deserves More Attention

Rounding Out the Family

Tom squares off with ATN news director Cyd Peach on Succession

Tom Wamsgans

Tom has a rough week. First he meets his new sparring partner at ATN, news director Cyd Peach (Jeannie Berlin). She accurately pegs Tom as a “liberal latte sipping douchebag,” and seems to have genuine contempt for her new adversary. It should be fun watching these two buttheads. Then Tom has to swallow the news that Shiv is being eyed for CEO and not him. He tries to play the role of the supportive husband, but his disappointment and jealousy is written all over his face. At dinner with Shiv and Roman, he lets a little bit of the disappointment out after he snaps while Roman and Shiv tease him about his boxy suits.

The only win that Tom gets comes from Greg. Tom wants to make a splash at ATN that will grab Logan’s attention, and he aims to do it by “body-shaming” ATN, or cutting the fat. Greg suggest that they can digitize ATN’s records, which would significantly reduce the production chain, but Tom doesn’t want to hear about production chains. No, Tom is only interested in skulls. How many skulls can Tom lose? Greg says it’s about 50, and you would think that Tom learned that he just won the lottery. 50 skulls! The fact that he refers to employees as “skulls” says so much about Tom and the priorities of the Roy family at large.

Greg tries to fit in a prospective apartment on Succession

Cousin Greg

My big, beautiful boy spends the episode struggling to find a modest apartment that can fit the thing he most urgently needs to store, himself. His options appear to be moving in with a friend of Willa’s that has “spore” issues, or taking a 600-square foot apartment in Staten Island, which c’mon, at that point just bus in from Cleveland, Brian Ferry.

Finally, when Greg visits Kendall to do his routine drug drop, Kendall offers him one of his five massive apartments that he bought to sit on “until the market starts to move.” It’s an embarrassment of footage for our sweet boy, and he reacts with such appreciation and excitement that its honestly heartwarming, that is until it’s revealed that Kendall only offered Greg the place so it could double as his party pad where he could look “for pussy like a fucking techno Gatsby.” Just like the Vaulter situation, it appeared as if Kendall was doing something benevolent, only to be revealed that he’s completely morally bankrupt. Oh well, every dream apartment has to have conditions, I suppose.

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Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.