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 4, “Panic Room.”
In “Safe Room,” a Waystar employee commits suicide, putting the whole office on lockdown. Somehow, this person is not Kendall. Though he’s able to act like a wooden facsimile of a human during he and his father’s meeting with Pierce CEO Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter), Kendall is still routinely going up to the Waystar building roof and staring at the ground below like a moth being drawn to a flame. In a heartbreakingly honest final scene with Shiv, Kendall basically spells it out that if he didn’t believe that his dad needed him to help clean up the mess that he made with Stewie and Sandy, he wouldn’t still be alive. Kendall is being kept so close to Logan that he’s now the one responsible for administering the man his meds. If I’m Logan, maybe I’m not going to put that kind of trust in someone that just tried to ruthlessly overthrow me and that I am now blackmailing, but Logan can see that he’s broken his boy beyond being capable of betrayal. In return for Kendall’s unwavering loyalty, Logan is covering up Kendall’s self-destructive drug use and shoplifting, as long as his Number One Boy is still useful on the business end of things. Still, despite his protestations that “it’s not going to be me,” it’s starting to look like Logan has Kendall back at the top of the heir list.
At her first day in the office, Shiv is basically kept in the dark, stuck in Gerri’s office with “a coloring book” while Logan and Kendall make overtures at Rhea Jarrell. She’s not even allowed to hunker down in Logan’s office, because that spot is already occupied by Kendall. Hmm, certainly doesn’t seem to bode well. Shiv is only able to get in on the action once the lockdown forces her, Kendall, Logan, Rhea, and Gerri all into the same safe room. Shiv is able to use her wits to make Rhea see that maybe there’s a symbiotic relationship to be had between Waystar and Pierce, but she’s left to balk at Kendall and Logan’s sliding billion dollar offers, which stops at $24 billion, and is basically told to shush while the big kids are talking. When Rhea leaves saying that she’ll legitimately float the idea to the Pierce family, it’s Kendall that Logan thanks, not Shiv. She’s smart enough to see that something is obviously happening between Kendall and Logan, but Kendall doesn’t have the heart to tell her exactly why his dad has him in a vice.
Attending a six-week management training with a bunch of “normies,” Roman is basically stuck in his version of hell. He’s eating bad pastries, hitting one of the Waystar parks in a turkey costume, and rubbing elbows with lowly corporate cogs under the assumed name Ron Rockstone. Roman’s perspective on business is so warped by his upbringing that he assumes that a simple pitch exercise is really just an elaborate set-up to make him seem dumb, like he actually needs any help in that department. He makes one friend, if you can call him that, and immediately Roman wants to shoot him up the corporate ladder. Goodie for that guy.
Stuck away from Tabitha, Roman tries out phone sex like a normal pleab, but can’t seem to get into it. It’s only until he makes his needy nightly call to Gerri that Roman is able to get the juices flowing. Roman gets off to Gerri shaming him, her saying, “You disgusting little pig. How pathetic. You are a revolting little worm, aren’t you. You little slime puppy. You’re revolting, Roman.” It’s not hard to see why a guy who, as a child, enjoyed being locked in a dog kennel gets off to a little humiliation. As someone who picked up on the weird sexual energy between Gerri and Roman early on, I feel vindicated.
Connor and Willa attend Mo’s funeral, which Connor is thrilled about, as he knows many of his dad’s wealthy old pals will be in attendance. He has a real “donor boner” over it. When they arrive at the funeral, we learn that Mo’s real name was Lester. Mo-Lester. Yeah, yikes. Connor sums it up thusly, ““Just, you know, old Mr. Fiddlesticks. Uncle meathands. Dad wouldn’t let us in the pool with him. But you know, the guys of that generation, it was a different time.” Once biographer Michelle Pantsil arrives, Willa smartly worries about Connor giving a eulogy for such blatantly horrendous man. She knows it could hurt his campaign, and likely provide ammo for Michelle’s book, if Connor says anything resembling praise for Lester, so she chops up his speech so it reads like a second grader writing about death for the first time. At least it sounds like what a politician would say, because after all, Connor Roy was interested in politics at a very young age.
Rounding Out the Family
Tom’s descent continues this week. First he’s given the unenviable task of determining whether a popular ATN anchor, Mark Ravenhead, is a fascist supporting white supremacist. The guy was married at Hitler’s Bavarian retreat, named his dog after Hilter’s, and has read Mein Kampf “a couple of times.” Considering that the Proud Boys and Antifa are duking out outside ATN studios, it’s pretty obvious that this guy is a real shit bird, but Logan doesn’t seem to want to let the guy go, so Tom has to conduct the investigation with kid gloves on. Next it gets worse for Tom, when in the midst of the lockdown, Greg tries to gingerly ask for his release as Tom’s lackey. It’s especially painful and a little too close to home when Greg asks if they can have a “business open relationship.” Tom freaks out, per creator Jesse Armstrong, as if his dog just asked if it could go live with the neighbor. He begins whipping water bottles at Greg. Later, after some light blackmail, Tom agrees to let Greg explore other options, but it’s clear that he just lost the cloest thing to a yes man that he has.
This Machiavellian, brilliant little fuck uses the evidence he stored from the cruise debacle last season to get out of his role at ATN. Tom seems so happy with Greg’s awkward, asking for permission version of blackmail that he’s like a dad watching his baby take their first steps. Greg has had enough of ATN, citing “ATN, human furniture, verbal assaults, physical humiliations, Nazi stuff, shooters. I just don’t love it.” Tom concedes, giving Greg a new role, office, and a raise. He’s not out of ATN, necessarily, but he isn’t fetching lattes anymore either. It’s a win. Our sweet boy also provides lots of laughs when he realizes that the “safe room” that he’s sharing with the other non-essential family members (aka Tom) isn’t exactly safe, and certainly vulnerable to “an attack child.” Greg is an absolute gift, folks.
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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.