This Succession review contains spoilers.
Succession Season 2 Episode 3
Mere days after HBO aired the previous episode of Succession, the rightfully acclaimed and incredibly dark “Vaulter,” the network quickly announced that Jesse Armstrong’s black comedy about the lifestyles of the rich and not so famous was getting a third season. This is both the least and most surprising news to come out of the show’s continued critical and ratings success.
It’s not surprising at all, of course, because of the aforementioned successes enjoyed by an occasionally dramatized and darkly funny adaptation of the comings and goings of very real power brokers, like the Murdoch family. It’s also very surprising because the first season began with the failing physical and mental health of Logan Roy (Brian Cox). The head of Waystar Royco is the head of Succession’s fictional multimedia conglomerate, the head of the family that runs it, and the very person whom the title applies to. He’s not going to be around forever. His adult children, advisors and confidantes all know this. And yes, Logan is still here, breathing regularly and functioning normally (which means constantly berating anything that breathes in his presence). He is not dead yet. There isn’t a power vacuum by which any one of his potential heirs can succeed him. So, what’s the point?
Enter “Hunting,” this weekend’s surprisingly sharp and poignant look into the mindset, failing or not, of one Logan Roy.
“I don’t want to make my uncle mad,” cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) admits during the episode-opening meeting with a journalist. “He can be scary, vindictive, paranoid and violent.” All of this is true and has been demonstrated time and time again throughout the previous 12 episodes. With “Hunting,” audiences are treated to further proofs of this behavior and the motivations that drive it, as well as additional evidence for the unquestionably true nature of Logan’s mental and physical state. It’s all deteriorating and he either refuses to believe it, knows it to be true and is preparing for its inevitability, or just doesn’t care.
Hence the Waystar Royco head’s latest ambition: a new attempt to acquire the rival (and far more respected) news organization PGM. Logan tried exactly this move last season and it failed spectacularly, but he still wants to give it another shot. Why? For many reasons, like the fact that, in his mind, bulking his company up even further — even with monstrous debts — will make it less desirable to the likes of Sandy and Stewy, who aided in Kendall’s (Jeremy Strong) aborted hostile takeover attempt in season 1. They’re still chomping at the bit to oust Logan and absorb his company this season.
There’s also Logan’s brother Ewan, who abhors his business acumen and his social graces. Since he refuses to partake in anything that Waystar Royco promotes, including its many media appendages, Ewan has made it abundantly clear that he supports rival media companies like PGM. Should Logan’s company successfully buy it up, well, that would give the ailing megalomaniac yet another means through which to jab at his hated sibling.
Either way, everyone on the company management team is left confused and concerned. They don’t think that going after PGM (again) in the middle of a proxy war, among many other related fires, is a good idea. Simultaneously, Logan’s doctor doesn’t think his patient should be working so hard, let alone going on a planned work retreat to Hungary. “The meds we’ve got you on… will you let me know if you suffer from any anxiety, paranoia, irritation?” the doctor asks him. “Oh fuck off,” Logan responds before confirming all three conditions: “They’re trying to destroy my life’s work.”
Of course, there have been (and still are) many conspiracies against the power Logan wields over Waystar Royco, and so long as he’s still breathing and insulting the staff, these conspiracies will persist. But that doesn’t mean that anyone wants to destroy him. No, they just want to take it all for their own. Whether it’s outside players like Sandy and Stewy, his own son Kendall, his heir apparent Shiv (Sarah Snook), the hapless Roman (Kieran Culkin) or even Greg, everyone is gunning for the top seat that Logan is still miraculously occupying.
If the episode’s penultimate scene (and namesake) is any indication, though, then the physiological and psychological end of Logan Roy may be happening sooner rather than later. Following a controlled wild boar “hunt,” the party retires to what at first appears to be a nice and cordial dinner. Instead, it quickly turns into an intense grilling by Logan. He makes nearly every single person there stand up and tell him whether or not they like his PGM scheme. He’s looking for “honesty” and occasionally finds it, because after hearing of Greg’s on-the-record comments (without knowing who made said comments) and learning of “rats on this ship,” Logan’s paranoia has gone into overdrive.
As a result, Greg, Shiv’s husband Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), and many other executives are singled out as “boars on the floor” and made to crawl around on all fours, squealing like pigs and fighting over sausage links. It’s a hilariously surreal and, to be honest, morbid scene. All the while, brothers Kendall and Roman fight over the fact that both were called by their father’s unauthorized biographer and, in addition, the fact that the latter received a mysterious phone call from an unknown source. So Kendall, having now been transformed into a complete automaton that’s willing to do whatever Logan says, is on the offensive on his father’s behalf, stealing Roman’s phone and attempting to decipher its secrets.
In the end, Roman — whom Logan proclaims a “moron” to his face — is found out to have been in contact with the Pierce family of PGM fame, though in an attempt to land the deal more quickly. Instead, the move warns PGM to Logan’s ambitions and puts them on the defensive, thereby making Waystar Royco’s hostile takeover all the more difficult… if not impossible. “We are going after it,” Logan yells before leaving the retreat in disgust. “And what’s more, I will win!”
With all of the newer, fresher sources of anxiety, paranoia, and irritation plaguing him during this otherwise blissful “retreat,” one would think Logan Roy isn’t long for this world. And with Shiv working back in New York to smooth things over while Kendall falls in line and Roman screws the pooch, doesn’t it seem obvious that an actual “succession” may be in the cards sometime soon?