This Succession review contains spoilers.
“Maybe we just give them what they want.”
With these eight words, Logan Roy (Brian Cox) demonstrates the highest level of awareness that he — and everyone else in his powerfully malignant family — has ever possessed. Sadly, for himself and for Waystar Royco, the moment is fleeting. While his advisers attempt to explain why caving so suddenly to the Pierce family’s financial (and moral) demands for his latest attempt to purchase PMG, the Roy children immediately embark on their own forms of damage control.
Roman (Kieran Culkin) pokes fun at his father, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) acquiesces to everything without a stray free thought, and Shiv (Sarah Snook) slowly but surely plots her latest comeback. Previously, and privately, named as her father’s successor, the lone Roy daughter finds herself on the deepest end of Roy’s sh*t stick. It didn’t take the family patriarch long to immediately go back on his decision, especially when Kendall’s sad-sack pinings transformed him into a dutiful foot soldier among the Waystar Royco ranks. Roman, meanwhile, has been screwing up at nearly every turn as of late. So, yeah, Shiv isn’t alone in continuously disappointing her father, but in this week’s “Argestes,” she and her siblings dialed everything up to 11 and beyond.
Of course, it’s hard for Shiv to make any kind of “comeback” at first, as Logan and company decided to leave her behind while they booked a private jet to attend a big, well-attended conference that’s likely meant to mirror the real-world Aspen Ideas Festival. Many of the Roys are scheduled to speak on a panel there, but the family is also attending in order to meet with Nan Pierce (Cherry Jones) and the rest of her clan. Logan wants the PMG deal done now, and thanks to Argestes, maybe they can make that happen.
Or, at least that was until they learned of an impending story regarding their company’s cruise line, the late, handsy “Uncle Moe,” and numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct. The Roys have known about the controversy since season 1, when Shiv’s brown-nosing husband Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) and cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) were tasked with burying it. Seeing as how the pair have obviously failed him, Logan consults with his ever-battling children for options. Kendall thinks they should combat the magazine with the full financial and legal weight of Waystar Royco. Shiv, who’s conferencing in after having been left behind, suggests offering to cooperate — but only for the purpose of releasing carefully vetted information on a slow, gradual schedule.
Logan, unfortunately, doesn’t follow his own advice from the episode’s opening and, instead of giving the impending article’s publishers what they want — or giving anyone what they want, for that matter — opts for Kendall’s more forceful approach. The result? New York Magazine decides to post the damning article within the next few hours, all while the Roys attempt to save face at Argestes in time for their big presentation and their meeting with Nan, Rhea (Holly Hunter), and the rest of the PMG clan.
And nothing goes according to plan. The Roys’ attempts to save face while dining with Nan (and constantly checking their phones for the forthcoming story) erupts when the story breaks. Shiv then decides to join the family at Argestes and hop onto Roman and Kendall’s big presentation. Her brothers are obviously not okay with this, especially since they were under the assumption that she was still in their father’s dog house, but she aggressively makes her case. And seeing as how Kendall’s attempts to quell the story resulted in its being published even earlier, Shiv gets the floor.
“Look, dad, I don’t care,” she exclaims. “I can make this go away. I know this in my bones. I don’t need f*cking flash cards. I’m not officially in so I have freedom of movement. But if you don’t want me, I don’t give a f*ck. I will go eat lobster and watch the f*cking roast because it’s all gravy baby.”
The sickly Logan, who hasn’t been feeling well for most of the episode and even threw up at one point, decides to send all three of them onto the stage at once. This ultimately proves to be a mistake, perhaps the episode’s biggest, because putting Shiv, Roman, and Kendall all on stage together only further encourages the three siblings to fight with each other. Except, this time, they’re doing their bickering in full view of the Argestes audience and the rest of the public that just finished reading the New York Magazine article. What’s more, Shiv uses the opportunity to throw the rest of the Roys — her father included — under the bus.
“It’s about being completely unimpeachable,” she says after Kendall and Roman’s attempt to answer questions about the brewing scandal fall short. “Sometimes, companies develop bad habits and you need fresh eyes, clean hands, and new ideas to address those… I think I’m a little more aggressive. Sometimes, I think you just need a good ol’ fashioned dinosaur cull.”
As the question of who the “big T-rex” is that Shiv was talking about comes up, the camera pans to Logan, whose already stern face has grown increasingly irate and frayed throughout the panel. And once the whole party moves backstage, yet another fight erupts, this time pitting all of the Roys against Shiv and Tom, who was previously bolstering her up after the talk. In a rather brilliant moment of turning tables, however, Logan backhands Roman after he repeatedly refers to him as a “T-rex” while chastising Shiv. As a result, all of the Roys unite and turn on their father.
He should have just given them and everyone else what they wanted.
Succession airs on HBO.