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 10: This is Not For Tears.
Kendall is like a circus lion. He proved in Season One that he could be very dangerous, but after his Chappaquiddick-incident, he’s been subservient, feeding off scraps, forced to jump through hoops and take whatever abuse his master, in this case Logan, dishes out. But just like a circus lion, if you push him past his breaking point, embarrass and kick him too many times, that beast is going to snap and maul you. That’s what happened at the end of “This is Not For Tears.” With a sea of microphones and cameras in front of him, Kendall throws Logan under the bus for the cruises scandal after previously agreeing to be the fall guy. It’s Logan’s own fault; after accepting that he would be thrown to the wolves, Kendall point blank asks his father whether or not he was ever going to be chosen as CEO. For once, Logan gives a straight answer and says no, chalking it up to Kendall not being a killer (despite him, you know, actually being a literal killer). Kendall then promptly makes Logan pay for that observation, but is this secretly what he wanted the entire time? Logan begins the episode getting clear instructions that he’s going to have to take the bullet to appease the board members, and ends the episode smiling at Kendall’s play.
Perhaps this was some master manipulation. Instead of choosing his heir, Logan put all of his kids in the position to grab it: Roman had the opportunity to secure private money, and despite doing well and coming away with a potential deal in place, his own indecision and fear of failure, no matter how rightful it is, gets in his way and Shiv proves she’s human by refusing to let her father destroy her husband’s job and reputation. Kendall is the only one who goes in for the kill. After a season serving as a human punching bag, Kendall scores a K.O.
The Death Cruise is just excruciating for all parties involved. Sure, you’re floating on a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean, complete with a full staff, jet skis, and a goddamn water slide, but you’re also sitting around waiting to see which one of your family members or co-workers is going to be sacrificed for the good of the company. Not a scenario conducive for rest and relaxation. However, it certainly makes for great TV. There was a part of me that hoped the boat would capsize and the entire cast would be stranded on a desert island, turning Succession into a Survivor meets Lord of the Flies situation. A boy can dream.
Anyway, the yacht vacation is perhaps the worst for Shiv, who tries to set up a threesome scenario to help ease Tom’s feelings regarding their open marriage situation, which only exacerbates things further. It doesn’t help that in a round of Who Should Fall on the Sword, Shiv does nothing to defend Tom and even suggests that he’d be a prime candidate to take the heat. It’s only after Tom hints at wanting a divorce that Shiv very calmly asks her father to spare Tom, but there’s a good chance that the damage has already been done. Shiv has spent the entire season compromising her personal beliefs and jeopardizing her relationship in pursuit of a job that she was probably never going to receive. She finally shows a heart and not only is it likely too late, it probably cost her the CEO position too.
Roman returns from his intense hostage hotel situation a changed man. He’s not quippy or comparing Kendall to a coked-out Transformer or whatever. He’s handing out genuine compliments and asking his siblings if they can have honest conversations about their feelings without draping everything in ten coats of irony or vitriol, and he’s immediately mocked for it. Despite the scary circumstances, Roman actually did well in his effort to secure private funds, it’s just that he’s now not so sure if these are the people his family should be doing business with. Roman has genuine concerns, but he also knows that if this foreign backer backs out at the last moment, the family will lose the company and it will all be his fault. That’s a risk Roman is not willing to take. He spends the entirety of the cruise in a funk, at least until it comes time to nominate someone to throw under the bus, where he takes great pleasure in trying to rid of perpetual adversary Frank and dunking on Tom and Greg. He passionately defends Gerri, even coming up with a good reason to spare her other than mentioning his weird little degradation fantasy. Before Kendall goes nuclear, he’s even named as the next COO of Waystar, but the reality of that promotion sets in quickly and Roman looks to be overwhelmed. I’m sure Kendall’s big move will reignite a fire in our favorite rich sociopath.
Connor is so delighted to be a meme, but that’s really the only good thing he’s got going for him. Willa’s play is an absolute train wreck, getting savaged by critics and if Connor’s going to recoup the losses and keep his Presidential campaign alive, he’s going to need oh, a measly $100 million from dear old dad to keep the lights on. Some good reviews for Willa’s play from some of Logan’s papers would be nice too. Logan can’t help on the sham review front, but he agrees to help his son with cash, but only if Connor agrees to end his campaign immediately. The Con-Heads will be crushed, but not as crushed as Connor hearing his dad call him a joke and an embarrassment. Connor is such a joke that his dad doesn’t even consider him good enough to take the fall for the cruise scandal despite the fact that Connor is volunteering. Connor taking the fall would mean admitting that the eldest Roy child was pulling strings behind the scenes at Waystar for years, and come on, no one is going to believe that.
Rounding Out the Family
Sorry Tom, but no matter how hard you try to make the point, no one is going to believe that you were “dead catting.” That’s not a thing. But, you certainly didn’t act like a dead cat while on the yacht from hell! Tom finally stands up for himself, telling Shiv that he’s unhappy with their marriage, how the fact that she proposed an open marriage on their wedding night was complete bullshit, and that maybe the unhappy that he would be without Shiv might be less than the unhappy that he is with her. Our guy found a spine! He then proceeds to take his new spine and eat Logan’s chicken right off his plate, which may have been the episode’s funniest moment. Tom probably was the most logical choice to take the fall for the cruise scandal, but after kissing Logan’s boots and doing everything the company asked of him, eating shit from Congress and the Pierce family alike, it would have been brutal if Logan took advantage of his loyalty. Tom’s marriage may be in shambles, but he’s still on the Waystar corporate ladder. You win some, you lose some.
GREGORY’S GOT THE RECEIPTS! The prospect of Greg being used as sprinkles on a Tom sundae to serve up to congress was entirely heartbreaking. Greg had just gotten used to the sweet life. He has champagne preferences! Giant yachts don’t impress him that much! After surrendering his inheritance, the Roys using him as a scapegoat would have been a tragic conclusion to our sweet boy’s story. However, Greg gets pulled into Kendall’s plan to usurp his father, using the documents he rescued from Tom to help seal Logan’s fate. Turns out my boy is way more than a benign fungus! GREG THE MUH FUCKIN’ EGG!
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.