- James Kunovski
Succession: Season Two Premiere Recap
Spoilers for Succession below.
Well, it’s finally here. The second season of HBO’s bona fide hit Succession just premiered and the events feel like a relative calm before a wild storm. Taking place just 48 hours after Tom and Shiv’s wedding, which is sort of facetious for poor Kendall, the Roy family are navigating a new action course for the company. I was relieved to see a strong reception to this season: Metacritic score is 89, compared to 70 for the first season. I was also a bit worried about the first season’s ratings which dwindled at around half a million. Hopefully more people have come across the show by now. Since the first season covered Waystar’s web of dynamic and power play, along with fairly grounding our characters’ gambits, hopefully season two propels these motivations forward into an explosion of events. I mean at this point, it is practically inevitable. The points below are in somewhat chronological order.
Kendall looks awful in what seems to be a rehab facility in picturesque Iceland. Is he stammering because he’s that deflated or because he’s still nervous about being arrested for, you know, killing a person? Probably both. Also, this is only two days after the wedding! What a time to be a Roy. We are promptly introduced to Ken’s newfound “loyalty.” In the entirety of this episode he will mutter something along the lines of “dad said so” or “dad’s plan was better.” His entire family, wherever they might be in the world, are tuning in to the televised speech. These include Logan, of course, who labels it “the first fucking thing my son’s ever done right in his life.”
The title sequence has changed a bit. The younger Roys have grown a bit. It has shifted into a more VHS-inspired look and young Shiv bitingly stares into the camera. More focus on Shiv this season? Between the Icelandic scenery and that gorgeous aerial shot of Tom and Shiv’s ‘sizeable for two’ yacht, it is clear that HBO has pumped up the show’s budget, and I’m here for it. Shiv and Tom’s honeymoon is painfully awkward. Is it that hard to not think about work or jumping the ladder for a split second. Shiv suggests abandoning the honeymoon. Tom isn’t a fan but they should if Shiv wants to, right? This newly remodelled relationship is off to a grand start.
As Mr. Potato Head, (sorry Logan, but this one sucks), or Kendall walks back into Waystar after piggy-backing a bike ride, Karolina runs him through some new duties. Kendall then asks Karolina to help him buy some cocaine. You know, reciprocity. It was interesting to see Logan deliberate with someone who isn’t in his immediate circle. That man was Jamie Laird (Danny Huston), the Roy’s financier, who proposes selling the company. As if Logan is going to agree to that.
We need more Kendall and Greg scenes. They are in Kendall’s new apartment which Greg loves. He calls it “sick” but when Kendall disapproves he reckons it “could be way better.” Apparently all the good places were taken for fashion week. Aw, shucks. Karolina could not follow through with the coke so Kendall must have entailed Greg to do the deed. It was not good coke.
Where are the Roys going to discuss the potential future of their conglomerate? No other place than The Hamptons. If only their 200 million dollar mansion didn’t smell so bad. Someone has to locate the smell. Quick, before every single arriving member makes a joke about it. The absolute unit of the mansion’s staff are on it.
During a melancholic walk, Kendall runs into Shiv and Roman. The latter are discussing usual Roy business, family dynamics and all that jazz. They indulge in the usual sibling banter but Kendall barely flinches. They still see him as a man who was ‘arrested’ for a coup he threatened, but are seemingly unaware of that other huge detail. In other news, they’ve located the source of the smell. Damn raccoon. Who wants to eat seafood that has being sitting in diseased raccoon air anyway? They order pizza instead.
It’s dinner time and given Logan rather fight Sandy and Stewy’s bear hug than sell the company, even if it means gaining ten billion dollars in wealth, Waystar’s shareholders will expect news of a successor. After all this time, we are back to the core of the show. Its verbatim title.
Logan plucks the opinions of his diners. The question? Whether they should fight or sell. No one gives a solid answer. Shiv heroically admits that her compadres are too scared of Logan to respond honestly, so Logan moves into a private office for one-on-ones. Let’s rank the Roys and immediate circle on the coward meter. Shiv, who brings up the only good point on the roundtable is on the least cowardly end along with Gerri who often delivers the worst news without any real backlash. You can probably guess who lies on the other side of the spectrum. Roman, because who can forget the vote of no confidence betrayal, and Tom, who calls Logan a man in his prime. At least Kendall had the guts to spearhead a takeover even if he didn’t have the heart to successfully pull it off.
Logan chooses Shiv as his successor. Tom still thinks he has a chance for some reason. He’s been appointed to ATN for now. Kendall and Roman are co-COOs. If there was any doubt that “pinky” were Logan’s favourite, surely those doubts have been quashed.
It’s up to Kendall to break the news to Stewy and Sandy. The Roys are not going to sell; Sandy and Stewy are still proceeding with the takeover.
Every cast member serves a fine performance but I have to single credit for Jeremy Strong. In the episode’s final moments he portrays Kendall as a hostage. We understand how desperately he wants to break script and wholeheartedly speak to Stewy but he physically cannot. He brilliantly pulls off a restrained tug-of-war between morals and loyalty. In the same way that the first season was almost entirely Kendall’s, I think it’s safe to say that we will see more attention on Shiv this time around. Surely she’s not going to stay with Gil after that news. I look forward to seeing how this all wraps up and what bombshell will drop to pummel this season along.