Succession’s Series 2 finale is loaded with sacrifices, would-be trysts and twists. Logan (Brian Cox) orchestrates an offering in order to appease shareholders and political opportunists craving blood. Connor’s (Alan Ruck) finances and tablet take a serious hit. Roman (Kieran Culkin) basks in the glow of fresh undergarments after surviving a Turkish military uprising, while Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Tom (Matthew Macfaydon) consider a throuple.
The Roys’ victory over the United States Congress is short-lived once Cousin Gregory (Nicholas Braun) takes the stand. He attempts to ingratiate himself upon the panel by answering in the affirmative with a sprinkle of aloofness. Watching the hearing while travelling along an Italian highway is Logan along with Hugo – VP of Comms, Parks and Weasels (Fisher Stevens). They are in Italy trying to maintain support from major stakeholders.
Logan’s attention is split; he is also contemplating a list of sacrificial lambs. Hugo slyly suggests the addition of Karolina (Dagmara Dominczyk). His attempt at offering Karolina as a sacrifice (and Gregory later on) does not go unnoticed by Logan, who thinks Hugo is a lowly piece of genitalia. After clearing the air Logan asks for an update on Roman, Laird (Danny Huston), and Karl (David Rasche). Logan receives an unexpected call from Phillipe Layton (Angus Wright), another major Waystar Royco investor. Layton is willing to support the family’s position at the stakeholder meeting, but needs cover due to recent events and strongly suggests that Logan take the fall.
Connor and a reluctant Willa (Justine Lupe) decide to celebrate the opening night of their play, Sands, by partaking in a family cruise onboard Logan’s yacht. Willa is worried about reviews but Connor attempts to alleviate her concerns about an “old white dude from the New York Times”. Connor is poorly masking his financial concerns but manages a bit of bravado as other family members step aboard the vessel. Shiv and Tom have their own unique bit of drama, tension over a possible threesome. In an effort to bring equity into their sex life Shiv has engaged the services of a woman. Tom appears a bit flummoxed and is worried about having a sexual rendezvous in such close proximity to Shiv’s family.
Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and his Juliet, Naomi Pearce (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), along with Gregory arrive at the dock. Gregory is busy critiquing his testimony. Hopefully he understands that Hunger Games’ tributes rarely survive or the political inspiration behind Bob Marley’s song, ‘No Woman, No Cry’. As the trio board the vessel Kendall shares the first rule of yachting with the Roys, “Sails out, nails out bro”. As the voyage gets underway, Connor is embracing being a meme until reviews of Sands land in his inbox. Willa tries to read Connor’s facial reactions as he digests them, interpreting bitter despair is not her forte. After scanning the reviews Willa takes her frustration out on the tablet by chucking it overboard.
Roman, Laird, and Karl receive a hero’s welcome complete with cold beer. Being held as a hostage appears to have (briefly) unlocked Roman’s empathy. He offers his siblings an olive branch along with a desire to be closer. This moment of sibling bonding is interrupted by the arrival of the emotional blackhole known as their father. Roman and his entourage debrief Logan about whether financing has been secured in order to take Waystar Royco private. Laird focuses on the upside, clearly motivated by the millions he stands to make if the deal goes through. Roman, backed by Karl, offer a grimmer perspective. They do not believe the deal is viable and are concerned about instability within the government. Laird argues that Logan has no choice but to accept the offer, otherwise someone is probably going to prison. Disgusted by the turn of events (and possibly being implicated) Laird quickly departs the yacht.
Gossip about the deal imploding quickly spreads throughout the ship. Logan vents to Kendall, who suggests meeting with Stewy (Arian Moayed) again. Shiv has a chat with Roman that shifts into a conversation about whether or not he is a racist, the jury is still out. Tom taunts Gregory about the possibility of his head ending up on a pike. Connor, who appears unaffected by news surrounding the deal, attempts to borrow $100 million dollars from Logan in order to stay financially afloat. Logan is willing to consider the request if Connor abandons his presidential campaign.
Logan’s attempt to move the conversation beyond Waystar Royco going private receives a muted response, and heightens tension on board the ‘death cruise’. Naomi and Kendall’s playful banter does not sit well with Logan. He believes she is a negative influence on Kendall that needs to go. Kendall still under his father’s thrall has Naomi depart prior to the big Waystar Royco discussion, possibly killing their relationship. The death cruise manages to claim another couple’s fun, or possibly Tom’s lack of enthusiasm for experimentation. He has not performed a “stadium gig before”.
Once again Logan fails to ease tensions at breakfast and unify ‘the family’. Logan offers to sacrifice himself but that notion is loudly dismissed by everyone present, except Roman who could tell this was a ploy. Instead the conversation devolves into a game of ‘hot potato’, in which individuals start stabbing each other in the back. Initially Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) takes the brunt of the daggers: first Kendall, then Karl, and finally Connor. Roman is able to successfully defend his favourite late-night wank partner before nominating Tom, former head of cruises. Tom’s sheepish response leaves him vulnerable to a dogpile from Kendall, Karl, and Shiv. Et tu, Shiv! After a bit of back-and-forth between the couple, Kendall retracts his nomination. However Gerri decides to explore the notion of Shiv being the nominee. Unwilling to let Tom off, Roman proposes adding Gregory for a sacrificial two-pack. Gregory pushes back and highlights Roman’s qualifying attributes. The game comes to a halt once Connor grabs the potato and nominates himself – in exchange for a huge payoff.
Unable to reach a consensus Logan departs for a bit of reflection, but soon decides to explore Kendall’s suggestion about meeting Stewy. The concessions offered to Stewy are outright rejected. Stewy calmly and coldly deflects Kendall’s threats before assuring them this is not personal just business. The Roys return to their yacht in silence, accompanied by a mounting sense of dread. Logan is not the only family member reflecting on things, Tom and Shiv discuss his dissatisfaction with their marriage. Tom feels unsupported and constantly being emasculated; he is also not interested in an open marriage. Uncertain about the state of his marriage, Tom decides to take his frustrations out by eating chicken off Logan’s plate. This insult catapultes Tom to the top of Logan’s blood sacrifice list. Unbeknownst to Tom, Shiv pleads his case resulting in a stay of execution. The father-daughter back channel conversations result in Logan selecting the only other viable tribute (besides himself), Kendall. Logan delivers the news to Kendall who seems reconciled to his fate. Perhaps taking the fall for Waystar Royco’s sins would balance the scales, and allow Kendall to come to terms with his past transgressions.
Roman appears to empathize with Kendall’s situation but Shiv is clearly suffering from the burden of wearing a scarlett ‘J’, for Judas. Kendall sought last minute words of encouragement and wisdom from his father. Instead, Logan expresses doubts about whether or not Kendall possesses the ‘killer instinct’ required to successfully run Waystar Royco. Kendall accompanied by Gregory return to New York City; the pair along with Karolina and Kendall’s assistant brave a phalanx of reporters waiting to record his confession. Instead of following the prescribed script, Kendall exposes his father as a bully and being complicit in covering up for Uncle Mo. Inside the Roys’ floating palace, Roman and Shiv watch in horror as Kendall discusses the missing documents from cruises – supplied by Gregory. Unable to turn away Logan looks on with pride and even flashes a slight smirk.
Series 2 of Succession manages to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, and will certainly last longer on the charts than Kendall’s rap song. Like most episodes in Series 2, the finale merits repeat viewing especially for fans trying to determine when Kendall decided to turn against Logan. The ‘Red Breakfast’ scene on board the yacht will be remembered for its biting dialogue, numerous betrayals, and lush cinematography. The number of metaphorical daggers unsheathed could easily rival an episode of Game of Thrones. This viewer will certainly miss spending time with the Roys but enthusiastically looks forward to Series 3. Succession has proven itself to be THE show of the 2019!
Contributed by Mo Walker