Succession’s 2nd episode builds upon the premiere with a savage gutting of a Waystar Royco acquisition. Doless Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) resumes his duties as the family’s unofficial fixer. Roman (Kieran Culkin) finally gets a win. Two Roy siblings throw down the gauntlet and decide to go all in.
Following the previous episode’s declarations of war over Waystar Royco, a lobotomized Kendall attempts to reconnect with his daughter by hosting a birthday party but the gathering is cut short. Logan (Brian Cox) summons Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman and Shiv (Sarah Snook) to a strategizing session designed to pushback against Sandy (Larry Pine) and Stewy’s (Arian Moayed) latest manoeuvre. In an effort to bolster any potential weaknesses, Logan dispatches his new co-CEO duo, Kendall and Roman, to review recent media acquisition Vaulter. Lawrence (Rob Yang), Vaulter’s founder, attempts to disrupt the review by drowning Kendall in reports. Unfortunately Lawrence did not account for Roman’s ability to pry intel from drunk employees. Upon learning the information gathered by Roman, Logan decides to dismantle Vaulter despite Kendall’s protests about the company’s viability.
Tom’s (Matthew Macfadyen) recent promotion to ATN, Waystar RoyCo’s profitable news division, not only resulted in his escape from the parks division but also his reluctant corporate wingman Greg. Now that Tom is inside the company’s most lucrative area, he is determined to increase earnings and in the process arouse Logan’s profit driven g-spot. But Tom must contend with ATN’s unflappable division head Cyd Peach (Jeannie Berlin) who is unimpressed with his familial ties. She treats Tom like a summer intern who obtained their position through nepotism. Though Tom is initially thwarted things begin to turn in his favor once Greg stumbles upon a way forward – digitalization.
Connor (Alan Ruck) initiates phase 1 of his Don Quixote style plan to become president of the United States, hosting a housewarming party inside a massive hotel suite. Roman and his paramour Tabitha (Caitlin FitzGerald) use the opportunity to impress upon Connor, in an insulting manner of course, that being President requires someone with (some) job experience. Connor is not Roman’s only punching bag of the evening; Roman is basking in Kendall’s isolation and Logan’s choice to gut Vaulter. In a rare moment of maturity, Roman reflects on his father’s decision before inviting Shiv and Tom over for dinner.
The episode reaches its apex with two of the Roy siblings verbally eviscerating their prey. Kendall assures Lawrence and his employees they are valued members of the Waystar Royco family while secretly stripping Vaulter of its assets. The stench of Kendall’s empty promises hung in the air while everyone was being terminated. When asked by Lawrence why this happening, Kendall responded, “Cause my dad told me too.” After disembowelling his pet acquisition, Kendall sought the embrace of alcohol, drugs and any woman willing to have sex with him.
Following Roman’s dinner party which included a side of emasculating Tom, Shiv unburdens herself by revealing Logan’s offer to take over Waystar Royco. Visibly shaken Tom’s face starts to resemble a balloon being deflated. Shiv appears to be oblivious as Tom pretends to be the supportive husband while nurturing his shattered dream. Tom may have been collateral damage, but Shiv gleamed as she offered an insult-laden resignation to Gil (Eric Bogosian). Unburdened by former allegiances Shiv is now ready to fully embrace her desire to become CEO of Waystar Royco.
Succession may lack actual beheadings but individuals who cross paths with a Roy may end up skewered. Two episodes in and with a third series ordered, viewers have plenty of corporate guttings to look forward too.
Contributed by Maurice Walker
Succession continues Mondays at 9.00pm on Sky Atlantic and NOWTV.