Series 2 episode 3 of Succession delivers an hour of cringe-worthy television. New threats are on the horizon as Waystar Royco’s high-level executives go on a hellish corporate retreat. Logan’s (Brian Cox) dementia manifests as paranoia which spreads like a plague. And Shiv (Sarah Snook) cannot escape the clutches of American presidential candidates.
The hostile takeover is subdued for the moment but a new threat to Logan Roy’s legacy manifests in the form of biographer Michelle Pantsil (Jessica Hecht). Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) learns the hard way there are no take-backs in interviews when he mistakenly makes on the record comments, providing a familial voice to some widely known truths about his great-uncle. The mere thought of Michelle gaining access to his inner circle causes Logan to spew more venom during a pre-meeting for Waystar Royco’s corporate retreat in Hungry. Logan’s venom is redirected once discussions shift to acquiring his ‘white whale’, rival PMG – Pearce Media Group. Acquiring PMG would put an end to Logan’s long term obsession while inoculating Waystar Royco against the takeover.
Conner (Alan Ruck), attempts to launch his presidential campaign with a video calling for the dismantling of the current tax system. Logan, concerned that Conner’s manifesto would upset his delicate alliance with elected officials, dispatches a reluctant Shiv to handle the situation. Shiv who thought unemployment would afford her the opportunity to learn more about overseeing Waystar Royco. Instead, Shiv is relying upon intel from the company’s long-suffering general counsel Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron), and her meat puppet Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) to dissuade Logan from pursuing PMG.
Roman (Kieran Culkin), still coasting on his victory over Kendall (Jeremy Strong) in the previous episode, attempts to establish a backchannel with the Pearce family using Tabitha (Caitlin FitzGerald). Confident that Tabitha still holds sway with a Pearce family maiden, Roman instigates a dick measuring contest with his brother over the size of their guns before boarding the flight. Roman and Kendall were not the Roy family members breaking out their measuring sticks. Logan erupts like a volcano once Gerri and Karolina (Dagmara Dominczyk) inform him that Michelle had found a source. Other passengers besides Gerri and Karolina felt the heat radiating from Logan. Greg’s excitement about being on a corporate plane turned to panic once he learned that Sam (Asher Grodman), the resident IT snooper, was pursuing the leaker.
Shiv’s attempt to defuse the Connor situation fails. Connor’s truth will not be silenced by his father or anyone associated with the one-per cent. He also counters with an offer to bring Shiv on board as campaign manager. Shiv decides to approach the situation from another angle, trying to befriend his first lady in waiting Willa (Justine Lupe). Willa who is able to suss out Shiv’s motives almost immediately includes her in an outing to a bar. With her meat puppet currently abroad, Shiv becomes acquainted with an actor who prefers news that come from comedians.
Following a few rounds of shooting ‘terrified mammals’, Kendall and Roman have another outbreak of sibling rivalry. Each one verbalizing support for their father’s acquisition plan though their body language indicates otherwise. Corporate bros Tom and Greg share a tender moment in which the later admits he spoke to the biographer. Bonding over dead boars took a backseat once Logan decided to play a game of ‘who is the mole’ during dinner. Logan circles the ballroom like Poirot revealing hidden truths about each individuals present. Instead of using logic to deduce the mole, he relies upon fear and intimidation turing a candlelit ballroom into a scene from Lord of the Flies. Greg, Tom, and another executive are forced to partake in a humiliating competition over sausages spurred on by Logan. During the midst of this gladiatorial combat Kendall uncovers Roman’s communications with the Pearces, leading to Logan taking a hatchet to Roman’s ego. Kendall also uses this opportunity to inform his father that no present supports the PMG acquisition.
In the immediate aftermath of the dinner debacle, Tom attempts to placate his bruised ego by putting on a brave face during breakfast. Unfortunately Cyd Peach (Jeannie Berlin) sticks a dagger in his wound. Logan offers Kendall and Frank (Peter Friedman) a half-hearted apology but is cut short when Karolina reveals the mole was a recently deceased old associate. Roman, who is struggling with this latest setback in his relationship with Logan, is offered some sound advice by Gerri. A dishevelled Tom returns home to find an ungrateful Shiv who hints at a weekend dalliance. After rebuffing Tom, Shiv receives a call from Logan seeking support from someone he can trust.
This episode of Succession probably torpedoed the morale of Waystar Royco employees, but it was a riveting hour of television. Who knew that sausages and corporate retreats could be such a traumatizing combination.
Contributed by Maurice Walker
Succession continues Mondays at 9.00pm on Sky Atlantic and NOWTV.