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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Elizabeth Gregory

Succession season 4, ep 2 recap: the episode that blew the whole show wide open

Although Succession has never been short of drama, season four episode two was the moment the show blew wide open. The episode was slick and hilarious as usual, but also seriously moving. This show has never been smarter, or more self-assured.

Here’s our recap; obviously, expect spoilers for seasons 1-4 below.

Homework: the show

(©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)

Episode two opens with the Shiv, Kendall and Roman team watching some of their future channels on TV, which are still currently owned by Pierce. They’re being ruthless as usual: Roman says he can’t pull his eyes away from “the bald man talking about NATO”; Kendall starts spit-balling ways of improving the news channel, saying they could have a segment dedicated to Africa which could be called “What is happening in Africa?”; Shiv says this sounds like “Homework: the show”.

Shiv tries to find a divorce lawyer

Shiv steps outside of the brain-storming session (they’re in the countryside somewhere) to hear from her assistant. Shiv’s been looking for a pitbull of a lawyer to defend her during her divorce from Tom, but every good lawyer in the city has declared themselves “conflicted out” and has declined to represent her.

Shiv instantly recognises it as a move of her father’s. It can only mean one thing: Logan has spoken to the lawyers in the city and asked them not to represent Shiv in, arguably, the most important case of her life. Shiv’s mind is blown, and you see something shift inside of her – something becomes more steely. She doesn’t mention the phone call to her siblings. Shiv calls Sandi (the daughter of Sandy Furness) and says that, in fact, she was thinking about Sandi’s “chat” and her “pitch” and that maybe Shiv was “a little hasty”. She wants to let Sandi know that this is a “live issue” for her. What is Shiv up to?

Logan is Jaws, if everyone in Jaws worked for Jaws

(©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)

When Waystar Royco is sold, all of Logan’s attention will turn to ATN, and it’s going to be pretty brutal for everyone at the news organisation. As it is, he’s circling the floor, breathing over journalists’ shoulders. He watches one of his terrified employees send an email and semi-bellows, “Please don’t exhaust yourself”. Greg, calling Tom to get back to the newsroom pronto, describes Logan as “terrifyingly mozying” and “like Jaws, if everyone in Jaws worked for Jaws.”

Then Logan gives a rallying speech and it’s absolutely insane. He says he wants his competitors to be “jam-smears on the highway” and that he wants what ATN says to be  “so f***ing spicy” that no one will be able to believe what they’ve said. Greg and Tom are shooting each other glances. Logan says that this isn’t the end, that he’s going to build something, “faster, lighter, meaner, wilder”. There’s something extremely Wolf of Wall Street about it, i.e. unhinged and a little terrifying.

Stewy and Sandi want more from the GoJo deal

The GoJo deal is literally seconds away from going through but Stewy and Sandi want more money from the sale. It becomes clear that this is why Shiv called Sandi earlier. Shiv’s now more motivated than ever to make things difficult for her dad. But it looks like her fury could be clouding her judgement. After all, the GoJo deal needs to go through for the young Roys to be able to buy PGM. Pushing Matsson could result in them all losing everything.

Stewy and Sandi, who both have seats on the board of Waystar Royco, stop Shiv, Kendall and Roman, on their way to Connor and Willa’s rehearsal dinner (they are running late because their father cancels their helicopter, classic). Stewy and Sandi say they want to push Matsson just a little more; Kendall and Roman turn them down, but Shiv is more open to the idea (as we know).

The rehearsal dinner

As they go up the stairs, Shiv, Roman and Kendall see Willa. She’s slurring and acting strangely and is saying stuff that indicates she’s having second thoughts about the wedding. Roman is surprisingly caring: he wants to go upstairs and see Connor to check he’s ok (Shiv is keener to go elsewhere and have a chat about GoJo), and he also seems quite concerned about Willa before she wanders off. When they go upstairs they find out that Willa hid in the bathroom for 40 minutes during the dinner and said she “can’t do this”. Connor seems emotional, to say the least.

For those who have been championing Roman from the beginning, this may be your episode. At several moments, he is strikingly thoughtful compared to his siblings. Some people have been saying it for a while, but episode two seemed to prove it – is Roman the most decent character on the show?

A delicate Kerry situation

(©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)

While all the drama kicks off with the young Roys, there’s a delicate Kerry situation that Tom and Greg are handling. Kerry, Logan’s assistant turned undefined lover slash girlfriend, would quite like to be an anchor on ATN. Her audition tape does the rounds – she’s not the worst ever, but she’s pretty rubbish – and the young Roys, who somehow have their hands on a copy, watch it over and over, ripping her to shreds.

Logan realises his girlfriend isn’t up to the job, but doesn’t want any drama. He asks Tom to sort it out. Tom, then, must handle this precarious situation with kid gloves: he describes it as “like Israel-Palestine, Greg, but harder... and much more important.” He needs to, somehow, get Kerry to agree to anchor a show that’s not on primetime TV, or back off the idea of anchoring completely. As spineless as ever, he hands the job over to Greg and says he’ll “march in and mop up the rage”.

Tom suggests Greg talks to Kerry about how a focus group have said that she’s not quite up to the job. Greg has the near-impossible task of making sure that Kerry doesn’t think that Logan is a part of the decision-making here. Tom also suggests that Greg talks to Kerry about nepotism, and how hard Greg’s found it with people talking behind his back (totally untrue).

Well, you can see it coming from a mile off, but the Kerry and Greg chat doesn’t go well. Kerry is as tough as they come; she’d have to be to be Logan’s assistant (or girlfriend for that matter). Every time Greg tries to witter meaninglessly about the focus group, or nepotism, Kerry asks for the facts. Who was in this focus group? What did they say? What didn’t they like about her? Greg is all bumbling denial – as usual, his eyes couldn’t be peeled wider. Kerry says she’s going to find out about the focus group; it looks like Greg is going to be slaughtered by Logan very soon.

Lukas calls Kendall

Matsson Facetimes Kendall – who has slipped away from his siblings – to say that he’s not going to pay any more for Waystar Royco, and if anyone pushes him on the deal, at all, even a tiny bit, he’s going to pull out. It’s one of the few times in the show, ever, where the writers have created a scene that feels a little bit untrue – like it’s been created simply to make a plotline work: although Lukas did turn up to Kendall’s disastrous birthday party, it would make much more sense for Matsson to call Roman, or someone in the Logan camp.

Still, the outcome is epic. Kendall doesn’t tell his siblings about the conversation. Instead, when he returns to the group – now hanging out in a pub post-rehearsal dinner – he starts to side with Shiv, saying that they should, indeed, go ahead and ask for more money from Matsson. Unlike Shiv, he knows that any such behaviour will end the GoJo deal. Kendall, all along, only truly has his eyes on inheriting Waystar Royco. And he’s going to destroy the deal for his family. Mic drop.

Of course, sometimes sh*t goes down when there are a billion dollars in a karaoke room

(©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)

Shiv, Kendall, Roman and Connor have moved on to a very bougie-looking karaoke room. It’s what Connor wants because he’s seen karaoke in the movies (but never done it). He’s tracking Willa’s movements on his phone; emotions are high.

Logan shows up: he wants to talk things out with his kids before the board meeting the following day. He says he’s sorry (jaw-drop), he says he loves them (jaw-drop) but then says, “You’re such f***ing dopes... you are not serious people.” He asks them not to push back on the GoJo deal. He says it will give them the opportunity to separate business and family for the first time – that they’ll get the opportunity to make a fresh start.

The conversation starts to get sticky. Shiv brings up the lawyers, accusations start to be thrown by Kendall about how Connor was ignored his whole life by Logan, and about how Logan hit Roman as a child (Roman, sadly, says he deserved it, as he’s annoying). There’s no real conclusion, but the kids say they will not follow their dad’s advice. It’s too little too late; they believe the emotional stuff is all a bluff (which it almost certainly is) to get them to allow the GoJo deal to pass.

When Logan leaves, the kids talk about love. Connor says his superpower is he doesn’t need any, he never has. That his younger siblings are puppy dogs crying out for their father’s attention and adoration. They want to destroy him, but only really so they can get his attention. They’re obsessed with him. All of which might well be true, but when Connor goes home, there’s Willa, waiting for him in bed. See, romance isn’t dead.

Final thoughts

At the end of the episode, Roman is for some reason, at his father’s place. Earlier in the episode, it’s revealed that Roman texted his dad to wish him a happy birthday; Shiv and Kendall are semi-serious when they say it’s a betrayal. But crucially it shows once again that Roman is less set than his siblings on taking down his dad. As the episode comes to a close Logan is trying to persuade Roman to come on board with him. He says to his youngest son: “I need you.” Could this be a turning point?

Episode two blew everything wide open. It showed Kendall’s true ambitions: he is going to allow the destruction of the Pierce deal and the GoJo deal; he wants Waystar Royco for his own. The Karaoke room was a brutal watch, it was the world’s most dysfunctional therapy session, and it showed how the young Roys are still – and perhaps forever will be – tormented by their conflicting feelings for their father. How much does Logan care?

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