By Chancellor Agard
August 11, 2019 at 10:00 PM EDT
Peter Kramer/HBO
S2 E1
B+
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  • TV Show
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Genre

We begin season 2 of Succession with a fallen-from-grace Kendall Roy chin-deep in a hot tub at a Scandinavian spa. It’s only been a couple of days since he abandoned his hostile takeover of his father’s company because said father ended up bailing him out of quite the pickle (read: driving a car off a bridge and killing one of the waiters at Shiv’s wedding). But this is all the time he’ll get to himself, because Logan sends someone to pick him up and drag him to a TV station. Even though Kendall is no longer trying to snatch Waystar Royco away from his company, his co-conspirators Sandy and Stewey are still gunning for the media conglomerate, and now Logan needs his son to go on TV and help clean up the mess.

If one thing’s clear, though, it’s that Kendall is in no state to be on television. He looks positively haunted and unsettled from the moment his hot tub time is disrupted to when he arrives at the station and goes on TV. Jeremy Strong’s performance is so good that I almost started to feel bad for him — emphasis on almost, because then I remembered all the terrible things he did last season. “I saw their plan. Dad’s plan was better,” Kendall when the reporter asks why he gave up on the takeover and joined forces with his father. It’s barely convincing. At least his family is happy. Roman and Shiv are relishing watching their brother’s uncomfortable TV appearance, and most importantly, Logan is satisfied with his son’s performance, especially when Kendall gives a good sound bite about Logan not needing an heir.

“Ladies and gentleman, the first f—ing thing my son’s ever done right in his life,” Logan says after watching Kendall on television. And cue those amazing opening credits!

Just like that, Succession dives right back into the drama of the Roy family. Season 1 was all about who would take Logan’s place as the CEO of Waystar Royco. Kendall thought it would be him, but that very much turned out not to be the case. So as we enter into season 2, the question implicit in the show’s title still hasn’t been answered. Although the wicked premiere does appear to place one of Logan’s offspring ahead of the others…

So, Kendall’s TV appearance helps calm things down a bit, but Logan’s company is still in danger and he has to make a decision: Should he fight the bear hug or sell the company? His finance guy suggests the latter because technology is starting to encroach on media and in a few years there will likely be only one legacy media company in the field. (This premiere did nothing to calm my own fears about the state of the media industry, but I digress.) Logan summons all his children to mansion on Long Island to hear their thoughts on the question.

There’s something rotten in the mansion, and we aren’t just talking about the stench of insane and reckless wealth. There’s a horrible smell when the entire family shows up. It takes some time, but they finally discover a raccoon’s carcass in the chimney. By this point, the housekeeping staff has already cooked and put out a lavish seafood meal for the family meeting, but Logan demands they throw it all out because it’s been contaminated by the smell and order pizza. The camera lingers on a shot of the staff dumping of the food in the trash, an indictment of how carelessly and selfishly this family throws money around and away.

Before the family meeting happens, other matters have to be discussed, as this is the first time everyone has been together since the wedding. Logan’s bodyguard, Colin, takes Kendall aside and gives him the lowdown on how they handled his little crash, which visibly kills even more of the fallen Roy. Meanwhile Roman, fresh from a press conference in Japan about his failed rocket launch, has an interesting conversation with his sister, Shiv, about who would take over the company once Logan steps down. Shiv congratulates Roman because he’s the obvious choice, but Logan has created such a competitive atmosphere among his children that Roman can’t accept his sister’s praise at face value and assumes she’s playing some kind of mind game with him. They eventually run into Kendall, who refuses to tell them why he flipped sides and instead just repeats the company line. “I saw their plan. Dad’s plan was better.” Neither of them buy it.

Time for the family meeting — which doesn’t yield anything. Logan sits his children down and asks them if he should sell or not. Almost everyone is too scared to say what they actually think because of the atmosphere Logan has created. So Logan tries another tactic and agrees to meet with each of them individually.

His meeting with Roman, who assumes he’s the heir apparent, yields nothing. However, the same can’t be said for his chat with Shiv: He gives her an official offer to come back and work for the company and eventually take over as CEO. At first Shiv turns it down because she doesn’t believe it’s a real offer, since her father is very sexist. But Logan assures her he’s not effing around, and so she says yes. (I still don’t fully believe this is a genuine offer.) Both of them decide to keep it a secret. When they leave the room, Shiv simply tells Tom that he’s been promoted to the head of ATN’s global news, and Logan tells the rest of the family that he’s going to fight the takeover because he wants Waystar Royco to be the last legacy media brand standing. But there’s a catch: Logan is making Kendall and Roman co-CEOs so that he can focus all of his attention on defeating Sandy and Stewey. Roman is not happy. (Connor, on the other hand, is focused on some historical items he’s bought, including Napoleon’s penis.)

With that settled, Logan drops Kendall back off in New York and sends him to meet with Stewey and Sandy. Stewey begs Ken to explain why betrayed them, but Ken, you guessed it, sticks to the company line. Ken asks Sandy and Stewey if there’s any way to settle this matter without metaphorical bloodshed, but Sandy says no. The Roys are going to war.

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