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Karaoke Confessions: Breaking Down Episode 2 of ‘Succession’

On the night of Connor’s rehearsal dinner, the personal and professional collide as Logan’s GoJo deal hangs in the balance

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Television’s most miserable wealthy family is back for one final season of scheming, and The Ringer will be following their tragicomic power struggle every step of the way. Each week, we’ll break down the biggest developments, track who’s leading the literal line of succession, and catalog each episode’s most savage burns, best Cousin Greg–isms, and more. Let’s continue with the second episode, “Rehearsal.”

Succession’s Line of Succession, Week 2

As Succession inches ever closer to Waystar’s sale to GoJo, Logan is already considering where he’ll spend his time after the deal goes through: down in the trenches at ATN. Much like when Rupert Murdoch kept hold of his beloved Fox News after Disney purchased the majority of 21st Century Fox’s assets, Logan can narrow his focus to the side of the business he really cares about. For better or worse, Logan has maintained from the beginning that he loves news—whether ATN’s hilariously sensationalized coverage counts as news is another debate entirely—and with an election on the horizon, he wants the network firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately for ATN’s employees, that means Logan shows up to the newsroom unprompted, roaming around like “if Santa Claus was a hit man,” as Cousin Greg puts it. He’s not wrong:

Addressing the workers from a soapbox at the beginning of “Rehearsal,” Logan makes it clear that he’s not going anywhere. “I’m gonna build something better,” he says. “Something faster, lighter, meaner, wilder, and I’m gonna do it from in here with you lot. You’re fucking pirates!” Say what you will about Logan, but the dude knows how to deliver a rousing speech. Meanwhile, Logan’s assistant and probable love interest, Kerry, decided to cash in on her relationship capital with the big boss by submitting an audition tape to be an ATN anchor. Obviously, being close to Logan means that Kerry has an inside track for the gig—the only problem is that she’s terrible. Between stumbling over her words, smiling inappropriately in the middle of a serious segment, and flailing her arms around like an inflatable tube man, Kerry is as unqualified as it gets. (He may care about Kerry, but Logan wouldn’t want her sullying the ATN brand.) Still, you’d pity the person who has to break the bad news to Kerry, an assignment that ultimately falls into Greg’s lap (more on that later).

Of course, Logan is doing all of this ATN planning with the expectation that the GoJo sale is a done deal, but Sandi and Stewy have other ideas. The pair, who are still on the Waystar board, suspect more money can be squeezed out of the sale. But in order to bring GoJo back to the negotiating table, they’d need Kendall, Roman, and Shiv to back them up. On the one hand, holding talks over a better deal seems like a sound business decision, the kind of move that someone as cutthroat as Logan would approve of. On the other hand, GoJo founder Lukas Matsson is a fussy individual and appears more than willing to blow up the deal if they keep pushing his buttons on the final price. Were the GoJo deal to fall through, there’d be serious ramifications for everyone, including the siblings—as their acquisition of Pierce Global Media is contingent upon Waystar being sold.

With the deal potentially in jeopardy, Logan decides to call off the final board meeting and touch base with Matsson in person. The two moguls don’t have the best rapport, but Logan has an ace in the hole: Roman. By the end of “Rehearsal,” Roman privately meets with his dad under the pretext of apologizing for a family dustup at a karaoke bar (we’ll also address that shortly). But Logan uses the opportunity to persuade Roman to come back into the fold. “There’s a night of the long knives coming,” Logan tells him. “I’m reinventing ATN. I need a fire-breather: a ruthless fuck who’ll do whatever it takes. … I need you.”

With that proposition, it looks like Roman will break off the alliance with his siblings and go back to fighting in his dad’s corner. (I suppose that means Roman accidentally sending his dad a dick pic last season is water under the bridge?) If you were to pick one of the kids to play turncoat before the start of the final season, it would’ve been Roman, who’s always been averse to conflict with his dad. We’ll have to wait until next Sunday to see if Roman has enough juice with Matsson to save the deal. (To his credit, Roman’s proven to have excellent people skills among the 1 percent.) But whether or not the GoJo deal still happens, it’s safe to say the Roy siblings are no longer a unified force—and all it took was two episodes.

Takeaway of the Week: Mixing the Personal and Professional

Succession has always dealt with the issues that arise when family drama becomes entangled with the future of a multibillion-dollar company. It’s evident that Logan, long before we even met the Roy family, has dangled the keys to the Waystar kingdom in front of his children for years and watched them—sans Connor, who’s more interested in acquiring Napoleon’s severed penis—fight among one another to gain his approval. It goes a long way toward explaining why it’s taken all this time for Kendall, Roman, and Shiv to work together, an alliance that’s already on thin ice thanks to Roman.

In theory, the siblings want to acquire PGM so they can run a media empire on their own terms, but it’s also obvious that it comes with the added incentive of pissing off their father. Those same emotions are precisely what could tank both the PGM and GoJo deals. “Rehearsal” reveals that Sandi previously reached out to Shiv about going back to the negotiating table for more money—something Shiv clearly scoffed at. But after discovering that Tom has reached out to all the top divorce lawyers in New York so that representing her would be a conflict of interest—a move directly from Logan’s playbook—Shiv gives Sandi a call. “Maybe I was a little hasty,” Shiv says. “Maybe it pisses off my dad, but maybe that’s OK.”

Make no mistake, the fate of two multibillion-dollar acquisitions rests on Shiv acting out because her feelings are hurt. But despite Shiv’s willingness to side with Sandi and Stewy, they’d still need her brothers to back them up at the board meeting. Understandably, Kendall and Roman don’t see the value in asking for more money when they’re already going to receive a cushy payout to fund the PGM deal. But when Kendall gets a FaceTime call from Matsson, who hears through the grapevine that the kids might conspire to reopen negotiations, the Swede emphasizes that he could back out of buying Waystar. “If you want to have a full suitcase anytime soon, you don’t push me, OK?” Matsson tells Kendall.

The logical next step would be to listen to Matsson and settle for what is already an ungodly amount of money. But upon realizing that this would be a massive L for the OG, Kendall reverses course and sides with Shiv. The irony is that Shiv isn’t aware the entire deal could fall apart by going down this path—Kendall keeps everything that Matsson said to himself. (He may be citing the teachings of Buddhism in this episode, but Kendall is as impulsive and self-destructive as ever.) Roman, who has developed a relationship with Matsson, also believes he wouldn’t be down to renegotiate, which Shiv condescendingly dismisses as a savvy business move on the tech mogul’s part to keep the price as is. It doesn’t help Roman’s case that, in the eyes of his siblings, he’s still caught up in his “dad feelings.” Setting aside that Roman definitely does have dad feelings to wrestle with, Shiv and Kendall are deluding themselves if they actually believe they’re solely motivated by doing good business.

The fact that this is all happening on the night of Connor’s wedding rehearsal underlines how the personal and the professional are inextricably linked in this broken family. But while the kids—especially Kendall—would be responsible for the GoJo deal collapsing, that doesn’t mean Logan is absolved of his sins. “Your father wanted to address the personal stuff and not just launch into the business,” Kerry says when she and Logan confront the siblings at a karaoke bar. (Side note: The karaoke setting was Connor’s choosing; he is having the world’s saddest bachelor party.) But therein lies the problem: There is no separating business decisions from the intrafamilial squabbles, and that’s because Logan never gave his kids an alternative. If Logan’s nepo babies risk the company’s future, he’ll have no one to blame but himself.

The Most Callous Display of Wealth

Shiv and Kendall jeopardizing two multibillion-dollar deals because they’re caught up in their own dad feelings might just be the most callous display of wealth we’ve ever seen on this show. But in the interest of mixing things up, let’s turn our attention to two other instances in “Rehearsal” where the Roy kids prove just how out of touch they are. The first comes when Shiv, Kendall, and Roman are planning to take a Waystar company helicopter to New York for Connor’s rehearsal dinner. While chartering a helicopter is the sort of flex that would get Sofia Coppola’s daughter grounded, it’s just another day in the life of the Roys.

Alas, Logan pulls the rug from under his kids, forbidding them from entering the helicopter. Clearly, the pilot was also ordered not to take off until the kids arrived, which is even more humiliating:

It’s a tough beat for the trio, who end up being very late to Connor’s rehearsal after losing their helicopter privileges. But using the words “helicopter privileges” in the first place highlights how these people have no idea what it’s like to be a regular person. That’s further illustrated by Connor’s choice of activity for his post-rehearsal bachelor party. Instead of going to one of the high-end establishments the Roys are familiar with, Connor would rather take his siblings to a “real bar with chicks and guys who work with their hands and grease and sweat from their hands and have blood in their hair.” Ah yes, grease, sweat, and bloodstained hair: the hallmarks of a typical New Yorker. Fair play to Connor (or whoever picked the place), the foursome do make their way to a proper dive bar. Seeing the Roys in this situation is like watching zoo animals outside of their enclosures.

“Do you think they know how to make a vodka tonic?” Roman asks Kendall. (The answer is yes.) “House red, do I dare?” Shiv says. (She does not dare.) Connor asks for “whatever a regular Joe would have, just a Belgian weiss beer—not Hoegaarden.” (C’mon, Connor, a regular Joe with taste would get a Miller High Life.) The remarks from Roman and Shiv, in particular, have a real air of superiority—I wish the show’s Bernie Sanders stand-in could’ve heard what his former employee said about a place where regular people grab a drink.

When the mere act of showing up to a dive bar is well outside of their comfort zone, Logan’s new go-to insult for his children rings especially true: “You are not serious people.” And on the subject of insults …

The Most Brutal Insults of the Week

5. After Kendall brings up Buddhism when Logan takes away their helicopter: “That’s really wise. Um, hey, Buddha, nice Tom Fords.” —Roman

4. The groom-to-be delivering the world’s most depressing self-own: “The good thing about having a family that doesn’t love you is you learn to live without it.” —Connor

3. After finding out that Tom’s ensured none of the city’s top divorce lawyers can represent her: “You wanna be my dad’s little bitch boy? Why don’t you deliver him a message, bitch boy: Tell him to fuck off and stay out of my life.” —Shiv

2. When Willa gets cold feet about marrying Connor: “Don’t worry about that, just toss her another 10 grand, or a snowmobile and some teeth-whitening vouchers.” —Roman

1. After Greg asks to grab her for five minutes: “Yeah, why not? You’ve already grabbed every other woman in Manhattan.” —Kerry

The Cousin Greg Corner

“Rehearsal” was tragically light on Greg-related shenanigans, but what our gangly king did provide this week was just as delightful and painfully awkward as we’ve all come to expect. Hoping for more “next-level tasks” from Tom at work, Greg has to earn his stripes by being the one to tell Kerry that she can’t cut it as a news anchor. Greg, of all people, informing the most terrifying character with bangs on television that she won’t land her dream job? That’s what you call a mismatch.

Things don’t get off to a great start. When Greg asks to grab her for five minutes, Kerry immediately throws down the hammer with the aforementioned insult about his sexual escapades across the city. (Following in the footsteps of the actor who plays him, Greg has obviously turned into New York’s most desirable bachelor.) It doesn’t get much better from there; and like Kerry trying to read from a teleprompter, Greg fumbles through an explanation for why she can’t be on ATN. “Great package, maybe the arms aren’t right—they’re a little un-TV,” he says. (What are TV arms, exactly?)

Attempting to follow Tom’s advice, Greg also says that a focus group gave her performance negative feedback. When Kerry presses him to view the focus group footage, he claims nobody is allowed to access it—Logan included. (That’s a red flag; I’m pretty sure Logan could threaten the White House into giving him the nuclear codes.) It’s hard to imagine a world where this meeting would’ve gone well for Greg, but Kerry sees right through the bullshit and delivers a threat that gets bonus points for its creativity:

Greg didn’t quite pass this assignment with flying colors, but the simple act of giving Kerry bad news should further ingratiate him with Tom. With any luck, the high-level tasks will start to arrive, and the next time Greg asks to grab a woman for five minutes, it will lead to another tick on the chart for the Disgusting Brothers.