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It’s Time for a Blood Sacrifice: Breaking Down Episode 9 of ‘Succession’

How far will the Roys go to save their company under congressional scrutiny?

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The Roys and their slimy subordinates are back, and rest assured they’re still the same bunch of power-hungry, incandescent messes we love to hate and hate to love. Every week, The Ringer will break down the biggest developments, track who’s leading the literal line of succession, and catalog each episode’s most savage burns, Cousin Greg–isms, and more. Let’s continue with the ninth episode of Season 2, “DC.”

Succession’s Line of Succession, Week 9

It’s difficult to focus on the future when your company is burning down in the present. Too bad for Rhea Jarrell that everyone else knew about the smoke before she, you know, was announced as the next CEO of Waystar Royco last week. This week’s episode, succinctly titled “DC,” begins with a televised tell-all by a former Waystar employee (that the Roy boys turn into a watch party complete with beers, cheering, and booing) who sheds more light on the cover-ups of harassment and shadow logs inside the company’s cruise line department.

While Logan tries to figure out how he can counterattack with messaging and money, Shiv delivers the message that prompts a primal yell from Logan: Senate hearings are coming. Gerri confirms and sets us off: “Buckle up folks, were gonna get an invite to the national latrine, see who wants to take a public dump.” Talk about a housewarming present for Waystar’s new landlord.

Rhea is clearly still on the margins of Waystar’s inner circle, even though she’s set to be the next CEO. She’s defensive when she walks into the makeshift war room at Logan’s place and delivers a slew of complaints about how she feels like she got set up—“I feel like I’m your prophylactic, a rubber you’ve slipped on so I can protect you.” She knows that title be damned, she doesn’t have her hands on the steering wheel. Rhea set up Shiv, but she didn’t expect Logan to set her up.

In D.C., Rhea walks into the meeting room as everyone is arguing after Tom gets exposed on the stand by Senator Gil Eavis. Soon, Rhea and Shiv are shipped to a nearby school where Eavis’s star witness for the case, a woman who was witness to Lester’s (Mo, Mo-lester) worst doings, works. Their job is to try to convince the woman not to speak. Rhea balks, and tries to get Shiv to back out, too. But Logan’s daughter, who has, uh, gone through quite the political evolution since she worked for Eavis, shows that she’s just as monstrous as the rest of her relatives; she convinces the woman not to testify and to take a settlement.

Soon, Rhea is backing out of the CEO gig in front of Logan, and, man, Holly Hunter’s last line is a walk-off home run that sums up the entire show: “It’s kind of a superpower isn’t it? If you can lie to someone like that to their face. I mean, I know you’re lying, but I still find you very plausible and appealing.” I feel seen.

Logan, obviously, tells Rhea to fuck off, and she’s gone. Two weeks in a row now, Logan has had someone he was smitten with leave him. It’s fitting that we end the episode back in a closed room with Logan and Shiv talking strategy, much like how this season began. Maybe next week we’ll come full circle and Shiv will be back in the driver’s seat for CEO. It sounds like first she’ll have to make another tough decision.

Theme of the Week: Using Other Human Beings As Shields

The Roys already have questionable, to put it lightly, moral compasses. Now, if you throw them against the ropes of the ring, give them a cut above their left eye, and keep hitting their weak side, any semblance of morality vanishes completely. Will they throw Bill, former head of cruises and overall nice guy, under the bus? No question; there’s a strategy for that, which Roman dubs “Kill Bill.” Will they offer better coverage for Senator Eavis on their network in exchange for more softball questions in the Senate hearings? You bet. And of course, will they get Shiv, the only woman in the group, to try to talk a victim out of testifying to Congress and giving a face and voice to the harassment issues at Waystar? As Shiv puts it, the survival of the company, her family’s company, depends on it, so yes, she has to do this.

Roman also has to do something that Logan personally asks for: try to secure the sovereign wealth money from the Middle East because that’s “no strings, fuckable, dry powder.” So, he hits up his soccer buddy Eduard Asgarov, and while there appears to be a mutual interest in the deal (remember: Asgarov’s dad has a “hose attached to the central bank”), Roman soon finds himself in the middle of a political upheaval in Azerbaijan and locked down in a hotel guarded by men with guns. Before long, Roman is playing “Marry, Fuck, Kill” with members of Waystar’s executive board. “You’d marry Gerri??” he asks Karl. “Disgusting … hot.” Folks, this is what real love looks like on Succession. The last we hear of Roman and his legal crew (Karl and Logan’s lawyer) is when he’s being called into a room by guards.

“DC” is an episode when the Roys make numerous decisions at the expense of those close, but not too close, to their inner circle. Tom is the first sacrificial lamb: He is humiliated on C-SPAN when Eavis exposes his correspondence with Greg (emails with the subject line “You can’t make a Tom-lette without breaking some Gr-eggs.” were sent 67 times in one night), and records of the files that disappeared after Thanksgiving. But the Roys are more well-prepared for Round 2, when Logan gives a half-hearted apology and Kendall takes over by going at Eavis for his own biases. It plays well immediately and combined with Shiv’s successful attempt at quieting the victim (for now), it gives the family a bit of a reprieve.

Still, the Roys are not nearly out of trouble yet. Bill shakes Logan’s hand and makes a thinly veiled threat about writing a book about his time at Waystar. Plus: Rhea’s gone and Logan says the Kendall soliloquy won’t play long term with the shareholders. They need an even bigger move to survive.

It all culminates in the episode’s kicker: Logan looks over at Shiv and says, “It’s time for a blood sacrifice.” Ya should have looked at that prenup more closely, Tom.

Most Callous Display of Wealth

I don’t know about you, but I’d be OK with being the “poorest rich person in America,” as Tom tells Greg at the beginning of this week’s episode. And if that meant I ended up with $5 million for my “retirement,” tell me where to sign and I’ll do it twice. In the Roy extended universe, though, $5 million is not just chump change. According to Connor (who apparently has some fans in our nation’s capital, called “Con-heads”), it’s an actual hassle. “You can’t do anything with $5 million, Greg,” Connor says when Greg mentions how he won’t get $250 million anymore since he decided to side with Logan and not Ewan. “$5 million is a nightmare. Can’t retire, not worth it to work. Five will drive you un poco loco, my fine-feathered friend.”

Bonus: Logan turning off the tell-all interview and being urged to turn it back on and watch it to know what happens before he yells: “I’ve got 50 fucking people I’m paying to watch this shit.” Cut to the next room where 50 people are doing just that.

The Most Brutal Insults of the Week

“Just a dipshit, a sex pest, and a grand old duke of dork on a central Asian vacation.” —Roman on himself, Logan’s lawyer Laird, and Karl

“What is it like to be married to a guy with two assholes?” —Hugo, senior vice president of comms, to Shiv after Tom’s hearing

“If I were handing out letter grades, I’d give Tom a B+ for bad plus terrible.” —Frank on Tom’s hearing performance

“A smirking block of domestic feta.” —The Atlantic’s description of Tom in a blog after the hearings.

“They call Gil meth-head Santa because he so rarely delivers.” —Hugo

The Cousin Greg Corner

Tough look for our guy Greg this week. Grandpa Ewan’s ultimatum that Greg stop working for Logan or give up his $250 million is how we begin. Greg sees Tom, puts on that patented “I’ll help you steal my identity” smile, and declares to them that he just passed on the quarter billion to stay with Waystar. But it’s OK, he says, because Ewan changes his mind a lot, and he is sturdy so who knows how long it would take to actually get the inheritance. Right? Greg also tries to rationalize this by saying he still might get $5 million. “I’m golden, baby,” he says. As mentioned above, Connor and Tom quickly make Greg feel like $5 million would be like pennies he picked up on the street.

Before the hearings, Greg gives Tom some advice—“Maybe just try to enjoy it”—before extending a fist pump and shouting “Go team.” Any optimism is short-lived once the Senate shows that it has records of emails between Greg and Tom, as well as potential evidence of them being involved in the destruction of the missing documents. Soon, Greg begins freaking out about the fact that now he isn’t just losing $250 million but may be going to jail, too. Logan yells at him to get out of the room. So much for Uncle Fun.

P.S.: Give me a “Greg in D.C.” spinoff—Jonah Ryan walked so Greg the Egg could run.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.