HBO’s most dysfunctional and obscenely rich family this side of the Lannisters has returned. After Succession went supernova in the back half of its first season—improving upon each excellent episode to a hilarious and devastating degree—it became one of the best dramas on television, which made its hiatus all the more excruciating. Well, no more! 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 third episode of Season 2, “Hunting.”
Succession’s Line of Succession, Week 3
With the digital media enterprise Vaulter dramatically gutted in a cost-saving measure, Logan eyes his most ambitious move to quell Stewy and Sandy’s takeover bid: orchestrating a media takeover of his own. He wants to spend $20 billion to acquire Pierce—also referred to as PGM—a rival media conglomerate that is considered the “most respected” name in news. Were Logan to successfully absorb PGM, which would be akin to Disney acquiring most of 21st Century Fox, the companies’ combined might would be too powerful for Stewy and Sandy to touch. Logan devised the idea, so obviously he supports it; it’s as much an ego trip to swallow one of his rivals as it is a potential way to avoid losing the company he founded. However, the other members of the Waystar Royco brain trust aren’t as thrilled about the idea of trying to acquire PGM—a company that has a colorful history with the conservative-leaning Roys—in the midst of staving off their own very public and contentious takeover. (Even by Roy standards, $20 billion is a crapload of money and Waystar could spiral into debt if things go south.)
Nevertheless, out of fear of getting verbally eviscerated by the boss, nobody—from his sons Kendall and Roman down to lackeys like Karl—protests the idea of approaching Pierce with an offer, which will be back-channeled by Logan’s slimy financial adviser. And so the process begins against the backdrop of a Waystar corporate retreat in Hungary (if you’re wondering why it’s taking place in a nondescript European country, Gerri eloquently points out it’s a solid place to shoot some guns without anyone making a fuss). But things immediately hit a snag when Logan discovers that PGM’s become aware of his advances—and combined with the news that someone within the inner circle is speaking to a journalist who is writing a biography that could paint him in an unsavory light, he suspects there’s a rat in his midst and plans to snuff it out.
We’ll address the diabolically creative rat-finding method Logan uses in a little bit; ultimately, though, his PGM paranoia was unfounded, as it turns out that Roman tried to help by personally connecting with one of the Pierces in a move that completely backfired. Roman had noble intentions: He wanted to hand PGM to Logan on a silver platter in order to convince his father that he’d make a capable successor. (Again, Kendall and Roman have no idea Logan has theoretically tapped Shiv to take over, uh, eventually.) But whatever respect Roman gained from Logan last week by suggesting that Vaulter should be shuttered has, much like last season’s tragicomic rocket launch, blown up in his face.
Granted, Roman was never a serious contender for the Waystar throne. Shiv, on the merits of having a successful career seemingly independent of her father’s influence, continues to be the most logical choice to take over the company. But while nothing in “Hunting” would suggest Shiv’s done anything to lose her father’s trust—the final scene sees Logan calling her to say he’s ready to officially start bringing her into the fold—Kendall is low-key earning a bunch of brownie points by virtue of being a super-efficient lapdog. It was Kendall, after all, who prodded the Pierce confession out of Roman, and was the only person who could tell his dad straight up that none of his subordinates thought the acquisition was a good idea and that all of them were too afraid to speak up. (Not that Logan cares; “fuck off,” etc.) And so despite Kendall’s current relationship with his dad being entirely predicated on hanging involuntary manslaughter over his head to thwart an attempted corporate takeover, it’s, um, quite ironic that the child Logan displays the most transparent affection for—or, the closest approximation of it—is the one whom he’s psychologically obliterated. Kendall sure looks thrilled about the whole thing, in his trademark cucked form:
In spite of Shiv’s legit credentials, you get the impression Logan is warming to the idea of Kendall taking over—if only because, so long as he’s alive, his son will continue to do his bidding like a sad little puppet. Just some food for thought as we pivot to boars on the floor.
Theme of the Week: The Logan of Lore (via Boar on the Floor)
The opening sequence of the Succession pilot saw Logan waking up during the middle of the night in a discombobulated state and pissing in a closet—and by the end of the first episode, he was rushed to a hospital. For much of Succession’s first season, Logan wasn’t operating near the height of his powers. You had to infer details about his character through the ways others spoke of him, and the behavior of his morally bankrupt children. In HBO parlance, Logan gives off serious Tywin Lannister energy. Glimpses of Logan’s intimidating presence still made a few appearances throughout the season—especially in the finale, once he bestows Kendall the honor of being his “number one boy.” (You hate to see it, Kendall!)
Logan’s been on a hell of a tear since the start of Season 2, but his savagery reaches its peak during the corporate retreat once he begins sussing out the “rat” among his subordinates over dinner. If you’ll grant me one final Game of Thrones reference, he basically Red Weddings the crew. He ensures everyone has chugged their fair share of booze before he goes on the offensive, probing the likes of Tom, Karl, Gerri, Frank, Roman, and Cousin Greg about their allegiances, the Pierce acquisition, and the biographer. Singling out Tom, Karl, and Greg for their insincerity, he proposes they play “boar on the floor,” a perverse and humiliating exercise where the three of them are goaded into crawling, oinking, and fighting for strips of sausage. As the cochairman of Succession’s official Tom and Greg Fan Club, I have to say it was a really tough look for my guys:
Up to this point in the series, “boar on the floor” is the most evocative display of Logan’s power, and the insidious ways he chooses to wield it to humiliate his underlings. What’s equally disturbing is how quickly several Waystar lackeys are willing to bask in the trio’s indignity, which speaks not just to everyone at Waystar being tremendous pieces of shit, but also to the relief that comes from the fact that they weren’t the subject of Logan’s wrath—this time, at least.
Logan has been running Waystar for decades, so you get the impression the eldest statespeople (i.e., folks like Gerri and Frank, neither of whom was thrilled about what transpired) have seen displays like this more often than they can count. But peak Logan—a monstrous entity of greed; the patron saint of telling you to fuck right off—is still a relatively new phenomenon to Succession viewers. This was a hell of a way to flex just what he’ll do if he begins to distrust his inner circle. Between “boar on the floor” and Kendall’s neutering in the Season 1 finale, I can’t even begin to fathom what Logan might do to his actual enemies.
Most Callous Display of Wealth
Before tossing sausage links in the ornate Hungarian mansion, the Waystar gang must go about hunting some boars. Their way of killing the animals isn’t as hyper-masculine as it sounds, though. After what amounts to a casual stroll through the Hungarian countryside with rifles across their shoulders, everyone is placed in diminutive sniper towers while locals and dogs herd the boars so they can be shot in a neat row:
It’s like a very tepid imitation of Big Buck Hunter. Regardless of where you stand on the notion of hunting animals—I’m not particularly opposed to people hunting deer, but that dentist who killed Cecil the Lion has an open invitation to catch these hands—this is a pretty lame way to go about killing your dinner since, well, everyone else is doing the hard work for you. Yet for that exact reason, it also feels totally on-brand for the Waystar higher-ups.
The Most Brutal Insults of the Week
5. On whether Kendall spoke to the biographer: “Well it’s just, historically speaking when I’m betrayed, it’s usually you.” —Logan
4. Before the gang goes boar hunting: “The safety briefing? Well, here’s the safety briefing: If you move against me, I’ll put a hole in the back of your fucking head.” —Logan
3. On Waystar potentially acquiring Pierce: “If we own all the news, I do actually wonder where I’ll get my fucking news, because at some point, someone needs to actually keep track of what’s going on in the world.” —Shiv
2. On Tom refusing to approach Logan at the retreat about Pierce: “Uh, oh, hello, is this the replicant department? Yeah, my meat puppet has stopped working … Tom, I’m joking. But I’m also not. People would do well to remember there’s gonna be a new sheriff in town one day. So, rally the resistance, deputy.” —Shiv
1. When Tom tried to steer the fateful boar night toward corporate strategy: “Here’s a strategy, Tom: Why don’t you pipe down till you come and tell me I’ve got a grandson coming, or are you shooting blanks?” —Logan
(Side note: It was a really rough week for Minnesota’s flyest Fly Guy, Tom.)
The Cousin Greg Corner
So, about that traitor speaking to the journalist writing a biography about the life of Logan Roy? “Just to be clear, this isn’t a meeting, this is a precursor to see if I might be willing to meet,” Greg tells said biographer in the opening scene of the episode, before spilling that his uncle is “scary, vindictive, paranoid, violent” without understanding how the parameters of an interview being off-the-record works. Alas, this gangly Scaramucci leaves the “precursor” meeting in characteristically awkward fashion by stating that the manner in which he’s leaving the restaurant is officially off-the-record.
You see where this is headed: Greg is freaking the hell out throughout the corporate retreat because Logan has intel that someone spoke to the biographer. Logan’s enlisted a subordinate with a penchant for digging through employees’ personal correspondence—a guy actually nicknamed “Ratfucker Sam”—to find out who the mole is. (Greg, who couldn’t stop talking L’s this week, disclosed all of this to Tom, who couldn’t believe his bud handed him this live-ass grenade of damaging intel.)
Still, things work out for Greg this week—up to a point. He is utterly humiliated during the aforementioned dinner, but Tom doesn’t rat him out, even when they’re both on the floor and Logan starts to ask about the biographer. This is rarely a sentimental show, but it was genuinely sweet that Tom, despite having a way to escape from a truly mortifying spot, didn’t give up Greg, who would’ve been absolutely crushed by Logan to the point of no return. And it turns out Greg wasn’t the only person who spoke to the journalist: So too did a colleague known only as “Mo,” who literally just died of cancer. (It appears spilling Waystar tea on his deathbed was one final fuck you to Logan for reasons that aren’t entirely clear.)
Greg has a lot of promising things going for him this season—a new job under Tom at ATN, a penthouse to crash in while Kendall tests the markets—but the wholly avoidable biographer incident is a helpful reminder that this dude is still new to the Roys’ palace intrigue. Another misstep of this magnitude, and our favorite little Machiavellian fuck could be out of the game permanently.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.