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The Most Anticipated Story Lines of ‘Succession’ Season 2

Kendall Roy is the number one boy, but is he the number one plot heading into the second installment of HBO’s drama about the über-rich?

HBO/Ringer illustration

A show like Succession is so watchable because every inch of its scenes are interesting—from the power brokers in the foreground to the conspirators whispering in the back to the unnoticed janitor in the corner, quietly judging all of the rest. Though the main plot of the show’s first season ended with the thwarting of Kendall Roy’s hostile takeover of his father’s media conglomerate due to some high-level blackmail, there’s still so much more in the works: Shiv’s career in politics, the fallout of Roman’s failed rocket launch, whether or not Tom will maintain a closed-loop system. With that in mind, we asked Ringer staffers what they’re looking forward to most for Season 2 of Succession. Their answers are below.

When Will Kendall’s Siblings Find Out?

Alan Siegel: The last time we saw the perpetrator of English Chappaquiddick (Chapelquiddick?), Kendall was being emotionally and financially blackmailed by his father. Now, heading into Season 2 and after “drying off,” he’s about to walk into the offices of Waystar Royco under the thumb of his father, to stand in front of a bunch of people who, last they heard, thought Kendall was attempting to stage a hostile takeover.

The reason why Kendall has turned subservient is the ultimate horrible family secret, and I’m dying to know how the rest of the horrible Roy clan will find out about it, and more importantly, how they’ll exploit the shit out of it. Shiv is the smartest—perhaps she’ll dredge it out of Kendall? Or maybe Ken will tell Roman out of some false sense of brotherhood? It’s funny thinking about what Tom would do if he knew. In fact, that’s the dream scenario. Mainly because he’d tell Cousin Greg, who’d probably blab about it to someone—or everyone—else.

The Ongoing Saga of Tom and Greg

Andrew Gruttadaro: Unconditionality doesn’t exist in the realm of the Roys. Survival in such a sphere mandates transactional behavior, the trading of goods and services, the exchange of information for a commensurate fee. In each other, Tom and Greg have found ideal trade partners: For Tom, Greg is a punching bag who allows him to access his alpha side amid a slew of interactions in which he’s cast as the beta, and also a companion who can be dragged into the death pit. For Greg, Tom is the only upper-management schmo willing to acknowledge his presence on a consistent basis, and the only one even offering to drag him into the death pit. But on an even deeper level, Tom and Greg are each other’s only guides in the fucked-up situation they find themselves in. The duo are in the Roy inner circle but also hopelessly, forever kept outside of it. They’re invited on the private jets, but also acutely aware of their expendability. Only they know how that truly feels—only they can truly have each other’s backs, as seen in the nod they exchanged in the Season 1 finale.

As the Roy family drama (presumably) explodes in Season 2, Tom and Greg will have to cling to each other even more. That’s a good thing for us: It means there’ll be more deck shoe criticisms, and perhaps even an evolution of a relationship from purely transactional to genuinely meaningful.

Shiv, Our Autumnal Queen

Lindsay Zoladz: The most wicked delights of Succession are the moments when you find yourself, almost unconsciously, admiring the Roys, or at least coveting some aspect of their hideously luxurious lifestyle. The show is a reminder that we are all inherently shallow and easily swayed by shiny things—and so in that spirit I must confess that I am obsessed with Shiv Roy’s hair. And her gleaming silk blouses, the perfect fall hues of her makeup, and—duh—her wedding dress. During the first season, a friend and I would routinely text each other screenshots of Shiv fits with truly deranged captions like “MY EVIL AUTUMNAL QUEEN.” When Sarah Snook debuted her Season 2 chop in the teaser trailer, we very nearly died. Shiv Roy, stab me in the heart with a tastefully embellished hair clip.

The Ascendance of Gerri

Miles Surrey: There are so many great and singularly terrible people in the Roy clan that it’s easy to forget the other Succession characters surviving (and sometimes thriving) within their noxious orbit. Upon rewatching most of the first season, it occurred to me that Gerri—the bemused general counsel of Waystar Royco played by J. Smith-Cameron—is basically the Littlefinger of the show. Except her calculating nature is a lot more subtle.

Gerri doesn’t want to be CEO of Waystar; she understands she can wield a ton of power adjacent to the throne. And considering Kendall, Shiv, and especially Roman have individually sought her advice—note: it’s quite obvious Gerri and Frank were better parental figures to the Roy kids than Logan—on numerous occasions, she’s in an advantageous position regardless of who comes out on top at Waystar. Second, and perhaps more importantly: Gerri is low-key hilarious. Her perpetual exasperation often yields some amazing insights—like her advice on Shiv’s wedding day of “Uh, don’t let him die?” Gerri is the stealth MVP of Succession, and I suggest you hop on the bandwagon before the her stock skyrockets. I promise it won’t blow up like one of Roman’s rockets.

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

Dan Devine: In the first season of Succession, whenever a Roy finished firing off the latest round of full-throat fuck-offs, I found myself wondering what might be going on inside the head of the one family member who doesn’t say much: Marcia, the third wife of multimedia despot Logan Roy, played by Hiam Abbass. Marcia’s past remains a mystery: The off-the-record background check commissioned by Siobhan came back conspicuously absent of detail before her 31st birthday. (The most edifying aspect of the investigation: that Marcia knew about it almost instantly, and was willing to confront Shiv about it.) Her primacy within Logan’s inner circle is clear—she’s the only one he trusts, the one he made his health care proxy, the one he wants to have double-voting power on Waystar Royco’s board of directors after he dies—but how she intends to leverage it isn’t. (There’s got to be a reason Marcia and her son Amir were in the room when Logan and Kendall “reconciled,” right?)

It feels instructive that the serene yet severe Marcia clashes most with Shiv. Kendall’s a pathetic disaster, Roman’s an oily boy, and Connor’s an almost unbelievable joke. That leaves the baby girl, the lone competent would-be heir, as the one for whom to reserve your sharpest knives; Marcia brandishes hers viciously before Siobhan’s wedding, leading the bride-to-be to ask, “Who are you? Apart from a machine for gathering power?” It’s the multibillion-dollar question to which all the Roys want an answer, because they don’t know how to process a person who—as Abbass said during an interview last year—“basically doesn’t play the game in the same way.” That doesn’t mean she isn’t playing one, though.

Fuck Off

Michael Baumann: Fuck off.

Greg the Machiavellian Egg

Shaker Samman: Toward the end of Shiv’s wedding in the Season 1 finale of Succession, Kendall ambles around the castle grounds in search of some coke, and runs into Greg. Greg, the benignly daft rich kid who also happens to somehow always know where the drugs are, points Kendall in the right direction. But he also chooses this moment to politely inform the Roy child that he ought to be respected—and perhaps feared—in the presumably impending shakeup of Waystar Royco; he made copies of now-shredded documents that could paint the Roy family, and Waystar Royco as a whole, in a negative light, he tells Kendall.

“Greg the motherfucking Egg,” Kendall says to him in response. “Look at you. You little Machiavellian fuck. I see you, Greg. I like it.”

Greg’s development on the fringes of the Roy dynasty has been some of the most compelling character growth the show has offered us. It seems like just yesterday a stoned Greg was vomiting out of the eyeholes of an amusement park mascot suit. Now he’s blackmailing one of the most powerful businessmen in their world. Greg is in the death pit, as Tom so plainly put midway through Season 1. But surprisingly, it seems that Nick Braun’s character realizes that the only way to get out is to be a little more like Niccolò.

The Return of Jeremy Strong

Paolo Uggetti: There’s a moment in “Lifeboats,” the third episode of the first season, that I cannot stop thinking about. If you blink, you will miss it. Kendall Roy prances into a conference room packed with a slew of white-guy exec types as the newly minted CEO of Waystar Royco and begins to speak; he is trying to project confidence and coolness, two traits that would never appear on a list of Kendall Roy qualities. He, of course, fails spectacularly:

The line is peak Kendall—awkward, performative, and pathetic. But the best part about it is what actor Jeremy Strong does right before he nails the kicker. Strong stares right into the camera (or in the Succession world, perhaps right at the Vaulter guy) and twitches his head ever so slightly. It’s a glitch, because that’s what Kendall is: an algorithm of what a “cool” media conglomerate CEO is supposed to look and act that could never actually compute in real life. Strong plays the part to perfection, and nails the whole character all the way through his StockX phase and the accident in the finale that finally renders him docile to his father’s tyrannous reign. Throughout Season 1, Strong perfectly straddles the line between being impossibly lame and easy to laugh at while also being relatable and somehow easy to root for. I don’t know how Season 2 will portray Kendall—personally, I just hope he gets some of his irrational confidence back—but no matter what, I can’t wait to watch Strong knock it out of the park again.

Any Potential Revenge From a Certain Thumbless Employee

Alyssa Bereznak: As you might recall, Roman spent much of Shiv’s wedding fretting over a Japanese rocket. Specifically, the fact that he’d personally rushed its launch so he could display it at the reception and, as a result, caused it to implode in a fiery chaos that was livestreamed to the world. Roman was concerned that he might be guilty of, as Gerri put it, “corporate manslaughter”—but when he later learned that the incident only resulted in two lost thumbs (and potentially an arm), Roman was ecstatic and proceeded to have a wonderful rest of the night. The same, however, can’t be said for the Waystar Royco rocket scientists who lost appendages in the fire.

The way faceless employees are fired, berated, or even amputated (!) as an indirect result of frail Roy family egos has always been one of the most brutally honest parts of Succession. So far (and quite realistically), the show has yet illustrate any chance at underlying revenge. Still, I can’t help but think of a better visual representation of the Roys’ utter disregard for humanity than a thumbless rocket scientist confronting Roman during his brief commute between skyscraper and chauffeur.

Connor Roy 2020

Ben Lindbergh: “I think I finally found a job I want to do,” Connor Roy announces in Succession’s Season 1 finale. “President of the United States.”

When you’re a Roy, you don’t need to form an exploratory committee; you just decide to do things and wait for the world to comply. Granted, numerous obstacles stand in the way of Connor’s election: his idle, unaccomplished life; his complete lack of experience organizing anything more complicated than a charity ball; his history of paying his girlfriend to date him; and the fact that, as Roman reminds him, “generally speaking, people don’t like you.” On the other hand, he has a lot of time, money, and potable water, not to mention elite debate skills.

Chiefly, Logan’s eldest is against the “Great Dangers,” which he sees as usury, onanism, and personally paying taxes.

As Connor notes, though, those positions, derived from his readings, aren’t for public consumption. So what would his public platform be? Can Connor widen the Overton window on the subject of spilling good seed? And, if elected—backed by the promotional power of ATN and Logan’s local news networks—would he descend into despotism? Connor may be the most benign member of his cancerous clan, but as president, he warns Willa, “I could outlaw drama. I mean, I never would, but I’m just illustrating the power of the position.”

Holly Freaking Hunter

Alison Herman: In the 1987 masterpiece Broadcast News, Holly Hunter plays Jane Craig, a dogged TV journalist who finds herself falling for the avatar of her principles’ demise. When news broke this spring that Hunter would be joining the cast of Succession in Season 2, I was instantly carried away by the possibilities of a James L. Brooks–Jesse Armstrong shared universe. After all, Jane works in the same industry the Roys have steadily corrupted through the malevolent influence of ATN. What if Hunter was playing an older, more jaded, embittered Jane, one who’d given up on preserving the system and opted to simply serve its new masters?

Alas, Hunter plays Rhea, the CEO of a rival media company. But while my hopes of a literal crossover have been dashed, there’s still something tantalizing about a vicious media satire deputizing the lead of an only slightly less vicious media satire. The world offscreen has curdled from that of Broadcast News, in which idealists are resigned to doing what they can as the industry devolves around them, to that of Succession, where the idealists have gone extinct. Not that Hunter’s only use here is her meta bona fides; this is one of the most accomplished actresses, character or otherwise, of her generation, one who’s fully capable of going toe to toe with even Succession’s stacked cast. Think how good all those expletives will sound in a thick Georgia drawl.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.