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L to the OG: Breaking Down Episode 8 of ‘Succession’

The Roys go to Scotland, Cousin Greg makes a decision, and Kendall raps

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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 eighth episode of Season 2, “Dundee.”

Succession’s Line of Succession, Week 8

There’s a bitter irony nestled at the heart of “Dundee,” an episode centered on celebrating Logan Roy’s 50 years running Waystar Royco. On the one hand, Logan would love nothing more than to satiate his unrelenting ego with corporate underlings basking in his glory; on the other, it’s yet another reminder that he’s washed and very close to the finish line. So much, in fact, that Logan says he’s going to use his speech at the event to publicly name a Waystar successor for the first time. The question is: Who’s it going to be?

Heading into the episode, Rhea is firmly entrenched as the front-runner, having quickly become Logan’s close confidant and, quite possibly, his new romantic partner. (Though the less we think about Logan Roy boning, the better we are as, like, a society.) What’s more, she’s the person entrusted with planning everything for his celebration in his native Dundee: a huge responsibility in and of itself. Obviously, Shiv’s the one who feels the most threatened by Rhea’s current standing—especially since things haven’t gone so well since her father promised that she’d take over from him back in the Season 2 premiere. And Rhea worked some clever subterfuge last week by floating Shiv’s name as a potential Pierce successor to give Logan an excuse not to elevate his daughter.

Rhea’s smart enough to know that Shiv is her most formidable opponent among the Roy kids. In “Dundee,” Shiv tries to rally her siblings against a common enemy. They’re all jockeying for the same seat of power—well, except Connor, who might be going bankrupt funding Willa’s first theater production—but they all understand it’s in their best interest to keep Waystar in the family. So, if you’re someone who loves when Succession devolves into a bunch of petty corporate backstabbing, this week delivered the good shit. Kendall convinces Rhea to mention Logan’s dead sister Rose in a toast—and while we don’t know what exactly happened to Rose, it’s something Logan clearly doesn’t want to remember and he’s visibly pissed. Connor’s own toast prods at Logan’s ego by comparing the Dundee celebration to a funeral. And Shiv continues to emphasize how Rhea—who doesn’t drink and whose mother volunteers for the Democratic Socialists of America—doesn’t quite align with traditional Waystar/Roy family values. (It goes without saying those, um, “values” are abhorrent, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

Nevertheless, Rhea keeps her eyes on the prize, and takes the time to individually praise Roman and Kendall. She tells Roman he’s got great instincts and could be a great leader one day, while letting Kendall know that this Number One Boy is still, at the end of the day, the Number One Choice. Now, Kendall is an absolute wreck, and no rational human being would think he’s anywhere near a good state of mind, but this week’s episode put any illusions about Kendall’s ability to function normally to rest. Once he started rapping about how great his dad is at the celebration—in a scene that felt like it went on FOREVER—I became more concerned about Ken than I was after he committed the involuntary manslaughter. True story: When Kendall planted this kilt-ass-looking hat on his dad, I briefly flirted with self-immolation to escape the second-hand embarrassment.

Anyway, back to Rhea: Holly Hunter’s character does a great job of keeping a poker face—she’s conniving and manipulative and it’s really hard to tell if anything that comes out of her mouth has a shred of sincerity to it. She has quickly and seamlessly integrated herself into Logan’s inner circle. Rhea’s just as good at playing the game as Logan; objectively, she’d probably make a good CEO. But, knowing that the cruise scandal is about to break, effectively making the job of the next CEO impossible, Shiv tells Logan to go with his gut instead of his sentiment to pick who he wants to take over Waystar. And so he obliges by announcing Rhea, as the kids had come to suspect. It’s, in a way, a tough blow for Shiv—though it doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods with all the succession talk in Succession. It was only a few weeks ago that Shiv was in this enviable position; Rhea could lose her standing just as quickly. Taking Logan at his word is like trusting Ernie Grundfeld with a lottery pick.

Theme of the Week: Logan’s Self-Mythologizing

Throughout Succession, we’ve been fed little crumbs about Logan’s upbringing. His family appears to have come from a blue-collar background, and, as evinced by the scars on his back seen last season, he had a physically abusive uncle whom he lived with for a time. (An upsetting through line, seeing the way Logan callously hit Roman in the sixth episode of the season.) For Logan, of course, everything that led up to being one of the most powerful men in the world began in Dundee, Scotland.

Logan’s descriptions of growing up in Dundee make for a quintessential rags-to-riches narrative. He claims to have shat outdoors in a bucket because his home didn’t have a toilet; the Roy kids say he likened the place to an “open sewer.” With all those unpleasant thoughts as a precursor to seeing his childhood home, well, the place looks … fine?

Screenshot via HBO

I’ll go out on a limb and say most people reading this article wouldn’t mind living in this house. As Roman points out, “If this place was in Brooklyn it’d be worth 5 mil, easy.” (Blogging as a Brooklyn resident, because I’m that stereotype, I can confirm this is accurate!)

I’m not trying to submit myself as a third Property Brother, it’s just telling that Logan would seemingly exaggerate the details of his upbringing. A self-made billionaire appears more impressive the more he’s able to be mythologized, and the Logan Roy narrative works better when you’re led to believe he grew up like Oliver Twist. Logan’s brother Ewan, who also makes an appearance this week, tells his grandson (Cousin) Greg that when Logan went birdwatching as a kid, Ewan would scrub out some of the species Logan claims he saw because they seemed too farfetched. Ewan might’ve made up this story because he’s spiteful and jealous of Logan’s success, but even if that’s true, he’s hammering home the point that his brother can be an elite bullshit artist. Logan refuses to go into his old home upon seeing it from the backseat of his car—perhaps because, if he got any closer, he’d have the accept the extent of his [clears throat] alternative facts.

Most Callous Display of Wealth

Nowadays, if you follow soccer, it seems like every major club is either owned by an oil magnate or Red Bull. And really, the only way I could love Succession even more is if the show crossed over with my favorite sport—lo and behold, Roman buys a fucking soccer club this week. Some context: Roman is still cozying up to Eduard, the moneyed Azerbaijani who may be willing to inject cash into Waystar if the company’s willing to become a propaganda wing for his region (just minor details!).

Eduard thinks that very casually buying a club in the Scottish Premiership would be a good investment. He mentions to Roman that he knows an agent who’d be able to loan his club some dope players, and even invokes the idea of the dreaded European Super League. Roman, meanwhile, agrees to go in 50/50 to purchase Hearts, Logan’s boyhood club, despite not knowing the first thing about soccer. Even by Succession standards, buying a soccer club as a present for your dad is a mind-boggling flex.

But this is also Succession, so when Roman informs his dad at the 50-year celebration that he just bought Hearts, Logan incredulously reminds him that he supports Hibernian (or “Hibs”). So, uh, yeah. A soccer club is not the kind of thing you can return if you keep the receipt, so I hope to God “Roman is the unwitting owner of Heart of Midlothian Football Club” becomes a recurring plotline for the rest of the season. (Also, if I may quibble, I don’t understand why Dundee native Logan Roy is a fan of Hibs when he’s got two local clubs—Dundee United and Dundee FC—that he could’ve chosen to support, but whatever, dude!) In real life, things don’t usually end well for teams with questionable foreign ownership, so in the Succession universe, poor Hearts could go the way of Vaulter. Fingers crossed Eduard’s connections help the club add some good lads on loan.

The Most Brutal Insults of the Week

5. On that thing we’ve all noticed about Kendall: “Has anyone ever told you that you talk about your dad, like, a lot?” —Jennifer

4. On being asked to record another take for Logan’s celebratory video by some hapless Waystar employee: “Wuddup, pricklicks?! It’s me, Doctor Moron! I’m a ding-dong doodle-bug dipshit with a tit-mouse dick and my dad hates all of you. Fuckie go bye bye!” —Roman

3. On what Kendall could contribute to the video: “Maybe tell that heartwarming story about how you tried to kill him and take over the company? That oughta moisten the old peepers.” —Roman

2. On Logan’s incessant branding in Dundee: “The Logan Roy School of Journalism. What’s next, the Jack the Ripper Women’s Health Clinic?” —Ewan

1. On his brother’s ultimate legacy: “In terms of the lives that will be lost by his whoring for the climate change deniers, there’s a very persuasive argument to be made that he’s worse than Hitler.” —Ewan. (I’m so, so glad he’s back!)

The Cousin Greg Corner

Cousin Greg is due for some retribution after recording Tom and tucking some cruise line documents in his pants and it really bit him this week. Literally. Sitting in the front row for Sands, Willa’s play, Cousin Greg tells Connor he believes there are sand mites “perhaps thriving” on the stage, and he’s now got some chomping away at his skin. (For what it’s worth, Connor got construction sand instead of desert sand for the production, which he was super bummed about.) Worse yet, Greg thinks the sand mites are attracting midges in Dundee; suddenly our guy can’t catch a break!

Itchy/masticated skin aside, things become even more precarious for Greg once he reunites with his grandpa, Ewan. Ewan, as he is wont to do, rattles off all the ways Logan sucks: “He’s morally bankrupt. He’s a nothing man, who may well be more personally responsible for the death of this planet than any other single human being.” (“He also makes the Calispatron franchise [sounds like Succession Universe Transformers], which is, uh, solid, mediocre entertainment,” is Greg’s ultra-convincing rebuttal.) And because Ewan’s so disgusted that Greg works at Waystar, he offers an ultimatum: his grandson has to quit his job, or else he’ll be cut off from his inheritance, which would be roughly $250 million.

So Greg approaches Logan during the celebration hoping to, in his own cringe-y words, “negotiate a bit of a Gregzit” while they’re both in the restroom. Deciding that the best way to announce he’s quitting the company is to inform the CEO (and not, like, his actual supervisor) in the restroom, is a helpful reminder that, for all the strides Greg has made this season, he’s still a naive doofus who’s got plenty more to learn if he wants to ascend the Waystar corporate ladder. But he’s definitely thirsty for that power; all Logan has to do to keep Greg from quitting is assure him that Ewan is too much of a coward to cut him out of the will. (Whether that’s actually true remains to be seen.)

Just like that, the prospect of Greg leaving Waystar is neutralized—and hopefully he finds some topical solution for his sand mite and/or midges problem. But all of that somehow pales in comparison to Cousin Greg’s biggest sin of all this week: witnessing Kendall’s rap performance, and being super into it.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.