In the first season of Succession, there’s a scene where Tom, who married into the Roy Family at the center of the show, finds out the company’s dirtiest, darkest secret. The Waystar Royco corporate cruises have narrowly avoided international scandal via complicated network of fixers in South America. It’s hinted that at the very least, sexual assault has occurred on these trips. At most, we’re talking murder.
It’s the bogeyman hiding in the periphery of the Succession narrative. It couldn’t be as bad as it was implied to Tom, right? In this week’s third episode of the second season, Tom finds himself at a corporate dinner that answers definitively that things really could be that bad.
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“Boar on the floor!” Logan shouts at Tom, clueless great nephew Greg, and David Rasche’s Karl. The name of the game is thorough, exuberant humiliation in the name of finding the person responsible for leaking details of an upcoming acquisition attempt of Waystar competitor Pierce. The through line of “Hunting” is the fact that Logan’s next conquest could put the company in even more inescapable debt and no one can explain why it’s a good idea with a straight face.
When the three “boars” at the table couldn’t convince Logan they really believed in the idea, they were made to oink for their sausages. We know from the cold open that Greg, hapless dipshit that he is, has taken a meeting with Logan’s biographer and has already said too much by the time he excuses himself. Tom could choose to rat out Greg in this moment, knowing that not having proof of a transgression has never stopped Logan from punishing someone. He doesn’t. Tom’s not good. He’s not even kind of good. But, Tom either figured he had nothing to gain by turning Greg in or he actually has a soft spot for the kid.
Of course, he may not have a soft spot for Greg as much as he does for his new wife, Shiv, who is secretly preparing to take over as CEO from Logan as soon as the titular succession plan goes into effect. This wasn’t the plan for the newlyweds. In their eyes, Tom was going to be groomed before Kendall threw a few wrenches into the works. It’s clear, not only from their treatment of the corporate ladder but from their different views on monogamy, that Tom loves Shiv more than Shiv loves Tom.
Maybe that’s unfair, Tom loves Shiv very differently than Shiv loves Tom. While Tom was in Hungary eating crow and floor bangers for Shiv, Shiv was exercising their open marriage back in New York. It’s abundantly clear that Shiv and Tom can’t quite come to terms with the honesty that comes with an arrangement like this and it’s quietly killing them. By the end of the episode, Shiv goes from being on the outside of the corporate retreat looking in to being called in officially by Logan.
Meanwhile, Kendall’s transition from worried, mediocre boat rocker to stone cold corporate executioner for his father continued. The victim this week wasn’t another Waystar acquisition, but rather his younger brother and co-COO Roman. Greg’s slip to the biographer might have more far-reaching consequences, but Roman’s telegraphing of the Waystar/Pierce merger plans to Pierce’s camp is the target of Logan’s (and Kendall’s) ire. The physical bullying of Roman as a child suggested in season one is in full effect here with a struggle for Roman’s phone during Boar on the Floor.
The roughhousing of the repugnant. Yuck.
Finally, older sibling Conner goes full Gary Johnson meets Jordan Peterson and releases his intention to evade taxes via social media. Shiv is sent to squash the story and the bid for President, but discovers Connor has hired legitimate political strategists. Even the worst people in the world don’t think Connor is electable, but we know how that story ends.
This week featured strong performances, but I’m always impressed with J-Smith Cameron’s role as Gerri, Waystar’s longtime legal counsel. A moment early on when she realizes the entire Board of Directors is going to let Logan destroy the company with this Pierce acquisition is a brilliant piece of subtle facial work. This episode also featured some of the best shots and set pieces, most notably the night shots of the boar hunt.
- Marcia is again conspicuous by her absence. And where is her son, who was supposed to take over a major part of the business? This will come back up, but they’re taking their time.
- We know Pierce’s CEO is swayed to have a meeting with Waystar because of returning ex-COO Frank, but when will Frank outlive his usefulness? He seems to be Logan’s favorite disposable toy.
- Willa, Connor’s girlfriend/longterm escort, is going to slip and mess something huge up. I can feel it in my bones. Will it be some horrible thing Connor has done? Something to tank the Pierce deal?
Succession Season 2
In Episode 3 of Succession, "Hunting," the Waystar corporate retreat turns humiliating and gross. Also, Connor goes full Gary Johnson.
- Beautiful shots
- J-Smith Cameron's performance
- Great tension at the Board Meeting
- Pierce acquisition feels like it's moving at a glacial pace
- The slow-motion train wreck of Shiv's inevitable rebuff needs some curveballs thrown in soon