A trip to Logan’s childhood home threatens to fracture the family even further, as Rhea continues to squeeze her way into the Roy’s inner circle.
Wow, a lot has happened in the past couple of weeks, eh? Obligations forced me to skip last week’s recap of “Return,” which saw the Pierce-abandoned Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter) latch herself onto Waystar by way of becoming Logan’s (Brian Cox) new lover, but the ripple effects of her involvement are causing even bigger waves than one could anticipate. And in “Dundee,” we see those waves — and other butterfly effects from earlier — come crashing to shore in deliciously tragic ways.
This week, our window into the Roys manifests in the family’s return to Logan’s childhood home of Dundee, Scotland, the site of a dedication commemorating five decades in the business — once a modest affair, now boosted by Rhea into a glitzy, big-budget gala. The kids already have to go through their own motions, recording hollow salutations to their dad that will get played the big event; performances range from pathetically fawning in Ken (Jeremy Strong) and Conner (Alan Ruck), to more biting, backhanded salutations from spurned children Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv (Sarah Snook).
For the kids, though, Dundee represents the rare chance to band together to take down Rhea, a woman quickly changing the landscape of their own prospects in the company. It’s personal for Shiv, of course, having been the recipient of Rhea’s manipulations last episode, but the rest of the kids are all too willing to take down this new X factor in the family dynamic before she spends their fortunes away.
And so the family jets off to Dundee, a small, quaint Scottish town that serves as the mysterious Kane-ian setting for Logan’s origin story. Logan’s always been a mercurial figure – keeping the audience at arm’s length as much as he does his children, a power move intended to keep us off balance and under his thumb – but returning home puts him in his most vulnerable position since he had a stroke in season one, and even then it’s a tight race. Driving past an old bandstand that elicits only a knowing, wistful chuckle he won’t explain, or abandoning a photo op at his childhood home, Dundee has a curious effect on Logan that’s fascinating to watch.
Cox is especially great here, modulating his typical ferocity to fight off the feelings of nostalgia he might be experiencing. What kind of formative trauma did he experience here? What about the childhood death of his sister Rose (which we learn after the Roy kids bait Rhea into toasting her, to stony silence) causes such distress? We’ll never know, and Logan (and Succession as a whole) wants to keep it that way.
Logan’s always been a mercurial figure … but returning home puts him in his most vulnerable position since he had a stroke in season one.
Of course, all of the kids’ efforts to undermine Rhea – revealing that she doesn’t drink, trying to get the all-too-understanding Marcia (Hiam Abbass) to care about her philandering husband – backfire in “Dundee”‘s end, as Logan publicly announces his naming of her as CEO. We’re in the Age of Rhea Jarrell now, and the kids have never been in such a vulnerable position. That said, so is Rhea, as the threat of a principled whistleblower who can’t be bought threatens to take Waystar down with more bombshells about the Cruises crisis, and her with it. Still, those are concerns for next week.
For a show about the ways in which unchecked wealth allows damaged people to project their damage onto all the others, one has to wonder if this Cruises whistleblower crisis is going to amount to anything. It’s a well-timed week for this kind of intrigue, as the Trump administration reels against a true ‘gotcha’ moment in a sea of gotcha moments that might lead to his impeachment. Will this be the thing that finally matters — someone who cannot be bought? At least in the fictional world of Succession, it’s also a delight to watch rich power-hungry assholes scramble to understand the idea that they can’t bury a problem with money or threats. Gives me hope.
- We also see the return of James Cromwell as Logan’s liberal, environmentalist brother (and Greg’s dad) Ewan, who comes with no minced words for Logan’s greedy expansionism. “The Logan Roy School of Journalism — what’s next, the Jack the Ripper Women’s Health Clinic?” (He also comes with an ultimatum for bottom-feeder Greg (Nicholas Braun), who threatens to take away his son’s inheritance unless he stops working for Logan, one of many ways in which Greg gets to squirm this episode — hello, sand mites.)
- More developments for Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) and Roman, the Power Couple of the Hour – they might get married? Or as Roman puts it, “an equivalent – like I kidnap you and force you to live with me?… You eat me, I eat you, like they do in Germany.”
- Speaking of “Sands,” Conner’s girlfriend Willa (Justine Lupe) just opened previews for her new play at Con’s expense. We don’t get to see it, but dollars to donuts it isn’t great (“Most of the lines you heard tonight were placeholders,” she warns). Still, it gives Ken the chance to chase the chance for a normal life with an all-too-clingy fling with one of the actresses from the show, Jennifer (Sydney Lemmon), flying her out to Dundee while the show is going on. It’s fun to see the show twist the knife in Conner’s delusions, to be sure, but her presence is also deeply tragic for Ken, who’s looking for any excuse to feel alive even as his daddy remains dangerously on his mind.
- While we’re on the subject, holy shit that cringeworthy Kendall Roy rap, baseball jersey and all. It’s just…. this show keeps on giving, that’s all.
- For what it’s worth, Marcia has been down the road of a new Logan Roy lover before, and she gives as good as she gets. It’s no wonder she brushes off Shiv’s concerns; she’s got Rhea pinned to the wall with a few well-placed jabs about getting tested for STDs.
Succession, “Dundee” Trailer:
- Henry Jackman on the musical canvas of “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” - April 16, 2021
- Inside the ambitious failure of Coppola’s “One from the Heart” - April 11, 2021
- “The Nevers” is a creaky ode to Joss Whedon’s pet concerns - April 11, 2021