Logan tightens his grip on the Roy family and Waystar as a corporate retreat gets downright feral.
If there’s anything Succession, particularly in its second season, has taught us, it’s that it’s virtually impossible to cross Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and win. “He can do whatever he likes,” says Roman (Kieran Culkin) this week; “He’s like a human Saudi Arabia.” He’s an absolutely toxic presence in everyone’s lives — familial trauma haunts the Roy children’s lives as much as their affluenza — but he holds too much of their respective futures in his grubby paws to allow anyone to escape. In “Hunting,” the third episode of the second season, Logan’s stranglehold on not just the Roy family, but virtually everyone in his thrall, is further cemented to a deliciously droll degree.
As the Waystar corporate retreat looms (set in Hungary, because as Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) notes, “it’s a nice place to shoot a gun where no one cares what you hit”), Logan wants to use the occasion to contemplate his next big move: acquiring respected news outlet PGM, run by Naomi Pierce (who we’ve yet to see this season). It’s ostensibly a bid to further grow Waystar’s monolithic reach, but, as Kendall and the rest of the board admit after Logan leaves the room, it’s really to spite both his estranged brother Ewan and to get back after them after they gave him a bit of bad press.
These aren’t opinions they can share with their leader, of course; neither Kendall (Jeremy Strong) (“It’s a great idea, I love it”) nor Roman (“I fucking love it, but that’s just my honest opinion”) dare to cross him on this. Of course, Tom (Matthew Macfayden) wants to use this opportunity to buddy up to Logan, but Shiv (Sarah Snook) eggs him to pass along her doubts about soaking up yet another news organization. “If we own all the news,” she argues, “I do actually wonder where I’ll get my fucking news!”
While this divided opinion looms on the PGM acquisition, Logan is faced with two more fires to put out: First, there’s Conner’s (Alan Ruck) embarrassing launch video for his even more embarrassing presidential campaign, in which he all but dares the federal government to go after his taxes; for that, he sends Shiv as a beta test for her fitness to take over for him.
Second, there’s the news that a journalist is writing a none-too-flattering unauthorized biography of Logan, to which someone close to the family has flapped their gums. As we learn in a delicious pre-credits sequence, that turns out to be perpetual blabbermouth Greg the Egg (Nicholas Braun) who slips out that Logan is “scary, vindictive, paranoid, violent…” to said journalist in a “pre-meeting” meeting. After he tries to take it back, the biographer clocks his intentions immediately: “Do you want to present your side, or are you happy for everyone else to tell their version?”
Like with the season premiere, Succession likes to throw its characters in a gilded Petri dish — in this case, the opulent manse that serves as the home of their retreat — and put them under a microscope to see what happens. One of the show’s perverse joys is to see the ways its one-percenters duke it out for the scraps that their Money Daddy throws to them. In the case of “Hunting,” however, that analogy proves quite literal: Logan, sniffing out this subterfuge and even more paranoid than usual, gets everyone to turn on each other Lord of the Flies-style, including having Greg, Tom and Karl (David Rasche) play “boar on the floor” as they fight for a sausage thrown at them from those who’ve escaped his wrath. Most people would be mortified to learn that so many people in their employ distrust and doubt them so much; for Logan, though, it’s another opportunity to show his dominance over them.
Succession likes to throw its characters in a gilded Petri dish … and put them under a microscope to see what happens.
The whole spectacle may be a bit on-the-nose, even for Succession, but writer Tony Roche and director Andrij Parekh understand that this kind of alpha-male dick swinging is the Roy family brand. Logan literally has fuck-you money, and an emotional strangehold over his family and employees; if he says ‘jump,’ they say ‘how high?’, and if he says “boar on the floor,” everyone else joins the chant.
We don’t learn a lot of new things in this week’s Succession, but the single-mindedness of the Roy family’s gravitational pull toward Logan is certainly reinforced. The patriarch does nothing by half-measures; he knows he has to break his family in order to put out all dissent and get them on board, and his sadistic glee at humiliating his very own children makes for some of the show’s most delicious moments. It doesn’t matter how bad an idea acquiring Pierce may be; as Logan bellows to everyone he’s just bested, “I will win.”
Even as they get caught up in the moment with all the ‘boar on the floor’ mob hysteria, in the cold light of the morning they can all barely look at each other. And Logan, satisfied he’s broken them, invites Kendall and Frank (Peter Friedman), the former Waystar COO who’s brought back after his attempted coup with Ken to help with the Pierce acquisition, to the table. And so the cycle of abuse continues.
Even with all this damage (or, rather, because of it) we keep watching, either to find out what will finally break Logan’s Stockholm-like hold on his family or to see how low the floor for these people’s self-respect may be. When this much money and power is on the line, I predict it’ll get a lot lower than “boar on the floor.”
- “How much is a gallon of milk?” Logan accusatorily asks Roman, a question to which he has no answer. Not that Logan has much room to talk, but he completely understands the way the Roy fortune insulates them from the practicalities of the real world.
- Every bit of the leadup to the Waystar board bringing up their doubts about Pierce is absolute gold, especially the three-way conversation between Tom, Gerri and Karl about who gets to express those doubts to a man they’re clearly terrified of. “It’s where heroes are born, Tom… the battlefield,” Gerri says. His reply? “It’s also commonly where they’re killed!”
- As grotesque as ‘boar on the floor’ looks, Kendall and Roman’s slapfighting over Father’s affection and loyalty is just as calculating — especially as they both try to “smoke [each other] out” about the Pierce acquisition and the unauthorized biography.
- The way Logan bellows ‘RATS!” practically shakes the room.
- I can’t stress enough how lovely it is to watch Greg continue to squirm his way through the machinations of this family; he’s the village idiot, but he may well be the smartest of the Roys.
- Of course Conner hyper-decants wine. Of course he does. “You don’t hyper-decant?”