Succession Season Two opens only 48 hours after the first season left off. It appears Kendall Roy is getting his chance to dry out in rehab following a deadly car crash in the finale, but his ruthless father summons him to appear on TV to explain why he suddenly pulled out of the “bear hug”—the hostile takeover of Waystar Royco.
In his uncomfortable TV interview, Kendall makes a subtle statement that might be easy to miss on first watch. He tells the interviewer: “A whole lifetime can lead to a moment…” he awkwardly begins. Now, if this sounds familiar, that’s because it echoes what Logan Roy told Kendall the moment after the car crash that killed a young waiter at Shiv’s wedding. Logan told Kendall: “This could be the defining moment of your life. It would eat everything.”
But Logan made the accident disappear. And it’s not until half-way through the episode until the accident is actually addressed. One of Logan’s men takes Kendall into the laundry room to tell him what happened. Their guys got to the crash first where they took Kendall’s key card from the scene. Kendall also learns something else: The waiter had unclipped his seatbelt, so he survived the crash and drowned inside the car. This leaves us with two options: Either Logan’s men unbuckled the seatbelt so it didn’t appear that there was a missing driver. Or, the waiter did survive the crash and Kendall left him to die in the car.
Either way, despite Logan’s cover-up of the accident, this is the defining moment of Kendall’s life. This is eating everything.
Throughout the episode, the death hangs heavy over a shell shocked Kendall—even the smell of a dead animal haunts the Roy estate when the family gathers together to return to the central question of Succession: Who will be Logan Roy’s successor?
Logan appears to have two options before him: He can either sell the company—which his advisors tell him will be trash in five years—or he can name a successor to save Waystar. Logan tells his family that he’s considering selling. He even compares his dying media and entertainment empire to the collapse of Kodak in the late ’90s. Media is dying (*frantically updates LinkedIn*)!
But, in a private meeting with Shiv, Logan says that he’s officially offering for her to be his successor.
“Are we actually having this conversation?” Shiv asks.
“Yes, we’re actually having this conversation.” Logan replies.
“And selling, what is that? Is that real?” she asks.
“Of course, if you don’t come in, yeah. I mean Roman? No,” he says. “If there’s really no hope of you coming in, I’d rather cash out.”
But when Logan threatens to tweet that he’s selling (a frightening inside glimpse at the Trumpian power of an old man with access to social media), Shiv says she’ll do it.
She asks repeatedly, “Is this real?” Each time he says it’s real, “remember this,” he says in what appears to be a truly tender father-daughter moment.
But can we trust Logan Roy? Can Shiv trust her father? The plan is to not tell anyone right now, but when she has the experience they’ll name her. It seems too good to be true. For one thing, of all the eligible successors, Shiv is the smartest of the Roy children. She’d be the most capable to run the company, and comparatively, she appears to be the least morally bankrupt. But is Logan actually going to do it?
Later, after announcing that he would not be selling the company, Logan says they’ll name a “stuffed shirt” successor until they name the real successor. Why not Jerri?
Yeah, sure, why not? The truth is, Logan can’t be trusted. For now, Kendall has been eaten by the accident. Death looms over him, and he’s out of the picture, delegated to a co-COO position and doing his father’s dirty work.
Looking ahead to the season, it’s war with Sandy, and a tough playing field for Shiv to negotiate if she wants to end up on top, which, at least at this point, I’m reluctantly cheering for. And that’s the best anyone can do with this show.