Friday, April 12, 2024

Succession Features Two Sales And A Wedding

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One of the most consistent patterns with watching Succession is the one that provides these characters opportunities to escape the conflicts and familial drama which makes their lives worse, only to see them actively choose to remain trapped. There was no reason to think the final season would change said pattern, and the premiere episode certainly set the Roy children up to remain in their father’s sphere of influence, even as they claimed to want to break away.

But then self-delusion is one of the most entertaining parts of Succession, as the second episode yet again put front and center.

Roman speaks to his father from Succession

After last week’s episode saw Kendall, Shiv, and Roman strike a deal to buy Pierce Global Media, direct rival to their father’s ATN news network, it was easy to assume this would be the conflict of the season. It may still be a central conflict, but in typical Roy family fashion, this conflict was not enough for everyone.

Besides the attempt to buy Pierce, Logan Roy’s other, bigger business deal of the premiere involved selling his company to Lukas Mattson, a streaming media giant introduced in season 3. It was this sale that caused the current rift in the Roy family. You had to assume this sale would be a key plot point of season 4, but did I expect the sale to be tanked entirely? No, that caught me by surprise.

Much like last week, watching Shiv and Kendall try so hard to rationalize their very clearly personal actions as purely business motivated is so sad that I cannot help but laugh at them. I am no businessman who understands whether pushing Mattson for a higher sell price is a good idea or not, and frankly I doubt that is the point of this. Just last week, we saw Kendall and Shiv make a deal with Pierce based on the money they would receive from the Mattson sale. They abandoned another idea to make this deal.

And now here they are, putting their own Pierce acquisition at risk by pushing to tank the sale that makes it possible. Why? Because they refuse to make the choice to escape their father.

Was I surprised to find out that Roman was in contact with Logan, or to see him meet Logan at the end of the episode? No, and for multiple reasons. For one, Roman’s inability to escape his father has always been different from Kendall and Shiv. Those two have deep entitlement issues. Kendall was the heir apparent who had his father’s attention as such. Shiv is the only daughter. They did not have to work to earn their father’s attention, and so they resent it, as well as learn from him.

Roman was the youngest son, the middle child, the screw-up, who clearly never found a clear place at his father’s side. He doesn’t have that same entitlement that he should be his father’s right hand the way Kendall and Shiv clearly do. Where they think conflict and resistance will earn Logan’s love, Roman wants to avoid it. Over time, he likely would have become like Connor and just accepted the family for what it was. Instead we see the events of the series play out and give him these moments where Logan briefly exploits Roman’s distaste for conflict and need for validation.

This dynamic also made Roman self-aware in a way that only he and Connor seem to share. He has not been oblivious to the deeper resentment and need for conflict that drives Kendall and Shiv. He clearly understands why they abandoned The Hundred and why they are now threatening the Mattson sale.

Why wouldn’t he at least consider going back to his father, when sticking by his siblings leads him down a different, more trying road to the same destination?

I would not be surprised to see both the ATN sale and the Pierce sale both fall through now. Logan is certainly capable of closing these deals, but his children are even more capable of ruining everything for him. I would certainly love to see Succession go in that direction.

As consistently disgusting and problematic as Roman is, and as delusional as Connor is, they often come across weirdly sympathetic because they are the only ones who actually understand their family and themselves. Watching Kendall, Shiv, and Logan have their petty slap fight while totally incapable of caring about Connor’s upcoming wedding, or the fact his bride-to-be may have just walked out on the whole thing, was just peak Succession. None of them gave a care in the world.

Or take how Kendall and Shiv could not even begin to understand how horrendously entitled they were to be upset about their father denying them the use of the company helicopter. Here they are trying to ruin their father, and yet they want to use his money to do so since they have no concept of a world without their father’s money.

What’s sad is that I cannot even tell if they realize how totally full of it they are.

Meanwhile, in typical Logan fashion, he is using the loss of control over his children to assert more control over his company. He is, in Greg’s words, “terrifying moseying” his newsroom floor, “as if Santa was a hitman.” He is using his assistant’s horrible anchor audition to play mind games with Greg and Tom. This is what Logan does. It’s why he has this type of relationship with his children.

(There are so many conversations about what family Succession is based on, or who they most remind viewers of. It’s funny that this episode aired one night before the sale of WWE. The rich, domineering entertainment mogul selling his company in a way that allows him to retain control and exert even more influence on the product draws so many comparisons between Logan Roy and Vince McMahon that you could almost swear that Succession’s writers based this episode on what happened the next day.)

I’m sure Logan will continue trying to repair things with Kendall, Shiv, and Roman, and not because he wants to be a good father, but because he needs them to help this deal go through. I expect that this will inevitably repeat the same patterns that have ruined this family for 3 seasons already.

There is a good chance that Succession ends with the Roy family mostly the same as where we started, simply because they are too wealthy to fail. At the same time, there is a good chance that Logan has ruined his family and business with his greed and parenting skills. He will have no one to blame but himself.

Images Courtesy of HBO

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