December 5, 2021

Gabbing Geek

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Succession “The Summer Palace”

Season Two, Episode One

Time for me to start another season of Awful Rich People Do Horrible Things to Each Other and Everyone Around Them, also known as Succession.

Probably fits this show that the season opener is about a “summer palace” that had a bag of dead raccoons in the chimney.

So, season two picks up days after season one, and did any of the Roys learn a single, solitary thing?  Nah!

As such, while they scramble around to find a status quo that will settle things since Kendall’s erstwhile partners are still looking to do a hostile takeover without him and he’s clearly a shell of his former self while being his father’s errand boy, it may be time to evaluate the Roy children to see where they all stand.

Or, more accurately, as I see them.

First up, Kendall.  I said more than once he was the most likable member of the family.  That doesn’t mean he is likable.  It means he’s the only one that comes closest to acting like a real human being, the one who seems to realize how trapped he is within the family as he vied for respect and his father’s approval, even if it meant trying to take the old man down.  When he was looking to remove his father from his position as head of the company, sure, he was doing it for himself and his own power, but he also seemed to get that Logan isn’t well in ways that the others didn’t, and he was somewhat pushed back into addiction by his own father as a punishment for the crime of not wanting to go to a family therapy photo-op.  Kendall walks around everywhere with a hangdog look on his face, like he’s just gotten a really good, solid kick from life, but he’s not afraid to dish it right back to remind you that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.  If he’s the most likable, it isn’t a high bar.  His problems, including his marital problems and the distance he has with his own kids, show he learned a little too much from his upbringing and is at least self-aware enough to know these are the wrong lessons while not really knowing what he should be doing.  Dude’s been mentally and emotionally sideswiped pretty much from the pilot and left adrift ever since.

Then there’s Shiv.  She’s the most competent, having clawed out a career for herself outside the family business, and what little we know of Logan’s politics suggest she maybe didn’t get much help beyond maybe name recognition.  The best scene in this second season premier is when Logan privately suggests she might be his heir, getting herself into a business she never felt invited into before.  Would Shiv make a good CEO of Waystar?  Probably better than Roman and Connor.  Heck, the idea of Connor’s taking over is treated like an in-show joke by the other characters, and Connor probably wouldn’t even disagree with that.  But that doesn’t mean Shiv can just slide in and take over a multinational media empire on the spot.  Plus, this is Logan, and the whole thing could be a trap.  I think Shiv is the most capable, but it’s like Kendall’s likability:  it isn’t exactly a high bar to jump.

Roman, by contrast, may be the most shallow.  His plans for Waystar, though serious in his own mind, are not particularly deep, and he’s never put that much thought beyond “that would look so cool” to much of anything in his life.  I don’t know that Kendall or Connor could have gotten by without the family fortune, but I think it is very safe to assume that Roman couldn’t have.  Roman does show some signs of maturity at times, but he’s more interested in glossing things over that he doesn’t much care for while being some sort of “bro” avatar.  But, he did show the most concern for Kendall when Kendall started using again, and even though he and Shiv are tossing verbal attacks and insults at Kendall, Roman is the one who seems to want to back off more when Kendall doesn’t fight back.  For him, it was about the fun of mocking Kendall.  That makes it seem…less personal perhaps.  Picking the most shallow member of the Roy family is, again, not a high bar, and Roman does routinely get the funniest one-liners, but there’s not much depth to him.

Cousin Greg is just Cousin Greg, only now he’s Kendall’s coke delivery man.  For all I know, this whole series is secretly about Greg’s rise to power from theme park mascot.

And finally, there’s Connor, the weirdest.  Off in his own little world, looking to run for president, and somehow getting his call girl girlfriend Willa a seat at the family table and the ability to weigh in on whether or not Logan should just sell the company or fight the takeover.  His purported neutrality makes him more of a joke with the others than anything else, and he’s more likely to indulge a Napoleon obsession than do something remotely useful.

Now, if I were Logan, and I thank God that I am not, these are my candidates (except for Greg) while my longest rival is looking to take over my corporate empire.  Logan, a man who built what he had through ruthlessness and control of everything, a man who acts like he has control over the schedule and timing of the American president (and he might), a man who thinks he can bully or deal with anyone, he needs to decide which of his children should take over once he’s gone, a factor that, given his age, might not be as far off as he would prefer to think.

If anything, this is Logan’s fault.  The younger Roys may all be awful people, but they grew up in an environment where not being awful was hardly an option.  Quite frankly, he set his kids up that way, he has no one to blame but himself, and as entertaining as this show can be, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to spend time with these people in real life.

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