Editor’s Note: HBOWatch now presents a posting from a new potential writer for our site. This Guest Post, about his appreciation for SUCCESSION, introduces us to the words of Anant Singh.
I remember discovering the show Succession completely by accident. Just browsing through some random website, and somehow the promotional poster struck me, especially the painting on the wall. Of course, that was when the first episode was just about to come out, and I set my mind to watching this show. Of course, the very first scene showed Logan Roy (Brian Cox) confused and peeing on the floor, just to maybe throw the public off track. However, the next scene is what has always stayed with me, Logan’s second youngest son Kendall (Jeremy Strong) prepping for a meeting by rapping on the backseat of his car. Steps out, lights a cigarette, takes a puff, puts it out, and enters the office headquarters when the show immediately cuts to the theme song (Nicholas Britell’s theme is brilliant. Period).
Over the course of the first season, the show built a lofty standard that can be extremely difficult to maintain, with HBO being home to some of the very best shows on the planet right now. But then again, the showrunners are Jesse Armstrong (The Thick of It is one of the crudest, and my favorite shows, ever) and Adam McKay (Eastbound & Down, another HBO gem), and they ensured that the second season, in many ways, surpassed the first. The first season ended with a wedding and a dead body (a waiter at the wedding who did some drugs with Ken and ended up drowning), and the second season immediately picks up from that point. This season also sees Logan’s youngest and snarkiest son, Roman Roy, and his youngest child and only daughter Siobhan Roy (Sarah Snook), vie for who among the three children would be taking up their father’s mantle at Waystar Royco. While the first season could be considered as showing Shiv in a more positive light and the voice of reason in the family (although in such a dysfunctional unit, that cannot be considered a positive), it’s the sophomore season where her character truly comes into life, going from smart, to sympathetic, to evil across the whole season. Especially her conniving manner to dissuade a victim, who was a part of the Waystar cruises division and suffered harassment at the hands of the leadership, from testifying against the Roy clan, was all sorts of scary. Of course, their family would not be complete without Logan’s eldest son Connor Roy (excellently portrayed by Alan Ruck), whose ambition is well, to run the country (just wealthy people things). I would not say what happens this season, as it may seem very straightforward to the readers who have not seen it; instead, I would ask you to just sit back and enjoy the show in all its glory. After all, how can I explain something like ‘boar on the floor’, which is both hilarious and discomforting at the same time?
For me, the thing that the show has done excellently over the two seasons is creating both empathy and disdain for the main characters, at various points, while they try to justify their actions. So, while Logan may continuously keep saying that what he’s doing is for the best of his kids, he is just using them as toys to keep them under his thumb forever. His total lack of acknowledgment of Siobhan’s fiancée Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfayden) is hilarious to watch, while you feel sorry for Tom for marrying into this family. Tom, on his part, takes his frustrations out on the family simpleton and Logan’s grandnephew Greg Hirsch, called Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), and this is the MVP relationship on the show. Their performances are the real scene-stealers of the show, with both looking like a deer caught in headlights. One of the things that the second season did very well, in my opinion, is having every episode have a distinct feel to it, so that you will always remember a moment, or various moments, from it. So while “Safe Room” saw the office being attacked by protestors, and gave us the season highlight of Tom taking his anger out on Greg; “Return” saw the Roy kids carrying out a negotiation with their estranged mother regarding the company, while the sudden introduction and liking that Logan takes to Rhea Jarrell (former Pierce Media Group CEO) confounds and raises suspicion among his kids.
While the first season saw Kendall try to wrest his father’s empire from him, and fail miserably at that, the sophomore season highlights Ken’s shattered confidence, or whatever he had of it. Becoming a ‘yes-man’ for his dad, and suffering silently at his insults, you would really feel sad for him. When Ken and Logan visit the family of the guy who lost his life at the end of season 1, for whose death Ken feels responsible, and Logan pays his hollow condolences to the family, we get a shot of Kendall, where he finally lets go of his emotions in a quiet manner, which for me, was somepeak Jeremy Strong performance this season. On the other hand, the ‘Kendall rap’ dedicated to his dad could be considered as the lowest he has hit over both the seasons (you just need to watch the video of his performance to see what I mean).
Talking about hitting low, how can I forget Roman, who, in addition to getting slapped by his dad this season, in a classic moment, buys the wrong Scottish football club to impress Logan, leading to one of the funniest Logan expletive-ridden sarcasms ever, while his story arc with Gerri, Waystar’s General Counsel is another level of wonderfully absurd. The guy is a rockstar.
Of course, things come to a head in “DC“, where the company’s former misdemeanors in their ‘cruises division’ come back to bite them in a tense hearing. Tom and Greg completely get broken down by Senator Gil Eavis (Logan’s ideological rival). The season finale meanwhile sets up the imminent season three with a twist that is unexpected and expected; expected because the twist had been set up in an earlier scene, while unexpected because, well, its Succession. It’s good that in a year in which Game of Thrones flattered to deceive, there was Succession that held HBO’s mantle firmly. Here’s hoping that season 3 smashes even this season’s high standards.
Like Anant, we await Season Three of SUCCESSION in 2020. Do you?
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Editor at Large of HBOWatch.com and the internet's foremost HBO expert.