Written by Tony Roche
Directed by Mark Mylod
Original Air Date: 10th June, 2018
If the first episode of Succession gave us a powerhouse performance from Brian Cox, bravely it relegates him to a hospital bed for the majority of its well titled second episode and expands upon the range of the rest of its cast as it lays bare just how moronically privileged the children of rich people can be.
If the Ewing and Colby clans were representative of the ‘greed is good’ attitude of the 1980’s and were produced in such a manner that expected the audience to sympathise, or at the very least be non-judgmental about the way they went about conducting themselves, then in these post-Arrested Development times we’re more prudent to either laughing at them or being shocked at the way in which they conduct themselves.
Given how the likes of media barons such as Rupert Murdoch and his children, along with those who ran financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, have played a large part in causing much financial ruin and social unrest, the time when one can just enjoy the antics of rich privileged characters with little criticism are rightfully over.
Satire and dark comedy are the prevailing language in watching the elite try and screw each other for a higher percentage and Succession embraces that with both hands, with nearly every scene here made up of either arguments, constant negotiations or, most memorably, physical fighting.
The latter, as seen when Shiv and Roman start to wrestle, is perhaps the funniest moment of the episode, escalated by Roman shockingly slapping his sister in the face and the two of them coming to physical blows of which Shiv gets the upper hand. It’s a fantastic moment of comedy that is simultaneously very chucklesome but strangely disturbing, capped off by a moment of wonderfully played light comedy by Matthew MacFadyen.
Culminating halfway through the episode as they, as well as Kendall (top marks to the writers for naming the child of a privileged family after a real life privileged child), find themselves at an impasse when it comes to figuring out who should be put in charge of the business now that Logan is physically unfit to run it, the pace is a little slower here, but the bite of the first episode is very much in full force here and shows no sign of going anywhere.
Kendall even goes as far as to bite the hand of his nemesis, not to mention recently acquired business associate, Laurence Yee (Rob Yang) just to get negative news headlines out in the ether just to fuel his own efforts at gaining control.
So, what happens when this family puts their differences aside and manage to come up with a solution? The discovery that the business is in massive debt due to Logan’s business expanding into theme parks.
That the business interests of Logan is one that branched into a Disney-style theme park is deeply ironic given that in real life the previously Rupert Murdoch-owned 20th Century Fox was bought by Disney. The idea that in trying to keep their dynasty going by expanding more and more has now gotten them into serious financial trouble is a delicious prospect.
The fact that it’s the theme park industry that might bring down the house of Logan, and that Kendall spent the entirety of the first episode trying to buy a website that on the face of it here looks like a variation of Buzzfeed, says a lot about the generational gap between these characters and how they’ve been going about making sure they have a legacy with which to keep the Roy name relevant and financially solvent.
The biggest irony of course is that both things might end up destroying them in the long run. The theme parks are about to get the family business into trouble, and Laurence Yee hasn’t made it a secret that he intends to swipe the entire Roy business away from the family themselves.
It’s a reminder, if one needs it, of the dog-eat-dog world that these characters are inhabiting, that of trying to inform, educate and entertain the world with their vast empires that are seemingly never ending, they have no problem in destroying themselves, or worse yet, using the infrastructure of their business to try and get one over the other.