Succession-1×05: I Went to Market

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Written by Georgia Pritchett
Directed by Adam Arkin
Original Air Date: 1st July, 2018

It’s Thanksgiving and since this means a coming together for the Roy clan, you know things aren’t going to go well. How could it with this family? Arguments, resentment, and bitterness are never far away.

The last time they got together for dinner and celebration privately, it was for Logan’s birthday and that turned into something of a poisonous disaster so it stands to reason that Thanksgiving wouldn’t be any better.

It begins quietly enough with Cousin Greg making the trip to Canada to basically chauffeur Logan’s brother Ewan (James Cromwell). There are hints that things are not good between the brothers right from the beginning of the episode, so almost immediately the audience is on tenterhooks waiting for something truly awful to happen.

Eventually it does, but Georgia Pritchett’s script somewhat wrong foots us at various points here. When you think disaster is going to strike one way, it ends up doing so in another.

The bitter resentment between brothers looks as if it might deliver the fatal blow but instead Succession wrong foots us by having Ewan, even as someone who despises Logan as much as he does, choosing family over his own potential self-interests when the prospect of a takeover of Roystar is mentioned to him.

It almost feels as if there is a warning hovering over the two of them that’s being directed towards Logan’s own children that they might too end up this way. That they haven’t is perhaps something of a surprise, but then the biggest twist of the episode is that even when presented with the possibility of swiping the floor right under his brother’s feet and taking the keys to the kingdom away from him forever, Ewan forgoes all the resentment and hatred and opts to protect his brother from the vultures circling. Or at least he does initially.

When things come to the crunch he opts not to tell him anything, but since the chess pieces are in play now that will take us to that boardroom meeting next week, he’s a character that will leave us guessing for now, but the fact that Logan and Ewan might very well be characters that would in the end back the other at times of strive makes for a pointed comparison to Logan’s own children who are spending nearly all season squabbling for as much power and wealth as they can regardless of the others.

Brian Cox and James Cromwell bring a wealth of toxic masculine resentment to so many of their scenes, nothing being spelt out to the audience but every inch of their hatred and resentment portrayed vividly by two superlative actors. There’s subtlety here that’s a joy to watch, but in the end it’s not Logan and Ewan that brings the drama that fuelling much of the storytelling. As with so much of Succession, a lot of it will come down to father and son.

The smaller drama bubbling away on the surface is Kendall’s son Iverson not wanting to join the family dinner. The generational gap is given a full airing here as Kendall takes a softer approach, but it’s Logan’s gruffer style of parenting that convinces the child to make his presence felt.

That would be memorable enough, but then a family game of I Went to Market, which the episode takes its title from, turns inadvertently violent and Logan strikes Iverson. Initially this could be put down to Logan’s confused state, but the final scene suggests, if one wants to read it this way, that maybe that wasn’t the case at all and we’re left to ponder that maybe he did it because he could.

In any event, he has unleashed a wave of drama that is about to culminate in Succession’s best episode so far with the next instalment. The episode leaves the audience eagerly awaiting the next chapter, especially now that Gerri is on board for Kendall’s plan to launch a takeover bid, but this is still an hour of television with its own set of great dramas and scenes to chew over.

In fact, it makes for something of a wonderful companion piece to the first episode itself, ‘Celebration’, and in many ways that makes sense since this marks the halfway point of the season.

‘Celebration’ with its family get together, Logan’s illness and the family squabbling over who would get to sit in their father’s throne kickstarted so much of where the series has come to. ‘I Went to Market’ once again sees the family coming together for dinner and celebration, but instead getting more embroiled in bitter concern over who gets to sit on Logan’s chair.

Striking his grandson might be the catalyst that gets the ball rolling, to the extent that it even gets Gerri going against him, but the final moments suggest that the Roy patriarch, the king of the empire, should never be discounted.

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