Written by Susan Soon He Stanton
Directed by Andrij Parekh
Original Air Date: 8th July, 2018
There’s always that one episode that can turn a good television show into something better and for Succession that episode has to be ‘Which Side Are You On?’.
For the first half of season one, Succession has gently been building itself up to this moment in terms of plotting. You can see the writing feeling its way along in terms of the narrative, placing each section of the story into place and building its way to the final stretch of this hour.
The series has no doubt been a very enjoyable one up to here (all the episodes I have reviewed have been given four stars), but there’s a feeling here that the gloves have come off, and from this point on Succession will not look back.
If recommending the series to anyone, this is the episode you would tell any potential skeptics to stick with the show to. It’s the moment when Succession goes from being a great show to an absolutely unmissable one.
The sharks have been circling Logan ever since his stroke in the first episode, we’ve watched him wobble somewhat as he has gotten back on his feet, and now we watch and witness as the sharks that have been circling become mere fish in Logan’s large shark pond (I’m trying to go for a metaphor here, not sure if it’s working but I hope you get the jist).
There is a build up of suspense and terror here that you cannot look away from. The series has positioned Kendall as the next in line to the throne, and just when it looks as if he is about to strike and get that seat for himself (and it always feels strange to talk about thrones in a HBO series that isn’t the fantasy one with the dragons, you know the one), Logan manages to keep his position, while tossing out Kendall and even Frank (again) without breaking a sweat.
If it looked as if Succession was going to position Logan and Cox’s performance as one of diminished capacity, then the series has just gone and thrown the rug out from right under the characters and the audience and is all the better for it.
It’s clear that Cox’s performance has a ferociousness to it that we witnessed in the first episode and everyone involved has decided to try and find a way back to. It’s a decision that is perhaps a main reason why Succession will become as unmissable from this point on as it will do.
Even more remarkable is the intricacies of Susan Soon He Stanton’s script which features so many moving parts that come together magnificently come the end of the episode. The boardroom meeting is as tense a moment as the series has done, but it also throws in a terrorist threat subplot that at first you think is there as a means to make Logan paranoid that the President of the United States doesn’t want to speak to him, but turns out to be real and is a major factor in delaying Kendall from getting to the vote of no confidence meeting.
Like Roman, we are left bereft and cowering in fear as the series finally releases any shackles and puts Cox’s performance front and centre with his violent emotional outbursts and creative use of swearing.
It’s Succession in what almost amounts to action movie mode, with much running, shouting and swearing that is ridiculously entertaining and a lot of fun to watch, even if leaves your stomach in knots and like Kendall wondering what in the hell is going to happen next.