Succession: Argestes
September 16, 2019 12:15 AM - Season 2, Episode 6 - Subscribe

As Logan looks to finalize a deal to buy the Pierce family's papers and TV stations at a media & banking retreat, a threat to the deal arises from an unexpected quarter. Tom worries about ATN's new slogan after learning some distressing news from Greg. Kendall, Shiv and Roman fail to see eye to eye on how to handle damage control ahead of a panel featuring the Roys.
posted by JimBennett (23 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
“Oh, horse potatoes!”

Lots of great moments this episode, but they especially nailed Kendall’s reaction to seeing his father hit Roman. Older sibling protecting the baby. When it comes down to it and you put aside the money, the power plays, the approval seeking, etc, those kids really (and justifiably) hate their father at a deep level.
posted by sallybrown at 7:04 AM on September 16, 2019 [11 favorites]

Yeah, I love that every time something like this happens, people are shocked by the suddenness of the action (not the action itself). Everyone there knows what kind of person Logan is! No one there is actually surprised that he hits his son. Funny (horrible) to see it alongside the "family leadership and corporate continuity" panel, particularly given the way "family company" is used to soften the image of massive corporations.

I loved seeing Rhea play Shiv so easily. One minute of conversation had Shiv doing a 180 against all her instincts to stay in the background and her episode-long insistence that she wouldn't go on stage. (And as a person who does not deal well with last second changes, I felt a bit of kinship with Kendall. Having someone suddenly join me on something I spent hours practicing would be a nightmare.)

I enjoyed seeing Nan Pierce and Logan Roy's discomfort so plainly mirrored throughout the episode. When you run an empire, it's not fun being surrounded by other powerful people.

Ohhhh Tom, of course the thing he spends all episode freaking out about was a single use catchphrase at the end of a speech that bored everyone into the ether. I would actually love to see the bizarro world Tom who ingratiated himself with the Pierces instead of the Roys; his pretense of enjoying the nature walk makes me think he'd feel more secure among those phonies.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:51 AM on September 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

My heart broke the moment Kendall lept to Roman's physical defense, when Logan hit him. So much was revealed in that moment. Kendall actually has a normal emotional response for once, albeit one conditioned by a lifetime of abuse. Seeing the abuse become physical in this way feels like an escalation in the show. Before then, at times I could almost believe Logan had some redeemable fatherly aspects to him. Maybe so, still. But he's also the kind of monster who apparently beats his kids out of misdirected anger.

I loved the setup for the journalism retreat. Anyone know if there's a specific event they were parodying? The assault rifles at the gates were chilling.

Glad that Shiv finally gets some bit of a clue and comes out swinging for herself. She overplayed things with the dinosaur line but only with her father; it worked on the crowd.
posted by Nelson at 8:30 AM on September 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

I loved the setup for the journalism retreat. Anyone know if there's a specific event they were parodying? The assault rifles at the gates were chilling.

I believe it's Herb Allen's Sun Valley Media Retreat.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:41 AM on September 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

I just couldn't stop laughing during The Greg/Tom Show about "We're Listening." I saw it coming from a mile away, but watching those two actors just tickled me.

And yeah, compare Tom's panel speech to Connor's eulogy ("The news is new"/"It is sad"). This show has so many deeply comic moments.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:47 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ever since the 1999 WTO Seattle protests, rich person gatherings have been held in secrecy with heavy-handed security. The presence of visibly armed guards sounds about right.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:55 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Poor Roman, how humiliating. Logan hit him right in front of Geri and everybody, too. And how's he going to explain his injury to Tabitha?

There have been a bunch of comments about Logan hitting Roman before, it seems like he's always gotten the brunt of it when Logan's pissed. I'm not surprised that Logan didn't light into Shiv directly, it's the flip side of his misogyny. Just like how he wasn't going to throw Geri into Boar on the Floor, he wasn't going to backhand a grown woman "in public." But interesting that I doubt he'd do that to Kendall, either. Logan has such a different relationship with each of his sons. With each of his children, really.

I kind of suspected that Logan was going to lash out at some point pretty soon, though, when he responded to his need to vent his irritation over the plane not being able to land by sending Kendall in to yell senselessly at the employees. Sending Kendall in as his venting proxy was weird enough, but then Kendall yelled at the employees in this uncomfortably "familial" way, saying he was disappointed and snatching some snacks out of a guy's hands and throwing them. It was clear he was more-or-less role-playing being Logan, Kendall himself didn't even seem irritated by the runway holdup.

Still, I was shocked when Logan just casually hit Roman in the face hard enough to draw blood, and right in front of a whole crowd of people. Kendall's reaction was maybe the fiercest we've ever seen him -- did he react like that when Logan smacked Iverson with the can of cranberry sauce in S1? I don't remember. But Rava was also there when that happened, so the dynamic was different. Anyhow, it was startling to see how fast Kendall got between Logan and Roman.

It sort of seemed like Kendall, Logan, and Roman just fell back into a familiar old dynamic straight away, and I wonder what that means for Kendall and Roman's states of mind going forward.

This is sort of out of left field, but I also wonder about Tom's reaction. He knows how out of control and vicious Logan can get by now, he was there at the hunting retreat, but this is different. It's purely a family dynamic thing, not a "rich people" corporate retreat thing, so Tom can't really write it off as some part of a world he's still getting to know. On the other hand, an episode or two ago, Tom was throwing water bottles at Greg like he hoped they would leave bruises, he going to feel empowered to get more aggressive? Between this and Shiv getting off on Tom maybe trying to chat up some lady at the conference, maybe he'll think he should do something to demean her to reel her back in?

It seemed like the NYMag article was a lot...less bad than what Logan was expecting, which makes me wonder what he was expecting to come to light.

Was it Nan (or maybe Rhea?) who was talking about women who'd gone missing or died on the cruises? I think they were expecting something even darker than just sexual harassment. Logan felt not a whiff of fear or discomfort at hiding the waiter's death at the end of last season, and even uses it to taunt Kendall sometimes. So I think probably there are pretty literal skeletons in the closet that he's worried about.

Interesting that Kendall seemed to genuinely take the allegations seriously. He had that uncomfortable "date" with the talent at the charity event last season, and I doubt that that was the first time that power dynamics at the company have made his interactions with other employees fraught, but it didn't actually seem like he was worried about anyone coming forward against him. Roman was just all wound up, like he always is when it comes to sex. And Shiv came off to me as really, really clueless. I get where her strategy was coming from, and there are lots of men who have tried to spin the same lines, but...I think she was getting a lot of leeway because she's a woman but I actually thought her perspective (or lack thereof) was really off-putting. Left a nasty taste in my mouth. It made me think of last season when she got up in the media manager's face on behalf of her candidate and the media manager finally told her that the only reason she was even getting a meeting was because her name matched the one carved into the building, and Shiv stood there cluelessly afterward. Obviously she "knows" how her family name/money/power has affected her relationships and place in the world but I don't think she really understands it, and sometimes that really shows.
posted by rue72 at 10:08 AM on September 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'd forgotten about Logan's violence in season 1; that was in S01E05, the Thanksgiving party, about 52 minutes in to the episode. Logan is failing at the memory game. Kendall's son (!) says "you lost grandpa" and tries to take the cranberry sauce out of Logan's hand. They briefly struggle, both clutching it, then Logan pulls it away and immediate hits the kid in the face with it. It's clearly intentional, not an accident. It's awful.

Kendall does not immediately react. His wife Rava is the first to get to the boy and put her arms protectively around him. Logan defends himself with "I hardly touched him, it's just shock". Kendall rushes in, checks on his son, then gets in Logan's face and yells at him. It all seems like perfectly normal responses in the moment. But it lacks the sort of emotional immediacy we see from Kendall leaping to Roman's defense. I suspect it's not a significant difference, more likely last night's episode was just better directed.

Rewatching this I'm shocked at how directly violent the scene is. Logan Roy hit a 10 year old child with a full, heavy metal can. In any other show it'd be so unforgivably awful that nothing could ever redeem the character. He belongs in jail or at least serious therapy. I'm uncomfortable that I'd nearly forgotten about it but I think it was so off balance that whole first season with the deluge of depressing and yet darkly funny emotional abuse that the violence just sort of got lost to me. Also it happened at the tail-end of Logan's recovery, when he's clearly not quite being himself. Like the time he tried to get Shiv to put her hand in his pants. They seem to have dropped that line of "Logan has lost his mental competence", and it was clearly a moment of Logan rage when he hit Roman. But back in Season 1 Logan was still pretty out of whack.

Anyway I'm wrong about Logan hitting Roman being an escalation of the show to physical abuse. The violence was there in the first season and given the victim is a young child, arguably worse.
posted by Nelson at 1:07 PM on September 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

The violence was there in the first season and given the victim is a young child, arguably worse.

If you want to go back even further, right in the pilot Kendall confronts Logan over not being his successor after all (they're in the empty dining room, right before the birthday lunch), and when Logan notices that Kendall has balled up his fists in anger while arguing over Vaulter, Logan gets right in his face and starts taunting him, daring him to hit him. Kendall immediately backs down, you can practically see his tail go between his legs. He gets teary-eyed -- and then Logan starts taunting him for that. I think that by the time a grown man starts crying in response to his father stepping up into his personal space, it's a good bet that things at least used to get physical. But of course it's very open to interpretation, that's just how I took it.

When it comes to Kendall's son, Logan bullied Iverson basically every time he saw him. Kendall minimized and dismissed it (as much as Rava would allow him to). I think that's mostly because even though Kendall is a modern person with modern sensibilities, there's still a part of him that thinks of his dad as the model of what a man (and a father) is and should be. He seems more likely to beat himself up for falling short of that model than making a real attempt to reject it. In a weird way, I think that it would have seemed like overstepping for him to get between his father and his son -- when Logan was implicitly teaching Kendall HOW to be a father to his son.

I think Kendall is really uncomfortable in his role as a father. He always seems to be on the outside looking in with Rava and the kids. But it's different with his siblings. And Kendall is different now than back before the car accident and the failed takeover, too.

I feel bad for Roman. It's horrible to hit a child, but the level of disrespect necessary to casually bust out your ADULT son's tooth is mind-boggling. That said, it was clearly not the first time. Judging by Kendall's reaction, Logan has beat the snot out of Roman before. Which just makes it worse, honestly.

Tom seemed really shocked, at least, even if nobody else in the family was. I wonder if it's going to affect his perspective on Shiv. I kind of feel like he's only just getting to know her.
posted by rue72 at 10:36 PM on September 16, 2019 [6 favorites]

I guess Gregory picked up a coke habit after hanging out with Kendall so much.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:42 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don't think Gregory has a coke habit yet--at this point it's aspirational, part of becoming a digital Gatsby. Even though it was park coke, I doubt Kendall was into sharing.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:36 PM on September 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

I don't think Gregory has a coke habit yet--at this point it's aspirational, part of becoming a digital Gatsby.

Yeah, it was unclear to me whether Greg (looks like he immediately gave up on Gregory) has ever done coke before, or if he was asking to try it for the first time. And Roman declined to give him any.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:48 PM on September 18, 2019

Didn't he do a line at the bachelor party?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:02 PM on September 18, 2019

Oh right, to stop Kendall from doing it (but still).
posted by Ragged Richard at 3:17 PM on September 18, 2019

Rewatching the scene in the bathroom at the party it doesn't look like Roman has any coke to give by the time Greg gets there.
Roman and Eduard go into the bathroom. Eduard takes a bump and hands the coke apparatus to Roman who fiddles with it while failing to remember what country Eduard is from. We never see Roman take any himself. Roman hands the coke thing back while Eduard describes his propaganda service. By the time Greg asks Eduard and the coke are gone.
Doubt Roman would have shared, anyway.
posted by Dr. Grue at 8:36 PM on September 19, 2019

Judging by Kendall's reaction, Logan has beat the snot out of Roman before.

Shiv referenced it casually in the first episode of the season: “Dad, you beat Roman with a fucking slipper in Gustav till he cried for ordering lobster, remember?” The context was her wondering why Logan was going so easy on Kendall after his betrayal.
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:38 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Gstaad, yeah. Roman also has said in so many words that he's afraid of his father; strange to use Kendall as a barometer for his truthfulness. Roman says affectless true things out loud all the time, it's his schtick, why doubt him? same as telling transparent lies while using body language to tell the truth is Kendall's.

biggest thing the episode stressed was how little Shiv means to Kendall unless he needs a mother-surrogate's bosom to weep on. a treatment which is the ultimate insult to a younger sister, and such a classic one, and you know Kendall still believes he's the parentified sibling, not the parentifier, because a sister is insignificant in these equations. his occasional protective reflex is for Roman only, same as the brotherly banter and the insta-teaming. she is always on the wrong foot with them, she is always going to be told she is taking the wrong tone, her yearning for their dad's approval is never going to seem as real or poignant to them as their own and each other's, they are always going to close ranks and pretend her jokes are somehow in worse taste than theirs, she is never going to learn because there isn't anything TO learn. and that is the last thing she will learn.

she was blocked off way too young from ever learning to be a quiet watchful machine in a man-filled room like Gerri or Karolina or Jess; you have to fight your way in or work your way up for that, you don't learn that in prep school the way Kendall and Roman learned the second-nature ability to fit in among other pricks in suits. she never had the chance to sit at a table with women like Rhea or Nan, either, and now she can't tell when they're sincere or fucking her around. her father fucked her out of a peer group so comprehensively she's never ever going to have one or know how to function in one. which is one thing he never did do to Roman or Kendall, and never had the power to do to them.

she's not even oblivious, she sees again and again how doing the same thing they do never wins her the same victories, she sees it and she points it out, and she keeps going back for more. which is her tragedy; she's not a different kind of animal from her punishment-loving brothers at all, but she will always, always be treated as as if she were one. she's no dumber than they are, but she's about as dumb. and you just can't be as dumb as the boys, it's not allowed.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:56 PM on September 20, 2019 [16 favorites]

Mr. Machine has some experience at the edges of people like the Roys, in that he spent a couple years fetching water for the folks that the Roys ask for cash to bail out their debt-financed empire.*

And the scene where Kendall goes back and starts yelling at the suits was so close to reality that it gave him shivers -- like, the fact that it came out of Logan's re-directed rage over not having his will100% fulfilled at the Pierce deal, how it's vented on a small inconvenience that most people would enjoy (an extra hour in comfort in my private jet when the money doesn't matter!!!), the fact that the person most eager to please went and did the dirty deed, and the fact that the suits at the back of the plane were upset and only put up token resistance to this, and how they will undoubtedly turn around and rain shit on their subordinates, who will in turn rain shit on their minions, all in service of an arbitrary deadline in service to an ego. And where the delay is for good, substantive reasons, and giving up could cost millions and millions and possibly even billions.

* At one point, he was basically being paid $100 an hour for his employer to be paid $350 an hour for him to run around downtown, sourcing the kind of gum that the client liked, and the brand of bottled water that was the only kind of water that the client would drink.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:49 AM on October 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Syphilis, the MySpace of STDs.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:39 PM on November 14, 2019 [5 favorites]

I think Gerri is possibly the only person on this show who is competent at her job. She is fast on her feet and can think through the implications of what’s going on around her.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:32 PM on October 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Gah. I'm cringing at Shiv going for the limelight, again; it meant that instead of moving on from the horrible topic, they just dwelled on it for minutes, really drawing it out, in front of a very rich crowd.

And I agree that Kendall's reaction to Logan hitting Roman indicates that it's happened before.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:43 PM on November 20, 2021

I loved seeing Rhea play Shiv so easily. One minute of conversation had Shiv doing a 180 against all her instincts to stay in the background and her episode-long insistence that she wouldn't go on stage

I like how the episode seems to be moving on a trajectory of Shiv saving the Pierce deal in the face of the cruise scandal by making a suitably persuasive speech. She is called to Argestes as an emergency delegate, pushed into the role by what looks like both sides: Logan and Rhea. She does indeed seem to offer a perspective on the issue ("Argestes" is from Greek ἀργέστης, meaning the north wind that sweeps away the clouds) that differs from the "dinosaurs". But the show is not willing to settle for such a standard narrative as having a woman breeze in to solve the problems with her fresh perspective. Instead we see Shiv's soft spot for flattery leads her to go against her initial instincts. And also that she cannot really escape being just another squabbling sibling: trading barbs with Kendal and Roman as if they were all 12 again.
posted by rongorongo at 11:31 PM on January 2, 2022

So great to see Logan have a temper tantrum at the very end when Nan Pierce drove off. Very satisfying.
posted by mabelstreet at 7:16 PM on January 29

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