Succession: DC
October 6, 2019 11:35 PM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

With the shareholders meeting imminent and Waystar Royco in a precarious position after a whistleblower makes headlines, Logan, Kendall, Gerri and Tom testify before Congress and face tough questions from a determined Gil Eavis. Shiv speaks candidly to Kira, a victim who is set to be a key witness. In Turkey, Roman's business pitch takes a chilling turn.
posted by JimBennett (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Greg showed his colors when he chose his side and I hope he becomes the Blood Sacrifice.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:07 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

If this was Rhea's end point, I like it. I wonder if it's as good as someone could hope for after engaging with the Roys. She was diminished (lost her job with the Pierces, set up the meeting that let Shiv do her thing), but not destroyed. Almost everything that has happens on Succession is based on panicked reaction rather than conscious decision. I'm not trying to oversell Rhea -- I'm sure she's terrible, like everyone on the show -- but there was something gratifying about watching one of these characters fall into the rabbit hole of panic and uncertainty and come out against Logan's wishes. As she noted at the end, he's a strong personality. It would be easy to just fall in. It's impressive that she didn't.

I loved the bit where Connor sat in the audience and reacted like he was watching his favorite sports team. Audience stand-in reaction shots are used in blockbusters to draw people in, so it's great to see Succession use them in the opposite way. (You like Kendall sassing Congress? Cool cool, maybe you'd get along with Connor, who also loves it, because you're celebrating the bad guys.)

Logan's "blood sacrifice" is because expendable Bill showed up to threaten them, right? It feels like Greg would be the tidiest option, since he has evidence of Tom's criminal wrongdoing and could wield it against him next season...tbh I would take an entire season of Tom being on trial, it would be amazing. (Can't make a Tomlette without breaking some Gregs!)
posted by grandiloquiet at 11:06 AM on October 7, 2019 [8 favorites]

I don't know that Greg is big enough to count as a blood sacrifice - Kendall or Tom seem like a likelier bet to me.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:27 AM on October 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Greg is small fry, he can’t be the blood sacrifice. That would be like if the cops had tried to frame Brandon Dassey for murder and left Steven Avery out of it. Like, his involvement would be contingent on someone else’s involvement even in the prosecutorial narrative. Greg can only be thrown to the wolves WITH Tom. There is no plausible version of the story where (worst case) he wasn’t just some doofus child working on covering up the crime at Tom’s behest.

I think it’s going to be Kendall who’s the blood sacrifice, bc Logan is still super pissed at him, and now he’s lining up Roman to be his #1 boy. Plus, “blood sacrifice” implies someone related to Logan by blood.

Also, poor Tom. Nobody cares if he’s thrown to the wolves, not even Shiv. When he came in from his testimony panicking and in tears, she didn’t even make a move toward him, let alone comfort him. I hate Tom as a human but I love him as this weirdo Midwestern Middle Class thirst-monster.

Rhea earned my respect in this episode. I didn’t even think it was possible for a character on this show to do that!

Roman’s reaction to the suit saying that Gerri was his “marry” in “marry/fuck/kill.” Behahaha I loved how he slipped a muttered “hot” in there. That boy is in love, it’s so weird but also somehow endearing.
posted by rue72 at 11:56 AM on October 7, 2019 [8 favorites]

it’s kendall. ATN is talking about him in the background during that scene, logan is looking right at the television as he says it, and besides, i don’t really think logan sees tom as important enough to the family to even be a blood sacrifice. they’re going to throw kendall under the bus 100%.
posted by JimBennett at 12:04 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, poor Tom. Nobody cares if he’s thrown to the wolves, not even Shiv. When he came in from his testimony panicking and in tears, she didn’t even make a move toward him, let alone comfort him. I hate Tom as a human but I love him as this weirdo Midwestern Middle Class thirst-monster.

Vox's recap has my favorite ever description of Tom: The way Succession uses Tom and Greg is endlessly fascinating. The two of them are the closest thing the show has to outsiders when it comes to the Roys and their extreme wealth, and on any other series, we would be seeing the family through their eyes. But instead, they become peripheral characters, haunting the story’s edges, perpetually befuddled by what they find there. They are treated less as point-of-view characters and more as audience insertion characters: Here is who you would be if you suddenly married Shiv Roy. And the resulting picture is not pretty: You would be constantly out of your depth, nobody would take you seriously, and your own wife would regard you with something akin to pity. Tom Wambsgans was probably the smartest, most successful guy in his Minnesota hometown. But in the world of Waystar-Royco, he’s a Shakespearean fool.
posted by grandiloquiet at 12:23 PM on October 7, 2019 [21 favorites]

I feel like that is what drives Tom's sadistic treatment of Greg. a kick the dog scenario. Tom is not so stupid he doesn't realize he's nipples on a breastplate.
posted by supermedusa at 12:46 PM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

respect for Rhea? Rhea's got no morals, she's just a coward! Taking Shiv right up to the playground where the lamb for slaughter was waiting, but refusing to go in and face the woman she provided the Roys access to? that's not late-breaking decency, that's simple squeamishness. didn't want to get any blood on her own suit.

and she could have learned so much from watching Shiv work, too. she got around Shiv by telling her a wide-eyed lie that Shiv was in the mood to hear, but Shiv got around whatsherface by telling her true things. I think just about all of it was true, except presumably her personal desire to righteously cleanse the company. Shiv will never go far because her particular talents require intimate conversations and no witnesses, her charisma and deceptive openness don't work on a larger scale. but when she's free to work within that little sphere, she's masterful.

Rhea made a fool of herself because her big backstabbing play was based on confidence that she was smarter than all the Roy kids, and it turned out she wasn't. and none of them is even that smart. She walked away in the end because Logan's not her dad and there's no reason to subject yourself to humiliation in an arena where you're way out of your depth if your opponent isn't your dad. but she put herself IN the place she had to walk away from fair and square; she wasn't born into it or indoctrinated into it, she shoved her way in and stepped on people to get in. she's no better than anybody and worse than some. Rhea's just a Tom Wambsgans with ten more IQ points.
posted by queenofbithynia at 1:33 PM on October 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

& if Logan sacrifices Kendall, it won't be because he's still mad at him, it'll be because he loves him best and other people know it. it has to be real to look real. what greater proof of sorrowing integrity can there be than to offer up, etc. etc. all Abrahamic & everything.

I mean if it's calculated in that way it won't be to get back at Kendall or punish him more, it won't give Logan that kind of emotional satisfaction. it'll just be like gnawing off his arm to get out of a trap. solving a problem.
posted by queenofbithynia at 1:42 PM on October 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

Rhea didn't earn my respect for being decent, she earned it for being shrewd. She saw what mess Logan is, realized the risks weren't worth the rewards, and walked away before she went down with that particular sinking ship. That's more than literally any other character can say, including Shiv's pet senator.

Kira folded because publicly accusing someone of sexual misconduct is a huge personal sacrifice, and Shiv tried every trick in the book to convince her that the sacrifice wouldn't be worth it. Not really the hardest sell, though.
posted by rue72 at 1:45 PM on October 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

& if Logan sacrifices Kendall, it won't be because he's still mad at him, it'll be because he loves him best

Just totally disagree that Logan gives a shit about Kendall. The man is useful so he uses him.

One positive thing I can say about Logan is that he's resourceful.
posted by rue72 at 1:49 PM on October 7, 2019

I really think it'll be someone else.

I don't know why he'd have said it so meaningfully to Shiv unless he meant it to be Tom and wanted her to be prepared & on board, but I don't know why it would be Tom. I mean nobody has to sacrifice Tom or cut him loose, he hangs himself with every word, with no help. and if he bungles that, there's Greg to finish him off.

the Kendall thing did not occur to me at all when I was watching, but everyone seems so sure of it. it's honestly an objectively good idea, except that I don't see how they could reveal & publicly punish his own crime against a non-real-person without revealing Logan's assistance in the coverup.

if only Roman was old enough to take the blame for things a few decades old, he'd be a much better idea. he's a walking sexual harassment lawsuit, he cannot restrain himself from saying what he thinks, and what he thinks about mistreatment of nonpersons in the workplace is pretty bad.

but alas he is too young
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:07 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think it’s Tom for two reasons: first, his role at the company is directly relevant to the probe and means he can fully absorb the blow, and second, it’s another way Logan can test and brutalize Shiv. This season has been about Logan finally drawing her fully into his web. How better to finish that than ordering her to destroy the husband we know Logan thinks is beneath her? He is isolating her.

I don’t think Logan would make a blood sacrifice out of any of his kids. He wouldn’t hesitate to hurt them severely, but he doesn’t cut them loose. He prefers them suffering and within the family circle.

I bet Greg stormed out of that room when Logan ordered him out and is off trying to scheme something up. Maybe with his grandfather and the few documents he managed to stuff down his pants.

Did Eavis give Shiv the name of the women planning to testify? If so, what a useless putz.
posted by sallybrown at 5:57 PM on October 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

The within-show reason I can see it not being Kendall after all is because Logan has been leaning on him to help run Waystar, he even leaned on him during their testimony, so it doesn't seem practical to cut him lose while the business is still on shaky ground. That said, whatever, Gerri would still be there and she and Roman are the only ones out of that whole crew who aren't just yes-men anyhow.

Personally, I think it has to be one of Logan's kids -- or Logan himself. Some in-law or cousin or whatever wouldn't be satisfying to anybody. At that point, just go back to the plan to Kill Bill ffs. But maybe the kids would rather it be Tom than one of them, it could be Shiv herself who throws him to the wolves as a last-minute substitute for herself or her father or whoever.

Tom might actually be smart to flip against Waystar, or at least make a feint that he's going to. Shiv likes being coaxed into jealousy, likes sleeping with the enemy (politically), there's some small chance that it even be a good thing for them. And it would help Tom leverage himself into a role at another company, rehabilitate his image somewhat from "footstool bully guy." Because god knows that Tom is not going to last with Shiv OR at Waystar if he doesn't change something up.

Did the senators bring up that producer who killed themself because of the culture of bullying at Waystar?
posted by rue72 at 8:09 PM on October 7, 2019

I left the show assuming Tom was the sacrifice too. I think it was directed to convey that, the look in Shiv's eyes as she calculated whether she's OK with it. I also expect some sort of feint or switcheroo and Logan means someone else, this isn't a detective show where they plant clues for us to follow. To rue72's point, as much as I love the idea of Tom being smart and flipping, there's no way that sack of wet potato flour would ever do anything so bold.

Funniest thing in the whole show: Tom's last name is "Wambsgans". Try that word out, let it roll around your mouth. "Wambsgans". It's a real name, albeit a rare one, and if I read it right it's a German name. It literally means "Goose uterus". So that's your Tom.

I loved the small scenes with Bill. He knows they're going to kill him. So he shows up just to remind them he's still there and aware of what they're doing. And then at the end he threatens to write a tell-all book but indicates he'd rather not. Bill's smart. Be like Bill.

Also loved Shiv's work turning the witness. Ugly and chilling. But she was so, so good at it. Her speech felt as magical as the Carousel speech from Mad Men. I'm a little whiplashed; sometimes Shiv's as dumb as Tom, sometimes she's incredibly smart. I guess she's smart at emotionally manipulating other women.

Honest question: is this show a comedy anymore? I used to think of it as mostly dark comedy, with a bit of drama. But this episode was pretty much all drama. Doesn't have to be one or the other, but I'm a little confused.
posted by Nelson at 8:19 AM on October 8, 2019 [14 favorites]

To rue72's point, as much as I love the idea of Tom being smart and flipping, there's no way that sack of wet potato flour would ever do anything so bold.

I don't think he will either, even though I think it might actually be his smartest move. Or at least the most entertaining one to watch!

The puzzle of Tom is that he walks around like a dazzled Golden Ticket winner on Willy Wonka's tour, but the truth is that he's someone who survived and possibly even thrived in the actual, red-in-tooth-and-claw world for decades before he met Shiv. That's more than his wife or any of his brothers-in-law (or Greg) can say and by all appearances more than they could do. So what are the talents that he lived on pre-Golden Ticket? They never seem to be in evidence.

I don't fault him for imperfectly assimilating into Rich Person Dreamland of No Consequences, no adult ever really loses his accent and there's not really any reason why he should try (aside from his own desire to). But I don't buy him as a clueless ingenue. He might not have lived in Shiv's world for the previous forty-odd years but he lived in a much bigger and harsher one.

On an Inside the Episode, the producer was saying that Marcia's scenes and responses have a different rhythm than the other Roys' because she's coming from a different culture than the other Roys. Well, same for Tom, too, really. And his scenes do have a different rhythm, very frenetic and zany. Guess I'm intrigued to see him in his element, because what element IS that really? Or maybe he doesn't have an element anymore.
posted by rue72 at 2:32 PM on October 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

Demi Adejuyigbe's "Rejected Lyrics to HBO's Succession Theme" is the best thing I've seen all day.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:05 PM on October 9, 2019 [13 favorites]

Twenty comments and no one's mentioned the B plot, Roman's wacky adventures in Azerbaijan being held at gunpoint in a hotel. Perhaps we're all just being polite in ignoring what seems like a pretty silly deus ex machina. It's based on real events though; Saudi Arabia held 30 elites hostage in 2017, although I don't know that any American nationals were involved. I suspect Roman's going to be returned safe next week unharmed other than being humiliated. And with a new fetish for Azeri rough trade.
posted by Nelson at 6:09 PM on October 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

It is funny that detainment at gunpoint is getting such little attention, but....yeah, I don't think Roman is in any danger, so it's not that exciting. Maybe it would seem slightly more perilous if it weren't a government-backed detainment, but authoritarian regimes definitely know better than to murder a billionaire propagandist's son. I'm assuming this will lead to funding to take the company private, which will VERY improbably spring Roman to the top of the Succession rankings before next season.
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:37 PM on October 9, 2019

Bill, you sly bastard. Applause to you for managing to blackmail the Roys and stay in their good graces.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:17 PM on October 9, 2019 [10 favorites]

The most expendable family member is Connor. He's a know-nothing, which means he can't take revenge effectively, and yet dooming his presidential campaign will pay dividends for the Roys in avoided embarassment... unless Connor uses it to rail against corporate America/WayStar and gains traction.
posted by carmicha at 6:19 AM on October 10, 2019

connor has no real value to the family.
posted by JimBennett at 12:52 PM on October 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would love it if it's Connor because they means we get a while episode of jokes at his expense.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:02 PM on October 10, 2019

I think Kendall is the number one boy here, but I also see Román arriving at the last minute with a pile of sovereign wealth fund cash to bail out the family and save his brother from the sacrificial alter.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 4:37 PM on October 11, 2019

Here is who you would be if you suddenly married Shiv Roy

My biggest complaint with the show is I do not believe in a million years that Siobh would date Tom, let alone marry him. It just seems so damn implausible.
posted by dobbs at 3:28 PM on October 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

Shiv’s turn with Kira is one of the most chilling, terrifying things I’ve seen on this show to date. And that’s saying a lot, but boy, it perfectly captures not only how women enable rape culture, but the means of that get used to do so, the mix of truth, half-truth, and full lie, wrapped in soft skills, exploiting the socialized desire of women to help and serve and fix and agree, couched in the language of empathy and empowerment and sisterhood, carrot and stick together in service of selfish goals served by propping up a vile power structure — it’s an extraordinarily accurate portrayal of a certain very specific kind of work that women are called to do to maintain their place in the corporate world.

And Rhea is not a good person. And her stepping away is clearly influenced by shrewdness, because she understands the peril of covering up for Logan when he won’t even level with you about what you’re covering up. But I don’t think that was all of it — look at her face when she is in the car without Shiv. Listen to how her voice is different then from when she is playing games with Logan and the kids. Contrast that, for example, when she is trolling Shiv into putting her name out for Pierce.

A repeated theme of the show is that Rhea isn’t quiiiiite as smart or slick an operator as she thinks she is, but she does still have hesitancy about crossing certain lines. Call it squeamishness if you want, but she doesn’t have an appetite to exert the kind of work that Shiv is willing to do. There are still lines that she doesn’t want to cross (SHOULD QUIT WHEN THEY WANTED TO TALK TO KIRA) even if they’re set very differently from what an actually good, decent person would do. There is a limit to her desire to sacrifice herself for Logan.

Unlike Shiv, at least in this episode. Count me in for believing that the show’s message is that the only way to win at games with people like the Roys is knowing to walk away.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:25 AM on October 23, 2019 [9 favorites]

dobbs: My biggest complaint with the show is I do not believe in a million years that Siobh would date Tom, let alone marry him. It just seems so damn implausible.

We live in a world where Jodie Foster has gone out of her way to publicly defend Mel Gibson's character, and once said to him for all the world to hear, "You know you save me too." We know there's a backstory to Siobh and Tom where he was there for her in a vulnerable moment and she, for lack of a better term, imprinted on him. Given the lack of unconditional love anywhere else in her life, is it really that much of a surprise?
posted by skoosh at 1:00 PM on November 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Except that Rhea had to know that the company had buried scandals. I found her suddenly stricken conscience to be unrealistic. OTOH, literally everything Shiv said in the playground was true. (Afterwards the showrunner or whomever it was who does the behind-the-scenes stuff pointed out that yes, we as people want to expose this stuff but if it were your wife or sister, you would advise her not to. You just don't ever want to deal with the aftermath)

Re the sacrificial lamb, Logan was faltering during the hearing and Kendall stepped in a changed the narrative. Can Logan appreciate that? or would he take it as evidence of his weakness and resent him? Also, I don't recall that Kendall was connected to the cruise division as mentioned in the expose. And would Logan refer to himself as a lamb?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:01 PM on November 16, 2019

It's based on real events though; Saudi Arabia held 30 elites hostage in 2017, although I don't know that any American nationals were involved.
I think that the reaction of Roman and entourage is modelled on the 2017 corruption crackdown - only re-imagined in a world where everybody might have Jamal Khashoggi's 2018 fate in mind.
posted by rongorongo at 5:08 AM on January 6, 2022

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