Sunday, August 18, 2019

REVIEW: 'Succession' - Shiv Positions Herself for a Powerful Future While Kendall Continues to Serve His Father in 'Vaulter'

HBO's Succession - Episode 2.02 "Vaulter"

Roman and Kendall do a "routine health check" of a new media brand to help Vaulter determine the future of the company. Tom tasks Greg with sniffing out waste at ATN, as Greg wonders if the divisive media outlet is the right fit for him. Connor and Willa host a soiree to mark their return to New York. Shiv brings Tom in the loop about her future at Waystar and with Gil's campaign.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's Succession.

"Vaulter" was written by Jon Brown and directed by Andrij Parekh

The Roy family is one built around lies and deception. They can never allow their true colors to show because that could then be used against them. They can't openly admit when they want something because that would ensure their own destruction. It's what makes Shiv continually question whether or not Logan's offer to become his successor is real or not. She keeps hearing the right assurances from him. After a lifetime of knowing him though, she doesn't know if she can actually trust what he's saying. When she brooches the topic, he says it will take three years for her to complete all the seemingly necessary management courses. She would have to jump through those hoops even though Roman is co-COO with Kendall despite not doing any of that. As such, it's easy to understand why Shiv is doubtful about her father's promises and wants to continue her outside role in the political sphere. But she completely implodes that job by the conclusion of this episode. She does so because she wants to commit to this new job path. She wants to be taken seriously as a candidate who can do this job. Right now, it continues to play as a competition between Kendall and Roman. They are the ones constantly vying for their father's attention and admiration. Shiv is doing that as well. She wants this approval and understanding from her father. She wants to trust what he is telling her. She wants to know that she will get the respect she deserves. She can only share what's going on with Tom. She feels the stability to open up to him. But that too comes at a great personal cost because he also saw himself in competition for the job. He was moving up within the company and saw a future that would present him as a viable alternative to take over when Logan eventually steps down. A successor needs to be named at some point. Shiv is now operating with the understanding that it will be her. She is willing to chase that prospect now. It will be her sole focus. That may be precarious because this family is capable of deception and manipulation without truly caring what the consequences will be. Kendall props up Vaulter's employees to make it seem as if their jobs will be secure for a long time. He just wants to tamp down any chatter about unionizing. In actuality though, he is gutting the company just like his father ordered. This was the strategy that Roman pitched for how to handle the fledgling company. The numbers are not as good as they were when Waystar first acquired it. And now, Kendall is more than happy to push Lawrence out the door. That may be some necessary narrative trimming because Lawrence was never the most prominent and important character. Vaulter has now been streamlined so that Waystar only has to focus on the profitable components of the company without dealing with any of the hassle. Kendall being able to get this job done proves that he is completely supportive of whatever his father wants. That's absolutely pivotal. Kendall thought this company could still be salvageable with some changes to the management. Roman and Logan felt otherwise. They tasked Kendall with gutting it. The narrative lured everyone into the sense that he was once again going rogue. But at the end of the day, Kendall is mostly just welcoming chaos into his life with no real consideration for anything that could happen as a result. He has the power to change and disrupt so many lives. As a result, it's trivial when he steals batteries from a local bodega only to promptly throw them away. He isn't sleep walking his way through life. That was a concern at one point. But now, he may be trusted to do whatever Logan wants no questions asked. Kendall is indebted to his father for bailing him out of trouble. He is no longer making any moves. He isn't conspiring. That's up to everyone else in the family. And yet, Kendall is the one now sharing an office with his father. That may ensure that he is in the running for control too. He could still be trusted to get the job done. It could just come at great personal expense for the siblings who also thought they were lined up perfectly for a future at the top. That's all they've been conditioned to care about. When it finally happens, it's going to tear this family apart in such a devastating way.