Sunday, September 15, 2019

REVIEW: 'Succession' - A Major Company Scandal Has the Potential to Ruin Logan's Acquisition of Pierce in 'Argestes'

HBO's Succession - Episode 2.06 "Argestes"

As Logan looks to finalize a deal to buy the Pierce family's papers and TV stations at a media and 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.

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.

"Argestes" was written by Susan Soon He Stanton and directed by Matt Shakman

Shiv has made some major power moves in order to close the Pierce acquisition for her father. She has been fairly agnostic on the deal overall. She wasn't onboard in the beginning because she didn't see the two companies complimenting each other. They have been largely competitive over the years. They are similar beasts in the world of media conglomerates. And yet, this was the deal Logan wanted. It's the kind of deal that Rhea supports completely. In fact, it's been fascinating to watch Rhea navigate this negotiation as someone who clearly views this as the best opportunity for herself to remain in power. She has shifting loyalties. That eventually catches up to her. But she is a skilled power player in this world who will land on her feet no matter where she goes. She knows how to navigate these kinds of deals to always come out on top. She has the ears of both Logan and Nan. So long as she can be the intermediary between them, then things will likely work out with this acquisition deal. Of course, the pressure is on for Logan. He needed to announce this deal to the world so that he had the strength to completely destroy the proxy battle. Sandy and Stewy also happen to be at this retreat for the titans of the media and tech industries. It's largely just an opportunity for these powerful people to pat themselves on the back. Of course, it also sets Waystar Royco up for a major scandal to break and ruin their reputation amongst the peers they hope to have lasting business relationships with. Logan is also constantly making moves. He thinks it could be valuable to reach out to a potential new source of revenue. That way the company has a backup pain if the Pierce acquisition doesn't go through in time. He is running against the clock. That's the overwhelming quality of the show at the moment. Logan wants this deal done before news breaks about the cruise scandal. That's a threat that reemerges here with the family not knowing the true extent of the accusations until the story is released to the world. Shiv and Kendall have competing views on how to best handle any particular situation. Kendall comes from a place of strength knowing that his father would never realistically look at him as a viable successor. Meanwhile, Shiv is continually trying to prove to her father that she deserves to be the first person he calls to do any sort of damage control or to steer the ship into the future. She isn't invited to this retreat. She doesn't want to be stuck back at the office picking up the slack of the necessary tax paperwork. She wants to be in the backrooms helping these deals get made. She needs her father to validate her in that way. That impulse has the potential of tanking her ambition though. She wants to be the CEO of the family company. Logan doesn't want to announce that publicly though. He still wants the sense that he hasn't made up his mind yet. He has dealt with attacks before. This exposé is nothing new for him. But he also sees it all as a personal attack on his character in the hopes of taking him down specifically. The company can craft a narrative that the people in charge didn't know this was going on. Cousin Greg did destroy all that evidence in order to help with that story. Plus, the overall sense of the exposé boils down to one woman claiming sexual harassment and damage done to her career. It is damning but the family sees it as a storm that they can weather together so long as they are clear on the messaging right away. They have the opportunity to release a meaningful statement. But again, there is so much horror and dysfunction within this family and company that it seems likely that everything will blow up in their faces even if they still have the wealth and influence to make these major moves.

Shiv believes she is helping this deal by being a part of a panel and attacking her father. Marcia may see it as crass and unnecessary. Shiv may have gone too far. But Rhea assured Shiv that this potential relationship could be smoothed over despite this scandal if Shiv was the face of the response and played directly to Nan herself. It was a message entirely to one person. Nan is in the back of the room listening closely. Shiv fought for this opportunity. But she also continues to present as a woman who doesn't want to present as the simple token showcase of diversity within the company. She doesn't want to be the woman forced into the public in order to prove that this company does take these allegations seriously. Sure, she knows that it's problematic for Kendall and Roman to be the ones out there discussing these issues. They have to be briefed in order to know how to react in a way that may benefit the bottom line. Shiv doesn't need that kind of coaching. She can go in immediately and deliver the company talking points. She takes ahold of the moment and does so with conviction and strategy. More thought probably went into this move than her impromptu decision to announce herself as Logan's chosen successor. She does these moves in order to impress her father. Attacking him may be the best way to present as a valid and solid choice for the job. It may ultimately help him get exactly what he wants. It's an endeavor that fails though. Logan and Nan don't sign the papers. In fact, Nan walks away completely. She didn't see Shiv as speaking passionately about the way forward for the company. Instead, she saw three of the Roy children onstage contradicting each other and stepping on each other's toes. Shiv may not be a part of the family company but she was the best person to handle this response. Roman didn't need to be on that stage. He may have a respectable title within the company but he is still struggling for his own sense of identity and conviction. He wants it all to be easy because he could just team up with Gerri in order to find success. That may work out for him. It's an offer that Gerri may have to mull for a bit. But again, this conversation about the line of succession may have to be tabled once more because Logan is absolutely furious upon the conclusion of this hour. He needs his family and company representatives to put their best feet forward and close this deal as soon as possible. He may have impossible standards to reach. He may be willing to give away too much in order to move quickly with the deal. But he doesn't get what he has always wanted. This season has highlighted just how tentative these business deals and relationships can actually be. Logan and Nan keep going back and forth on whether this deal is happening. He has gotten angry and bitter. And now, it's Nan's turn to do exactly that. She doesn't want to hand her family company over to a bunch of people who are flailing around in self-destruction mode. There isn't any sense that it would be a wise financial decision. In fact, it's clear that the company could be imploding because of the proxy fight. Going after Pierce was Logan's main strategy for how to emerge victorious against Stewy and Sandy. And now, that threat is more real and imminent than ever before. This deal may not be happening but there are many people who'll have to pay for the consequences. Shiv may no longer be seen as someone Logan admires and wants to work with. Meanwhile, Rhea is no longer the CEA of Pierce. All of this will lead to even more implosions moving forward as Logan grows increasingly desperate to remain in control.