Sunday, September 22, 2019

REVIEW: 'Succession' - Kendall Seeks to Relieve His Guilty Conscience But Finds No Emotional Support in 'Return'

HBO's Succession - Episode 2.07 "Return"

When Kendall and Roman are sent to the UK to negotiate with their mother, Caroline, an uninvited Shiv shows up to get answers from her father, who has been dodging her. Rhea's continued presence raises eyebrows amongst the Roy kids, as Logan seeks her counsel. Later, Kendall is forced to confront what happened last time he was in the UK. Back in New York, Tom encounters unexpected pressure during an internal investigation and Greg goes to great lengths to protect himself.

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.

"Return" was written by Jonathan Glatzer and directed by Becky Martin

It was inevitable that the Roy family would return to England at some point. Their last adventure in the country was so scandalous and dramatic. It has done such incredible damage to Kendall. His behavior hasn't improved in the slightest since that tragic night. He has been in such a depressed and tortured state throughout the entire season. He is a man who wants to do something but is forever afraid of what could happen. He made big moves last season. That led to his potential ouster from the family as well as a man being killed. It was startling. It's absolutely horrifying just how easily the family could cover up the crime as well. Logan did that for his son despite the betrayal. And now, he continues to deal with the ramifications even though he remains very withholding of any kind of emotional support. It's mostly just a move to keep Kendall in check. Now, him returning to the scene of the crime may not be all that healthy or wise for his mental state. The family is dealing with renewed pressure regarding the proxy battle. Stewy and Sandy are seen as legitimate threats once more. The Pierce acquisition wasn't the saving grace Logan hoped it would be. He now finds himself courting the support of the various shareholders on the board so that he can remain in power. That gives Caroline leverage to lord over him and to actually see her children once more. They have long been distant as a family. However, it mostly comes out of a sense of spite. Any action could theoretically be seen as passive aggressive. That's unfortunately the way this family communicates with each other. It's all about who is screwing over the other. It's a constant battle for superiority. That makes all of them incredibly insecure. Kendall may be by his father's side throughout this journey. However, he shouldn't be seen as the most loyal man or the trustworthy foot soldier. Instead, he is the man racked with guilt and uncertain over how to move forward. Sure, his relationship with Naomi Pierce is continuing. That may offer him some sense of hope even though a picture of his genitalia is now out there in the world. But it's much more gripping and powerful to watch when he is sitting by himself at the family home of the man whose death he caused. Logan has to extend his sympathies simply because the local tabloids are saying that he screamed the man to death. That's absolutely horrifying. It's all positioned as maneuvers on a game for control of this company though. No one genuinely cares about the hardships this grieving family is dealing with. Instead, it's the elite going through the motions so that they can maintain some sense of control over the narrative. As such, it's not really important what Logan says to this grieving family. It's more crucial to be with Kendall as he is faced with the remainders of the pain and suffering he caused. Money may not fix these problems either. He may feel better after dropping that off in the middle of the night. But it may only invite more questions. Those too could bubble up into something dramatic and complicated for the family. Kendall is searching for an outlet to release the pent-up emotions he is dealing with during this turbulent time. Everywhere he turns, he is greeted with people who simply don't want to hear it. It's a bother to his parents. He needs their emotional support now more than ever before. They can't give it to him. Logan and Caroline fail as parents. But they each project victory as they get to spend more time as a family. They proclaim that they care about that but only when things look good. When things are complicated, then it's hard to feign any kind of interest which is so personally destructive for Kendall who may only further spiral out of control once more.

All Logan cares about is maintaining control too. He is courting these shareholders. He is also putting more thought into who his successor should be. He told Shiv that the job was hers if she wanted it at the start of the season. He hasn't always followed through on that promise though. Because he hasn't publicly announced it, he can still change his mind at any point in time. He enjoys that freedom. It allows everyone to worry about whether they are doing enough to please him and make it seem like they are capable of doing the job. Shiv sees herself as a viable candidate. But she has turned into the precise person she didn't want to be. Trying to please her father and figuring out how he'll react shouldn't be the thought that permeates throughout her every move. And yet, it sadly is. She is forever worried that she isn't doing enough or that what she is doing will offend him in some way. She makes these big moves in the hopes of proving her skills. But Logan and the rest of the family laughs about her behind her back. That too is sad and tragic. She wants this job. She is being punished for that ambition. Rhea is able to break her down so effectively. Shiv should be cautious about anything Rhea says. She is more than the woman looking to have a more personal relationship with Logan. That simply allows her a way into this family and any potential conversation. Shiv doesn't care about that. Nor do Kendall and Roman. Family is always a competition for them. It's not a sense of familial bonds that strengthen and continue to prove their reliability no matter what. It's a vicious context. Shiv wants to believe that she can trust Rhea. And yet, Rhea can't provide her with assurances that she could become the next CEO of Pierce. Shiv shouldn't have fallen into that trap because Nan made her displeasure with Rhea and Logan very well known. Nan may like Shiv more than anyone else in the Roy family. But that potential job offer only makes Logan more angry. It makes it seem as if Logan has no viable successor amongst his family. He and Roman may be on good terms at the moment. He does apologize for hitting him even though Roman is too eager to downplay the whole thing. But Roman is mostly full of potential. It's unclear if he'll ever achieve his best self. It certainly doesn't seem imminent given the time table the company is on to name a successor and win this proxy battle. He may have a solid strategy with Gerri. And yet, her focus testing probably won't address the horrifying and inappropriate relationship between them. They may be shielded from that entirely. That may work to their benefit. Right now though, Rhea makes herself seem like the only ally Logan can trust. She sees the world in the exact same way he does. Sure, she may not have the political backbone that he does. But she wants power and knows how to manipulate the world to her advantage. Everyone has to be extremely careful with her. However, she isn't the only threat the family will have to contend with. An internal investigation on the cruises scandal has Tom and Greg worried. That too could eventually become more serious than anyone within the company would like. That's very exciting as the season continues to build up to an inevitable but explosive conclusion once more.