Sunday, September 29, 2019

REVIEW: 'Succession' - The World Celebrates Logan's Long Career While Scandal Looms on the Horizon in 'Dundee'

HBO's Succession - Episode 2.08 "Dundee"

The entire Roy clan travels to Logan's hometown of Dundee, Scotland for a celebration of Logan's fifty years in the business. There, Logan reflects on his past and the company's future, while Shiv looks to her family for support in taking down Rhea. Ewan gives Greg an ultimatum about working at Waystar. Kendall becomes enamored with Jennifer, an actress in Willa's play. A former employee proves difficult to silence, worrying Logan's inner circle.

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.

"Dundee" was written by Mary Laws and directed by Kevin Bray

Logan publicly names his successor here. It's a huge decision that he has been forced to make since the start of the series. He always wanted to be in charge of the decision and the narrative around it. He has lost some control because of the proxy battle. He has had to name a successor now in order to put up a strong defense against this takeover attempt. And yet, he makes it not fully aware of the looming scandal on the horizon. He has insulated himself at the top. People do understand that they have to keep him in the loop about any major developments. But he also trusts the people around him to do their jobs and cut off any potential scandals before he has to worry about them. When he goes to Scotland for this celebration of his life, he doesn't want to be preoccupied by the uncertainty back home with a potential whistleblower who can proclaim the true extent of the crimes taken place on the cruises. That's a major scandal about to break. The executives understand it should be something he knows about. But they also believe the same standards for approaching this situation that have always worked out will once again be true. They aren't. They can't buy this person off or threaten them with severe litigation. It seems like everything may be coming to light. That's terrifying. It means that the current structure at Waystar Royco may be doomed. As such, the CEO job may not be as enviable as it once was. Sure, this is a major media conglomerate that may be able to weather any storm. Logan's image will be tainted. His decisions will be analyzed closely. But that may allow someone new to slide into the role that they have long sought after. Shiv approaches this weekend with the intent of getting what was promised to her. She wants to ensure that her father keeps his word. She sees just how close Rhea has gotten to him. Rhea is an excellent manipulator in this world. She has gotten so close so quickly to Logan. She may have lost her job at Pierce. But now, she may have a new opportunity with the Roys. She is doing her best to endear herself to every member of the family. Shiv may be the most openly hostile towards her. Marcia is as well. She too wants it out in the open whether or not Rhea is sleeping with her husband. Marcia doesn't want to just be sitting idly by on the sidelines. She has agency in this world as well. Everyone doesn't always have to take her for granted. She may not be making the most exciting power moves but she does wield a ton of influence. Of course, she is also easily manipulated by Shiv. That's significant as well. Logan understands that his daughter isn't as smart as she believes herself to be. Shiv sees herself as a keen and cunning individual in this world. She still has a lot to learn. She can't do so in the short time frame Logan is presented with. None of his children can. Roman may be starting to fulfill some of his potential while Kendall has been a loyal ally to his father. But none of them are prepared to take the reins of the company especially in the wake of this fight for control. Rhea has experience on her side. Her image may not be tarnished simply because she makes mistakes based on only knowing Logan for a short time. He understands her style of operating and instinctively trusts her to manage his company. He may have concerns. He may voice those to Shiv in their most honest conversation in awhile. He still ultimately picks Rhea. That is his decision. He owns it. He just does so without being fully aware that he's likely taking her down with him.

Shiv operates with that information though. She is in the trusted circle of operators trying to keep a lid on this simmering scandal. Gerri pulls her into this meeting in order to get her input. She may be helping Roman navigate this world. But she trusts Shiv as well. None of this can be seen as a petty game for who gets to run the family company either. Lives will forever be changed as a result of this decision. This company has loomed large throughout the public culture. Ewan returns for this ceremony mostly to see just how much control Logan has implemented over their home town in Scotland. It no longer resembles the city he left behind. Of course, they left at a young age. Stories of this world may be nothing but pure fantasies. The idea of what could have been true in this world even though it was better for them to leave for Canada and then the United States. Both Logan and Ewan have done very well for themselves. They have different politics. That divides them. The same is true of Logan and Shiv as well. And yet, that isn't an obstacle that father and daughter need to overcome. They have the inherent trust that is lacking elsewhere. They have the convictions to understand how this world for power operates. Ewan wishes to be seen as an activist wanting to stand firmly against the man and company responsible for destroying the world. He views his brother as worst than Hitler because of the messages spread across his various corporate interests. He may not be wrong about that. This is an old-school company that covers up any potential crime in order to remain just as profitable as ever. They make shady business deals and mislead the public with the news. It's all sensationalized and toxic. Logan has built a 50-year career out of it too. He sits at the top looking ahead at what's next. He would rather look towards the future than linger on the past. He doesn't see the past as something tangible and real. It's simply our memories of events that could have happened. He does get lost in them from time to time. He forgets. He needs his family in order to remember. He isn't a pleasant man to live with. But he does represent strength and determination in a world this family perceives as wanting to take them down no matter what. Every event they hold has some form of protestors outside. That informs them that they are doing something right because they are creating a conversation in the world. But none of that represents a true threat to their power and influence. Kendall can continue jumping from one sexual relationship to the next. Roman can continue his inappropriate sexual dynamic with Gerri in the pursuit of respect. Shiv can feel free to pimp out her husband when need be. Greg feels torn when given an ultimatum by Ewan. These are the luxuries afforded to these people. They don't feel like their actions ultimately mean much. And yes, their fights can be seen as incredibly petty. And yet, they control so much in the world as well. Right now, Logan is being honored with a plaque. He may not be honored for long. Uncertainty is on the horizon. Shiv believes she can sink her father and Rhea so she can step up in their place. She is the one armed with all of the right information. That may not save her though. This is a family that has gone unchecked for too long. That may change. Or it may not. They've gotten away with so much after all.