Sunday, October 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'Succession' - Logan and the Waystar Royco Executives Do Damage Control on Capitol Hill in 'DC'

HBO's Succession - Episode 2.09 "DC"

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.

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.

"DC" was written by Jesse Armstong and directed by Mark Mylod

To the executives at Waystar Royco, it's an annoyance that they have to go down to Washington, D.C. in order to explain their actions to a Senate committee. They are jaded and don't believe that any of these politicians actually care about the state of the cruise industry. The elected officials simply see an opportunity to go viral with moments of righteous indignation and pompous showmanship. Of course, this company truly did cover up some heinous crimes. Greg was coerced into destroying those files repeatedly despite his best efforts to keep something as leverage. All of this presents as the latest distraction from the proxy battle. Logan even sees it as his enemies targeting him with this scandal because he can't possibly fathom a reality in which someone would come forward to detail all of these abuses. He has a fundamentally jaded and cynical view of the world. It isn't a stretch though for Gil to say that Waystar Royco is capable of exploiting its employees and guests because their news division is driven almost entirely by exploitation. It doesn't matter that he has a deal with ATN to appear frequently on the network in exchange for better coverage. Those are the deals that define this world though. Logan and his fellow executives are simply trying to find the right tactic to make all of this go away. They sit and watch the interview outlining these abuses. It's a sensational viewing experience for them where they actually delight in who gets singled out by name. Gerri and Kendall are in the crosshairs. This situation could grow dire. But again, this family operates with the sense that nothing can really touch them. The biggest potential damage is the company having to return to being a private business. That's the venture that Roman is pursuing for his father. It's something he is hopeful about putting in place to please Logan as well. Their bond is growing stronger. It's clear that Logan trusts Roman to get these details together in a way that justifies everything Logan still hopes to do in this business. He was blindsided by the fact that this whistleblower was still going to come forward with these allegations. Rhea feels slighted as well. She believes she has become the easy patsy who can burden the blame as the newly named successor as CEO. She thinks Logan only offered her this position so that she could take the fall and none of this would ultimately disrupt his actual plans for the company. He had nothing to do with it. It was all Shiv's ambition. She is the one dreaming of the big moves she can make within this company. She is steadfast in her belief that her family must survive all of this no matter what. She has no qualms about during her father's ugly bidding either. Rhea has those concerns. She once positioned herself as the right leader to take over because none of the Roy children could handle that responsibility just yet. She was a convenient alternative that also made it clear that this business didn't have to remain in the family. Logan was open to that possibility. However, he sees Rhea as fungible. He no longer looks at her as someone special. He did view her as an ally who understood the way he did business. But now, she presents as someone with morals who can't be connected to this company any longer. It's fascinating to see where that line continues to shift for these characters. Everyone wants to remain loyal to Logan. It's just a responsibility that is continually tested for all of them.

Cousin Greg turns down a quarter of a billion dollars because he believes Logan will take care of him because of his loyalty and devotion to the family. Tom and Gerri are happy to be the public faces testifying in front of Congress to deal with this scandal. They present as the tangible faces that bring a sense of legitimacy to the proceedings and the sense that the company is taking this seriously. Logan testifies as well. He is supported by Kendall who can be more vicious when the situation requires him to be. And yet, all of these individuals are thrown under the bus during their time on the Hill. The fear that their lives could completely implode at any moment permeates throughout the proceedings. Gil believes he holds all of the evidence necessary to bury this company. He is taking his shot after previously backing off. Sure, it seems as if he is the only one with any questions of true substance. The rest of the senators either don't speak or don't matter at all. Gil does though. His voice resonates. He is running for President. Sure, Connor may have his own supports in the room. But Gil is the one whose argument could win out in the end. Instead, the pressure is all on Shiv to get a potential witness to walk away from testifying. She knows just how damaging a compelling and sympathetic story can be. She knows the horrors that took place on the cruises across the last two decades. The company wants to say that it was a few bad apples in their ranks who contributed to this seemingly corrupt system. That's what they simply want to believe. However, the corruption and abuse has much deeper roots than that. Logan continues to believe that actions were more acceptable in past years. It was always a crime to sexually assault someone though. Logan tries to downplay this whole affair. It's not as big a deal as everyone thinks. In fact, it's more concerning that Roman is held hostage in Turkey by some terrorists concerned about their government who may also have input about the potential deal Roman hopes to make. Roman is terrified and uncertain. This isn't a scenario anyone could have prepared him for. Once more, he presents as the one with power though. That influence means so much throughout the world. And yes, Shiv can use that to her advantage without making it seem like she is intimidating a witness into cooperating with her. She is simply pointing out how profoundly all of this will define life for this one person. Testifying to Congress can be very enlightening and powerful. It can be quite destructive as well because of how divided our politics have become. There are seemingly always two sides to any issue. It should never be as divided as that all the time. However, it tragically is. People don't have access to the same foundation of facts. Instead, people are manipulating others into believing whatever they may view as the truth. The Roy family is in the news business. They are making the news here. But they also control the message delivered and consumed by those already predisposed to believing they had nothing to do with these allegations of wrongdoing. That system won't just change with a different leader. Shiv may promise to cut out the bad guys from the company. However, she encourages their behavior just as much as anyone else. She just happens to be in the room with her father when he makes the declaration that someone in the family may have to go down for this crime.