Sunday, October 13, 2019

REVIEW: 'Succession' - Logan Sees Exactly What Each of His Children Are Capable Of in 'This Is Not For Tears'

HBO's Succession - Episode 2.10 "This Is Not For Tears"

On the Roys' grand Mediterranean yacht, Logan weighs whether a member of the family, or a top lieutenant, will need to be sacrificed to salvage the company's tarnished reputation. Roman shares his hesitations about a new source of financing, as Kendall suggests a familiar alternative. Shiv proposes taking her open marriage with Tom to another level. Connor finds himself in an unenviable position as reviews of Willa's play roll in.

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 season finale of HBO's Succession.

"This Is Not For Tears" was written by Jesse Armstrong and directed by Mark Mylod

This show has long articulated that Logan is the man at the top of the world who makes all of the decisions that have profound ripple effects throughout all human existence. He is the one in control of this family business. He is the one whose opinion must be validated at every single moment. It's such toxic energy in his personal life. It has allowed him to form a successful business because there are plenty of executives eager to prove their worth to him. They are willing to do absolutely anything in order to be in his good graces. Once in that inner circle, they just have to be capable of crafting a compelling argument as to why they shouldn't be the one present who deserves to fall on their sword for the good of the company. That's the decision that Logan is faced with in the finale. It's no longer about the quest for a successor. He made that announcement with Rhea. It was a decision that imploded immediately. It was quickly overshadowed by the scandal concerning the abuse and crimes committed on the company cruises. The family and executives appearing in front of Congress didn't seem to do enough to rally support for them in the proxy battle. Logan fears that he may have to step down as a result of all of this. That's the suggestion coming from a top shareholder. It's the idea that he shares with his minions as well. They don't see that as a feasible idea. They were prepared to target each other. That's what this entire trip on a yacht through the Mediterranean Sea is all about. It's the family of this company coming together to decide which narrative is the best that mitigates this damage completely. It's not about punishing those who are actually culpable. It's simply maintaining control over the narrative so that it plays to their advantage with the drama on the horizon. Logan has pursued several options in the hopes of emerging stronger. He is furious at a world that no longer seems to want him in charge. He is criticized as the man responsible for the destruction of social norms. To Logan though, it's simply wielding power. This is what he wants. This is what he enjoys. He likes pitting his family against one another. It means everyone is left guessing as to whose head will be on the chopping block. Logan will only step down when he is the one making that decision. That's the fate that he believes he has earned. He doesn't feel challenged in a way where he could respect his chosen successor. Right now, that search is full of maybes. He doesn't know if any of his children can step up to fill the role. They certainly have the potential. But he also believes that they have to be killers in order to survive. The people at the top need to make these tough decisions without caring who they'll hurt down below. This family has already done so much harm to so many people. Logan doesn't know if Marcia will come back to him. He doesn't know the state of his own marriage. Things are uncertain for Shiv and Tom as well. She wants to feel confident about every single choice she is making. And yet, she second guesses everything in the hopes of being perceived as amenable to any given situation. She wants to make her father and husband comfortable. She has ambition in this environment as well. She wants the top job. She feels she has earned it and her father promised it to her. However, she may accept now that she isn't ready for it. She can't throw her husband to the wolves despite the criminal actions he took to cover up this scandal. She loves him even though he feels he would be less sad if he walked away now. That's so tragic and unfortunate. They want to present as a team. But Shiv is also the one hoping to rise in this world and be taken seriously. Tom is the outsider looking in with no real sense of how to play things in any given moment with this family.

All of this tragedy swells when Logan makes the decision to blame the entire scandal on Kendall. That's the name that can be given where it will actually mean something. Sure, he may have done well at the congressional testimony. That is also playing well to the company's loyal base of supporters. But it isn't changing too many minds. A sit down with Stewy doesn't produce a reasonable way forward. Stewy is operating from a position of strength. He doesn't need to make a deal with Logan now. The state of this proxy battle may be turning in his favor. He operates with the business confidence that Logan may be looking for. He wants that in his family. He doesn't see Kendall as the man capable of providing it to him. But then again, all of his children have complicated views on the world and how to be seen as capable and loyal. Connor has deluded himself into believing he can become President even though he has sunk his finances into propping up Willa's terribly reviewed play. He reaches out to his father for support. That's his role in the family. He may be distant from the company but he is still beholden to Logan for absolutely everything that he has. He is entitled in that way and pouts when things don't work out. Meanwhile, Roman gives his honest opinion about the company's potential Turkish partners. It's a deal that may come together and succeed in taking the firm private. However, Roman doesn't see them as trustworthy. It wouldn't be a compatible and easy solution to all of the problems Logan is now facing. Roman speaking up to ensure these concerns are heard and validated is so crucial. It makes him seem like the man who can provide what his father is looking for even though he is the one essentially tanking this deal. It doesn't seem worth the effort. Logan may have seen it as the potential salvation he needs. That view was wrong. He needs to accept that and move on quickly. Similarly, Shiv needs to be able to make these big decisions with conviction. Right now, she is worried about how people perceive what she does. She doesn't want to present as too eager to protect Tom. And yet, she doesn't want her husband to be casually tossed aside by her family. She has so much love for him but can't properly express it. That leaves Kendall who has sought out his father's love and protection. He got that when it came to covering up a murder. Kendall has been wandering through his life since that fateful tragedy. He has been even more loyal and willing to do whatever his father asked of him. It pushed him to the brink of sanity. His life was no longer his own. Instead, he was a mere vessel for whatever his father wanted to accomplish. That appears to be the way he ultimately sees his son. Kendall is a big enough name within the company to appease their critics by eliminating him. Logan is proud to say that he'll continue to support whomever is ultimately chosen. In that moment though, Kendall just wants to know his father's honest opinion of him. Logan refuses to see his son as a killer. Of course, he is. The two of them know that. Kendall embracing the killer instinct within him can be so tantalizing and terrifying at the same time. It emboldens him to fire back against his father in public to ensure that this company is his. Logan may even be proud of him for doing that. It shows that he may truly be capable of leading this company into the future. It just ensures that a brand new war is brewing within this family. Kendall makes this announcement in order to be strong once more. Everyone is stunned. It ensures that the world is forever out of sorts. But that chaos is welcome in a show that knows exactly just how vast the consequences of all of this will be for not only this world but the people who see the Roy family as crucial parts of how we live.