Monday, April 3, 2023

REVIEW: 'Succession' - Kendall and Shiv's Vitriol Toward Their Father Remains Strong Despite New Vulnerability in 'Rehearsal'

HBO's Succession - Episode 4.02 "Rehearsal"

While Kendall, Shiv and Roman consider an aggressive play on the Matsson deal, Connor tries to make the most of his rehearsal dinner.

"Rehearsal" was written by Tony Roche & Susan Soon He Stanton and directed by Becky Martin

Shiv learns Manhattan's top divorce lawyers have conflicts of interest that prevent them from representing her in her split from Tom. She recognizes the move. Logan did the exact same thing to her mother during their divorce. It's the kind of gamesmanship that has come to define everything Logan does. That stirs up emotions within Shiv once more. The season opened with Shiv being united with Roman and Kendall about launching their own venture. They each stand to make millions of dollars when the GoJo deal receives final approval. However, they are done with their father. They have been pitted against each other too many times to trust anything he has to say. And yet, they are always drawn into his orbit. He has abused them so many times that it's tempting whenever a deal appears to make him suffer. Sandi and Stewy are making moves on the board to disrupt the deal. It's not good enough. Logan caved to pressure and allowed Matsson to buy Waystar Royco below its value. Kendall, Shiv and Roman are intrigued by this offer because they probably overpaid for Pierce. Logan lashed out against them because they happened to say the larger number. They perhaps went that high to prove how serious they were. They're now stuck with trying to figure out what to do with this legacy company that doesn't represent their values. They explore a complete rebrand. It's not long before that entire conversation is cast aside. It's once again about the feud between the father and his children. The siblings have a tentative alliance with one another. They want to remain resolute. It's still easy for any of them to falter - especially when left alone with Logan. He is the master at manipulating them. He sees the power they wield. They could destroy this deal if they want to. He has essentially made piece with selling the majority of his company to the Swedish businessman. He's already moved onto the future. He shows up at the ATN newsroom to make his presence and intimidation known. He's still capable of motivating the masses. That's the unique power of his charm. Most of the time he seeks to beat people into submission. He tests them to see if they remain loyal. He relies on people to keep this business running. However, he never takes their advice seriously. It's still ultimately about whatever he aims to accomplish. People are tentative whenever they're around him because they don't want to say the wrong thing. That's all it takes to receive his vitriol. Only the select few are allowed inside the inner circle. Even then, Kerry seems like the only person who carries any outsized influence.

This builds to Logan crashing the celebration before Connor's wedding. Connor's spiraling because he fears Willa is running away from this commitment. She can't deal with this relationship any longer. Connor's siblings are terrible at comforting him. They have never treated him well. He still believes in the earnest idea of the family coming together to celebrate his marriage. Instead, Kendall and Roman suggest Willa is the best Connor is ever going to get. That's the latest example of the brothers letting him down. He's used to it. He wants to experience life amongst the people. Of course, he's so far removed from that notion that he suggests a karaoke bar simply because he saw it in a movie once. He has no emotional connection to this space or even the song he's performing. It's going through the motions. Kendall, Shiv and Roman indulge him out of pity. That's how they frequently approach this relationship. And then, Logan shows up. He expresses his emotions more genuinely than ever before. He refuses to apologize. He eventually does because it seems like what his children need. Even then, he offers no understanding of the pain he caused from a lifetime of betrayal. Logan argues that he was just trying to prepare them for the world. This was the way he built his empire. It was expected of him to prepare them as his successors. That's how he kept his legacy going. He didn't want to abide by that story. He chose Matsson instead. He saw an energy in him that was lacking with his obvious choices. His children delight in seeing his pain though. This may be nothing more than a ploy Kerry has convinced him might work. Shiv and Kendall each pursue this move out of spite. They feel slighted by people who underestimate them. They are moving the battle to a new playing field. Their father is the target of their vitriol. These moves may not make sense. Roman goes along because his siblings are so committed to the path. That may only alienate him to the point where he falls under his father's influence once more. It's so easy for Logan to belittle his children. It's still absolutely devastating when he declares they aren't serious people. That's his usual bravado. That's how he has treated them their entire lives. He doesn't believe any of them have the skills to succeed in this business. He has made the world too toxic to ever resign from the fight. In doing so, he created a reality where no one could measure up to his impact. His children will always be a disappointment. They are so eager for his affection that they can't see the pattern repeating. They even view Logan's exit as a victory. They proved how he couldn't bully them any longer. The damage is too extensive to ever accept his apology. That shows how void of love each of these individuals are. That dysfunction is Logan's to bear. However, it doesn't indicate a future that's any brighter for anyone despite how wealthy they are.

Connor calls out his siblings for their lack of love. They tried to include him while ganging up on their father. It all started in their childhood. Connor turned out the way he did because his mother was institutionalized and his half-siblings were conditioned to treat him poorly. They don't even care that he's going through a personal crisis. He has learned to survive despite all of that. It's not a particularly happy life. No one can responsibly stand to listen to Connor for any significant amount of time. He doesn't even care if Willa love him. He's fine with a loveless marriage. He simply wouldn't be alone. That's gratifying enough. That's all he needs. So many people put their sense of self-worth in proving themselves to Logan. Even though he's awkward in the delivery, Greg is given more responsibility by being the one to tell Kerry she won't become an ATN anchor. He tries his best to follow Tom's advice. He just can't pack the same brutal punch. He's still elevated in the company. That's striking. People recognize that. Others suggest Logan is out of touch. However, he still motivates plenty to deliver the best product they can. That influence is felt. As such, it's easy to understand Roman's temptation. Of course, it plainly reads as Logan using the same trick he always pulls out. He sees Roman as having the more rational mind. He carries that killer instinct. Logan respects that. Roman needs to be molded into greatness. The foundation is there. Logan declares his love for all his children. It's doubtful how much he means that. It's also what the kids want. Despite the frequent betrayals, they always return for whatever praise and importance Logan is willing to offer. Replacing Cyd at ATN may be a better job for Roman. It's still an opportunity set up by his father to win his support over the GoJo deal. All of that is transparent. Roman is ready to start over. He saw that possibility with his siblings. Kendall and Shiv are too easily distracted by Logan. Everything must remain perfectly calculated to defeat him. They have fragile egos. Kendall is turned simply because Matsson delivers his own kind of intimidation. Several people say Matsson will not go up in price. This deal is his final offer. Members of the board are angling for more. Kendall is the only person who actually talks with him. Logan's plan with Roman requires a sit-down and a delay in the vote. However, it's necessary to see this perspective. Kendall believes he is capable of going toe-to-toe with the business titan who has impressed Logan. It may not be that simple. It convinced Kendall to reunite his bond with Stewy. That's significant. It's still driven by ego. That's what this all boils down to in the end. After that, it really doesn't matter how much love factors into the equation in any of these relationships. Connor returns home to Willa in their bed at least. That's a victory despite how fake the emotions tend to be.