Spoiler Alert: This post contains spoilers from "Tern Haven," the September 8th, 2019 episode of Succession.
In the world of Succession, the only constant is that Logan Roy (Brian Cox) will win. So far he's survived a major health scare, avoided two attempted takeover attempts by his son Kendall (Jeremy Strong), and humiliated all those who dare to challenge or lie to him. It's clear that Logan is not willing to give up the reigns to the company he built from scratch, viewing his children as (mostly) privileged morons who don’t know the price of a gallon of milk. But when he's offered the acquisition of his dreams, will he relinquish power to his youngest child and only daughter Shiv (Sarah Snook) in order to secure the deal?
Prior to this week's episode, everything had been coming up Shiv so far in Season 2, with little seemingly standing her way. But there's nothing quite like a Roy family dinner to increase insecurities and cause a momentary lapse in judgement. No one ends up crawling around on their hands and knees oinking for sausages while staying at the Pierce estate, but for Shiv it's just as humiliating when her biggest fear comes to pass. What do the events of this episode mean for Shiv, and which members of the always-plotting Roy family are most likely to undermine her ascent to power now?
“This is real?” Shiv’s own words on the day Logan offered her the keys to the kingdom reveal how much she knows her dad can and has gone back on his word in the past. Kendall was the golden child who was meant to succeed his dad, but Logan didn’t follow through with his retirement in the pilot. A lack of trust is not the best way to enter into this supposed transition period, but Shiv can’t be blamed for thinking this is some sort of test or mind game. Unlike her brothers, she forged a career of her own outside of Waystar, and it's clear Logan respects his daughter more than his three sons, but does this mean he will do as he says?
Early signs pointed to sincerity in this offer, but all of Shiv’s fears played out very publicly when she backed him into a corner and he refused to acknowledge the deal. Strategy is a big part of this weekend away and although all the Roy children go against what their father told them to do, in uncharacteristic fashion Shiv’s meltdown was the most detrimental. Pinky has gone from beloved child to the outcast, a role typically reserved for one of the Roy sons.
Tom is the ultimate wife guy, so he's likely to stand by her side through thick and thin. Still, you have to wonder where is his breaking point? Shiv appears to have all the power in their relationship, including dictating the open marriage activities. We still don’t know a great deal about their origin story, but last season Shiv mentioned her husband saved her when she was a mess. Are we about to get a glimpse of this side of their relationship? They do have one card left in their pocket, as Greg’s (Nicholas Braun) blackmail material could prove to be very handy. It is the illegal activities gift that keeps on giving.
Being thought of as a moron has kicked Roman into action. Logan worked his mind game magic on his youngest son to the point where he enrolled in the management program. Logan notes that he is proud of Roman’s achievements, but also tells him not to mention it as the optics aren’t great. As the jester of the family, Roman finds it hard to be taken seriously, even when he's trying to better himself. Overseeing the satellite launch ended in disaster and his attempt to land Pierce almost tanked the whole thing (the latter is mocked this week in one of Roman’s many moments of humiliation). His sex life, reading habits, and business prowess are all topics of discussion that further undermine him.
At Vaulter he discovered the staff was going to unionize before it took effect giving him the rare upper hand, but it is going to take something huge for his dad to take notice. And when his dad does remember he is there, it isn’t for a positive reason, “Romulus, when you laugh, do it at the same volume as everyone else.”
“Keep clean this weekend, eh killer?” Logan’s “friendly” reminder to his son not to get wasted at the Pierce estate is jaw-dropping in its candor. There is a long list of dos and don'ts for the visiting members of the Roy party, which everyone is quick to ignore. Kendall finds a kindred spirit in fellow addict Naomi Pierce (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), who he quickly bonds with over drugs and sad rich people problems. They are both the screw-ups of their families and Kendall sells a version of his dream in order to get Naomi to go from a hard no to a yes. For all of his many weaknesses and faults, Kendall is pretty good at the business side and secures this important vote. Not that he can ever tell his father the strategy or bask in the fact that he didn’t shit the bed metaphorically when he actually shit the bed. Last week he emphatically told his sister that he wasn’t competition, but it's clear that he didn’t realize she was so close to being the chosen one. Will the siblings align even further now that their dad has done them dirty in a similar fashion?
With so many adversaries, Shiv proved to be her own worst enemy this week. She bad-mouths ATN at dinner aligning herself to the Pierce’s politically, but angering her father in the process. A simple joke over drinks turns into Shiv awkwardly apologizing and it is unnerving to see her this flustered. She makes her excuses mid-way through dinner to get a much-needed confidence boost from Tom, in which he notes that at least she is sitting at the table (take that Roman!). But when her dad acts all coy about naming his heir, she says exactly what is on her mind, “Oh, for fuck’s sake, Dad, just tell them it’s gonna be me.” Tossing this grenade onto this particular dinner is one way to end the festivities as her siblings look on in horror and the Pierce family could do with some popcorn. It is pure self-sabotage as there is no way this was going to end well for Shiv. The ramifications for the rest of the season are huge.
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Emma Fraser has wanted to write about TV since she first watched My So-Called Life in the mid-90s, finally getting her wish over a decade later. Follow her on Twitter at @frazbelina.