Succession season 1, episode 7 recap: ‘Austerlitz’


In episode 7 of HBO’s Succession, the Roy family spins even further out of control, as they meet for a supposed group therapy session. Yikes!

By this point in Succession, it’s well established that the Roys are dysfunctional. In fact, Logan Roy (Brian Cox) is in full damage control mode. He arranges for his kids to meet with him at Connor’s New Mexico ranch. Although Connor (Alan Ruck) has hope for the family, hope is no guarantee.

The obstacles to true family stability are present, even under the best circumstances. However, with Logan, in particular, everything is a game, and everyone else knows this. There is no moment of putting bias aside. Logan dismisses his son Kendall’s rehab stay like he was in a “nuthouse.” Of course, for Ken (Jeremy Strong), the real nuthouse is his family.

The media empire Waystar Royco is an obstacle to sanity, too. As the episode begins, a random person throws a bottle of urine at Logan. Logan is otherwise constantly nitpicked and mocked. His new and unwanted business associate, Stewy (Arian Moayed) makes fun of Logan for clinging to conventional television. He also seems concerned about Waystar Royco’s image.

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None of this sits well with Logan, who just wants to do what he wants. Now, his family’s getting in the way, and other media conglomerates are well aware of it. Being strategic, he at one point refers to the meeting as “operation black sheep.”

Kendall, Making a Mess for Himself

In the last episode of Succession, Kendall’s attempt to dethrone his father failed. In the process, Ken was fired, along with anyone else who tried to remove Logan as the leader. Now, quite predictably, Kendall is suing his father. The rift is stronger than that, though. When approached by his brother Roman (Kieran Culkin) about the family meeting, he shuts the door on him — and ostensibly his family.

Ken’s wife Rava (Natalie Gold), thinks he may be on drugs again. In fact, Ken definitely goes back into that world, and with a vengeance. He does go to New Mexico, but not so much to meet up with his family. He finds a group of party people and says he’s “interested in becoming a meth head.”

What inspires him to go this far? His father planted stories of his return to drug use. When he finally confronts his father again, Ken calls him a high-class hooker, for his business strategy of “seducing Presidents.” He also says his father is jealous of what he’s given his own kids. In return, Logan calls him a “nobody” — part of his relentless pattern of dismissing his son.

Shiv’s Shifting Alliances

Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook, photo credit: Ursula Coyote/HBO

A major aspect of this episode is Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook), and big changes in her life and career.  She offers some big changes in Succession‘s dynamics. For one thing, she’s considering switching candidates as a Political Consultant. Who’s her new choice? Gil Eavis (Eric Bogosian), who is a long-time critic of the Roys’ media empire. Politically, Gil is said to be about “class war.” Although she dismisses him as “jejune,” the possibility of challenging her father no doubt inspires her.

If that’s not enough, she gets awfully close to her ex, Nate Sofrelli (Ashley Zukerman). In fact, he often tries to seduce her, and she’s not quick to reject the offers. So, a psychological portrait of Shiv is being constructed here. Like her father, she is not particularly loyal, unless it appeals to her and makes strategic sense. So, as she calls the group therapy meeting a “photo opportunity,” it’s a bit of a mislead.

Yes, from Logan’s perspective, it is about good PR. However, it’s not like she couldn’t have treated it differently, at least for other family members present. Instead, she sort of mirrors her father’s attitude and perspective, and fails to recognize any value in the whole thing. So, while Shiv may be right, she’s sort of right in the wrong way on Succession.

Indeed, Logan understandably thinks she knew about the so-called “coup” against him. The overall atmosphere is one of paranoia, jealousy, and distrust. That being said, Shiv — like her brothers — at least has a sense of humor. For example, she says her father “doesn’t trust water because it’s too wishy-washy.”

This is partly why Gil Eavis calls Shiv the “acceptable face of the worst family in America.” Of course, she retaliates by calling Gil “Stalin in a plaid shirt.” Complications aside, Nate and Gil want her on the team. Though Shiv says Gil’s too radical, she seems attracted to the prospect of “betraying” her father — knowing this job will be seen as “betrayal.”

At this point, going to war with her family may even be her best option, as a way of distancing herself from them image-wise, but also separating from their craziness. To add insult to injury, though, she actually does cheat on her fiancé, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen). While this is arguably unscrupulous, her motivations are sort of obvious.  They probably don’t solely involve advancing her career.  In fact, that seems to be what Tom is for.

When she returns from her murky activities, Shiv asks how the “fake therapy” is going. “Any pretend breakthroughs? Any good performances?” she asks. Because Logan had her followed, he knows about Gil (and presumably about Nate, too). Logan feels betrayed by shiv, calling it “rebellion” and “sabotage.” Because Gil is one of his worst enemies, he accuses his daughter of cowardice. In other words, Logan can’t see beyond his own outrage and sees nothing wrong about his own behaviors and suspicions.

Festival of Grievances

Such therapy can be sincere but easily falls apart. Roman jokes about accusing Connor of molesting him as a child — which Connor doesn’t like, for obvious reasons. Connor is ridiculous in his own right. He claims rifts in his family have consequences like a “butterfly effect,” and this butterfly has huge wings. Logan dismisses the whole thing — which he threw together — as a “festival of grievances.”

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The Therapist, Dr. Alon Parfit (Griffin Dunne) dives head first in the shallow end of Connor Roy’s pool, losing some front teeth. Also,  everyone seems to think Connor’s girlfriend Willa (Justine Lupe) is a prostitute. The whole thing is a mess, but it’s a fun mess to watch.

What do you think of this episode of Succession? Let us know in the comments!