Succession season 2, episode 4 recap: Safe Room


In episode 204 of HBO’s Succession, Waystar Royco is on lockdown over a possible threat, a newscaster is a Nazi and Cousin Greg gets pelted with water bottles.

After the previous Succession episode gave us a rousing (and humiliating) game called “Boar on the Floor,” one might expect the next episode to wind things down, right? Not quite. Now Logan Roy (Brian Cox) knows his son Roman (Kieran Culkin) talked with Naomi Pierce (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) about a takeover of their company, PGM. This means Roman’s in the doghouse, so to speak. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, Logan’s other unfortunate son, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), calls PGM’s CEO, Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter) about a meeting. Will Waystar Royco acquire PGM to win the proxy battle?

Roman’s management training

To punish Roman, Logan’s sent him to management training. There he watches a Roy family-narrated video about how Waystar Royco’s great for sinking its talons into entertainment, news and resort industries. However, much to Roman’s annoyance, his voice has been cut from the training video. Roman doesn’t even want to admit his identity when speaking with theme park mascot Brian (Zach Cherry).

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Roman gives himself the Flintstonian name “Ron Rockstone.” When Roman dons a turkey mascot uniform, he insults a mom and dad (Cate Bottiglione and Ken Perlstein). This anger, of course, harks back to Roman’s previous disdain for the anthropomorphic bird. In any case, Roman and Zach’s pitch for a new ride wins a contest. There’s also a hint that, if pressed, Roman can become more comfortable around regular, non-rich people.

The Ravenhead situation

Succession deals with a lot of iffy human relationships. In fact, Kendall is still robotic in his mannerisms and speech, thanks largely to his father blackmailing him over a car accident death last season. Now a new scandal emerges: ATN News may have a genuine white supremacist news anchor.

Cyd Peach (Jeannie Berlin) is quick to defend his position at the network, but Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) has to investigate the allegations against Mark Ravenhead (Zack Robidas). As his wife, Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook), watches the initial meeting on the matter, they discuss the protesters and counter-protesters, and how the ADL and “Antifa” are against Ravenhead. They describe the network as being under siege.

So, is Ravenhead a fascist? He got married at Raven’s Nest, Hitler’s retreat in Bavaria. Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) notes Ravenhead even named his dog after Hitler’s dog, “Blondi.” When Tom meets with Ravenhead, he says he was never a member of the Nazi party, that the dog’s name has a different spelling but that he has read Mein Kampf numerous times (which prompts Tom to ask, ” Are there Easter eggs in there you didn’t get the first time?”). Tom then asks him about WWII. In assessing the scale of the tragedy, Ravenhead only notes that Europe was decimated, noting the deaths of several million Germans, 20 million Russians, and 5 million Poles. Tom says, “Seems you’re short a few million.”

Connor:  Flirting with a wolf pack at a funeral

This season of Succession has focused a little more on Connor Roy (Alan Ruck), who now attends a funeral of a guy called “Mo” with his girlfriend, Willa (Justine Lupe). They’re attending to make political connections for Connor’s Presidential run. Things go awkwardly, however. Through an awkward exchange, Willa learns the guy’s name is Lester, not “Mo,” and that Connor calls him that because he was a “mo-lester.” On that note, Willa warns Connor not to consult with the so-called “wolf pack,” who may have engaged in similar behavior. Not only could it tarnish his political dream but himself, his family and her as well.

Unfortunately for them, Michelle Pantsil ( Jessica Hecht) is also there. While she insists she’s not there on business, Connor tailors his eulogy for Mo to avoid ending up in her unauthorized biography of the Roy family. Connor’s speech is a ridiculously generic, purely factual one, and one of the funniest moments of the season so far.

The PGM meeting on lockdown

Just before meeting with Rhea Jarrell, Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron) mentions to Shiv that Kendall has been shoplifting (most likely to affirm his independent power in the world, after being under his father’s control). Shiv later tells Ken she’s not in competition with him. It may help his (and Logan’s) meeting with Jarrell. Although she tells them to “f*** off” with the acquisition, they bring her lunch. However, before Jarrell can leave, it’s apparent that there’s an active shooter on the premises, and people scatter to designated safe rooms. In a rare moment of concern, Logan actually asks where Kendall is (he goes to the roof, where he seems lost in thought).

Meanwhile, in their own safe room, Greg, Tom, and numerous others are secured…or are there? Greg gets paranoid, fearing that “an attack child” could fit through the window slot above the door, or that poison gas could be piped into the space. Some distance away, Roman is also brought to a secure location, in case of a concerted attack on the Roys. During the panic, Greg mentions “breaking up” with Tom, citing his own dislike of ATN, the use of human furniture, verbal assaults, physical humiliations, Nazi stuff (Ravenhead) and now shooters.

Rather than stay an Executive Assistant, Greg proposes a business open relationship. Tom, who has been humiliated by Shiv’s infidelity and professional one-upmanship, pelts Greg with water bottles out of anger. It becomes clear that Tom considers Greg one of his few friends, and doesn’t know how to cope with his feelings. Before things escalate, it’s learned that there wasn’t a spree shooter but that the ATN segment producer committed suicide.

There is a potential PGN deal, though. Maybe it was the excitement of the lockdown, but Jarrell seems to tacitly accept a deal with Waystar Royco. They offer to acquire it for over 20 billion dollars, adding that they can keep their brand, their editors and their people. Logan uses frank language, saying “I’m a hairy, old bastard who everybody hates,” but assures her that, “When I say something will happen, that thing will happen. They also agree to get rid of Ravenhead, the “Walmart Mussolini.” Jarrell agrees to mention all this to her people at PGN.

Weird relationship stuff

Succession delves into some strange relationship stuff, too. Roman calls Tabitha (Caitlin FitzGerald) for some botched phone sex. Later he calls Gerri, telling her he wants to build the ride he came up with at management training. She rejects the idea, which turns him on. She insults him further, calling him “a revolting little worm,” while he starts — how should one say this? — taking care of himself.

In a markedly less sexual scene, Tom apologizes to Greg. However, Greg gets a little kinky in his own way, mentioning destroying documents for the Waystar Royco cruise line at Tom’s request. He hints at a blackmail possibility, to which Tom says, “I accept your blackmail. You can throw away the training bra.” When Greg adds that he’ll never reveal where the papers are, Tom lovingly says, “You slimeball!” Somehow this is almost kinkier than what Roman did!

dark. Next. Succession: Ranking the members of the Roy Family

Finally, Shiv confronts Kendall about his drugs, his shoplifting, and the takeover bid. He cries a little as he hugs her, saying, “If dad didn’t need me right now, I don’t know exactly what I’d be for.” It’s a poignant moment, most likely not a power move. Kendall embraces opportunities to be normal but knows it can’t be a regular experience under his family’s rule.

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