Succession season 2, episode 5 recap: Tern Haven


In episode 205 of HBO’s Succession, the Roy family has dinner with the Pierces to discuss a possible buyout. The Roys win, but at what cost?

Previously on Succession, Waystar Royco was on lockdown over a possible threat, a newscaster was outed as a likely Nazi sympathizer and Cousin Greg was pelted with water bottles.  Things didn’t escalate as much as feared, however. The active-shooter scare was actually an office suicide. Even Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) tries to put a positive spin on things. He returns from his business training — working in the “salt mines” with “Johnny Lunchpails” — joking that he no longer speaks 1 percent.

However, as the Roys gather to discuss meeting the Pierces about a possible buyout, Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) warn all attendees to reel in their personality flaws. They are not to discuss suspected Nazi newscaster, Mark Ravenhead (Zack Robidas). Also off the topical menu: ATN News in general, Israel, and their ownership of Brightstar Amusement Park. When Roman jokes about Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) being an addict, it hints at trouble ahead. On that note, Logan tells Ken to “keep clean.”

The big meet-up

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It isn’t long before the Pierces meet the Roys. We get more familiar with Nan Pierce (Cherry Jones), and get the impression of the Pierces being more refined than the Roys. To impress them, Kendall seems to lie about his late arrival, claiming he was “volunteering” somewhere (though he isn’t specific). After drinking a round of “Hank Pierce’s Break Bumper,” Logan uncharacteristically lays on the charm. He says that, despite whatever disagreements they may have philosophically, “Your outlets have been essential to the functioning of our grand republic.” This prompts Connor Roy (Alan Ruck) to quip: “I like this dad. Why couldn’t this dad be dad?”

Unfortunately, Siobhan “Shiv” Roy (Sarah Snook) makes fun of Mark Pierce (Jeremy Shamos) for getting a second Ph.D. — implying that he’s a spoiled, hoity-toity, overly intellectual sort. Logan also scolds Connor for his political disagreements with Maxim Pierce (Mark Linn-Baker). Connor is told to know his role, and Roman is instructed to not laugh louder than everyone else.

Feast of dysfunction

Of course, it wouldn’t be Succession without a dysfunctional dinner. It begins with a Shakespeare quote which makes Roman roll his eyes. Roman lies about being literate, saying he read a book called “Electric Circus.” Others Google it and find no such book (in reality, there are at least some albums with “Electric Circus” in the title, Electric Circus by rapper Common and Inside the Electric Circus by the metal band, W.A.S.P.). Connor keeps floundering with Maxim, with his lack of political knowledge-making Maxim joke, “Clear some space on Mt. Rushmore, folks!” It’s an interesting moment for Connor, an aspiring Presidential candidate, and the Roy closest to wanting to appear like Mark Piece.

Then, Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter) brings up the “white nationalist elephant in the room” called Ravenhead. It also gets down to basic issues, such as money versus virtue. Oddly enough, the Roys almost come out looking better here, admitting that they’re spoiled billionaires. In contrast, the Pierces seem to be in denial, wishing to appear like “progressive” billionaires. As an example,
Tom Wamsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) jokes about buying ham from the store solely with his environmental concern. This isn’t to say Tom is completely insensitive, at least in his relationships. In a brief, semi-private meeting in the hall, he asks his wife Shiv to stop beating up on him.

The dinner gets even more awkward when Tabitha (Caitlin FitzGerald) publicly announces she and Roman aren’t getting it on. However, the real bombshell moment is from Shiv, who announces that she’ll be taking over the family business, Waystar Royco. This severely agitates Logan, who has been wishy-washy on whether she’ll be the real successor. It’s also apparent that Logan and his wife Marcia (Hiam Abbass) aren’t getting along, as he shouts at her: “Will you stop?”

After-dinner stargaze (relationship stuff)

On the bright side, some people are getting along somewhat. Naomi Pierce (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) bonds with Kendall because they’re both in recovery. In fact, a few sparks seem to fly. They agree to do illegal drugs together and get drunk in Ken’s helicopter. He even starts it at one point, which scares her. After they make out a bit, she mentions her car accident bandied about in Roy family-owned tabloids. Eventually, Ken gets a strategic advantage, advising Naomi to “take the money, get out and be free.” Meanwhile, Tom tells Shiv that her announcing herself as CEO was “the most Roy thing I have ever seen.”

Succession also looks deeper into Roman Roy’s weird sexual proclivities. Tabitha assures him, “I’m not uninterested in solving you.” However, she becomes less interested after he wants to imagine her dead in order to be turned on. While it’s a strong hint at necrophilia, it could also be that Roman requires shame in order to be satisfied. On that note, he meets Gerri in another room. He laments that his future’s been “Hindenburged, oh the Roman-ity.” She ends up ridiculing him, calling him an animal, commanding him to get in the bathroom. He “takes care of himself” as she insults him. While that’s embarrassing, it’s at least intentional. Ken actually poops the bed!

A tentative deal

Despite all the mess (literal and figurative), the two families finally discuss terms of a prospective deal. Though Nan insists their network helped remove the Berlin Wall, Naomi believes a sale is needed. Logan says he could go up to $25 billion, but it would have to be fast-tracked. The Pierces insist on ironclad editorial protections, that Tom no longer be in charge of ATN, and also that Shiv be Waystar Royco’s new CEO. Logan thinks they’re overstepping their bounds, refusing to declare Shiv in charge.

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Although it seems to wreck the deal, the Pierces change their minds sometime later. Although Shiv isn’t happy about it, there is a celebration. When Cousin Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) shows up, Logan is in high spirits, calling him a “beautiful Ichabod Crane.” It’s a classic Succession moment.

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