Succession season 2, episode 9 recap: DC


In episode 209 of HBO’s Succession, Waystar Royco has Greg, Tom, and others to testify before Congress. Also, Shiv helps avert damaging testimony from a victim.

Previously on Succession, a whistleblower emerged, Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Logan (Brian Cox) made a tentative peace, Rhea (Holly Hunter) gained power, Greg (Nicholas Braun) considered making a “Grexit” and Ken (Jeremy Strong) rapped about his mighty dad. This episode doesn’t have a restrained tone, either. It begins with the higher-ups at Waystar Royco chanting against a whistleblower named James Weissel (and they call him “weasel”).

While Weissel does an interview about the sex/murder/coverup scandal on Waystar’s cruise line, Logan heads out for a walk, presumably for some fresh air. The question is secretly weighing heavily on people’s minds: Is Waystar Royco a cesspool?

The man in charge of the cruise lines, Lester McClintock, not only covered up sexual harassment accusations, but also unexplained deaths — ostensibly of women who wouldn’t stay silent. These apparently include “sex workers” and “illegal immigrants.” Hugo Baker (Fisher Stevens) says the scandal is bad and, to save face, no one should underplay it.

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Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron) insists that they knew nothing, and many at Waystar think Sandy Furness (Larry Pine) and Stewy Hosseini (Arian Moayed) are engineering press attention on the scandal, to make it easier to take over the company. While this is totally plausible, it doesn’t make it easier to accept Waystar’s insider notion of pinning the whole scandal on Bill Lockheart (Mark Blum), despite having no evidence of complicity. It’s a reminder that, when the chips are down, it’s always good for a company to have the “fall guy.”

C-SPAN filler and Roman’s hostage crisis

Succession often finds humor in the little moments, such as Greg having freshly turned down a quarter of a billion dollars in inheritance money, just to end up in a Congressional hot seat. When Greg realizes he may still get 5 million from his grandpa, Connor Roy (Alan Ruck), in his infinite wisdom, says 5 million isn’t enough! Meanwhile, Hugo Baker wants Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) and Gerri Kellman to represent Waystar Royco — an obvious, weird allusion to the cat and mouse cartoon, Tom & Jerry.

Also, a worried Logan wants Roman (Kieran Culkin) to chase down 10 billion in “sovereign wealth money,” especially as Rhea Jarrell seems iffy about taking over as CEO. Though Jarrell is told that “hearings happen every day” and it’s just “C-SPAN filler,” Roman seems to procure a deal with Eduard Asgarov (Babak Tafti). However, Roman, Laird (Danny Huston) and Karl (David Rasche) also seem to narrowly avoid a hostage crisis (details are scarce on what it’s actually about, though).

As the Congressional hearing begins, it seems Bill Lockheart will not be the focus. In fact, Tom is encouraged by Hugo to filibuster, making him bear much of the focus. The theory is, the more time he can spend diverting the investigation, the longer Waystar Royco has to strategize.

However, the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation seem to mean business — especially Gil Eavis (Eric Bogosian), who has gained political capital from publicly going after Waystar before. Tom fumbles the ball regarding Lester McClintock, saying he wasn’t aware of the accusations against Lester, despite the man’s nickname as “Mo” (as in Mo-Lester). Though Tom calls it an off-color joke due to Lester’s supposed creepy vibe, it seems Eavis isn’t buying it.

When Gerri speaks, she says she was unaware of a “Thanksgiving data cleanup” (though we saw Greg shredding documents in season 1, and yet again this season).  When Greg speaks, he is very nervous, even saying he doesn’t know Tom! However, Eavis mentions an e-mail exchange between them titled, “You can’t make a Tomlette without breaking some Greggs.”

Other interesting Succession elements emerge, such as Tom using a human being as a footstool. Thanks to such developments, Kendall Roy is worried that Sandy and Stewy are looking good to the shareholders. In fact, Shiv is sent to meet Eavis, whose campaign she used to work for. She says James Weissel is scandalous, then offers Bill as a scapegoat. Ultimately, this effort isn’t successful, but Shiv ends up meeting Kira (Sally Murphy), a cruise ship victim and talking her out of testifying!

Should ATN be the Roy’s ATM?

This Succession episode also examines the nature of corporate media, wherein people can uniquely profit from the news. When Eavis asks if ATN news should function as Logan Roy’s ATM, Ken Roy interjects that all news in America is private, and if he wants state-sponsored media, he’d have to go to China or Russia for that. While it’s a win for the Roys, it’s only because Eavis doesn’t go after the whole conflict of interest aspect of such ownership, which is equally as present in private ownership as it would be in publicly owned broadcasting.

Nevertheless, Eavis says “Exploitation is at the heart of your business model.” When he alludes to “shadow logs” on the cruise ships (which even sounds like a media buzzword), Logan defers to Kendall again. Kendall says that Gil doesn’t like his father, adding that “no groveling will be low enough” to win Gil’s favor at this point.

The freaky thing is, Kendall is sort of right about this. It would be a sort of show trial, with someone like Eavis having clearly made up their mind. It may not let a company off the hook for its scandals, but it’s obviously meant as a smear campaign.

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It’s similar to what Shiv says to Kira, about her testimony is the only thing she’ll be known for, and that she’ll receive undue harassment for coming forward — whether or not her (hypothetical) accusations are based in truth. Just as Kira backed out, so does Rhea, as she “can’t hack the hate.” This additional setback helps Logan realize the need for an additional “blood sacrifice,” to purge Waystar Royco of further negative scrutiny. Who will be the fall guy?

What are your thoughts on this Succession episode? Let us know in the comments!