Succession: “Return” recap and episode awards

Right now there is only one single hour of television where I can guarantee that I will be on pins and needles the entire time. One hour where I will feel tense and uncomfortable regardless of the outcome.  

In this week’s episode of the dramady Succession, Return, Logan Roy — the narcissistic patriarch of the Roy family empire – continued to show that he will throw anyone under the bus for his own good. This includes, but is not limited to, his own flesh and blood. Sometimes, in fact, it is especially those who contain his own genetics that he seeks to emotionally disparage for his own pleasure.

When his arch rival’s tabloid publishes a cover story claiming that the British waiter from Shiv’s wedding in fact committed suicide as a result of Logan’s bullying — and not Kendall’s desire to find more snow — he is advised to offer a proxy of an olive branch to the victim’s family.

This means a trip to the UK is in order.

Conveniently, he can make the trip an efficient one and roll some business into his face-saving mission.

This happens because Gerri and other Roy family advisers catch wind that the board members they were counting on for backing Logan to stay in charge of the company may not be as solidly firm in his favor as originally expected.

This list of shaky voters includes Logan’s ex-wife, the ever-terrible Caroline Collingwood – mother of the three youngest Roy children.

In a callous and yet not surprising move, Logan solicits the assistance of Kendall and Roman to traverse the Pacific ocean and negotiate on his behalf to earn her vote of confidence.

Even though Shiv is born of the same mother, Logan does not reach out to her regarding this family adventure and she has to find out about the mission second hand. Ultimately, she ends up in England and forces herself into the picture.

After her pop-off during the Argestes panel, Shiv is high up on Logan’s extensive shit list and desperately needs to pull herself out of that pit if she still wants to be the heir to the throne.

The scenes in this episode with the Roy kids and their mother are heart wrenching and uncomfortable. As Logan’s negotiation representatives, it is clear that Caroline couldn’t care less about her actual children, but is willing to make then suffer as long as it causes an inconvenience to her aging ex-husband. Ultimately, she uses her children as pawns in the negotiation, making Logan choose between giving up a $150 million house in the Hamptons that he adores, and giving up his kids at Christmastime.

I’ll let you guess which side of that coin he chooses. Hint: there will be annual travel involved for everyone but the elder Roy.

Not only is Roy auctioning off his children’s holiday time, but he is also playing proverbial chess with his new aid Rhea Jarrell. Yup, the same Rhea that was recently fired by Nan Pierce for her part in back channel negotiations with Logan regarding the attempted merger of the two family’s enterprises.

In addition to looping Rhea in on family business, he now is sleeping with her – a likely partially political move in which it is hard to discern who emerges with the most power.

Logan is not even discrete with this unsavory relationship. Roman and Kendall immediately catch on to the extra-curricular activities.

In an awkward power move, Rhea invites Shiv to lunch to essentially ask her permission to bed her father. However, Rhea also uses that opportunity to play chess by convincing Shiv to begin angling for a high up position in PGM to leverage against Logan should he threaten to renege on his previous promise to name Shiv as his successor.

Shiv shows her true naivety by falling for the bait.

Somehow, there wasn’t a huge red flag in her mind when Rhea offered to put in a good word for her with her former employers. Shiv is an incredibly intelligent character but sometimes fails to use her common sense when assuming that others also have her best in mind.

Later, when Shiv confronts Logan and asks if she is still first in line for the Roy kingdom, he reveals that he is aware of this plan of hers and that she is flirting with the enemy. Ironically, her corporate flirting is likely less harmful and potentially disastrous than his uptick in interaction with Rhea.

Back stateside, there is ample Tom and Greg drama.

It begins when internal investigators begin to pry into the accusations regarding sexual misconduct in cruises. While being questioned by attorneys, Tom is blatantly asked if he has destroyed or has knowledge of documents being destroyed for the purposes of covering up misconduct.

Visibly uncomfortable, he requests a potty break to find his wife in hopes of reassurance that things will be ok and that he won’t end up being cooked as the family scapegoat for dinner. Shiv, in typical fashion, does not assuage his fears. She is solely concerned about her father and his mission to England and figuring out why she was not invited on the operation.

Not finding the affirmation that he needs to calm his nerves, Tom decides to go after his favorite human punching bag – cousin Gregory the Egg!

Knowing that Greg is withholding copies of incriminating documents, Tom shows up at Greg’s apartment to proclaim to Greg that he will share this secret with Logan if Greg does not destroy the evidence. Greg complies and Tom stays at Greg’s apartment for the night until the next morning when they travel together to the office, where Greg has cleverly stashed the documents in a manila envelop marked “secret”.

Oh Greg.

In a clever move of self-preservation, Greg snatches some gasoline-soaked and crinkled documents off the fire pit when Tom is inside searching for a lighter.

Ole Greg the egg lives to fight another day.

Power Player of the Week

Rhea is taking full advantage of Shiv’s miscue at the recent corporate summit by weaseling her way into the good graces (and bedroom) of Logan. In a short time, she has made a strong push into the inner circle of trust for Logan, who at the end of the episode confides in her that it might be best if he looked outside of the family for his successor. This makes Rhea the power player of the week.

Pawn of the Week

Once again, Kendall served as a begrudging human doormat for his father. The way that Logan forced Kendall to travel to the murdered boy’s house and instructed him to physically accompany him into the house because he couldn’t leave him in the car like a “Labrador” was shameful and demoralizing. 

One of the more humanizing and empathetic moments from anyone in the out of touch Roy family occured when Kendall accepted a glass of water from the boy’s uncle and then washed the glass out himself. It was clear that Kendall’s guilty conscious was eating him alive. Later that night he would take a drug and alcohol-induced cab ride back to the same boy’s house and deposit a large amount of money into the mail slot of the front door. There is no way that this act of guilt/kindness doesn’t come back to haunt him.

That night he attempts to have a heart-to-heart discussion – in which he can admit his part in the boy’s murder — with his mother. Her response is that she would rather have a discussion of that magnitude in the morning. The saddest part of the episode might have been Kendall sitting alone the next morning, reading a crudely written note from his mum, saying that she had other pressing matters to attend to. It’s cool though. She said she was sorry.

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