‘Succession’: Is Shiv the Best Candidate to Take Over the Roy Empire?

[SPOILERS FOR ALL OF ‘SUCCESSION’ SEASON 2 AHEAD]

Coming up on the Season 2 finale of HBO’s Succession, fans still have a lot of questions to be answered. The list begins with the dark words Logan Roy (Brian Cox) muttered at the end of the penultimate episode (the season’s ninth).

Sitting with his daughter Shiv (Sarah Snook) and speaking in a low voice, Logan reflects on the performance of Kendall (Jeremy Strong) in front of the Senate committee. In brief, Logan thinks the company is so damaged that Kendall’s line of attack (partisanship! a biased media!) won’t be enough.

No, Logan thinks “a blood sacrifice” will be needed to retain control of Waystar-Royco. Shiv, smiling along with a smirk on her face, seems to be calculating what she’ll gain from one of her brothers being fed to the wolves.

After all, Rhea (Holly Hunter) just walked away from the CEO job. If Shiv wants to improve her chances of taking over, a little herd-thinning wouldn’t hurt. The thing is, given Shiv’s back-channel efforts to save the company from scandal, she may no longer be the best candidate for the job.

Shiv’s handling of the whistleblower could doom any potential run as CEO.

Matthew Macfadyen and Sarah Snook attend the “Succession” FYC Event at Time Warner Center on April 17, 2019 in New York City. | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Logan Roy is a man who seems to enjoy playing his children against one another, and he isn’t above doing the same with spouses and anyone else he might find useful. So when he sent off Shiv and Rhea to talk down the whistleblower in Episode Nine, it makes sense for two reasons.

One, Logan needs the woman (a clear victim) to back down for the good of his company. But there’s more to it. He also wanted to play Shiv against Rhea. Whichever one agreed to do it (it was Shiv) would show herself as more useful in some ways.

However, when Shiv handles the whistleblower, she also compromises herself. At that point, both Logan and Rhea know what she did. And we can see both of them using that dirt against her in the future. (On Succession, no one is above anything.)

So Shiv might have set herself up as both short-term winner and long-term loser.

Choosing Shiv also has potential downsides for Logan.

Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook) and Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter) have a fleeting pleasant moment. | HBO

While Logan has enough dirt on Shiv to keep her in his pocket on most levels, she presents risks for him as well. For example, if the ATN “style” fell out of fashion, it wouldn’t be hard to see Shiv pushing company toward real news for a change.

For a man who prides himself on running the sort of network Shep Smith would suddenly quit, that would be terrible for Logan. What’s more, given Shiv’s run on the campaign of a Bernie Sanders-esque character, it’s clear she has no problem adapting to whichever way the wind’s blowing.

At the same time, Shiv’s gender makes her look good to Logan at a time when a sexual-exploitation scandal threatens him. And let’s not forget Logan’s other “internal” options (i.e., Roman and Kendall).

When the talent pool is so thin — and no serious person would even consider Connor, the eldest son — Shiv may look better than ever to Logan.

Also see‘Succession’ S2 Episode 9 Recap: The Roys Come Under Heavy Fire as Rhea Wises Up