‘Succession’ Season 2 Finale Recap: So Which of Us Should We Sacrifice?’
[Spoilers ahead for Season Two of HBO’s Succession]
If you think your family gatherings are awkward, try hanging out with the Logan Roy clan when business gets bad. This group can sit and chat about whom they should plunge into disgrace (and possible jail time) as if they were discussing what to have for dinner.
After the acidic penultimate episode of Succession’s second season, you knew the finale would be a doozy. Still, this episode may have exceeded the darkest expectations fans had for a closer.
Even though you knew Logan (Brian Cox) had a “blood sacrifice” on his mind, you probably didn’t see the cruise-ship lightning-round coming. There’s just something chilling about watching people sell out their own husband/brother/sister so casually.
But that’s been the specialty of Succession, and the show hit a glorious peak late in Season Two. Just before signing off, showrunner Jesse Armstrong and his team delivered a plot twist that should keep people talking until the next installment arrives.
The Roys needed ‘a head on a spike.’ So they heard everyone’s pitch.
In the Roy family, there isn’t a great deal of backstabbing. This bunch is more likely to announce they’re stabbing you while plunging a knife into your guts, maintaining eye contact the entire time.
And that’s what we got from the meeting around the table on the cruise ship. At first, Logan suggests he be the fall guy, knowing full well the sycophants seated around him would reject his proposition. “You may be right,” he replies quickly. “So I need one meaningful skull to wave.”
They start with the easy ones. Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) suggest the executives at the table, but their skulls aren’t prominent enough. So they zero in on Tom (Matthew Macfayden), a “swell guy” whom the Roy brothers say they love but, “human emotions extracted,” don’t mind taking the fall.
If Tom wasn’t feeling bad enough, he really gets sunk when his wife, potential successor Shiv (Sarah Snook), agrees that “Tom looks logical.” As he sputters in disbelief, Shiv elaborates. “I’m saying, you’re like family, which is good, but also not.”
But there’s always an insult to pile on top of mortal wounds on Succession. After that humiliation, they decide Tom isn’t important enough. “No offense,” Kendall says. Even if they add on “Greg sprinkles,” they can’t make it work. (“Greg sprinkles?” Greg repeats in a hilarious moment.)
Kendall stole the show in a glorious final twist.
As Logan contemplates life without control of his company, his last-ditch backup plans fall apart. Roman’s effort to take the company private got lost in a coup, then Logan and Kendall’s attempt to stop a shareholder revolt fell through, too.
Back in blood-sacrifice mode, Logan decides it must be Kendall, and he briefs his son on how it will happen. If it’s possible to feel badly for a mercenary like Kendall Roy, viewers got their chance when Logan won’t even hug him as he sends him off to exile.
“You’re not a killer,” Logan tells a teary-eyed Kendall, explaining why he couldn’t have been CEO, anyhow. “You have to be a killer.”
Before the episode’s end, we remember that Kendall does have some killer in him. Expected to make a statement accepting blame for the epic scandal, Kendall instead points the finger back at his father.
“The truth is, my father is a malignant presence — a bully and a liar ,” Kendall tells the press. “And he was fully personally aware of these events for many years and made efforts to hide and cover up.”
So we’re back to Kendall trying to force Logan out of power. (In Season One, he made two failed attempts.) However, this time, it’s happening in public, on TV, and the retribution Kendall experienced after the earlier betrayals will be nothing compared to the revenge Logan will likely exact on his son this time.
But we’ll have to wait until Season Three for that.