What a beautiful day to be trapped in a safe room of varying sizes and luxuries! Almost all of Succession's fourth episode, "Safe Room," takes places at the Waystar Royco headquarters in Manhattan. The building, which houses thousands of employees, and decades of familial tension, provides the perfect environment for a few complete mental breakdowns. There's a shooting, a breakup, and the show's most emotional scene to date. After last week's iconic "boar on the floor" monstrosity, it's clear the show is hitting its stride once again: The kids are fighting, Logan's (Brian Cox) seeing only dollar signs, and Roman (Kieran Culkin) reveals a new kink. (Help.)
After years of pretending she doesn't want it, Shiv’s (Sarah Snook) finally headed into the office for a little “fact-finding” with her dad — and, by default, her brothers (well, technically just Kendall [Jeremy Strong] because Roman is on a little Americana adventure). To use Tom’s (Matthew Macfayden) extremely creepy words, Shiv and her dad can finally “bang!" This is the first step toward Shiv becoming CEO, a position promised to her verbally (let’s take a minute to remember that one should never believe a verbal contract) by Logan in the season premiere.
Father and daughter share a champagne cheers in the morning, welcoming her “to the family.” He makes it clear how not “in” she was before. The most “in” sibling at the moment is Kendall, who is in charge of dispensing his dad’s pills — and thus his life, in a way — and who is casually shop-lifting in his downtime. Gerri (J. Cameron Smith) tells a prodding Shiv that he is stealing “candy” and “vape fluid,” but that Colin (Scott Nicholson), Karolina (Dagmara Dominczyk), and Jess (Juliana Canfield) are all handling it without getting Kendall involved. Protecting his son is one of Logan’s top priorities, in addition to schmoozing (it’s so weird to see the bulldog schmooze) and winning over Pierce Group News’ CEO Rhea Jarrell, played by the killer Holly Hunter. (Pour one out for Broadcast News, one of the best movies about journalism ever made!)
Far from New York City, Roman in currently working on his White Album, a.k.a. attending a management parkway leaders training. He’s finally learning the price of milk, just like dad asked. Unfortunately, instead of learning how to be a “normo” person, he does the following: Bitches to Gerri that he isn’t in the company video enough; mocks, and then befriends an “enigma” of a man named Brian; designs a war-themed roller-coaster that he now wants built; and has some Roman-version of phone sex with Gerri while she eats takeout food on her couch when he can’t get there with his girlfriend Tabitha (Caitlin FitzGerald). That price of milk? Oh, honey, we will never know.
In the midst of his Americana afternoon, Roman’s pulled into a remote ‘safe room’ (an on-site doctor's office) after gun shots are heard in the Waystar Royco office in New York. He’s humbled, but still his out-of-touch cocky self. 30+ years of unchecked privilege can’t be corrected by one afternoon wearing a felt mascot suit in an amusement park.
Meanwhile, Cyd Peach (Jeannie Berlin) plants the idea in Cousin Greg’s head that he is nothing more than Tom’s “farm hand,” a fact that rings truer and truer to our favourite tall cousin as the episode goes on. Greg is actually pretty good at his job, which, yes mostly consists of running random errands for Tom, but he’s smart, driven, and knows how to blackmail! Aren’t we proud?
The straw that breaks the cousin’s back is hearing Tom dismissively talk about hiring a potential Nazi/Nazi sympathiser/Nazi superfan to join the broadcast team at ATN. The final, final straw is that Tom makes him put him use another employee as a foot chair during their meeting. Tom calls it a “foot stool fiesta.”
Of course, the end up in a "panic room" (a large storage closet filled with Cheez-its and water bottles) together after a gun shot is heard on their floor of ATN. That's when the tension reaches breaking point. Greg tells Tom he’s out. He wants to transfer to a different department, one without bullying, shooters, and Nazis, and Tom takes the news badly. He pelts water bottles at Greg, and when a security guard tries to interfere, he screams manically, “THIS IS EXECUTIVE LEVEL BUSINESS.”
After she arrives at Waystar Royco to reject Oedipus Roy (aka Kendall), and Logan’s multi-billion dollar proposition to purchase PGN (I believe her exact words are “Fuck off”), Rhea ends up trapped in a fancy safe room with father and son, along with special guests Shiv and Gerri. The VIPs of WR are trapped in a posh and fully-stocked wood-panelled lounge with big screen TVs, leather couches, and surprisingly good cell service. (Tom's pissed he isn't in the better room.) Their entrapment in a windowless box gives siblings Shiv and Kendall time to play good cop, bad cop, and thus weasel out another meeting out of Rhea regarding the deal. (Rhea says she'll bring the multi-billion dollar offer to the family and see if they can stomach handing over their Pulitzer-prize winning news corporation to a company that has probably-Nazis on their pay roll.)
It also gives them time to fully see each other. Kendall understands that Shiv is vying for a position at the company now that he’s unemployed and injecting herself in big business deals. Shiv realises that her older brother is deeply unwell. His depression and self-loathing radiates off him — he's like Eeyore in an Italian suit. He almost cracks when she corners him to ask what is really going on. In one of the most tender moments ever seen on Succession, the two hug, but he still doesn’t tell her about what happened at her wedding. "I just ask that you take care of me," he tells Shiv, acknowledging that she is the better choice for CEO. "Because if Dad didn't need me, I don't exactly know...what I would be.... for." It's an even more emotional scene than Succession's season 1 finale.
It’s somber and heartbreaking. Kendall : /. But this is good for Shiv — dad supports her, Kendall supports her, and Tom supports her. But it's still a secret, and technically, Gerri's name is still officially in the running, even though it's "not Gerri."
Like Shiv, Willa (Justine Lupe) also steps up this episode. She attends the still-mysterious ex-executive Mo’s funeral with Conor, and tells him that she was a little surprised to hear from Marcia (Hiam Abbass), who told her to talk to Moe’s widow and ask what he told the biographer about Logan. “This is good,” Conor tells her. “They’re involving you in their disgusting little stratagems.” Willa ends up saving Conor’s ass when she sees the biographer at the funeral, ready to take notes on Connor’s sure-to-be-strange eulogy for Mo, real name Lester (yes, his nickname was ‘molester’). She quickly rewrites his outlandish speech to one that is extraordinarily boring and vague, devoid of anything juicy. Welcome to the family, Willa.
Ultimately, the real point of the episode — aside from the upsetting (and immediately brushed aside) information that the source of the gun shot was an ATN employee who died by suicide at their desk — is that we learn how Logan negotiates. We see exactly how he has gotten what he wants all of these years: Money. It's not with charm like Shiv, or his word like Kendall, or his mere existence, like Roman. He speaks dollars and cents. Rather, millions and billions. The final number floated around for Waystar to purchase Pierce is a heart-stopping $24 billion. (For some real-life context, in 2017, Walt Disney Co. announced it was acquiring the entertainment business Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. for $71 billion — along with $14 million in debt). Money talks in media. And it's a language that Logan speaks fluently.
“When I say something will happen, that thing will happen,” he says in front of Rhea. “Right, kids?”
“Right,” Kendall and Shiv say in unison. As if they had any other choice but to agree.
Cousin Greg Corner
Wow — what a breakup. After a season and a half of Tom and Greg being besties, Greg is pulling the plug. He wants to out of ATN, out from under Tom’s latte-shaped shadow, and to actually start a career of his own at Waystar. Or, at very least, he wants to not work for a controversial, racist, and skewed news company. Tom takes the breakup very hard, and basically cries. Tom tears up again out, this time from laughing, when he realises that Greg is *trying* to blackmail him with information about the cruise: Greg kept a few of the documents for collateral, as one should, and he floats the idea of blackmailing Tom…to Tom.
“I accept your blackmail,” Tom tells him. As a reward, Tom gives him a “ton more money, nice new office.” Greg’s still stuck at ATN with the promotion, but at least he’s no longer Tom’s bitch.
Succession is airing on Sky Atlantic on Mondays at 9pm and is available on Now TV