The second season of Succession ended just like it began: With everyone trapped in a Logan Roy (Brian Cox) property, tensely waiting for him to decide which of them is worthy (or not) of leading his company. And with everyone floating at sea in Logan’s all-black yacht, the stakes have never felt higher. So high in fact that a child is sacrificed to safe the company. That child? Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong). Well, almost.
Once again, Kendall is faced with bearing his father's burden. Because of his standout moment during the hearings in episode 9, “DC,” Logan says he's proved to be the ideal sacrifice for the company and for his daddy. As Succession Twitter joked all week in response to a spoof on the show’s opening song, Kendall finally got to kiss daddy. Little did Logan know, it was a big "fuck off" kiss of death.
Titled “This Is Not For Tears,” the finale held many references echoing back to this season’s premiere, as well as season one’s finale. Kendall and Logan's tumultuous relationship is put to the test, and ultimately redefined in the episode's final moments. Unbeknownst to anyone except Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), Kendall hangs Logan out to dry during a live press conference which was set up so he could take the blame for the company's cruise fiasco. A puppet no more, Kendall throws his dad under the bus. And it's clear Logan can’t help but be a little bit proud of his son for finally be a “killer.”
The final seconds of the episode are foreshadowed a bit during the final conversation between Logan and Kendall. Kendall finally asks the question that’s been on his mind since the beginning of the series. “Did you ever think I could do it?,” he asks his dad about his chances at being CEO. “You’re smart, you’re good, but I just don’t know…,” Logan responds, adding: “You’re not a killer. You have to be a killer. But nowadays, maybe you don’t. I don’t know. Okay. Are we good? Are you good?”
Most of the episode is spent floating around the Mediterranean in Logan's luxurious black yacht, which has recently been grotesquely remodelled under Marcia's (Haim Abbass) watchful eye. The Roy family and Waystar Royco's general counsel — Gerri (J. Smith Cameron), Frank (Peter Friedman), Jamie Laird (Danny Huston) — are all drinking rosé while wringing their hands, waiting to hear of their fate, subject to Logan's whims. One morning over breakfast, the group go around the table nominating each other for sacrifice. Roman (Kieran Culkin) — who is in his dad's ultimate good graces for almost taking the company private, even though it didn't pan out — calls for Frank to be fired, while Frank suggests Gerri, while Gerri suggest Tom (Michael Macfadyen), and Tom suggests literally anyone but him. Shiv (Sarah Snook) is brought up, as well as Greg, but ultimately Logan decides that Kendall is the best scapegoat for all this.
It's been pretty obvious that Kendall would be an ideal sacrifice for the company because A) he already owes Logan, and B) he's proven to truly will do whatever his dad says. But because of Kendall's constant mood swings this season, I kind of forgot his core driving force is anything anti-Logan. He's been emotionally sedated these past few months, but a conversation with Naomi Pierce (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) turns the switch on a vengeful and ruthless part of his brain that has lain dormant since Shiv's wedding. "Your dad only likes you when you're broken," Naomi tells Kendall when she's kicked off the family yacht by the overbearing patriarch.
Speaking of broken people, Tom finally reaches his own tipping point. He tells Shiv that he is constantly sad around her, doesn't want an open marriage, and may not even want a relationship with her at all. This is all mostly due to Shiv's Logan-like behaviour. She doesn't listen or care for Tom — she behaves how she wants to behave, like when she vets one of the cruise's staff members to be the third part in a threesome with her and Tom, without ever consulting him. Remember when Tom though he was going to be CEO for a hot minute, and Shiv promised that if she got the title, it really be for her to hand it off to him? Tom's learned a lot since then, and it feels like he wants out. All the way out. For everyone that said Shiv and Tom made no sense this season – are you happy now?!
But back to the Logan. In a sense, this season's ending was inevitable. The only way to kill the beast is to cut its head off, and the Roy patriarch is the head of Waystar Royco, literally and figuratively. He couldn't off himself, however. The only way to surrender with dignity was to set up one of his kids to do it for him. To put things Biblically — Kendall gave his dad the kiss of Judas. The betrayal feels ultimate, but, like Christ, Logan saw it coming. It was part of the plan, as they say.
While I don't expect Logan to thank his son for what he did explicitly, this is really the best outcome. Kendall finally has the upper hand, but does he know where to go from here?
Cousin Greg’s Corner:
In the words of Mr. Gregory Hirsch: "If it is to be said, so it is." And you know what is to be said? The truth. The truth is finally out by the end of the finale, and Greg is right by Kendall's side to help take down Logan with the help of his secret "Secret" documents that he saved from episode 8.
Not only has Greg betrayed Tom, he's also put all his cards on his landlord, Kendall. If you can't make a Tomlette without breaking a few Greggs, then you definitely can't stage a last-minute Takeover without a few Greg Sprinkles.
I can't wait to see what position Greg negotiated for himself in all this. Guess we'll find out in season three.
Succession season 2 airs on Sky Atlantic and is available on Now TV