Breaking Down The Most Brutal Betrayal In This Week’s Succession

Oops! Did you think that you could TRUST Logan Roy (Brian Cox)? Oh, sweetie, then you haven't really been paying attention to Succession. Logan may speak words with his mouth, and make movements with his face, but that doesn't mean that he is a normal, empathetic, moral human man. No, he's a business — a leader, a machine, and the kind of guy who will screw over and embarrass his family to make a point. He always wins. And it's nauseating to see it go down.
In episode 5, “Tern Haven” we finally see the outcome of Logan’s episode 1 promise to Shiv. As you probably suspected (and as Shiv, too, deep down) Logan has no desire to pass on his legacy to anyone in his family. Not yet. Maybe not ever. He’s too power-hungry — as we witnessed during episode 3's boar on the floor game — to ever share his empire. And now, after proving his point that money always wins, he’s more charged up than ever. He’s forcing his family to partner up for a dosey-doe of manipulation at the Pierce’s country house, he’s smacking helicopter windows, and he’s on his way to being the most powerful man in media. As Kanye West put it: “No one man should have all that power.” 
The best and most brutal part of this episode, like most of the show’s best and worst moments, involves the entire family sitting around a huge dinner table. But this time, they’re joined by what I can best describe as their Us-like tethered, the preppy and punctuated Pierce family. Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter) is the only one who knows the elusive riddle to the sphinx that is the Pierce family. In the midst of a fairly civil meal, a debate about the morally reprehensible ATN (“the big white supremacist in the room”) breaks out. Tom (Matthew Macfayden) is a straw man for the news organization. The tense conversation leads Shiv to her breaking point, where she word-vomits what we’ve all known since “Summer Palace”: She’s been promised CEO. It’s a big mistake, and she knows it immediately after she says it. Fuck — just like that — it’s gone. 
It feels foolish to say that this episode is all about Hurricane Logan and his “greedy guts,” as Nan Pierce (Cherry Jones) says. That is what the entire show is about. He is the epicenter of his company and his family, a patriarch in the truest sense of the word. But, for the first few episodes of this season, he’s been showing a softer side. Even in the first half of episode 5 we see him schmoozing, smiling, and putting on the charm for Nan, a matriarch in her own right, as he prepares to purchase her Pulitzer-prize winning news organization for something around $24 billion. He enlists his children and their significant others — along with Gerri (J. Cameron Smith) and Frank (Peter Friedman) , of course — to help him seal the deal. Shiv and Kendall (Jeremy Strong) are united, in a way, after their tender moment at the end of episode 4. They both are down to help their dad win over the Pierces, and thus they develop their anti-ATN reputations — but they want to do right. (Is there such a thing as “right” in this seedy 1%?) 
Kendall works on Nan’s niece, Naomi (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), who he spots as a fellow addict and rebel of the family. The two get properly fucked up, almost crash a helicopter, and then make out a little, before Kendall gives her his pitch for her to say yes to the sale. She’ll be free he says — and it sounds like it’s an idea he’s been toying around with, too. He’s good, even after God knows how many lines of cocaine and swigs of Grey Goose. But then, he wakes up in literally his own shit, leaving both himself and the viewers questioning what the fuck is up with that and was his blurry promise to rid Naomi of all stresses involved in dealing with the succession of PNG really work? Apparently it did. The next morning, strangely bright-eyed, Naomi sits in on what must be the tensest sit-down deal since the Treaty of Versailles. Nan tells Logan that she, Rhea, and Naomi would agree to the sale (at $25 billion) if Shiv is announced as CEO. (Gerri is also in the room, standing almost protectively behind Shiv.) Logan refuses — in fact, he refuses, then screams and then sacrifices the deal to keep Shiv out of the throne upon which she so badly wishes to sit. He severs any existing trust between him and Shiv. Logan sort of hates women in power, is flatly misogynistic, and responds positively to women who service him (like Gerri and Marcia [Hiam Abbass]) or have something he wants (like Rhea and Nan).
And then the worst thing happens: He gets what he wants. The deal’s done — they took the fucking money.
I’m sad for Shiv, and I’m sad for Roman, and I’m sad for Kendall, and I’m sad for Marcia. They’re all so deeply unhappy. They’re empty, and their dad is the one who hollowed them out. All for Waystar Royco to thrive.
Before we go, I also want to mention that Gerri and Roman (Kieran Culkin) are the oddest couple I’ve seen on TV this year. If we thought nothing could get more awkward than her calling Roman a “slime puppy,” then we surely weren’t ready for Roman masturbating in her bathroom while she screamed insults at him. I wonder how long this will last — and if anyone will even really be phased by it? I hope Gerri uses this to her advantage, especially since her name is still on the documents as CEO. It’s not Gerri, but now it’s also not Shiv or Kendall or Roman or Connor. 
As Naomi via William Shakespeare said: “Mine honor is my life; both grow in one. Take honor from me, and my life is done.” But what happens when a man like Logan has no honor and no conscience?
Cousin Greg’s Corner
I may have to change the name of this corner because Greg (Nicholas Braun) now goes by Greg-ory. Yes, that emphasis is necessary. Now that he knows how to blackmail, he also knows how to earn a shred more respect: Have a bougie name and suck up to Logan Roy. Cheers!

More from TV

R29 Original Series