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‘Succession’ Recap: Even the Safe Room Is a Dangerous Place

Not all panic rooms are created equal.

Succession: Season 2, Episode 4: Kendall and Shiv Peter Kramer/HBO
So much space and glass stands between the Roy sibs.

Kendall, your friendly Roy ghost, is haunting the empty upper floors of an office building. He walks outside to a roof deck and overlooks the city with the great, melancholic, and unpierceable gloom we’ve come to expect from him and pulls out his phone. He calls Rhea, the CEO of the Pierce family rival conglomerate, and tells her it would be good to connect. Oh Kendall, you are always just looking to connect!

Meanwhile, Tom and Shiv are on their way to Waystar HQ and Tom is all excited about Shiv’s “first day in.” She downplays it. There’s talk about how there’s an ATN anchor, called Ravenhead, that may or may not be a fascist. Tom downplays that (“people who live in Connecticut can’t be fascists!”), but apparently there’s a damning video from the past—and when they arrive to the office, it’s surrounded by both Ravenhead supporters and protesters.

Elsewhere Roman arrives for management training at the amusement park. He is not entirely thrilled to be surrounded by “normals.” He watches with amused interest from the back of the room when a video about the Roy family is played but is perturbed when Kendall gets more air time than he does .He hurriedly leaves to call Gerri, who is looking chic as can be in a red coat and sunglasses. She teases him but ultimately advises him that sticking it out is the right course of action. Later, in a nice little bit of comic relief, we’re treated to what happens when Roman is put in a giant turkey costume and forced to interact with tourists.

Succession: Season 2, Episode 4: Roman in turkey suit

What amazing screenwriter decided this was the right costume for Roman to wear?  Screengrab

Later though he actually makes a friend! He’s a friendly sort named Brian who is loving this opportunity. They pair up for an assignment to come up with a ride and pitch the concept to the group. Roman panics: He thinks he won’t be able to come up with anything and that he’s out of touch with the regular people. (Considering what he says he likes to do at the Chateau, this is correct). Roman comes up with a VR experience about terror which also seems on brand.

Back at Waystar Logan and Shiv each have a champagne as he welcomes her to the family. A subtle game of power musical chairs/office commences: She asks if he wants her in the back half of his office but then hears that no, that’s where Kendall—who he likes to keep close for the proxy battle—sits. Right on cue Kendall comes in with Logan’s medication—Logan lies and tells him that Shiv is just in for the day. Kendall takes note that Shiv is there and Shiv takes note that Kendall is charged with such an intimate task close to Logan.

Succession: Season 2, Episode 4: Roman and Brian

Roman made a friend!  Peter Kramer/HBO

On the ATN news floor Peach circles Greg and asks him what it means, exactly, to be Tom’s executive assistant. Greg is definitely not a match for Peach, but Tom breaks it up with a request for a latte. Shiv hangs in the corner of the proxy battle meeting and watches as Logan embraces Kendall over the news that he’s convinced Rhea to come talk to them. Logan says that the circle of trust will remain himself, Kendall, and Frank (who makes a fun literary Coriolanus reference which predictably gets a salty scoff from Logan.)

The meeting begins and the first order of business is dealing with the Ravenhead situation. While some (Tom) think they can weather the storm, Gerri says that it turns out that Ravenhood got married at The Eagle’s Nest, a.k.a. Hitler’s retreat in Bavaria. Gosh, I wish we lived in a time where this sounded outlandish! Even Logan agrees that seems like it’s no good and asks if it’s time to call it: Tom looks to Shiv for guidance—Kendall catches it and tells his sister to quit coaching from the sidelines. Logan dispatches Tom to find out what’s up.

But Tom, of course, dispatches Greg to do it. Greg returns to find Tom using Jonah, who lost a bet, as a footstool. He’s asked Greg to find out about Ravenhead and his possible Nazi ties and Greg has discovered that Ravenhead has named his dog after Hitler’s dog. They then have a hilarious discussion about whether or not Nazis are, in fact, the worst. (Ed note: yes, yes they are.)

Meanwhile Willa and Conner are getting ready for the funeral of that old family friend we kept hearing about last episode, Moe. Connor sees it as an opportunity to get some campaign financing. Willa tells him that Marcia wants her to talk to the widow to see what Moe has told the biographer. Connor sees this as a sign of Roy family acceptance which might actually be correct.

Shiv is getting somewhat stonewalled by Gerri. She is asking for information, asking to talk to Logan, and Gerri is putting her off. Shiv calls her out and Gerri tells her it turns out that Kendall has been shoplifting candy and vape fluid. Gerri says that they’re cleaning it up without getting Kendall involved. Shiv is aghast. Just like that, Kendall appears. He starts questioning Shiv about what exactly it is she’s doing at the office and the two of them go a couple of passive aggressive rounds, with Shiv going so far as to say, “You are mistaking me for someone you are in competition with.”

Kendall then goes down to the underground parking garage to meet the famous Rhea and—hooray!—it’s Holly Hunter, with the greatest haircut in the world. And she’s in full amazing Holly Hunter no bulls–t mode. Kendall brings Rhea upstairs, where she tells Logan she knows they want to buy Pierce and has a message: f–k off. Logan doesn’t fall for this: He presses her about what is really going on and what exactly the family wants. Rhea is unmoved. After all, they eat Pulitzers for lunch over at Pierce.

Succession: Season 2, Episode 4: Holly Hunter at Rhea Pierce

Holly Hunter is here and so is her amazing haircut.  Screengrab

Tom meets with Mark Ravenhead himself and has a fairly hilarious conversation trying to determine whether Ravenhead is indeed a nazi. No way, says Ravenhead! But what about the dog? Oh, that, it’s a different spelling. Has he read Mein Kampf? Oh, just a couple of times (!). He’s just interested in that part of history. You know, how all those poor Germans and Russians died. Tom, who can’t quite hang on to his face at this point, is all: seems like you are short a few million. They can’t go any deeper on this, however, because they hear a gunshot and everything goes kablooey.

Tom pushes past some panicking worker bees and yells that executives are coming through (he would have done great on the Titanic). Logan gets shuttled into a safe room—he’s thinking only about Kendall. Tom calls Shiv in a froth and she, of course, is calm. She says she’s on the way to the panic room and that she’ll be there soon.

But she’s not brought to Tom’s “panic room,” she’s brought to Logan’s. He’s still just worried about Kendall. Shiv calls Tom and it’s then that Tom realizes he’s in the wrong panic room. As it turns out, there’s always a wrong panic room.

(But where is Kendall? He back up on that roof again, this time going so far as to climb up to the railing to look out over the shiny abyss of downtown Manhattan.)

Rhea is brought to the good safe room: She jokes that this is a dramatic way to keep her around. They turn on the news and watch the coverage of what is going on right around them. Rhea and Shiv are both surprised to see one another but for surely different reasons.

Willa and Connor arrive at Moe’s funeral and realize they’ll be the only ones from the Roy family in attendance. Willa tries to do the right thing and tells Moe’s widow how sorry she is that she never got to meet Moe. This is when she learns Moe is not the man in question’s name, it’s an old family joke: His name was Lester. Get it? Molester! Haha, hilarious! (Sigh). Well, she wonders, was he one? “Oh god, no. just, you know, ‘Old Mr. Fiddlesticks,’ ‘Uncle Meat Hands.’ Dad wouldn’t let us in the pool with him but you know, the guys of that generation…it was a different time.”

In the bad panic room, they are told they are in the clear and Greg decides this might be a good enough time for a chat. He’s been thinking he’s in a shadow of a giant (but Greg: you are the 6’7” giant!) and maybe he needs sunlight. He wonders if it’s okay to go to another department. He doesn’t love it at ATN: the shooting, the nazis, you know, the boar on the floor of it all. He thinks maybe they can have an open business relationship. Everyone wants to have an open relationship with Tom!! Tom, unsurprisingly, does not take this well. In fact, he starts hurling water bottles at Greg. Tom: I won’t let go of what is mine. (This stopped being about Greg a while ago.)

Succession: Season 2, Episode 4: Greg and Tom

Tom and Greg learn the hard way that not all panic rooms are equal.  Peter Kramer/HBO

The good safe room is much chiller. Kendall comes in, and Logan is openly relieved to see his son is okay. Gerri let’s the room know it was just one employee who shot himself. A segment producer. At his desk. Yikes. Shiv takes the opportunity to circle Rhea and try to figure out what the hell is going on. Logan watches her warily. God this family is exhausting. They switch to the ATN coverage and have a light debate about whether news is a utility or if it’s entertainment. Kendall says why can’t it be both? He also bristles when Shiv starts asking questions about the Pierce deal. When Rhea talks about the essential cultural incompatibilities of their respective news organizations, Logan has an answer: $21 billion. (Billion? Yes, billion.)

Rhea is all, oh well, that’s interesting and when Kendall raises it to 21.5, Shiv looks to her father and says, “Is he allowed to do that?” Oh Shiv, he sure is. Rhea continues to play coy and Kendall continues to raise the number. Shiv, sensing a sea change, tries to leap in and talk about how they could be aligned and everyone ignores her. Logan goes up to $22.5 billion. He asks Rhea if she trusts him and when Shiv jumps in—idiotically saying something about how it’s not about that since he won’t be around forever (cough cough)—he shuts her down and shuts her down hard. He goes to $24 billion (good lord) and tells Rhea to tell the Pierce family they can trust him.

Back at management camp, Brian finds Roman (his safe room is worse than Tom’s) to let him know they won the pitch. Roman can’t believe it; he’s certain they gave it to him because of his last name. But you can almost see the wheels turning in his head, the ones that are giving him a little bit of hope that he can actually be good at this.

At the funeral for Moe-Lester, Willa begs Connor not to eulogize this man who was once part of a wolf pack and stresses the “it was a different time” argument won’t hold much sway. Willa is right! The biographer shows up and tries to talk to Connor and he is all, I see you a mile away sister. He stays on message: “Connor Roy was interested in politics from a very young age.”

The bad panic room is let out, and they make their way out, walking past all the thrown water bottles all over the floor. Tom, defeated, says he knows it wasn’t cool to throw bottles at Greg. He doesn’t always like who he is, you see. He is also reluctant to let Greg go. But Greg, flexing a little of his Roy DNA, tells him he has leverage and explains he kept the damning papers from the cruise department. In a surprising turn, Tom is sort of delighted and amused about being blackmailed. He offers Greg a new title and a lot more money.

Rhea agrees to take the offer to the Pierce family but suggests a peace offering might be nice. She suggests Ravenhead’s, well, head might do just the trick. After she’s gone, Logan tells Kendall he did a great job and merely raises his eyebrows at Shiv. You can see our steely Shiv beginning to unravel, oh no. No one is safe from the hot and cold treatment from Logan.

Succession: Season 2, Episode 4: Gerri

Gerri can’t believe she’s having this conversation with Roman either.  Screengrab

Roman calls Tabitha. She’s about to get in the bath and that’s when we learn that Roman is as bad at phone sex as he apparently is with real sex. Must I detail this? It goes badly and he hangs up on her. But guess who it turns out he is good at phone sex with? Gerri. Yes, Gerri. He calls her and they talk business briefly—kind of sweetly he refers to Brian as a diamond in the rough and tells her he wants to bring him in. And then, oh boy: His gross talk leads Gerri to berate him—how he’s a revolting disgusting little piggie and the like—and that, it turns out, is exactly the kind of sexual stimulation Roman needs.

Shiv and Kendall are left alone together and she finally decides to be direct and asks just what the hell is going on between him and dad. He tries to deflect it, but she won’t be stopped—she wants to know why Logan is protecting Kendall. She wants to know if Logan made a deal with him regarding succession (drink!). He promises her that there’s no deal. She is like, seriously, you can’t tell me what’s going on?

Succession: Season 2, Episode 4: Shiv and Kendall

Nothing will throw a Roy off their game more than an open display of vulnerability.  Screengrab

And then. AND THEN. Kendall starts to come apart at the seams. He assures her it’s not going to be him and then totally throws her when he asks for a hug. Roys don’t hug! She smirks as she complies but quickly realizes things are definitely not okay with her brother. She softens. He asks if she’ll take care of him—how if he’s not needed by their father he doesn’t know why he would even exist at this point. Kendall! She asks if he wants to talk more and his eyes fill up with tears as he declines but laugh-cries as he says, “It ain’t going to be me.”

We next see him go back to his favorite rooftop for some city-gazing. He sees that instead of being able to peer over the abyss, protective glass has been put up. (Whether it’s because he’s being watched or because someone just killed themselves on office ground, is unclear). Either way, as usual, he is thwarted. He rests his head against the glass, just another Kendall defeat.

Succession: Season 2, Episode 4: Kendall

We are officially worried about Kendall.  Screengrab

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