“You’re all chasing after Dad saying ‘love me, please love me, I need love and attention!’ You’re needy love sponges.”
That line by Alan Ruck’s Connor Roy – one of many typically memorable zingers in “Rehearsal”, the second episode of Succession’s final season – is a perfect summation of the whole show. And although there are signs of repetition, the series remains immensely satisfying on a scene-to-scene basis, swinging between drama and comedy with typical confidence.
The lion’s share of the humour this week comes from Kerry (Zoe Winters), Logan’s “friend, assistant, and adviser”. More specifically, her tragically awful audition tape for a newsreader job at ATN that provokes snarky, hilarious reactions from all who view it.
With fear of upsetting Logan, it all comes to a head when Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) sits down with her to try to gently break the news that she won’t be fast-tracked to a high-level gig just yet, a task he executes in typically cringeworthy fashion. It’s surely no accident that Kerry has already been more involved this season. Might there be more consequences down the line?
One of the big questions coming out of the last week’s opening episode was how long the siblings’ united front could last. The answer, it seems, is not long at all. The cracks started to show early in this episode, with Shiv (Sarah Snook) opting to meddle with the GoJo deal in order to stick it to her Dad after finding out he instructed her soon-to-be ex-husband Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) to retain all the best divorce lawyers in New York.
After initially being resistant to the idea, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) has a change of heart when he sees an opportunity to screw his father, despite being warned by Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) that any further meddling would lead to no deal whatsoever.
The lack of honesty between the siblings about what’s truly motivating their actions is Succession 101. Characters’ inability to separate the personal and the professional has long been at the heart of the show, and here their actions feel familiar without ever feeling predictable.
As for Logan himself, Brian Cox’s patriarch is once again at the epicentre of the episode’s finest scenes. The sequence takes place at ATN, as he addresses his employees from a faintly ridiculous makeshift stage. With the air of finality hanging over the series and indeed Logan’s mortality, it feels like a last hurrah. “You’re pirates!” he booms at his employees. It’s a moment in which we really get to see Logan being the master of his own world, and Cox attacks the scene with relish, showcasing once again why he’s such a force to be reckoned with.
The other big Logan moment comes in the final few minutes, as he meets his rebellious kids at a karaoke bar (where Connor has persuaded his siblings to go, post wedding rehearsal dinner) in order to persuade them not to ask for more money and blow-up the GoJo deal. Predictably, it doesn’t go according to plan, but the scene is electric, the camera and editing capturing all the differing dynamics between Logan and his kids.
Notably, Roman is quieter than we’ve ever seen him. For much of this episode, he is the sibling who felt like he was above the fray, who refused to play the game, who refused to be drawn back into a dogfight with his Dad. And yet, the episode ends with Romulus going to his father and seemingly accepting his offer to return to ATN and work for him.
After standing up to Logan for the first time at the end of season three, it’s sad to see Roman’s regression. It’s even sadder to think that the siblings’ “Rebel Alliance” may be over before it ever truly began.