If you've ever questioned the brilliance of Succession, you have to be on board after watching Succession Season 2 Episode 4.
"Safe Room" delivered laugh-out-loud comedy and then turned around and offered incredibly tense emotional moments.
There is no other show like it on television right now.
That the professional marriage of Nicholas Braun and Matthew Macfayden begets one of the best comedic duos isn't news.
But Tom and Greg going to ATN has given them so much more material to work with, and they're milking it.
Did Sydney really see something in Greg, or did she just want to poke the hornet's nest of her new superior to get a rise out of him? All Greg needed was a little recognition to consider fleeing the comfortable existence he's created for himself.
Cousin Greg came into the Roy family a bit of a wild card. Our first experience with him wasn't very forgiving showing up to work hungover and vomiting at the park.
But Greg is otherwise very astute. He's not socially refined, but he's smart. He picks up on the nuances of the Roy family and business at Waystar Royco and uses them to his advantage when he can.
Getting the promotion to Media has made Tom a more insufferable ass than ever. He's an HR department's nightmare, but he's also effectively managing others, probably helping create the bullying atmosphere that led to an employee killing himself in the bullpen.
Tom takes advantage of every bit of power he gets, but thankfully, Greg is at his side impishly steering him in the right direction.
Tom: So, uh, Herr Ravenhead. Do you have anything for me ahead of my meet?
Greg: Um, honestly, I've been, uh, I've been asking around and not much. Uh, I heard he named his dog after Hitler's dog. Maybe? Blondie?
Tom: That's not good. But, Logan likes and America likes, and Blondie's pretty common.
Greg: No, but I mean, fascist meeting, Nazi wedding, Hitler dog?
Tom: Oh, dude, if it's true, he's gone. I mean, Nazi's. Terrible, right?
Greg: Yeah, they're the worst.
Tom: Yeah, sure. We all hate Nazis. We all hate Syd, right Jonah?
Without Greg's nudging, Tom would have probably handled the fascist Mark Ravenhead situation a lot differently.
That anyone needs reminding that Nazis are bad, mmkay, is a disgusting notion, but it was played ludicrously and effectively by leaning into the humor of it.
There isn't an excuse for considering genuine Nazi behavior to be alright, but hey, Mark plays well to the crowd, so we really need to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Armed with Greg's passionate protest about allowing a man with that conviction to get ahead in life, Tom pretended he was playing Devil's advocate with the churlish yet charming anchor.
Even without Greg's urging, it's unlikely even Tom would have had a problem identifying a problem with a man who ticked as many boxes as Mark. He read Mein Kampf a couple of times.
Tom's response wondering if there were Easter eggs in their he missed the first time was beautiful, but checking the till was classic.
Tom: And what, specifically, do you find interesting about that period of history?
Mark: The scale. The tragedy.
Tom: Hell, yeah. And which tragedies specifically?
Mark: Europe decimated. Seven million Germans, twenty million Russians, five million Poles.
Tom: Yeah. Just, just checkin' the till here, Mark, and it seems you're short a few million.
Tom may be power-hungry and abuse what he has, but when he manages to get insightful, even humorously, he nails it.
The timing of the gunshot after that comment sent Tom running, practically laying other employees to the ground in his attempt to get to safety.
I need to see all of the scenes with Tom and Greg in their un-safe room uninterrupted. It might be the best comedy of the year.
Tom was so busy being impressed he got a guard that whisked him to safety that he failed to see the room was, as Greg eventually pointed out, just a room and not safe at all.
It turns out they didn't even need a room named for the occasion because panic was right at their fingertips.
Greg's paranoia combined with Tom's righteous indignation at getting taken to the wrong place was magical. For now, Greg still blindly follows Tom, even when that could lead him to his doom.
Even when presented with the fact: Greg's detailed assessment of the issues they faced in a regular room during a crisis and Shiv's pronouncement that she was safe with her father, Tom's only conclusion was that they were in the wrong panic room. Surely there were two!
Tom: What the fuck? We got the shit room!
Greg: That makes total sense because this room doesn't feel that safe. Is that airtight? And is that bulletproof? Is this room bulletproof? I mean, they could waft gas in here, right?
Guard: I don't think the speculation is very helpful.
Greg: I mean, these are things you think about when you're designing a panic room. I'm just saying. And, a person can fit through there! A person can definitely fit through that window. A small person! An attack child!
It makes me laugh out loud just to read that quote again. These are some of the most gif-worthy moments on television if not in entertainment across the board.
Getting stuck in a room together, though, didn't do Tom and Greg any favors.
Greg still pushed the issue of being his own man and getting out of the looming shadow of Tom's rising star. It led to a physical altercation and a come to Jesus moment for Greg.
He has ammunition against his boss, so if he wants to get ahead, he's going to have to use it.
Greg: Like, I don't know. I don't want to bring up to you anything that feels horrible, but would it be bad for me to mention that to you now?
Tom: Are you ASKING if you can blackmail me?
Greg: No, I would hate that. It's just for context.
Tom: Very well. I accept your blackmail.
Greg: No, I'm not blackmailing you.
Tom: You are though, you piece of shit.
Greg: I'm not!
Tom: Greg, I'm gonna celebrate you. New title, a ton more money, a nice new office. You're movin' up. You can throw away the training bra. A seat at the big table. You like that? Yeah?
Greg: Yeah, I like that.
Tom: You fuckin'. Look at you! Where are they, those papers?
Greg: I'll never tell.
Tom: [laughs] You're a fuckin' slimeball! Atta boy!
If Shiv eventually divorced Tom emotionally, legally, and professionally, I would follow the spinoff featuring Tom and Greg cutting their own path.
Also bringing the funny during this hour was Kieran Culkin's Roman as we discovered the reason he's unable to have a physical relationship with his girlfriend and why he so willingly bends to Gerri's suggestions.
Roman was in management training with the normals, something he found very offputting but also something he did at Gerri's suggestion.
It seemed like he chuffed off the idea when she presented it on Succession Season 2 Episode 3, but Roman knows that to get his father's full attention, he's going to have to bring more to the table.
Gaining a little more confidence can't do him any harm, either.
Fellow trainee Brian took Roman under his wing. Roman was both disgusted at and intrigued by the presence of normals, a group of people with whom he has had minimal experience.
His experience with normals probably outweighs his lack of business acumen, so someone like Brian tapping his potential was kind of sweet.
Roman tried to turn away from it, but he couldn't resist getting kudos and the suggestion that he might have done something right even if the other half of him was certain he got noticed for his Elvis-like persona and not his contributions.
Perhaps it's that lack of normal relationships that has made Roman so needy and hard at the same time, but he cannot stand the idea that he might turn someone on sexually. He seems to believe anyone who would want him must have something wrong with them
Phone sex with Tabitha was a disaster, but his followup with Gerri was a resounding success.
Gerri: You're acting like an over-excited little boy.
Roman: You know, technically, I'm your fuckin' boss.
Gerri: Got to bed, Roman. Go to bed and masturbate all your ideas out, and let's see how excited you feel tomorrow.
Roman: Well, maybe I will. Maybe I'll just leave you on the pillow so you can hear my brilliance cascading.
Gerri: Fine. I've heard plenty more than a spoiled brat ejaculating on himself.
Roman: Oh yeah? You sure about that? I could be doing it now for all you know.
Gerri: Well get going. Chop chop. [listens] You disgusting little pig. You're pathetic. You are a revolting little worm, aren't you?
Roman: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I am. [groans]
Gerri: You little slime puppy.
Roman: What else am I?
Gerri: You're revolting, Roman.
Roman: Yes! Yeah!
Roman gets off on being told how worthless he is. Talk about a heavy statement about how he got raised.
Connor was adding to the mirthful feel by attending Mo's funeral with the sole hope of finding donors for his presidential campaign.
Willa got contacted by the family to speak directly with Mo's wife and feel out the situation. Connor thought that was great, as they think of her as part of the family.
It never crossed Connor's mind that there was some useful information that Willa could have used to make that situation a little more palatable.
Willa: I am so sorry for your loss, Maria. You know, I never met Mo, but I heard that he was just a great guy.
Maria: Um, Mo?
Willa: Your husband?
Connor: We're so sorry. [whispering to Willa] His name's not Mo.
Willa: What? You called him Mo.
Connor: His name's Lester.
Willa: OK. So why does everyone call him Mo?
Connor: His real name is Lester! It was, I guess I haven't thought about it in a while, but it was kind of a joke.
Willa: Like what?
Connor: Mo-lester. I guess it wasn't a very nice joke.
Will: And was he one?
Connor: Oh! God not. Just, old Mr. Fiddlesticks. Uncle Meathands. Dad wouldn't let us in the pool with him. But you know, the guys of that generation? It was a different time.
If you've ever known anyone keen on nicknames, then you might have found yourself in that situation. I once had a boyfriend who was a rugby player, and none of them used their real names.
I remember asking him what kind of a first name "Test" was for a guy because that's what they called one of his teammates. It turned out that the guy's last name was Echolls.
As a result of the shooting, Connor got optioned for the eulogy -- a request made more difficult with Willa's (surprisingly perceptive) suggestion that as a presidential candidate he might not want to go on record glorifying a guy who had seemingly done some questionable things.
Add the presence of Logan's biographer into the mix, and Connor's eulogy sounded more like a cheap obituary with the insertion of observations such as "we will all die" but it was Mo's turn now, and it is sad, and his wife is sad. Wow.
Weighing the series at awards time isn't going to be easy, as it's cast excellently embraces cutting edge satire, but they also dig very deep into the well of drama.
Because while Laurel and Hardy were yukking it up and Roman was emulating the furry lifestyle, Shiv's first day as the unnamed successor of Waystar began, and she got a first-hand look at the dynamic between her father and Kendall.
Logan normally comes off as a complete jackwagon toward his kids, but his affection for Kendall was on display during "Safe Room," and Shiv couldn't help but wonder about it and question what it means for her.
We saw Kendall steal something for the hell of it on Succession Season 2 Episode 2, and apparently, he hasn't stopped. Killing that kid in England followed by the failed bearhug did a number on Kendall, and he can't recover.
He's throwing himself into his work because, without it, he has nothing and no will to live. That will is challenged even while he's wheeling and dealing.
And all of his emotional distress has not squashed his effectiveness as a shrewd businessman. Logan knows what Kendall offers, and he's letting him run with it because he's well aware of the alternative.
Shiv's presence might have more effectively shaken the foundation of Waystar Royco if the shooting hadn't happened, but she made a mark when she discovered the big plan in the making to lure the Pierce family under the Waystar umbrella.
Holly Hunter joined the cast as Rhea Jurell the Pierce family representative sent with a very nuanced message for the Roys to screw themselves.
Unless the price is right. There is an adage that everything has a price, and Logan knows that. Shiv was astonished that Logan allowed Kendall to send prices soaring into the ether without challenge, but Logan knows they need that leverage to keep the wolves at bay.
Rhea knows that too, but she seems so delighted to be playing a dangerous game with the likes of the parent company of ATN she doesn't care.
The shooting got everyone in the room even if they wouldn't have otherwise been invited. Shiv was getting walled out of everything, so she jumped eagerly into the fray of the potential deal when she got the chance.
Shiv: Well, if the business side could work, then I guess one pitch for the family could be "Waystar isn't coming in to fuck you but to make sweet, sweet Barry White-investment love. Beauty saved the beast would be the spin.
Rhea: I think it's very telling that your most positive spin still sounds a bit rapey?
Just like Kendall once was, Shiv's thoughts about the purchase are all about the future of that potential merger. She reminds Logan that he won't be around forever, so any concerns the Pierce family has about the ethics of their industry can't be assuaged by him promises.
But Logan disagrees, making a promise of $24 billion and an organization that stays intact when he's in control.
Through it all, it seems very hard for Shiv not to show her hand. You can tell she's aching to let everyone know change is in the wind and she's sailing the ship.
But seeing Kendall getting Logan's ear and learning of the continued protection her brother is getting after he attempted a coup to take over the business, she's concerned.
Instead of going to her father, Shiv went to Kendall. As the Roy siblings do, she poked at him and tried to expose whatever he's hiding. In a rare and touching moment between the two, Kendall literally leaned into his sister for warmth and human connection.
Kendall: Yeah, I don't know. He's, he's just, maybe, uh, he's concerned about me. For whatever reason.
Shiv: Yeah? For whatever reason?
Kendall: You'd need to ask him.
Shiv: You can't tell me? You can't tell me what's goin' on?
Shiv: Fucking look at me.
Kendall: Shiv, it's not gonna be me.
Shiv: Alright, you want to tell me why?
Kendall: Come here. Give me a hug.
Shiv: A hug? Hey? You OK?
Kendall: [crying] I would just ask that you take care of me because, uh, if Dad didn't need me right now, I don't exactly know... what I would be for.
Shiv: You want to talk some more?
Kendall: I, I really can't. But, uh, thank you. Yeah, it ain't gonna be me.
Sometime earlier during Succession Season 2, Kendall warned his siblings that his father sees everything. They were more bewildered at his proclamation than they took time to think about it.
But that statement was proven true again.
During the shooter situation, Logan's main concern was Kendall. Where was Kendall? He wasn't necessarily concerned that he was going to get shot. He was concerned he was the shooter.
I'd also venture to guess that Logan's medications were fine and that he created a situation for Kendall to feel important and worthy.
Kendall didn't even know how right he was about his father when he told Shiv that without his dad he didn't know his purpose. During the shooting, Kendall was on the roof, his second visit for the day, and one that takes him too perilously close to the edge.
Crying in Shiv's arms sent him to the roof once again, but this time, it had changed. What was an edge that a man with a plan could easily overcome got fortified with a wall of glass 20 feet into the air.
Succession can have you rolling on the floor with pleasure and then suck the air right out of you with a scene as profound as that conclusion.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.