From the very beginning, Succession has been leading up to the events of Succession Season 2 Episode 10, but that doesn't make the way it happened any less jarring or repugnant.
Logan Roy has manipulated and emotionally abused his children for years, and by overstepping the wishes of his board to sacrifice himself, his second son pulled the rug out from under him, sending him to the wolves.
Making it even more twisted, that moment of betrayal might have been the proudest Logan had ever been of any of his children.
Don't you love it when a plan comes together?
Watching Logan make all the wrong moves with his family and close advisors was a helluva lot of fun. It was also gutwrenching and tear-inducing. That a man could be so cold seems unfathomable.
But what unfolded was the at the hands of a man so cold and manipulative that we should have expected nothing else.
To be sure, the Logan we got to know during Succession Season 2 managed to surprise with subtle gestures of warmth. His concern for Kendall after the accident and in light of his suicidal behavior stands out. So, too, do his chats with Greg.
Hell, he even showed just a hint of it with Kendall just by knowing Naomi's influence on his son could lead him down the path to drugs again.
I just don't want you fucked on drugs, and she's part of it, isn't she?Logan
But when he discovered that the board wanted to ice him, holding him ultimately responsible for the actions of others by way of his presiding rule over Waystar Royco, he began to flounder.
The first misstep was his falsely congenial attitude when he got on board the yacht. It was immediately apparent that he was up to something because that was entirely fresh.
But the shoe really dropped when he determined that throwing himself onto the pyre would cause the others to rally around him pitting them against each other as they not only saved their own skin but sought favor in Logan's eyes.
Logan: So, I think. I think the obvious choice is me. So that's what I'd like to announce.
Shiv: No. No, you can't!
Logan: Well, you know, I may not be responsible, but the buck has to stop somewhere.
[A chorus of nos and nevers erupts]
Shiv: Not in the middle of a proxy fight.
Kendall: I don't think so, dad. I don't think so. No. I mean, maybe a time table, but actually go doesn't work. When people find Rhea isn't comin' in, we need stability.
Logan: Yeah, yeah, you may be right. I need one, meaningful skull to wave. If the shareholders' meeting were tomorrow, we lose. I need to persuade a couple of big figures. So, anyone like to say anything? I'll take care of whoever it is. No one will be forgotten.
Logan was playing everyone like he is the world's greatest musician, but not everyone was buying his sudden amenable attitude.
Still, it was horrifying that on a whim, he managed to activate everyone so entirely. One by one, they each offered tributes with very few presenting anything in their friends' defense.
Roman, though with reasons that went beyond his defense of Gerri, began to sound like the sanest person in the room. That anyone would sacrifice a woman when it came to matters of rape and denigration was laughable.
Seriously, Gerri? To pay for Cruises we take out a senior woman? Haven't we, you know, kidding here, killed enough women already? I mean, I think the obvious choice is, and I hate to say it because he's such a swell guy, is Tom.Roman
Without doubt, it was Roman who rose above the fray in many ways as the season progressed, and his growth has created a man unafraid to share his opinions and with very sound advice to give.
The Roman we first met might have placed the Turkey deal into his father's lap. But the man he has become could smell a bullshitter who could tank the entire family fortune with one misstep.
Shiv, on the other hand, had no problem throwing shade at her husband. Tom is often the brunt of Shiv's need to impress her father, and this time it got her in hot water.
Tom is an idiot by circumstance. His behavior is a direct result of his burning desire to fit in, and there was no better indication of that than his initial game attitude about a threesome with Shiv.
But when the rubber met the road, Tom had enough. There is a well-meaning heart lurking inside of Tom. He's a man who wants to do a good job and to be loved, but he places too much weight on what others think of him.
What he doesn't understand is that others think him a fool because he doesn't let them see his true self for fear of being ridiculed. It's telling that he'd rather be considered a fool for his lame attempts at being one of the gang than getting revealed as a genuinely good guy.
Tom: You told me. You told me you wanted an opening relationship on our fucking wedding night.
Shiv: This. Oh. So you've been stewing on that?
Tom: Why yes, I have been stewing on it. I'm not a hippy, Shiv. I don't want to stuff a dildo up my, I don't want to do threesomes!
Tom: On our WEDDING NIGHT? Bang! Shanghaied into an open-borders free-fuck trade deal.
Shiv: It was just an idea.
Tom: Well, that's, that's a biggie just to throw in at the altar. You know? I do, I do, but I do maybe also demand to gobble the odd side dick.
Shiv: Gobble the odd side dick.
Tom: I don't think it was cool what you did. I just, you know, I think a lot of the time, if I think about it, I think a lot of the time, I'm really pretty unhappy.
Shiv: What are you saying?
Tom: I don't know. I love you, I do. I just, uh, I wonder if, I wonder if the sad I'd be without you would be less than the sad I get from being with you.
Whether Shiv really loves him as she claimed or she's just as desperate for acceptance as her husband is unclear, but when Tom made a stand for his marriage and his happiness, he finally turned Shiv's head in the right direction.
She was more emotional after Tom revealed his feelings about open marriage and his questioning as to whether he would be less sad without Shiv than he was with her.
It forced her to rethink her actions, especially when it came to offering Tom on a silver platter as tribute for the Waystar Royco mess, a mess he covered up with the same aplomb with which he does anything when he thinks it will win him favor as a Roy.
And just how awful was it that Shiv said just what I did in my Succession Season 2 Episode 9 review -- that Tom was kind of family, but he'd never really be family. She dug at his soul with that comment, a man who so desperately wants to be a part of the family that he covered crimes for them.
And as the ruckus about who would find their head on a platter continued, it got revealed that Shiv's suggestion had been that Kendall gets sacrificed.
Kendall, who has been unexpectedly kind in the face of some pretty unfathomable circumstances.
He initially turned the tide during their stage discussion on Succession Season 2 Episode 6 when told a live audience that, essentially, the victims of Cruises should be avenged.
Kendall's understanding of his fellow man changed dramatically as he grappled with the death he caused at the end of Season 1. It changed his perception forever and for the better.
By the same token, Shiv later talked a victim out of testifying against her family.
So knowing that Shiv was antsy to give up Kendall doesn't come as a shock, but it's an indicator of who she is as a person. There's a reason Logan chose her, albeit temporarily, as his successor and why he continued to dangle that possibility over her head.
She's a lot like him. She's cold and stamps her feet when she doesn't get her way. Kendall bowed to the pressure put on him by his father after the accident. He believed that he was only as good as what Logan thought of him, and it wasn't good.
Logan: The hearings. You did so well. And now, you're the face. You're a cross to clean up. The optics make sense, and what's more, I trust you. I trust you in case it turns and gets
Kendall: I get it.
Logan: So, we'll set up a press conference, and you'll admit that you knew everything and that you directed the coverup, and it went no higher.
That's why it was so easy for Logan to punt his second-son down the field and into the hands of Congress in his stead.
Kendall: Hey, dad, just out of interest, um, did you ever think I could do it?
Logan: Do what? The top job? Oh, I don't know. Maybe.
Kendall: You can say.
Logan: I, well, you know, I just. You're smart, you're good, but I just don't know.
Kendall: What? Come on.
Logan: You're not a killer. You have to be a killer. But, nowadays, maybe you don't. I don't know. OK? Are we good? Are you good?
Kendall: Yeah. I deserve it. Maybe I deserve it.
Logan: Oh, no son.
Kendall: Yeah. For every
Logan: Oh, no. No, no. God no.
Kendall: It's good to pay. The boy.
Logan: Nah, nah, nah, nah. Not that. On RPI, you're the best. Don't beat yourself up. No real person involved. You know it's, it's nothing.
Kendall: Right. [he kisses his father's cheek]
In Logan's eyes, ironic as it was, Kendall didn't have the heart of a killer. He wouldn't be able to sacrifice his son for the betterment of his business.
But the moment Kendall kissed his father's cheek, I felt the presence of the Godfather. Kendall had been clinging to his hope that his dad really believed in him and that he just screwed up so bad that there wasn't a choice but to count him out.
When Kendall realized that wasn't the case, he must have begun putting his plan into motion. After all, he was far too at ease with the entire pronouncement.
Logan: I've decided.
Roman: Ken? Come on, really? Dad, no. There's, what about the, one of the shitfuckers?
Kendall: Hey, it's OK. Guys, you're off the hook.
Again, Roman was the only one who dared stand up for his brother. It's not just the circumstance of the kidnapping that has changed him, either. He's been reaching out to his siblings for a while.
Upon his return, though, it seems to have hit him what he has in front of him and that he doesn't want to lose it. That's given him that confidence I mentioned earlier, and Roman wears it well.
It made perfect sense that it would be Roman awarded the role of CEO. He's the only one of Logan's children who hasn't been using their position to get something for themselves.
Kendall has been seeking Logan's approval in everything all season long. Connor's ridiculous bid for president and his attempt to produce Willa's play has left him destitute. Shiv groveled for Tom at the expense of her brother and arguably the child Logan loves the most if he's capable of it at all.
Only Roman brushes off Logan's attempts to buy him in any way, even emotionally. He stood his ground when Logan tried to apologize for backhanding him while they were at Argestes, and slowly but surely, Roman has gained esteem in Logan's eyes.
The company being in Roman's hands is also most beneficial for its current predicament, too.
As affable as Roman is, he will, with Gerri's guidance, be able to weather the storm Kendall unleashed with the statement at the press conference.
I have been asked to explain my own role in the managing of illegality at the firm and associated coverups. And it has been suggested I would be a suitable figure to absorb the anger and concern. But. The truth is that my father is a malignant presence, a bully, and a liar, and he was fully personally aware of these events for many years and made efforts to hide and cover up. He had a twisted sense of loyalty to bad actors like Lester McClintock and disregard for the safety of migrant workers, non-union, and union workers and for vulnerable performers and guests. My father keeps a watchful eye over every inch of his whole empire, and the notion that he would have allowed millions of dollars in compensation and settlements to be paid without his explicit approval is utterly fanciful. I have with me today copies of records that show his personal sign off. How much those of us who executed his wishes is for another day, but I think this is the day his reign ends.Kendall
Finally, we know what was to come from Greg's possession of those documents. Nothing on Succession is done without planning, and how it all got tied together with this finale is impressive.
With Roman's about-face regarding his sibling relationships, he'll be ready to support Kendall's statement without it appearing false. If anyone knows how Logan's abuse affects behavior, it's Roman.
Only Logan knows at the end of the season that his board had originally called for his head, so it won't be surprising in the least to learn they've given their full support to Kendall's actions.
From the moment Kendall got pulled out of his 24-hour wellness retreat on Succession Season 2 Episode 1, he's used the mantra that his father sees everything.
That thought was used to Kendall's advantage when he turned the tide on Logan's press conference. Kendall announced his mantra to everyone with whom he came into contact, so the stage was well set for him to drop the bombshell.
It's impossible to know what comes next, but there is no doubt that whatever it is, it will be big, beautiful, funny as hell, and surprisingly poignant. Succession ticks all of the boxes, and never sacrifices a thing.
If there was more that you were hoping would be in this review, I can assure you it's covered in the recap, which you can visit by clicking the episode link at the top. With nearly four thousand words between the quotes, the recap, and the review, there was a lot to say about this remarkable sendoff for the season.
Nothing can express it better than the subtle hint of a smile from Logan Roy when he realized he'd underestimated his son. If they learned nothing over the past season, it should have been that Kendall takes advantage of situations that present themselves.
In what state will we find the Roys when Succession Season 3 begins? What will be Shiv's status within the family dynamic? Will Shiv and Tom remain a couple?
How will Roman handle the job of CEO? He is, after all, flying solo, according to Logan. Of course, that was before Logan knew Kendall would be available to lend a hand when his brother needed it. If anyone knows the pressure of the top position, it's Kendall.
Do you think Logan will go to prison? Just how far will the mighty fall?
Hit me with your best shot. Let's get this conversation started!
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.