If you have not yet read Part 1 of Who is more full of shit? Check it out before continuing if you want to get caught up.
The Pierces had more significant moments where they revealed themselves to be full of shit. But the converse needs to be examined as well. Which family had more moments where they were authentically themselves, for good or for bad. But given the situation and the families involved…mostly for bad.
10. Eunuch Besties
Tabitha, Roman’s date to all special events, is an amazing character. One of Succession’squirks is taking storylines that seem minor or completed and launching them into the spotlight with awful timing for the Roys (and delightful timing for the viewers). Tabitha is one of those storylines. Originally the girl who made Tom swallow is own semen, “like a closed looped system,” she is portrayed as a comical pit-stop in the Succession road race, only to resurface, at Tom’s wedding of all places, as Roman’s date, making it seem like a joke drawn out further, and better, than we initially expected. But then she becomes an even more significant part of the show and significant part of Roman’s life in season two. She reveals herself to be smart, well connected, funny, and at times kind and supportive of the psychologically messy Roman Roy.
At the dinner table, she shows her authentic self in a moment where she refers to her and Roman’s non-existent sex life and calls themselves ‘eunuch besties,’ much to Roman’s chagrin, and overpowers Roman’s half-assed attempts to prove that they were ‘quite relentless in that regard’ and that they resided in ‘fuck-city.’ Overall, the moment was incredibly authentic in the most inappropriate way.
9. King of the Edible Leaves
Tom, the font of wonderful quotes, let’s loose a real doozy during dinner. He is getting his haunches caned, as he was warned he might in the before-meeting prep. The Pierces voice their worry/concern at the idea of Tom being in charge of PGN. Tom plays along at first, referring to himself as the ‘conservative ogre’ and laughing along as he is wont to do. The caning becomes painful when Logan assuages the fears of the Pierces by saying he is not sure whether Tom would be put in charge of PGN, something Tom was not told about beforehand. The Pierces glided past the awkwardness by telling Tom, that everything rests on the thing he said next. His next words, after an interruptions and delay, were in fact, while scooping a healthy serving from the salad bowl….”Oh, King of edible leaves, His Majesty the Spinach.” And just like that…authentic Tom for all to see.
8. What makes the world go ‘round?
Tom with back-to-back moments (heat check?). The Moment-maker, before he shows his regard for the majesty of spinach, has a more profound and significant authentic moment when the Pierces and the Roys debate the importance of money over values-Nan argues that money is a social construct but things like virtue and honesty are real things… I’ll just leave that here. A Pierce comments that ‘money makes the world go ‘round.’ Another Pierce responds, incredulously, by asking if there is any room for virtue in the world. Tom answers by telling an anecdote, “This morning I went to the store and bought a pound of ham, and I paid for it by telling them I was really worried about the environment.”
If there is anything that Tom understands it is being rich. He is the only Roy that wasn’t born rich (or at least filthy rich, he probably was normal rich because we know that his mother was a lawyer, and you don’t marry a Roy without at least some pedigree). He also has a penchant for exulting in the positives of the rich lifestyle to anyone who will listen (but mostly just Greg). And the best part of these moments of candor is that they are often the best commentary about the lives and thoughts of the Roys who have lived this life for so long they probably couldn’t verbalize the differences in their lives to others. This is one of those moments where, with cutting authenticity, Tom both effectively shoots down an argument and defends the Roy’s perspective on life. It’s well done, but so terribly inappropriate in this discussion and his relationship to it that it probably hurt more than helped.
I also love this quote because it clearly indicates that Tom has maybe never been to a grocery store. The fact that he chose to use ‘a pound of ham’ as the item of choice in his grocery store shopping metaphor is all the evidence I need to prove this.
7. Penis Cat
I really like cats. Penis Cat is awesome. Everyone’s reaction to Penis Cat is equally as awesome and unfiltered. Points for everyone for owning and/or reacting to the Penis Cat
6. Maxim’s Wit
As seen earlier, Maxim is a tool for fighting the joke presidential candidate. But damn if he doesn’t have some good lines. He dances circles around Con (not that Con would see it that way) starting with his greeting of Con as, “The man who would be king” and “Don Quixote of Iowa, tilting at straw polls.” He also voices his shock that Con called Brookings an “elite institution” (It is assumed that Con does so merely because he has no fucking clue what the Brookings Institute is) by telling Con, “I thought you were of the whole abolish the Federal Reserve, fluoride is poison, pissing in jars end of things.“
He presses Con even further at dinner to the point where he gets Con to lash out, an especially fun reaction because it’s easy to see how hard Con, the perpetual do-gooder and people-pleaser (Like when everyone is leaving his ranch after a nuclear family meltdown and he asks everyone if they had a good time or like when he flips his shit over butter being too hard or like when he just goes along with whatever his siblings want him to do when signing very important documents) is working to get along and ‘stay in his lane.’ But Maxim’s question about whether he could name one member of the House Congress Committee took him too far (for the record Ferdinand D. Who-Gives-A-Shit from the great state of No One Fucking Cares is not a member of that particular committee).
For an initial interaction that ends in cheers and a day that ends in a Secretary of State offer, Maxim gets off some solid jabs.
5. “I can just tell…”
Naomi Pierce is the Pierce with the most depth, and so she will naturally have more moments of authenticity. Right from the time she was mentioned by Rhea to Logan she feels complex and significant. The clincher of her complexity is at the dinner table talking to Kendall. Naomi is a ‘recovering’ addict,’ Kendall is a ‘recovering’ addict, Naomi is one of the most important swing votes of the family and Kendall has been charged with winning her over. His first opportunity to do so is at the dinner table (he sits across from her). After Naomi’s previously mentioned Shakespeare prayer (check out Part 1), Kendall takes the opportunity to tell her how cool it was-honorable mention full of shit moment-and then introduce himself as Kendall Roy. “I know,” is her response, a nice way to acknowledge someone while also not giving them the time of day. He also mentions he is a recovering addict. “I know,” Naomi replies. “My, uh, not-so spotless reputation precedes me,” Kendall quips, in reference to her Shakespeare quotation. Naomi corrects him, “No. I can just tell.” And Kendall’s insides liquify, his testicles retract into his abdomen, his palms spew sweat onto his lap, and we the viewers laugh.
4. “’Cause that’s not my fucking job.”
Logan and Rhea’s relationship is a masterpiece of development. Born out of necessity and opposition, bonded through common greed, forged in mutual respect. I believe we have the start of the second and third phase of this relationship in Tern Haven.
We don’t know a whole bunch about the Logan psychology. He’s a complicated guy. His decision-making is inscrutable and borderline reactionary. His relationships are Machiavellian, the ends will always justify the means. His emotions, volatile at best. But we can put together that Logan seeks one thing, being challenged. The irony is that he hates being challenged, he responds by lashing out at the challenger and in a greater degree than their initial challenge. But anyone who doesn’t challenge him is worthless to him. So Succession becomes this hodge-podge of him ruining people for challenging him-Kendall and Frank-and destroying people he finds complacent because they pander to and won’t challenge him-Tom, Roman, Carl. The converse can also be seen. Logan long term respects those who challenge him, like with Stewie after the first time they talk (“I just love the way he spends my money”), Jerry, Marcia during rehab, the banker who is in charge of brokering the deal with the Pierces, and now…Rhea.
In the midst of Rhea informing Logan that Naomi had arrived and she was putting a wrench in his master plan, Logan asked her why she hadn’t told him she was coming, and she responded by saying, “Um ’Cause that’s not my fucking job…and…ask your people.” This was the perfect response, and the basis of their relationship moving forward for two reasons. One, because it’s the adult version of “you’re not the boss of me,” and I have to imagine Logan hates/loves that in the best possible way. Two, the number one question lingering in Logan’s mind and the mind of the Pierces is who will succeed Logan and take over Waystar Royco. This may be the moment where Logan first thinks, “What if that were her job?” And it may be the first moment where Rhea plants this in Logan’s mind.
3. Shiv Admits It
Shiv is intolerable in season two. She is also tragic and empathy-inspiring. Season one Shiv had it figured out. The only way to deal with the Roy family is to be as removed from it as possible. She had a great job in politics with a senator who is likely to become president and who’s stances align entirely in opposition to those of the Roy’s interests. She could be kick-ass and call her own shots, dropping into the Roystar Wayco fray only when necessary and on her terms. It appears Logan both recognized this bad-assery in Shiv and wanted it as a part of the Waystar Royco family, and probably was frustrated that his own daughter was in opposition to him. So, in his complicated Logan-way he both bestows Shiv his ultimate display of respect by telling her she will be the next CEO, and then slowly begins to withdraw that offer after her leverage is dismantled and she becomes an utter paranoiac.
The promise of her succession went straight to Shiv’s head, and she believed she could do no wrong. The only problem is she knows nothing about running Waystar Royco, and in the ultimate unforgiveable act in Logan’s eyes, she is unwilling to work for it (in a scene where Logan, still fully on-board the Shiv-train, outlines the process she will go through before becoming CEO, it amounted to close to five years in training. I don’t know anything about business, but to me, five years seems a reasonable amount of time to spend learning how to be the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar business. Shiv disagrees, and protested profusely, the first reveal of a deadly sin in Shiv, she simultaneously downplays what Logan does, and shows her entitled nature by wanting to get what she wants right away, this to me, is the beginning of the end for her).
This inflated ego with no basis in reality causes her to make bad decision after bad decision which leads to the equivalent of the business decision-making yips. She second-guesses herself, she second guesses every time Logan does anything, she has minor freak outs in front of Tom, and it ultimately leads to a major freak out in front of Tom after they excused themselves from dinner with the Pierces. She breaks down and says with tears in her eyes and voice, “I really want this,” referencing CEO. It’s both a relief to finally hear her admit it, and also a little sad to see how all her weapons have been stripped from her and all the power was in Logan’s hands, which is exactly what Logan didn’t want when naming a successor.
2. Logan Quotes Shakespeare
In order to beat the game you gotta play the game. And Logan knows all the rules. And he shows us how well he knows the rules and how to play. Logan is full of shit this entire episode, but he gives us a wonderful moment where he calls out the bullshit in the most authentic Logan moment of the episode (season? show?) entirely without ulterior motive or mask. He has voiced his disdain for Shakespeare even before the Pierce name was mentioned when he derides Frank for his penchant for poetry. So we are left to guess how nauseated he is at the Shakespeare recitation at the beginning of dinner (my guess is he swallowed vomit at some point in the proceedings). However, he does not leave us guessing for the entire show.
During his meeting with Nan, the morning after the dinner, to see if they could salvage a deal, things take a turn for the proverbial lake beside a bridge. Logan, using his legendary people reading-negotiation skills (the one element of business that Kendall lacks, he utterly fails in season one to close any deal, but in season two, while closing deals with his dad, he is a fucking animal, like a weird business-terminator), walks away from the deal because he is getting the screws put to him. On the way out the door he turns and tells them he has his own Shakespeare quote that seems apropos for the situation. This is where the road forks. I thought he (or the Succession writers if you are more meta) would have Logan pull a Shakespearean quote out of his back pocket that reflects his business motto, one that is in opposition to the Pierce’s business motto and so suitably full of fuck-you for being better at even their own game than them. But this is not what he does. What he does is so much better. He introduces his Shakespearean recitation and quips, “Take the fucking money.”
It was so good and perfect, I thought to myself which play is that from? (That’s real). Because this whole episode is so fraudulent and shitty that this strange break from the fake engendering of good will is startling in its authenticity. Then I realized this was him being the real asshole Logan, and he both told them their business model sucks and their whole demeanor (as reflected by their devotion to Shakespeare) is bullshit. One of those we can all agree with.
1. Shiv Announces Herself as Successor (Goddamn)
Shiv announces herself as successor. Shiv announces herself as successor. Shiv announces herself as successor. No matter how you look at it this is one of the most significant and mind-blowing parts of Succession and only becomes more so when the dependent clause, ‘at a dinner party with the Pierces,’ gets added to it. The show is called Succession. The show is based on waiting for Logan Roy to declare is successor. Similarly, the conversation surrounding the entire show is the Pierces wanting a successor named and Logan not wanting to be bullied into giving one. The table is full of said Pierces, and other people whose entire lives have been dedicated to becoming the successor or wanting to know who will be. Amidst all this, Shiv goes for the biggest goddamn hailmary of my lifetime. Maybe the biggest ‘fuck it’ moment I have ever witnessed, and says, “Oh, for fuck’s sake dad, just tell them it’s gonna be me.”
Sift through the emotions on the faces of the dinner guests in the wake of that statement. The disappointment of Roman, the anger of Logan, the no-you-didn’t of Kendall, the this-is-bad of Jerry, the pleasure of Nan, the uncomfortableness and shock of all the Pierces, the what-have-you-done of Tom, and the what-have-I-done of Shiv, and then in the silence that follows, watch them trade emotions with each other like they are playing Yankee swap. Then watch as the Pierces try to salvage the moment because Logan clearly will not, then watch as Logan remains seated and Shiv stands at attention behind her chair like she would have as a child, as her father flicks his glass with disappointment. Then watch her be dismissed without acknowledgement of what she just did.
As Tom so eloquently puts it, “Jeepers fuckin creepers. What a shit piñata. That was the most Roy thing I have ever seen. It was like I got a quart of Roy injected into my eyeballs.”
That is how an episode meant to close a storyline, opens the main artery to an even bigger one. Its fearless and under control in a way that, today, only Succession is doing at this high of a level.
Apparently, the answer to the question ‘Who is more full of shit?’ is, quite handily, the Pierces. However, reflecting on the authenticity of the Roys and what it shows about them, maybe they should steal a page from the Pierce playbook.
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