So the bulk of this episode tracks Logan as he thinks aloud about his next move. He brings Kendall back to the main office — where he no longer calls him “my No. 1 boy” but rather “Mr. Potato Head, my plastic adversary” — and finds out exactly what Kendall told Waystar’s rivals. The patriarch then gathers all his children and top underlings at the family’s country house, where no one believes him when he says he wants them to give their opinions freely about whether or not he should sell.
The most entertaining stretch of this very strong season premiere comes in two back-to-back scenes, in which first Roman (Kieran Culkin) and then Siobhan (Sarah Snook) meet with Logan in private and lay out their competing visions for the company’s future. In keeping with Roman’s trollish inclinations, he suggests that his dad hold onto the news division in order to keep his political power, then use his money to bleed other businesses dry and to wreck his enemies’ personal lives.
“Scare ‘em off,” he suggests. By which he means, “Use the lawyers, the P.I.’s, the honey-trap hookers — all of the unpleasant people at our disposal.”
Shiv, on the other hand, says Logan should “IBM it.” He should “shutter the businesses that burn cash,” expand the divisions that earn Waystar a lot of good will — like her husband Tom’s cruise ship and theme park wing — and get out of news. Shiv wants to be powerful, but she also wants to be liked. Whether she’s actually committed to the Democratic Party causes she was supporting in Season 1, she definitely doesn’t enjoy being associated with a family so many liberals despise.
In the end, Logan ends up offering Siobhan the role of his successor, perhaps not because he is buying into her business plan but because she is his one child who is not completely awful.
The dynamics between Kendall, Shiv and Roman — and to a lesser extent their dimwitted older half brother, Connor (Alan Ruck) — remain the most humanizing element of “Succession,” which otherwise can sometimes seem like a punishingly bleak show about a bunch of miserable creeps. Roman is a destructive, perpetually smirking imp, but as played by Culkin, he also has this little puppy-dog whimper that slips out occasionally, making him oddly sympathetic. Siobhan seems like the most “normal” of the Roys, but she still cheats on her husband, curries favor with her meanspirited father and teams up with Roman to mock Kendall. All these siblings are complicated and not easily reducible to their worst or best qualities.