Even though the Pierce deal fell apart and the company is still facing an ostensibly serious takeover bid, the Roys still like to throw a party. “Return,” this week’s episode of Succession, opens with Kendall FaceTiming his new fling and sometime rival Naomi Pierce from the bathroom, and she needs him to send her a dick pic “for her records.” This is, weirdly, the most functional sexual relationship on the show. He begrudgingly goes along with her request, and for the first time in the season seems happy. It won’t last.
“Look at them! All the little piggies at the trough,” Logan says, surveying the party. When Marcia suggests their presence is a sign of love, he responds ineloquently, “Love, fear… Whatever.” He’s then pulled into a meeting — “hunkering,” in his parlance — to discuss the takeover bid. His (second) ex-wife, and the mother of the three youngest Roy children, is reportedly wavering on her commitment to keeping Logan and the gang at the helm of the company — the family must go to London to talk her off the ledge. Kendall, for some reason (spoiler alert: it’s the manslaughter he committed), doesn’t want to go to London. “What are we, octopus, giving reacharounds to every fish in the ocean?” he says, unconvincingly. “Relax, branzino-porn man,” Roman replies.
The next day, on the way to London, Logan, in his own way, begins to apologize to Roman for backhanding him at the Argestes conference. “I didn’t know you were there,” he mumbles, lamely. “Did I even make contact?” Roman, playing his part, equals his father’s fumbling avoidance of the situation: “I’m not quite sure what we’re talking about, to be honest.” They both end up agreeing that it couldn’t have happened, because it’s not something Logan does. “Fucking cars, buildings… everywhere,” Roman observes, to change the subject.
Once they get to the plane, it’s revealed that Rhea — until very recently the CEO of Pierce — is coming along for the trip to London. She has somehow vaulted into Logan’s inner circle, and he wants advice on the suitability of his potential successors. In her estimation, Shiv “thinks she’s smarter than she is,” Roman “could actually be good, but nowhere near right now,” and Kendall “has all the shots, but doesn’t know when to play them.”
“Do you think they’re fucking?” Kendall asks Roman. “Oh, god, can you imagine? Like a rhino fucking a hummingbird,” Roman responds.
Logan instigates a feeding frenzy when he asks Kendall and Roman — and Rhea — for their thoughts on a memo Shiv has drafted up. It’s her first move since “dinosaur-gate,” and even Tom had trouble showing enthusiasm for this play. Kendall fires the first shot: “I think the twin quotes from Thomas Aquinas and Amelia Earhart” — Shiv really may not be as smart as she thinks she is — “kicks us off with a bang.” Rhea immediately shows why she’s a power broker: “You can’t blame her for her lack of experience” is a masterful backhand.
Shiv, meanwhile, is being kept as far from the inner circle as possible. Logan ducks her repeatedly, then leaves, and she is fixated on the fact that her role as heir apparent is no longer set in stone. Tom, panicked for his legal safety in the ongoing cruise investigation, has his very reasonable fears brushed aside once again in favor of her obsession with being on Logan’s good side. In what’s becoming a theme, Shiv decides to jet after her father and brothers in search of a confrontation, or just confirmation that she exists.
In Tom’s meeting with lawyers about the history of sexual assaults on Waystar Royco cruises, he tries to minimize as much as possible, to terrible effect. “I’m like an old woman who’s had a baby somehow,” he says, ducking out to go to the bathroom almost immediately. He immediately goes in search of Greg, keeper of the last loose ends from this part of his tenure at the company. Greg has joined a… cult? Tom, only caring about himself, brushes right on past that revelation — something one can only dream develops into a standalone episode soon — to ask about Greg’s experience with the lawyers. Greg immediately dives into his emotional response: “I got a haircut even though I didn’t need one, I guess I just wanted someone to touch my head.” Tom, though, just wants the papers, and starts playing hardball. “I can’t trust you,” he says, and plans a sleepover with Greg to make sure the papers that could destroy his reputation don’t go missing — or, in his words, he’ll break Greg’s legs.
The pair settle on burning the final pages of evidence, though Greg haplessly attempts to come up with new ways to create “insurance” for himself, like getting Tom to confess on tape to destroying evidence. In the end, he settles for swiping a few pages when Tom’s not looking, and stuffing them down the back of his pants.
Logan, in a rare moment of weakness, confides that he has “no fucking idea” what he’s doing in appointing a successor. Rhea is more than happy to jump into the power vacuum, offering to “make this go away,” and Logan silently acquiesces. It quickly becomes clear what she means: playing every angle she can. In a meeting with Shiv, she plays up an attraction to Logan to get her to open up. It works like a charm. “You’re very smart and talented,” Rhea says, probably about 24 hours after saying Shiv isn’t as smart as she thinks she is. Then, she dangles the CEO position at Pierce — “I can float it with clean hands” — and Shiv jumps at it for leverage. It’s a sign of disloyalty when Rhea, presumably, informs Logan of the trap she’s laid, and Shiv is finally, officially, not on deck to inherit her father’s legacy.
If that move seems cruel, it’s nothing compared to what Logan does to Kendall to keep the livelier-seeming husk of a man under the heel of his boot. The family of the young man he killed in a drug-induced car crash are blaming Logan for his death. To keep up appearances, Logan must apologize, and he opts to bring Kendall with him. “We should stick together on this, don’t you agree?”
“Actually, Ken, why don’t you come on in with me,” he says when they arrive at the family’s home. “It looks a little strange, bringing you all this way, and then you sit in the car like a labrador.” He’s inflicting psychological damage to Kendall at every turn, forcing him to see childhood photos of the man he killed. Kendall can’t make it into the living room, and sits dazed in the kitchen, not really putting on a good show as functioning human being. The meeting somehow goes well anyway.
Later, Kendall sneaks to the house and stuffs a wad of bills into the mail slot, a misguided attempt to atone before another attempt at redemption: He gets close to confessing to his mother, who doesn’t want to hear “difficult things” until the morning. When he wakes up, she’s gone.
Previously: I Was Just Dancing