Succession
Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong, Alan Ruck, and Sarah Snook, photo credit: Peter Kramer/HBO

While the first episode of Succession was effective in setting the series up for success, this weeks episode felt like the polar opposite.

What was so striking about the newest show to join HBO is how well written it seemed and the chemistry between each cast members appeared to be fantastic. Where did the show go wrong?

Jessie Armstrong (the shows creator) had appeared to be setting up the season for just an onslaught of family bickering, backstabbing, and even a bit of debauchery. It had seemed to me that Succession (which airs Sunday nights at 10 pm) was destined for future success.

Instead, last night’s second episode was the perfect combination of tedium and melodramatics.

Succession
Jeremy Strong, photo credit: Peter Kramer/HBO

The narrative behind Succession’s second episode centered around Logan (Brian Cox) and how each child wanted to handle his illness. For those who missed the first episode, Logan fell ill during the chopper ride home and was rushed to a hospital.

As time ticks away, the board members are pestering the children for a plan of succession (in the event of his passing). Without a plan, the value of Wayster Royco would plummet rapidly. Greg (Nicholas Braun) still isn’t sure where his place is in the family. Kendall (Jeremy Strong) is desperately trying to get his siblings to support his plan of being the acting CEO.

Eventually, the family grows tired of his pleas and agrees to their brother’s idea. Just as he is taking a moment to reflect on the events of the day, the general counsel Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron) gives Kendall some shocking news.

To say the writing in last night’s episode was uninspired would be an understatement. It appeared as if Succession’s second episode had parts of it ripped from a soap opera. Most of the story-line in Sunday night’s episode was extremely predictable and didn’t reflect what Armstrong had crafted last week.

Nothing was going to alter what was going on with Logan so spare me the banter questioning the medical team. The intrigue of Succession comes from each member of Logan‘s family being manipulative. Based on last weeks episode, the Roy’s should have been less somber and more cutthroat.

Kieran Culkin and J. Smith Cameron, photo credit: Peter Kramer/HBO

The chemistry in last night’s episode of Succession was non-existent for about 99% of the episode. Most of the time we were subjected to discussions about flowers, doctors, slippers, and smelling a sweater. It appeared as if they were going through the motions. The only notable exception to this would be Kiernan Culkin who is the most charismatic cast member through two episodes.

While Succession was a disappointment last night, folks should sit tight with this show and let’s see how it all plays out. Not every episode is going to be a winner, but let’s hope that this isn’t a sign of things to come.

 

 

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I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with Dewey. It took me two days to watch this episode. So slow. And ridiculous that Tom would propose to Shiv in the middle of all the chaos. Why would Matthew McFayden agree to play such a buffoon, when he is such an amazing actor? I don’t find the acting all that great either. Culkin is at least cute and has a personality. None of the others pop off the screen. Except I do like Gerry. The sycophant nephew? No one is that much of a bumbling fool. Hoping Ep. 3 is great, or I’m out! At least “The Affair” starts on Sunday….

  2. SPOILER ALERT: “When the stock price hits $130”— that line—does the general counsel mean the price will go down to $130 at which point the 3rd party company can execute it’s debt collection; or the price will go UP to $130 and then they execute? I think she means the price will go down to $130 if Kendall steps in. Therefore, Kendall is actually going to reject the CEO position in order to keep the price from going down… any thought or clarification on this twist would be super helpful!

      • That’s it? You’re not sure? Gee, thanks, Dewey. First you bash the episode to smithereens and then, when someone comes in and has an insightful question you mail it in with a 3-word response? I need a 2nd opinion. I came to you. I reached out.

        Think about it. What happens when the stock price hits $130? The 3rd party can collect. Thats a huge plot element you never mentioned nor did you have any clue about. Think about it.

        I’m watching you from here on out to make sure your reviews are on point. Or you can block me (wouldn’t be shocked), but I’ll still be watching. No days off!

  3. I too was disappointed with the second episode. Many of the lines of banter between the siblings seemed more scripted and juvenile than reality. I agree that they should all be in their corners plotting against each other rather than behaving like brats.

  4. I hear ya. I think I really enjoyed the fact that it took the same ol ‘Heir to the throne’ trope with a dad that is constantly questioning his children’s loyalty, skills, contributions, etc.(which Logan does to a degree) and turned it on its head by revealing that his empire is in massive debt…which i felt was an excellent twist since it changes the dynamics of Brian Cox’s character. Instead of viewing him as this disapproving, grumpy old dad, he may be more compassionate than the audience realizes. Yes, he’s been disappointed with some of Kendall’s questionable business tactics and worries about him being fresh out of rehab just 3 yrs prior, but maybe it’s not just a question of trust. Perhaps he wants to stay on longer in order to clean up his own mess and not release that burden of debt onto his family. Of course he’s not soft enough to prob admit that to Ken anytime soon, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
    I am enjoying Jeremy Strong’s performance very much. He’s in over his head but is trying his best to not let that show. Also, I have siblings of my own, and I can attest to how realistic their banter is. The soap opera comment didn’t make any sense to me. I think that the writing may seem mundane and uninspired to you because there is not a punch to every line, but then again, life doesn’t have punch to every line all of the time. For example, just the nuanced laughs and *ouch glances that Shiv was giving Roman when he was bashing his brother about not being a can opener was priceless, as well as the wrestling matches she gets in with Roman. You see the love there but there is relentless competition all of the time. I believe those aspects were portrayed extremely well in this episode. Anyways, here’s to watching this Sunday. Cheers

    • For me, the first episode set the bar so high that this one seemed dull in comparison. I am not dismissing you or anyone’s take on the episode because that is the beauty of television or film … everyone takes something away from the experience. I look forward to discussing our takeaways from Episode 3. Thanks for taking the time to comment and for checking out the site.

  5. I thought the second episode was good, and well written. I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy it. The sibling’s fought realistically and the subtle jokes landed. I think you should review other shows. This one may be out of your league.

    • Hey John,
      I liked the first show and see the points you’ve made. However, the second episode wasn’t something which clicked for me. The beautiful thing about that is we always have next week. While I can’t get into what transpires going forward with the show, please come back and check out our review of the third episode. It should post late Sunday night or early Monday morning. Thank you for taking the time comment.

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