Season 4 Episode 2 of Succession is another deeply moving, consistently entertaining, and surprisingly funny development in this reliably intense story.
This review contains spoilers for Season 4 Episode 2 of Succession.
After the high-stakes storytelling of last week’s season premiere of Succession, episode 2 takes a moment to breathe and explore the aftermath of the Roy siblings’ decision to acquire PGN and make one final push against their father and his business legacy. It’s much slower and less intense than last week’s episode, but that works excellently and gives the characters some room to grow and contemplate the consequences of their big decisions. It’s just as entertaining and hilarious as Succession has always been, continuing season 4’s ability to blend comedy and tragedy in an effective way.
At the end of last week’s episode, the Roy siblings made the impulsive decision to spend $10 billion of their family fortune on the acquisition of PGN, the rival news company that Logan (Brian Cox) has always dreamed of either owning or destroying. The purchase placed the trio right back into conflict with their father after he betrayed them at the end of Succession’s third season and they lost their jobs at Waystar Royco. Episode 2, fittingly titled “Rehearsal”, slows down the momentum a little and introduces a whole new threat to the GoJo acquisition. When Sandi (Hope Davis) and Stewie (Arian Moayed) float the idea of delaying the process to squeeze some more money from Mattson (Alexander Skarsgard), the Roy siblings find themselves tempted by another opportunity to make life difficult for their father.
Like every other Succession instalment, Season 4 Episode 2 shines thanks to its witty screenplay and brilliant character development. Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin) have been through so much trauma and struggle together over the show’s four seasons, but this episode really focuses on the central family dynamic and explores how these characters have changed and transformed since their introductions to the show. They’re faced with a huge moral dilemma, and their contrasting reactions speak volumes about each character’s beliefs, ideologies, and relationship with Logan in particular. It’s a fairly contained story, but it’s hugely necessary in reestablishing these interpersonal relationships before the show’s inevitably explosive conclusion at the end of the season.
Episode 2 also gives plenty of screentime to some characters that were sidelined in the series premiere, most notably Connor (Alan Ruck) and Wilma (Justine Lupe). The episode takes place on the eve of their wedding, but things quickly turn sour when Wilma flees from their rehearsal and refuses to contact her fiancé. They’ve never had an easy relationship, but “Rehearsal” really emphasizes just how toxic their dynamic is – Connor knows that Wilma is unhappy and doesn’t want to marry him, but he’s so desperate for love and affection that he doesn’t care about that. It’s some rich characterization that’s been missing from Connor’s storyline for a while, so it’s a welcome addition to this episode. Alan Ruck also gives a standout performance, particularly with his dramatic monologue towards the end of the episode.
Season 4 Episode 2 also sees Tom (Matthew MacFadyen) and Greg (Nicholas Braun) break up much of the tension with their reliably hilarious dynamic. From the moment that Logan turns up at ATN (with a demeanour that Greg describes as “like if Santa Claus was a hitman”), the humor doesn’t stop. There’s something about this combination of actors that just works every single time, but they’re still able to keep things serious and compelling when they need to. Episode 2 also features a hilarious running joke about Kerry’s (Zoë Winters) newscaster audition tape, proving that the show’s decision to give her character more screentime is already beginning to pay off.
While Season 4 Episode 2 might not be the most important instalment in this long-running story, it features some of the most crucial and unforgettable moments. The final conversation between Logan and his children is definitely a highlight, not just because of how exceptionally it’s written, but because of just how long audiences have been waiting to see these characters speak so openly about their conflicts and emotions. It was a real payoff, and although it’s only the second episode of the season, it was a moment that definitely felt conclusive for many reasons. Season 4 is also proving that the show’s signature comedy isn’t going anywhere, featuring some of Succession’s funniest running gags and wittiest one-liners to date.
It’s impossible to guess exactly where season 4 of Succession goes from here, but whatever direction the writers decide to take with this story, it’s already shaping up to be an emotional rollercoaster with higher stakes than the show has ever seen. Every single character already has so much on the line, with plenty of hidden betrayals and alliances forming in the shadows that keep these characters just as intriguing and unpredictable as they’ve always been.
Season 4 Episode 2 of Succession is now available to watch on HBO Max.