Succession is quite possibly the best show on television right now, an epic drama of brilliant acting and the most cutting insults you’ll ever hear. The show is about who will take control of the vast business empire built by Logan Roy and is an endless battle between family members and executives of Waystar RoyCo that sometimes feels more like Game of Thrones or I, Claudius. Here are two scenes that exemplify what the show can do – from quiet sadness to explosive rage.
Boar On The Floor
This is one of the most intense and uncomfortable things I have ever watched. At a retreat comprising of the Roy family and the top people in Waystar RoyCo, Logan is determined to find out if there is a traitor in the group and to demonstrate his authority. Logan picks out three potential traitors – Karl, CFO of the company; Tom, his son-in-law; and Greg, his brother’s grandson and they play the “game” Boar on the Floor. What follows could be a scene from Lord of the Flies or a documentary on a sinister cult as they break people.
Logan whips up the non-boars into chants and accusations, whilst ritual humiliation is doled out to the “boars”. It is awful to see those who could have been picked but weren’t take gleeful enjoyment out of the game and only a few of the older, more seasoned professionals present seem troubled. No one objects. This is Logan, a man known for his cruelty and ruthlessness, in his most frightening and upsetting. It’s hard to tell whether this is Logan genuinely blind with fury lashing out or this is a more calculated display of power and I’m not sure which is scarier. We see Logan’s fixer Colin quickly ushering out the wait staff and Kendall stop his brother Roman filming the display, both aware that this is not something where you want to have witnesses. Logan flicks between his usual shouting and bullying behaviour to, whenever anyone questions what is going on, saying it’s just a fun game.
Notably, it is not Logan’s children, Kendall and Roman, who are singled out, despite Kendall already launching one coup against his father and Roman having suspicious phone calls and are as likely traitors as anyone else. This perhaps suggests it was never about finding the traitor but simply exerting authority by humiliating people. The other child in the picture of taking over, Shiv, is not present and as Tom is her husband you would hope she would object to this.
In the final episode of the second season, we see a heartbreaking scene between Shiv and Tom. The two characters married at the end of the first season and the second season has been hard on their relationship (see Boar on the Floor). It is one of the most honest conversations the two ever have, or at least Tom’s part of it is.
Many people, including me, thought at the beginning of the show Tom was only with Shiv for the money and power. So to hear Tom actually complain, to share how he’s been hurt by Shiv (and her family) is almost a surprise, someone only out for money would not do this. Tom delivers one of the most heartbreaking lines of the entire show, in fairness a show not known for dealing with romantic heartbreak or romantic happiness, “I just, uh, I wonder if, I wonder if the sad I’d be without you would be less than the sad I get from being with you.” It is hard to feel too sorry for Tom, or indeed most of the characters, as he’s done terrible things but it is an incredibly rare moment of vulnerability. The battle to control the multi-billion dollar business empire relies on constant lies and schemes to get power and it’s sad that Shiv and Tom’s relationship works in a similar way. In an earlier episode, Logan tells Shiv she purposefully married a man who was not her equal so she would never feel threatened by him, the only way she could trust a husband was to have one she would always have far more power then. Tom’s declaration of his unhappiness and the potential end of their relationship is probably not what Shiv had in mind.
While Shiv was not present for Boar on the Floor she was present for the discussion about who should be the “blood sacrifice” needed in the scandal engulfing Waystar RoyCo and she barely objected when Tom was put forward. Shiv’s argument that if Logan thought she was just sticking up for her husband out of loyalty that would have been worse for Tom, but I think that’s what he really wanted.
Succession can be incredibly funny and anyone looking for comedy I’d suggest these scenes – Tom and Greg testifying before congress, any scene concerning Connor’s political ambitions (Connor being the eldest of Logan’s children but showed no interest in running the business), Kendall’s rap tribute to his father, the game of Good Tweet Bad Tweet.
Also Read: Five Reasons To Watch Succession