*Spoiler Warning for Season 2 of Succession*
Simply put: HBO’s Succession is one of the premium cable network’s very best series at the moment. After a rocky start to its rookie run, the Roy family—imagine if the Lannisters were modern day media moguls—eventually found its Darwinian footing amidst the political jockeying of its would-be contenders for the throne. Having seen the first five episodes of its sophomore effort, which premiered Sunday night with a surprise turn, Succession is on the verge of its best run of episodes yet.
In “The Summer Palace,” devastating patriarch and loose Rupert Murdoch stand-in Logan Roy (Brian Cox) finally appeared to tap a surprise successor to his massive media conglomerate after years of pitting his sons against one another: his daughter Shiv (Sarah Snook).
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This may or may not have come as a shock to viewers depending on how they value the one-time usurper-turned-lackey Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) and his wild younger brother Roman (Kieran Culkin). Shiv has long stood on the outside with a successful career as a political consultant, but now she has what seems to be a clear path to the summit of the Waystar-Royco conglomerate. It’s no understatement to say that this is the focal point of season 2’s drama.
“That’s a really tricky one for her to have to navigate because she’s not allowed to tell anybody and so desperately, of course, wants to,” Snook told The Hollywood Reporter. “Finally it all really does come out, but it drives a bit of a wedge between them all, where the brothers feel that they were sidelined. It’s interesting, because, for the most part, I would say Shiv is often sidelined for the sake of them, and so when the tables are turned, they don’t like a taste of their own medicine. It poses difficulties for not just her and her brothers, but her and Tom as well.”
Succession posted modest ratings in its debut season, barely cracking HBO’s top-15 in live viewership numbers. But the series doesn’t glorify the waste, excesses and morality void of billionaires like The Wolf of Wall Street. It may be less of a commercial fare as a result—even Game of Thrones broke up its dialogue-heavy structure with occasional dragon battles—but it’s more than deserving of finding a more sizable audience with season 2.