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‘Succession’ season 4 recap – episode 2: ‘Rehearsal’

(From left to right) Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong and Juliana Canfield play Roman, Kendall and Jess in “Succession.” The second episode of the fourth season premiered Sunday. (Courtesy of David Russell/HBO)

“Rehearsal”

Directed by Becky Martin 

HBO

April 2

By Natalie Agnew

April 3, 2023 6:53 p.m.

This post was updated April 4 at 8:42 p.m.

It is never just about business, especially for the Roy family.

On Sunday, episode two of “Succession” season four, “Rehearsal,” picks up right where the first episode left off with a familial rift deepened by Logan Roy’s (Brian Cox) unlikely defeat and the imminent GoJo sale. The battleground is the lead-up to Connor Roy (Alan Ruck) and Willa Ferreyra’s (Justine Lupe) wedding, to which Nicholas Britell’s score sets an ominous backdrop. Opening with Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) plotting their dramatic reconfiguration of Pierce Global Media, there are already visible cracks in the “rebel alliance,” given the opportunity to team up with Sandi Furness (Hope Davis) and Stewy Hosseini (Arian Moayed) to derail the GoJo deal.

All it takes are two perceived slights from Logan to pull the kids’ focus away from their new beginning and toward delivering a second round of payback to their father. Shiv is the first to turn when she gets “mommed” when Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) takes a page from Logan’s playbook and meets with all the high-profile lawyers in New York so that they are “conflicted out” and cannot represent Shiv. Soon after, the kids are unable to use Waystar’s helicopter because their father voids access, resulting in their late arrival to Connor’s rehearsal dinner.

[Related: ‘Succession’ season 4 recap — episode 1: ‘The Munsters’]

Meanwhile, Logan makes a surprise visit to ATN, “terrifyingly moseying” around the floor as Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) recounts in a hushed panic to Tom over the phone. Upon Tom’s arrival, Logan continues to pick apart the carcass of the newsroom, questioning costs and mocking the workers as “Stakhanovites” who are barely capable of composing an email. The other issue at hand is that Logan is pushing for his girlfriend and assistant Kerry (Zoe Winters) to become an anchor, going so far as to have her record a laughably awful audition tape. In an “incredibly delicate piece of diplomacy,” Tom calls it an interesting idea in a transparent attempt to appease Logan.

The rehearsal dinner has already been derailed upon the siblings’ arrival with runaway bride Willa and an upset Connor drinking silently alone. Although changing scenery with a “fun and real” bar, Connor is unable to stop desperately tracking an unresponsive Willa on his phone without her knowledge while the others can’t leave business at the door. In a familiar sibling power struggle, Kendall and Shiv are a united front advocating for upping the ante on the GoJo sale, while Roman feels slighted by his lack of input, eventually agreeing anyway.

Their night of stilted normalcy drags on with Connor insisting on going to a karaoke bar, treating his siblings to his monotone rendition of “Famous Blue Raincoat” by Leonard Cohen, which Roman describes as “Guantanamo-level shit.” The song is a pointed choice about a doomed romantic relationship and the narrator being killed by his own brother in a nod to the tumultuous nature of the Roy sibling bond. But, not unexpectedly, Logan crashes their pity party, though it is with Connor’s invitation in his effort to mediate the family dispute before his wedding.

In the Roy family’s first time all together on screen this season, Logan extends a half-hearted apology for recent injuries, although his children see this as a play toward stopping the deal rather than a sincere attempt to mend their broken relationship. Kerry floats the deal as a figurative reset button a chance for the family to start over – but too much damage has been done, as Kendall and Shiv read off lists of Logan’s lifetime of transgressions. Defeated, Logan says, “I love you, but you are not serious people,” before storming out.

[Related: ‘The Last of Us’ season 1 recap — episode 4: ‘Please Hold to My Hand]

Faced with his broken family yet again, the often-forgotten Connor shares a glimpse of a lifetime of being ignored, and Ruck delivers his most memorable monologue thus far. In a paradoxically blasé and broken tone, Connor says, “The good thing about having a family that doesn’t love you is you learn to live without it.” He repeats that it’s fine if Willa doesn’t come back and if she doesn’t love him because while the others are chasing after scraps of their father’s love, he is at peace without it.

Connor’s revelation on the sibling dynamic comes to fruition. That same night, Roman breaks from the alliance to meet with his father about the GoJo sale. Betrayal comes at a small price, with Logan offering him a role at ATN as his “firebreather” and saying the three words: “I need you.”

“Succession” weddings are always a bloodbath, and this one was set up to be no different.

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Natalie Agnew
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