[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Succession, Season 4 Episode 2, “Rehearsal.”]
“I want to know that we’re killing the opposition; slitting their throats,” Logan Roy (Brian Cox) yells from the bullpen of ATN, riling up his version of a crew (read: white people in businesswear). “You’re fucking pirates.”
This week’s episode of Succession picks up shortly after the tight, simmering introduction last week’s premiere brought us, upping the ante in a few ways. Even so, this season feels like it’s still on the on-ramp — we’re clearly gearing up for bigger events, and the restraint exhibited by Jesse Armstrong and company in “Rehearsal” is impressive. This isn’t to say that anything we’ve seen so far has been boring; how could it be, with the consistency of one-liners and head-spinning insults? But these first two entries into Season 4, Succession‘s last dance, have felt like groundwork being laid.
The title of the episode refers to the rehearsal dinner for the impending wedding between Connor (Alan Ruck) and Willa (Justine Lupe), the latter of whom is visibly panicking at the commitment she’s supposed to be making when morning comes. Meanwhile, Shiv (Sarah Snook), Kendall (Jeremy Strong), and Roman (Kieran Culkin) are too caught up in their own escapades and never-ending desire to win a round with their father to properly support Connor on Wedding Eve. Willa might be a runaway bride, and Connor just wants to sing karaoke, but the focus remains on Sandy, Stewie, comparables, and everyone’s next moves.
Yes, Episode 2 grants us an always-welcome appearance by Arian Moayed’s Stewie, whose energy with Kendall could be studied and unpacked in an essay all its own. Whenever the friendship/bromance/rivalry falters or cracks, we get a glimpse of the real feelings everyone in this universe works so hard to mask. The way Stewie pleads for Kendall to hear him out with an impassioned utterance of his name? Theatrics! Drama! Emotion!
Meanwhile, Tom and Greg are busy coping with Logan’s decision to spend more time at ATN going forward, along with the subplot of Logan’s assistant, Kerry (Zoe Winters), being given a shot at a hosting gig (to some quite disastrous results). These executives love to deflect and dodge, and ultimately, it somehow becomes Greg’s responsibility to let Kerry know that she won’t be moving forward in the role. While the focus group he fabricated in a panic might not be real, I’d personally love to see what notes on “arms being wrong for television” would look like.