[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 2 of Succession, “Mass in Time of War.”]
If Succession‘s Season 3 premiere episode was about the beginning of the Roy family civil war, Episode 2, “Mass in Time of War,” is about the deliberation and drawing of lines as participants weigh their chances on either side of the battle.
When the episode opens, headlines read, “Where is media mogul Logan?” and as Shiv (Sarah Snook) takes in the news that Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) has been named Waystar Royco’s interim CEO, she avoids Logan’s (Brian Cox) calls. The Roy patriarch isn’t pleased with this treatment and he’s quick to follow up with son Roman (Kieran Culkin) over the phone, asking where everyone is and what’s going on.
Roman explains that he’s going home to get cleaned up and Logan makes it clear he needs everyone’s support if he’s going to get through the mess Kendall (Jeremy Strong) created for him. “I need you showing your face for me, son,” Logan tells Roman at the same time he asks that the COO keep Gerri close…
Meanwhile, Kendall asks Greg (Nicholas Braun) to call his grandfather Ewan (James Cromwell), but Greg is reluctant. When Kendall asks if Greg has any doubts about the situation, the cousin worries that he’ll end up back in Congress, someplace he’s too young to be so often, saying that Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) keeps calling to ask about the papers Kendall mentioned in his initial allegations against Logan and the company. Kendall reassures Greg that he doesn’t plan to burn him and gears up to get the young man a lawyer.
As Kendall takes more meetings, Greg leaves just as a trojan horse-like statue is being delivered. One the way out, he spots Shiv entering the building and answers a call from Tom, who is trying to gauge Greg’s position in the fight. Greg tries to make Tom understand he’s not taking sides in the situation, despite threats Logan might have against him.
In exchange for letting him be, Greg tells Tom that Shiv has shown up at Kendall’s. Upon hearing this, Tom attempts to act like he already knew, but it’s definitely an important piece of information for the somewhat concerned husband caught between his wife and her father, and so he asks Greg to keep that info quiet for now.
Upstairs, Jess (Juliana Canfield) shows Kendall the horse statue and reveals that Stewy (Arian Moayed) sent it for him. Kendall sees the item as a mind-game and tells her to send it back and request some time with the business associate. At the same time, Shiv is arriving upstairs to meet with her brother. “Oh, there he is, the little man that started this big war,” she says upon coming face-to-face with the Roy family’s black sheep.
Back at Waystar, Roman joins Gerri in the offices and tries to make small talk, noticing that she’s taking photos of her name on the news. She mentions that the pictures are for her daughters, but shuts down any additional discussions about personal things. Their conversation includes strategizing about their next move, with Gerri mentioning that she appreciates Roman’s support despite his loose-cannon ways. When Roman talks about setting up an executive committee, she’s open to listening and tells Roman his apprenticeship begins now.
Meanwhile, Kendall tries to work on recruiting Shiv for his team. She admits that what Logan did, throwing Kendall under the bus for Waystar, was cold, but that she’s still weighing her loyalties despite not being selected as CEO. Logan is losing it on his end in Sarajevo though as he keeps trying to track down Shiv, saying, “The world is wobbling.” Eager to get a lawyer and get his house in order, Logan calls Connor (Alan Ruck) to thank his eldest for holding down the fort. The brief exchange turns to resolve in Connor’s eyes as he deliberates his next move.
Shiv, meanwhile, is playing everything close to the cuff as she pushes Kendall to show her the physical evidence he’s alleging will ruin their father’s role at the company. He won’t budge, though, as he refuses to show her evidence he says is currently being copied unless she promises to side with him.
When Roman arrives and they agree to bring him into the conversation, they have to gear up for a dynamic shift and put their game faces on. Greg worries about lawyering up himself, inquiring with a law student friend at his apartment when a knock sounds at the door. It’s a man named Oliver Noonan (John Sanders), a lawyer sent by Waystar. Scared about the options, Greg decides to take some time to think alone and away from the Roys and their mess.
Before Roman arrives upstairs, Kendall’s lawyer Lisa (Sanaa Lathan) tries to convey the importance of chatting before he’s possibly subpoenaed. But according to Kendall, he has bigger fish to fry right now — in other words, trying to convince Roman to join his team. As Shiv takes a call with Tom where she lies about being with Kendall. Kendall mentions wanting to work together with Roman and reveals he’s feeling cleansed after taking down Logan.
Greg isn’t feeling so cleansed when he meets Ewan, who arrives in New York City to help his grandson find representation. The old man isn’t pleased with the situation and says he doesn’t like seeing dirty laundry washed in public, even if Greg says what Kendall did was for the good of the company.
As Kendall continues to work on his siblings, Roman and Shiv are still backing Logan, and when Connor shows up, Kendall brings up the idea of a sibling press conference. As all of these ideas are floated around, Kendall tries to paint a picture of rejuvenation for a dying brand, Connor wants to keep things nice and simple, and Shiv can’t help but shine a light on Gerri and Roman’s dynamic and what that could mean moving forward.
Kendall wants to have Waystar stand accountable for cruises and the allegations in order to clean their hands and move forward, giving his siblings something to consider while he chats with Stewy about backing him against Logan. When he rejoins his siblings, they weigh the options, Shiv thinks it’s an opportunity that could work in their favor, but Roman is afraid that ganging up on Logan could actually kill the man. Agreeing to keep the conversation amongst themselves, the siblings take a moment.
Meanwhile, Logan recruits the help of his estranged wife Marcia (Hiam Abbass) in order to improve his optics and works out negotiations on what she’ll get in return for her cooperation in rehabbing his image.
Stateside, Shiv calls Tom and admits she’s at Kendall’s as she looks for his advice. He reveals that the Bosnians want Logan to leave and so she should seize the opportunity to become “king potato” upon his return. Gerri is honest with Roman when she says that they could defeat Logan, but that none of the siblings will come out as CEO if they do. As they reconvene, the siblings find that Logan has sent them a box of donuts that play a mind game of their own. Spooking any chance of a team-up, Connor, Shiv, and Roman leave Kendall in the lurch, and it isn’t long before Shiv and Roman are chatting up Logan over the phone.
When Logan arrives back in New York, Shiv goes to meet him, but she stays in the car in a power move that leaves Logan naming her Waystar’s sitting president. He tells his daughter she’ll be “my eyes and ears.”And realizing he’s in this battle alone, Kendall meets with his lawyers to gear up for war. What will Shiv’s new role entail? How will Kendall fight now that he’s untethered from the rest of the Roys entirely? Tune in next week to find out.
Succession, Season 3, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO