‘Succession’ Season 2 Finale Postmortem: Brian Cox & Creator Jesse Armstrong On Making A “Blood Sacrifice” & What’s Next – Deadline
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major plot details about the Season 2 finale of HBO’s Succession.
Similar to how Michael Corleone declared “It was you, Fredo” in Godfather II, when it came to last night’s “blood sacrifice” in the season 2 finale of HBO’s Succession, “This Is Not For Tears”, it was always papa bear, Roy family patriarch, and Waystar Royco boss Logan Roy played by Brian Cox.
Both Cox and the show’s creator Jesse Armstrong tell Deadline this morning that the finale was well planned for some time with no other options on the table in regards who would be fired from Waystar Royco. Many of us in the press were guessing that it could be goofy son-in-law Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), green but keen cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), or the noble and eloquent high-ranking exec Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) in regards to who would be the public fall-guy at the company for a cruise scandal that involved sexual harassment and passengers overboard. Logan chose his emotionally embattled, but brilliant son Kendall (Jeremy Strong) who saved the company’s face before a Congressional hearing on the scandal, under the philosophy that the Incas would sacrifice a child to the Sun, one who they loved so much, to see the sun rise again. That’s what had to be done here for Waystar Royco in Kendall taking the bullet.
Oh, but, no. Absolutely not. In the final moments of last night’s finale, Kendall threw papa bear under the bus, fingering his father the cruise scandal, who knew about the shenanigans all along. Kendall had the assistance of Greg, who was holding on to photocopied smoking-gun documents.
Cox tells us that the hints of Logan being “the blood sacrifice” as the character called it were there all along.
“As soon as he gets the call from Phillipe, he knows there’s a blood sacrifice. He doesn’t put himself in the frame, but he realizes that he’s also in the frame when he says ‘It could be me’. In Logan’s purity and punitiveness, he doesn’t consider himself a victim of something he did not take care of. He misjudged it. He also figured, if I’m going to take the fall, better for it to come from my own family than at the shareholders meeting” says Cox.
So what happens next? Does Logan go to jail? Does Logan have a rabbit he can pull out of his hat like he did when Stewy (Arian Moayed) was about to takeover the company with Kendall at the end of season 1? Does Stewy now swoop up Waystar Royco? Can Kendall, in the wake of his father saving his face from a Chappaquiddick-like incident in London at the end of season 1, really get away with his accusations? And will season 3, like this past season, be about the jockeying of sister Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Kendall over who’ll be the heir of the media conglom?
“It’s all up for grabs,” says Cox. Armstrong, natch, concurs telling us that his assembly of 8-10 writers haven’t converged yet on Season 3. Cameras roll next spring.
Also don’t count the wild and crazy Roman out (Kieran Culkin) out. Talk about character arc, the wisenheimer brat proved his worth in meeting Turkish financiers for a billion dollar thrust into Waystar Royco (to take them private), promptly realizing there was empty interest, all in the face of a potential terrorist incident where the young exec feared for his life.
“That fear he had over being kidnapped and seeing through that false premise, suddenly Roman has become considerable. For Logan, it’s a ‘That’s my boy’ moment,” says Cox.
For Logan, when its comes to the Roy children, it’s about their mettle. Still, why is papa always toying with them and dispensing empty promises?
“I don’t think he’s toying, he’s giving them lessons in a hard life. These are entitled children who’ve had everything done for them, and they need to be schooled on the harsh realities of business, which is Waystar Royco. He’s testing his children if they have the mettle in them, and for a lot of episodes, the mettle is not clear. Logan does love his children, but at the same time, it’s all about their worth in terms of the company. It’s about the nature of succession,” explains Cox.
“Kendall is skilled at doing Kendall stuff, and he loves Kendall. He’s been so protective of him through this entire episode, but at the same time, with the death of the man (at end of season one), Logan knows that Kendall is never quite getting it. He knows he’s capable, especially in that scene before Congress, but Kendall doesn’t step up to the plate enough,” continues Cox.
For the entertainment media nerd fan absorbing Succession, the Murdoch family and the Fox-Disney merger are loud echoes in Succession, especially as Waystar Royco tries to stay alive as one of the big companies in a changing media landscape. However, Armstrong continues to state that they aren’t continual inspirations for the series, this despite the fact that the series was spawned from the latter’s spec The Murdochs
“We read the financial papers and there’s a ton of tech and media mergers and acquisitions we’re likely to take inspiration from,” says Armstrong remaining mum on the specific corporations.
Succession Emmy-nominated pilot director and series EP Adam McKay told us during Deadline’s Crew Call podcast that in launching the HBO series, “The breakthrough of the show was that we don’t have to just do the Murdochs.”
“All of these dynastic families, all these wealthy families, they’re all similar,” McKay told us, “sure there’s two cups of flour in this recipe that are Murdochs, but there’s another cup that’s the Maxwells, the Trumps and the royal families.”
For Cox through two seasons, the Roys are now a big media family unto their own next to the other dynasties out there.
Says Cox, “The Roys are entirely a media family unto themselves and different from all those other guys. Logan is self-made. Rupert Murdoch wasn’t self made, it was an inherited business. But it’s all these entitled children and the realities they have to deal with, that’s the problem.”
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