“Prague” saw Succession at it’s funniest and perhaps most quietly tragic, as the Roy Boys (as I’ve taken to calling them) got together for Tom’s swanky bachelor party.
Nobody goes to Prague in the eighth episode of HBO’s Succession, but everyone goes nuts. It seems fitting that after weeks of boardroom backstabbing the Roy Boys – a 90s boy band if I ever heard one – get to let off some steam at Tom’s bachelor party. Hosted at some exclusive hellhole warehouse accessed through the bowels of an underpass, it’s a festival for the flesh, where the rich and debauched can do pretty much whatever they like to one another. For the Roy Boys, it’s like stepping into neon Narnia.
Needless to say, everyone present has an ulterior motive. Roman has been despatched to acquire yet more local TV stations from Logan’s mortal enemy, Sandy (Larry Pine), who, it turns out, is in bed with Kendall’s college buddy Stewy (Arian Moayed) thanks to some complex investment loophole. Which means that Sandy technically sits on the board of Waystar-Royco, which I’m sure Logan will be particularly thrilled about.
Kendall, on the other hand, has distanced himself from his father’s company altogether. “Prague” is set a month after Kendall’s relapse last week, and since then he has morphed into a hilariously try-hard tech-bro who earnestly says, “I’m the ******* who can be your Warhol,” when trying to secure a deal with some Millennial art students. He’s at the shindig primarily to score ketamine. Here’s a fun fact: When I was about nineteen I took so much of that stuff that I genuinely thought I was growing an additional pair of arms under my own, like Goro from Mortal Kombat.
Greg’s there to babysit Kendall, at the request of Logan, who assures him that if he accomplishes the task maybe some conversations can he had about his place in the company. And while he fails at the task rather miserably, he tries very hard, mostly by snorting two lines of cocaine so that Kendall can’t take enough to overdose on. Talk about throwing yourself on the sword. Even Connor is present, hopped up on mollies and harassing women with his doomsday-prepper conspiracy theories.
As is typical of Succession, “Prague” started out as a bit of a lark, but swiftly became a capsule tragedy, with various uncomfortable realities, traumatic memories and depraved sexual acts brought into the glare of the roaming strobe-lights. At some point, incredibly, Roman became the most sympathetic member of the family; this hopeless weasel, toiling thanklessly in the shadows of his father and brother, forced into a cage as a child and made to eat dogfood for Kendall’s amusement. At least, that’s how he remembers it. For Kendall and Connor, the dog pound game was Roman’s; for some reason, he liked it. And the dog food was really chocolate cake. Or was it?
It speaks to how deeply damaged these people are that they can’t even keep their own dysfunction straight. Who to believe? “Prague” passes sympathy around the cast like a bizarre game of emotional Pass the Parcel: Roman’s pathetic; Kendall’s a junkie, shackled to his surname; Connor’s old; Greg is desperate for membership in the Roy’s Only club; and Tom’s fiancée is in bed with another man. And by episode’s end he has ********** into his own mouth.
There’s a shot, from behind, of the Roy Boys leaving, their silhouettes lined up, Kendall’s slightly apart. It’s a striking image; character development in still monochrome. Regret curls from them like steam from a drain. All except Kendall, stood alone. He just shook the hand of his father’s nemesis, made an agreement to take Waystar-Royco by force and hack away its leprous appendages. Whatever healthy limbs remain, he’ll control, to puppet as he likes. And those art students? They’re junkies, sluts. He’ll destroy them. By the end of “Prague” he’s back in the formal attire, back ascending the escalator, back in the boardroom. That’s why he was stood apart. He can do – can become – the one thing his siblings can’t; the single worst thing imaginable. He can be just like his father.
“Prague” was the eighth episode of HBO’s Succession. Check out our full series coverage.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.