“Vaulter” saw apartment hunting, guttings, and the latest developments in the literal line of succession in another fine episode.
This recap of Succession Season 2, Episode 2, “Vaulter”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Logan Roy is so determined to hold on to Waystar Royco that he won’t even give it away to the person he has decided to give it away to. But such is the way of the obscenely rich — they reserve the right to hold on to whatever they can until the only option left is to pry it from their cold, dead fingers. The question raised by “Vaulter” — which is also, I suppose, the question raised by all of Succession in general — is who will be doing the prying.
As of right now, the likeliest candidate is Shiv. Logan has named her his successor, but that’s a closely-guarded secret, meaning that he could change his mind at any point. And he’s liable to. Logan is explicitly a cold, conniving, deeply untrustworthy man. Shiv knows that, which is why her quitting her job — in true Shiv fashion, I might add — with Gil in “Vaulter” seems such a risky move.
Especially since Shiv has competition. Kendall and Roman, now co-COOs, are both vying for the position; Roman because he’s stupid and self-entitled enough to believe he’s capable of filling it, and Kendall as a means to atone for his multiple attempts to forcefully wrest control of the company from Logan last season. In Succession Season 2, Episode 2 the brothers are tasked with determining the financial viability of Vaulter, the website Kendall enthusiastically purchased a while back. The place is hemorrhaging money and more than half the staff are on the brink of unionization, so a decision has to be made: Kendall wants to nurture the site — it’s his baby, after all — while Roman wants to gut it completely; Logan, gleeful at the prospect of laying off an entire workforce, sides with Roman.
This brief moment of validation is enough to make Roman even more pathetic and insufferable, but it’s a more interesting development for Kendall, who is the one tasked with actually gutting the business. What follows is a wonderfully ruthless switcheroo in which Kendall poses as the company’s savior — setting the betrayal alarm bells ringing among his siblings once again — to access the Vaulter financial records and scare the staff away from a union, before just sauntering into the office and telling everyone they’re fired. Succession is always at its best when it’s straddling lines — of tone, of morality, of expectation — and this whole sequence was the show firing on all cylinders, lulling us into believing Kendall couldn’t possibly shutter something he believes so strongly in just because his father told him to. But he does. And his justification is simply the truth: His father told him to.
It’s sad and pathetic, of course, but it’s also deeply tragic and wildly entertaining — all labels that could be applied to HBO’s drama as a whole, which is so sure of itself at this point that it’s almost comical to watch how relaxed it is about delivering pithy one-liners and setting up elaborate trains of dominoes to knock over at its leisure. You could take a five-minute slice from anywhere in “Vaulters” and be treated to more brutal insults, absurd showcases of unknowable wealth, and brilliant boardroom theatrics than any other show on television has in an entire episode. It’s just that good.
- Tom gets a ridiculous amount of stick in “Vaulters”, from virtually everyone, to such an extent that seeing him angrily swear at Shiv was a clear highlight.
- Connor is still living in a hotel, much to the amusement of everyone except his lady.
- Cousin Greg spends most of “Vaulters” apartment hunting, which is a colossal failure right up until Kendall gifts him an expansive multi-million dollar bachelor pad that he’s just sitting on “until the market starts to move”. This seems like a nice gesture until it becomes clear that Kendall wants to use it as a drug den, which will doubtlessly result in plenty of hysterics going forward.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.