Logan Roy finally tastes defeat in “Argestes”, a secluded warren of wealth and privilege where the 1% eat their own.
This recap of Succession Season 2, Episode 6, “Argestes”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
I can’t imagine many places worse than the titular Argestes, an annual summit where the ludicrously wealthy and powerful share ideas and stroke themselves off over overpriced Cobb salads. But at the same time, I can’t imagine a better setting for an episode of HBO’s Succession, which is always at the peak of its brilliance when it traps the various sociopathic members of the Roy clan under one roof. It’s especially enjoyable in Succession Season 2, Episode 6 since the summit occurs right in the middle of both a major acquisition and a damning New York magazine exposé shedding light on a variety of cover-ups — from sexual misconduct to murder — that occurred on the Waystar Royco company cruise lines.
It’s a brilliant set-up because Logan (Brian Cox) has to frantically dispatch his children to secure the deal or at least other options in case the deal falls through before the story goes public; and when the story does go public he has to task all his children with containing the fallout while also trying not to publicly implode. This is how we get brilliantly ripe material such as Roman (Kieran Culkin) trying to secure private sector investment by taking coke bumps with a Middle Eastern mogul, and Shiv (Sarah Snook) answering a last-minute summons so that they can present a female face to the public during a scheduled panel.
This would all be entertaining in itself, but it’s made better by the Roys being simply incapable of not using PR disasters to fuel their personal agendas. This is how we get Shiv unsubtly comparing her father to a dinosaur, Roman being perfectly willing to turn ATN into a Middle Eastern propaganda wing just to feel useful, and Kendall (Jeremy Strong) smugly bragging to Stewy (Arian Moayed) about Waystar becoming too big and powerful to touch, in a manner almost scientifically designed to backfire. And, believe it or not, Argestes backfires.
What is surprising is some of the ways in which this manifests. Furious with Shiv for having publicly undermined him, Logan gives Roman the pimp hand, knocking out one of his teeth, and Kendall immediately, instinctively leaps to his brother’s defense. What’s tragic about this is that for all their deeply-ingrained neuroses and dysfunctions, the Roys are also programmed to reflexively protect themselves and each other from their father. His public-facing legacy is of wealth and power, but his private legacy is of abuse; a cruel, self-obsessed man who relentlessly tormented those who loved him the most.
What’s also surprising is that, for once, Logan isn’t able to wield his wealth and power to a pyrrhic victory. Nan (Cherry Jones), in light of Waystar’s myriad cover-ups and unconscionable public conduct, backs out of the deal, leaving Logan desperately screaming after her as she departs. A rebranding by Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) and Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) to avoid potential legal ramifications over Waystar’s aggressive data collection practices also backfires, with their play on words misspelled on the panel presentation as “We Here For You”. Waystar Royco comes out of Argestes looking nothing but ludicrous, with nobody there for anyone. And that seems like a fitting outcome to me.