“Dundee” is easily a contender for the coveted title of most excruciating hour ever put to film — brilliant.
This recap of Succession Season 2, Episode 8, “Dundee”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
There is perhaps no better place to announce the official successor of Waystar Royco than at an event specifically designed to celebrate the fifty years Logan (Brian Cox) has spent running the company. It makes perfect sense. In attendance will be everyone Logan most wants to show off to, and those he can’t wait to antagonize with the decision, including his own offspring. You’ll recall that in the previous episode, a masterful bit of subterfuge on the part of Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter) meant that Shiv (Sarah Snook), who had been promised the position as early as the Season 2 premiere, wouldn’t be next in line after all. Succession Season 2, Episode 8, “Dundee” was always going to sting for someone. But we had no idea how much it’d sting for us.
Rhea’s newfound favorite status also gives her a lot of responsibility, including organizing the celebratory event in the first place, hosted in Logan’s native Dundee, which leads to several brilliant moments we’ll get to soon. First, though, extreme pettiness begins as Shiv, still not as clever as she thinks she is, proves herself just clever enough to rally her siblings against Rhea. Kendall (Jeremy Strong) nudges Rhea to mention Logan’s dead sister Rose in a squirm-inducing toast; Shiv makes frequent reference to her duplicity in pretending to drink when she really doesn’t, and so on, and so forth.
Rhea, in fairness, holds her own. She begins to isolate and butter up Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Kendall with the same ruthless efficiency she used to position herself as Logan’s confidante and romantic partner. She quickly figures out what’s happening and starts to defend against it in impressively passive-aggressive ways, with Holly Hunter leaning gleefully into the opportunity to be utterly awful, even among truly awful company. She is, objectively, the best choice for CEO of Waystar Royco. She knows it. Logan knows it. And the kids know it — which is why Shiv slyly convinces her father to go with his business instincts rather than sentimentality (ha!) when choosing his successor, knowing he’ll inevitably choose Rhea.
But why would Shiv do that? Well, the cruise scandal is about to break, and when it does, the CEO will be torn apart by the media. Perhaps she’s as clever as she thinks she is after all.
Anyway, a theme of Succession Season 2, Episode 8 is that Logan’s recollections of an Oliver Twist-style hardscrabble upbringing in Dundee, Scotland seem to have been ludicrously exaggerated. There’s a sequence in which Logan visits the home he grew up in, which earlier he likened to an “open sewer”, and it’s a perfectly lovely semi-detached home — his kids stand on the pavement outside debating what it might be worth in Brooklyn, and conclude it’d be in the millions. (I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s a nice place.) Logan, looking on from the backseat of a car, won’t even go inside. Later, Logan’s brother Ewan (James Cromwell) makes a welcome reappearance, explaining to Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) that if he doesn’t quit working for Logan he’ll be written out of the inheritance, and then dispensing a series of all-time zingers about Logan’s character that I reproduce for your enjoyment here. First, he explains that, while birdwatching, he used to make up sightings of rare species than Ewan would cross out. Then: “He’s morally bankrupt. He’s a nothing man, who may well be more personally responsible for the death of this planet than any other single human being.” On his legacy: “In terms of the lives that will be lost by his whoring for the climate change deniers, there’s a very persuasive argument to be made that he’s worse than Hitler.” And my personal favorite: “The Logan Roy School of Journalism. What’s next, the Jack the Ripper Women’s Health Clinic?”
This is amazing stuff, but it isn’t quite as amazing as the desperate blunder that Roman makes in an ill-conceived idea to win his father’s favor. He’s still negotiating (terribly) with Middle East money man Eduard (Babak Tafti), who would be willing to pump money into Waystar in exchange for regional propaganda, and Eduard has an interest in purchasing the Scottish Premier League football team Hearts. Since Hearts were his father’s boyhood club, Roman agrees to go 50/50 on the deal, becoming the co-owner. When he excitedly tells Logan, he’s informed that he supports Hearts’ rival club, Hibernian. Truly brutal.
But the most brutal thing of all in Succession Season 2, Episode 8 is Kendall deciding to rap to his father about how great he is, an absurdly lengthy sequence that genuinely made me want to scoop my own eyeballs out and plug my ears with them. In my recap of the previous episode, I ended by saying that this show was impossible to look away from. Fittingly, after “Dundee” I have to take that back now.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.