Succession is a show about family. But the HBO series is also very much a show about business: money, power, influence, ego, and the machinations of corporate America.
As such, it’s the perfect show for us at Fortune to recap as the saga of the Roy family and their Waystar Royco media empire unfolds. In the ninth episode of the new season: Con-Heads, dumpster fire pirate death ships, and the poorest rich person in America. (You can read last week’s recap here.)
A trip to Capitol Hill to answer allegations of serious misconduct, and alleged attempts to cover up that misconduct, is the last thing any major media conglomerate could possibly want. For Waystar Royco, such a trip is also happening while it’s in the thick of a hostile takeover bid, with a crucial shareholder meeting that will determine the company’s future only two-and-a-half weeks away.
Logan Roy knows how inopportune this is, which is why he’s so mad (“NOOOO!” Brian Cox furiously bellows) when he finds out that he and his family have to go to D.C. in the wake of a high-profile, 60 Minutes-esque TV newsmagazine exposé on Waystar’s cruises division. It will be, in Logan’s own words, a “shit show,” and it subjects his leadership to the “vicissitudes of public opinion” ahead of the shareholder vote, as his longtime adviser Frank Vernon notes.
Gerri, befitting a general counsel who’s handled her share of legal and PR firestorms, quarterbacks Waystar’s response: try to pin it all on their late “Uncle Mo,” Lester McClintock, who oversaw the unsavory dealings at cruises, and offer Bill Lockhart—who memorably handed his successor, Tom, the keys to the cruises “death pit” in season one—as a sacrificial lamb.
But trying to “kill Bill” is easier said than done, and as Tom finds out, so is testifying before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Tom gets filleted from all different directions by Shiv’s old boss, Sen. Gil Eavis, in a manner unlike anything you actually see from the lawmakers who question corporate executives in real life; by the time he gets back to Waystar’s makeshift war room, he’s basically in tears. But you know what they say: you can’t make a Tomlette without breaking some Greggs.
In the meantime, Roman has been dispatched by his father to see through Waystar’s Plan B: central Asian dry powder via Rome’s acquaintance, Eduard, whose family has the wealth to take Waystar private and ward off Sandy Furness’s bear hug once and for all. It’s a great, almost touching pep talk that Logan gives Roman before sending him off (“Anyone can do a deal; it’s getting the right number from the right suit,” he says), and it actually works. Roman, for his part, does the prep work necessary, brushing up on Turko-Azerbaijani relations and delivering a well-thought, compelling pitch to his prospective investors.
Poor Roman, of course, can’t account for the anti-corruption crackdown that sees him, Waystar CFO Karl, and their banker buddy Jamie holed up in a Turkish hotel for hours. But in the end, it looks like Roman may have done enough to make a deal; what that deal eventually ends up looking like for Waystar is an entirely different matter.
The rest of the Roy family’s stay in D.C. sees them in various stages of damage control. Logan plays the deeply remorseful yet charming octogenarian in his testimony and passes the buck to Kendall, who comes out swinging against Gil in defense of Waystar. Logan also plays games with Rhea and Shiv, sending them both out to “talk” to a former cruises employee who’s set to testify about what she saw at the company. It all gets to be too much for Rhea, who doesn’t know what she’s diving into anymore as Waystar’s CEO-in-waiting; she leaves the dirty work to Shiv, and walks away from Logan and the gig.
For Shiv, there are no such reservations; the employee’s testimony could bring down her father’s reign at Waystar, and that would be the end of her family’s control of the company. So emotional manipulation, tinged with blackmail, is the order of the day, and she succeeds in getting Kira, the former employee, to drop out for “personal reasons.”
But it still likely isn’t enough; the damage to Waystar’s reputation has been done, and more drastic measures are in order after the carnival on Capitol Hill. “Time for a blood sacrifice,” Logan says. Things could get very messy next week.
— Don Grundham of the Institute for a Competitive America, who comes over to introduce himself to Connor—and congratulate him on his following of devoted “Con-Heads” who’d love nothing more than to see the eldest Roy sibling become commander-in-chief of the United States of America—is perhaps the ultimate juicy morsel.
— Why does Shiv try to cut a ceasefire with Gil after he’s already gutted Tom like a fish?
— Everyone knows that $5 million is a nightmare, as Connor informs Greg. The newly minted Poorest Rich Person in America is staying on Team Logan, after all. That’s good news for us viewers, but maybe not so much for Greg, who now finds himself getting name-dropped during congressional hearings.
— I know the standard of Scottish football isn’t the highest, but I’ve seen rec games played at a higher intensity than the Hearts “training session” that Roman and Eduard drop in on. And Roman’s own pep talk to the Hearts lads may be the worst ever captured on film.
More ‘Succession’ content from Fortune
—Inside Succession with executive producer Adam McKay and actor Kieran Culkin
—Succession’s costume designer shares the inspiration behind the show’s corporate wear
Fortune’s ‘Succession’ Season 2 Recaps
—Succession S2E8: Bad Buzz
—Succession S2E7: Rhinos and Hummingbirds
—Succession S2E6: Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish
—Succession S2E5: Money Wins
—Succession S2E4: The Gold Rush
—Succession S2E3: Takeover Defense
—Succession S2E2: Media Matters
—Succession S2E1: Blood in the Water
Follow Fortune on Flipboard to stay up-to-date on the latest news and analysis.