Okay, you saw Logan’s little smile at the end of the Succession season two finale. It was a small one, the teeny tiniest little curl of the edges of his lips as his son, Kendall, hung him out to dry during a live televised press conference and put the responsibility for the entire cruise fiasco at his feet. But it was definitely there. On one hand, Logan doesn’t smile much so you could be forgiven if it confused you and you thought he was having a small stroke from the stress. On the other hand, that almost imperceptible display of pleasure, from him, is the equivalent of a loud, bellowing laugh from most normal people. It was a smile. He was pleased. That’s not in question. What is in question, however, is what the smile meant. What was it, exactly, that pleased him that moment?
I’ve been thinking about it a lot since the episode aired. Too much, probably. And after all this thought, I have come up with three possibilities, which I will now present in no particular order.
POSSIBILITY NUMBER ONE — Logan smiled because this was his plan all along
Possibility number one has two sub-possibilities. This is already a mess. Let’s do it anyway.
The first sub-possibility is that Logan pulled all the strings and pushed Kendall into it, all the way to the end, through pure manipulation. Hoo boy, this one would be diabolical and fun but it is also a really tremendous reach. For this to be true, you have to assume all of the following:
— Logan, a man who is increasingly unable to make a decision and stick to it (see, uh, everything with Shiv), played a long game filled with subterfuge and subtle psychological warfare even though he’s more of an “OINK FOR YOUR SAUSAGES” kind of problem solver.
— He bet his entire company and his son’s future — and potentially his son’s freedom — on the fact that his button-pushing would result in Kendall snapping at the exact moment he needed to, not before on the boat and not after from prison.
— He knew or had reason to know that Kendall could acquire evidence to back-up the claims he needed Kendall to make to go into the battle with bullets in his gun, which means he probably knew about Greg’s documents and either assumed Greg would spill to Kendall or enlisted Greg to spill to Kendall.
Is all of this impossible? I mean, no? A little? A lot hinges on things we didn’t see, though. How did Greg and Kendall come to the conclusion about Greg’s documents? What was that discussion on the plane like? Who approached who? Greg did tell Kendall he had taken something as an insurance policy. He let it slip at the wedding at the end of season one, just before Kendall got in the car with a guy who was about to die. (Exact quote: “But I, you know, I made copies of a few key documents related to all that stuff, in case I got into any trouble at all. So I would just think, like, anybody would be wise to keep me in a good role.”) Did Kendall assume they were destroyed, though? And wouldn’t Logan have squashed Greg like a bug long ago if he knew the sweet lanky boy was hiding evidence that could destroy him and the company he built? He totally would have. It would have taken him 90 seconds, if that.
But could Logan have planned this from the jump and kicked Kendall’s girlfriend of the boat and taunted him about not being a killer and put him and Greg on that plane together on purpose in the hopes that they’d come to the conclusion he needed them to come to in time for the press conference? And could he have done all of this by himself, in secret, without tipping off anyone else, because he knew his was the head that needed to roll and this was the only way he could make it happen and seem real? Uhhhhh, I guess? It is asking the audience to assume a whole lot, though. The show will have to backtrack and explain it in season three if they want the rest of us to get there.
The second sub-possibility builds off the first but, instead of sending Kendall in blind, Logan laid out the plan after the “You’re not a killer” discussion but before the announcement to the family. All the other manipulation plays the same, all the pushing and prodding and taunting. Maybe Kendall said “What can I do to prove I’m a killer?” or something and Logan pretended he just came up with this plan in the moment. Bury him, push him out, save the investor meeting because this is what Phillippe wanted anyway and now it looks “real” and “contentious” and not just symbolic, keep Sandy and Stewy away, keep it in the family, and rule like the shadow puppet master Connor offered to pretend to be.
Still a bit of a stretch. But definitely more reasonable.
POSSIBILITY NUMBER TWO — The smile was fatherly pride, nothing else
Logan respects power and very little else. But he also cuts people down if they become powerful enough to be a threat. And he despises weakness and steamrolls anyone who displays it. We’ve seen that a lot, too. There is no winning with him. He has an absolutely mangled thinker inside that noodle of his. But he has been poking at Kendall all season, and for all of Kendall’s life, one imagines. The stuff about Kendall not being a killer… that was real. He wants to give the company to one of his kids, eventually, but he’s waiting for one of them to prove they have the right instincts and temperament and will to take it. And so when he saw Kendall drive the knife into his back like that, it brought a little tear to his eye because that’s what he would have done in the same situation. Kendall proved himself to be a killer, finally, and Logan respects that, even if he was the one left bleeding on the floor of the Colosseum.
Now, in this scenario, do I expect Logan to be so overwhelmed with pride that he rolls over and accepts his fate and shuffles off into whatever retirement villa or minimum-security prison a deposed strongman like him shuffles of to? No. No, I do not. I suspect Logan will fight this. I suspect he will fight it very hard and it will tear the family apart and into two camps, Team Logan and Team Kendall. And I imagine all that information that Logan buried about the guy who died in Kendall’s drug-fueled car accident could poke its little head out at some point. Kendall and Greg aren’t the only ones with piles of incriminating documents.
Will Logan burn down his business and family just to win a fight like this? Of course he will. He loves it. He’s proud of Kendall for being a killer, right now, in this tiny moment, but now that Kendall has proven himself on the field of battle, he’s fair game. By becoming a killer, he’s made himself dangerous enough to be killed.
POSSIBILITY NUMBER THREE — He zoned out for a second and started thinking about this video
Can’t rule this one out.