Today’s analysis is from the acclaimed TV series Succession, created by Jesse Armstrong. The scene features Brian Cox (Logan Roy), Jeremy Strong (Kendall Roy) and Holly Hunter (Rhea Jarrell).
You can watch the scene here: Succession: Meeting Rhea Jarrell (Season 2 Episode 4 Clip) | HBO
Scene’ synopsis: Logan and Kendall Roy arrange a covert meeting with a Pierce Media CEO, Rhea Jarrell, in order to negotiate an adquisition to “keep the jackals out” in the midst of the shareholder fight in Waystar Royco.
Desires and Tactics
Firstly, let’s adress what do this characters want in the scene and their tactics:
- Kendall and Logan: reach an agreement / Different tactics: Longan is more straightforward.
- Rhea Jarrell: clarify that everything has a price / She’s a subtle knife.
What’s at stake in the scene for the Roys and Rhea Jarrell?
Succession is in depth a family drama, so what the series explores specially is unity versus break-up of the Roy family, a rich family who owns a media conglomerate, facing the succession to the father.
In this scene, father and son are united in their effort to reach an acquisition agreement with Pierce Media. However, the most important value at stake here is success versus failure in this business negotiation.
Structure: Rhea Jarrell has a message
In order to stablish the structure, we should consider the scene purpose.
- Scene Purpose: Logan and Ken have a secret meeting with Rhea Jarrell to convince her to acquire PGM.
- Scene Subtextual Purpose: Rhea Jarrell shows the only way out is money and that she can be an ally.
A division of the scene as the Classical Structure determines —Beginning, Middle and End— including its turning points:
- Beginning: Rhea Jarrell arrives “smuggled in like Cleopatra in the carpet” and meets Ken and Logan.
- TURN: Rhea reveals she’s aware of the situation and gives a message to the Roys (“A typically, balanced, nuanced and objective ‘fuck off’.”)
- Middle: Logan and Kendall try to find a way to reach an agreement, by a family betrayal (“Is that the view of the whole family?”) or by money (“So there is a price?”)
- TURN: Rhea reveals there may be a price (“I think they’re amazing custodians”)
- End: Rhea let slip that she might be an ally ironically (“I’m a chief executive. I take my orders from the boar. I’m… a mere tool”)
After analysing the structure and the turning points of the scene, you notice the power of Rhea Jarrell. Just from the beginning with that “And you must be Oedipus Roy?” to Kendall, which leaves him confused, she’s able to mantain the control of the scene against the figure of Logan Roy. Furthermore, Logan finds her interesting and as Jesse Armstrong says: “There seems like a possibility of a certain mutual regard between them.”
Rhea Jarrell’s Dimensions
Holly Hunter makes a terrific performance and gives her many interesting edges. Take a look at her dimensionality.