Tom doesn’t get a chance to pursue this objection because his meeting ends abruptly. The title of this episode is “Safe Room,” named for the locations the various Roys are whisked to when a gunshot is heard in the halls of ATN. Later, security determines an employee killed himself, citing “a culture of bullying.” But they’re initially worried that one of the anti-Ravenhead protesters slipped past them.
Tom grabs Greg and dashes to safety, pushing aside underlings and shouting, “Executives coming through!” Not long after they’re secured in an apparently random office — and not a real panic room — Greg starts to freak out, questioning everything about his position with ATN and his fealty to Tom. Citing the shooter and the “Nazi stuff,” he admits, “I just don’t love it.” Coming from Greg, that’s a strong condemnation. The polite-to-a-fault Tom responds in kind, telling his favorite lackey that, well, y’know, it’s just not great how Greg is making him feel. Then he pelts Greg with water bottles.
Throughout “Safe Room,” the “Succession” characters face a series of, “Wait, what am I really doing here?” moments. For much of the episode, it looks as if Shiv’s existential crisis is going to be the most meaningful. During the lockdown, she finds herself in the actual Waystar executive panic room with Logan, Kendall and Rhea Jarrell. Shiv seems to thinks she can relate to Rhea as a woman with a big-picture perspective and certain unshakable convictions. She is appalled when Connor pressures Rhea, raising the purchase price for Pierce every time their guest raises an objection.
She pleads with her dad to intervene, believing that as the future boss she should have more say. Instead, Logan shushes her.
Hunter plays these scenes masterfully, keeping Rhea’s motivations and intentions unclear all the way up to the end of the episode. On the surface, the character seems to have class and principles. Throughout the day, she’s blithely dismissive of Logan’s legacy. She turns down lunch, because she says at PGM, “We only eat Pulitzer.” She notes that in every aspect of the Roys’ takeover talk, “Your most positive spin still sounds a bit rapey.” But she doesn’t walk out, even before the building is sealed off.
As for Shiv, she corners Kendall after the meeting, thinking he’s her competition for Waystar’s top spot … and that he’s winning. He surprises her by asking for a hug, a gesture she initially interprets as a joke, until she realizes that he really does need her to embrace him like a sister. Kendall has by then spent much of this episode peering over ledges … and on the same day a Waystar employee shot himself, no less.