TV

The ‘Succession’ Seven: Killing In The Name Of

The Succession Seven is a weekly power ranking of people and things on television’s most power-obsessed show. The rankings are not scientific, not even a little, and could fluctuate wildly from week to week. It’s all very subjective. And it’s my list. So, there.

UNRANKED

Gerri, Frank, and Karl — I really, really love these three non-blood, non-partner members of Waystar Royco. There’s such a high-wire act going on with them. They need to be firm and strong to display the power Logan will respect, but they can’t push so hard that they alienate a legit Roy. The Scapegoat Breakfast was a classic display. There were so many times where they would float each other and then do the whole “Yes, it could be me, I am important enough to be a viable scalp, but what about…” thing that it became hilarious to me, like Sideshow Bob stepping on the rakes over and over and over. It was fascinating to watch each of them pray one of the others would be the first to name an actual family member. The self-preservation instincts in all of them are so strong. Especially with Karl. I adore that slime-coated yes man.

Connor and Willa — The Bad News: Willa’s play got absolutely destroyed in the reviews, Conner got absolutely destroyed by Logan, Connor might not be able to get that $100 million dollar bailout from Logan now, people think so little of Connor that his attempt to sacrifice himself as a kind of shadow puppet master was laughed off as a joke by everyone. The Good News: Connor is a meme now?

HBO

Karolina — Did you see her face after Kendall’s press conference? That was the face of a woman who knows her job is going to suuuuuuuuck very much in the very near and foreseeable future. She probably had other job offers. She could have left for a less stressful gig with less to cover-up and explain. But now she’s stuck reporting back to Logan. Not going to be a fun phone call!

Jaime — There’s something to be said for speaking your piece and then immediately bailing on a speedboat.

7. Shiv (Last week: 1)

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Shiv is in a tough spot on a number of fronts. Her marriage is a wreck — she tried to use a threesome to fix something that needed a hug — and I don’t know if any Roy has the patience and humility to really, truly fix this type of thing. She left politics to come into the family business and got teased and outflanked all season long. She was literally at Logan’s side when he got ambushed by Kendall. Short of her shanking Rhea (which is actually working out okay for Rhea because Rhea can throw up her hands and claim ignorance, whereas Shiv is still inside the storm with no great exit plan), she played every situation wrong all season.

I imagine Shiv will figure something out at some point. She’s not dumb, not even close. She just has bad instincts for this stuff. The wheels spin too fast in her head. She pushes at the wrong times and in the wrong places. She’s going to have to get better at that, especially now, especially with the family and the business on the verge of a fracture, if not a clean break. She’ll have to pick a side. It’s a big test.

6. Logan (Last week: 4)

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Yes, he was buried and ambushed by his son on live television. Yes, his reputation and career are now in tatters. Yes, everything he worked to create is in danger of being ripped away from him at the end. But also, was… was that a smile? Was that the tiniest little smile at the end? Was I seeing things? Did I just want it to be a smile? No. No, this wasn’t just me. The very furthest edges of the corners of his mouth definitely turned upward ever so slightly. He was proud. His son is a killer, after all. Maybe that was more important to him in the end than any of the other stuff.

There’s a part of me that wonders if Logan wanted this, even if Logan didn’t know he wanted it. The way he kept pushing Kendall. Pushing and pushing and pushing. Throwing Naomi off the yacht. Taunting him about loyalty. Sending him to eat the shit with Stewy way back at the beginning of the season and making him ride on the back of a motorcycle to go do it. It’s like he was daring Kendall to push back. It’s almost like this whole season was a test. A part of me wonders if a part of him is happy now and will take this fall knowing that his son finally has the smarts and guts to run the company in his absence.

However, another part of me, a much larger part, thinks Logan might just be excited to have a worthy adversary and will leak everything about Kendall’s British Manslaughter Adventure to friendly news outlets before the boat even reaches the shore. Could go a lot of ways here. It’s infuriating that there’s not another episode next week.

5. Stewy (Last week: Unranked)

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Well, here’s the big question, and it’s one that won’t be answered until next season: What is Kendall’s endgame? If he’s making a play of some kind, there could be another shoe dropping that freezes Sandy and Stewy out. You heard Phillippe the Shareholder at the beginning. They wanted Logan to take the fall. Maybe Kendall can save everything at the meeting after shoving his dad out to sea on that chunk of ice. Maybe Kendall is making his move for the throne, again, and from an actual position of strength this time.

Or maybe Kendall is just saying screw it and torching the whole thing. That’s a possibility, too. And if that’s the case, hoo boy, is everything ever coming up Stewy. He’ll never have a better or cleaner shot at this takeover bid. He was probably cackling with glee while watching that press conference. I wish the show had cut to a brief shot of him squirting champagne out of his nose while he watched. Those bubbles would burn pretty good, but it would be a nice burn. A burn of victory.

Either way, that vacation in Paxos seemed nice.

4. Roman (Last week: 1)

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Roman went to Central Asia as a bratty little goofus and came back… I mean, he’s still a bratty little goofus. But he’s also carrying himself with more confidence, more maturity. He pushed back against both Jaime and Logan when he had doubts about the deal. He pushed back when Logan announced that Kendall was taking the fall. He was named solo COO by Logan, which was huge for him in the moment (him, the one who had been sent to management training and been backhanded not that long ago), and could still be huge going forward, depending on what happens to… uh, everything. Will there even be a company left to be COO of? Kendall and Roman have defended each other in tense moments recently. Roman also gets steamrolled repeatedly by Logan into following orders. I’m fascinated to see which side he chooses. It might tear him apart.

Maybe Roman and Gerri will just take golden parachutes and live together in some beachfront villa with an intercom system that she can humiliate him over from any room. This counts as a happy ending for these two. It’s a strange show.

3. Tom (Last week: Unranked)

HBO

Huge performance in a tough spot. Highlights include:

— He avoided being the sacrificial lamb even though, let’s be honest, he was the easiest and best option, between his time running cruises and his current role as head of news, which would be a meatier scalp — to the extent scalps can be meaty, I guess? — than the show suggested because various Democrats in Congress would probably enjoy watching the top dog at the conservative news network go down in spectacular and embarrassing fashion.

— Finally stood up to Shiv, who does love him in her own broken Roy-family way, but who has steamrolled him forever and gotten her way because that’s the way she was raised to react to weakness. I was so proud of him. He’s spent this entire show torturing the people below him and sucking up to the people above him. It was nice to see him push back. And push back he did. Wow. What a crusher that conversation on the beach was.

— THE CHICKEN.

Good for Tom.

2. Kendall (Last week: 1)

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When did you realize? When did you realize Kendall was going to stick the knife into Logan? How far into all of this did you go? Was it when Naomi was jettisoned back to terra firma on a speedboat? Was it when Kendall asked his dad if he ever had it and his dad said he was never enough of a killer? Were you wavering up until the “But…” at the press conference? You don’t have to answer out loud. If you do, you’ll be tempted to lie. “Well, it was obvious if you look at the symbolism in episode three…” Ah, shut up. Don’t be that guy. No ones like that guy.

More importantly, when do you think Kendall knew? My feeling is that he knew he was doing… something by the time Logan announced it to everyone. He seemed so calm, so at peace, so finally non-robot-y, to invent a term. I don’t know if any one thing broke him or if it was just an accumulation. I assume we’ll get more of the whys in season three. It was nice to see The Sad Boy rise, though. He was a killer after all, and he was hunting the biggest game he could find.

He didn’t do it alone, though. He couldn’t have. Which brings us to…

1. My Sweet Sneaky Boy Cousin Greg (Last week: 7)

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The thing to remember is this: Kendall did not know Greg had those documents. He couldn’t have known. He might have already been planning to blow things up at the press conference, sure. He might have been running through that speech in his head while Greg was in the bathroom. But he had no proof, no hard evidence, and no idea where to look for it. He would have been fighting a one-man war with no ammunition. Unless…

UNLESS…

Greg walked out of that bathroom and sat down in his seat and did that adorable “Uh, Kendall, uh, hey. So let’s say, hypothetically, that I have procured some… documents… that could implicate other people… big people… and I gave those… documents… hypothetically… to you. Do you think, perhaps, this could be something you’d… enjoy?” Cousin Greg thing before the plane landed. That’s how it had to happen, right? I mean, maybe Kendall pressed him a little with a gentle question about the time working under Tom at cruises, but still. Greg did it.

Greg was… the mastermind?

Greg was the mastermind?!

(UPDATE: Greg might not have been the mastermind. He mentioned the documents to Kendall a while back, like in season one. If you think for one second that I will let this fact ruin my excitement about Greg-related subterfuge, you are more wrong than Greg’s aesthetically displeasing fungus-encrusted toenails.)

There’s a question to be asked about why he did it, I suppose. I want to say “because it was the right thing to do and Greg is honorable and good” but my sweet boy has been slinking toward the dark side this season, from his taste for cocaine to his champagne snobbery to his general duplicity. He could be reading the tea leaves and processing the talk of “Greg Sprinkles” — great fake name, for the record — and seeing this as the best play from a strict self-preservation angle. I don’t know if I love that or hate it.

Just kidding.

I love it.

THE KILLER AND THE SWEET BOY, TOGETHER AT LAST.

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