TV

‘Succession’ Report Card: Welcome To Clown Town

The Succession Report Card is a weekly recap feature where we attempt to assign grades to the important people, things, and themes from each episode of Succession. The grades are entirely subjective and the criteria for scoring will change from week to week and occasionally mid-week. Someone might get detention. It’ll probably be Roman.

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Vice President Dave

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HBO

Let’s see:

  • Might be a vegetarian
  • Does the weird lip-licking thing
  • Logan keeps calling him “Dave” to his face even though he’s the Vice President, and asked him to bring over a Coke like he’s a college intern

Dave is not going to be President.

GRADE: F

MUST IMPROVE: Charisma

Connor

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HBO

Connor keeps trying to push himself as an option for President to anyone who will listen and everyone who isn’t as dense as a hunk of lead — so, everyone but Connor, basically — knows it’ll never happen but they’re all either too diplomatic or too afraid of Logan or too wooed by Willa and the collective leg to say it. At one point, Logan even tossed it out to the room with an evil little twinkle in his eye and everyone started hemming and hawing like they were searching for the words to say “Freaking no, duh, look at him” until finally my sweet boy Greg actually said it out loud, for the good of the nation.

Connor will also not be President.

GRADE: F

MUST IMPROVE: Situational awareness

Prison

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I mean, based on everything I know about it and everything Tom has been reading on the blogs, it doesn’t seem like a great time. No thanks. Pass.

GRADE: F

MUST IMPROVE: Food quality, pillow security, decreasing misadventures

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Willa

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HBO

On one hand, Willa looks as miserable as any person who has ever lived, sitting there at this gathering of demons, getting waltzed around by Connor like some sort of show pony, having to do this awful whole political dance that I can’t imagine she thought she was signing up for when she hitched her wagon to this bozo a few years back.

On the other hand… actually, no. There really isn’t another hand. Between all this and her play just sinking to the bottom of the sea like a torpedoed submarine, Willa is not having fun right now.

GRADE: D-

MUST IMPROVE: Romantic entanglements

Various Karls, Frank, and Karolinas

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HBO

Slim pickings for this group this week as most of them were sidelined during the big trip. I do have to give Hugo credit, though, for delivering the line about no one of significance going to prison with Tom “Christmas Tree” Wambsgans standing right there in front of him. That was a good piece of business.

What do you think Karl and Frank were up to this whole time? Like, what did they have planned while this Ghoul Ceremony was taking place in Virginia to choose the next President? My working theories are as follows: Frank was hosting a barbecue and working the grill and wearing an apron with a goofy slogan on it, like “I Didn’t Burn It, I Added Flavor”; Karl was watching golf on television and sipping lemonade through a straw.

I’m weirdly sure of this.

GRADE: D-

MUST IMPROVE: Being invited to the party

Jeryd Mencken

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HBO

Notes on this turd:

  • A YouTube provocateur and possible white supremacist who at one point referred to Hitler as “H”
  • Seems to have wooed Logan based on “getting it” and “popping” even though — or perhaps because? — he referred to Logan in the past tense and was dismissive of the entire ATN operation, like he’s some sort of pickup artiste out here negging the kingmakers
  • Dropped a “Have you read Plato?” on Shiv like the biggest weenie alive
  • Spells his first name “Jeryd”

I hate him very much. Which is complicated by the thing where he’s played by Justin Kirk, who plays scoundrels as well as anyone alive, and who I love very much. Real dilemma here.

GRADE: D

MUST IMPROVE: Just, like, not being this way, at all

Gerri

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I choose to believe that everything Roman did and pushed into existence this week only happened because Gerri was not there to steer him back onto course using the Sex Mommy face she makes at him when he’s being a naughty little boy. I did not enjoy typing the second half of that sentence but here we all are now. No going back.

GRADE: D

MUST IMPROVE: Gerri needs a hobby, perhaps tennis

Shiv

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HBO

Sheeeeesh, not a great week for Shiv, what with her husband moping around about prison and her dad calling her a sourpuss and a slick Nazi getting elevated by the family operation over her repeated passionate objections. There was a point where she and Roman were arguing over it all and Shiv said “my opinion counts for more” with this look of incredulity on her face, like she couldn’t believe any of it was happening, like she’s not as much of a dopey goon as the rest of them, especially in Logan’s eyes at this point.

It was somehow the saddest and funniest thing possible in the moment and it ended with her getting bullied into posing for a picture with the creep. Shiv is doing bad.

GRADE: D+

MUST IMPROVE: Finding a new family

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Kendall

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HBO

Good news:

  • Might be on the road to wooing Tom
  • Got another excuse to wear his black hat real low over his eyes, which he does when he’s in subterfuge mode and I suspect he likes doing a lot
  • Is planning a rager 40th birthday party

Bad news:

  • Is drinking kind of a lot
  • Fired his lawyer because she told him things he didn’t want to hear
  • Tom made a good point about him getting screwed all the time while Logan always walks away free, which does not fill potential conspirators or the audience at home with much confidence

I hope we get an entire episode about this birthday party. I hope he tries to rap again. I need to be incredibly clear about the fact that I am not joking here.

GRADE: C-

MUST IMPROVE: Taking criticism

Lisa Arthur

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HBO

Lisa was on-screen for maybe six minutes total and got off two of the best lines in the entire episode between “I don’t do requests because I’m not a DJ” and “Do you think you’re smarter than me?” And she’s probably better off removing herself from the entire Roy circle of hell. Still embarrassing to get fired by a loser like Kendall this far into the process.

GRADE: C

MUST IMPROVE: Figuring out which horse to hitch her wagon to

Caroline and her new husband Peter Onion

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Congrats to the happy couple.

GRADE: C+

MUST IMPROVE: Communicating with her children

Toilets, generally

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You ever sit around and think about how weird it is that this is just how we as a society have decided to dispose of our body’s waste material? Like, how we disappear into a separate room and unload it all into a bottomless chair filled with water and then zip it all off down a drain and into some location we do not ruminate on ever again? Because I had not thought about it at all until I heard this guy go on his extended rant about toilets being both a gentleman and a bastard and now it’s kind of all I can think about.

I’m fine. It’s fine. Let’s just move on.

GRADE: C+

MUST IMPROVE: I SAID LET’S MOVE ON

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Logan

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While the temptation here — and probably the correct decision — is to dock Logan points for the combination of endorsing a creepo red-pill fascist for President and just generally being a black-hearted manipulative goober, we must credit the man for appearing to dance away from prosecution and securing that late-night Coca-Cola. He’ll be up all night from the caffeine and sugar, and he’s tearing the country and his family apart at the seams, but he does get results, I guess.

GRADE: B-

MUST IMPROVE: Playing better with others

Roman

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HBO

In the interest of being fully transparent here, which I feel I owe you on an account of me giving Roman a good grade for an episode in which he successfully pushed an abrasive dipshit toward the Oval Office and had a mini-meltdown over his mommy’s new fiancé, this grade is based almost entirely on the thing where Shiv revealed that he once greenlit a movie titled “Dr. Honk” about a man who can talk to cars.

GRADE: B-

MUST IMPROVE: Following through on the Dr. Honk cinematic universe

Tom

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To the bullet points once again:

  • Is not doing great
  • Keeps Googling prison things in a way that seems both massively unhealthy for him on a personal level and massively annoying for anyone around him to have to hear about
  • Slandered diner food, which I will not stand for
  • Is being called “the Christmas tree” because people — EVEN GREG — are hanging their crimes off of him like ornaments
  • At one point Kendall called him a “country mouse,” which was uncalled for even if it was true
  • Kendall snapped pics of him after their secret meeting and Tom was so hopelessly depressed that he didn’t even try to do anything about it even though he could almost certainly defeat Kendall in physical combat with such ease that it wouldn’t even burn off 10 percent of the calories he consumed in that disturbingly large meal he ate

I hope he turns on everyone, Kendall included, and burns it all down. I would love to see Chaos Tom. I think we might be inching that way.

GRADE: B+

MUST IMPROVE: Spine-growing, embracing anarchy

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Kendall’s idiot friends

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I need to see this collection of goofballs every week, weighing in on everything, up to and including the finer points of his new legal strategy.

GRADE: A-

MUST IMPROVE: I feel like one of them should have a performative mustache

Jess Jordan

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Jess did nothing this week other than get Kendall Tom’s phone number and hover around that gathering of Kendall’s doofus bro friends, but she still gets an A based on a combination of three things:

  • Track record
  • HBO included her in an official promo image for the show, which I appreciate
  • It’s fun to imagine her on the phone with her family and friends trying to explain her typical day at work, and I recommend you carve out some time to do that this week

Jess rules.

GRADE: A

MUST IMPROVE: Leave her alone

Cousin Greg

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HBO

To recap: Greg is not getting any inheritance because his grandfather is giving the fortune to Greenpeace, but someone wrote a comment about it that Greenpeace promoted, so now Greg is considering suing Greenpeace for defamation and that made him the type of star at this Heathen Cabal that he’s crowdsurfing through a bar like he’s Axl Rose or something.

He’s definitely a little weasel. He has zero morals and it’s all getting a little worse every day. He’s as fueled by self-interest and self-preservation as Logan is and it manifests itself in ugly ways when he starts feeling himself getting cornered. But he’s also a sweet lanky boy who is worried about prison and spoke out about Connor’s presidential ambitions because he “owes it to the country.”

I apologize for nothing.

GRADE: A

MUST IMPROVE: Minimizing the Greg window

Stephen Root, generally

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All Stephen Root has been doing for like 20 years now is popping up in awesome television shows as slimeballs and just bringing me heaps of joy about it all. He popped up in Justified as a kooky loose cannon judge who carried a gun and treated his courtroom like its own little sovereign county. He popped up on Barry as Bill Haden’s soulless handler/mentor who plays any angle he sees that will advance his personal interest. And now he’s on Succession as a sleazy mega-donor who is helping Logan pick a President and hitting on Willa and just schmoozing other creeps with a drink in his hand and a twinkle in his eye.

Two things are true here:

  • While I am thrilled to have him on the show now, in hindsight it does feel like he should have been involved much earlier, just because no fit has ever been as perfect as “Stephen Root + Succession
  • I shouted “THAT’S STEPHEN ROOT” when he appeared on screen

This is all good news.

GRADE: A+

MUST IMPROVE: Being a castmember in, like, The Righteous Gemstones next

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