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‘Succession’ Report Card: Everyone Wants To Be King Potato

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.

FAILING

Roman

HBO

It feels weird to put Roman in the Failing category. He had a decent episode this week, between getting off a bunch of good lines and working his little power play with Gerri and having Logan go to him to ask if Shiv is “solid.” He was kind enough to pick up pastries from the airport. Things have been worse for him.

And yet… not great. Logan is clearly just using him to get information on the favored children, and multiple people are saying how stupid his plan to not cooperate with the government was, and Shiv was so mean to him that he stormed out of a child’s bedroom about it all, and he called Gerri to ask for her advice about a situation that could ruin her. He remains an eight-year-old boy at all times and everyone knows it but him. I sometimes expect an episode to open with him just banging toy trucks together.

GRADE: F

MUST IMPROVE: Finishing puberty

Various Franks, Karls, and Karolinas

HBO

Just once, I want an episode where Karl and Frank go golfing together and talk a bunch of crap about their jobs. Like, that’s the whole episode. They’re just golfing and talking and taking/ignoring calls and plotting about leaving Waystar to start their own business but knowing deep down they’ll never follow through. I bet Karl is a great golfer. I bet he could shoot a 77 without hitting the range first. I bet Frank launches a dozen balls into the trees every round. I think about these things a lot.

GRADE: F

MUST IMPROVE: Career strategy, not tying their sensitive parts to runaway trains.

Tom

HBO

Tom is up to something. The wheels are turning. Shiv is hiding things and not really feeling enthused about giving him the “I love you” he needs sometimes. He sees Logan tossing children to the lions and even Greg making moves. Tom is going to do something drastic.

Or, like, he won’t. You can never tell with him. He moves from bully to coward so quickly sometimes that I wonder if this is a situation like The Prestige and there are actually two Toms. I call this the Two-Tom Theory.

GRADE: D+

MUST IMPROVE: Getting his partner to show any affection at all, not being one step away from becoming the sacrificial lamb at all times.

Kendall

HBO

Kendall does this thing where he flips back and forth between triumph and failure without ever stopping in the middle. It’s got to be an exhausting way to live. Look at the scene in his daughter’s bedroom. He has his siblings there and is giving this high-minded and borderline delusional speech about the future of the company and/or the world and thinks everything is falling into place, but then, yoink, everything goes sideways and bad and he ends up shouting the word “teets” at his sister more than once. It’s not great. He’s like if Charlie Brown had a billion dollars and a full head of hair and a lingering problem with amphetamines.

He’s back on an island now. Even Greg is wavering. He’s going to make so many sad hangdog face next week and I’m going to screencap them all. We all have a part to play.

GRADE: D

MUST IMPROVE: Remembering children’s names, not shouting things like “teets,” finding something resembling a middle ground for once in his life

TREADING WATER

Gerri

HBO

To recap:

  • Was installed as CEO and took a picture of the television screen as the announcement scrolled across the ticker, as though she is not now the CEO of a massive multimedia company who can just get a copy of the video or even a hi-res screenshot emailed to her within the hour
  • Is kind of getting bossed around by Roman of all people?
  • Is looking more and more like a puppet who will be tossed aside at some point as a way to wash everyone’s hands of the situation

Not ideal!

GRADE: C-

MUST IMPROVE: Making screencaps.

Connor

HBO

Connor is a doofus and a zero, generally, but I’m starting to feel bad for him. A little. I think it was the face he made when Logan called him “kiddo” and “number one,” but like, lazily, like Logan couldn’t even be bothered to give it the B- manipulation he gives the other kids.

I don’t know. I need to think about this one some more. If I’m not careful, I might end up claiming he’s my favorite character on the show, just out of pity. This can’t happen. I must remain vigilant.

GRADE: C-

MUST IMPROVE: I mean, uh, just kind of “life,” generally.

Lia, Greg’s 1L friend

HBO

Imagine being her professor and getting a text from her, at night, about a legal situation involving a Fortune 500 company with political connections out the wazoo that is in the middle of a very public crisis involving sexual harassment and assault.

I suspect the reply was something like “RUN.”

GRADE: C

MUST IMPROVE: Decisions, career choice, etc.

Logan

HBO

Logan notes:

  • It is deeply funny to me that at least one of his children uses a picture of Saddam Hussein for him on their phone
  • Let’s all agree to try to shout the phrase “I’M LOSING JUICE” at least once this week, if only because it seems fun
  • It says a lot about his relationship with his children that he can send them a dozen donuts and send them into separate and distinct tailspins about it all

Also, not a rush but still important, I need one of you to open up a little place called Relevant Donuts, preferably near my house. Nothing fancy. Just donuts and breakfast sandwiches and coffee. I’ll come every Saturday.

GRADE: C

MUST IMPROVE: Juice retention

Shiv

HBO

Real good news, bad news kind of week for Shiv. The good news is that she’s apparently getting installed as a high-ranking executive in the company to be Logan’s eyes and ears after a brief flirtation with joining Kendall, until Kendall did, you know, the whole thing Kendall does sometimes. Shiv is somehow the most competent of the Roy children and also a complete disaster who gets yo-yoed around by Logan constantly through the giving and withholding of attention/affection/respect. We are still technically in the good news section of our discussion. This speaks volumes.

The bad news is, uh, almost everything else. She’s kind of flailing right now, leaping between whichever situation looks better in the moment and having weird phone conversations with her mostly cuckolded husband and getting burned by high-powered attorneys she considers friends and kind of being juuuuuust a little too mean to Roman while lounging on a bed that belongs to her niece.

Shiv is interesting right now. Things could go a lot of different ways for her. We will continue to monitor this.

GRADE: C+

MUST IMPROVE: Not saying the meanest thing possible to people she allegedly cares about, taking responsibility

Pugh, the incredibly intransigent socialist lawyer

HBO

I feel like I am going to like this guy a lot. Still too early to tell. But meeting a new client and promptly informing him that one of your two primary goals — after his safety and protection, of course — is exposing and undermining the entire theory of capitalism using him as a wedge… I mean, yeah. I feel like I am going to like him. I hope this case ends up in front of the Supreme Court and he comes rolling into oral arguments 20 minutes late with a trail of loose papers blowing through the air behind him.

GRADE: B

MUST IMPROVE: Organization, using email

HEAD OF THE CLASS

Ewan

HBO

Ewan is here to ruin Logan and maybe save the environment and use as many large words as he can in the process. There was a thing in this episode where he described Kendall’s press conference as “histrionic and meretricious” to Greg and Greg, with no clue what either of those words meant in that context, replied, “Tell me about it.” They are a wonderful comedy team. I want them to go on a road trip together to Burning Man.

GRADE: B+

MUST IMPROVE: Longevity, if only so he gets to keep doing all of this

Cousin Greg

HBO

My sweet boy is in crisis, getting harangued by lawyers and torn between wealthy family members and worrying, adorably, if he’s too young to be getting pulled in front of Congress this much. He’s also started throwing around the word “necessarily” a lot, like it’s a little forcefield to deflect getting yelled at. He did it like four times on the phone with Tom and I started giggling a little harder each time.

All that said, and even just now remembering the thing where he heard a knock on a door and immediately went into “OH GOD WHAT NOW” panic mode, my favorite Cousin Greg moment of the week, by far, was him unfolding his lanky body out of an Uber while saying, out loud, “five stars.”

GRADE: A-

MUST IMPROVE: Leave him alone

Stewy

HBO

All Stewy does lately is take secret meetings on scenic Greek islands or on the sidewalk in stylish leather jackets or inside $100,000 SUVs while still wearing the stylish leather jacket from the sidewalk thing. I should hate everything about him, in theory. He’s just a crappy money vulture who brings nothing of value to any situation and exists to create chaos when he smells vulnerability. We could do without people like him. We’d be fine.

And yet… I love him. Very conflicting.

GRADE: A

MUST IMPROVE: I feel like Stewy should get a cat and just sit there petting it during more of his secret meetings

Jess Jordan

HBO

Jess Jordan continues to rocket up the list of characters I want a full-on origin story about. How did she end up here, of all places, shuttling Roy children into and out of various bedrooms and apartments? It’s fascinating to me. She does this thing sometimes where she looks at her phone and her eyes light up with alarm and she rushes into or out of a room in silence and it is probably my second favorite character reaction on the show right now, just behind that little sigh/wheeze/chuckle thing Roman does at the end of a sentence sometimes.

GRADE: A

MUST IMPROVE: Anything that will allow her to look at her phone less

Marcia

HBO

Marcia is maybe the most cutthroat operator on this entire show and I respect and fear her a great deal for this. She knows she’ll never get a real apology from Logan for the various humiliations and infidelities he’s put her through, but she also knows her value and sees the angle. No groveling? Fine. But she is going to get her financial position secured, believe that. Logan won’t “eat shit” in person because that’s not his way, but he’ll sure as hell sign off on a check with a bunch of zeros. She knows that. They’re both great white sharks, they just hunt differently. It’s a good match.

GRADE: A

MUST IMPROVE: I don’t want to list anything here because I’m afraid of the look she’ll give me if she sees it

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