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.
SEASON 4, EPISODE 8 – “America Decides”
I am not a violent person but I spent most of this episode hoping someone would punch Roman in the face. Which was weird, kind of, after a season where he has been the most human and sympathetic of the Roy children. I know, I know. This is not a high bar to clear. A baby could crawl over it. We have discussed this before. But still, just an infuriating and disappointing performance on election night from this guy. Let’s recap:
- Did everything in his power to swing the election to a potential fascist who might make life awful for many people around the world but also, specifically, his niece and nephew
- Did that first thing for no real ideological reason, or any reason at all beyond “the fascist promised to blow up the deal his daddy negotiated to sell the company and he has no sense of value and no clue who he is if he’s not The Son Of Logan Roy and he might actually have to figure those things out if he can’t sit in Logan’s office and crash toy trains together”
- Was the worst brat you’ve ever seen about all of it, whining and bullying and shouting people down to get his way like an 8-year-old who is tired and hungry and not processing either of those things very well at all
I… I hate him. I really do. We had been making such progress. The truth here is that Logan’s death mangled him in ways we — and he — haven’t fully sorted through, and under many circumstances, I would feel bad for him that his entire personality is basically a big box filled with broken children’s toys, but it’s a little hard to give the benefit of the doubt to a billionaire who just stomped on the levers of democracy to swing an election to a dude like Mencken. Roman and I both have a lot of soul-searching to do right now.
MUST IMPROVE: Knocking it off. Most of it. Almost all of it, really.
I feel like I say this every week but sometimes I forget that Shiv is just as incompetent as her brothers. I’ll watch Kendall and Roman bumble around and trip over their own shoelaces and fall into piles of mud with a loud “splooop” and I’ll find myself thinking “these two bozos are no match for Shiv if she ever comes gunning for them.” I don’t know why I think this. I think some of it is related to posture. Shiv has confident shoulders. At least compared to her spineless brothers. Maybe that’s it.
But then you look up and she’s losing arguments with both of them and watching her secret maneuvering with Matsson blow up in her face because her family got a fascist elected and having her “fake the phone call with the political operative she almost blew up her marriage over before it actually blew up for other reasons but not before she got pregnant with a fetus she keeps feeding champagne” ruse blown up in a way that also blew up the aforementioned maneuvering because freaking GREG of all people had discovered it while out doing cocaine with a Swedish billionaire and you’ll be like “oh right, Shiv is a chump, too.”
MUST IMPROVE: It cannot be stated strongly enough that Shiv’s big plan was thwarted by KENDALL AND GREG, possibly the two people on television least likely to thwart anyone in any situation
Hmm. Let’s see…
- Spent all night so crippled with indecision about everything that he let himself get bullied by Roman, the most bullied boy alive
- Did everything he could to get a creep elected based solely on the fact that the creep promised to let him keep his daddy’s company, even though said creep supports and loudly advocates policies that would make life difficult at best and dangerous at worst for the daughter he swears he is trying to protect
- Still, despite the first two things here, appears to be trying to wrangle power for himself in a situation he is not suited to handle and does not seem to enjoy, even when things are kind of okay, which they super are not
The thing about Kendall, as opposed to Roman, is that I think he realizes he’s screwing up and is in over his head with everything that is happening right now. I just don’t think he has the first idea how to control or fix any of it despite deeply — desperately — wanting to be the type of person who has things under control and fixes things when they are not. It would be sad if it weren’t so pathetic and it would be pathetic if he didn’t wield so much power.
MUST IMPROVE: Reasonable arguments can be made that the world would be a better place if he woke up at noon every day and played video games until bedtime
- In charge of a news organization that just made a very questionable call during an election that made a creepy racist authoritarian one of the most powerful people in the world
- Accusing the mother of his unborn child of maybe faking the very real pregnancy to use as a negotiating ploy and/or emotional guerilla warfare
- About to get yelled at by a lot of very powerful people who have his phone number
- On cocaine while all of this is happening
It’s not great. And, on top of all that, the touchscreens are breaking during the election coverage. I have yet to figure out why Tom wants any of this. He could just stop. I feel like someone should tell him that.
MUST IMPROVE: I mean, look, if someone tells you they’re carrying your child, even if that person and you have a complicated relationship based on years of financial and emotional manipulation, maybe don’t jump straight to “I think you are lying” and “you killed your father”
Spent $100 million on a presidential run that had zero chance of success and all he has to show for it is a handshake deal for an ambassadorship in a small/smallish country somewhere in Eastern Europe. Probably not how he saw this all playing out when he bought all the balloons and streamers to kick it all off.
MUST IMPROVE: If you’re gonna get left with a second- or third-tier ambassadorship, at least try to finagle your way into a country with a nice beach or some ski slopes (UPDATE: it has been brought to my attention that Slovenia does, in fact, have beaches and ski slopes, but I stand by the grade anyway, if only because… it’s Connor, and he’ll probably end up snapping his femur on his first run down the mountain)
Shiv and Tom’s unborn child
Take maybe five or ten minutes this week and think about all the ways this poor sucker is hopelessly screwed. Yes, he or she will be rich in ways most of us cannot fathom. Yes, everything he or she wants will be available with one word or ring of a bell. Yes, every door in the world will be flung open and held by some servant to provide him or her access to any room he or she wants to walk into.
This baby’s parents will be Shiv Roy and Tom Wambsgans.
This child is doomed.
MUST IMPROVE: I suppose it’s not really reasonable to expect a fetus to figure out how to get itself adopted by a nice couple who lives in… oh, let’s say Portland, but it sure would help
Darwin the Numbers Guy
Got bullied and overruled into calling Wisconsin for Mencken even though a lot of ballots were ruined in a fire that was probably started by Mencken’s goons and/or supporters. Negotiated it to be a “pending call” that he could explain on the air then watched as things spiraled out of control so fast that the whole national election got called before he could do any of that. Spent the whole episode looking sad and worried, about everything from his personal reputation to the state of the country to the sanctity of the very numbers he holds dear. I feel like, somewhere off-camera, maybe between episodes, a stranger is going to find him shuffling around in a raincoat on a cloudless day mumbling about absentee ballots to a duck named Archibald that no one else can see.
It’s really funny that his name is Darwin.
MUST IMPROVE: Choice of career
Various Karls, Franks, and Karolinas
Funny to think about the progression here: Kendall and Roman decide they want to keep running Waystar because they don’t know what else to do —> they try to tank the deal with Matsson —> they do this by getting a supergoon elected president —> Karl isn’t going to get his beloved golden parachute —> Karolina is going to have to explain everything ATN did to the press —> Frank will probably have to keep working there for these two dummies
I could have put any number of more important characters in the top image of this report card, but I stuck with Karl — who was barely in the episode at all — because I could not stop thinking about how sad all of this would make him.
MUST IMPROVE: I think I would have enjoyed a shot of Karl whipping a glass of scotch at a television screen, if only to have as a GIF I could use going forward
Once again, just to be clear: Two idiot failsons manipulated the entire election process to make a fascist creep president solely because they did not want to sell their dad’s company to a weirdo European billionaire. That’s… it doesn’t feel great. I don’t love it. Let’s not talk about it anymore!
MUST IMPROVE: I SAID I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT
Getting wasabi in your eyes
Two things are true here.
The first is that, sometimes, when the situation calls for it, the grades in this report card are distributed on a curve.
The second is that… I mean, it says a lot about everyone who got an F that “getting wasabi in your eyes” is getting a D, you know?
MUST IMPROVE: AHHH IT BURNS AHHHH NO WHY AHHHHHHHHH
Good news and bad news for this guy…
GOOD: If Mencken follows through and blocks the deal, Matsson can escape this snake pit and never deal with these wishy-washy demons ever again, which is all I want for most of the secondary characters on this show, especially Karl. Also, those funky numbers for GoJo’s subscribers look like they’re gonna get dumped out the day after the United States elected some sort of crazy wingnut, so they’ll get bumped off of the front page and maybe just slide by unnoticed completely.
BAD: Still a weird dude who does Nazi-adjacent tweets.
MUST IMPROVE: I think he should grow a little handlebar mustache, just to see how it works on his face
- Massively hungover from a night of partying with Matsson and his team, which involved a lot of cocaine and drinks that were not drinks, whatever exactly that means
- On cocaine again
- Somehow in charge of security on the newsroom floor, which is just a hilarious thing, in general
- Pouring lemon La Croix into people’s eyeballs
- Wielding secret information like fine wine and deploying it to hose Shiv, like a real big boy cutthroat businessman
It is still my position that the funniest thing that could happen in these last few episodes is all the Roy children shooting themselves in the foot and freaking Cousin Greg being the last person standing.
MUST IMPROVE: Getting addicted to drugs
It’s fun to watch Willa’s face whenever Roman is talking, especially after the thing last week where he yelled at her a little bit. None of this is what Willa pictured when she started dating Connor. She expected swimming pools and galas, not diplomatic responsibilities in Eastern Europe. She does seem to be making the best of it, though. I don’t know. I like Willa.
MUST IMPROVE: Marrying up
Jess Jordan barely appeared in this episode. Her biggest contribution was the thing at the end where she just, like, stared at Greg with confused horror when he told her that he — Cousin Greg, a human Gumby with a knack for attaching himself to anyone with a reasonable amount of power, a man who was about 35 percent cocaine at this point — was responsible for delivering the news about the election being called for Mencken to the newsroom floor. Jess Jordan spoke for all of us in that moment.
I hope she writes a book.
MUST IMPROVE: I’m tempted to say “poker face” here because she has none and you can see the panic in her eyes whenever something bad is happening, but I actually like that about her so… forget I mentioned it.
Did not have to deal with any of this on account of Roman kind of impulse-firing her the other week, which will probably result in her receiving a massive check with many commas in it. Gerri did great this week. I like to imagine she spent the whole day in a private villa in Aruba getting massages and sipping rum drinks. Good for her.
MUST IMPROVE: No notes here