Leading into this week’s Succession episode, I didn’t believe it was possible for me to feel less empathy for Shiv than I already do. Surprisingly, this has nothing to do with her recent cringeworthy party moves, which our own Brian Grubb described as “[d]ancing like a person who just grew limbs that morning in a frantic attempt to exorcise all these demons.” That dance gave us nothing, and Roman put it, “I heard it looked like a cry for help,” but it’s clear that no one in history has been less thrilled that her husband’s not going to prison. Shiv’s cold-heartedness knows no bounds, and while Logan is objectively the most ruthless person in Succession, Shiv gives him a run for his money. I’d even argue that she’s worse because there’s not an ounce of likability on display. What really gets me is how she’ll turn on a dime on the issue of sexual misconduct, and she uses her femininity to manipulate these situations to her own advantage.
Clearly, a lot happened this week, including these biggies: Kendall may have drowned (I hope they don’t kill him off yet, although the preview for next week doesn’t look promising for him); Logan made his own grandson poison-check his food (because this show can’t help but get Shakespearean up in this motherf*cker); and oh yeah, Roman inadvertently sent Logan a d*ck pic. We’ll get back to that point in a minute, but first, this: Every line out of Shiv’s mouth felt more unredeemable than the one that came before. She managed to knock Tom down several more pegs during pillow talk, and instead of easing his “after burn,” she capped things off in that department with a few choice lines:
– The master manipulator called Tom “manipulative” when he felt discomfort over the horrible things she said in bed, and she reminded Tom for the umpteenth time that she doesn’t love him, and “you know.” Oh, Tom knows.
– She professed a desire to “bag some embryos” and “put it together” after deciding to stick it to Mom and have some kids. One gets the distinct feeling that she’d have no issue flushing Tom’s babies down the toilet, at some point in the future.
That wasn’t all. Waystar Royco President of Domestic Operations Siobhan Roy topped her own reprehensibility in the final moments this week. Her episode kicker calls back Season 2’s penultimate episode, when this happened:
Shiv had appealed, woman-to-woman, in an attempt to shut down the cruise-lines scandal by intimidating a sexual assault victim into silence. She painted an aftermath where the victim would be held out as a “slut,” her legal testimony would be all over her tombstone, and so on. While playing the for-the-greater-good card and professing her intent to take down The Man, Shiv wielded her femininity in the most sinister of ways. She took away a victim’s voice, and of course Shiv hasn’t done a thing for anyone but herself in the aftermath. We recently saw her overlaying some PR magic on this scandal while Kendall let some truth fly through his guerrilla speakers via Nirvana’s “Rape Me.”
After these documented attempts from Shiv to shut down sexual assault victims’ right to justice of some sort, she sure changed her tune after Roman’s dick pic slip-up. She seized upon the situation in a blink of an eye, trashing both Roman and Gerri to Logan. For just a moment, let’s behold the background on Roman’s phone.
That’s a bit of a gut punch to see, right before Shiv threw Roman under the bus, though it’s hard to argue anything in his favor, since he was so insistent upon sending those “items” to Gerri, despite her declaration (“I’m f*cking serious”) that she did not want them. Yet Shiv knifed the hell out of Gerri, too, while more than suggesting to Logan that Gerri’s saving those dick pics as “leverage” and “banking it as ammo.” And Shiv’s monstrous nature is undeniable when she takes it upon herself to pressure Gerri to report Roman while stressing that her “delicate position as interim CEO” would be in jeopardy “if you can’t deal with your own sexual harassment.”
This exchange (which also feels like a threat) with Gerri, when one considers it along with how Shiv intimidated the cruise-lines scandal sexual assault victim, makes things crystal clear on Shiv’s end. Her top (and only) priority is her own ambition, and her “this must be so hard for you” routine is only an act. Shiv’s said and done a lot of horrible things over the course of this show, but being so loosey-goosey about sexual misconduct — and massaging each instance for her own ends — might be the worst.
Gerri, for her part, appears to not be too ruffled by this exchange. She’s surely stocked up plenty of ammo from other dealings with the Roys, and she knows where all the bodies are buried, so hopefully, she’s safe. Yes, it’s true that Logan’s been looking for an excuse to push Gerri out, and he’s also seemingly less disgusted by Roman’s actual behavior than how Roman’s behaving this way toward someone who’s not “a nice piece of tail” while branding Gerri “frozen f*cking p*ss” who needs to be shipped out. Even Roman knows Gerri shouldn’t be fired at this point, but hey look, Shiv’s already seizing upon this situation for her own purposes: to push Roman out and finally be The One. Ugh. I mean, I could conceivably admire Shiv’s hustle (we are, after all, dealing with various degrees of a-holes with these siblings), but she crosses the line with her fake-ally stances, when we really know that she does not care about putting an end to sexual misconduct. That’s simply another pawn to her, and god, I want Gerri to mop the floor with this whole damn family.
Well, other than Cousin Greg. Everyone can leave Greg alone.
HBO’s ‘Succession’ airs on Sunday nights, and it’s almost season finale time.