TV

The ‘Succession’ Seven: Fly That Whirlybird

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

Teddy Roosevelt’s valet — Is there a more perfect Succession moment than a slew of billionaires sitting around and toasting each other with a beloved family drink that someone literally stole from the wallet of a service worker? Yes, there is. We’ll get there.

Tom — Breaks my heart to leave Tom out of the rankings this week, if only for the “Jeepers fucking creepers” he dropped on Shiv after she blew the dinner with the Pierces — and her chances at taking over — into thousands of shimmering smithereens.

Rhea Jarrell — Slow week for Rhea and a busy week all around bump her out, although it was really quite fun that she claimed Sandy’s takeover bid was on the rocks because he has syphilis. I can’t decide if this is better as truth (brutal gossip, excellent oppo research) or pure slander (lol).

Connor — One day Connor will crack the listings proper. One day when he has a little more to do than drink port offscreen. Perhaps even next week. He’s such an underrated failson on this show and he deserves a moment. Ain’t this moment, though.

7B. Shiv (Last week: 6)

HBO

POP QUIZ: When did you realize Shiv was done for?

  • When she made the crack about the Pierce who was getting his second PhD
  • When she couldn’t help but push Roman about his fake reading list — The Electric Circus sounds awful, by the way — and the camera cut over to Logan’s annoyed face
  • When her nerves and ambition bubbled over into a series of flubbed mission statements at the dinner

Well, guess what: it was a trick question. The correct answer is “the second Logan offered it to her.” It was never going to work out. It’s just how Logan is and always will be. Shiv knows that. She should have known it, at least. He offered her the job in large part because she didn’t appear to want it, but then she started to want it, and it became real, and suddenly, all Logan could see was her flaws.

It’s a gross analogy considered the two are father and daughter, but it’s kind of like a couple that moves in together and immediately has the fantasy punctured by the reality that their partner, like, flosses at the dinner table. Except sicker and weirder and driven by Logan’s narcissism and paranoia. Shiv never had a chance. This will all get worse before it gets better.

7A. Roman and Gerri (Last week: 7/2)

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For the record, this is not a tie. Roman and Gerri count as a single entry this week, largely because they are forever inseparable in my brain now. Neither of them had a great week on their own, either. Gerri was on the receiving end of another one of Logan’s “Well, Gerri’s on the paperwork but let’s be serious” hurtfully casual public brush-offs. Roman realized Shiv had leapfrogged him and had his training program referred to as “business kindergarten” and had his whole sexual situation aired out in front of two of the most powerful families in America. Well, not his whole sexual situation. There’s… there’s a lot going on in there.

In a way, it’s nice that Roman and Gerri have each other. Neither of them are particularly wanted or needed by anyone else. In another way, though, and let’s include a caveat here that what consenting adults do in their bedrooms or on opposite sides of a bathroom door is their business, their whole mommy/son humiliation thing is… it’s really something. As was Roman’s joke-confession at breakfast the next morning. There should be at least one more sentence coming here to sum up that thought but I don’t know what to type. I’m all ears if you have something.

This situation could go about five or six different ways and all of them are fascinating.

6. The Pierce Family (Last week: Unranked)

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Heaven help me, I hate these people. I agree with them politically much more than I agree with the Roys. They present a better picture, one that values truth and decency and blah blah blah. I should like them in theory. But between the pretentious double-PhD stargazer and the quoting Shakespeare at dinner and whatever exactly Mark Linn-Baker was doing there (Mark Linn-Baker and Alan Ruck arguing through facial hair had to be a wild sight for anyone who lived through the Ferris Bueller/Perfect Strangers period), I just…

… just…

Ugggghhh.

The only reason they rank this high is because Naomi is cool and she was nice to Kendall and I, for reasons I can’t yet articulate and kind of am not ready to think very deeply about, am starting to become very protective of Kendall. I worry about him. Sometimes out of nowhere. I’ll just be sitting around with some movie on in the background and my brain will leap to “I hope Kendall is okay.” I’m not exactly sure when or how it started. But it’s there. I damn near cried when he told her to push the deal through to avoid blocking her own escape. He might as well have been talking to a mirror. He wanted for her what he can’t have for himself. It’s a hell of a thing to realize while flipping levers in a helicopter after shoving vodka and cocaine into your face for an hour or two.

I hope they get married.

5. Kendall (Last week: 4)

HBO

Gonna keep talking about Kendall.

You know how Logan has been extra nice to Kendall lately and has been giving him important tasks to do? At first, because I’m a softy and an optimist at heart, I thought maybe this was a sign of Logan showing a soul, a tiny glimmer of compassion for his Number One Boy, the troubled successor, the Prodigal Son. And maybe it is. Maybe Kendall is his soft spot.

Or maybe Logan just likes him this much now because he’s a hopelessly broken soldier who follows orders without questioning them and Logan really wants henchmen instead of children. Just say “Dad’s plan was better” a bunch and become a soulless Terminator with a gaping, echoing cavity where hopes and dreams should be and, blammo, you have Logan’s love. Or something resembling love. Kind of.

Leave Kendall alone. Get him some clean sheets, though. Then leave him alone

4. Rosa (Last week: Unranked)

HBO

This is the moment I was talking about earlier. The perfect Succession one. It was the look on Rosa’s face after Nan Pierce — the one who insisted Rosa have a drink with everyone earlier, the “good” one — grabbed the tray of food in the kitchen and emerged with it to applause despite not chopping a single carrot all afternoon. Rosa, in that split second, became the Greek chorus for the entire episode, a reminder that all these people are pretty rotten, regardless of political affiliation. Rosa rules. I hope she spit in the potatoes.

3. Marcia (Last week: Unranked)

HBO

Marcia also rules. She spent the whole episode disregarding the two-drink limit and making cracks at Logan’s expense in front of everyone. She was just fed up. Fed up with being treated like a pawn, fed up with Logan’s elaborate charade, fed up with all of it. You could see it in her face in the early stages of the trip. Hell, you could see it last week when Logan sent her to unplug the Alexa instead of sitting in on the talk with Shiv. She seems to get that Logan has a weird and cannibalistic relationship with his children but she sure as hell isn’t about to be lumped in with that circus of bozos. She’s getting her cracks in.

The best part is that it worked. She presented herself as a strong and opinionated partner who was not going to be pushed around by Logan, which Nan Pierce liked when compared to the hypothetical trophy wife alternative. It probably won’t end too great for Marcia (it ends poorly for everyone on Succession), but still a solid performance.

2. Logan (Last week: 5)

HBO

All of Logan’s issues were on display this week. Maybe the most telling tip he revealed was his half-joking claim at dinner that he didn’t want to name a successor because he’d start to feel unwanted. Maybe that’s the rub here, in a single phrase, and he just blurted it out in a frantic spasm of attempted evasiveness. Logan can’t let go of even tiny pinch of power — a dusting, if you prefer — because doing so would be a display of weakness, an admission of mortality, and his mangled brain can’t comprehend that. Maybe that’s it.

He did land the deal, though, thanks to his “walk away from the table” power move at the end (a move none of his children would have pulled off thanks to their bone-deep need to please), and he did get to shout “DRIVE YOUR FUCKING WHIRLYBIRD” at the helicopter pilot. I had never even contemplated saying that sentence — I had never even considered its existence, to be honest — and now it’s all I want to do, just once.

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

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Perhaps you thought Greg would slip from the top spot this week based on the small fact that he only appeared in the final moments. Perhaps you thought that him insisting to be called “Gregory” now and stammering out a few awesomes and dudes wouldn’t be enough. Well, if you thought that, you forgot the most important factor of all: I love my sweet gangly Ichabod.

Number one.

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