Succession Power Rankings: "Times New Roman Firing Squad"
Where we stand after 303: "The Disruption."
These are my Succession Power Rankings. If you like these things, consider a paid subscription.
Welcome back slime puppies. In the last week, Succession — and, equally, star Brian Cox — have insisted that I learn the definition of “meretricious.” Despite my pronouncements to the contrary, it does not mean Mare of Easttown-tricious; it means “tawdrily and falsely attractive,” and “superficially significant,” or: every David O. Russell movie. Anyway, let’s get into it.
The United States Government, I guess
Sure, it’s trite to rank the Department of Justice and the FBI so high — all our players are in America now — but for so long Logan has ignored the government’s power and influence. It backfires spectacularly: indirectly pressuring the White House only brings the DOJ’s microscope on Logan and Waystar closer. The government’s arrival at the episode’s end is bad for all parties, even if Kendall’s smirk at the end indicates that he doesn’t realize it yet.
The FBI at the Waystar door:
Logan’s Bodyguard Colin
No fucking way am I facing that sustained eye contact. Respectfully.
Going team daddy, it turns out, comes with a lot of strings. Instead of being the public face of the Logan Roy Respects Women campaign, Shiv begins the episode opting to work behind the scenes on neutralizing Kendall. His only agenda is — barf — retweets, but his toxic visibility threatens the entire family’s not-so-gorilla grip on the company that bears their name. There’s no reasoning with Kendall, though, and Shiv has to sit through another apology-turned-self-righteous lecture. Kendall Roy talking down to anyone … scariest thing about this Halloween, if we’re being honest!
Has being so fawned over, so in-demand, ever seemed so miserable? Both dad and brother want Shiv to be their visible woman co-sign; both dad and brother either dress her down or shut her out. (Kendall, in between submitting tips about himself to Deuxmoi, no doubt.) Siding with their dad gives Shiv one single material benefit — her new post as “President of Domestic Operations” — but that announcement is scorched by a Kendall stunt. She doesn’t end the episode on top, but does finish with a power move: outing Kendall as being just as careless and malignant as their dad, scorching his shit right back.
Roman stays fairly neutral this week. He doesn’t declines to join Shiv in her open letter about Kendall. (Honestly, I wish Roman wrote the letter — Roman Farrow would’ve been such a good joke.) When he does submit himself for a media hit, it’s to be the public face of Loving Dad®, which isn’t really a win or a loss (Logan would have cared more if he took up a pitchfork against Kendall, and doesn’t sympathize with all the sappy shit). He’s basically the same as Connor, except his presence is courted by the family, and the Waystar PR team too.
Connor’s phone only rings when he’s being courted to join some "unified family statement. He, smartly, knows how valuable his appearance, and signature, is: “I want some suck-suck on my dickie-dick,” he tells Shiv, when she pitches him to sign her open letter dragging Kendall. He’s selective about what he will and won’t do, but the fact that he’s always cc’d on a family-wide ask is important. Am I ranking him too high? Maybe! But these are my rankings and I love my hyperdecanting king and I don’t want to hear any fucking lip about it. 😌
Tom has been inching closer to Logan’s inner circle; this week he’s sworn fealty. After meeting with a lawyer friend and learning that jail time over the cruises fallout might be inevitable, he’s offered himself up to Logan as the next public sacrifice. But is it an act of desperation or a play? He suggests it as the former, but Shiv sees it as an opportunity for the latter. Tom pitches it earnestly, and Logan seems touched by the option. A furtive phone call makes it seem like Tom has taken her advice; later he charms a cocktail hour of right wing advertisers. Tom might have the smallest sphere of influence, but he’s making it work.
“Jesus, everyone’s doing fucking somersaults for him right now,” Shiv says of her dad. It’s true, to a degree: Logan has everyone’s attention, everyone’s deference, but no moves to make. His bullying backfires; his ignorance fails him. He wants to sunshine in Shiv to the company’s misdeeds — “You won’t find one piece of paper that makes you ashamed of me,” he swears — but it sounds like an unconvincing lie. He tries to put pressure on the White House , and only beckons the Department of Justice. The only thing Logan actively succeeds at this episode is dispatching Fisher Stevens to stall Kendall at the door. (Whooo is Fisher Stevens going to stop at the door! Be serious.) Logan bests Kendall this week, but barely — Shiv’s poison pen puts his son at the greater disadvantage.
This sentient Twitter name search is gleefully enjoying his own flop era. Auditioning for his father’s love has been replaced by auditioning for the public’s: he tweets jokes and vague, inane declarations of allyship. He’s fashioned himself as some kind of people’s champ, the cornball Chance The Rapper of billionaire heirs. This week, he’s decided to give the girls something to talk about, storming the Waystar building like it’s the United States Capitol, and choosing to stare down Succession’s new power bob: Ziwe’s!
But, like everything else on Kendall’s agenda, it turns to ash in his hands before he even realizes there was a fire. His arrival at Waystar was a pointless show of strength that only ended with him being intimidated (by Logan’s menacing bodyman, Colin). Kendall is so rattled and turns the visit into a prank. (Stupid — what shareholder sees this and thinks “Yes that’s the man I want making me money.”) Shiv goes nuclear and opens her Google doc for a “Times New Roman firing squad,” writing an open letter detailing her older brother’s not-so-secret, not-too-distant unscrupulous past. Kendall overplays his hand this week so many times, in so many ways; what’s he after, other than attention? How many more hands does he have to play before he sinks the family’s position entirely?
Waystar She.E.O Gerri is managing the company — but barely. It’s female empowerment in the C-suite, except Gerri’s hands are tied behind her back, and her eyes are blindfolded. Logan shuts her out of key business decisions; her own deputies wait for his sign off on even rudimentary decisions. Something funny has happened between Logan choosing Gerri as the phantom CEO and Gerri actually starting the job: he resents and despises her, even when she’s pitching obviously and objectively cautious decisions, like cooperating with federal agents. I couldn’t help but wonder: is there any reality where Logan hands over the reins to anyone, ever?
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter
Not only does Succession employ a (the) Beyoncé biter, now Kendall is flaunting that he has her husband’s cell number?? Chile …
Cousin Greg, a New York Times “both sides” op-ed in 6′ 7″ form, is somehow still playing for both teams. He can party with Kendall, doing a little drinking and document-leaking, and then make it back to the office in time for an early-morning ATN staff meeting, or whatever. The dallying gives him the advantages of neither, and the disadvantages of both: he’s being bullied by Tom and Kendall, with a shitty office and a watch he can’t afford.