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.
When did you realize things were not going to end well for Kendall? Was it when he showed up with the saddest buzz cut you’ve ever seen, one he probably gave himself at like 3 a.m. during a post-cocaine comedown crisis? Was it when his mother basically banned him from her wedding because she considers her ex-husband more important, or when his father slapped down his cry for help and stormed out of dinner? Was it last week when he had a meltdown during his birthday party and realized he had no one in his life who really cared for or about him? Was it when every TV critic got this week’s screener and started tweeting stuff like “You HAVE to watch this week’s episode LIVE” like little kids with a secret they were trying not to spill but sort of spilling anyway? Was it when this profile of Jeremy Strong dropped yesterday and was littered with quotes and stories about how exhausting he sounds to work with? You had options, is my point.
The big question here, of course, is as follows: Dead or nah? I’ve been going back and forth since I watched the screener last week. My gut reaction was no, both because it would be such a massive twist in a show that — despite lots of things happening, always — tends to bring things back to the status quo and because I generally do not assume a character is dead until I see them in a casket or another character says “He’s dead” out loud, preferably straight into the camera.
But I’ve been wavering. Kendall has been a tragic figure from the jump, and he’s pretty much been operating separately from the family this season anyway, and there’s not much use for him if he’s not doing the legal battle or coming back into the fold, and that profile sure did not make it sound like his castmates will miss him a lot. So I don’t know.
In conclusion, Kendall Roy is a land of contrasts.
MUST IMPROVE: … breathing?
Real rollercoaster of a run for Roman these last few weeks. He had a little success at work, hopped on a speedboat to save the deal with Matsson, acted like a total dipshit about it all, then capped it all off by accidentally sending a dick pic to his father during a business meeting. And then, in the face of all that, he still managed to be the most reasonable person in the room by suggesting that they can’t fire Gerri just because he has been sexually harassing her.
MUST IMPROVE: Keeping body parts inside his pants
Here’s the thing about Shiv: Shiv sucks. It can be tempting to overlook that sometimes because all of her brothers are world-class trainwrecks and she can display little flashes of competence, but then she’ll do things like role-play with Tom by saying objectively true things — to her, at least — like “I don’t love you” and “You’re not good enough for me” and then use Roman’s texting calamity to kick off a power play that involves intimidating Gerri and just generally being a soulless ghoul about it all. It’s bad. Shiv is bad. Let’s not forget that the next time she does a semi-smart thing while the rest of the family lights itself on fire.
MUST IMPROVE: Like, everything
- More or less bullied one son into a semi-suicidal bender and then basically called him a junkie and a coward when the son came to him in a moment of weakness
- Received a picture of another son’s penis by accident
- Strongly implied he would be willing to poison his grandson if he felt threatened
It’s not great!
MUST IMPROVE: Parenting, generally
The fact of the matter is that Connor should have received an F by any objective standard on account of, like, just being a big old dope and thinking he could run for President without anyone snooping around about his former escort girlfriend and thinking he could fix it with a disastrous public marriage proposal that had about the same chance of success as his run for high office.
Huge bozo behavior through and through. And yet, compared to his siblings… not all that bad. We are grading on a curve here.
MUST IMPROVE: Awareness
Agreed to go on a date with Greg based mostly on their shared annoyance with Kendall and then stood by at a fancy Italian wedding while he made the most awkward move you’ve ever seen on some sort of duchess or contessa. Her boss might be dead. She’ll probably have to put out a press release about it.
The only silver lining in it all is that she might finally be free of this stupid family.
MUST IMPROVE: Romantic decisions, career planning
Logan gets most of the credit for turning the children into little monsters who will happily kneecap each other if it means acquiring even the tiniest little advantage in the long-running power plays they’re engaged in with each other, but let’s not overlook this ice-hearted gem either. It all almost makes you feel bad for the kids. Almost.
MUST IMPROVE: Mothering
Various Karls, Franks, and Karolinas
A big part of me wishes we’d had a split-screen of Karl and Frank’s faces as Logan looked down at his phone and shouted and stormed out mid-meeting and then started having little emergency meetings with his children in another room. I can’t decide if they would have been concerned or if they’re just so used to it all that they went ahead and rolled with it. Like, I feel like Frank just started doing a crossword puzzle and Karl stared ahead blankly the whole time.
I love them very much.
MUST IMPROVE: Leave them alone
Honestly, I’m kind of impressed at the audacity of attending the wedding of your boss/lover’s ex-wife with his current wife in the entourage and still appearing to act normal about it all. None of this will end well for Kerry. She should run while she still has a chance.
MUST IMPROVE: Not doing any of this, to whatever degree possible
I genuinely feel bad for Tom now. He’s just a big insecure little boy who married into the worst family alive and even Greg is making some little status-raising moves as Tom is flailing about. He should be happy. He’s probably avoiding jail. His wife kind of agreed to have the baby he’s been begging her to have, even if it’s a spite-based plan based on one disastrous conversation with her emotionally-bankrupt mother. He’s getting everything he’s been asking for. Kind of.
Hmm. As I’m typing this, I’m realizing what a low bar there is for characters on this show. I really said “he should be happy” and then my reasons were “not going to prison” and “wife who doesn’t respect or love him wants a baby to spit in her awful mother’s face.”
MUST IMPROVE: Poor Tom
I have yet to figure out Gerri’s side of the Roman thing. I think I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities:
- She likes the power aspect of it, how her boss’s son is a sicko little puppy at her feet just peeing and pooping on the floor and being naughty and letting her feign outrage about it even though she loves the mess
- She just enjoys having some young dude shower her with attention, even when it’s not healthy
Either way, it’s a weird situation that was bound to explode at some point and finally did. It’s always been a tough spot for Gerri because she’s more expendable to Logan than his own weird son, but now it’s, like, double tough. I hope she hits Shiv with a frying pan.
MUST IMPROVE: Decision-making
Stewy and Sandi
Okay, close your eyes. Not now. After this paragraph. But then close them. And picture Stewy’s entire face as he realizes both the GoJo deal and the whole company are now in a state of chaos because one of Logan’s children might be dead and another clicked the wrong button while trying to send a picture of his penis to the CEO during a meeting.
It’s a fun mental image.
MUST IMPROVE: Choosing dance partners
I paused this episode on a still frame of Willa’s face after Connor proposed and I started laughing out loud, like a quiet chuckle building to a full-on giggle. It’s not that I want to see bad things happen to her. I like Willa, mostly. It’s just… look at her face. She’s realizing so many things all at once. She has regrets.
MUST IMPROVE: Connor
Peter Onions is…
- A capitalist sleazebag who is destroying nursing homes
- Probably marrying Caroline for her money
- A big old doofus
And yet… I love him? This show does weird things to you, man. I should hate this chump with every fiber of my being and I would if you plopped him another show with more redeemable people on it. But here we are. Look at his pants!
MUST IMPROVE: Giving me existential crises
His grandpa was willing to poison him and his dad might be dead in that pool but Iverson Roy gets a B anyway because I feel like he needs a win. And it’s still deeply funny and perfect — and maybe says more about Kendall as a character than any line of dialogue or plot development ever could — that his first name is Iverson. He’s a sweet boy who has no chance.
MUST IMPROVE: Trusting the evil and/or stupid authority figures in his life
Used goofy tweets to manipulate his stock price and corner Waystar Royco into a merger instead of a buyout. Lives in any number of scenic mansions around the world, all of which I imagine he hates for specific and petty reasons. Probably will find the Roman Texting Fiasco very, very funny, even if it ends up costing him money and/or time.
MUST IMPROVE: I feel like he should have a mustache for some reason
I love weddings. They’re a blast. I love the mingling and the corny DJs and the one uncle and/or aunt who has a couple of drinks more than they usually have and starts getting ambitious on the dance floor. And I’m a blast at weddings. I thrive in a reception hall. I’ve been asked to give a speech twice and I brought the house down both times. The only problem is that most of my friends and family members are married now and I haven’t been invited to a wedding in a few years. It’s honestly a problem.
MUST IMPROVE: Invite me to your wedding. I won’t be weird. I promise.
Anton Chekhov was a Russian playwright who lived in the late 1800s. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers in history and an important figure in the history of theater, but is probably best known today for the storytelling rule commonly referred to as Chekhov’s Gun:
Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.
I bring this up now because I shouted “CHEKHOV’S DICK PIC” at my screen when the Roman thing happened at the end of the episode. I’m sure he’s proud.
MUST IMPROVE: He died of tuberculosis at age 44 and his body was transported home in a refrigerated train car that carried oysters and a bunch of mourners accidentally joined the funeral parade of a military figure by mistake, so let’s go with “dying gracefully”
I was tempted to penalize him for trying to trade up from Comfry within moments of scoring that sweet little peck kiss, but then I saw his attempted wooing of the duchess and I couldn’t help myself. He’s a good boy. Misguided and awkward and a little evil way down in there, but still, a good boy.
MUST IMPROVE: Talking, walking, etc.
MUST IMPROVE: No notes. I love a fancy and/or floppy hat.
Jess Jordan has been absent for the last two episodes. This is the kind of thing that would usually be bad for a character on a popular television show, if only because it implies a lack of importance. Here, though, it provides hope. She managed to avoid Kendall’s disaster of a birthday party and the somehow bigger disaster of the wedding. She might be free of the whole thing if Kendall does indeed die in that pool. These could be huge developments for Jess Jordan.
You remember in Good Will Hunting when Ben Affleck gives that little speech about the best part of his day? I’ll just go ahead and blockquote it.
Every day, I come by your house and I pick you up. And we go out, we have a few drinks, and a few laughs, and it’s great. You know what the best part of my day is? It’s for about ten seconds when I pull up to the curb to when I get to your door. ‘Cause I think maybe I’ll get up there and I’ll knock on the door and you won’t be there. No goodbye, no “see ya later”, no nothin’. You just left. I don’t know much, but I know that.
That’s how I feel about Jess Jordan when she’s not in an episode
MUST IMPROVE: Fulfilling her destiny