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.
The thing about Shiv is, as we’ve discussed on a number of occasions, Shiv sucks. She doesn’t suck all the time. She was surprisingly good with Kendall when he was melting down in the dirt, to the degree that she was crouching in wedding heels for an extended period of time, which, I say as a man who wears comfortable shoes every day, does not seem fun. She seems to want to do right, sometimes, games of Monopoly and marriage vows notwithstanding. It’s complicated.
But she also earned this one, through the treatment of Tom all season and Gerri in the last episode, and yes, it just dawned on me that Waystar has high-ranking executives named Tom and Gerri. I write 2000 words about each episode and that’s only hitting me now. I’m both thrilled and embarrassed.
More importantly: Did you see her face when she saw Tom and Logan exchange pleasantries at the end? You probably did because it’s right up there. That’s the face of a woman who is realizing things. A lot of them. All at once. Shiv is not having fun right now. But again, she earned it. No tears on this one.
MUST IMPROVE: Most things, but she knows that
Hmm. Let’s see…
- Hijacked an intervention for his borderline suicidal half-brother that he more or less stormed out of while shouting “I AM THE ELDEST SON”
- Got his former escort turned girlfriend to agree to marry him by throwing himself a pity party until he extracted a literal “fuck it” from her
- Might be getting deplatformed by the Swedish weirdo who is buying his father’s company, which, it could be argued, is actually a good thing?
I don’t know. Connor is such a loser. Nothing will ever end well for him. It’s funny to watch him flail, though. I kind of hope the entire fourth season is just about him and Willa planning their doomed wedding.
MUST IMPROVE: Storming out successfully, remaining platformed
Green smoothies, generally
It doesn’t matter why you’re drinking them. Whether it’s general health or digestive wellness or trying to impregnate an assistant who is 40 years your junior with another awful little hellspawn despite going 0-for-4 so far in the old “producing a useful member of society” race, green smoothies do not taste good. Get them out of here.
MUST IMPROVE: Taste, color, etc.
Willa is going to regret this. She knows she is going to regret this. She probably regrets it already, if she’s being honest with herself. It’s not a good sign when someone asks you to marry them and you push your decision for multiple days before finally agreeing to it with the same phrasing and energy you would apply to a waiter asking you if you’d like to add bacon to your cheeseburger for an extra 99 cents. She could barely even look at him when he was leaning in for a kiss afterward.
It’s fine. I mean, it’s not fine, and the press is going to snoop if Connor keeps going with his doomed presidential run, and that’s not going to end well, but still. For now, like for right now, it’s fine. See you next season.
MUST IMPROVE: Getting pushed into weird/bad marriages by pitiful grandiose creeps
Caroline and Peter Onions
Think about these two for a second. Their whole big fancy Italian wedding got sidetracked by her ex-husband and his crappy children engaging in business subterfuge. She got kind of railroaded into changing the terms of their divorce — again, during her wedding — so her ex could hose their kids and cash out with an extra $5 billion, and then the kids all blamed her for it. And Peter is still a doofus. Just a world-class lanky goof. No one is living up to their potential here.
MUST IMPROVE: They should have just eloped on a beach, it would have saved everyone so much trouble
The good news here is that Roman kind of, in a way, after and including a prodigious amount of squirming, stood up to Logan — or anyone, really — for the first time in his spineless little life. Good for him. This is progress. Almost. The only reason he did it was because his other two siblings were bullying him, so he was still getting shoved into it all, but he didn’t let Logan run him over with a steamroller in the room. Again, progress.
The bad news is that doing it accomplished nothing but getting him bounced from the company and burning bridges and watching as Gerri extracted a form of sideways revenge against him and Shiv for embarrassing and/or intimidating her last week with the text fiasco.
The lesson here is… to never stand up for yourself? Hmm. No. That can’t be right. Let’s sleep on this one. There’s probably a lesson here.
MUST IMPROVE: Sympathy, empathy, spine-having
Various Karls, Franks, and Karolinas
I love to see Karl and Frank thrive. I hope they both cash out with billions and spend the entire fourth season on a sailboat off the coast of Bermuda, just chilling with boat drinks and stylish Caribbean hats and comfortable linen shirts unbuttoned to their navels. Good for them.
MUST IMPROVE: Sneaking, snooping
- There was a lot of talk about Jeremy Strong’s acting process after that big profile dropped, about how he’s a complicated but passionate weirdo who might be hard to work with, but if this is the result of it all, I mean… fine
- It was such a good performance
- It was nice to see Kendall briefly emerge from his tailspin to educate his siblings on corporate governance
- He’s a disaster in about six or eight distinct and completely debilitating ways but, I’m sorry, I’m now rooting for him more than anyone else on the show with the exception of his assistant Jess Jordan, who has hopefully been on a relaxing vacation in Key West while the events of the past few episodes unfolded
- It was a little heartbreaking the way he touched the valet on the shoulder, like he was trying to make amends for the dead waiter at the last wedding
I don’t know how to feel about any of this. Let’s move on.
MUST IMPROVE: Self-esteem, brushing off his pants, just generally not melting down all the time
Kerry’s rise this season has been unprecedented. She went from a nameless assistant to a mistress to a trusted advisor to someone Logan sided with above and beyond his own children. She might be having his baby, at some point, if the smoothies do their job for Logan’s gloop, which would be a whole thing. Imagine a newly retired Logan morphing into a loving and attentive father to a newborn and then imagine how insane it would make Shiv.
I think I want to see it. I hope Logan gets way into, like, Pokémon.
MUST IMPROVE: Avoiding Marcia at all costs
Comfry and the Duchess
No choice here but to give them the tie, in part because the two of them have somehow found themselves in a love triangle with freaking Cousin Greg of all people, in part because it sounds like Comfry went full Baywatch to save Kendall from drowning in chlorinated limoncello, and in part because I like the idea of a newly powerful Cousin Greg ascending to an unoccupied European throne by the end of next season.
We’ll come back to this.
MUST IMPROVE: They can both do so much better than this, he’s just tall and rich, come on
Showing up to a business meeting in a helicopter and/or speedboat
Lots of great shots of people entering/exiting helicopters or riding across bodies of water on speedboats. Makes me feel like I’ve been living my life all wrong. Blogging rarely requires emergency helicopter or speedboat travel. I should have considered this. This one is on me. Let’s go ahead and pencil it in as a goal for 2022: More blogging-related speedboat rides.
MUST IMPROVE: Feels like we should have a combination speedboat/helicopter by now
He’s a good boy and I love him very much.
MUST IMPROVE: Needs more exciting books
Two sides to this coin, both of which I will attempt to present objectively…
He’s a monster, a hard-driving maniac who views every situation — even ones involving his children — as a zero-sum game with a winner and a loser. No moral compass at all. Will use and dispose of people to whatever degree it advances his personal interests. A manipulative strongman who bullies and pushes and finagles until he bends the world to his own twisted and perverted whims.
On the other hand, even as I found myself weirdly rooting for the kids while they were in the car headed over to confront him, as I was feeling proud of them for finally making a play, I still had to admit that Logan had a point with the “MAKE YOUR OWN PILE” rant. The kids seem to view Waystar as their birthright, like they deserve to take over the company their father built into a juggernaut. And, like, screw those spoiled little jerks, you know?
No one is clean here. Logan is a demon who raised a bunch of different mini-demons and now they’re all making each other miserable. It’s not ideal.
MUST IMPROVE: Like… being a human?
Did you see it? Did you see what Gerri did? Did you see the callback to her advice to Roman from earlier this season, even though it now feels like this was all 100 years ago? Here, look.
— female roman roy (@sarahburhans_) December 13, 2021
Good for Gerri. She’s been at Logan’s side in a business setting for decades and rose to a position of prominence on her own merits and his stupid children almost ruined it all with one texting mishap and a hastily orchestrated power play. Gerri wasn’t going to let that happen. Gerri is a survivor. That’s how she’s gotten this far. She’s not losing to any of these little chumps. Not today.
MUST IMPROVE: Not getting into destructive quasi-romantic boondoggles with troubled and emotionally stunted manchildren
I choose to believe Marcia knows about the thing with Logan and Kerry and already has a private investigator on it and has been meeting with a divorce attorney once a week while this whole season unfolded. I have this rock-solid belief based on nothing but her intensity and my bone-deep fear of her that she’s the only person alive who could cook Logan in a negotiation. Show me their divorce proceedings. Give me a full bottle episode in the lawyer’s office. I’m not joking.
Also, on the subject of things I would like to see and am not joking about, open next season with her and Kerry alone in the back seat of a chauffeured car, five minutes into an hour-long ride, and then periodically check-in throughout the episode to see Marcia casually drop the most cutting and hurtful statements you’ve ever heard. I need it.
MUST IMPROVE: Screentime
My guy finessed Logan into giving up the company through the power of sicko tweets and icy Swedish stares. This is… it’s very powerful. I’m kind of excited to see what he does with all of Waystar. I hope he lets a cartoon meme dog host a nightly show on ATN. Or just goes to space and decides to stay there. He has options now, is my point.
MUST IMPROVE: I think I would like it if he had a hat
Greg should not, by any objective measure, receive an A for his performance in this episode. He’s two-timing Comfry with a princess/duchess/contessa. He’s conniving and scheming and it’s affecting his status as the show’s beautiful sweet boy. He has a vendetta against Greenpeace. On any television program with even a single redeemable character, he would be an evil twerp and maybe even the villain. We should not like him.
Look at his face. This gangly boyish angel is now both a big-time corporate player and also a few more solid dates away from being one plane crash or boating disaster away from ruling a country. Can you think of anything more perfect? Can you think of a better ending to all of this than “Cousin Greg angles/stumbles his way into a business success and a fading European monarchy”? I want to see him hold a scepter.
I’m conflicted about it. A little. I’m a little conflicted about it. I still want to know if he can dunk.
MUST IMPROVE: He should probably let the thing with Greenpeace go now, but we’re nitpicking
The crazy thing here is that, right in front of our faces, all along, the show has been setting this up. Look at this moment from the meeting at the diner a few episodes ago…
three episodes ago pic.twitter.com/Jjcq0xz1Gq
— Frazier Tharpe II (@The_SummerMan) December 13, 2021
And look at the show bringing the damn Sporus reference full-circle in plain sight, hitting us with the misdirect that was actually just straightforward foreshadowing.
— yazzy (@bIindsidedd) December 13, 2021
Add in the stuff with Logan saying he’d “remember” Tom’s willing prison sacrifice and all the stuff with Shiv bullying/cuckolding him and taking him for granted, and yeah, Tom’s move — provided that is what happened here — makes perfect sense. You can only push a person so far before they snap. Tom Wambsgans doesn’t have much pride, but he does have a little. I’m somehow both proud of him and disappointed in him. I have much to think about before next season.
But first, I’m gonna keep watching his delivery of “Heeeyyyy Shiv” as he walked into the room. Legitimately hilarious. I’m laughing again now just thinking about it, the way his voice went up an octave from “nervous hello” into “very clearly guilty of something.” Shiv knows. Everyone knows. I don’t think Tom cares. He and Greg are getting corner offices and 20 of their own Gregs. This is a success story.
MUST IMPROVE: Keeping this energy, or possibly abandoning it, I haven’t decided yet
I have so much respect for the catering crew at this wedding, mainly the two dudes in the background here, screwing around and snapping towels at each other while a family and international business conglomerate goes to hell around them. They might have a better handle on life than anyone else on the show.
MUST IMPROVE: Leave them alone, they’re perfect