Welcome back, rich kids! Before we begin with this week’s Succession Power Rankings, there is something we must discuss. This week’s episode is called “Vaulter,” and it is incumbent upon me to address a topic I have been thinking about since I watched the very first episode of Succession’s very first season: Kendall Roy is really itching to acquire a Gawker-y website called Vaulter. The site is snappy and snarky and has a hot owner. “Vaulter.” “Vaulter dot com.” Once more, phonetically: vahl-ter. Doesn’t that sound a little familiar? Like another website, one that you might read frequently, or at the very least the morning after an award show? Doesn’t it sound like, oh, I don’t know, “Vulture”?????? The website that you’re reading right freaking now??? Representation, my fellow one-percenters. It matters.
On this week’s episode of Succession, we have a birthday, a new apartment, a cold, several fights, and a lot of writers fired for trying to unionize! There’s also a new foe and a lot of the same old double-crossing. Here’s who’s up and who’s down post-“Vaulter.”
1. Cyd Peach
Was Armie Hammer onto something when he did not eat the peach in Call Me by Your Name? (He wasn’t, but isn’t that a funny line? Haha, I’m a comedian.) Here on Succession, Tom has his work cut out for him with Cyd Peach. She’s inscrutable and experienced, but most of all she is just mean. Nasty! I love her, in the way I love every intimidating woman. Look at the way she glares at Tom, insulting his haircut and his latte in one breath! Could Elio Perlman’s peach do that? She is at the top of this list because I personally am afraid of her wrath, and also because she is new and also because I’m not entirely sure what she’s capable of. Tom might need to harness all the forces of darkness — and maybe, like, Blair Waldorf — to take on the Peach.
2. Roman’s girlfriend, Tabitha
I have always liked Roman’s girlfriend, but could she really make it onto a power ranking so early in the season? I thought not, until she gives a bit of medical advice to Tom, who has a cold: “You should try swallowing something … like honey.” Is Sweetbitter still on?? Because Caitlin Fitzgerald is tall and glamorous and absolutely nutty. This was my personal line of the night. Long live Tom swallowing his own load!!!!!! Tabitha might end up with it all.
3. Shiv Roy
Shiv, honey, you’re in danger, girl. “Vaulter” has confirmed all my suspicions: Shiv was right to not immediately trust Logan’s offer last week. She is indeed Logan’s favorite, but she’s more afraid of taking over Waystar Royco and fucking it up and losing her dad’s love than she is of remaining on the outside. This episode gives her a lot of cards to play, though, which keeps her near the top of this list: Her creepy Billions bit-player boss (both literally and figuratively) wants her to be his White House chief of staff, in a universe in which, I’m guessing, that job would actually be powerful and meaningful and important. (Unlike our universe, here.) She turns down that job and quits her current job, but Logan’s grasp — and Kendall’s plush position — seem firm. Did Shiv just fuck up?
3. Kendall Roy
I do have a soft spot for Kendall because I do love woefully wounded outsiders who can quite clearly see what they want, but never manage to grab it (see: Cooper, Bradley — and every male lead in a Scorsese movie). Kendall starts this episode not able to hug his daughter, and then he’s suffocated in Vaulter documents by Lawrence Yee, and then he’s dropped off at Vaulter’s front door — which, true fact, is Vulture’s actual front door because they even took that from us! — to shut it all down. “Because my dad told me to,” he reasons. It gets him back into his dad’s office, but I get the feeling it’s only for closer inspection. Poor Kendall! And poor Kendall’s under-eye bags! Pathetic. He’s ranked below Shiv because I identify as Shiv and so I am loyal to her, and also because she’s still primed for a bigger payoff in the end. Kendall is just a big, bad errand boy.
4. Logan peering at his laptop, telling Shiv: “I need three independent women, know any?”
Why yes, Logan Roy, I do. Logan, as always, is holding all the cards. (If these power rankings were only about that, he’d be at the top every time!) Increasingly, it seems like he’s running out of options: Kendall will take instructions, but he’s not a leader. Shiv can lead, but will she? Roman is Roman. Connor is running for president. Mess!
5. The ATN News chyron that reads: “Why Are So Many of Our Older Celebrities Dying?”
Succession season two’s revamped opening credits keep the iconic Nicholas Britell piano riff, and now intercuts that old-timey rich-people footage with some present-day business-y footage. This seems all fine and good until, a few seconds in, we see a seemingly serious news chyron that asks an age-old question: “Why Are So Many of Our Older Celebrities Dying?” Why, indeed?
6. Cousin Greg
Cousin Greg began this episode with values — he knows ATN News is bad — but without an apartment. Cousin Greg ends this episode with a sick apartment! I’m happy for him, and am excited for him to ball out at Target or something. I’m not sure where Cousin Greg thinks you buy furniture. (Where do you think Cousin Greg thinks he should buy furniture?) I did appreciate that he jumps around his big apartment like a little doofus.
7. Roman Roy
Roman’s new, permanent address might be here, right in the middle of these power rankings. He is completely idiotic, but does get all the funny lines. “Do you think that that’s like a natural progression from never done nothing, never, to the most important job in the world?” Roman says to Connor. “Could you maybe get a little experience? Like maybe at a CVS?” It’s hilarious, but this episode’s Vaulter deal just shows how slow he is to maneuver. He’s still just a jester. While Kendall is in Logan’s inner circle, Roman didn’t see the Vaulter move coming.
8. Tom Wambsgans
From Succession’s opening minute this episode, Tom is at a disadvantage. Not that I know what a hand job is — I have neither hands nor a job to put them to work at — but what person on the face of planet Earth other than Tom would call it a “handy job”? And are we spelling that “handy,” like, Thank you for lending me a hand in my slouch toward sexual gratification, or “handie,” which feels vaguely and disconcertingly childlike? Yes, this column will keep trying to ask the important questions.
Anyway: Tom is really in over his head this week. On one front, he was supposed to be eating a peach filled with the cum of a certain impossibly sharp-jawed heartthrob. Instead he gets Peach, the head of ATN News. She is probably racist and probably classist and definitely unwilling to stop peddling “traditional” (read: very right-wing) values to diversify ATN’s market. Tom, to her, is another distraction, the kind that comes around every few seasons but is ultimately harmless even though it makes a lot of noise. Kind of like a cicada. Isn’t that what cicadas are like? Anyway.
Tom is blindsided again by Shiv, although I’m not sure what kind of clown makeup he was wearing when he expected to actually take over it all. Let’s be serious here: Just on principle, Shiv would never sell her dad on Tom for Waystar Royco’s top job, not when she could be selling herself for it. Fortunately, my favorite oafish onetime Pride & Prejudice crush does get the Fuck Off of the Week™ when he snaps at Shiv for making fun of his Steve Harvey suit proportions.
9. Marcia Roy
Marcia went from being the most powerful Roy — despite protestations from Shiv and me — to apparently one of the least? Last week, when everyone gathered at the lovingly named Hamptons Shit Pit, she asked if she also had to pitch Logan for his affection, or “dance for the daddy, too.” This week she’s not even given the opportunity! Marcia is dismissed from one of Shiv and Logan’s late-night sessions to unplug the Alexa? In my professional opinion — informed by years of family drama that I have, more times than not, come out on top of — Marcia needs to do something dramatic, and fast.
10. The Waystar Royco crony who actually drank his smoothie
I mean, come on, dude.
11. Lawrence Yee
“Larry Yee, king of New York,” Roman Roy declares when he walks into a meeting with Vaulter’s founder. (An interesting declaration considering I, at varying levels of enthusiasm and drunkenness, have declared Justin Theroux the true king of New York City, based mostly on that one New York Times profile involving him and Cary Fukunaga eating at Lilia.) Roman can’t declare anyone the king of anything, though, so it’s not really a surprise that Lawrence ends up without a job and without a website.
12. Vaulter’s emerging union
Whoo, boy. They should’ve pulled the trigger when they had the chance. “One week of severance for every year served???” I’m calling my attorney.