I wish I could remake the Meet the Parents poster to say “Meet the Pierces.” Alas, I am both lazy and busy trying to see both Annette Bening movies at TIFF. On tonight’s Succession, we finally met the mysterious Pierce family. Are they chaotic good? Or just chaotic neutral, which in itself feels just a little nefarious? They are certainly East Coast royalty — a few generations back they probably went boating with a Hepburn or boozed with a robber baron.
It’s curious to see the Roy family putting on a face: Logan is the mad director, fuming at his children, all disappointing in their own ways. “Like Romans among you Greeks,” he says when the families chatter at a cocktail hour, “I’m sure you find us rather big, vulgar, and boisterous.” If only! The subsequent display is, instead, drunk, snide, and humiliating — but all families are weird and unhappy in their own way, right? Here’s who’s up and who’s down after dinner at the Pierce compound and the PGM acquisition.
We’ve seen Logan struggle a lot — he’s locked in, I don’t know, a half-dozen power battles this season — but never have we seen Logan performing in this way. In front of the Pierces, he’s putting on his best and brightest face, only to look even more like a brute. He’s raised a family of barn animals, and in front of the Pierces it’s like he’s seeing them all with new eyes: Roman laughs too loud and doesn’t take anything seriously, Kendall has relapsed, Shiv is impossibly stubborn, Connor is a fool. There’s even a troubling discord in his marriage. (Before it just felt like Marcia was overplaying her hand; now it feels like she doesn’t much care.)
But! Logan wins! And it’s not even a melodramatic, “he’s won, but at what cost?” kind of win. Somehow, through the table-slamming and grinning and a moment that seemed to suck all the oxygen out of the room, he’s managed to give the blue bloods what they want the most: more money. And in return he’s a step closer to keeping his empire. I’m absolutely in love with the way the camera follows him up his penthouse’s stairs, up to his tower: He’s alone, but who cares? Everyone’s worn out and depressed, but they’re still jockeying to be his favorite.
Maybe it’s that I watched Erin Brockovich too many times when I was a preteen, or maybe it is just my tâsté, but: Cherry Jones is the only woman with a bob allowed to talk down to me! There is something a little snide, a little snobby about Nan Pierce. She seems to be permanently wearing a white button-down, which I admire, and she has a kind of put-upon folksiness that is incredibly patronizing. Look at the way she asks her niece to recite a Shakespeare passage and says, “Soup’s on, people.” I don’t trust it, but I do appreciate that when she decides to sell, it’s on her terms, which happen to be the same as mine: Finally my daughter, Shiv, is on the throne!
That one Pierce cousin who took out her phone to Google whatever book Roman lied about reading
In a word: demonic. In two more words: totally twisted. Is there anything more absolutely savage than taking out your phone to fact-check someone sitting right in front of you?
Cousin Greg … ory
When Cousin Greg … ory … arrives at the Roy penthouse, it’s like he’s stepping into a battleground as soldiers nurse their wounds. But he’s chipper as ever here! Please remember that he is the only character who’s gotten a new apartment and a new job this season, and Logan seems genuinely tickled by his presence. Cousin Greg will outlast us all.
Naomi is in recovery, like Kendall, but unlike Kendall, she’s not the family’s go-to fuck-up. She’s close to Nan — and not because she accidentally did a Chappaquiddick — and just that proximity to power bumps her higher than nearly any other Pierce. Naomi is a wild card who doesn’t seem to really care about who buys what or when or how, she just has (a very valid!) score to settle. Even though someone like Rhea might wield more power, Naomi has the Pierce last name.
There’s something extremely slippery about Rhea. No one can ever pin her down or get a real answer out of her. Holly Hunter is extraordinary (and I mean this with all due respect: extraordinarily irritating) during the dinner scene, as she moves between hot topics. Rhea is so vexing because she’s playing all sides, all the time, and also purring into Nan Pierce’s ear. She’s still in a primo position, at the right hand of the master. More Rhea!
Of all of Logan’s demented children, was Connor the only one who understood the assignment? He was asked to win over weirdo Ben Franklin–lookalike Maxim Pierce, and by the end of the episode, what did he do? He won over weirdo Ben Franklin–lookalike Maxim Pierce. Congratulations Connor, your reward is not your father’s love and respect, but it is a gnarly hangover and that nice quilted vest!
Gerri breaks even here, I think. She’s still in the game, still doing this flirty-dirty talk thing with Roman, still the on-paper successor. The Gerri-Roman, er, romance was at first funny to me, but now I think I’m warming to it. “Gerri and Roman’s banter has always been a vaguely nauseating swirl of mommy issues and semi-ironic flirtation,” Lindsay Zoladz wrote for The Ringer. “But as their characters have deepened, something odd has happened: They have come to seem like two of the only characters in the bankrupt moral universe of Succession who genuinely care about each other.” I’ve started to agree, if only because they seem like two of the only characters who have consistently genuine interactions. Everyone else on this show is either hiding or lying or scheming, or all of the above at once; Gerri advises Roman and they sorta fuck. Who am I to deny this!
I don’t know this cat’s name and I don’t want to know this cat’s name. I have not been so utterly freaked out by an animal since that one Pomeranian ate the other Pomeranian in Superman Returns, a movie that I definitely saw twice in theaters for absolutely no reason at all.
I didn’t think it could get worse than Roman trying to, to borrow a phrase, “order the Pierce family’s legacy over the phone like an UberEats.” I thought Logan looking at his son and calling him a moron was the most pitiful moment. LMAO. I was skeptical of Logan’s offer from the beginning — if his mouth is moving, he’s lying! — and now Shiv has her clown makeup permanently applied! Of course she’s getting impatient playing the long game, and of course she’s headed toward a rupture: Logan has been Katy Perry-ing her. He’s Hot N Cold! In some moments he sees her as the successor, in other moments he’s asking her to play up the liberal woman thing, or whatever the hell he said to her before they left for the Pierce estate. Blurting out that she’s the next CEO is one thing, but the way Logan looks at her at the end of the episode, just before he climbs the stairs to his tower — I’ll tell you what that look is not: an apology. It’s more of a “maybe next time, kid.” What will Shiv do next??
It is entirely possible that Tabitha is the smartest person in that whole house — nay, the whole show! The Roys like her, the Pierces love her, she’s tall and snarky and also has things like “a big meeting on Monday.” If ever a character was going to get their own spinoff, I would want to see Tabitha after she dumps Roman: Tabitha on Raya, Tabitha kickboxing, Tabitha smiling slyly at brunch when the friend no one really likes starts telling a big long story no one wants to hear. She’s a better sparring partner than Shiv’s partner or Connor’s partner, and yet she gets DUST!
For the first time maybe ever, Roman is placed in front of someone he has to impress, and oh boy is he unprepared. He’s no match for any of the Pierces, and certainly comes out with a net loss: he’s teased for not fucking Tabitha, he’s exposed for not reading, and he’s still not fully back in Logan’s good graces. “When you laugh,” Logan tells him, “please do it at the same volume as everyone else. We didn’t get you from a hyena farm.” If I could marry any line in HBO history, in might be that one. It would be a classic affair at City Hall, and I would wear a dress without a label, like Carrie Bradshaw. Registry information forthcoming.
Listen, I love this Benjamin Franklin–looking weirdo! In my experience with rich families, quite a few of them have a “hippie type,” someone who almost never acts like they have real money, but probably doesn’t shower and reads off-the-wall books. Maxim seems like that guy!
Kendall asking Naomi if she’s a “poetess”
I mean, Jesus Christ.