cruise control

Succession Power Rankings: Burn, Baby, Burn!

Photo: Graeme Hunter/HBO

This week’s episode of Succession starts with playfully chaotic energy: Kendall is on the phone with Naomi — yes, they’re still talking! — and she’s asking him for a dick pic. (I love that for her, because the absolute last thing I would ask Kendall for is a dick pic.) The rest of the episode doesn’t match the gleeful debauchery of that moment, but it’s still plenty dramatic: Logan and Rhea are fucking; the kids appeal to their mother, Caroline; and things are heating up around the cruises malfeasance. Now that the Pierce deal is completely closed, we’re back to square one on the takeover effort, but with even more moving parts now in play. Stewy and Sandy exploit the suspicious cater-waiter death last season, and lawyers are opening the books to see what exactly went down in the cruise department. Here’s where our demented first family (and a potential usurper?) stands after “Return.”

Blanche and Partners

Tom expected the company’s inquiry into the cruise drama to be like a bubble bath. Instead it was like pulling teeth; he struggled to answer even relatively straightforward questions. The lawyers from Blanche weren’t asking him anything complicated — they just asked him if he knew of any destroyed documents, which, of course he does. These two nerds digging around cruises is dangerous for everyone, and it could even fuck up the takeover bid. If this were Game of Thrones — and thank God it’s not — then cruises would be an existential threat on par with the White Walkers.

Cousin Greg

We’ll get to the document stuff in a minute, but first I need to get to the bottom of this: When Tom shows up at Greg’s apartment to threaten to break his legs, Greg has people over. It’s not a casual dinner party or just friends hanging out — they’re sipping wine and dressed in office wear. “Welcome to the next wave!” a woman says, greeting Tom. Is Greg (-ory) up to something? Is he planning some kind of coup? With the support of the Royco proletariat, could he get himself promoted even higher?

Now, the document stuff: Gregory you menace! Not only does he have audio, but he has some of the incriminating papers. He has a lot of cards to play now, even with Logan if he wants. The cruises information is the biggest internal wild card, so I really think he could leverage this power for basically anything.

Rhea Jarrell

I thought that “Argestes” was the last we’d see of Ms. Rhea Jarrell, but fear not! She’s back and permanently attached to Logan’s side. The thing about Rhea is that I love her but I also can’t stand her. She’s so slippery! In The Maltese Falcon, Humphrey Bogart has this great line when Peter Lorre tells him that he always seems to have an explanation, an easy answer. “What do you want me to do — learn to stutter?” he asks. That’s Rhea! Now that she’s fired from PGM, she’s whispering leading questions and explanations in Logan’s ear. On the jet to Europe, she lays out why every kid is wrong for the top job (Shiv thinks she’s smarter than she actually is, Roman is too green, and Kendall is too scared), and then later in the night during her fireside chat with Logan, she invents a solution: She’ll sniff around and help him see who’s best.

I’m obsessed with the way Holly Hunter doesn’t play Rhea as vicious. She is silently calculating, but none of it looks premeditated. She has this unknowable Cheshire cat quality that makes her dangerous — and high on this ranking. Her motive seems to just be to consolidate her own power, and also to sleep with Logan in the process. She’s too good to just be an affair, though, and I doubt she’d settle for just that. She’s either taking the company or the last name.

Caroline Collingwood

Caroline is obviously bitter that her three children have chosen their father over her, but not too bitter to pass up using them as collateral in a negotiation with Logan. The former Mrs. Roy is so duplicitous, she might as well be a Julia Roberts–Clive Owen crime caper from 2009! I like that Succession lays out her deficiencies here: She’s unbothered by her children, and unavailable to them. Even if Logan engages out of anger or manipulation, he still gives them attention. Caroline gives them a nasty-looking hen and then goes to bed early. Of course these kids are fucked up!

Logan Roy

This is a great Logan episode — in the same scene, basically in the same breath, he can be gleeful and conspiratorial and impossible to read. “I can take care of myself,” he tells Kendall, when he’s asked about his relationship with Rhea. “You’re the one who’s cunt-struck.” That line alone sent me to therapy!

Increasingly this season, we’re seeing Logan squirm. He was vulnerable at the Pierce dinner, and was vulnerable when he tried to convince Nan at Argestes that it was still a good deal. Over scotch with Rhea, he confesses that he’s not sure what he’s going to do: “With Kendall, it wasn’t the best situation. Maybe I should just say fuck it, and let her do it. I don’t fuckin’ know,” he says. Of course Rhea offers some counsel to help him wiggle out of promising Shiv the company, but his grip is so tight.

Shiv Roy

What can Shiv do right this season? What a lunch she has with Rhea — these long-bob meetings are always a treat! Rhea asks for permission to sleep with Logan, and then dangles the prospect of working for PGM in front of Shiv. Shiv takes the bait, but it’s a trap Rhea has set only to get Logan to see through his daughter. Is Shiv really out-out now? She doesn’t have a cushy political job, doesn’t have an offer from Nan, and doesn’t have her father’s promise anymore. I almost want Shiv to decamp, just to show her dad what he’s missing. A word of advice to my daughter, Siobhan: If you find yourself wanting to do something, do the opposite of that thing.

As for Rhea — you’re in danger, girl.

Tom Wamsgans

I love Tom. I do! I can’t help myself. (Blame Pride and Prejudice, I think?) Tom talks Greg into destroying the cruise blackmail — a victory — but he doesn’t know that even Greg will take out an extra insurance policy in case the lawyers come sniffing around his role in it all. As long as the investigation into all the fucked-up stuff that went on in cruises is ongoing, Tom’s not safe. With Shiv out in the cold, he’s not even savable. I believe that Shiv loves Tom and relies on him more than she (or anyone else) thinks she does, but if it comes down to burning him to save herself, she’d do it.

Roman Roy

I think I was too hard on Roman last week. I was tired from TIFF and feeling grumpy. (Are Logan and I really apologizing to Roman in the same episode? Imagine that!) A Roman-Gerri dream ticket is pretty feasible — Logan likes Roman’s chaotic energy, and he trusts Gerri. But I have to wonder: with Rhea cozying up to Logan, does that sideline Gerri? Or does that sideline Marcia?

Naomi Pierce

Naomi asked for a dick pic and Kendall sent her one! Success. But it’s still a dick pic from Kendall, which I really cannot imagine being impressed by.

Kendall Roy

Kendall has been sitting pretty for the last couple of episodes — a little too pretty, maybe. He gets a little too big for his britches this week, even teasing Logan about his relationship with Rhea. Obviously that doesn’t go over well. When Sandy stirs up drama with the parents of Kendall’s Chappaquiddick, Logan uses it as an opportunity to remind his son who’s boss. Poor Kendall, having to tag along as his dad atones for his sins. All he wanted to do was strong-arm his mom and kiss Naomi! Instead he’s sitting in the kitchen of the guy he accidentally killed. It’s a pitiful, devastating scene, but also Kendall is back in his dad’s pocket. He doesn’t have any cards to play.

Fuck Off of the Week

The last position on this list is reserved for the Fuck Off of the Week. What happened to my favorite Roy family tradition? There wasn’t a good “fuck off” this episode, although I did quite enjoy Roman flipping off Shiv at dinner with their mother.

Succession Power Rankings: Burn, Baby, Burn!