rock star & the mole woman

A Timeline of Roman and Gerri’s Succession Sexual Tension

The rock star and the mole woman. Photo: HBO

There’s a reason why Succession fans have imprinted on the taboo arrangement between baby of the family Roman Roy and Gerri Kellman, Esq.: It’s all wrong. Waystar Royco’s tight-lipped but sharp-tongued general counsel should not be denigrating and humiliating the boss’s youngest son to completion. But the writers of Succession couldn’t have known what strange magic would happen when they put Kieran Culkin and J. Smith-Cameron in the same room. “Kieran and I have known each other a long time,” the actress told Vulture in 2019. “We have a good rapport on set. Gerri and Roman also have somehow a good rapport because [she] can just tell him to shut up all the time, you know? He maybe respects that or enjoys that in some roundabout way. But it’s still very, very weird!”

Smith-Cameron and her husband, playwright and filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, both have a friendship and creative partnership with Culkin. Roman and Gerri’s chemistry was natural, and it’s been building since the second episode of the series, when viewers were first introduced to Gerri the fixer. The writers finally latched on to GerriRoman in season two, and they created a dynamic so fucked up, it actually makes sense. The relationship, if we can call it that, unlocks something for Roman, for Gerri, and for audiences. He finds a satisfaction he can’t with his girlfriend, Tabitha; Gerri has fun controlling the outbursts of an overlooked heir; and we get to watch with anticipation as another twisted alliance forms within Waystar Royco. Succession, just let them fuck! Or don’t. We’ll be back every week to eat it up either way. Starting with the innocent flirting of season one, we’re tracking the evolving relationship between Gerri and Roman, and we’ll keep doing it each week for season three.

Season one, episode two
Gerri walks into the hospital to sort out an unconscious Logan’s mess and doesn’t take a look at Roman. But as she and her cohort of lawyers stomp by, Roman whips his head around with FOMO in his eyes. Later he offers to go talk to her about the CEO position he and Shiv want to snag from Kendall. “I suck at the whole corporate flirt thing,” he tells Gerri. “I like to lube up and fuck.”

Season one, episode three
In a brainstorm with his brother and his company’s lawyer, Roman tries to shake stuff up by taking off his top. “Ken, make him put his shirt on,” Gerri says, wanting none of it.

Season-one finale
Gerri babysits Roman at Shiv’s wedding, begrudgingly helping him through the satellite explosion that is absolutely his fault. According to a Hollywood Reporter feature on Culkin, writers started to notice his flirting with Smith-Cameron when both actors improvised checking each other out. “I remember the writers all laughing,” Smith-Cameron recalled. “But it never occurred to me that it would inform anything they wrote.”

Season two, episode two
“Can you just come over?” Roman says on a call to Gerri, asking for help with Vaulter. Mommy?

Season two, episode three
Gerri politely does up his buttons while he comes on to her. She takes pity on him and offers him her expertise, suggesting he take the program on theme-park management.

Season two, episode four
“Yes, Mommy,” Roman says over the phone. (That was also us when we saw those W Magazine photos of Smith-Cameron.) After failing at phone sex with Tabitha, Roman calls Gerri. She unknowingly makes a masturbation reference while insulting him, which … immediately turns him on. “You disgusting little pig,” she continues, berating him while he masturbates. “You’re pathetic. You are a revolting little worm, aren’t you? You little slime puppy.”

And with that, GerriRoman is canon, and slime puppy goes in the dictionary. “I made up slime puppy,” Smith-Cameron explained to the Los Angeles Times this month. “I’m proud of slime puppy. It’s my contribution to American literature.”

Season two, episode five
In what appears to be their first interaction since whatever that was, they bump into each other heading into the Roy penthouse elevator. “Shit before the shovel,” Gerri spares him.

“Allow me to be the shit,” Roman responds, as if he doesn’t love it.

Later that episode, Roman tries unsuccessfully to have sex with Tabitha, asking her if they can make it “wrong.” She ends up not loving her role as cadaver, and he ends up knocking on the door of one Gerri Kellman. “You are a sick fuck,” she says as he realizes this is one of her special punishments. She’s a dirty-talking dom in silk PJs, and we hope she slept well.

“I jerked off in Gerri’s bathroom last night,” Roman tells Tom and Tabitha over a breakfast buffet the next morning. “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. It was actually her idea. I think it really got the ol’ gal’s juices flowing.” She doesn’t play along. “Even as a joke, that is a stomach-turning thought,” Gerri says as she cuts him a look.

Season two, episode seven
Roman needs assurances. Vying for the top spot as the company loses its footing, he tries to form an official alliance with Gerri, Logan’s on-paper successor — “Rock star and the mole woman” is how he sells it. Hard to tell if she’s thinking about it or thinking about how to use it.

Season two, episode eight
In the next episode, not only does she want to do some “oppo” research on him, lightly berating him for choices like a “face tattoo,” she pushes him to seduce private money to make himself indispensable. “I don’t know, do you find me seductive?” Roman flirts back. But she’s in business mode, so he handles it by proposing marriage. “Then you kill me — you chop my dick off, you know, something,” he says, getting flustered. “I’m kidding, but you know what I’m saying: You eat me, I eat you, like they do in Germany. Anyway, a lot to think about, I get it, so like … bye.” Yeah, clearly season three is going to end with another wedding.

Season three, episode one
At end of the season-three premiere, Roman and Gerri are still deciding Will they/won’t they betray each other for power? “I’d lay you badly, but I’d lay you gladly,” Roman throws out there. Now that’s prestige-TV romance.

Season three, episode two
The power imbalance in this relationship is only making things hotter. “I just wanna make sure, check that you’re not concerned about all this stuff,” says Roman, touching base with Waystar Royco’s new power player. “Um, I hope that you’re not anxious that you, you know, chained yourself to a fire hydrant that spews out cultural insensitivity and sperms.” Of course, Gerri wants to keep the family close — she’s just keeping Roman closer. “Here we go; your apprenticeship begins,” she tells him with a smile.

Later, Roman calls to get “Ger-Bear’s” advice on Kendall’s takeover, admitting she’s “so compromised as to be completely worthless.” She says he should stick with her (which means sticking with Dad); then she reminds him she’s also his enemy. “Don’t threaten me, Gerri,” he groans. “I don’t have time to jerk off.”

Season three, episode four
The reunion fans have been waiting for finally happened. No, not between Judas and his maker. After last week’s absolute tease — Daddy Logan interrupting the only glimpse of GerRoman interacting all episode — J. Cameron-Smith and newly minted SNL host Kieran Culkin traded barbs once again. And once again, Roman is the only one who got pricked. “That? That will kill us,” Gerri counters at yet another masturbation reference, shutting down all attempts to flirt in the office. He tries to court her by offering ammo against Kendall. Remember that face tattoo they flirted over? He offers up the unhoused man they drunkenly paid to get Kendall’s initials inked on his forehead like it’s a dozen red roses. In return, Gerri lets him know she has a date coming up. It’s not all pleasure — this guy could be an asset to their case — but for Roman, it’s another realization that this work-wife shit is getting a lot like … work.

A Timeline of Roman and Gerri’s Succession Sexual Tension