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.
SEASON 4, EPISODE 9 – “Church and State”
Roman was riding high. He was doing great, or at least great within the context of Being Roman, by which I mean he was feeling great about leaning his whole torso onto the scales of democracy to get a potential fascist elected president, and about being the co-CEO, and about the eulogy he was going to give at Logan’s funeral. He had pre-grieved, he claimed, and was cracking wildly inappropriate jokes about Shiv and her fetus on the way to the funeral, right in front of and to her. Roman was on a cloud.
Things rarely stay good for any character on this show, especially the Roy children, who put on masterful displays of insecurity every week, usually in their own little specific broken ways. I’ve been tinkering with a theory that no more than two of them can be happy at any given time, and it sure looked like I was onto something as Roman’s freefall and Kendall’s ascendancy crisscrossed like a big X on a line graph up there at the front of the church. Let’s tick off some of Roman’s lowlights here:
- Melted down in front of the world as he prepared to give his “my dad was a great man” eulogy moments after Ewan hopped up there and reminded everyone what a prick Logan was
- Discovered that he gave away the farm with his Mencken plan, and that the leverage he thought he had was actually a time bomb that he himself had armed
- Stormed out of the reception and into an angry mob that he started cussing at until he got punched in the face and trampled a little, which is, I think, maybe, what he wanted to happen all along, due to the thing I mentioned earlier about the people on this show finding creative new ways to prove how empty they are inside
I’m a little mad at myself that I was surprised by any of this. Like, of course Roman would melt down into a puddle when things got a teeny bit real or hard. He’s a little boy with no spine and he has been pretty much every second we’ve known him. This was always where it was headed for Roman. I should have known that.
MUST IMPROVE: We could go a lot of places here but let’s stick with “running into an angry mob that hates your family and taunting them with cusses”
It says a lot about how far this goof has fallen in my eyes that when I saw him furiously peddling that bicycle through Manhattan traffic to the funeral, I — a person who has written quite literally thousands of words about my affinity for him, and who referred to him as “my sweet boy” as recently as the beginning of this season — found myself thinking “Man, how funny would it be if he gets hit by an SUV right now?”
Whatever. I stand by it. Everything started going to hell once he got that haircut a while ago. It’s a Samson situation we have here, but one with charm instead of physical strength. And come on, don’t act like it wouldn’t have been funny to see all those arms and legs flail about as he launched over the hood of a Cadillac Escalade. I swear I am not a violent person. But still. I’m laughing a little right now just thinking about it.
MUST IMPROVE: Hair floppiness
Mencken has three things going against him right now. The first is the thing where he’s kind of a Nazi, which we should not overlook here or with any Nazi-adjacent person. The second is that the position he’s in right now means a lot of dopes and idiots are going to harangue him for favors and influence at places like — to choose a relevant example — funerals, even when he just wants to be left alone, which sounds like a living hell to me. And the third is the thing where he might actually have to be the President, which also sounds pretty terrible to me.
It remains my position that anyone who actually wants to be the president should be automatically disqualified from holding the position. That kind of ambition is weird and suspect to me. That goes double — triple, even — for people who might be Nazis.
MUST IMPROVE: It’s generally not a great thing when a two-paragraph description of you includes the word “Nazi” multiple times
The problem with snot is that it’s the only bodily fluid that comes out of your face that isn’t sympathetic at all. Like, tears usually get people to say “Aww, it’s okay, man.” Blood gets people concerned for your well-being. Vomit means you’re physically ill and in hell about it a little bit. Even drool makes people feel bad for you sometimes because it means you’ve lost control of things a little bit.
But a dribble of snot comes out of your nose, for almost any reason, and people look at it and you and their immediate reaction is “gross.” It’s not fair. We all have snot. But life isn’t always fair. Snot will take anyone down a peg. It’s the great equalizer like that.
MUST IMPROVE: Staying inside faces
It’s incredibly weird to me that we — humans, just in general — take our dead and dress them in their best clothes and put them in beautifully crafted wooden boxes and then bury them in a big grass field with a bunch of other dead people. It’s even weirder when people spend massive sums of money on huge marble tombs to house their body boxes. Think about it all for a little bit this week. Think about how we got here, to a place where this is a normal thing people do. Or… don’t. I’ve apparently thought about it enough for both of us.
MUST IMPROVE: There is very little stopping you from writing something like “put my ashes in a hot dog cannon and blast them into a lake” in your will
He’s tired, okay? He’s just very tired. He’s been up running a news network and getting bullied into calling an election for a fascist and he’s not getting any credit for it and he’s just so very tired. He just needs a little nap. Not at the hotel. They know him there. It’s sad. A little nap at home. And some credit for helping the Nazi become president. It would be nice if his pregnant estranged wife would stop drinking champagne a lot, too. But that’s a problem for tomorrow. After he gets a little sleep.
He’s really very tired.
MUST IMPROVE: He is the boss now and no one could stop him from putting a little cot in his office
The thing here is that Connor wanted to give a speech at Logan’s funeral that broke the form of the traditional eulogy and — maybe, if the other siblings are to be believed — could have left them open to legal liability and I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HE WAS GOING TO SAY AND HOW HE WAS GOING TO SAY IT.
YOU CAN’T JUST INTRODUCE THAT AND NOT DELIVER IT.
I MEAN, YOU CAN, AND IT IS PROBABLY BETTER FROM A STORYTELLING STANDPOINT BUT…
MUST IMPROVE: SHOW ME
- Looks like he’s getting his deal through now, thanks to the “American CEO” gambit that Shiv cooked up
- Shaved and put on a suit, which I did not love for him, if only because, like… what’s the point of being a billionaire if you still have to shave and wear a suit, you know?
- Got to tell the maybe next President that his personal political platform is “pussy, privacy, pasta,” which had to be a little exciting for him
Mixed bag for Matsson.
MUST IMPROVE: Show up to the next funeral in a hoodie
Gerri spent most of this episode making concerned faces directed in the general direction of Roman, a man(-ish) she has a complicated relationship with, who also fired her, and who left himself open to a lawsuit worth many millions of dollars based on the many pictures of his penis he sent her.
I would have enjoyed hearing Gerri’s inner monologue this week. Maybe they can offer it as a bonus at some point, like a director’s commentary. Something to consider.
MUST IMPROVE: I am going to be very disappointed if Gerri does not follow through with her lawsuit because she feels bad for Roman
Various Karls, Franks, and Karolinas
- Hugo spent the whole episode feeding Kendall information during a funeral and has now been upgraded from stooge to dog (woof woof)
- Frank blew off the pitch to join Roman’s posse and then described Logan as “a salty dog” and “a good egg,” which is at least half right
- Karl is probably still watching the footage of Roman blubbering in the church, and he’s probably forwarding it to at least a dozen people
About halfway through this episode, the thought “what if Karl and Frank gave one of the eulogies together?” zipped into my head. I enjoyed that image a lot. Still do, really.
MUST IMPROVE: Getting out for good
I’ll be honest: I did not expect there to be any situation where Kendall ended up with a B after the way he started the episode. He spent the first 15-20 minutes just yelling strange phrases at the women in his life right out on the sidewalk. There was a “YOU’RE TOO ONLINE” at Rava when she was escaping with the kids, and there was a “YOU’RE DUMB” at Jess when she told him she was quitting. It was going real, real bad for Kendall.
Against staggering odds…
He kind of nailed the emergency impromptu eulogy and he maneuvered his way through a power vacuum to be in a position to run the company himself and, I mean, he behaved like a reasonably competent — awful, but competent — individual, which is a big step for him. I don’t know. I’m still kind of shocked by it all. He’ll probably fumble it all in pathetic fashion soon enough (it’s what he does), but still. Decent showing.
MUST IMPROVE: I must again stress that you should never yell “YOU’RE TOO ONLINE” at anyone, ever, especially in public, and especially if you want to win that argument
- Might have positioned herself as the American CEO of the GoJo-led Waystar, if the deal does in fact squeak through under a Mencken presidency
- Just kind of blurted out a pregnancy announcement to her brothers in the car on the way to their dad’s funeral, which is probably not how she pictured it all going down when she was a young girl with plans of starting a family
- I mean, again… still drinking a lot of champagne for a pregnant lady
Lot going on here. I think I’m giving her a B just because the bar was set so low in the last few episodes. We grade on a curve here.
MUST IMPROVE: I haven’t heard her toss out any baby names yet and I’m suddenly very curious to hear what she’s thinking there
All I ever want for any secondary character on this show is to get as far away from the Roy family as any single episode’s runtime will allow, so I am very happy for Rava and her panicked journey upstate with the children.
MUST IMPROVE: Drive faster!
Logan’s exes, collectively
I hope they all bond over this and end up going on a yearly trip to wine country together. I would like to see how Marcia reacts to a wine that disappoints her. And I bet Kerry is fun after a few glasses of white. And I bet Caroline can drink both of them under the table. This paragraph started as a joke but now I’m mad I won’t actually get to see it happen. It’s a problem I have sometimes.
MUST IMPROVE: Choices of men
MUST IMPROVE: I want to say “doing this weeks and possibly months or years ago” but I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that it’s still good it’s happening at all
I love Ebba. Just ruining her boss and leaking any and all information she stumbles across or is openly told, for the very justifiable reason of “he’s a creep who sexually harassed her by sending pints or frozen blood as a joke and/or romantic gesture.” I hope she and Jess Jordan start a podcast titled “Our Manchild Bosses” and violate their NDAs every week by telling stories about stuff Matsson and Kendall did. Make it a whole spinoff. Have Jeremy Strong show up two or three times each season and yell about the lawyers he’s going to hire to try to stop them. It would be riveting television.
MUST IMPROVE: Ebba should go to Cancun and cut loose a little bit
There are power moves and then there’s “storming the lectern during your brother’s funeral to give a eulogy no one asked for about what a jerk he was almost all the time and how the world is probably better off with him dead.”
Fun family, the Roys.
MUST IMPROVE: I mean, if you’re gonna go for it, might as well spit on the casket on your way back to the pew, right?