Last week on Succession, the family dealt with Logan's UTI and the dreaded shareholders' vote. This week, the Roys head to fake CPAC and help pick the next Republican presidential candidate. Succession is a show all about how people jockey for power (and process trauma) — after the video below, check out our spoiler-filled season three, episode six Succession Power Rankings.
- The Kingmaker This week, the Roys (minus Kendall) head down to Virginia to attend the Future Freedom Summit, which is basically bootleg CPAC. It's just a nice political conference with likeminded donors and intellectuals—a.k.a. a chance for the Roys to pick the next president. Welcome to Clown Town, as Michelle-Anne puts it.
After a season in which most of the episodes have been relatively intimate affairs with the family pitted against one another in tight spaces, we get to enjoy watching the Roys bounce off a lot of strangers as they decide who will be the best replacement for The Raisin. And it's clear that Logan holds more sway over the proceedings than any of the other conservative bigwigs in the room.
Vice President Dave Boyer is the first person to try making a move on Logan: "They're calling this the ATN Primary," he says. He tries to assure Logan, in so many words, that he'll have the DOJ back off of him: "I can sometimes fear a degree of overreach for you legacy media guys...I like you, let's make this happen, push me over the brink here."
But there's something about Boyer's obsequiousness that turns Logan off. He gathers the family in his hotel suite for the longest, most tense scene of the episode, as they all bat around various names and make their cases. "We need one voice in this or we could fall apart and hand it to the Fuck Fuck Donkey Gang," Logan declares.
Shiv and Roman are immediately at each other's throats, arguing like children with incredibly eloquent potty mouths. Shiv thinks Boyer is "yesterday's papers," Roman is pulling hard for his new fascist buddy Jeryd Mencken, and Connor only has eyes for Connor. While the other family members do their best not to say anything to hurt Connor's feelings, Greg is ultimately the one who takes a stand against a Roy becoming president: "I think I owe it to my country to say, I don't think you should crown, or make, Connor president."
The person who seems to actually hold the most weight in the room is Logan's assistant Kerry, who is almost certainly sleeping with her boss and helping him make decisions amidst all the family arguing. He is constantly snickering with her, sharing inside jokes, or exchanging meaningful glances throughout the episode.
She seems to be in Mencken's corner as well for whatever reason—he is the spicy new alt-right flavor of the month. And Roman is able to finish the sale: "I know we came to market to buy you a nice milk cow, but we found ourselves a fucking T- Rex. He's box office. The guy is fucking diesel, he's good on camera, he's fun, he'll fight, viewers will eat from his hand, no downside," he argues.
Shiv is horrified and reduced to adolescent posturing ("My opinion counts for more, it does"), pleading, "You have to look at the climate." But she's already lost.
"Climate said I was going down. Climate said I should just step aside. I guess I'm a climate-denier," Logan responds. This is how it happens. The GOP is in flames and the monkeys are dancing. Logan has made his pick.
2. Kerry: Well, that explains why Marcia hasn't been around much this season. Kerry, played by Zoe Winter, has been in the cast since the second half of season two, but she's only really started to make her presence noticed in the last couple of episodes. It's one thing to be a close aide to Logan, it's another thing to be...sharing memes?
Roman picks up on the vibes: "Showing memes to a young menial? Tale as old as time." Shiv isn't convinced, but as we see throughout the episode, Shiv's off her game a bit at this point. And there is absolutely no denying the look the two exchange at the end of the episode once Logan has settled on Menken.
3. Ghost Pepper: Out of all the various Republicans we meet vying to kiss Logan's ring and become the party's next presidential candidate, Justin Kirk's new character Jared Mencken is the "spicy new flavor" who unexpectedly gets the nod. He's an alt-right new media conservative sensation who likes to aggressively tell people to read Plato. He's Matt Gaetz by way of Milo Yiannopoulos.
He's repulsive, so of course he and Roman immediately bond over jokes about work camps. "This is nice. A couple of cool guys having some disgusting fun," Roman notes.
Later in the episode, Mencken explains his political philosophy boils down to a little light white supremacy: "People trust people who look like them, that's just a scientific fact, they will get more tax dollars to help them. You can integrate new elements of course, but c'mon man, slowly, I mean fuck. I like this country, let's just take a beat before we fundamentally alter its composition."
But despite his motormouth stream of alt-right bullshit, Mencken is smart enough to play a little hard-to-get with Logan. Logan despises weakness in himself, his family and his allies, and Mencken goes out of his way to perform for him during the weekend.
"Fuck ATN, ATN is treated as bulwark, but it's dead, it's basically a pudding cup at 5 p.m. in the nursing home," he says within earshot of Logan. "Honestly, it doesn't speak to me, doesn't speak to the people I talk to. It is status quo bedtime stories to maximize shareholder value...no disrespect, Logan Roy was an icon, but he's no longer relevant." It's a savvy strategy that catches Logan's attention; coupled with his bathroom wheeling-and-dealing with soulmate Roman, and he plays his cards just right. He seals the deal with a can of Coke, to make it clear to Logan that despite his bluster, Mencken is ready and willing to play by Logan's rules.
4. Roman's Budding Bromance With His Fascist Soulmate: Before we get to the Roman/Mencken stuff, we get a timely reminder of Roman's deep well of mommy issues. After Glenn The Brexit Pervert breaks the news, Roman is apparently the only one of the siblings who really cares that their mother is getting remarried to Peter Munion and didn't bother to tell them: "Our mother is marrying some dickhead, crooked tooth turnip man." "Just get over it, who cares," Shiv says.
But the real meat of the episode involves his budding friendship with Mencken. After their meet-and-greet at the bar, they get far more intimate in the bathroom of Logan's hotel suite, where Roman pokes at him to see whether he is a real deal fascist or not. Mencken claims he doesn't have a lot of boundaries and is willing to borrow a good idea from anyone, "and you know if Franco or H or Travis Bickle have a good pitch, fuck it, I'm a man for all seasons." Nothing screams "I'm A Raging Fascist" like using Hitler's initial.
But more interestingly, as they bounce off each other, it feels like there are ambiguous...vibes...between Roman and Mencken. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but there's something about the nonstop double entendres and nihilistic jokes that makes it seem like they're both dancing monkeys.
5. Dr Honk!!! Even three seasons into the show, there are still tons of incredible details to learn about the Roy family. Like, for example, the fact that Roman was stationed in L.A. at some point...where he became a movie producer?
This detail leaks out as Shiv tries to persuade Logan not to let Roman be the mouthpiece for the family at the Future Freedom Summit. "He fucked the call with The Raisin, that's an existential risk. And the only solid thing he actioned in L.A., dad, was the movie Dr. Honk about the man who could talk to cars." I suppose it's possible that there is no film, and she's just making a point that Roman did diddly squat when he was handed some responsibility. But I choose to believe that Dr. Honk is real, that it was direct-to-streaming, and that it starred someone like Don Johnson or Tom Berenger.
6. "Sourpuss": Shiv's season of stumbles continues this week. She takes out her frustrations from being humiliated by her father during the shareholders' meeting, noting that at faux-CPAC the family may have to "eat a bellyful of humble pie about accidentally knocking over their president and smashing him on the floor." Really, things are just tense between her and Logan (Logan of course isn't sympathetic, asking her, "You gonna be a fucking sourpuss?"). Shiv has had her confidence undermined so much at this point, she doesn't know what her place is within the company, which leads to a lot of squabbling between her and Roman all episode.
Really, Shiv is learning the terrible lesson Ken learned over the course of seasons one and two: that their dad can't abide appearing weak, and anytime one of the kids doesn't something really good in his stead, he refuses to acknowledge or celebrate it. There may be no pleasing Logan, and the more you try, the less he respects you.
At the Future Freedom Summit, Shiv sticks out awkwardly ("As a libtard, how do you like spelunking in the elephant's asshole?" Roman asks). She makes a connection with one potential presidential candidate who says if she helps him, he'll make sure she becomes CEO even if I have to send your dad to prison."
But Shiv doesn't have the pull with her father to be able to pull that off right now—instead, she spends most of the hotel suite meeting desperately trying to dissuade her father from choosing Roman's best pal Mencken. She argues he's outside the political norm, that he's a fascist-leaning "nativist fuckhead." For the first time in a long time, she seems freaked out about what this could mean for the country: "I am genuinely concerned we could slide into Russian Burlosconi Brazilian fuckpile." (Roman's response: "You have a trophy husband and several fur coats, I think you're gonna be fine.") Shiv loses again, and to add insult to injury, is forced to pose in a photo with Mencken.
7. That's Kinda Dope Though Guy: I have never seen this dopey Kendall hanger-on before, but there is no denying that shit slaps!
8. Kendall: Another week, another episode with Kendall on the periphery of all the main action—and it's starting to hit Kendall that his coup against his father is falling apart. First there is the disaster with the DOJ: he is arrogant and evasive with investigators and with his lawyer. He thinks he can outmaneuver the DOJ and Lisa Arthur, and "reposition the context in the public arena," whatever that means. He is condescending to Arthur ("I really value all the work you do, honestly, but let's try harder"), and she finally separates from him after throwing some cold water on his machinations.
He tries to spin it for his team ("Turns out she's a toxic person"), but the look on Comfrey's face says it all. Kendall's desperation takes another turn late in the episode when he meets with Tom to try to flip him. "My case is fine, but it has gaps," he levels with Tom. He even plays on his deepest insecurities: "Shiv seems safe, do you really think she'll still be there waiting for you after prison?"
But Tom, even poor pathetic Tom who has spent the whole episode spiraling out about his future, can smell the desperation coming off Ken. "I don't mean to be insulting, but having been around a bit, my hunch is that you're gonna get fucked," Tom says. "Because I've seen you get fucked a lot. And I've never seen Logan get fucked once."
So things are looking really bad for Kendall right now, and it's hard to see how this is going to end any way other than him either relapsing or falling back into his family's lap a broken man.
But hey, at least we, the viewers, have his big 40th birthday party to look forward to next week. Apparently it's theme is "End Times: Weimar meets Carthage meets Dante meets AI and antibiotic resistance super bugs." (Yes, That's Kinda Dope Though Guy is into it.)
9. Cherished Character Actor Stephen Root: Ron is a power player in the Republican party who is on good terms with the Roys and is comfortable following their lead on the next Republican presidential pick. He maybe should be higher up on the Power Rankings, if it weren't for the fact that he didn't get that much screentime, and he clearly is subordinate to the Roys pick (he isn't even invited to join in on the suite conversation). He spends most of the episode hitting on Willa or waxing poetic about the Grand Ol Party.
"What we do here at the Future Freedom Summit is of the utmost importance to our party and country. I happen to believe the next president of the United States is somewhere in this very room," he says during one speech. "He is, and he's hard as a rock," Connor whispers to Willa, which leads to this moment:
10. Leggy Mary Todd: Speaking of Willa, it's not a great week for Connor's better half. She's been forced to go to faux CPAC instead of writing her new play, where she has to make small talk explaining to people how she isn't interested in being a commercial playwright ("I mean, the audience helped you discover that, didn't they babe?" Connor cheerfully chimes in). But at least she can just ignore the Panhandle Pete's of the world and just focus on writing her play on her phone!
And yes, she's forced into awkward sexually-charged conversations with Ron, a.k.a. Larry Lech, filled with uncomfortable flirting and jokes about being cancelled. "We're just showing a bit of leg," Connor argues. "Maybe I don't want to donate my body to political science," she counters. But at least she isn't metaphorically curb-stomped by her family like Connor is.
11. The Conheads Movement: "Is it just me or, in a room full of Timothy McVeighs, does Connor suddenly look like a Roosevelt?" Shiv comments toward the start of the episode. Indeed, Connor Roy is one of the most popular Roys at the Future Freedom Summit—he's certainly a superstar in Panhandle Pete's eyes.
It is a core tenant of Succession that Connor can never, and will never, be taken seriously, no matter what he does. Of all the siblings, he is the least ambitious and cunning (though it does make him arguably the most pleasant Roy to be around). But that makes it all the sadder for Con when it briefly seems like the party bigwigs are taking his presidential ambitions seriously.
After all, Logan says in front of multiple people that he can "see" Connor. And there is precedent for this kind of thing, from the Kennedys to the Bushes: "He's a good looking kid, he's smart in his way, fucking Joe Kennedy did it for his boys, so let's get him in there with a smile and shoeshine and get Ron and everyone behind him," Logan says during the hotel suite family meeting. "I would fight so fucking hard for this family pop," Connor responds.
All the candidates are "fucking weirdos anyway," as Roman puts it, so why not Con? But it seems clear to me that all this Conhead talk was done to humor the eldest Roy; he was being used to jump start the conversation about potential candidates to steer away from Boyer, not because Connor was a legitimate option.
So definitely a deflating ending to Connor's presidential ambitions (at least for this season). But at least he gets credit for pissing pretty straight.
12. Petition For Mark Lynn Baker's Character Maxim Pierce To Appear In Every Scene Standing Beside Connor Roy: He's his intellectual heft, his Beltway Buddha, for crissake. I would kill to hear him say things like, "The sword has been pulled from the stone, my liege" every week.
13. Lisa Arthur Is Not A DJ: Ever since she first got trapped between the warring Roys in the season premiere, Lisa Arthur has seemed too smart to fall into their quicksand of bullshit. But it's understandable that from the outside, Kendall's case looked good—he was making a stand against his family, he had evidence of corruption and crimes, and he was willing to be the public face of the push.
Unfortunately, Kendall has been in the midst of a personal freefall in direct opposition to his ballooning ego. The guy is perpetually one day away from utter collapse, and Lisa has finally figured that out here. Their case is falling apart, she councils him: Waystar is cooperating, handing over billions of documents and offering employees to talk to the DOJ. Kendall's papers lack "some of the explosiveness it was suggested they might have." This isn't a slam dunk anymore, and Kendall's response is completely childish: "I really value all the work you do, honestly, but let's try harder."
After Kendall testifies, everything falls apart. Kendall once again tries to take control of the narrative by having a hissy fit in the hallway, but Lisa sees right through him and calls him out. "Do you think you're smarter than me?" she asks. "Maybe you are, but I am a better lawyer. You acted high handed and defensive, and then oscillated to widely over-familiar and glib. You sometimes undermined my status, and didn't appear to be frank about your own involvement. but let's take stock okay?"
The last we hear, Lisa has left Kendall's team, and is now "toxic person." It took long enough, but she made the right decision.
14. Any Update On The Burning? Greg is in a dark place this week. Some guy with an undercut called him a Soy Boy. Kendall won't return his texts. And he can't stop obsessing about the "prison of it all." Thankfully, he has his good friend Tom to turn to: "What I'm preferring is to always think about it," Tom explains. "And then when you don't for a moment, it's like, ooh someone's loosened their icy grip on my innards." Greg: "...yeah, I like that."
The two also get some prison advice from a fellow Republican who tells them to horde mackerel tins and treat their toilets with respect: "The toilet is your stair machine, your bench, your fridge, your lover, your brother, your priest, and most importantly, it's also your toilet." Nobody wants a bastard toilet.
Greg and Tom later head to a local diner to hash out their prison anxieties over some hash browns. Greg confides, "I just feel because of my physical length, I could be the target for all kinds of misadventure." They have a moment of real empathy when Tom says Greg can "hook your bobble of corporate wrongdoing on one of my branches." Tom even picks up the check, since Greg's "Grampy stole your inheritance. Besides, all my meals will be free soon."
We overhear Greg at one point explaining to people at the Republican retreat why he's suing Greenpeace, and it is, of course, hilarious to hear outloud: "Well, my Grampa gave my inheritance to Greenpeace, and then someone posted a comment on their website and it could contain a slight on my character, and then Greenpeace promoted the comment, so my lawyer thinks that's defamation, so that's how I'm trying to sue Greenpeace."
While the people listening to his story seem as mortified as the audience, we later learn the opposite is true: Greg is a hero of the Future Freedom Summit because of his brave stand against Greenpeace. He even gets hoisted into the air by a bunch of Republican bros chanting "Fuck Greenpeace."
15. The Christmas Tree: I don't know if it's because of Nicholas Braun's sputtering acting style, or because Greg is too much of a comedic figure at this point, but I rarely find myself that worried about Greg's inner life. Tom is a whole different matter—despite his raging class insecurities, his need to dominate people around him, and his gross sexually-charged banter, he is filled with pathos, pity, and stifled humanity. He is achingly human this week, realistically haunted by what he sees as the reality of his future, while also still filled with utterly filthy metaphors and analogies.
Tom continues his downward spiral, stocking up on garbage diner food during multiple late-night rendezvous' in an attempt to prepare his body for prison food: "You know Rasputin would take a dose of arsenic with breakfast each morning to build up his tolerance."
No one in the family seems to really "care" about Tom's struggles except Greg—Shiv can't bother to listen to him spiral out, Kendall tries to use him for his own case against the family, Roman refers to him as a trophy husband, and people around the office are calling him The Christmas Tree. "Perhaps that's because I'm tall and jolly," Tom jokes.
Tom's life right now is a little like the screwtop wine from his and Shiv's vineyard: it's not very nice. "What's good is to eradicate hope. They cant get you if you got no hope," Tom tells Greg. "I haven't slept properly in eight days."
16. Martin Van Boring: Considering that he started the episode out as the party's pick for next president, Vice President David Boyer really tumbles down the Power Rankings by the end. Sure, he's boring and he might be a secret herbivore (although Tom swears, "Oh no, I've seen him eat a meatball"), but he is also the "cleanest" option for the party according to Michelle-Anne.
But he has one fatal flaw: the lip-licking thing. "When you notice it, you definitely notice it," Ron says. Roman breaks it down beautifully: "It's like he's a cartoon bear and there's always a picnic hamper nearby." Nobody wants a lip licker for president.
17. Listening Into A Nightmare Conversation Between Prospective Republican Presidential Candidates: Shiv is all of us listening to the awful "conversation" between Boyer, Mencken and Salgado. It's a nauseating dick-swinging contest between three pompous, right-wing ideologues trying to impress the big wigs in the room.
Boyer regurgitates conservative talking points, and says things like, "We both agree this is the party of the working class now." Salgado likes to memorize National Review issues from 2012 and recite them back. Mencken likes to pontificate and avoid having any policies, though he has the best insults: "You jerked off to Regan's headshot for 30 years and now you're Tom Joad." Like us, Shiv is so fucking over it, and that's before Mencken implores her to read Plato.
18. Sophie and Iverson: Kendall's kids don't get referenced whatsoever this week, so we have no idea how the rabbit is doing. 😞
Creepiest Tom Innuendo Of The Week: Tom has a rare happy-ish moment when he and Shiv sit down to try their new wine (?!), which is...biodynamic...a bit funky..."you kind of have to meet it halfway"...definitely not floral or sugary or vegetal. In other words, it's really bad wine. Of course, the conversation turns to Tom's "favorite" subject: the prospect of his incarceration.
His prison consultant says the place upstate might be full, and Shiv is totally checked out of the conversation. "You're tired, you'll feel better about that in the morning," she says. She doesn't understand why he keeps talking about it, and she has no idea "what else there is to say." Realizing she may have revealed too much of her true indifference to her husband, she climbs onto his lap and try to apologize by initiating sex, but he's not really into it.
But of course, because this is Tom, it can't be enough to just let the hurt feelings do the talking. No, he has to throw in this line: "You're still on contraception and it's like throwing so much cake batter at a brick wall."
Succession-verse Articles Of The Week: Everyone likes to talk about how Gerri & Roman are the show's ultimate power couple, or perhaps Tom & Greg. But GQ knows the real power couple is Karl and Frank. And actor David Rasche has a pretty great read on Logan: "The thing about Logan is that you have to kiss his ass. He insists on that. If you don't kiss his ass, you're liable to get fired. On the other hand, he hates ass-kissers. So if you kiss his ass, you're liable to get fired. So everybody is always off balance. I think that's an apt way to describe the kids at all times."
Meanwhile, the New Yorker met up with J. Smith Cameron at the Carlyle Hotel to talk all things Gerri, and also why Succession sometimes get compared to theater: "I think Succession is a little bit of an anomaly for a TV show, because it’s streams of long sentences. People make this analogy of it being Shakespearean, and I definitely see that. It has very big, sweeping themes, and the grudges are so universal and yet grand."
And lastly, Thrillist hung out with Arian Moayed, who talked about the importance of focusing on Stewy's background with Kendall: "I didn't mean for this to happen, but because I've known him for a long time, however rich Kendall Roy may or may not be, it didn't matter to me because I've known you when you were 18, 19 years old."
Family Members In Absentia: Gerri, Frank, Karl and Karolina all skipped out on the trip to Virginia this week. Stewy, Sandy and Sandi were also not invited to fake CPAC. Adrien Brody was too busy wearing multiple layers up north. Big Gramps and Roger Pugh would likely detest such an event. No Naomi Pierce or Sophie Iwobi. No Marcia Roy, which makes sense considering who Logan is hanging out with these days. No Rava Roy or Lady Caroline Collingwood, though obviously there was much talk of her upcoming nuptials. And Mondale the dog remains locked in a crate somewhere.
Did Anyone Get A Kiss From Daddy This Week? Roman got another hearty pat on the back this episode from pops, but Kerry obviously got a lot more than that behind-the-scenes.
Next week on Succession, Kendall throws himself a "big nervous breakdown of a party" for his 40th birthday. Until then, watch as Nicholas Braun and Matthew Macfadyen play a game of "Who Said It?"