“My hunch is that you’re going to get f***ed because I’ve seen you get f***ed a lot. And I’ve never seen Logan get f***ed once.”
Contributed by Jackson Maher.
Sometimes in Succession, there’s a weirdly sexual subtext to everything that’s going on. Tom pulls Greg’s pigtails it feels like they’re about to kiss, Kendall probably yells “control the narrative” during sex, and while Logan likens his business strategy to making his enemies “bend for” him. It’s the classic Oscar Wilde quote: “Everything in the world is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.”
On Succession, the same idea is often posed more efficiently and with a heavy dose of paranoia: Are you trying to f**k me?
“What It Takes” is probably the horniest episode of the series to date, exploring all angles of the power dynamic that is “f***ing”—the play of dominance and seduction that is the true heart of many of the scenes in this episode (and much of Succession at large).
Connor trots out his for-hire girlfriend to “show some leg” to gain GOP leadership support. Logan makes jokes and bedroom eyes to his assistant Kerry all episode. There’s some pretty charged chemistry between Roman and the fascist Jeryd Mencken both at the bar and then when they meet in the bathroom in private. As I type that, it feels even hornier than I thought.
Kendall starts the episode by trying to play bully-ball with the Department of Justice, and when things go poorly he doubles down, making a scene outside of the room in order to get them to go after his dad. When Lisa Arthur calls him out, he dumps her, like an insecure boy who was just told he’s bad in bed.
The rest of the family spends its time flirting with Presidential hopefuls at the Future Freedom Summit, itself a competition to see who will “f**k” the American people the most. The health of our Republic depends on it, “and the health of my portfolio.”
Roman snuggles up to Mencken, a Josh Hawley/Madison Cawthorne type that we’ve seen a million times before. He’s a white supremacist and populist, someone who cloaks his ideology in thinly veiled dogwhistles and calls it speaking truth to power. Shiv gets friendly with the much more moderate Rick Selgado, who, like her, speaks about the working class as if it were an anthropological study—surely, cutting taxes would be great for them! Vice President Dave Boyer, is also there, dry lips and all.
After a quick round of speed dating, it’s time for the Roys to decide which contestant they’re going to bring to bed—who they’ll submit to their will as the real heads of the Republican Party. I suspect this strong psychosexual power play is also part of the reason why Roman and Shiv are incapable of considering their brother Connor. The President is a role to be f***ed, and well, you don’t f**k your older brother, that’s reserved for the peripheries of the family, like Greg and Tom.
Greg and Tom are both acutely aware of how they can be f***ed and chucked. The possibility that Kendall will burn Greg hangs heavy over his head and when Kendall pitches Tom with the idea of turning on the family making him “the man,” it isn’t just misogynistic bravado. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen Tom slowly diminish. While he started in a position of power, having Shiv come to him, he’s been quickly offered up as a blood sacrifice to the Department of Justice. While he volunteered, I think he might have seen the writing on the wall once Kendall abandoned ship and was perhaps trying to gain some kind of goodwill by cooperating. At the very least, he was hoping his wife would at least feign protest. Tom is emasculated by the prospect of being sent to prison, to the point where he can’t even have sex with Shiv. It’s this same idea of masculinity and sexual dominance that might spook Tom from defecting: Kendall is a cuck and Logan never gets f***ed.
I’d be remiss if I, the guy who said Succession is about climate change, didn’t mention the end of the episode, when Logan declares himself a climate denier. Capitalism is about the same kind of complete power that Logan’s “f***ing” represents. It doesn’t have room for balance, it’s a one-sided f***fest.
Each recap, we’ll countdown where each character stands. This list is based on who is in the best position to accomplish their goals, whatever those may be, and just my general and totally objective view of who had the best episode.
15. Non-white People (Last week: N/A) – Our new Republican nominee just said “people trust people who look like them,” “let’s just take a beat before we fundamentally alter its composition,” and lovingly referred to Hitler as “H.”
14. America (Last week: N/A) – Besides the egregious white supremacy going on, it’s pretty messed up that Shiv, Roman, Connor, and Logan got to handpick the next President, especially when Logan seemed to be swayed by the promise of the blowjob. Woo, democracy.
13. Kendall (Last week: 12) – Maybe Kendall should start doing drugs again? Our guy has fallen so hard and so fast that he’s taking blackmail pictures of Tom on his iPhone in a Denny’s parking lot. Woof.
12. Salgado (Last week: N/A) – The only thing more offensive than a regular Republican is one who pretends they’re fighting for the working class.
11. Boyer (Last week: N/A) – He had a solid pitch, but sometimes you just aren’t a winner. At least he’s still Vice President, and that definitely counts for something until the DOJ investigation blows over.
10. Shiv (Last week: 6) – It’s strange, Shiv doesn’t feel like a big loser when I watch the episode, but when I think back about her resume from this one, it looks a lot worse. She failed to get her guy Salgado (who lowkey promised to make her CEO of Waystar), she asked Logan to apologize for being a dick to her last week (that didn’t go well either), and she was forced to be in a photo with a Nazi.
9. Lisa Arthur (Last week: N/A) – On the one hand, she got fired by her petulant manchild client. On the other hand, she’s no longer working for a petulant manchild client who is definitely going to lose his case.
8. Tom (Last week: 11) – Terminal Tom has always been a great judge of the way the wind’s blowing. He knows he doesn’t have the cachet to make things happen on his own, and has always been about figuring out who to attach himself to. For a while that looked like Shiv and the Roy family, but now that he’s eyeballing a prison sentence, he’s starting to look elsewhere and he’s been thrown a potential lifeline with Kendall. Neither of his choices are great right now, but he has options now, and that’s an improvement!
7. Greg (Last week: 13) – Our “soy boy” was a little out of his element at Nazi summer camp, but he got a few minor wins. Tom offered to let him hang his burning ornament on the Christmas Tree, no strings attached. His lawsuit against Greenpeace earned him a nice little crowdsurf. He even got to stand up for America, “I don’t think you should crown—or make—Connor president.” Plus, Kendall didn’t fire the social media manager he’s crushing on so there’s still a chance!
6. Connor (Last week: 3) – What an unexpectedly strong season for the Conheads. He’s out here networking in Virginia, he’s in the room where the decision is being made about the President of the United States, and he even maybe got some real consideration? I mean maybe this is grading on a curve but this is way further than I ever thought Connor’s campaign would get.
5. Roman (Last week: 8) – He won the pitch, what else is there to say? He also definitely is going to have sex with Mencken.
4. Kerry (Last week: N/A) – Just a few weeks removed from being asked, “Do you want to hear what it sounds like when the President loses his temper?” Kerry is in the room, picking the next one. That’s a pretty meteoric rise. She’s got Logan in the palm of her hand, between whatever sexual relationship is going on and her access to his pills and medication. Let’s just hope she’s been tested for STDs or Marcia’s going to throw another fit.
3. The GOP (Last week: N/A) – Trump worked once and Mencken is definitely smarter so they got that going for them. I mean, do you think Trump has even heard of Thomas Aquinas?
2. Logan (Last week: 4) – Logan’s back to being in full control of his family, his company, and soon the President of the United States. He’s still got Kendall’s number blocked (some boundaries are healthy!) and he’s definitely screwing Kerry who’s probably a third his age. Kendall’s case against him is crumbling and while everyone is still thinking about his loomy demise, he didn’t pee his pants this week, and that’s a definite improvement.
1. Mencken (Last week: N/A) – “He’s Medicare for All, abortions for none. And his idea of diplomacy is shooting roe deer with Viktor Orban and starting a trade war with China.” He’s going to be the next President.
Succession Continues Sunday on HBO and Monday on Sky Atlantic & NOW.