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The ‘Succession’ Misery Index: It’s All Just Money And Gossip

Succession/ Courtesy of HBO
Shiv Roy Misery Index: 96 (Not So Hot Shit)

Shiv, like a lot of people, is more ambitious than her actual talents and experience warrant. She can't stomach watching her idiot brothers fail upwards when she believes that she has all the intellect and savvy necessary to succeed. But no one really cares how smart anyone is; the corporate world is a bullshit factory where the rules are made up by whoever is winning in the moment. Shiv becomes Matsson's double agent because she doesn't trust her brothers and in the most predictable turn of events, he turns out to be just as phony as the Roy kids, but with a higher profile—and she couldn't even get him to promise a future role for her. She's seemingly screwed at the moment, but as Tom reminded her on that balcony, she will be fine. All of these people will be fine, but their inability to see beyond their father's standard has them chasing things they don't even enjoy.

Shiv is not the political power shaker she thinks she is, mostly because this isn't the kind of political game she thinks it is. She's trying to play chess at a poker table, and that look on her face at the end of the party might be her startling realization that she's stuck fighting it out with her brothers for the rest of her days.

Tom Wambsgans Misery Index: 87 (Dead Man Walking)

Tom has been on borrowed time the moment Logan died, and he knows it. As a result, he has made decisions that he has to know are wrong, such as trying to get back with Shiv while still clearly holding onto a lot of hatred for her. In Tom's mind, this is just their relationship: they hurt each other and then pretend it doesn't mean anything. But some lines can only be crossed so many times before everything that's been held in comes out in the ugliest way possible.

That balcony scene accounted for the highest volume of Real Feelings ever expressed on this show, and yet somehow there was still so much left unsaid. Tom never quite found the courage to tell Shiv that the reason she'll always be fine isn't because she always finds a play to make, but because she was born with her last name. That's a level of security that even the most shameless and striving bloodsuckers, like Tom, just can't enjoy. Watching his livelihood get dangled around a room full of political heavyweights, industry titans, and fucking Nate (Nate's back!) was just too much to bear. And also, our boy was just super sleepy. You really need your eight hours if you're going to spend all day watching someone else fire people for you.

Kendall Roy Misery Index: 60 (One Crown, One King, One Catastrophe)

A lot of this episode is about the damage the Roy family as an entity has inflicted onto the many people within their orbit, both purposefully and accidentally. The episode opens with Kendall learning that his daughter has been subjected to racist taunts by stranger ATN fans. His ex-wife has to schedule meetings with him just to get him to call said daughter. His old college buddy refuses to use his political influence to help block the GoJo deal because of the optics of associating with his family. He shows empathy to Matsson's comms director just to acquire dirt, and immediately sells her out in public. And that's just the stuff he did; the rest of the Roys are leaving plenty of destruction in their wake.

Succession is a show about people who are what they are and fundamentally cannot change. There's no growth, and while some could call it de-evolution, it's really just cyclical behavior. Kendall is an addict. He needs to be on something at all times. He's in a period now where the drugs have been replaced by the high that comes from trying to become his dad. When Nate tells him it's a good thing he's not Logan, he takes it as a challenge in that moment, suddenly inspired by both that comment and Matsson's fugazi numbers to "out-dad dad" by acquiring GoJo. It's an insane and childish plan, obviously, but there always has to be a new, better high to chase.

Lukas Matsson Misery Index: 47 (Big In Both Indias)

It was the most predictable thing in the world that this emperor would have no clothes. Genius is a marketing concept more than it's an actual title for these people. Matsson, like others in his industry, is a guy with a cool concept or plan that got a bunch of smart people to execute it all for him and propped himself up on all their hard work—that's just the story of capitalism. He's full of shit but that's not what matters; what matters is can he get this deal done before anyone can prove he's full of shit. That's probably why Matsson is so angry and annoyed all the time—he has to suffer through all this family squabbling and American smugness because he needs to make this deal happen. He needs a tangible business to validate their theoretical one. But his inability to deal with people on a human level is making it easier for even an idiot like Kendall to use to his own advantage.

This is a guy that wore Kyrie's sneakers to a party a day or two after making Nazi jokes. And when he and Kendall start spatting publicly, he devolves into a child, calling Kendall's projected numbers "gay" in response to having his numbers be accused of being phony. It's playground shit. These are the people in charge. A bunch of insecure schoolyard bullies with a couple of five-dollar words. No wonder this guy has to send women his blood just to seem more interesting.

Connor Roy Misery Index: 10 (A Not-So-Funny Joke)

Despite his lack of presence this season, Connor has been awesome whenever he does show up. There's something actualized about the character that makes his delusional behavior more admirable than pathetic. It was Connor who called out his siblings for their desperation to be loved by their father. It's Connor who can admit to his marriage being transactional, and it's Connor who seems to be properly processing his father's death while everyone else runs from it.

Connor is happy to listen to Willa over his family, not only because Willa actually takes him seriously, but because she's the only honest person in his life. Despite the fact that he's running for freaking President, he no longer seems to care about status and living up to the Roy legacy like his siblings, and is therefore doing a lot better than everyone that's twisting up in knots over it.

Honorable Mentions

Roman Roy - Not much has changed for Roman since the last week. He keeps spinning out more and more, losing control every time he's confronted with the fact that he's not his father. The mistake Gerri made was that she thought she was making him a better businessman. But all she really did was help learn how to impress his father, and now he has nothing left to do.

Willa Ferreyra - Like many outsiders in this family, she gets mistreated often. But unlike many outsiders she, made taking part in this family work to her benefit by always being honest and peeping game. It's so funny that her and Connor have the healthiest marriage going.

Nate Sofrelli - Some day we're going to need a prequel series about he and Kendall's time in Shanghai together in their early 20s. I'm sure he really savored hearing about Tom's potential job loss.

Ebba - Why does a person with social anxiety want to be communications director for a major tech corporation? What's her real deal or endgame? Everything we learn about Ebba just leads to more questions, honestly. But maybe the draw of power really is that strong to anyone.

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