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The ‘Succession’ Misery Index: Something Everyone Knows, But Nobody Says

Screenshot: HBO|

Succession/ HBO

Connor Roy Misery Index: 88 (A Presidential Pancake)

This week, we're just gonna keep it to the family, and we'll start with the forgotten first born. Connor's speech to his siblings at the end was genuinely heartbreaking, and probably the truest thing anyone not named Logan has ever said to them. Succession is great about the ways it doles out bits and pieces of personal history and backstory without ever just giving you everything and taking the mystery away. We know enough about Connor to get a picture of him as the product of a marriage that got really bad, ending with his mom institutionalized and his father out of sight, away from all the unpleasantness for half a decade. By the time Connor got back in contact, Logan was older and likely doing more work taking care of his newer (and seemingly unsaid, better) children. Connor tried to be a good big brother and occasional fill-in father and it hasn't been met with any appreciation from his siblings, but greed and selfishness has always been part of this family's value system.

Connor has always carried with him the knowledge of just how bad things can get in this family, and it drives a lot of his attitudes and decisions. He tiptoes around a father he secretly resents because Logan barking at you is a lot better than him just flat out ignoring you, at least in his mind. That's part of the magic of the absentee father, you fill that space with your own projections about who he is and how you might earn his time. So when he sees Shiv and Kendall "fucking dad" he finds it pathetic: a bunch of children so used to attention and love that they'll wring it out of their father even through hatred. Everyone not named Shiv and Kendall know it's good business to just take the deal, and that what they're doing is about emotions and their own rejections and yes, they're need to be greedy little "love sponges." Connor says he can live without love and he probably could, but he also doesn't want to. That's why he's never gone against his father; that's why he wants this sham marriage to Willa; that's probably why he wants to be president. The filling of space, the presence of people in your life, even if they don't care about you, to him, is still a far better deal than the alternative: years of lonely silence.

Roman Roy Misery Index: 70 (Daddy's Forever Boy)

It absolutely tears him up inside to see his siblings get off on hurting their dad. Roman's been on shaky ground since the season started, trying desperately to be the voice of reason among two vindictive egos going wild. His siblings call this an issue with conflict, but that doesn't really seem to be it; it's an issue of conflict specifically with his father. Whenever Kieran Culkin talks about Roman, he describes him as someone who still clings to the idea of family, even as he's been abused by his family—specifically his dad, who has held such a big, scary presence in his entire life. He doesn't want to fight with his dad, he wants his approval and support, and that makes him the easiest for Logan to manipulate.

Roman has the right instincts about certain things; he knew that buying PGM was a bad idea and that they overpaid; he knew that blocking the Waystar sale for even a day could blow it up, but his interest in the family business has always been about the family. Maniacally competing with his siblings is certainly his preferred form of affection, even if he's gotten better at emotionally connecting with them. But suddenly, Roman is turning back into that child, hungry for attention again.

Logan Roy Misery Index: 60 (Pirate King)

His kids had leverage over him and his assistant becoming an anchor would've made him look like an idiot, but there's always a silver lining for Logan. His real issue is his inability to connect with his children; this keeps him from doing things like apologizing or expressing love in any real way, but it also keeps him from expressing his own pain at seeing his kids abandon him and constantly glom onto his power and money (just because you cause it, doesn't mean you don't have feelings about it). He doesn't believe in apologies so as a result his family doesn't believe in them. What he believes in is the cold, icy logic of negotiations, and he also believes that he should always get his way.

Succession is great at putting Logan in position to possibly express real feelings, but always leaving room to question the intent behind those expressions. Logan will say whatever he needs to put an end to this delay attempt, so how then can anything be genuine? He was obviously sad that his kids weren't at his birthday, but how long does he expect people to shovel up shit for him and smile, family or no? By the end of the episode, you can see him starting to plan out who he wants to axe from his next regime. People are expected to give their lives and bodies over to the supposed greater good of the company, and Logan will cut their throats anyway as soon as it's most convenient for him. It's more than a thankless position, but if you were to bring this up to the Logan Roys of the world, they'd give you the old Don Draper argument. The world is whatever they says it is always.

Shiv Roy Misery Index: 93 (Agent Of Chaos)

It seems so long ago that everyone thought she'd be the "smart one." The only way her sudden desire to put her imminent payday at risk makes any sense is if she's understood, once and for all, as an idiot who lets grievance cloud her judgment. This isn't about getting a few extra millions to prepare for a divorce; it's about inflicting pain back on her dad, who just taught Tom how to hurt Shiv the same way he did his ex-wife.

That creates a pain that's not just going to dissipate, and has to be inflicted back at the world. Logan is right that these are not serious people, but how could they ever be? You keep dangling something over the head of an entitled child, and they will eventually have a tantrum when it's taken away for good. And throughout this whole series, we've been watching each of these kids throw their tantrums over what they were promised. Good luck, Roman!

Kendall Roy Misery Index: 55 (Lil' Zen Fuckleroy)

Kendall is on the same ill-advised sabotage mission that Shiv is, and it's very funny that they can't even share in it together due to their inability to ever actually trust and relate to anyone. Obviously, that call from Matsson was meant to reveal Kendall's decision-making, and it seems to me that he's after destruction—blowing up the Waystar sale, getting out of the PGM deal, and maybe riding off into the sunset with his family's legacy in ashes. Maybe he really does see himself as some sort of disruptor/future kingpin, but after the hell he's been through, it wouldn't be shocking if this has all been leading up to a blowup of the sale. It's certainly a stupid enough plan for Kendall to want to do it, cutting off his nose to spite his face. It makes way more sense than him genuinely trying to squeeze a $100 million more out of a cheap Swede that's threatening him against it.

Honorable Mentions

Kerry Castellabate: Listen, it's good to get that "betrayal cherry popped," as Kendall put it, sooner than later. And you'll grow into that anchor role in time, they still let Jason Whitlock on TV, you'll be fine!

Lukas Matsson: I hope this doesn't code aggressive, but you need to stop being a cheapskate with a billion dollars, it's unbecoming.

Greg Hirsch: You (barely) did the job, you're almost a real dirtbag, buddy.

Jess Jordan: You're doing wonderful! Just keep being you and get those resumes out, because these idiots will probably be out of money soon.

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