Wrong Number

Did Succession just break up the show's most dynamic duo?

Who’s really the number one boy?

Art by Guy@KJA-artists.com

Succession always has terrible luck with weddings.

The last matrimonial two-parter in Season 1 saw the wedding of Shiv to Tom but then spiraled into chaos involving a bear hug letter, Tom kicking out Nate, and Kendall going on a fatal bender. This time around, things are just as tense. Ahead of their mother Caroline’s marriage to the skeevy Peter Munion, Roman is negotiating an acquisition of GoJo, Kendall is coping from a birthday meltdown, and Shiv is mourning the loss of some alone time now that Tom’s not going to prison.

In Succession Season 3 Episode 8, “Chiantishire,” we see the storm just on the brink of breaking, and it’s all due to a missent text — one that could destroy family loyalties and the strongest duo in the series.

Rome Divided

Gerri was stressed enough over the Gojo acquisition before Roman ruined everything.HBO

While the first half of “Chiantishire” sees the characters mingling at various parties in the days before Caroline’s wedding, the second half means business. Gerri sets a firm boundary for Roman: no more lewd pictures. Gone are the days of “slime puppy” and secret rendezvous. Now, she’s the interim CEO and Roman the heir-apparent, should the acquisition go forward.

So when Roman breaks this boundary and tries to send a congratulatory text with an inappropriate picture to Gerri, he makes the fateful mistake every child fears above else: accidentally sending a lewd text to your parent. When Logan finds out, Roman has to decide between his secret business partner and his father.

What’s more, Gerri has to strategize how to get out of her situation too. Logan sees an opportunity to fire her, clearing the way for him to retake the CEO role. Shiv sees a chance to take down Roman in an ugly sexual assault case, leaving her the only viable option for a successor. Gerri and Roman are torn between their alliance and careers, and it’s unclear how this prisoner’s dilemma will end.

Dynamic Duo

Inverse reimagined Succession’s most interesting couple Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) as Star Wars’ duo Chewbacca and Han Solo.Art by Guy@KJA-artists.com

Roman and Gerri have always been dark horses in the Waystar-Royco race. Gerri was nothing but Logan’s counsel, keeping the business gears turning while Logan did his volatile CEO thing. Roman was the chaos agent and party child playing in the background of his siblings’ power struggles. Together, Roman and Gerri made a great manipulative match — and had a surprising amount of chemistry.

Unlikely pairings are as old as conflict-driven storytelling itself, from Han and Chewbacca to the Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But now, the spotlight is shining entirely on them, and that might be all it takes to tear them apart.

In Season 2, Roman described their partnership as “Rockstar and the Mole Woman.” But with Gerri in the CEO position, she’s the rockstar now, and Roman has to make his moves more underground. Will his resentment over Gerri’s success result in conflict later on?

Two Sides

Who will betray who?HBO

Gerri and Roman both have interesting motivations for betraying each other. By ousting Gerri and claiming she can’t even control her own sexual harassment, Roman could remove one more possibility for a successor. By claiming the victim role, Gerri could get rid of Roman, who has increasingly gone from willing pawn to a possible rival.

But neither of them is willing to pull that trigger. Roman calms Logan down when he suggests firing Gerri, and Gerri tells Shiv she wants to wait on reporting Roman and discuss things with some people. Maybe Rockstar and the Mole Woman can navigate this successfully and support each other as they intended.

But for Waystar, especially with a possible merger of equals on the horizon, there’s only room for one at the top. Ask any reality competition contestant: Alliances are great, but there can only be one winner. Nobody’s here to make friends.

Succession Season 3 releases new episodes Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max.

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