Between a heartbreaker of a monologue from “first pancake” Connor on not needing love because he’s never had it, and Logan Roy’s rousing, quasi-dictator speech on the floor of ATN headquarters, the second episode of Succession Season 4 had its moments. Yet, hours after watching and processing the full range of emotions this week’s episode evoked in me, what I’m left thinking about is the latest interaction between the perennially frumpy Cousin Greg and Logan’s razor-sharp assistant slash girlfriend, Kerry.
Amid an episode that centered around Connor’s impending wedding, and the equally impending sale of Waystar Royco to Muskian tech billionaire Lukas Matsson, Greg and Tom—the self-titled Disgusting Brothers—have found themselves in a very separate pickle: how to break it to Kerry, on strict orders from Logan, that she’s horrible on television and can’t be an ATN anchor. After Logan assigns this to Tom, Tom promptly punts it to Greg after explaining to his protege that the situation must be handled extremely delicately: “It’s like Israel-Palestine,” Tom Says. “But much harder and more important.”
That Greg was selected to be the bearer of bad news is comical considering what we learned about his dynamic with Kerry last week, when she chastised Greg for bringing an unvetted, normie date to Logan’s birthday party and treating the event like a “pre-fuck party.” To all of this, Greg responded, “Kerry, you know, I’m not sure this is appropriate.”
This week, things between Greg and Kerry get off to an immediately bumpy start when Kerry zings him with a call-back to last week’s revelation that Greg and his date made an inadvertent sex tape in Logan’s home. “Hey, Kerry, sorry, can I possibly please grab you just for five minutes?” Greg says. Kerry replies, “Why not? You’ve already grabbed every other woman in Manhattan.”
The confrontation only gets more cringe when Greg tells Kerry, in the most Cousin Greg manner possible, that she isn’t right for the anchor position. “Just as a friend, I—I wanted to give you a heads up on the down-low on what the murmurs are,” he says, before telling her it’s “not a big deal, you know,” but that her arms “aren’t right” and it’ll be “fixable with a few years.” When his words predictably piss Kerry off, Greg pivots to citing a transparently nonexistent focus group to take the fall for the critiques—and then emphasizes that the imagined group is strictly confidential when a skeptical Kerry presses for details. It’s confidential even to Logan, he tells her. “If this focus group isn’t real, I’m going to take you apart like a human string cheese,” Kerry shoots back. “Understand?”
Greg’s comments, and the exchange as a whole, are even funnier in the context of Kerry’s audition tape, which is played at different points throughout the episode. In it, Kerry smiles robotically as she recounts tragic news soundbites and mechanically moves her arms at all the wrong moments. All of it drips with the awkwardness of middle-aged Republican leaders posing together at a conservative conference.
What I adore about this scene, and Greg and Kerry’s interaction last week, is that for Kerry, her dynamic with Greg is essentially the only glimpse we get into her real personality. Much of her scenes on the show are tangential—a quiet word to Logan or his kids, or trying her darndest not to rise to any of Roman or Shiv’s taunts about her relationship with their dad. When she’s with Greg, we’re treated to the utter delight of her razor-sharp tongue, her impatience, and her disdain for stupidity. She emerges as perhaps one of the only characters who isn’t at least mildly gentler to Greg because everyone regards him as a man-child. Greg’s bumbling idiocy is the perfect foil to Kerry’s Type A intensity in both of their scenes together this season. He simply doesn’t stand a chance against her.
Succession is the rare show in which non-main characters—like, say, company henchmen Karl and Frank—develop into familiar and distinct characters of their own without diverting too much screen time from the show’s main family drama du jour. Kerry has thus far fallen relatively under the radar beyond a good throwaway joke or two from Roman about her licking their father’s “omelette nipples.” Kerry and Greg sharing a screen has permanently altered this, and frankly, I find it a charming reprieve from the otherwise emotionally scarring interactions between everyone else lately.