In Succession, a show where everyone is trying to screw everyone else at any given moment, it’s not surprising that last Sunday’s major cliffhanger would see even the seemingly untouchable Gerri face her own “screwing” Waterloo.
But for once,the screwing didn’t come from greed and a hunger for power, but the more literal meaning of Roman’s unrepentant, extreme ardour for his boss-mommy-girlfriend that pierced Gerri’s armour.
In a vital meeting with the bankers to discuss the potential GoJo buyout - which had moments before seemed lost - Roman’s quick thinking and smart talking had saved the day. Gerri rewarded her prince with a “well done” text message which an aroused Roman responded to with an invite to dinner, and an accompanying photo of his little “bootleg Logan”.
Sadly, in his eagerness he failed to notice that an almost identical well done message came in from Logan at the same time, and it was his father who ended up receiving the dick pic du jour.
Of course, in any real sense, that is not Gerri’s fault - particularly when earlier in the episode she had asked Roman to stop sending her the “items” - and that is something Roman is quick to point out to his father. Yet being on the receiving end of Roman’s desire is enough in the world of the Roy’s to rock your position in Logan’s eyes, and thus in her already tentative position at the helm of Waystar. Something Shiv is incredibly quick to pick up on, as she confronts Gerri over this “sexual harassment” issue.
Like an anaconda she wraps herself around Gerri in a pretense of caring about her well-being, putting the squeeze on by pointing out that should Gerri NOT report Roman for sexual harassment, then it seems as though she wanted the sexual missive, and this would surely undermine her position?
Thankfully after 30 years at Waystar, Gerri is adept at snake handling (insert your own joke here) and skillfully side-steps the death grip of her god-daughter. However, she has only delayed the inevitable, and as the finale looms it seems Gerri holds the keys to where both she and Roman end up on the chessboard at the end of the day.
The first instinct of any character in Succession is always to save their own skin, and in fact that’s the advice Gerri herself gave Roman earlier in the season - think about what’s in it for you. So, it would seem as though Gerri’s obvious move is to deny all knowledge, throw Roman under the bus, and take a sexual harassment charge to the board.
However, and it’s a big however, Gerri is quite possibly the smartest, most calculated player in the game. She is going to weigh up all her options and do all the calculations before she makes a move.
Gerri knows that Roman is her biggest defender. Losing his support is not something that would benefit her. Gerri knows she needs family support to retain her position and she knows that even a disgraced Roy (as Roman may end up) is better than a scheming one, such as Shiv
While Shiv may play up to Gerri to get her to unseat Roman from his spot in the ladder of power (allowing Shiv to move one step closer to daddy’s throne), Gerri knows enough about Shiv to know that given the slightest opportunity, Shiv will return that favour with a knife in the back.
And while Logan is obviously disgusted at his “sicko” son, would destroying Roman really endear Gerri further with the patriarchal dinosaur?
Yet, if she doesn’t betray Roman, how can she save both him and herself?
It is worth remembering that while Gerri is entirely innocent in this incident, she is not entirely innocent in her interactions with Roman. Although she told Roman at the start of this season that she avoids “mess” that’s clearly not entirely true.
She knew exactly what was happening in Roman’s special conference call and what he needed to continue, and she willingly gave him it. By the time she marched him into her bathroom she was more than tolerating, and actively assisting, Roman’s sexual release over her.
There is something beyond a professional relationship between them, and though she may deny it, she clearly has feelings of some kind for him - something evident in “Retired Janitors of Idaho” when she seemed genuinely upset that she had hurt him, and worked to fix things with him in a very public way.
It is possible that taking this into consideration, and the fragile situation she and Roman now find themselves in, that her best option is not to toss Roman to the dogs but to draw him even closer to her.
Roman's massive mess-up may be the very thing that gets him the one thing he wants more than Logan’s approval - Gerri's affections. What better way than to seal their allegiance, and take away the gross creepy elements of the incident than to say it came as part of a consensual, sexual relationship between the pair?
Yes, Gerri being in a relationship (real or not) with Roman would lose her some respect from certain corners, but it's clear even in her innocence Logan is already seeing her differently. She may as well be hung for a lamb as a sheep.
J Smith-Cameron has repeatedly said that Gerri would not get into an actual relationship with Roman due to her careful nature. But now she has precious little to lose, and potentially much to gain, why not give in to the temptation Roman presents? There's no better way to ensure Roman's total devotion than to return his affections.
We know she's not above using her personal life in that way, given that she told Roman she was daring Laurie in order to get inside access to the DOJ, and Roman has far more to offer her than Laurie, in so many ways.
J has also said that you cannot be on the receiving end of such adoration and devotion from a handsome young man without at least being intrigued, and something was behind her willing participation in those phone calls. And the audience at home would certainly relish this turn of events, given the huge popularity and interest in this killer on-screen chemical reaction between Roman and Gerri.
When season 3 began, the season 2 recap obviously touched on Roman and Gerri's relationship. However, their sexual shenanigans were surprisingly not touched on, but instead it was the scene of Roman proposing marriage which someone deemed most significant to show.
Perhaps it is foreshadowing what Gerri's ultimate move will be, with either a literal or figurative marriage for the pair. By standing together Gerri legitimizes Roman's sexual interest in her; ensures Roman is indebted to her forever; creates a powerful team up, and takes herself even closer to the centre of the circle as the partner of a Roy sibling.
She warned Roman she was a powerful enemy, and how much more powerful would she and Roman be as an open, official team?
Whatever she does, it's clear Gerri is going to come out fighting. While some may fear this is the moment of Gerri's downfall, perhaps it’s more pressing to fear for the safety of whichever fool tries to pull her down from her seat of power.
Photo copyright HBO