Tom and Greg have a special bond developed over these two seasons of Succession. They have become America’s sweethearts through the hilarity of their interactions. Through moments where they first meet and Tom asks Greg to kiss him, or later in season two when Greg asks to have an open business relationship with Tom amidst a shooter lockdown, and Tom reacts by hurling full water bottles at Greg, or even interactions we don’t witness, like Tom incessantly e-mailing Greg that “You can’t make a Tomlette, without breaking some Greggs,” as Greg illegally shreds company secrets.
Each one of these jewels bedazzles the crown that is Tom-and-Greg. And everyone has their favorite Tom-and-Greg moment. Mine happens in season two, episode 6, ‘Argestes,’ when Greg informs Tom that the new ATN slogan Tom is about to unveil, “We’re listening,” might be problematic because ATN may actually in fact, be listening… in a legal gray area of sorts.
I find this interaction the most comical, but also, a quintessential representation of their relationship, not at the beginning during the hot and steamy honeymoon phase, or at the rocky peaks that are inevitable in a long term relationship, but in the hum drum ordinariness of two people committed to a life together.
Here is why I love it…
Opens with a great Tom line
Oh, Tom, thy font of quotable blessings. In a show of killer line after killer line, Tom may wear the crown of King of quotiness. And no Tom and Greg interaction is complete without Tom ripping off a line for laughs (“Canada? With the healthcare and the ennui? What are you doing their cock-sock?”). This exchange is no exception, the moment Greg gains his attention, Tom proclaims how excited he is for the group Greg signed him up for because it was like falling “into a barrel of deal-tits.” Of course it was…
Tom and Greg In-tandem
Tom and Greg’s relationship was born out of Tom ‘taking Greg under his wing’ and verbally (sometimes physically) abusing him. But Greg slowly built his relationship with Tom onto firmer footing by illegally shredding incriminating documents and blackmailing Tom for a new position in the company and his respect (“Very well. I accept your blackmail…you piece of shit.”).
In this scene in ‘Argestes’ we get to see Tom and Greg’s relationship flourishing in a mutually beneficial way. Greg signed up Tom for his sectionals and booked Tom’s room and picked Tom’s room’s complimentary gift. And now we see him receiving and relaying sensitive and important information to Tom. He truly has become Tom’s “little R2 unit,” and it’s a pleasure to watch.
This scene also has what we love most about Greg, his inability to express a thought coherently and his supreme gift at dancing around an idea (“If it is to be said so it is”), as well as his inability to relay corporate-speak without making it sound like…well… exactly what it is, awful ass-covering. This scene provides a perfect example of this paradox. Just look at this mitigation mixed with blunt brutality.
Greg: It does, um…Like, there’s a gray area in terms of our data collection, so that are kind of like-uh- We actually are listening.
Tom: We’re listening?
Greg: It’s complicated but…but, yeah. It seems that we are sometimes, uh, listening quite aggressively.
Tom: Why was I not aware of this?
Greg: Well, it’s basically legal, the guys said. But he didn’t want to but that in an email, so…
Language can’t be any more convoluted or devastatingly clear.
Tom’s Business Acumen
As much as I want Tom to succeed in all circumstances, we all must admit that he is not much of a businessman. Prone to suggestion, insecure in his own opinions, a beneficiary of immense nepotism, and possessing an over-inflated ego, Tom is not the guy anyone wants calling the shots (“Shaking the tree!). We get a small glimpse of his business insight, or lack thereof, in this scene. After Greg informs Tom that they are not able to use “ATN: We’re Listening” any longer, Tom stands up for the slogan saying, “I mean, I do really like, ‘We’re Listening.’ It sounds like- I mean,” *it dawns on him* “it sounds like we’re listening.”
Well thanks for that insight into slogan selection. This lack of thought leaves us to wonder how they decided upon the slogan in the first place. But Tom reveals this to us as well, exclaiming, “We tested this Greg!” Which seems about the only way Tom is going to be making any judgment calls, if it is backed and supported by data and superiors. Now he is left to decide if he wants to go with “We Hear You,” or ultimately, “We Here For You” (Because they hear for you and, ya know, they here for you). A decision left completely to him and Greg. No other opinions or focus groups to rely on. And they screw it up…
Tom’s Descent into Dismay
Being Tom must be an emotional rollercoaster. In the land of sociopaths, he is one of the only people who really ‘feels.’ He tries his best to hold those emotions down, deep down, but they always comes bubbling up (like the aforementioned water bottle tossing, which was a combination of reacting to Greg’s proposal for a break up and his treatment at work, but mostly his forced open relationship with his wife). And when it bubbles up, there is usually a comedic moment to go along with it. In this case we get to watch as Tom responds to Greg’s news…
“I really like “We’re Listening”… *questions what he is hearing*…
“We’re listening?”… *realizes what he is being told*…
“We’re listening?” *in a higher register*… and then reacts to the news…
His facial expressions do most of the work though. Descending from calm and open reception into frustration and anger. A really brilliant display of Tom-ishness in a scene where we get to see both him and Greg and their best and worst.
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