Succession is all about power—who has the most, who can wield it the best, and who is disastrously blinded by it. So every week during Season 3, The Ringer will check in on how the hierarchy at Waystar Royco shifts with each passing episode. It’s safe to say everything is in disarray—and to steal a line from another HBO series, chaos can be a ladder.
1. Sandy and Stewy
After running out the clock on settlement negotiations—good luck scoping out that “deal space,” Karl!—Sandy and Stewy now have Josh Aaronson’s 4 percent stake on their side, making it all the more likely that Waystar’s shareholders will simply hand the pair the reins to the firm.
These two haven’t had to lift a finger this season; Sandy hasn’t even appeared on screen! But Waystar is so toxic, and the Roy family is so divided, that sitting back is all that’s been required. It’s still early—we’re not even halfway through the season—but everything is falling into place for Sandy and Stewy at the moment.
2. Josh Aaronson
Can we first take a second to relish the immaculate vibes of Josh Aaronson? My guy owns an island. His house looks like a small performing arts center on the campus of the University of Michigan. He nonchalantly sets up a lobster and clam bake lunch on a cliff overlooking the ocean. (Who brought that table there? The place settings? How did the food stay hot? Don’t worry about it—Josh made it happen.) And the layers—holy shit, the layers.
Josh was wearing four layers to start the meeting with Logan and Kendall, and then before their walk he was like, “Hang on, I need to go get something,” and he put on another layer. I can’t explain how aspirational this was.
But now that we’ve gotten that out of the way: Josh Aaronson is a real piece of shit. He owns just 4 percent of Waystar, but knows that’s enough to demand 100 percent of Logan and Kendall’s attention. And demand he does: He pretends his daughter is ill to force the Roys to helicopter out to his bridgeless islet; he says stuff like “Fuckin’ King Kong coming out to dance for me” out loud; he hosts a lunch nowhere near his house, simply because he wants to see how far the Roys are willing to walk for him (and probably because he wants to show off his waitstaff’s unparalleled ability to keep lobster hot); he tells Kendall to cool off on the whole “exposing decades of sexual assault” thing; and when the meeting’s over, he leads Kendall and Logan through an endless maze until the latter keels over from exhaustion.
On that last note, there are a few ways to read the move. (And we know it was intentional—no one who’s making an honest mistake says, “This is the quick way but sometimes it takes longer.”) The first is that Josh simply wanted to punish Logan after years of being subservient to him. The second is that Josh had already switched to Sandy and Stewy’s side, and was doing recon to find out how Logan was doing health-wise. The third is more nuanced: Still wondering whether father and son were at each other’s throats, he purposely triggered a dangerous situation to see how they’d react with each other. And when Kendall continued to pitch as his dad sat wheezing on the ground, that was all Josh needed to see. As Roman puts it: “We’re about to lose our company at the shareholder meet all because you wouldn’t give our dad a timely fucking Evian.”
The bottom line is that Josh is just like the rest of the far-too-wealthy assholes in this craven world, treating humans like toys and turning into a playground bully at the faintest sniff of power. Great outfits, though.
[An impossibly vast chasm between the second and third spots in the ranking.]
Make no mistake: The walls are still closing in on Logan. The FBI investigation is underway (even if the raid was just a “warning shot,” according to Shiv), investors are defecting, the shareholder’s meeting is just days away, and he’s sucking for air after a brisk fall walk.
On the other hand, Cousin Greg is no longer on Kendall’s side; the president is acquiescing after a “journalistic shift” at ATN; everyone is still doing Logan’s bidding and chasing his approval; and a future in which Kendall ousts him and retains control of the company is looking less and less likely. “I put you in the ground that day, and you don’t get to come back,” Kendall says to his dad as they trail behind Josh. But what Logan says back might be closer to reality: “I beat you. Pipe down.”
Well, well, well, if it isn’t the forgotten son? After years of being disrespected and ignored ... after being ridiculed for his hobby of collecting historical figures’ penises ... after being called “a joke” and “fucking embarrassing” by his own father ... Connor Roy has finally shown some gumption. Much like Josh Aaronson, he understands that this precarious time for Waystar has amplified the minuscule leverage he possesses. Sure, he might not bring anything to the table, but he could, for example, create a corporate fuck-storm by calling up a reporter and loudly yelling, “Hey! Guess what! I recall my father was a nasty, racist, neglectful individual!”
Connor is also smart enough to know how much that’s worth. Shiv basically gives him a glorified middle finger and tries to offer up a wine-tasting show on a cooking network called Gourmando. (First off, Gourmando is a horrible name for a food network. Second, did you know that the guy who got fired from Grey’s Anatomy for using a homophobic slur now has his own travel show on Fox Nation? Last, I would watch that hypothetical show only if it was Connor opening bottles from, like, Napoleon’s lost collection or the Crusades.) But Connor’s not in a position to be taking offers—he’s in a position where he gets to say what the offers are. Suddenly, he’s legitimately in line for an executive role at Waystar and the Con-head Movement is thriving.
And just to put a bow on his (albeit momentary) superiority, Connor unleashes on Shiv one of the harshest intra-sibling burns to date: “Remember when you had that play post office and you used to stamp all the mail that came into the house? This is a little bit like that, isn’t it, Shiv?”
Connor Roy 2024. The dream is still alive.
5. Cousin Greg
As Cousin Greg learns in between hefty pulls of a “strong for a man” rum and Coke, you have to know what you want if you’re going to play the game. And Greg, to his credit, does figure out what he wants by episode’s end; the boy who once vomited through the eyes of an amusement park mascot costume may soon be running an amusement park.
I should be very worried for the future patrons of Brightstar Buffalo, but we’ve all played RollerCoaster Tycoon—the real thing can’t be that hard.
It’s been quiet for Gerri since she became the acting CEO of Waystar, but I think quiet is how she wants it. Her time will come.
7. Karl and Frank
The shit-fuckers are crushing french fries and coasting through an obviously fruitless negotiation with Sandy and Stewy. And yes, Kendall’s quip about the FBI finding Karl’s nipple clamps probably hurt his feelings, especially because it was uttered amongst every high-ranking employee at the company. But the mere fact that Karl has enough pull to call Logan and complain about the managerial tactics of his daughter—a complaint Logan actually listens to!—suggests that these two are not as far down the totem pole as their takeout lunch containers might suggest.
Here are two quotes, both from Logan, who, it’s worth reminding, is Kendall’s dad:
“He’s a good kid. He did what he felt was best. I think he went too far, but he’s a good kid. He’s a good kid, and I love him. … And maybe it’ll be him one day. It’s in his blood. He learned it all from me. And maybe, maybe he’s the best one of all of them.”
“You know something, son? I’d sooner get fucked by a spic in a shower block than see you have it. I got the Raisin under my thumb, I’ve got the family, I’ve got little Greggie, I’ve got the fucking Tattoo Man in the tank. You’re high and dry. Face it, son: You lost.”
Such is the paradox of Kendall Roy—and more broadly, of Logan Roy and his children. The only thing that’ll ever convince Logan that one of his children is equipped to take over for him is the same thing that renders that transition of power impossible. He wants Kendall to be a killer, but he refuses to be killed. I think he’s telling the truth when he calls Kendall “the best one of all of them”; it’s not just him “trying to get fucked on a date.” But I also think he’s telling the truth when he utters that horrendous sentence about a shower block.
As for the rest of Logan’s evaluation, is he wrong? It does feel like the juice from Kendall’s power play is running on empty. Now he’s left with two options—either join up with Sandy and Stewy or skulk back under the family umbrella—and neither of those scenarios end with him in charge.
Roman spent the entire episode poking at a man’s tattooed forehead. From a karmic standpoint, that is a new low.
But chasing down Tattoo Man also feels like a pretty low-impact assignment for Roman at this point. He’s also being taught that he needs to be asking “How does this improve my personal situation?,” which, how is that something he’s just now learning?
Finally, Gerri isn’t even letting him take his socks off in her office—and she’s seeing other people. Who will call him a slime puppy now?!
I’ll let Kendall handle this one: “You put Shiv in there and she’s a fucking dipshit. I hear no one respects her, everyone’s digging her out.”
Aside from a successful mission to get ATN’s resident neo-Nazi to change his angle on the president, this evaluation is basically accurate. I’ll reiterate: CONNOR owned Shiv this week.
Tom is down bad. Tom is down so bad that he’s researching prison facilities.
Who the hell put this together for him, by the way? And how bad does your life have to be for you to own a laminated binder on every penitentiary on the Eastern Seaboard?
Tom is also out here talking to Greg about Nero and Sporus and saying things like, “I’d castrate you and marry you in a heartbeat.”
Allow me to propose a theory on Mr. Tom Wambsgans: While yes, he may be legitimately terrified of the prospect of “sucking off ogres for phone cards” in jail, his constant, extremely overt mentions of going to prison seem purposeful, especially when directed at Shiv. It feels like he’s outwardly painting the gruesome picture of prison as a test, in the hope that his wife will resolutely come to his defense and declare that she’ll do anything to help him avoid it. We know that he’s in contact with an outside law firm; right now, it feels like he’s grasping for a reason not to flip on the Roys. But no excuse is presenting itself; the most Shiv can muster is “I don’t know what I can say to you.” (One final supporting note here: In that Nero and Sporus analogy, Tom is Nero, the guy who fucking burned Rome to the ground.)
Is it just me or is Logan getting pretty chummy with his assistant?
This feels worth monitoring.
13. The Raisin (a.k.a. the president of the United States)
Gee, rough episode for the integrity of the White House. This guy—we don’t know his name because everyone just calls him “the Raisin” or “Logan’s boyfriend”—might hold the highest office in the United States, but power is the only thing that really matters. And based on the fact that a personal assistant is laughing at him while he yells into a cellphone, it seems fair to say that he has none.