Succession is all about power—who has the most, who can wield it the best, and who is disastrously blinded by it. So, as we did last season, every week during Succession’s fourth and final installment, The Ringer will check in on how the hierarchy at Waystar Royco shifts with each passing episode. Even after Logan made a deal with GoJo (and screwed over his kids), it’s still safe to say everything is in disarray—and to steal a line from another HBO series, chaos can be a ladder.
1. Logan Roy
So, it happened. Don’t feign surprise; the show is literally called Succession. Did you think Logan Roy would just let someone walk in and carry him out of Waystar Royco? No, he went out in the bathroom of his private jet on his way to seal the deal with GoJo … on the day of his son’s wedding. There was no real way to plan for it, although last week’s burning question prepared me for the worst, and honestly, this was the best way to do it. Presented over a series of barely audible, frustrating phone calls, the sound of Logan Roy receiving chest compressions is something that’ll be hard to forget. And by keeping the audience as woefully uninformed about Logan’s situation as his children, the show pulled off one of the best, most engaging episodes of TV in recent memory while setting up the series’ final stretch. There’s an enormous hole in the C-suite at Waystar—and in the cast of Succession—but this is where the real game begins. The battle for supremacy is what Logan Roy thrived on; one has to imagine that the upcoming war between his inner circle would’ve put a huge shit-eating grin on his face.
That shot of Roman’s phone toward the end of “Connor’s Wedding,” where you see how much the Waystar Royco stock has plummeted after the news of Logan’s death? That’s power. It’s just impossible for Waystar investors to see the company’s future without the Roy family patriarch. And that’s largely the way Logan wanted it, right? Sure, a successor has always been on the tip of his tongue, but realistically, every chess move Logan made up until the moment he stopped breathing was meant to strengthen his own position and make the ties between him and Waystar that much more inextricable. The character is so strong that, for a while, I, like Roman, wondered if Logan was even actually dead—what would you call this shitty, next-level “boars on the floor”–esque fiasco? But by the time his body was in a bag being taken off the jet, denial had given way to acceptance. Logan is gone, no matter how tight his stranglehold on the rest of the world was.
Logan may have loved his children; he just didn’t know how to show it. What he did know is how to run a media empire, and now that he’s gone, there will be many people who want to prove that they can do it too. Hopefully, one of the Roy kids has been paying attention; Logan damn sure wasn’t giving out any answers.
2. Lukas Matsson
Much like the Roy family patriarch, we don’t really see Lukas Matsson in “Connor’s Wedding,” but his power is definitely on display. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself why Logan Roy was even on that jet. Oh, that’s right: He was flying to Sweden to smooth out the Waystar-GoJo deal with Matsson. And who was the first name that Karolina said they needed to contact? Oh yeah, that was Matsson as well. There was (still is?) a lot riding on that deal, which makes Matsson an impact player, even if only via FaceTime. The point that Matsson decides to appear in person to close the deal will make a huge difference in his ranking throughout the rest of the season, but just know this: Matsson will shift how this game is played, one way or another.
3. Tom Wambsgans
Just last week, Tom was essentially Logan’s right hand, trying his best to smooth out the troubles at ATN, bartering with Nan Pierce over the sale of PGM, and tagging along on last-minute, deal-closing trips to Sweden. This week, Tom is the messenger; his phone call (first to Shiv, before connecting with Roman) alerts the Roy children to their father’s predicament, and throughout the rest of the episode, he’s their main point of contact. Sure, that’s due to his proximity to Logan, but Tom’s entire angle has been to get as close to Logan as possible. Sometimes, that means being the bearer of bad news, and even if Tom’s bedside manner—like the majority of the Waystar inner circle—leaves a lot to be desired, Tom wins because he was there when it mattered most.
Then again, the reason Tom says this to Greg is because he knows that being with Logan when he died is now all he has. This could be the last time Tom finds himself so close to the top of the food chain. Tom’s entire M.O. has been getting close to Logan, and he was even willing to knife his own wife to accomplish that. Meanwhile, Cyd Peach was supposed to get canned on Sunday, but Logan’s heart gave out before that could happen. Tom could be standing atop Waystar, but he betrayed a lot of people to get there … and they haven’t forgotten. Even Tom’s relationship with his disgusting brother, Cousin Greg, feels more like a case of needing allies on your way to hell. Getting to the top of the mountain is tough; how Tom got there and how he intends to stay there are equally massive factors in his quest for power. Tom will need to make a truly interesting play to get majority numbers back on his side.
4. Kendall Roy
Picking which of the Roy children is currently most powerful is tough, primarily because all four feel ill-prepared for the enormous responsibility that Logan has dangled in front of them throughout this series. If someone looks like they should be in power, it’s Kendall Roy. At this point, he’s far removed from the inner circle. He’s there by blood, but the last thing anyone wants to do is something that Kendall told them to do. That said, he displays moments of true leadership, from putting his foot down on how things were to be worded in their official press statement to this gem toward the end of the episode, when Kendall correctly affirms the importance of the moment that the Roy children find themselves in.
Of the three siblings, Kendall is the first to recognize that their father’s death is both a threat and an opportunity. He has enough experience and wisdom to start maneuvering, and despite the many personalities he’s tried on since the end of Season 1, he’s always kept an eye on the Waystar crown. Does this mean he’s destined to be at the head of the company after the seven (!) remaining episodes? It’d make sense. Then again, if there’s one thing Kendall loves more than business, it’s self-sabotage.
5. Shiv Roy
Shiv spends most of the episode in wide-eyed shock, vacillating between disbelief, denial, and anger that her siblings didn’t loop her in sooner. She ends the episode in a car with her estranged husband, staring into the distance, perhaps wondering how she got to this place, and being consoled after the death of her father by the man who teamed up with him to betray her. But in terms of appearing powerful, Shiv excels beyond Kendall and Roman. One of her strong suits has always been public relations, and she becomes the face of the family during an impromptu press conference, delivering a powerful statement and freestyling a remark about the siblings’ intention to “be there” for the company while Kendall and Roman lurk in the background. She isn’t firmly the no. 1 Roy kid, but they’re now waging a war in the sphere of public opinion, and TV helps build narratives, right?
6. Roman Roy
Roman? Roman may be in a pickle. He is the sibling who was seemingly closest to Logan before his death, and Roman was given a direct order to fire Gerri during the episode’s cold open. Because Roman is Roman, he was out of sorts from then on, unsure of how to word the termination—and square it with the knowledge that it was definitely occurring because of his text indecencies—and he then lashed out at his father via voice mail before receiving the phone call that would change the rest of his life.
Did Roman succeed in firing Gerri? Not really; their conversation didn’t feel “final,” and Gerri quickly became part of the team that was charting a post-Logan plan of action. Did Roman fail at saying whatever Tom thought needed to be said in Logan’s ear during that ordeal? Definitely. He passed the phone to Kendall so he could think. Not being able to stick the landing and then immediately folding under pressure feels like two strikes; the dirt Gerri has on him could be strike three. Roman has proved that he might have the best instincts of all the Roy kids—if only, uh, everything else wasn’t so messed up.
7. Cousin Greg
Everything started out bad for Cousin Greg this week. After struggling to effectively and carefully kill Kerry’s dreams as an ATN anchor, he was officially “in the bad books” with Logan, according to Tom. That’s obviously alleviated by Logan’s death, but that event is potentially even more catastrophic: Greg is now as unprotected as Tom, and even more expendable.
It also doesn’t help that this disgusting brother is so lost in a sea of Tinder dates that he doesn’t even realize how his latest love interest, a journalist, is eyeing everything going on around him, desperate for a scoop on the Roys. (And the news about Logan does leak, though it’s never confirmed whether Greg is responsible for that.) Perhaps if Greg wasn’t so concerned about how many people Tom has “Gregging” for him, it would be easier for him to see that he’s constantly being played.
8. Connor Roy
Kudos to Connor for keeping it a buck at his own wedding after finding out that his dad died.
Connor’s blunt, but that’s because of the loveless life he’s lived. He knew his place and was content to take as much as he could from his father’s fortune without having to dip a toe into the corporate world. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to amass power, though; now that he’s officially a married man (congrats, Connor and Willa, on your quiet nuptials), he can really get his political career on the road. Sure, the United States would probably collapse under President Roy’s taxless reign, but for Connor, it’s more about having power, not what he could do with that power.
9. Willa Ferreyra
After Willa found her way back to Connor at the end of the last episode, it was good to see that their wedding happened, even amid such terrible news. What’s more interesting is that, by marrying into the Roy family, even at this dark time, Willa has gotten more powerful. She played her cards right and got her man—for money and security, but also for love it seems. Now, as we approach questions of inheritance and, you know, a presidential election, Willa may be in a position to wield her newly gained influence.
10. Gerri, Frank, and Karl
Is it wrong to lump these three together? Probably. They’re all individual players in this twisted game. That said, they all get only as much power as they are given. Sure, they put together the statement announcing Logan’s passing, but who delivered it to the public? Can they really wrestle Waystar away from the faces of the company? It certainly seems that they’re willing to at least put up a fight, and they do have the advantage of not having to suffer from decades of fatherly manipulation and torture—but do any of them actually matter? Do any of them have it? The better game may be wondering which one of these three will be the furthest ahead when all of this ends.
11. Colin Stiles
Colin has been by Logan’s side for the entire series. He knows where the Roy family skeletons are buried; in many cases, he dug the graves himself. He was the one Logan called his “best pal” during that intimate dinner in a diner away from Logan’s birthday party. He did not speak in this week’s episode, but he did not need to.
That’s the look of a man who not only lost his job and his friend, but his entire purpose. What will he do now that his old pal is gone? It’s hard to say, but it is important to remember that he’s now just one of three people besides Kendall who know what truly happened to the waiter at Shiv’s wedding.
12. Kerry Castellabate
“That was fucking crazy, right?” was the last thing I expected to come out of Kerry’s mouth just moments after Logan’s heart stopped beating. Even though she became a laughingstock because of her audition tape, her performance on that jet was somehow worse. What was that rush that she was feeling? Why did she keep making that dazed grin? Why did it look like, as Tom put it, she had just caught a “foul ball at Yankee Stadium”?
Maybe Kerry still has a card to play. Maybe she amassed some secrets as Logan’s last dalliance. But her inexplicable, off-putting reaction was that of someone who just watched the life drain out of the only reason they were even allowed to set foot in the Waystar Royco boardroom.