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. Roman Roy
The second episode of Succession’s final season doesn’t lend itself to an easy ranking. Nearly every character is anxious or upset, futilely grabbing for leverage (or a karaoke mic) or making decisions they don’t want to. Like us viewers, the major players in “Rehearsal” are bracing themselves for what comes next, whether it’s a fateful meeting about GoJo or a presidential election or a wedding involving a would-be runaway bride.
So, it’s only appropriate that the person who sits atop these rankings after Sunday is the person who least wants to be there. The parting shots of “Rehearsal” show Roman Roy at his most anguished. He’s torn between the rebel alliance he’s formed with his siblings and gaining the one thing he’s wanted most: approval from his father. (Or, failing that, he’d at least like to get everyone to stop “cornholing” Logan.) Roman is typically twisted in knots during the best of times. You can only imagine the feeling in the pit of his stomach here:
But despite this presumed inner turmoil, Roman’s suddenly the most important chess piece on the board. He holds a crucial vote in the looming (and currently delayed) decision on whether GoJo’s acquisition of Waystar goes through. And Logan, having conveniently forgotten about Season 3’s dick-pic mishap, is clear that he needs Roman to chart a path forward—with both Lukas Matsson and the new ATN. “Smart people know what they are,” he tells Roman in the closing seconds of “Rehearsal.” Is Roman the misunderstood misanthrope firing off warm birthday texts, or is he the ruthless fuck his dad is looking for? Whatever Roman finds when he looks within will go a long way toward deciding the end of Succession.
2. Tom Wambsgans
This is the first—and likely the last—time we’ll compare Twin Cities Tessie to HBO’s favorite mob boss, but Tom has taken the upper hand in his divorce by ripping a page from Tony Soprano’s playbook. Acting on advice from Logan, Tom has met with all of New York’s top divorce attorneys, creating conflicts of interest and making it impossible for Shiv to hire anyone. It’s the same thing Tony did to Carmela during their separation. But while Tony was doing it out of spite and control, Tom seems genuine in his pleas to settle things in an “amicable” way. “I see what your family can do in these situations,” he tells Shiv early in “Rehearsal.” Odds are, it’s worse than what Tony’s other family can do.
In their conversation, Shiv derides Tom as her dad’s “bitch boy.” But being Logan’s bitch boy is currently paying off. His chief ATN rival, Cyd, has seemingly been ousted. (More on that later.) And in offering Logan reasonably honest advice on Kerry’s audition tape—after taking the temperature and seeing that some honest advice was actually wanted—he’s become Logan’s favorite kind of yes-man, the kind who can voice no for him and clean up the mess. Tom may never be a Tony Soprano, but he’s proving to be a suitable capo. And as long as he’s by Logan’s side and the three kids aren’t, he’ll continue to get favored-son treatment.
3. Lukas Matsson
Under normal circumstances, the 4chan Swede would not only sit atop this list, he’d also buy out every other person on it and force them to go on a darkness retreat. But these are not normal circumstances. On the eve of the board vote, he’s up late, eating junk food in a stained tank top and threatening Kendall that he’ll walk from the deal. He’s no longer negotiating via eggplant. He’s doing it through FaceTime ultimatums. That’s either negotiating 101 or 102, depending on whether he really means it. My sense is that we’ll see some graduate-level coursework out of him before all is said and done.
4. Kendall Roy
Is it time to talk about Kendall’s demeanor this season? Since admitting to the Season 1 waiter, um, irresponsibleness and forging a nepo-triumvirate with Shiv and Roman, Ken seems infinitely lighter in spirit. He’s Buddha in Tom Fords, ordering bitters and soda, quoting Bruce Lee, and pitching that the new PGM focus on hardcore international news. (“Homework, the show,” his siblings call it. Bless Kendall’s Erewhon-eating heart, but PGM will need to go full Clockwork Orange in prime time.) This newfound spiritual clarity has also led to better business acumen. After Matsson’s coded, aggressive FaceTime, Ken is ready to cast his lot with his sister, Stewy, and the Sandies to push for a better deal on the GoJo sale. And after grandstanding to Logan in the karaoke room, he beams with “Some People Just Want to Watch the World Burn” zeal.
This is a different Kendall than the one we saw in Season 1, when he was making a move on Logan, or even early in Season 3, when he thought the cruise line papers would sink his father. He’s learned to keep one eye open, bro—as Kendall surely knows, sleep is the cousin of death. Hey, speaking of …
5. Cousin Greg
It’s hard to even be a cousin in this family. As Greg knows, it can get you taken apart like human string cheese. But as long as he remains in the inner sanctum—and Tom needs a lackey to do Logan’s bidding—Greg will continue to be assigned next-level tasks. This week, that involves delivering the news to Kerry that her audition tape didn’t score well with the focus group. (The group is essentially made up of Tom and an aggressively hands-off Logan, but that’s beside the point.) To paraphrase his performance review to Kerry, he’s doing good, but not too good. As long as he can keep that up, he’ll be able to overcome the sog factor that comes with hanging around the Roys for too long.
6. Logan Roy
Between all his terrifying moseying, Sunday’s episode marks a fascinating stretch for Logan. We see him at his pettiest, canceling his kids’ helicopter so that they can’t make his other kid’s wedding rehearsal. We see him worried about costs, fretting over air-conditioning bills and too much pizza. We see him roaring atop a makeshift platform of paper boxes, promising to cut the throats of the lily-livered opposition with something “so fucking spicy, and so fucking true.” And crucially, we see him gesturing at something that could pass for vulnerability, apologizing to his kids in a karaoke-room standoff. Logan is eager to get on with his post-Waystar life and build a faster, lighter, meaner, wilder ATN. But to do so, he needs to convince Kendall, Shiv, and Roman that they should vote for the GoJo deal as is and not push for an extra couple of hundred mil. He’s willing to say whatever’s necessary to make that happen—even if it includes the word sorry. And as he makes clear, he doesn’t do apologies.
Unfortunately for Logan, as Kendall points out, sometimes your greatest tormentor can be your most perceptive teacher. After Logan bursts into the karaoke room and his guns turn to sausages, Shiv and Ken begin parroting their dad’s words back to him: They want to make their own pile, they have to trust their guts, etc. The kids may not be serious people, but they clearly have some juice, as Logan reluctantly admits. Will an 11th-hour meeting with Matsson or overtures to Roman change that? Or will Logan’s greatest tormentors become his most perceptive teachers?
7. Shiv Roy
Since her husband is doing his best Tony Soprano impression, I’m reminded of a quote from the big man’s uncle: Some people are so far behind in a race, they think they’re actually leading. After getting news of Tom’s attorney-client conspiracy, Shiv suddenly becomes adamant that the siblings join Stewy and the Sandies and push Matsson back to the bargaining table. Shiv is steadfast in her conviction that it will work out. But as seemingly everyone reminds her, it’s a massive risk that threatens to fuck the GoJo deal. And no GoJo would mean no Pierce.
Shiv Roy hasn’t made a shot in her entire life and always wants the ball. She’s Carlton Banks rolled in flour and cinnamon.— myles brown (@mdotbrown) April 3, 2023
But while that last factor remains a consideration for everyone involved, only one person is conducting business in the midst of a divorce. Shiv, who’s long treated Tom as a puppy to kick to see whether he comes back, seems genuinely broken by the thought of losing him. (Yes, she initiated the split, but love knows no logic, especially when Shiv Roy is involved.) Shiv’s self-inflicted heartache leads to the episode’s most poignant juxtaposition: As she pensively looks at Tom’s contact on her iPhone, debating whether to reach out to the man she’s taken for granted for so long, the scene cuts to Connor sulking into his bedroom, broken himself, but grateful to find Willa in bed waiting for him.
Logan once told Shiv that she was marrying a man fathoms beneath her to avoid the risk of being betrayed. Now that that plan has blown up and her one true source of safety has disintegrated, Shiv has been left utterly unmoored.
8. Connor Roy
Connor finding Willa waiting for him is just about the only thing that goes well for him this week. By the time his half-siblings finally arrive at the rehearsal dinner post–helicopter snafu, Connor is sullen—a superhero whose power is surviving without love. His fiancée has absconded, becoming nothing more than a dot to track on his Maps app. And with his wedding very much in doubt, he wants to do normal-people things. That includes going to a bar with “chicks and guys who work with their hands and grease, and sweat from their hands, and have blood in their hair” (totally normal) and also maybe singing “Desperado” at an overpriced karaoke haunt (supreme sicko shit). Of course, when Connor finally gets to the mic, he opts not for the Eagles, but for a Leonard Cohen classic:
At the risk of reading too much into what’s possibly just a hilarious song choice for a pre-wedding karaoke party, “Famous Blue Raincoat” offers the potential for a lot of subtext. There’s the idea of the unfaithful lover who’s “nobody’s wife,” the bitter-cold New York streets the narrator works, granting forgiveness in the wake of ultimate betrayals. But one line in the song’s closing verse is particularly worth focusing on: “And what can I tell you my brother, my killer?”
We know that Logan has long pushed for one of Connor’s brothers to be a proverbial killer. Could it be that the real killer is the one set to skip Connor’s wedding for a meeting with Dad and a Swede?
9. Willa Ferreyra
It’s either the episode’s most self-aware line or its least: “I’m not vital from here,” Willa says to her future in-laws before she exits her rehearsal dinner to go for a little drink. If she was ever going to escape her reluctant engagement—the golden handcuffs of marrying into the Roy family—this was the time. But somewhere between the aquarium supply retailer and the jaunt over the Williamsburg Bridge, she decided to go through with it. Maybe it’s because her husband-to-be is a mostly decent man, or maybe it’s for the snowmobile and teeth-whitening vouchers, but the next time she rests her head, it’ll be as Mrs. Connor Roy. We think.
10. This Person Who Won’t Let the Kids on the Helicopter
Sometimes helicopters feel more integral to the plot of this show than they were in Black Hawk Down.
11. Kerry Castellabate
It can be damaging to put talent out there too early. That can clearly be said of Kerry’s on-camera work—but also of her attempts to cash her chips in this early. After months of plotting and working her way into Logan’s trust circle by, well, attending to his needs, Kerry’s decided she wants to be an ATN anchor. But as everyone—including a cackling Hugo—finds out, her arms and sudden smiles are a little “un-TV.” She gets word of this via Greg, and the news hits like severe stunderstorms in Pennsylvania and the Carolinas. Worst of all, she can’t complain to Logan, who makes it clear that he’s staying all the way out of this. (We presume his lawyers have taught him well.) It’s an embarrassing way to pop her betrayal cherry, but hang around Logan enough and it’s bound to happen one way or another. Better this way than …
12. Gerri Kellman
The interim CEO of Waystar Royco gets limited screen time in “Rehearsal,” and she’ll likely get even less next week (unless she gets fitted for her Viking hat early). When Logan decides he needs to make that last-ditch visit to Matsson, he calls the closest thing he has to an A-team: Karl, Frank, Tom, Kerry, and absolutely no Gerri. With Roman presumably joining the mission, you’d have to think that the errant dick pic still looms large in Logan’s mind. (Maybe his lawyers haven’t taught him that well after all.)
13. Cyd Peach
But at least Gerri still has a job. If we’re to take Logan at his word, Cyd is toast. Whether it was the 40 percent year-over-year increase in costs or the ball sack with a toupee that flooded Logan’s airwaves last week, it had become clear that Cyd’s way of doing things wasn’t working any longer. But instead of crying over the loss, let’s celebrate some of her finer moments, like when she asked Greg whether his duties included milking Tom:
succession season 2 greg hirsch cyd peach tom wambsgans cyd asks greg “what does mean being executive assistant to tom?”/“I perform a variety of target oriented tasks, keep close to the deal flow…”/“so kind of like a farmhand? clip his coat? do you have to milk him?” pic.twitter.com/FEZhtfvZ9E— tomgreg reactions & clips (@tomgregreact) February 9, 2023
Or when she called Tom a latte-sipping douchebag with a $100 haircut to his face:
succession scene cyd peach calls tom wambsgans “a latte-sipping douchebag with 100 dollar haircut” pic.twitter.com/jVOoMvojlS— succession clips and reaction videos (@successionreact) November 3, 2020
Or the time she break-danced through gunfire in “Safe Room,” much to her social secretary’s chagrin:
i fucking love tom's obsession with cyd peach, "who else is in that safe room shiv, IS CYD IN THERE??" pic.twitter.com/QsyZKbx21Y— mal • succession spoilers (@britellbitch) March 9, 2023
Or her gentle offer to Tom the morning after the Boar on the Floor incident:
For the sake of all the Peachgans shippers out there, let’s hope this isn’t the end of the ATN road for everyone’s favorite fictional right-wing media mogul. But should it be, at least she won’t have to worry about staying late during opera season anymore.
14. The Clock-Watching Fucks Just Doing Their Jobs
It’s like Jaws if Jaws suddenly found himself semiretired and started accusing the fish of quiet quitting.
Hit man Santa Claus has a list, and it starts with whoever ordered that fresh round of pizza.