clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

‘Succession’ Season 4 Power Rankings: A Night of Good TV

It’s election night, and the fate of every character (and, you know, the entire country) is on the line

HBO/Getty Images/Ringer illustration

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. Kendall Roy

Kendall’s almost there. He’s no. 1 this week, and after striking a deal that might lead to the blocking of GoJo’s acquisition of Waystar, he could potentially stay in this spot for the rest of the series. Then again, he could just as easily find himself in the abyss two episodes from now. Kendall’s indecision during the hottest moments of election night—in which Roman railroaded him into supporting a possible neo-Nazi and Shiv nearly tricked him into acting on his conscience—may be exactly what his father saw as his major flaw. One week after Ken’s “one head, one crown” posturing, it was that easy for people to push him around when the temperature got turned up.

Throughout election night, Kendall tried to play as Logan Roy—the last voice, the main decision-maker, the one always a few steps ahead. The problem? Kendall isn’t Logan. Logan may have been on the wrong side of situations, morally and ethically speaking, but at least he always picked a side. Kendall, on the other hand, hemmed and hawed while others took the wheel. He spent the night understanding, and even agreeing with, everything Shiv was saying regarding the Democratic candidate, Daniel Jimenez, and what Jeryd Mencken could do to the country if he won, yet Kendall could only mumble while Roman was giving ATN anchors anti-Dem talking points. Stuck between his professional interests (Mencken promising to block the GoJo deal) and his personal interests (being a good dad), he ultimately decided to do nothing. It wasn’t until Kendall realized that Shiv had lied to him—about calling Nate and about her backroom deal with Lukas Matsson—that he snapped into action, making the decision for ATN to declare Mencken the winner. Not because it was the right move, mind you, but because Kendall wanted to get back at his sister. Kendall voted with his heart, not his head, something Logan would never do.

None of this may matter in the long run. Maybe Mencken will secure Waystar for Kendall and Roman, and Kendall will learn how to forgo his emotions in the boardroom. (Hell, with the way Kendall’s treating his daughter, Sophie, he’s more like his father than we thought!) But it’s probably not a good sign that Ken completely folded in his first high-pressure scenario in the top role.

2. Roman Roy

Roman was a man determined on election night. I can’t remember if he even ever sat down—if he wasn’t walking off to talk strategy with Team Mencken, he was feeding talking points to ATN anchors or coaxing the decision desk to call the race entirely. He’s still burning off the chaotic, “pre-grieved” energy that led to him frantically firing Joy Palmer and Gerri a couple of episodes ago, and the power vacuum that arose in “America Decides” turned out to be the perfect outlet for that. Roman was the puppet master, pulling all of the right strings to secure a victory for a man who, by many accounts, will destroy America as they know it.

No. 2 could be no. 1 this week, except for one thing: Roman can’t actually push the button himself. He still needs Ken to cosign this path of destruction. Steak was on the menu on election night, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop serving chicken any time soon.

3. Jeryd Mencken

When we first saw him in this episode, he was telling Roman that he was “focused on losing,” and he wanted to make sure that if he didn’t pull this one out, his campaign would be characterized favorably. Some ballot-destroying arson, a ticking clock, and ATN’s media maneuvering gave Mencken a foundation to claim the victory, but it was Mencken’s promise to Roman that he would not let the Waystar-GoJo deal go through that put the gas in the engine. And while a Logan (or a Kendall Logan) Roy must have a Mencken in a power position to push their shady deals through, someone like Mencken needs a Logan (or a Kendall Logan) Roy to get them into a pole position.

4. Lukas Matsson

Matsson didn’t do much this week, but in many ways, the election—or at least the backroom bartering over it—was really about him. If Jimenez won, Kendall and Roman thought he’d let Matsson’s acquisition of Waystar Royco go through without a hitch. Mencken won Roman over by directly promising that he’d kill the deal if he was made president. That’s a lot of power for someone who couldn’t even vote in said election!

All in all, though, the election may turn out to be a lose-lose situation for Matsson: If Mencken does indeed win, the deal gets blocked, and if Jimenez wins, then Matsson just bought a global news network that has lost all legitimacy because it partisanly attempted to subvert a presidential election. And, oh yeah, Matsson still needs to figure out how to let everyone know that, in fact, there are not two Indias, and his numbers in that country are totally bogus …

5. Tom Wambsgans

By the end of the night, Tom’s face is plastered on every news network not named ATN due to his “premature projection” of the election results. That said? Tom was at his most powerful, his highest (or at least most frazzled; thanks, cocaine), and his coldest on election night. Fretting over touch screens and bodega sushi is one thing; Tom had the power of the media in the palm of his hand (sometimes literally) during a presidential election. Being ATN’s chairman of global broadcast news, Tom had the power to cause unrest on the other side of the globe—it’s no wonder he had to have Greg Gregging for him. Sure, all of the decisions Tom “made” were decisions that the people above him on this list ordered him to make, and sure, the legality of some of those decisions will definitely be questioned in the coming weeks. But hey, at least Tom—who may now have new allies in Kendall and Roman by virtue of not being on Shiv’s side—is in the ring.

6. Shiv Roy

For a while, it looked like Shiv could do it. Rome was racking up steps all over ATN, opening up an opportunity for Shiv to convince Kendall to save democracy (and thus the GoJo deal). Where did Shiv fuck up? It was her lies: Shiv told Kendall that she had a conversation with Nate, and when Kendall tried to piggyback off of that conversation, he realized that not only did she not make the call, but she has also been covertly working with Matsson. She’s always trying to keep her options open, but doing so pushed Kendall into the arms of Roman (and maybe fascism).

That said, Shiv does have a line to Matsson and was seen speaking with him while leaving the ATN offices at the end of the episode. Plays could still be made—think about all the dirt she has on both of her brothers. And if Lukas does end up successfully purchasing Waystar, Shiv would be the lone Roy child on top … right?

7. Cousin Greg

Don’t get it twisted: Even if Greg has a number of obstacles facing him on his journey to the top of Waystar Royco, election night may have been one of the most important strategic events of his tenure as a corporate striver. (Even if you acknowledge the error of pouring lemon seltzer onto the face of a man who rubbed wasabi in his eyes.) Still buzzing after a night of partying with Matsson and his cronies, Greg informs Tom early on that he knows that Lukas and Shiv are getting close. Tom drops a great piece of advice on Greg, telling him to hold on to any information he has until the time is right to strike. Soon after, during an aside where Greg straight up asks Shiv what she can do for him if he keeps quiet about what he knows, Shiv decides to turn Greg away with a couple of threats related to his internal organs. So, who was there feeding Kendall the news about Shiv’s unholy alliance? Cousin Greg, a man destined for … something.

8. The ATN Touch Screen(s)

Equipment malfunctions of any kind during a live broadcast can be frustrating, especially if you’ve just snorted some cocaine during your first time overseeing an election-night broadcast.

Screenshot via HBO

It’s always fun to see how much mayhem can occur when one piece of tech stops working.

9. Connor Roy

Poor Connor. The eldest of the Roy children has not only been interested in politics since he was young, but he’s also been fighting tooth and nail for this election, even when his decision to persist perplexes his family and peers. Even with ATN at Connor’s campaign headquarters capturing footage, there was no actual discussion about his campaign on ATN that night, and any hope of a Connor Roy upset was quickly extinguished when those Kentucky numbers came in around 7 p.m. Eastern. He did ultimately swing a deal with Mencken to become the ambassador to Slovenia—but lunch in Vienna and dinner in Venice might already be off the table after Connor started freestyling for the Conheads during his concession speech. Connor may make it to Dubrovnik for breakfast, but possibly just as a billionaire tourist.

10. Decision Desk Darwin

It was great to see one of the few actual analysts/journalists at ATN: some guy named Darwin, who seems to really like elections. His presence helped highlight how the electoral sausage is made on election-night broadcasts, but it also gave us a great display of the power structure at ATN.

In a scene where Roman gathers the ATN brain trust to discuss calling Wisconsin for Mencken, Darwin, representing the ATN decision desk, explains the absolute danger of prematurely handing electoral votes to a candidate. He swiftly loses that argument, though, as it quickly becomes clear that it’s not the experts who decide—it’s the guys who sign the experts’ checks. “Dar” doesn’t even get to go on air, as promised, to explain the caveats related to the “pending call” on Wisconsin. All he gets is an eye full of Greg’s wasabi.