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. The Waystar Royco Shareholders
The fundamental premise of “Living+” is that Kendall Roy is taking an enormous gamble: He’s pitching a product most would agree is unnecessary at best, and straight-up fraudulent at worst, with the hopes of driving up Waystar’s stock and pricing out Lukas Matsson. Is it objectively a good idea to promise customers eternal life? Definitely not. Could the pitch create the effect Kendall wants? So far, signs miraculously point to … yes? This is a striking contrast that makes it difficult to determine which of these two CEOs—er, co-CEO, in Kendall’s case—is really in control. And the deciding factors in that increasingly complicated question are the Waystar shareholders.
There’s no denying the flawed logic in Kendall’s Living+ presentation, but, as he pointed out in perhaps the most astute observation he’s ever made, logic doesn’t matter in the world of tech product launches—only vibes. “It’s enough to make you lose your faith in capitalism,” Kendall chuckles to Roman after telling him he’s inflated Living+ projections in Colorado. “You could say anything.” (Kendall has clearly been watching “rise and fall” documentaries about Theranos and stopping during the “rise” part.) In any case, Kendall manages to overcome a shaky start to his Living+ demo and walks back into the Waystar war room with news of the company’s “meme stock frothing” and “positive snaps” coming from Bloomberg.
The question now is: Will it blow up? Regardless of what this episode wants you to think, it’s hard not to imagine such a ludicrous scheme backfiring in spectacular fashion. Kendall may have briefly put Matsson and GoJo in check, but ultimately, Waystar’s fate is in the hands of the public markets.
2. Logan Roy
Last week, we officially removed the Roy patriarch from our power rankings for the first time, but this week, he’s going right back in for the same reason he remained after Episodes 3 and 4: the sheer influence this man wields, even from the afterlife.
Not only did Logan cause chaos with his underlining (or crossing-out?!) of Kendall’s name on a random piece of paper, but he also clearly has a hold on the way Kendall and Roman govern Waystar. Just look at Roman firing studio executive Joy Palmer, and then Gerri (!), for essentially questioning whether he’s as good of a businessman as his father. And when Roman informs Kendall of those moves, the co-CEO reassures his brother by telling him to just think about these things like their father would:
Logan still even has a pull on the investors at large: At the Living+ unveiling, the (sound-edited) video footage of him saying that the product could “double the earnings of the parks division” seems to be the seal of approval that gets the markets moving in the right direction.
The lingering dilemma in Succession is whether the Roy children, and even Logan’s sycophants, can break out of the boss man’s shadow. But six episodes into the show’s final season and three episodes after his death, Logan practically feels just as alive and crucial to the negotiation process as he ever was.
3. Kendall Roy
Even if we can’t yet declare Kendall a winner after his daring (and possibly illegal) maneuver to keep Waystar under family control, it’s fair to give the no. 1 boy some credit for such an audacious Hail Mary. The bottom line is that the stock-jump ploy was his idea, and he had the balls to get onstage and sell the vision—even as his brother/flight jacket buddy took obvious steps to distance himself from the presentation. Kendall is nominally the co-CEO of Waystar, but he’s decidedly in the driver’s seat and taking meaningful action—for better or for worse—while a previously “pre-grieved” Roman is spiraling and firing people over petty grievances. Kendall’s show of power is a bit flimsy at times—that’s how you end up with a half-finished off-Broadway set for your company-defining investor day—but I guess people are still following him when he declares, “Here’s the rule. OK? No one can say no.”
Enjoy the swim in the Pacific, Kendall. It’s definitely your finest aquatic moment since Shiv’s wedding and that pool in Tuscany.
4. Lukas Matsson
Matsson sits just below Kendall for now since, as far as we know, Kendall appears to have gotten the better of him. But come on now, let’s be real: There’s no way that will last, right? Matsson already outmaneuvered the CE-bros in Norway with an offer they couldn’t refuse, and he appears to have a thing or two in his back pocket—including Shiv, who provides a vital line of insight into the inner workings of Waystar. And while Matsson rightly gets criticized for his problematic tweet during Kendall’s presentation, I’m inclined to believe the Swede when he says that he knows what he’s doing. Is it a reach to think that his tweet was the only thing stopping Waystar’s share price from jumping that high and putting the deal in jeopardy? I’m not so sure!
5. Shiv Roy
Just as Matsson is using Shiv for his best interests, Shiv is doing the same with Matsson. A symbiotic relationship is forming before our eyes, and it might just be the partnership that puts Shiv near the top of these rankings when it’s all said and done. Yes, Shiv is still, at times, being marginalized by Kendall and Roman; yes, Shiv is “scheduling [her] grief” by booking boardrooms to cry in; and yes, Shiv is once again playing “bitey” with the man she plans to divorce—while still withholding the news of her pregnancy. But despite these problems, at the moment, Shiv is the smartest and most competent Roy sibling. She’s operating like a double agent between Matsson and her brothers, “keeping her options open,” as Tom puts it, for whenever the time comes to choose a side. She can puppet Roman by convincing him to drop out of Kendall’s Living+ presentation, just as she can puppet Matsson by telling him to “put a stick in the spokes” of Kendall’s “bullshit unicycle.” These things may not have gone exactly to plan, but Shiv should take solace in the fact that she was able to make them happen in the first place.
6. Tom Wambsgans
Speaking of Shiv and Matsson, how exactly did Tom end up in the room as his wife and the Swede discussed potentially sabotaging Kendall’s plan?
Between a spontaneous kiss in Shiv’s designated crying boardroom, the aforementioned biting game in the middle of a swanky cocktail party, and the frank discussions on the significance of money in their marriage, Tom and Shiv unexpectedly reignited their intimacy in “Living+.” It’s not yet clear what that means for the future of their relationship, but if Tom is sitting in on these formerly secret exchanges between Shiv and Matsson, he might have finally weaseled himself back into a position of semi-importance. We already know Tom isn’t on GoJo’s kill list. This is a development that could bode even better for the social-climbing Midwesterner.
7. Karl Muller
Who knew Karl had a little fight in him? Succession has spent so much time portraying the Waystar pawns as bootlicking minions that it’s a bit jarring to see the CFO threaten Kendall ahead of the investor presentation. Karl knows Kendall’s projections for Living+ are wildly exaggerated, and the company vet doesn’t want his good name tarnished if (when?) the plan falls apart. When Kendall reminds his CFO that he is, in fact, a CFO speaking to a CEO, Karl confidently replies: “You have my dick in your hand, Ken, but I’ve got yours in mine.” After Karl threatens to “fucking squeal” to the press if Kendall cites unrealistic numbers, the latter concludes the event by simply saying, “Detailed financials I will leave to Karl Muller, our legendary CFO.”
Ironically, Karl is one of the first to congratulate his boss on his well-received speech, even if Kendall does have AI Logan say the whole “double our earnings” thing. But that’s an issue for another time. For now, Waystar’s stock is rising, and the prospects of Karl’s private Greek island are still looking good.
8. Roman Roy
Roman should be last on this list based on his personal satisfaction in “Living+,” but this is a power ranking, and Roman does casually fire two high-ranking senior executives in the blink of an eye. He does have power; he’s just awful at wielding it, to the extent that he’s immediately running back to his older brother and asking whether they should reverse those terminations. Throughout the episode, Roman comes off as a petulant, jealous, and insecure leader—all great qualities to have as a chief executive. In actuality, when Gerri describes him as a “weak monarch,” she couldn’t be more correct: Roman is fumbling the opportunities he has to rule and is then letting his brother get all the credit. No wonder Rome’s down bad by the end of the episode, repeatedly listening to a voice-edited Logan say that his youngest son’s got a micropenis: Roman yearns for the simpler days when his father was around to say such things to his face.
9. Cousin Greg
Greg’s bossing-around of that poor video editor was not very convincing, but I suppose it was effective. That’s more than we can say of Roman.
This is the face of a man who understands that he will likely be charged by the SEC for securities fraud.
11. Gerri Kellman
Do we really believe Gerri is actually gone? I’ll go out on a limb and say no, she probably isn’t. Don’t forget she’s got dirt on Roman for the whole dick pic fiasco and probably so many other things from her decades at Waystar. And she’s Shiv’s godmother! And, she’s like, uh, an actual attorney who is specifically equipped to deal with corporate law. Expect Gerri to return with a vengeance and climb these rankings in due time.
12. Joy Palmer
On the other hand, Joy Palmer—yeah, we ain’t ever seeing her again.