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Does Cousin Greg Have More Moves to Make in the ‘Succession’ Series Finale?

Greg the Egg started Season 4 on the sidelines, but his recent scheming helped swing the election. Can he keep climbing higher—and sinking lower—in Sunday’s series ender?

HBO/Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Gregory Hirsch, a.k.a. Cousin Greg, has had quite the come-up on Succession since he started out vomiting through the eyes of a Waystar Royco theme park mascot costume. Now, almost four seasons later, the self-proclaimed “Disgusting Brother” is rubbing shoulders with Swedish tech billionaires and presumptive American presidents (however unwillingly, at times, on the billionaires’ and presumptive presidents’ part).

The once far-removed Roy family cousin became a fan favorite on the HBO series thanks to series creator Jesse Armstrong’s sharp comedic writing, Greg’s affable behavior, and of course, Nicholas Braun’s breakout performance. Although Greg has retained many of the qualities that made him so endearing in the first place, it’s been a somewhat underwhelming season for the series regular. For much of Succession’s fourth and final season, Greg—and by extension, Braun—took a back seat in terms of propelling the plot. In some ways, it seemed like Braun’s character had reverted back to his role in Season 1, when Greg had very little influence on the main narrative, was primarily used as comic relief in the form of a human punching bag, and functioned as a fish-out-of-water stand-in for the audience.

Many of Greg’s scenes in the first several episodes of Season 4 emphasized that he’s still the laughingstock of the family despite his rank-climbing over the previous three seasons. Logan roasts the hell out of him in the premiere, the siblings push him around in scene after scene, and even Oskar—Lukas Matsson’s right-hand man—gets in on the action, hilariously calling him “a fuckin’ dingleberry.” It’s abundantly clear that no one takes Greg seriously or views him as any sort of threat. While those moments served a comedic purpose and much of the disdain toward Greg was warranted, it was still jarring to watch a character who seemed primed to take the next step as a power player turning back into the jokey cousin once again.

Meanwhile, Greg’s overall likability plummeted because of how cruel some of his actions were, which made it nearly impossible to root for him and feel good about it. Here’s a brief summary of his early Season 4 résumé: He mocked a visibly distraught Kerry at Logan’s wake, aggressively coerced an audio engineer into doctoring a video of Logan for the Living+ launch, and laid off hundreds of Waystar employees and then bragged about it. It’s not that Greg has ever been a paragon of morality, but at least many of his past transgressions came at the expense of people who are objectively terrible human beings.

At the beginning of the series, Greg was often deeply uncomfortable with the deceptive and cutthroat nature of his uncle’s side of the family. Over time he became increasingly willing to compromise his integrity to cover his back and gain a political edge, but throughout his forays into deceit and treachery, of which there were many (destruction of evidence, perjury, suing Greenpeace), there still remained a palpable sense of uncertainty and remorse. Remember when Greg had principles? No more. Greg the Egg has fully adopted the Roys’ self-serving, heinous way of life.

None of this is to say that Armstrong’s use of Greg early this season wasn’t effective. Greg was still gifted with the best one-liners in the script, and his always-awkward line deliveries, along with his love-hate relationship with Tom, remained among the funniest parts of the show. His reduced role felt like an attempt to disabuse viewers of the notion that Greg is immune from the moral corruption of the lifestyle he’s pursued.

Even so, it’s hard not to have higher expectations for a character when their final line of the preceding season is, “What am I going to do with a soul anyways?” That chilling question implied that anything could be possible with Greg, which prepared fans for him to do something unthinkable. For most of this season, Greg’s relegation to the sidelines appeared to preclude the possibility that he might play a central role in the endgame. However, the momentum swung back in Greg’s favor in Episodes 8 and 9—“America Decides” and “Church and State”—creating the potential for an even greater impact in the series finale.

About five minutes into Succession’s election episode, Greg tells Tom that during an all-night bender with Matsson, he uncovered that the Gojo boss has been secretly working with Shiv. In just one night, Greg was able to go from being mistakenly addressed as “Gary” to gaining enough trust to extract this highly significant information. I guess it helps when you’re willing to dance with an old man who didn’t want to dance, and drink things that aren’t normally drinks.

“Information, Greg—it’s like a bottle of fine wine,” Tom leans in and whispers. “You store it, you hoard it, you save it for a special occasion, and then you smash someone’s fucking face in with it.”

Fast forward to when Shiv gets wind of Greg’s discovery and threatens him to keep quiet. “I’m just letting you know, if you try to fuck me, I’ll kill you,” she explains. Greg’s been around her long enough to know when she’s all bark and no bite, and because of the position of power he finds himself in, he shrugs off her threat and fires back with a request of his own: “You know, silence is golden. Like, how golden?” Greg smells blood in the water, takes Tom’s earlier advice, and goes in for the kill. Later in the episode, when Kendall suspects Shiv of turning on him and Roman, Greg’s there to confirm that she’s been working with Matsson behind their backs.

His move not only fractures the already-fraught partnership among the three Roy siblings (long live “The Quad Squad”), it also sways Ken—who was on the fence for much of the episode—to side with his brother and swing the election toward fascistic candidate Jeryd Mencken, with Greg himself delivering the call. Greg’s well-timed bid for the CE-bros’ favor effectively broke up the Roy alliance, flipped the board on Matsson (temporarily, at least), and anointed a dangerous new president, making it one of Succession’s most impactful maneuvers. Who knows? Maybe this all could have been avoided if Shiv had simply paid Greg back his $20.

Greg takes the opposite approach in the penultimate episode, bolstering his big swing with a handful of subtle-yet-strategic moves. First, he gets permission from Tom to leave early for Logan’s funeral. Because Tom is swamped with post-election coverage, he’s unable to attend and perform his duties as a “casket wheelman,” so Greg steps in for him in an effort to save face with Shiv and get closer to Matsson. He’s greeted by the Swede with a playful “Hey, sexy,” which is certainly an upgrade from being called Gary just a few nights before. And even though Greg fails to prevent his grandfather from reaching the lectern, as Roman had requested, he still gets face time with the apparent president-elect, Mencken, somehow weaseling his way into a conversation, shaking Mencken’s hand, and boasting about being on the crowning committee that made the ATN call.

Greg’s recent chess moves aren’t uncharted territory for him. During his time at Waystar, he’s developed a knack for keeping unwanted attention at bay while using his unassuming demeanor to disarm and manipulate those around him.

Greg’s first major betrayal comes in the Season 1 finale, when he reveals to Ken that he made copies of damning cruise line documents that Tom explicitly asked him to destroy. The “little Machiavellian fuck” suggests that he would trade access to the documents for Ken keeping him around in a more prominent role. Season 2 sees Greg learn to lie and scheme with the worst of them. He’s willing to get his hands dirty and double cross anyone and everyone—most notably his no. 1 confidant, Tom—if it suits his self-interest. With the cruise line scandal coming to a head and Greg (ironically) no longer wanting to be involved with ATN, he “blackmails” Tom to send him to another department using the incriminating copies as leverage. By the end of the season, he’s completely jumped ship (pun intended) and joined team Kendall, providing Ken with the records that prove Logan’s complicity in the misdeeds that took place within Waystar’s cruise division. At every turn, Greg becomes more and more beholden to his worst impulses.

Maybe his biggest move is yet to come: We may not have seen the last of Greg’s ascent of the Waystar food chain. Toward the end of Episode 9, Shiv and Matsson float the idea of installing an American Waystar CEO to gain favor with Mencken and keep him from blocking the GoJo deal. The episode closes with a phone call between Shiv and Matsson, in which the latter implies that Mencken is on board with that plan. “I think I could make a U.S. CEO work,” Matsson says. Curiously, he doesn’t mention one by name and doesn’t quite confirm that Shiv is his choice. “He’s 100 percent using her,” Alexander Skarsgard said about Matsson’s relationship with Shiv after Episode 7.

Could Gregory Hirsch be the American CEO Matsson has in mind? I’m not saying it’s likely, but I’m also not saying it’s unlikely. Cousin Greg’s character arc has been equal parts entertaining and reprehensible. He epitomizes the way corporate greed can warp one’s personal values, while also being a bumbling fool who’s way out of his depth. He’s a walking contradiction, which makes him a dynamic character. And he’ll go down as one of prestige TV’s most fascinating figures, whether the finale fully rewards his ambitions or not.