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What Will Happen If Logan Roy Dies?

Let’s put it this way: Waystar Royco would not be the first corporation to be thrown into chaos by the death of its founder

HBO/Ringer illustration

With apologies to Tom Wambsgans, ever since the Waystar cruise line malpractice and subsequent cover-up was introduced early in Succession’s first season, the other shoe—i.e., some type of public reckoning—was always destined to drop. That the cruise line fiasco finally bubbled its way to the surface on Sunday night, just as Logan was trying to finalize a deal to acquire Pierce, is a quintessentially tragicomic Succession twist, one that now forces Waystar to find a new lifeline in the face of Sandy and Stewy’s attempted corporate takeover. But bringing up cruises at an inopportune time for the Roys isn’t an attempt to break new storytelling ground—it’s just a helpful reminder that every detail matters, and that every setup has a payoff. For instance: We almost definitely haven’t heard the last of Kendall’s Chappaquiddick-like incident from last season’s finale, either.

But from a narrative perspective, a more pressing matter has largely fallen out of focus this season: Logan Roy’s health. His brain hemorrhage was the inciting incident of the series—a moment that saw his children (sometimes literally) wrestle for power and Waystar go into full-blown panic mode. As Kendall laid out in the beautifully titled second episode, “Shit Show at the Fuck Factory,” once Logan is rushed to the hospital: “The socioeconomic health of multiple continents is dependent on his well-being.” That’s overly dramatic, sure, but Disney would probably go into a similar tailspin if, heaven forbid, something serious happened to Bob Iger.

The running joke of the hospitalization episode was that, despite the Roy kids’ repeated assurances that their father’s health was the foremost thing on their minds, the question of who would succeed Logan if he were to die was all anybody could talk about. (Tom also thought it’d be the perfect time to propose to Shiv, because he’s nothing if not completely daft and misguidedly romantic.) Though Kendall ultimately agreed to take over with Roman as his COO, the euphoria was immediately hamstrung by the reveal that the company was roughly $3 billion in debt—and, you know, their dad was still on the brink of death, not the best mood-setter. In any event, the actual succession scenario ended up being temporary. Logan came back—earlier than he probably should’ve, considering he urinated in Kendall’s office—and Waystar returned to its morally dubious status quo.

As Logan has slowly but surely regained his strength, the specter of his physical and mental state has receded. Instead, he’s been operating closer to his peak awfulness, a state that’s provided us with one of this season’s biggest highlights—Boar on the Floor, a ludicrous display of Logan’s power and the ways he loves to humiliate people with it. Rewatch the scene and tell me he’s not absolutely Feeling Himself:

But no matter what he believes, Logan is not an indestructible force—and the cracks have begun to show once again. Before Logan forces Tom, Cousin Greg, and Karl to grovel for sausages in Hungary, his doctor briefly expresses concern about his chest pain and his general overexertion. (Logan, staying on brand, tells the doctor to fuck off.) And in “Argestes,” Logan appears discombobulated before a meeting with Rhea Jarrell and Nan Pierce, and later, not long after the cruise line exposé drops, he vomits in a restaurant full of people.

Now, people puke for non-life-threatening reasons all the time—and as Kendall and several others point out, Logan could have just been suffering from altitude sickness. Whether the incident was stress-induced, altitude-related, or something more indicative of Logan’s deteriorating condition is, at this point in the season, entirely speculative. But his health will be a recurring theme: This show is titled Succession for a reason. You have to figure that at some point in the show’s run, Logan will kick the bucket—and the ensuing fracas over who assumes control of the Waystar empire won’t be unlike last season, when his children and corporate underlings jockeyed for power in that hospital.

If it were to happen in the show’s immediate future, who would stand the best chance of taking over? Technically, Gerri is in line to run the company via official paperwork, but Logan has repeatedly undermined that legitimacy by insisting she’s a stopgap until he chooses a real successor. But if Logan were to die before he felt comfortable formally picking one of his children—even though Shiv is obviously the only capable Roy!—Gerri would suddenly wield more power than anyone in the show. Roman floats the idea that he and Gerri form their own alliance with his father’s health in mind—he thinks they complement each other’s strengths; that is, [clears throat] when he’s not masturbating in her bathroom. Though Gerri and Roman seem to have one of the show’s only genuine bonds, Roman’s decision to ally with her is a strategic move as much as a sentimental one—if and when the day comes that everyone in Logan’s orbit is reduced to fighting for a chance to sit on the throne.

Elsewhere, even if Logan were to die, that wouldn’t necessarily mean poor Kendall would be freed from his subservient hellscape. Sketchy security dudes aside, Logan isn’t the only key player who knows about his son’s indiscretion in the English countryside: Marcia is also in the loop, along with her little-seen son. Marcia’s true motives remain one of Succession’s biggest X factors—especially after she displayed some animosity toward her husband in “Tern Haven.” If she were as interested in Waystar and its riches as everyone else, she would have the ammo to ensure Kendall stays by her side, if only as a means of self-preservation.

As for Shiv? It’d make sense for her to ally with Tom—even though he’s a doof, he’s still a man on the inside running one of Waystar’s biggest divisions while she hangs around the fringes. The closer she’s able to get into Logan’s inner circle, the better it would be for her in the event of his sudden passing. No one else is worth considering as a legit contender. As I put down my glass of hyperdecanted wine, I also refuse to give serious thought to Connor (the White House awaits!), and the only future I want for dear Frank is as the host of an NPR show with listeners who will appreciate all of his Shakespeare references.

The day that Waystar does fall into someone else’s hands—and it will happen, provided Succession doesn’t jump into some weird Peter Thiel wormhole in which Logan tries to cheat death with the blood of able-bodied youths—will be an inflection point for the company’s long-term future. The real-life precedent for businesses that lose their founders is pretty grim: At the very least, Waystar should expect a dip in sales and some layoffs. (And unsurprisingly, the Roys would not be the first billionaire siblings to turn against one another after their father’s death.) But it’s not like Logan has been a model of consistency since the start of the series: His biggest executive decisions have been to invest in local papers and attempt to acquire a rival media conglomerate for the delicate price of $25 billion. He also approved of gutting the digital media site Vaulter, which seemed predicated less on what they could provide and more about rubbing it in Kendall’s face as punishment for trying to betray him (again!).

It might be a little macabre to consider all the possibilities around someone dying, but (a) Logan is a fictional character and (b) he’s so goddamn evil I may be rooting for it. His health is one of the biggest cards Succession still holds in its sleeve: a moment that could hang over the series for the next couple of episodes, or possibly seasons. When it does happen, though, Logan’s death will be a double-edged sword—not just for Waystar’s future, but his children and closest corporate confidants. Things will get messy, and trying to guess who’ll take the Waystar reins is about as useless as the time we all tried to predict who’d sit on the Iron Throne. (Wait, is Connor the show’s equivalent to Bran?!) That is, if there even is a company to take over when that day comes. Really, with so much uncertainty, there’s only one prediction I feel confident making: Logan Roy’s inevitable funeral episode will be an all-timer.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.