The corporate ladder is treacherous to climb, especially when there’s a rotund, snarling media mogul at the top of it—and his desperate children are clutching for rungs beneath him. When we were first introduced to the Roys in Season 1 of Succession, the patriarch Logan was unconscious in a hospital bed while his progeny and peons bartered for positioning. But all of that was premature: Logan survived his stroke, remained the CEO of his media empire Waystar Royco, and continued to dangle his favor in front of everyone’s faces. Even as a proxy battle loomed in Season 2, Logan stayed on top, nearly pulling off a massive corporate merger while pitting his children against each other like a puppet master. Then came the turn: Just before the curtains closed on the second season, Kendall—Logan’s thirstiest, most impulsive son—flipped on his father by revealing his participation in Waystar’s obscene cruise line scandal, tilting the balance of power and leaving everyone in the company’s sphere vulnerable (and also, it must be noted, gaining a shred of Logan’s respect).
Succession is all about power—who has the most, who can wield it the best, and who is disastrously blinded by it. So every week during Season 3, The Ringer will check in on how the hierarchy at Waystar Royco shifts with each passing episode. Heading into the premiere on Sunday, it’s safe to say everything is in disarray—and to steal a line from another HBO series, chaos can be a ladder.
The Preseason Succession Power Rankings
“I have been asked to explain my own role in the managing of illegality at the firm and associated cover-ups. And it has been suggested I would be a suitable figure to absorb the anger and concern. But … ”
Friends, a “but” has never worked harder than that one.
What came after it is now practically legend: Kendall Roy—the failson who’s been in and out of rehab, who’s tried multiple times to wrest control of Waystar from his father, who spent the entirety of Season 2 crushed by the weight of Logan and the guilt of inadvertently causing a server’s death—finally found a way to drive a knife into his dad’s back. By revealing Logan’s direct participation in the cruise line cover-ups, and promising evidence to back up the claim in the form of Greg’s rescued documents, Kendall cracked the solid ground his dad walks on in a way no one has been able to since Succession began. Just before this press conference, Logan told his son that he’d never be a killer. Clearly, that estimation was off.
Heading into Season 3, Kendall holds the most cards because he’s the one dealing. No one else was prepared for him to do what he did, and now everyone is operating in a shitstorm of Kendall’s creation. But the extent of Kendall’s preparation is still up in the air. Bartering a deal with Greg—and the fact that Kendall had written out his speech on note cards—suggests that at least a little thought went into the betrayal. But despite the gravity of the moment, it isn’t a death blow for Logan—it’s merely an opening salvo.
What comes next matters more: whether or not Kendall is able to finish his father after severely wounding him. There will be a fight over shareholders, over family, over public perception. Kendall proved he could be a killer, but was the press conference a sign of a new man molting his sad sack former self or just a moment of temporary, Oedipal instinct?
If you think Logan’s not ready to fight, allow me to direct you to the fact that he smiles after Kendall betrays him, and that in the Season 3 trailer he promises to grind his son’s bones into bread and says, “We’ll go full fucking beast on them.”
The man who built Waystar into the giant it is has certainly seen better days. As it stands right now, he’s taking heat from his children, his corporate partners, his brother Ewan, his wife Marcia, and, oh yeah, the United States government. But he’s still the lion leading the pride. He’s still the one around which all of this revolves. Part of the reason Kendall screwed Logan over in the first place is his deep-seated need to please him. As long as the old man still has something left in the tank, he will be one of Succession’s major power players.
3. Stewy and Sandy
Ya know, it might actually make sense to put these two in first place; the only reason not to is because this is a family show, and it’d be thematically off for two outside players to prevail. But from an empirical, unemotional standpoint, Stewy Hosseini and Sandy Furness are better positioned than anyone else. After wedging their way into Waystar’s org chart in Season 1, they spent Season 2 grappling with Logan (and his whipping boy, Kendall) and trying desperately to find a way to depose him. Now, Kendall’s given them the perfect opportunity on a silver platter. (There’s probably some caviar on that platter too; I’m assuming Stewy loves caviar.)
Think about it: Kendall may have turned the spotlight toward Logan, but he still was a top-level employee at Waystar and will need to prove his own innocence in the scandal. Meanwhile, Kendall has a reputation for drug use and corporate fratricide—he’s not exactly a shareholder’s dream pick for CEO. If Kendall simply wanted to take down Waystar that’d be one thing, but what he really wants is to dethrone his father and keep the rest intact. That will be a near-impossible task to manage, and while Kendall and the Roys tear each other apart, Stewy and Sandy can sit back and wait to reap the spoils of a battle they aren’t personally fighting.
The best relationship in Succession was consummated in “Argestes,” when the rock star (Roman) convinced the mole (Gerri) to go into business together. They’ve since engaged in a lot of bizarre, masochistic flirting, but the partnership has proved to be rather functional for both of them. Gerri has pushed Roman to a level of newfound legitimacy while Roman has made sure that Gerri’s fortune within the Roy family doesn’t fade.
No one knows that Roman and Gerri are a package deal, which makes them all the more dangerous—and powerful. As Roman comes off of a successful display of poise and business acumen after the Turkey hostage situation, and Gerri sits as one of the only rational choices for interim CEO, their stock is as healthy as anyone’s. (That’s not to say it’s that healthy—we’re talking about a company that just had a congressional hearing. But everything is relative in these power rankings.)
“You’re careless. You’ve been careless of me,” Marcia told Logan just before his plaque dedication in “Dundee.” “I’m bored. You are boring me.”
You know what Logan doesn’t need right now, in the middle of a public fight with one of his children? He doesn’t need a public divorce. That means Marcia has some serious leverage right now—and seeing as she’s a complete mystery, to the point that not even private investigators can suss out where she came from, I wouldn’t want to mess with her.
Yes, sure: Tom has no power. The very point of Tom is how powerless he is. [Kendall Roy voice] But …
When Tom finally stood up to his wife at the end of Season 2, he altered the dynamics of their relationship. He made it clear that their marriage has conditions, and in doing so put Shiv in a position she isn’t used to: that of someone who needs to prove something. She can’t simply walk on Tom right now; she has to actually consider him. (Not that there can’t be a time in Season 3 when these dynamics flip again.)
As for her personal position, Shiv doesn’t really have any moves to play. Once the only Roy child with any semblance of autonomy, she scurried back into her father’s arms with one simple mention of “CEO.” Now that Logan knows what she wants, he knows how to keep her in line—and since that is really what she wants, she’s rather easy to manage, despite the steely strong vibes she’s cultivated. Look no further than the way she coerced a survivor of sexual assault to not testify about Waystar’s malfeasance—a complete abandonment of whatever morality she has left, simply so that she could curry an ounce of favor from Logan. Shiv is lost and chasing a carrot stick.
Does Greg realize what he just participated in? I feel like Greg doesn’t realize what he just participated in.
10. DJ Squiggle
I don’t know what Squiggle is up to, but Kendall is definitely the kind of boss who would hire an in-office DJ. (You’ve seen the kind of sneakers he buys, right?) This could be a huge growth opportunity for my boy.
Whatever Karolina’s getting paid, it’s not enough. This has to be the worst public relations job in the world.
12. Frank, Karl, and Hugo
Otherwise known as Logan’s personal punching bags (and also “the shit-fuckers”), Frank, Karl, and Hugo are near the top—they got to go on the superyacht in the Season 2 finale, after all—but they’ll never come close to sniffing any actual power. Frank is still around because Logan can’t trust him and would rather keep him close; Karl is a buffoon who just got dog-walked by Roman Roy in a business meeting; and Hugo will probably get fired by the third episode of this season. Great characters, though. It is highly enjoyable to watch all of them take shit with a grin on their faces.
Most of the time people forget Connor even exists. That could be a tactical advantage, but for a guy trying to run for president on a platform of zero taxation and the preservation of one’s seed, it probably isn’t. What’s more, Connor now finds himself deeply in debt after bankrolling his girlfriend Willa’s play Sands (spoiler: much like Anakin Skywalker, everyone hated Sands) and his father has just admonished him for “jizz[ing] 500K on a fake Napoleon dick.” Connor will claim that’s irrelevant, but let’s be honest here: For the time being, so is he.