Succession: our power rankings - who’s up and who’s down now that everything is to play for?
HUGE Succession season 1-4 spoilers below
With just one episode left of the series, we are now extremely close to finding out who will be the show’s ultimate successor. So here’s our final – ever – Succession power ranking.
Our top three
1. Shiv Roy
Shiv is looking in a fantastically strong position after the penultimate episode of the show, a major turnaround after last week. Her collaboration with Matsson – which was to secure her a job at GoJo after the acquisition – was starting to look like a mistake: we found out that Matsson’s business had some seriously dodgy numbers hidden away, which could sink the deal completely.
But this week Shiv masterminded a brilliant plan to placate Menken (as well as suggested releasing those numbers on a good day to bury bad news) and it seems to have worked. Given that Menken’s supporters are mostly American isolationists, it wouldn’t work for the politician to back a deal where a leading American company such as Waystar Royco was bought by a Swedish company. But Shiv proposed that Matsson offers to install an American CEO if the deal goes through – and Menken seemed to like the idea. “It’s a yes,” said Matsson on the phone to Shiv late in the episode. “It’s a yes? From?” she replied. “Yeaaaah,” said the Swede.
Episode 10 is going to be a showdown between team Shiv and Matsson, and Kendall.
2. Kendall Roy
Kendall is arguably the closest he’s ever been to taking the top spot at Waystar. Though standing in the way is Matsson, Shiv and the board – so it still isn’t going to be easy. But his ambitions are now crystal clear – he explained to Hugo in episode nine that “this is an explicit plan to f*** the deal, me rule the world” – and we all know that Kendall really doesn’t mind destroying everyone and everything around him to get what he wants.
Now that Menken has lost his faith in Roman (the youngest Roy broke down during the funeral and Menken was not impressed), it looks like Kendall is in a stronger position after he stepped in and gave an impressive eulogy off the cuff. Now, it seems the Republican politician will have to work with Kendall if he wants support from Waystar Royco and positive coverage on ATN. Nonetheless, Menken appeared to shrug Kendall off at the wake when the older sibs proposed a collaboration – a confusing turn.
3. Greg Hirsch
Yes, you’re reading it correctly, we’ve put Greg at number three. Greg was one of the most important characters in America Decides; without his input, Kendall would not have known about Shiv’s collaboration with Matsson, and without this information firing him up, Kendall might not have backed Roman in calling for Menken. Did Greg change American history forever?
Previously it was pretty clear that if Matsson did end up buying ATN, Greg would be out of a job. But after the Tailgate Party, where Greg and Matsson’s crew went partying, it seems like Matsson no longer thinks Greg’s such a dud. This doesn’t mean Greg has a bright future at GoJo, but it does mean that whatever way the GoJo deal goes, Greg is likely to survive, which isn’t the case for other members of the Waystar Royco team. The way he tried to bribe Shiv – although his attempts were unsuccessful, it’s still Greg after all – also showed that he’s grown in confidence in a big way.
Plus, he’s part of the family, which gives him some kind of sway in matters, even if that sway is miniscule. Then there’s his history that should be considered: photocopying papers and bribing Tom because of the photocopied papers. Deleting files that are called ‘logistics’ (or did he?). There are few things that Greg won’t do, which does make him quite dangerous in his own scattergun, Greg-let way.
Plus, Greg is now one of the internet’s favourites to win it. “I am so scared Matsson is going to choose Greg as the US CEO if the deal goes through,” tweeted one fan. “My sad sad prediction for Succession is that in the Shiv vs Kendall battle Shiv will win, and last minute, Matsson will give Greg the CEO,” said another.
For a while the fate of everyone’s lives was in the hands of Matsson – would he or wouldn’t he make the deal? Until last week it looked very much like Matsson was going to emerge victorious, after he tabled an eye-watering sum.
Then things became complicated. It emerged that GoJo’s subscriber figures were seriously shonky (though Matsson seems supremely unbothered by this), and it looked like a victorious Menken would block the deal.
But then this week Shiv proposed a masterful plan where she becomes the US chief executive of GoJo – sweetening up Menken’s followers – if the deal goes through. Menken seemed to like the idea, so all in all Matsson still wields huge power.
Far-right Republican candidate Jerryd Menken has quickly come a major player in the final weeks of Succession. Given that it looks like he will become the next president – though the Democrats will not go down without a fight – he now has major influence over what happens with the GoJo deal. If he wants he can try and block it using “regulatory methods” or he can back it.
Roman’s character arc has been a total rollercoaster this season: there have been moments when he’s seemed incredibly endearing and caring (he was genuinely kind to Kerry in the foyer during Logan’s wake, and was sweet to Connor at his rehearsal dinner too). There have been moments when he’s been serious and effective, and then others where he has simply been immature (such as when he flew off the handle speaking to Matsson in Norway, or when he flipped out at Shiv at Connor’s wedding).
In episodes six and seven he showed he wasn’t up to the CEO job, firing Waystar Studios’ boss Joy Palmer as well as Gerri. He seemed uncaring and rudderless, mostly just going along with his older brother’s schemes. It was hard to discern whether this is out of compassion for Kendall, whether it was a case of old habits die hard, whether he had no better ideas of his own, or whether he actually did not care that much about Waystar Rocyo’s future. Then in episode eight he was brash, irresponsibly blasé, and became a totally unsympathetic character, almost returning to a season one version of himself.
This week, he broke down at his father’s funeral – a very understandable reaction. But because his guests were businessmen, politicians, diplomats, journalists, kings and bankers it was important that Roman, as co-CEO of Waystar, showed more strength. His inability to give the eulogy meant that Menken lost faith in him, calling him “tiny tears” and “the grim weeper”. Kendall is now positioning himself to move on without Roman – though he will need his younger brother’s backing. Roman is currently floundering.
Connor has a seat on the board, shares in Waystar Royco, and his siblings do (mildly) take him into account. But he has been interested in political power, and in the episode America Decides – as if it hadn’t been clearly going to happen – all that remaining power drained away.
Staying in the race to be president, rather than accepting the nice plum diplomat job from Menken in the previous episode, was a terrible miscalculation. At Logan’s wake he returned to the (presumed) president elect with his begging bowl out, but bagging a future job couldn’t be further down Menken’s priority list.
Tom’s lot dropped dramatically after Logan died – he no longer had his protector backing him. He was clearly on the out with no side willing to claim him: none of the Roys wanted him on their team, he and Shiv were knocking heads, and Matsson’s posse also thought he was a bit of an idiot.
In episode eight the tables somewhat turned as Tom managed to produce a night of excellent television at ATN, proving his worth as the broadcaster boss. Of course, declaring Menken as president is likely to come back to haunt him: the Milwaukee votes still need to be counted and the Democrats aren’t going to let this one go. Despite the fact that Kendall and Roman don’t exactly respect him, it was a major shift from how his fate was looking after other episodes this season.
But in episode nine he was out of the picture once again, as Shiv and Matsson cemented their plan to secure the GoJo deal and Kendall also started to assemble his own team. He missed the funeral entirely, turned up at the party for 20 minutes and then went off for a sleep. Tom, it seems, is simply burnt out and badly needs a holiday. Plus he’s now got to face up to the fact that he’s going to be a father. When reality sinks in, will this information change his future proceedings or allegiances?
The executive circle
Is Frank powerful enough to be in the running for the successor of the company? No, absolutely not. But could he back Kendall, and have real influence on the future of the company? Yes. And Kendall keeps looking to him as an almost proxy-father figure (in contrast to Roman, who when Frank says, “Are you alright, son?’ as he heads up to speak at the funeral, snaps back “I’m not your son.”) Presumably Kendall would give him a decent role in Waystar if he took full control.
Frank has also been around for so long, we can only imagine the piles of dirt he has on Logan and others and how he could use this against the sibs to work in his favour. Up to now, they’ve all been gunning for the same goal, ie GoJo, so there’s been no need for such dirty behaviour. But if the deal implodes, he has no golden parachute, and Frank is forced to choose between Kendall and Roman (and we’re assuming after the chat at the end of Tailgate Party, plus Roman’s breakdown at the funeral, he’d choose Kendall), who knows what he’ll be capable of?
We all know why Hugo is kept around: because he’s that creepy guy who’ll do anyone’s dirty work. He’s got himself in a tangle with his daughter’s insider trading which came to light at the wake, and now he’s working freelance for Kendall behind the scenes.
In episode nine, Kendall explicitly brought Hugo onto his team as he started to enact his plan of world domination: Kendall said that Hugo will be his dog, but that the scraps will be millions. “Woof woof,” said Hugo. Yuck.
Gerri is absolutely our pick of Logan’s cronies – she just quietly commands respect. When GoJo sent the list of executives that they will be firing if the acquisition goes through, Gerri was not on it, while Frank and Karl were. Clearly, the young super Scandis can see, as we can, that Gerri rules.
However, Gerri is now in the process of leaving the company after being fired by Roman – although Roman says he didn’t mean it - and presumably about to take them all to the cleaners. Gerri wants hundreds of millions of dollars, and threatens to bring the dick pics into the leaving package negotiations if she doesn’t get offered a figure she’s happy with. She was the one of the old guard to show genuine sympathy about Roman’s plight at the funeral.
Surely Gerri can’t really leave – Waystar Royco needs her. But given that she wants to, we’ve bumped her down the rankings a bit.
There’s a reason Karl has been one of Logan’s top confidants for years, as we finally got a glimpse of it in episode six as he told Kendall, “If you say anything that I don’t like up there, or make me look foolish. I’ll f***ing squeal.” A shark move indeed; it marked the end of Karl walking on eggshells around the younger Roys.
Previously we judged Karl as being like Frank, only slightly less nice and with less of a backbone. The way he took down Tom in episode four was pretty brutal, however accurate his comments may be. And his conversation with Frank about not wanting to lose out on his “package” because he’s halfway in on a Greek island also did not paint him in a great light. Also the way he gleefully shared the video of Roman’s breakdown at the pulpit didn’t paint him in a brilliant light.
When it comes to power Karl, it seems, does actually have some. What might he squeal about if Kendall makes the deal implode? We can only begin to imagine.
Lady Caroline Collingwood
Caroline was on top form in episode nine, cutting as ever as she semi-congratulated Shiv on her pregnancy, spoke to her husband and children, and arranged the seating so that she, Marcia, Kerry and an older lover of Logan’s all sat together in one pew.
Shiv, Kendall and Roman’s mum does have quite a lot of power: she has a seat on the board, and while it’s true that she’s not interested in becoming the successor, in the past she has literally worked against her children, siding with her husband, cheating them out of some of their inheritance. It means that she can’t be trusted and that she could definitely be persuaded by a nefarious actor to make decisions that would trip up people in the running for the top spot. Probably just for the fun of it.
Power-wise, Marcia has a lot of influence. She was still legally married to Logan at his death, and so is likely to have a large say over what happens to his estate (though of course, they would have had a prenup, and there will be a will).
The way she sells Logan’s apartment in a second to Connor in episode four, the way she tells Kendall that she and Logan spoke intimately every night, and the way she threw Kerry out, all hinted at her devilish machinations.
However none of these started to materialise at the funeral; she was even quite sweet, squeezing Kerry’s hand as Kerry cried. At the more private committal service, she also spoke to Shiv about Logan, saying, “I love him very much, I miss him very much. He broke my heart, and he broke your hearts too.”
Logan’s girlfriend looked like she was flying high at the beginning of the season, and now she’s right at the bottom of our power rankings. Logan’s death marked the end of her connection to the family and any possibility that she may bag a major role as an anchor at ATN. Marcia made it quite clear that Kerry’s not going to get anywhere near Logan’s estate, too – she wouldn’t even let Kerry go upstairs to collect her things at Logan’s wake.
However, there was an incredible moment at the funeral where Marcia, who was sitting next to Kerry, squeezed Kerry’s hand in support as Kerry broke down. Kerry had, very sadly, turned up to the funeral with a lawyer, thinking that she may be denied entry. Marcia’s action in no way means that Kerry has a morsel of power here, but it was nonetheless deeply moving.
Still no appearance from...
Why oh why did we hear so much about Connor’s mother at the beginning of the series? She was brought up in several early episodes, and we thought it wouldn’t be for nothing. But now we’re one episode away from the end of the show and we’re starting to think her character development was a red herring.
Her background? We know that Logan got her shipped off to a mental institution and Connor never forgave his dad for it. We don’t know if she’s dead. We thought it could be interesting if she suddenly popped up: would she have some sort of say in the business proceedings? Does she own any shares, and even if not, would she be able to influence Connor to, for example, vote against his siblings in an important board meeting?
Succession is currently streaming on Sky and NOW