killer instinct

Succession Finale Power Rankings: A Kiss For Daddy

Photo: HBO

“Sails out, nails out, bro,” Kendall tells Cousin Greg as they approach the family yacht that is Wolf of Wall Street-level luxe. He’s telling Cousin Greg that everyone on board has to take off their shoes, but he might as well have been telling him to sharpen his knives. Everyone needs something sharp — nails, knives, shivs, razors — on hand as the family hashes out who the blood sacrifice will be. A lot of people make sense — Frank, Karl, Gerri, Tom — but it’s like waiting to see who won’t get the final rose as the family convenes to pick the special son. It turns out to be Kendall, who, by the episode’s end, turns on dear old dad. A truly excellent spoof of the Succession theme posted by Friend of Vulture Demi Adejuyigbe asked who will get the kiss from Daddy, but it turns out Logan is the one being kissed and killed! Here’s where our season-long power rankings stand after Waystar Royco’s trip through the Mediterranean.

Kendall ripping up his statement and walking away

I mean, my GOD! If I could superimpose the Ariana Grande “And what about it” gif over this scene, I would! Logan tells Kendall that his replacement needs to be someone with a killer instinct, and here comes Kendall with the killer-ing-est move of the season. Kendall’s impressive showing last week in “D.C.” proved to be his undoing this week while yachting: Showboating in front of Congress made him “the face” of the brand, he’s been in a leadership position, he’s blood. “What’s more,” his dad says, selling him on the deal, “I trust you.” Kendall takes that trust, pirouettes on top of it, and then does a death drop when he calls out his dad’s toxicity in front of the whole world.


We must take a moment to acknowledge the trove of luxurious accessories the Roys donned this episode. There’s a lot happening here, sartorially: Shiv’s wide-brimmed floppy hat will obviously get top billing in tomorrow’s discussion about tonight’s episode, but Kendall’s straw (?) fedora (?) is really just a travesty so specific in its design that I must appreciate it. Logan’s little navy number is worth writing home about, too. The costumes this episode are for the most part so specifically unfortunate — Kendall again wearing a brown suit, Stewy’s striped shirt and blazer number, Shiv’s Tiffany-blue swimsuit, Tom dressed like a Crayola box of bad pastel — that I have to laugh.

Roman Roy

Roman, according to everyone else but especially Cousin Greg, is “widely known as a horrible person.” Tonight on Succession, though, Roman is singing a different tune. He’s still himself, but dealing in a more reserved version of his usual pompous asshat-ery. He knows the sovereign money deal isn’t legit, he jumps to Gerri’s defense when everyone sits around the table playing a round robin of who Who Won’t Get The Final Rose, and he actually asks his siblings if they can act like siblings and not like deranged, ambitious monsters. With Kendall as the blood sacrifice and Logan’s name sullied, Roman is now solo COO. A powerful, but also incredibly stressful, way to end the season.

Tom Wambsgans

Tom was too obvious of a blood sacrifice, but it was delicious to watch him squirm at the table while everyone threw his name around. I’m still not sure if Shiv was helping him or hurting him when she brought up his actual crimes, but it did hurt his feelings enough for him to float the idea of divorcing her. Tom is oafish and silly, but he does know how to twist the knife! A lot of things were not in Tom’s favor this episode — his ridiculously preppy pastel outfits, the threesome — but incredibly in Tom’s favor was that he had the balls to snatch Logan’s chicken and take a bite! That was a power move! (Apropos of nothing, I did rewatch the 2005 Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice this weekend in a fit of insomnia and I would like to say: One Tomelette, please.)

Gerri Killman

Stop positing in Gerri’s direction, you clowns! First it’s Kendall saying that general counsel has to be the one to go, and then it’s either Karl or Frank (or maybe Karl and Frank), and then Shiv! Her baby boy Roman jumps to her defense, which was maybe my favorite serious moment of that scene: It shows his sense for optics — firing a woman for the cruises mess would absolutely not be the right move — and also that he trusts and likes her, just as Logan does.


The beloved “fuck off” of the week goes to … Broadway’s own Willa! (Does Willa have a last name? Remind me to Google Sands reviews to double check.) She was not pleased that her play was panned, and she threw a whole iPad into the ocean, absolutely the richest thing to happen on Succession in a minute.

Shiv Roy

Shiv went full Ivanka last week, tampering with the cruises witness. It was a big sacrifice, morally and ethically, but it wasn’t a blood sacrifice. Still, doing Daddy’s bidding has her stepping onto the yacht really feeling herself — imagine scheduling a threesome with your husband on a family trip! A true chaotic instinct! It’s always at the last minute, though, that Succession reminds us that Shiv actually loves Tom, that she’s not just keeping him around. (Remember how he bolstered her during the Pierce dinner?) Forget all the Waystar Royco stuff: Tom might want a divorce! He’s still mad about the open marriage thing! And he drops this all on her as she’s reading Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends! (A book, if you are unaware, about fucked-up marriages, infidelity, rich friends, and questionable poetry.) Shiv asking Logan to not fire Tom, and to not fire Tom as a favor to her, is her real jeopardizing move this season. Logan doesn’t respect that!

Stewy Hosseini

Logan and Kendall decamp from their yacht life to meet with Stewy in Paxos. Stewy, ever the lovable douche, has already started eating by the time they arrive. The two Roys are wearing suits; Stewy is in a striped T-shirt and a blazer. Even when Logan makes him a good enough offer, he rejects it, because he knows he has the perma-upper hand here. The proxy battle is the one true reckoning, and the shareholder meeting is still on the horizon, and it looks like Sandy and Stewy are still on the upswing.

Logan Roy

Logan starts the episode being told that he needs to be the blood sacrifice, and ends the episode teed up to be the blood sacrifice. Some Vultures who congregated to watch the episode together considered that maybe he intentionally chose Kendall because he knew Kendall was the Roy kid who’d stab him in the back and give him an exit strategy that keeps the company intact. I think that’s a little too generous to Logan, especially since this season has labored to show us that he’s not a mastermind, and isn’t always thinking five moves ahead. But still! Giving up Kendall and watching Kendall betray him has to make him a little bit of a proud papa: Ken is the businessman Logan raised him to be, even though Ken-as-broken-son is the son he prefers. But yeah, Logan’s fucked.

Fisher Stevens-as-Hugo Baker

I know, I know. I have to get over the fact that Fisher Stevens is on this show. But I can’t! It is just such a ticklish bit of casting. Minutes into this season finale, publicist Hugo Baker tries to throw Karolina — his own boss! — under the bus to be fired! I absolutely love to see it.

Cousin Greg

Cousin Greg wasn’t the sacrificial lamb, and instead he’s charged with escorting Kendall back home. Even though he’s safe and buzzed off his not-favorite rosé, he still had to suffer through that absolutely disgusting toe fungus! Hate to see it.

Connor Saying “GIF” with a soft “G”

I mean, of course he fucking does.

Jamie Laird

Danny Huston has a uniquely unsettling genteel quality as an actor — totally adept at playing blue bloods and erudite types, but guys who eventually snap and snarl. He couldn’t have just been on Succession for that line about “french-kissing an armadillo.” On the yacht, his real motives jump out! Laird tries to pass the Turkey deal off as legit, but Roman knows better. Right in front of Logan, Roman (with an assist from Karl) stops his pitch in its tracks: The Turkey guys were scrambling and bullshitting, and Laird is only pushing the deal because he’s afraid of being pushed out. With Roman running the show now, could Laird’s bruised ego (and bank account) come back snapping next season?

Connor Roy

Connor has to pitch himself to be the blood sacrifice. “That’s kind of you, Con,” Logan smiles pitifully. “Thank you. We’ll bear it in mind.” This absolute fool of a firstborn is just looking for a payday, though, and no one is calling for Connor’s head. When Connor asks Logan for a bailout directly, his “super dad” tells him that his presidential campaign is an embarrassment and he needs to end it before they can discuss the cool $100 mill he’s after. I, however, have faith in Connor Roy’s presidential ambitions because I have so little faith in the Electoral College.

Sands on Broadway

Poor Sands. Sands, the show, deserved better! What other play currently running on Broadway gives you drama, intrigue, and bug bites?! Dinner and a show!

Succession Finale Power Rankings: A Kiss For Daddy