Succession Power Rankings: Family Business

Photo: HBO

Nuclear war is invoked twice in “Rehearsal.” The first time, Tom compares Logan’s wandering of the ATN newsroom floor to the threat of nuclear war. The second time, Lukas Matsson alludes to nukes when talking about any attempts to scuttle his deal to purchase Waystar. The implication is clear: All of these characters know the cost of failure is mutually assured destruction.

That’s exactly the attitude to bring to your brother’s wedding weekend! Connor and Willa are (probably) getting married, everybody! As party favors, the Roy family would like to offer you a dark and terrible sense of impending doom! Here’s who was up (Roman), who was down (Kerry), and who entered the charts (Leonard Cohen) this week.



The centerpiece scene of “Rehearsal” involves Logan attempting to make amends with his children lest they sink the GoJo deal. He doesn’t exactly have his hat in hand, but he has his hand sort of halfway raised to where his hat might be if he were wearing one. It’s like he’s trying to get someone to guess “good dad” in a game of charades.

Early in that scene, Kerry says Logan wants to deal with the personal stuff before the family talks business, but the dark joke is that every time the family talks about personal business, the conversation immediately shifts to finances. At one point, Logan attempts to apologize for screwing the kids over in Italy, but he immediately starts talking about “income” and the “family trust.”

Logan even seems to think his relationship with his kids might improve once he’s running ATN and they’re off running Pierce. They can do a hard reset! The Roys don’t really do love. To solve their personal business, they’ll have to come up with an impeccably structured deal.


Roman Roy’s emotional acumen

Because Roman is the most cutting insult comedian around, it can be easy to miss all the ways he’s grown over the course of the show. I don’t mean to claim he’s a titan of human empathy, but compared with most of the characters, his ability to realize that somebody might be feeling bad is unparalleled. (To be fair, he is clearing a very low bar.) Of all of the Roys, Roman seems like the one who’s most concerned with family and the one who’s most awful at actually taking care of his family. He shows his love through being a little shithead, so he’ll console a panicked Connor with the idea of Willa having left him to go have sex with someone who’s hotter and younger. He only knows how to love someone by negging them, but crucially, he seems to know how to love someone.

Viewed through that lens, “Rehearsal” is a championship episode for Roman, who just wants the conflict to go away so he can spend time with his family. He even does the most self-sacrificing thing imaginable: He sucks it up and goes to karaoke in Con’s hour of need.


Lukas Matsson

Everybody’s favorite “4chan Swede” barely appears in this episode, popping up to vaguely intimidate Kendall over a video call, but his deal to buy Waystar and whether he can be squeezed for more money is all anybody can talk about. On Succession, there’s often a ghost in the room, someone who’s not present but everybody won’t shut up about, and that person usually holds all the cards. In this episode, that’s Matsson.


Kendall Roy’s existential ennui

Seriously, what the fuck is Kendall up to? He gets that call from Matsson and immediately pivots to trying to help Shiv, Stewy, and the Sandies push the deal. He jeers his father repeatedly at the karaoke apology summit. He won’t stop talking about Buddhists. He must be up to something!

I don’t actually think he is. His relatively high placement in these rankings stems from what increasingly seems like a deep sense of existential ennui, a feeling that things are so fucked that he might as well fuck with them even more. To return to our nuclear-war metaphor, one thing Succession has always made clear is that getting to run Waystar-Royco is like getting to run a land of ashes. Its overall business model is circling the drain, and its divisions that actually turn a profit are actively making the world a worse place. Kendall seems to have realized he already lives amid the rubble and is embracing that fact. He doesn’t get points for business acumen, but he does get points for accurately grasping his reality.


Logan Roy’s strained apologies

The overriding idea I carry into every episode of Succession is that the show is about the toxic legacy of abuse and how it ripples out from one family into their workplace and, ultimately, the world. And the fantasy of so many abused children is realized in “Rehearsal”: Backed into a corner, Logan has to sit down with his kids (again, and I cannot stress this enough, at a karaoke joint) and attempt to apologize to them.

He starts with the small stuff. He kept them from getting on a helicopter so they were late to Connor’s rehearsal dinner. Then he’s talking about the family trust and other business matters or about intervening in Shiv’s divorce on Tom’s behalf. He’s not good at this, but he’s pretending to try. He’s unconvincing, but affection-starved Roman, at least, seems to want to believe him.

Yet the abused child’s fantasy founders in this episode, as it inevitably would in real life. Logan has just done so much terrible stuff that when the Roy siblings bring up, say, him ignoring Connor for years or hitting Roman as a child, it all starts to become too much. And so those strained apologies give way to what Logan really wants to do: Call his kids unserious for threatening to scuttle the GoJo deal. Of course his apologies were paper thin. What would you expect? But he still got his kids to sit down and listen to him growl at them.


The staff of ATN, pirates all

In an episode filled with incredible comedic setpieces, Logan’s visit to ATN at the start of the episode might be the very best. He strides around the floor looking like “Santa Claus as a hitman” and “Jaws, if everyone in Jaws worked for Jaws,” according to Greg. He tries to back Tom and Cyd into giving Kerry an anchor job. And he looms over an employee who, he glowers darkly, sent one email. (God, Logan should not visit my workplace!)

Then he gives a largely incoherent speech about how everybody there is a pirate, and they seem super into it. Avast, me hearties, yo-ho!


Connor Roy’s ability to thrive without love

Connor wants somebody around when it seems like Willa has ditched him less than 24 hours before the wedding, and he’ll settle for his siblings. He gets them to take him to the kind of bar where “guys who sweat from their hands and get blood in their hair” might drink. Yet even there, his siblings want to talk business — more specifically, how they might tank a deal that could make him a lot of money.

So he drags them to karaoke, and when that turns into more business talk thanks to the arrival of Logan, he exits the evening by saying, heartbreakingly, “If Willa doesn’t come back, it’s fine, because I don’t need love. It’s like a superpower.”

Say what you will about Connor responding to his abusive upbringing by shutting off his emotions entirely — it is a survival strategy! And hey, when he gets home, Willa’s there. He doesn’t need her to love him because there’s money on the table. It’s a reasonable substitute (see: “1. Business”).


Connor and Willa’s wedding

Literally nobody in Connor’s family cares about the festivities, and they keep proving it over and over, including his own father deciding to spend the day of the wedding chatting with Matsson. Good thing Connor thrives without love!


Tom and Greg: geniuses at work

While Tom and Greg are tangentially involved with the Roy family drama in this episode, they spend most of it off in their own episodic subplot about trying to break it to Kerry that she doesn’t have what it takes to be an ATN anchor. Yes, they might be on the sidelines, but can this duo fall lower than ninth place when there’s a painfully funny scene of Greg making up a focus group that had problems with how Kerry’s arms looked on TV? No.

(Also: Tom, taking Logan’s advice, boxes out Shiv from getting a cutthroat divorce lawyer. A power move!)


Leonard Cohen

It’s a good thing Leonard Cohen’s legacy is secure because I’m not sure Connor’s depressive interpretation of “Famous Blue Raincoat” is doing the musical genius any favors.


Shiv Roy’s self-certainty

The problem with Shiv is that she can never take the win. After having pulled off an incredible deal that also spited her dad, she’s now listening to Sandi and Stewy about how Matsson can be squeezed for more money despite seemingly everyone who’s actually met the guy saying, “Oooooh, I don’t know …”

Maybe we’ll get to the GoJo deal and learn that Shiv was right all along, but one of the most consistent things about her character is that she doesn’t just want to be right. She wants to be the most right. She’s very unlike her dad in many ways, but she shares with him a deep, craven need to be the one everybody listens to.

That’s why it’s so interesting that she so perfectly sees through him in the karaoke summit. When she says that Logan doesn’t know everything but, because he’s so powerful and rich, he can make what he wants to be true become true, she’s absolutely right. She’s also able to understand that motivation because it exists somewhere deep inside herself.

(Bonus points: Sarah Snook has a solid Brian Cox impression.)


New York City

Proposed ad for the New York City tourism board:


LOGAN ROY turns from a window overlooking the city and smiles. The camera pushes in on his face.

LOGAN: Come, my friends. Come to this city — where the rats are fat as skunks!



Look, I’ve been doing this a long time, and it’s remarkable that I’ve never been wrong until now. But last week, when I said Kerry would rise precipitously through the rankings this season? I was dead wrong. It turns out she’s actually really bad at being a TV anchor, and everybody likes to make fun of her. Too bad, Kerry!



I used to have this therapist who said that if you said something meaningful to someone you loved then followed it up with “but,” you were erasing everything that existed before that word. I thought of his maxim when Logan told his kids, “I love you, but you are not serious people.”

Maybe Logan loves his kids deep down and his constant browbeating of them is an attempt to prepare them for a world he thinks they’re not tough enough to face. It’s just hard to hear what he said and not think he might love them more if they were somehow “serious people.”

That’s the thing, though. A family is not a family if love is conditional, dangled on a string just in front of you and constantly yanked away. You either are loved or you aren’t, and the Roy kids haven’t been loved for a long time. Is it any wonder the family is so spectacularly imploding?


The number 15

As an ATN staffer finally acknowledges, the number 15 is not the same as the number 40. Indeed, it’s less than 40. Another cunning business insight from Logan Roy!

More From This Series

See All

For more, join us for Succession Clubour subscriber-exclusive newsletter dissecting and obsessing over all the minutiae of the final season. Existing subscribers can visit this page to sign up. If you’re not a subscriber yet, click here to get started.

Succession Power Rankings: Family Business