Who Got the Worst Deal in That Succession Finale?

Photo: Graeme Hunter/Graeme Hunter

In “What It Takes,” the sixth episode of Succession’s third season, the Roys got together with a bunch of megarich, Willa-leering Republican operatives and H-name-droppers and decided who would be the next president of the United States of America. In that installment’s final minutes, saddest man Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) leaves a meeting with brother-in-law Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong). Tom is full from diner food and room-temperature water, exhausted from diverting stabs in the back, and pent up with cake batter that his wife, Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook), won’t accept, and he leaves Kendall with parting lines that are infused with simultaneous pragmatism and melancholy: “My hunch is that you are going to get fucked. Because I’ve seen you get fucked a lot. And I’ve never seen Logan get fucked once.”

Those lines took on particular resonance in “All the Bells Say,” the third-season finale that upended the Monopoly board that is the Roys’ family drama and the power structure of Waystar Royco. This episode had everything: the potential of a new Roy heir, the emergence of a new No. 1 boy, the suggestion of more Alexander Skarsgård in future episodes, and Logan blowing up the promise of nepotism. My man refers to Kendall and Shiv as “Jacobins,” but sir, you were the one who just set fire to the concept of inherited wealth and power! Seems a little bit left to me!

Given the topsy-turvy nature of who moved up and down in terms of power and prestige by the end of “All the Bells Say,” it’s time to explore the answers to an essential question: Who got fucked the most this episode literally, figuratively, and both? Let’s wade in — don’t fall off the inflatable on your way.

How fucked is she: 10/10, completely fucked
Remember those fake newspaper covers Kendall made as part of his 40th birthday party, and remember what Shiv’s said? “Wife of Tom Wambsgans.” Nothing terrifies Shiv more than just being Tom’s wife, but at the end of “All the Bells Say,” that’s where she seems to be. She tries to lead Kendall’s intervention and fails. She tries to lead the coup against Logan and fails. Someone knew what Shiv, Kendall, and Roman were going to do, and that someone was Tom, and Tom told Logan. It seems Tom was sharing information on Shiv with Logan as far back as this season’s second episode, “Mass in Time of War” (how else did those mystery doughnuts get delivered to Rava’s apartment?), and that diverging motivation syncs up with Shiv’s repeated admissions that none of her plans for rising to power within Waystar Royco prominently feature her husband. Does Shiv end this episode pregnant, and that’s why she touched her stomach at seeing Tom appear — in a shot evoking The Godfather — in the hallway of Logan’s villa? Or is she just reeling from shock? A fourth season of Succession in which both Shiv and Kerry are pregnant would really be too much but also just enough.

How fucked is he: 7/10, pretty fucked, but at least he has company
The “wizard of fuck” finally taps his conscience this episode, and per usual, Kieran Culkin is exceptional at balancing all the contrasting emotions playing out in the youngest Roy son. This season has traced Roman’s ascendence in Logan’s estimation as he moves closer to his father, edges out Shiv, and goes on the aggressive offensive against Kendall, the brother who once defended him from Logan’s physical abuse. If there were a person most clearly poised to take over Waystar Royco at this point, it’s Roman — and so it matters more when he comforts Kendall after his admission about what happened at Shiv’s wedding, when he agrees to join Shiv and Kendall in the coup attempt, and when he stands up to Logan in defense of Kendall at that final showdown. There might not be much space for sincerity in the Succession universe, and Roman’s alliance with his older brother certainly isn’t beneficial in the children’s attempt to kick out Logan and take the company for themselves. In that way, Roman is in fact very fucked. But the potential is there for Roman and Kendall to grow closer, and for that, my sentimental heart cannot totally mark Roman as completely fucked. Note how in the dusty wedding parking lot, Roman comforts Kendall, while in the room where Logan turns his back on Roman’s love, Kendall comforts Roman. Parallels! Emotions! Art! 

How fucked is he: 6/10, still might not know where his kids are 
Kendall didn’t drown in that pool, and in fact, he might end this episode in his strongest position yet this season? I mean, not in terms of the DOJ investigation, his public persona, or his relationships with his children or exes. But: He realizes via his siblings’ attempted intervention that they care about him, and he absorbs like a sponge the comfort Shiv and Roman provide when he tells them about what really happened to Shiv’s wedding waiter Andrew Dodds (Tom Morley). How quickly his siblings start minimizing his involvement in that young man’s death! How quickly they are certain that Kendall wasn’t at fault! (Question, though: Why didn’t Kendall tell them that Logan knew, covered it up, and was basically blackmailing him?) This scene captures everything so simultaneously empathetic and repellent about Succession: the fragility and vulnerability of these deeply fucked-up characters and the cocoon of privilege and accommodation in which they act with very little consequence. So, sure, Kendall is still a mess. But he forged bonds with Shiv and Roman that might continue now that Waystar Royco has slipped out from under them, and at least he’s operating from a greater place of honesty. “It’s fucking lonely. I’m all apart,” Kendall said through tears, but by the end of the episode, Kendall isn’t as ruined as either Shiv (betrayed by her husband) or Roman (who realizes Logan doesn’t love him nearly as much as he thought). He still knows Waystar Royco, and now he has his siblings on his side, and it’s possible Stewy (Arian Moayed), Sandy (Larry Pine), and Sandi (Hope Davis) won’t be pleased with the GoJo buy — maybe they can be potential allies through Kendall’s connections. It’s not the worst situation to be in.

How fucked is he: 5/10, only getting chump change from these chumps 
“I proposed to my fiancée, and no one has said congratulations. No one!” is one of many complaints Connor (Alan Ruck), the literal eldest son, levels at his half-siblings during their failed intervention for Kendall. Connor has always felt like an afterthought, but between his presidential campaign and his attempt at blackmail in exchange for a job at Waystar Royco, he tried to make some moves this season. They mostly failed! But he got to embarrass and shock Kendall, Roman, and Shiv by sharing his theory that Kerry is trying to get pregnant with Logan’s baby, and he was able to wear down Willa enough that she said yes to his proposal. There is zero way that actually helps with his presidential campaign or keeps that Politico reporter from looking into Willa’s past, but that’s nice for Connor for as long as it lasts. Certainly nicer than that selection of heavily refrigerated cheeses.

How fucked is she: 5/10, but maybe Connor has only ten more years to live 
“Fuck it forever!” is certainly not what one would expect a happy fiancée to say. But look, what are Willa’s prospects, really? She failed as a playwright. If she left Connor, she’d have to start all over again. Sometimes the easiest choice is the one right in front of you, and so I’m putting Willa at a net neutral here. She’s sort of fucked by tying herself more permanently to Connor, but he’s still rich! He’s still mostly nice to her! Their ranch is large enough that she can probably wander away whenever he starts talking about being a maverick thinker forced into a digital gulag! In Willa’s own words: “How bad can it be, right?”

How fucked is she: 3/10, unbothered in that sublime emerald wedding outfit 
I don’t quite grasp how Marcia (Hiam Abbass) doesn’t know Logan is sleeping with Kerry since she seems to have a certain sixth sense about what her husband is up to at all times. Or maybe the porcupine knows about the skunk and the concubine and just doesn’t care? She got a larger financial stake to appear at Logan’s side again, and she secured bags for her son and daughter. Maybe being able to boss around Kerry, who is still technically the help, is enough? However, some points docked because she asked for an omelet delivered to her room when they are in rural Italy. Get some pasta, Marcia!

How fucked is she: 3/10, but at least she has a prenup 
Caroline (Harriet Walter) is now married to failed smoked-salmon entrepreneur Peter Munion (Pip Torrens), who wears brightly colored pants in public and clearly pursued a relationship with her because of her proximity to Logan Roy. Not great! But Caroline finalized her and the seat sniffer’s financial futures by basically screwing over her children, and we can trace this back to when she told Shiv she should have had dogs instead. (And maybe when Caroline seemed to respect Peter for buying his own furniture instead of coming from inherited money.) If Caroline were any other mother, I would think ostracizing her children so much would affect her. Because Caroline is Caroline, though, I think she’ll just be fine.

How fucked is he: 3/10, doing okay aside from the Greenpeace-stolen-inheritance thing
Greg (Nicholas Braun), the man who might one day be Europe’s weirdest king, steps fully into his Sporus era with the promise of no prison time, the lure of future Gregs of his own, and the date ladder that both Comfrey (Dasha Nekrasova) and the Contessa (Ella Rumpf) provide. Literally, Greg isn’t having any sex since he and Comfrey are sleeping in separate beds and whatever conversations he’s having with Contessa don’t seem romantic in the least. Plus Uncle Ewan (James Cromwell) probably still thinks Greg sucks. But Greg is on his way to the bottom of the top, baby!

How fucked is he: 2/10, fueled by rage at crystal meth and yoga
On the one hand, Logan really relished the opportunity to tell Kendall, Roman, and Shiv to “fuck off!” all at once; he’s having sex with Kerry; and he got to act out with Caroline a dynamic he adores, as she explained: kicking someone over and over to see how much abuse they’ll take and keep coming back. On the other hand, as he tells those same kids, his payment for selling Waystar Royco to GoJo will be $5 billion — but does the money even matter to Logan? It’s just a big ol’ pile on top of his preexisting pile. What is Logan going to do with himself all day if he’s not sparring with his children or humiliating President Raisin? I refuse to believe raising a child is really an option here! I wonder if losing control of Waystar Royco will matter more to Logan than he’s letting on, so he doesn’t get a flawless 0/10 score.

How fucked is she: 2/10, perhaps more so if Logan gets another personal assistant 
Kerry Castellabate (Zoë Winters) has got Logan eating out of her hand, literally; she’s confident enough now in her position to stride around in bright, attention-grabbing outfits in bold shades of yellow and pink and patterned prints that are entirely different from the drab blacks she was wearing previously; and she’s mocking the Roy children to their faces. The only threats I see against Kerry are a broken blender (how will she make those maca-root-and-almond-butter smoothies to encourage Logan’s siege engines without one?) and Marcia, who could probably eviscerate her in a moment. Something to consider.

How fucked is he: 1/10, Nero is a narc! 
This is how Shiv describes her marriage to Tom when she’s giving her toast to Caroline and Peter: “Rich and happy, rewarding and fulfilling,” and we all know that not to be the case. It hasn’t been the case since Shiv told Tom she wanted an open marriage at their wedding, and it hasn’t been the case since Tom admitted to Shiv she doesn’t make him feel very happy at the end of season two, and it hasn’t been the case at all this season, when Shiv told Tom directly to his face that he’s not good enough for her and that she doesn’t love him. Shiv could not make it more clear she doesn’t consider Tom in her own moves, and so he made some moves of his own. I didn’t know Tom had it in him, but he aligns himself fully with Logan in a variety of undercover plays no one around him saw coming, and he picks Greg over Shiv. Note how Greg and Tom are dressed in complementary tan linen suits at Caroline’s wedding, and note the second arm pat Tom receives from Logan this season. How much further will Tom rise?

How fucked is she: 1/10, as if the Roy children could outmaneuver her 
Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) always protects Gerri, and she is always the smartest person in the room. She threw in her lot with Roman when it seemed like the path forward was being laid out for him, but those dick pics didn’t play, and neither did Shiv’s attempt to outsmart Gerri when the pictures came out at the end of “Chiantishire.” As much as Logan might think Gerri is sexually disgusting, she’s also clearly the person whose business acumen he trusts the most — note that he doesn’t fire her for whatever was going on between her and Roman. She stays in Italy, he loops her in when he gets that phone call from Karl (David Rasche), and she’s in the room where Logan wins. “But it doesn’t serve my interests. How does it serve my interests?” she asks Roman when he begs for her help in their failed attempt to overthrow Logan, and Tom’s statement about Logan never losing could apply to Gerri too. Laurie probably doesn’t deserve her, either!

Frank and Karl
How fucked are they: 0/10, because no one can hurt Frank but Logan 
Frank (Peter Friedman) and Karl just swoop in to Europe to help with the deal and further demonstrate their loyalty and usefulness (which probably helps get them good recommendations from Logan when he’s weighing in on the new GoJo–Waystar Royco board), and they don’t have to go to Caroline’s wedding. Best possible outcome.

How fucked is he: 0/10, this slab of gravlax is perfectly cured 
Lukas Matsson (Skarsgård) got everything he wanted — literally all of it. Logan came to Lukas at Villa La Cassinella in Lake Como to talk over the deal, a demonstration of weakness (especially since Lukas had sent lackeys to the previous meeting at Waystar Royco headquarters in New York City). Logan had no counters for Lukas’s statements about Waystar Royco’s increasing irrelevance in a changing media landscape. And Logan sold Waystar Royco in a way that hands over significant future power to Lukas and seemingly cuts out the Roy children. “I would structure it so fucking nice for you,” Lukas said of the deal, and that foreplay certainly worked.

How fucked is he: Results inconclusive — we need more data!   
Stewy does not get fucked at all this episode because he does not appear. We are the ones who are fucked by the loss of this. Our degree of fuckeditude is off the charts! When will Moayed return for long enough to smell another herb sprig, parsley, sage, rosemary, or thyme — or something? Jesse Armstrong, hear our pleas!

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Who Got The Worst Deal In That Succession Finale?