connor's wedding

Succession Power Rankings: My Big Fat Bleak Wedding

Photo: Macall B. Polay/HBO

The major character death that happens in “Connor’s Wedding” isn’t the most shocking or significant in TV history. It probably won’t make many lists of “biggest plot twists” when sites like this one draw them up in the years to come. Nobody died in incredibly dramatic fashion — by having their head chopped off or driving their car off a cliff. It didn’t even shake up the playing field so radically that you could credibly say everything has changed. For the most part, the people with the most money and power still have the most money and power.

And yet … everything has changed for these characters, and they’re only just now starting to live in that new reality. So here’s who’s up (Willa!), down (Logan!), and holding steady (Kendall!) in this week’s rankings with a familiar face leaping back onto the list in the very top spot.


Death, undefeated

Back in my power rankings for the season premiere, I joked that death should win all power rankings ever, because it’s ultimately undefeated, but now that Logan Roy is dead, I feel like I was onto something. Death really is the ultimate victor, huh?

There’s something remarkable about the way this episode warps itself around Logan’s death in exactly the way your life warps itself around an unexpected death. There are the early moments when the death seems impossible. There are the moments when it seems to settle over the characters’ shoulders like a suffocating cloak. And then there are the first moments after, when plans to move forward with funerals and the like are hatched. The episode serves as an incredible feat of writing and directing from Jesse Armstrong and Mark Mylod, respectively, and every member of the cast gets a moment to shine.

In conclusion: Death is back on top where it belongs! A 14-way tie for last place should follow, but I will respect the rules of the game and rank everybody else. Just know: They’re all going to die someday. Just like me. Just like you. Have a great power rankings, everybody!


Willa, resigned

Do I think Willa got her dream wedding? No. Do I think she truly loves Connor? Also no. Do I think she lucked out getting into the Roy family just as Logan was getting out? Absolutely. It’s hard to say there are “winners” in this episode (outside the ultimate winner: Death), but Willa definitely comes out of it having gained the most and lost the least.


Connor, clear-eyed

Even Connor realizes that Willa doesn’t love him so much as she sees him as an enormous security blanket. So when his dad first chooses to ditch the wedding, then decides to die on the same day, it’s easy to see why Connor briefly worries that if they postpone, Willa won’t go through with the marriage. She almost didn’t the very night before!

Yet of the four Roy children, Connor is the one who most immediately understands that his father’s death frees him in certain ways. His initial reaction to hearing the news is to grandly proclaim that Logan never liked him, and though he immediately tries to take that back, he soon settles into a place where he’s happy to admit that Logan wasn’t the great dad the other Roys will vaguely genuflect toward. There’s a value to being clear-eyed when a person you have complicated emotions about dies, and Connor has the clearest eyes of all.

And because he does end up marrying Willa, he has a full heart, too. Aw! (No! Don’t “Aw!” This marriage is a terrible idea!)

Finally: Connor wanted nothing more than to inject his wedding into the news cycle, and it looks like he got his wish. He just keeps winning!


Gerri, unscathed (for now)

For the first few minutes of this episode, it really seems like the plot will center on Logan turning the screws to Roman until he fires Gerri at Connor’s wedding, the old man testing his son’s loyalty once again in excruciating fashion. It’s a smart feint because it’s exactly the sort of farcical plot Succession might devote an episode to and because it plays off the long-simmering whatever between Gerri and Roman, a flirtation that curdled when he kept sending her dick pics after she asked him not to. (Then, memorably, he sent a dick pic to his own father. Great eulogy fodder, Romulus!)

It’s also a smart feint because now Gerri knows Logan wanted her out, and she knows Logan had persuaded Roman to soften her up for the kill, which means she knows Logan had begun peeling Roman off from the Siblings Roy alliance. The rest of the people on Logan’s plane also know he wanted Gerri out, so she’s not likely keeping her job much longer. But she lives to fight another day, and in this episode, that’s enough.


Kendall, level-headed

Maybe this is me reading my Succession is about abuse” idea into places where it doesn’t belong, but didn’t Kendall seem almost relieved in this episode? Sure, he’s initially shocked when he learns that Logan died, and he’s gutted for a few moments. Yet when it’s his turn to say something to his dad on the phone, he eventually gets to, “I can’t forgive you.”

After that, he turns into simultaneously the best and worst versions of himself. Pro: He seems like the only Roy who has an eye on what to do next. Con: He also spends a lot of time talking about how this moment will be written about in their memoirs and concludes with “Let’s grieve or whatever but not do anything that restricts our future freedom of movement.” A classy guy!

Still, this is a man who spent three seasons trying desperately to get his dad to love him back, and now that burden is lifted. The episode’s final shot shows him staring into the middle distance, processing something, looking closer to catharsis than he has in a good long while.


That random journalist Greg (probably) tipped off

You go to one party to cover the Connor Roy campaign, start flirting with a tall drink of water, then possibly get the media-news tidbit of the year! The episode should have brought this woman back just to have her say, “What a scoop!”

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Roman, gutted

I wrote last week that Roman is the one Roy who seems at all concerned with the family as a family. So even though Ro is the Roy most obviously going through it this week, he gets points for actually seeming like he’s feeling a single feeling, deep down inside himself somewhere. He’s sad! He misses his dad! Also he’s guilt-ridden! He worries the message he left where he chewed out his father (well, as much as Roman ever can do that) might have killed Logan!

Mostly, this single feeling manifests as Roman insisting that his father isn’t dead until a doctor says he is, but at least he’s feeling something. Roman: crossing the bar of low expectations for three weeks running!


Shiv, blinkered

I no longer know what to do with my beloved Siobhan Roy! She’s all over the place! When she finds out Logan died, she says, “I can’t have that,” like she suddenly realizes she ordered the wrong thing. And on the phone, she weeps and calls him “Daddy.” She seems like she might really be destroyed by this.

But then the walls go up, the compartmentalization kicks in, and she’s talking about delaying her father’s corpse landing at Teterboro Airport so the company can keep its stock price from collapsing before the markets close. When it’s time to read the statement the Roys have prepared for the press, she does so, with appropriate grave solemnity, but then she answers a question from reporters about if the Siblings Roy will be involved in the transition from Logan to post-Logan Waystar in the affirmative.

Some part of Shiv cannot stop playing the game. I increasingly think she’s the most like her dad and all the more dangerous for it because she doesn’t yet realize she is. Once she harnesses her innate awfulness, she’ll be formidable. For now, though, she’s all over the place.

But at least she seemingly reconciles with Tom for at least an hour or two!


The guests of the Roy-Ferreyra wedding

You get to attend a wedding on a boat (granted, one with inadequate cake) and be present for the extreme outskirts of a major news story that, nevertheless, threatens you in absolutely no real way? Sounds like a pretty great party to me! That’s what makes it weird that so many of them seem to have bailed when we see Connor and Willa get hitched at the end. I guess some people just don’t appreciate a trainwreck.


Tom, undefended

So far, season four has seen Tom riding high, secure in his position as Logan’s right-hand man. Even if that new status cost him his marriage, well, what’s a marriage in the face of wealth and power? Not all that much!

Tom’s position isn’t entirely dependent on his attachment to Logan. The other Waystar board members do seem to appreciate what he has to say, and his ability to finally, painfully admit that Kerry wasn’t very good at being an anchor in “Rehearsal” suggested that while he might not cut through the bullshit, he can find the long way around it, then mosey on back to deliver some lukewarm, reheated truths. Which is more than the Siblings Roy can say!

But, c’mon. Tom’s position is so dependent on his attachment to Logan. When he starts crying in this episode, some part of him is sad, sure. But even more of him is petrified. And who can he still turn to? Who can he always turn to?


Greg, Gregged

Do we know that Greg spilled the beans on Logan’s death to the press? We don’t. But that scene where he’s trying to extricate himself from talking to the journalist he’s been flirting with sure ends in a way where you’d expect him to say, “Okay, so you can’t tell anyone about this, but …” If that ever comes to light, it won’t reflect well on our favorite sentient redwood.

Tom says that Greg just got lucky, because a powerful man who hated him just died. And maybe that’s true. But Tom also says earlier in the episode that he has lots of guys he can use for his “Gregging” now that he’s powerful, and it’s as though Greg is just realizing how expendable he truly is to this entire family. Just in time for the family’s power dynamics to change completely!


Colin, emptied

That brief shot of Colin at Teterboro, framed against the sky at dusk, looking like a lost little boy, might encapsulate the feeling of watching this episode in its entirety. It’s like he, too, has realized how much of his life has been built around a single man who’s no longer here.

Anyway, do you think one of the other Roys will bring Colin on as bodyman? Or is it time for him to update his LinkedIn and get out there to find another billionaire to guard?


Logan, dead

The dude’s fucking dead! I don’t know what to tell you! Pretty hard to win the power rankings when you’re dead! But something tells me Logan’s unseen presence will continue to haunt the season and cause his children to make terrible decisions, all Shakespearean-like. Just a hunch.


Kerry, alive but somehow losing to a dead guy

If Tom’s position is entirely reliant on his attachment to Logan, then Kerry no longer has a position, because the man she was an assistant to is dead. No wonder she leaves the side of Logan’s corpse laughing nervously and talking about how “wild” the experience was. (Karl calls her “Chuckles the Clown,” and I appreciated the show’s tip of the cap to another iconic TV death.) Kerry, we were all rooting for you. Okay, I was rooting for you. But I now admit: That was wrong.


The cake, inadequate

The cake at Connor and Willa’s wedding is maybe fine for display, but it’s totally inadequate for serving! Gross! Get it out of here!

Okay, the No. 15 slot is usually a joke, but this episode is so masterful that it takes even a seemingly goofy rich-person outburst from Connor and gives it an immense sense of weight and history. Connor hates the cake because it’s what he calls a “loony cake.” When Logan had Connor’s mother sent to a mental institution, he placated his eldest son with cake. And then Connor only ate cake for, like, a week.

And so a joke turns incredibly, desperately sad. Logan was awful to his children. Just awful. But now he’s gone, and they have to live in the ruin he made of their lives, comforted by their immense wealth but lacking in love, compassion, or empathy. Succession has always carried in its very title a promise of one generation giving way to the next. But what happens when the prior generation had nothing of real value to give? We’re going to find out.

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Succession Power Rankings: My Big Fat Bleak Wedding