honeymoon states

Succession Power Rankings: The Leftovers

Photo: David M. Russell/David M. Russell

Logan Roy has barely been dead 24 hours and the people who claim to have loved him most have descended on his home to pick through his leftovers, both physical and metaphysical, fish tacos jauntily perched in their hands. That’s right, folks, it’s a wake!

The episode’s near-confinement to the wake works. “Honeymoon States” has a claustrophobic quality that really suits the narrative, but also makes it very hard to separate individual players for power-rankings purposes. Everybody is huddled together in small rooms, plotting and trying to decipher pencil strokes on recently discovered pieces of paper.

Nevertheless, power shall be ranked! Here’s who’s up (Kendall), down (Greg), and entering the charts (Willa’s mom) this week.



Kendall won’t come out and say it, but he doesn’t have to. Everybody at that wake knows what he wanted most was to be Logan’s No. 1 special boy. And if he couldn’t get that (and he’d never be able to), then he’d settle for taking over Logan’s job.

So when a piece of paper appears in Logan’s safe that seems to suggest Logan wanted Kendall to take over for him — unless the “underline” was actually Logan crossing his name out, which is almost certainly the case — Kendall seizes the opportunity to promote himself as interim CEO and a steady hand at the tiller. With Roman at his side, he can shepherd the GoJo deal to completion, spin off ATN, then go do something Pierce-related with his sibs. Nothing will ever go wrong for him again!

At one point Kendall invokes a “haunted house,” and of the four Roy kids, he most seems to have the ghost of Logan riding around on his shoulder, shouting insults in his ear. He’s too desperate to know if Logan loved him, even as he admits, “He made me hate him, and then he died.” We’ve seen Kendall ride this high enough times to know a fall is probably coming, especially once he finally accepts that Logan was trying to cross out his name.



Roman is the only Roy kid we’ve seen Logan physically abuse within the show. (It’s heavily implied he hit the other kids, too, but we’ve only seen him hit Roman.) And Roman is the Roy kid we saw slowly getting drawn back into his dad’s orbit before Logan’s death. Roman’s disaffected cynicism is a natural offshoot of his simultaneous fear and worship of his father, a common response to suffering abuse at the hands of a parent.

You know what can be a common response to the death of that parent, though? A sudden, intense feeling of relief, complete with, say, some witty repartee, a willingness to broker deals when need be, and an insistence that you’re pretty fine because you’d done a lot of “pre-grieving.” Roman is almost … the most stable he’s ever been?

While technically, he’s in this position because he’s situated nicely to take over the company when Kendall inevitably fucks everything up, in my heart he’s in this position because he’s on fire in this episode. So many great lines! He calls Tom “lip balm Tom Wam”! He says that Logan only smiled “if a hobo was on fire”! He lists Logan’s best friends as “what’s his face” and “get that fucker away from me”! Roman should pre-grieve more often, is what I’m saying.



Marcia, who of course is Logan’s beloved wife with whom he spoke intimately every day, waltzes back into the wake to show off how much death becomes her and broker a handshake deal to sell the New York apartment to Connor. It’s just nice to see Marcia again. She seems like she’s been really living it up these last few months.


Frank and Karl

Strictly speaking, Frank and Karl don’t come out of this episode with much of a winning hand, which means they’ll surely fall in the weeks to come. Yet in this episode, which seems almost designed to explore the various fracture points within the many different people who lived under Logan’s thumb, they join together early and often. They’re the ones who talk over that mysterious piece of paper first, and they end up controlling the flow of information around it. You can almost imagine a version of this episode that’s just them talking about which characters to bring in on what they know and when.

Plus, Karl did some amazing things with cable in the ’90s! Don’t count him out!


The GoJo company retreat

For now, it remains undisturbed.


Karolina and Hugo

Of the various high-level Waystar employees, Karolina and Hugo are the ones I’ve always found least engaging. There’s nothing wrong with them, of course, but as people who work in PR, they are necessarily reactive and not driving stories.

But the death of Logan is a perfect time to prep some spin, and when the two pull Kendall and Roman aside to suggest that they could go with a standard “Logan loved his boys and wanted them to follow in his footsteps” narrative or a “Logan was losing it and needed the boys’ help to stay on track” spin, you’re reminded they’re very necessary to everything Waystar does. Are they in this spot because I remembered PR is a necessary evil? Kind of. (Thank you to HBO publicity for all your help!)

All that said: After Roman and Kendall decide to go with the “Logan was doing just great” spin and Karolina and Hugo sign off, Kendall pulls Hugo aside. He knows that Hugo’s daughter sold a bunch of Waystar stock before Logan’s death became public knowledge, and he’s using that to corner Hugo into making Logan look incompetent. Kendall’s not great at being intimidating, but Hugo doesn’t have much of a choice. So much for the power of PR!


Willa’s mom

Why not go to an absurdly rich man’s wake and load up on food if you just happen to be in town for a wedding? How many times are you going to get that chance?



On the one hand, Shiv ends this episode with less overt power than ever, thanks to her brothers keeping her out of the centers of Waystar power. They promise not to fuck her over and to make sure everything still runs by her, but given her extreme anger after her brothers ascend, you can tell she doesn’t believe them. So she’s finally on the outs, right? I mean, she literally tumbles down a stair at one point!

Wrong! Kendall and Roman taking over Waystar could go wrong in a million different ways, and for now, her hands are clean. Yeah, the Pierce deal probably falls apart if the GoJo deal falls apart, but Shiv has made a lot of powerful friends over the course of the series, and in the premiere, she was already entertaining some other job offers.

Plus, she’s doing the thing she does when she subtly weaponizes the misogyny people level at her to win sympathy points. Plus, it feels like she and Tom are at least figuring out how to talk to each other a little bit, maybe. PLUS, she’s in the second trimester of a pregnancy, a thing the audience knows and nobody else does at this point. And she calls her OB/GYN by her first name. If there’s one doctor you want to befriend, it’s your OB/GYN!

Shiv ends this episode on the edges of power, but given that there are six episodes left (I know this; she doesn’t), that’s a great place to be if you want to steadily rise up the ranks.


Connor and Willa

Up: Connor appears to have purchased a really nice apartment in Manhattan, and Willa seems like she has some decorating ideas. Also, Willa nailed the look of “extremely recent bride attending the wake of the father-in-law who died going to an event that wasn’t her wedding.”

Down: Their honeymoon will mosey among what Willa calls “the honeymoon states.” (You know: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania.) Connor’s astute observation that Stephen Root is trying to “body snatch” his dad is undercut by his insistence that Logan was “a paleo libertarian” or almost an “anarcho-capitalist.” Whatever gets you through the night, Con.



Tom keeps looking for allies this episode, and Tom keeps failing to find them. Roman insults him and calls him names, and Kendall offers him a pitying “Good luck.” Even Karl lays into him when Tom starts to pitch himself as a possible interim CEO. Certainly Karl can have a poison tongue, but he seems to have spared none of his venom when it comes to Tom.

By the time the speeches celebrating Logan are happening, Tom is right back to the place he feels most comfortable: whispering pithy little asides to Greg. It could almost feel like he’s completely on the outside of everything again, right back to his old haunts. Except … he and Shiv kinda bond? A little? She shuts it down, but hope springs eternal when you’re a …


Shiv/Tom shippers (shut up, we exist)

I wonder how long it will take these two crazy kids to realize their best play is to link up. And I wonder how long it will take them to discover how much they enjoy being on the outside together, plotting away. And I wonder how long it will take them to once again fall in love when that happens? My fan fiction is writing itself!



Gerri really gives hanging onto what power she has a go, from casually insulting Karl and Frank as just being too old to snidely saying that Roman has no proof in writing that Logan wanted her out. Alas, it doesn’t work in her favor, and it’s unclear what position (if any) she’ll hold within the new Waystar led by the Roy brothers. Maybe she can appeal to Roman’s conscience. He seems to have a tiny nubbin of one of late.



Watch how many shots have Greg just kind of hanging out in the background, as though he’s slowly realizing he’s a glorified extra in the lives of everybody who’s not Tom. He even greets the siblings Roy with “My guys. My lovely guys.” Greg is falling fast, and I don’t see how he can save himself. He’s right down here with …


Colin and Kerry

I’ll give Colin this: Even if Roman says he’s like a dog who lost his human, he does seem to mostly hang around the edges of the party respectfully. It turns out that he even has a kid. A rich personal life, this guy!

Colin has no real function in the lives of these characters outside of his direct connection to Logan, and he might just disappear after the funeral. But at least he got an invite! Kerry did not. She shows up to grab some things, has a tense standoff with Marcia, then drops a bag full of items and mumbles about how she was supposed to be taken care of but obviously wasn’t. Marcia haughtily tells her to go back to her little apartment.

Will this be Kerry’s final appearance in the power rankings? Probably, but we can always hope she finds a second wind somehow!


Bottle-episode discourse

“Connor’s Wedding” prompted a new round of the TV discourse most annoying to pedants like my beloved colleague Kathryn VanArendonk and myself: Was that a bottle episode? As Kathryn has written so eloquently, the term “bottle episode” has a definition: an episode entirely (or almost entirely) set in a single location, often utilizing one of the show’s standing sets to save money. You can’t just call an episode like “Connor’s Wedding” a bottle episode because it’s different from other episodes. It takes place on an enormous yacht! And at an airport! And on a plane!

Now, like Kathryn, I am a bottle-episode truther, so I do not think I can call “Honeymoon States” a bottle episode. For starters, it technically takes place in several locations (since it opens in Kendall, Roman, and Shiv’s apartments before shifting to Logan’s place). Also, while the entire episode after that opening takes place in Logan and Marcia’s apartment — and thus was filmed on the show’s regular sets — it takes place all over that apartment and not confined to a single room or even a single floor.


By HBO’s standards, where shooting an episode on regular sets like this is a cost-saving measure, even if you’re using all of those sets? This is … I mean … I don’t want to say it, because I might unlock something terrible … but … you could … argue that this is an HBO bottle episode, which is not a pure version of the form but is a riff on it all the same. Consider it the sparkling wine to the classic bottle episode’s Champagne! Not remotely the same if you’re a pedant like me, but for most people, probably close enough.

Yet will anybody suggest this is a bottle episode on Twitter? Probably not, because it just feels like another episode of Succession instead of anything “conceptual.” And so slips the world into chaos!

Succession Power Rankings: The Leftovers