with open eyes

Succession Power Rankings: A Meal Fit for a King

Photo: Sarah Shatz/HBO

As Succession teaches us, we all can find ourselves doing things we never imagined we’d do: selling out a spouse just to eat shit for some Swede, owning up to killing that waiter that one time (then backtracking and pretending it was a made-up story to help with sibling bonding), chugging a smoothie of raw eggs and spit. Personally, I never thought I could be so emotionally invested in the outcome of a neck-and-neck board vote over a fictional company’s sale to a fictional tech freak, but here I am, nibbling my nails down to the quick, tears forming in these human eyes we all have. I assume you are here because you’re in similar shambles, but as Tom tells Greg, we’re going to be okay. Make yourself a snack with whatever you can find — not Peter’s cheese! — and settle in for the series-finale edition of our Succession power rankings.



He outmaneuvered everybody without even having to trade his turtleneck for a tie. This offends me both spiritually and sartorially, but I have to give the No. 1 spot to the man who emerged at the top, and Lukas “Yes, I Sent My Underling a Bunch of My Blood, but I Keep Her Around for Sexual-Harassment Purposes, and So Far, That’s Going Great” Matsson won that posthumous kiss from Daddy. The only thing Matsson wanted that he doesn’t get is to fuck Shiv — you know, personally, not just professionally — and knowing how seriously Shiv takes her marriage, I wouldn’t rule that out forever.



Whatever happens next, our queen is covered: a massive payout from Waystar for her silence and a plumb job under new management, where her assets (sharp business acumen, unnervingly high tolerance for unrepentant sexual harassment) will surely be noticed and appreciated. Bonus points for her limerick delivery in that old video of Logan.



I wrestled with putting Tom this high. Is power really power if the only way to acquire it is being a self-described “shit-gobbler”? Tom’s pitch for himself is that he is a worrier with a worrisome tolerance for pain. His own wife’s hardest sell for him is that he is “a highly interchangeable modular part, and I would say that to his face.” But I must accept the terms of Succession and rank accordingly: The goal is to amass power, not to reflect on what it cost you to get there or how miserable you’ll likely be as you spend the rest of your life fighting to maintain it, surrounded by people whose love for you is forever compromised by the transactional nature of your connection, before you die on a private plane surrounded by people who are drafting a press release about your demise before your body even gets cold. By this reckoning, Tom is in the top three. He ends the series with his wife at his side. It’s a chilly reception, and I’d hardly call that a handhold (more of a light graze? a hand-pat?) but perhaps she will warm to the, uh, convenience of being married to her husband.



Shiv notes that Wisconsin’s votes are still TBD, but knowing American democracy as I do, I am confident that the Supreme Court will hand Mencken the victory. The POTUS-elect-ish doesn’t make an appearance in this final episode, but he does set in motion the headline that makes this entire story happen, which we hear at the very beginning — no regulatory issues prevent the GoJo sale after all — and his betrayal of the Roy children will have exactly zero blowback for him, seeing as none of them is in control of Waystar Royco or ATN.



Did Shiv realize she was etching her own tombstone by describing Tom to Matsson as someone who will suck the biggest dick in the room? I love thinking about when Matsson decided he wasn’t going with Shiv after all. Was he ever serious about her? I think there was a moment when she really had it, but Matsson was never going to be happy about the optics of a female CEO, and Shiv actually knowing what to do that one time (“funky” India numbers) was probably what set in motion her demise, because it proved that she could be a threat.

I figure Shiv blew up the whole deal because she would rather lose to an outsider than to a sibling. (I’d imagine Roman feels the same way.) It’s certainly not out of any loyalty to Tom, though perhaps there is some long game going on and she thinks her baby will get to be the kid who inherits the crown one day? Shiv married a man she thought was “fathoms beneath” her so she’d never be threatened by him only to find that he’s the CEO and she’s just his wife — quite the comedown for her, but I think she’ll adjust.

In even sadder news, Kendall will probably never forgive her. At least we got in one last sweet sibling hang before they burned that bridge for good!


The choral version of the Succession theme that plays over the end credits

The Roy children are not serious people, but Nicholas Britell sure is.



I was impressed by Greg’s swift use of the translation app and the force with which he slapped Tom across the face. Greg is a two-timing slimy son of a bitch who was going to make sure he had an in with whoever won — and luckily for him, his boyfriend is sentimental. He’s got you, Greg.



Hard to say where she’ll end up, but her quiet competence will keep her gainfully employed long enough to figure out a next move if she needs one.



Stewy thinks that liking “weird sex” and “bad drugs” makes him a complex individual. I think Stewy is not as interesting as he thinks he is, but still, he has always been all about the money and never pretended to care about anything else, so points for character consistency and having the values that will get you far in the Succession-verse.



Yet again, Kendall erases him as the eldest son, but I won’t forget his status! He is not involved in any of the meaningful professional dealings in this episode, but he does wield power in the domestic sphere. Just like how he planned the funeral, he manages the distribution of Logan’s assets with surprising alacrity (and squirrels away some of the finest items for himself before anybody even shows up). He does an excellent impression of his dad singing “I’m a Little Teapot.” The thought he put into this whole sticker-perambulation project is actually kind of … moving? The finale is making me soft and weak. Logan would never approve but whatever!

Who knows if Mencken will ever make it to the White House, but even that’s a win for Con: Either he’s living his best diplomatic life in Slovenia or he hangs around the old family manse with his bride.


The ghost of Logan Roy

It’s sort of sad that this is the most relaxed and, dare I say, paternal we’ve ever seen Logan, and it’s during a chat with his highest-ranking staff plus Connor. Still, the power of this video — a genuine moment of Logan’s laughter and (sort of) tenderness to wash away the aftertaste of deepfake Logan from the Living+ presentation — is so strong as to make Shiv, Roman, and Kendall all reach for each other in what will turn out to be the final shot of unity of the episode and the series.



Willa has a vision, and it involves getting rid of all of Logan’s haunted furniture and treating herself to a totally tasteful cow-print couch. Soon enough, she’ll be in a long-distance marriage and workshopping that follow-up to Sands that New York has been clamoring for. God bless this savvy little social climber.



When he had a breakdown before the vote, I wrote in my notes, “I cannot believe this guy thought he should be CEO? Of Waystar?? Roman, no.” I can’t believe — although I guess I can believe but just don’t want to believe — that Roman called Kendall’s kids “a pair of randos.”

Roman ends the series in shambles but is probably quietly delighted that he and his siblings are out from under this inheritance that would have crushed them all. “It’s nothing” and “we are bullshit” are both extremely on-brand things for him to say and scarily accurate assessments of the situation. I’m genuinely relieved he made it out of the series alive.



Although Caroline spends much of this episode either starving or neglecting to care for her children, she does make the astute observation that selling Waystar to Matsson would be an opportunity for all of her kids to start over. Nobody listens to her in the moment, but I think she was right! Also, very powerful maternal manipulation to get her kids to flock to her house.



Kendall is correct about almost everything in this episode — including that Roman does not want to be CEO but can’t bring himself to say it, that he (Kendall) is the obvious choice among the three to bring to the board, that the reason he is best equipped for this position is that he is a “business psycho” and it’s not even something to be particularly happy about, that he is a cog built for this machine and this machine only, and that without this CEO position, he has nothing — except for those kids he never calls, an ex who hates his guts, and siblings with whom he can only sporadically be affectionate without irony. Honestly, I thought he might drown during that night-swimming session (not due to fratricide — just choppy waters or something), so at least he lives long enough to stare longingly at the water again.

That being within spitting distance of CEO-ship already made Kendall channel his inner Logan — violently hugging Roman until his head wound bled fresh — should be a sign that perhaps it is best for this daddy’s boy to step away from Waystar before it rots him completely. I doubt he sees it that way yet. I’m concerned about him being haunted anew by the whole vehicular-manslaughter thing, seeing as coming clean seemed to help him move on. Will that late-in-the-game lie about the confession as a ploy send him spiraling again? I will be worrying about this poor little rich boy for the rest of my days!


Frank and Karl

Ride out on those golden parachutes, boys. Tom doesn’t see a use for you anymore.



With Caroline and Marcia’s blessing, this WAG has risen from the ashes — what a climb from her catastrophic cameo at the wake to her presence as a second-tier mourner at the Logan Roy Estate Sticker Auction: Everything Must Go! I’m glad she’ll have some mementos to take on the subway back to her apartment.



So much for Kendall’s million-dollar table scraps!



Peter did Roman’s eye drops when Roman first showed up at his house, because Caroline couldn’t stomach it (“face eggs“!), but this gracious gesture has absolutely zero impact on Roman’s behavior toward him or any of the Roy children’s attitudes. Enjoy that cheese, Peter!


The contents of Caroline’s kitchen

I absolutely love that Caroline insists that all of her children flock to her little hellhole in paradise only to provide them with nothing to eat, because who could possibly have an appetite in this heat? And don’t even think about touching Peter’s special cheese! Here, instead, are the frozen loaf ends, with which you can make the world’s saddest sandwich — or, if you’re so inclined, the milk, Tabasco sauce, raw eggs, and sister spit you can throw in the blender to make a “meal fit for a king.”

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Succession Power Rankings: A Meal Fit for a King