When Jesse Armstrong announced that the upcoming season of Succession would be the last, you probably felt a wave of palpable excitement and dread. Excitement because there will finally be a succession on Succession, and we’ll get to see which member (or members, or former members, or non-members) of the Roy family (or not) will gain control of Waystar Royco. But dread because, Christ, we’ve seen the pain these people can inflict on one another. Who knows what emotionally crippling depth-charge they’ll deploy now we’re in the endgame. As season four begins, here’s a ranking of the main cast, from least to most emotionally devastated.
Last season, Logan Roy (Brian Cox) revealed the closest thing he has to an ideology. “Life … is a number on a piece of paper,” he told his son Kendall. “It’s a fight for a knife in the mud.” As season four begins, his hand is firmly on the handle, and the blade is dripping with blood. Thanks to some slippery navigation by Tom, it seems as if Logan might have definitively won Succession. He seized control of the company. He brutally dispatched his children. He is the lion in winter. The season four trailer sees him prowling and growling on the shop floor, seemingly unbeatable. Is this how the show will end? Almost definitely not. Quite honestly, it’ll be a miracle if he makes it out alive. But for now, the man is on top.
While we’re talking about things that definitely won’t last, let’s enjoy this moment of Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) triumph while we can. In the dying breaths of season three, we learned that Tom had been tipping off Logan about his children’s planned mutiny. Now, Tom appears to hold all the cards. He’s in Logan’s inner circle now, and ostensibly the favourite to succeed him. All that plus, it seems as if he has actually built the courage to tell his wife how awful she is. As a proud member of Team Tom, I am thrilled about this – he has spent the entire series being kicked around like a tatty rag and deserves all the victories he can get – but come on now. This is Tom Wambsgans we’re talking about. The man is a walking catastrophe. If he isn’t stabbed to death by the Shiv by the end of the next episode, I’ll be staggered.
The true Succession connoisseur knows that Greg (Nicholas Braun) is going to win. The show is going to end with him standing atop a pile of bodies, holding Logan’s severed leg in the air like He-Man’s Power Sword. But we’re not quite there yet, so Greg’s ascent is still hidden in the background. He’s currently a member of Team Tom, though in a deeply noncommittal way, which is risky. But let’s not worry about him too much. When the winds change, and they will, he’ll still find a backroad to success.
For much of season three, it looked as if Gerri (J Smith-Cameron) – thanks to her weird romantic entanglement with Roman – was going to align herself with the siblings in an attempt to oust Logan from his beloved Waystar Royco. And yet, as the cards fell, she chose to follow the money and back the boss, rejecting Roman’s plea for help with a cold insistence that “it doesn’t serve my interests”. This would put her back in the hot seat to succeed Logan, but a Hail Mary profession of love from Roman could change everything.
Now we have Connor Roy (Alan Ruck), the Chaotic Neutral of the Roy clan. He is, as he always was, peripheral. The siblings’ plan to dethrone Logan hinged on their mother. As a half-sibling, Connor was shut out of this; something that spares him the frantic clawing of the rest of his family, but doesn’t do his ego much good. Anything could happen this season – scandal, implosion, death – yet Connor will still be bimbling away, witlessly attempting to be the next president. Oh God, is he going to end up as president?
Almost exactly the same as above but, thanks to Willa’s (Justine Lupe) half-hearted proposal acceptance last season (“Fuck it, how bad could it be?”) she now also has to be married to Connor.
Given the state of 2021’s finale, the main Roy siblings are at the bottom of this list. But Roman (Kieran Culkin) arguably finds himself in the best place. Yes, his father has shut him out of the family business. Yes, his mother washed her hands of him. Yes, Gerri betrayed him. But look back to season one. Look what a graceless, grasping chump he was. For better or worse, Roman is going into season four as a fully formed person. By far the most intriguing part of the trailer is Logan imploring Roman to come back to the Waystar fold. This will be the truest test of his mettle; season one Roman would have sucked up to daddy and followed the money. How this new and improved Roman will react is anyone’s guess.
There’s a good chance Shiv (Sarah Snook) will explode this season. She starts out furious with her father, but arguably even more furious with her husband Tom for helping him out on the sly. She used the most violent language in the season three finale – literally telling her mother: “You just slit our throats” – and things seem likely to ramp up from there. She’s blinded by rage. That cannot end well, for anyone.
Who else could it be? The key scene from the most recent episode involved him sitting in the dust, broken beyond words. The episode before that, nobody knew if he was dead or alive. Kendall (Jeremy Strong) has always seemed too delicate for the aggression of the family business, and the paternal betrayal could send him down the dark road to oblivion. Or it could spur him on to beat his father once and for all. God, I can’t wait.