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Succession Power Rankings: The End
Ranking the Roys after 410, "With Open Eyes"
It’s so good to see family working together! And it’s even better to watch them ganging up against each other :) Succession is over tonight, and as I said in the speech I gave at my middle school graduation “Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened’ - Dr. Seuss’ - me” I won’t waste time: thank you for reading these rankings all these years, now how do things shake out in the end?
The permanent power rankings specter, in life and death, was always Logan: even when he was losing (cruises scandal, Pierces resistance, family drama) he was always sort of winning. (You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation, and all that.) But tonight I think he’s firmly at the bottom: he built an empire but, in doing so, didn’t raise kids who could uphold or protect it. What he deserves! Anyway, one last time, Hung Up’s Succession Power Rankings.
At a vibe check over dinner, Matsson confides in Tom that he’s no longer eyeing Shiv for the CEO role. (He wants to sleep with her, and thinks it’s likely she wants to sleep with him too.) Tom runs Waystar’s most profitable department, and he’s actually good at letting the bigot spigot flow. When the kids meet to divvy up Logan’s possessions, Tom is a little too eager and overplays his hand, telling Shiv she and her brothers should probably just sell to Matsson. She balks. “Yeah, Shiv,” he replies. “You should probably know. It’s me.”
Tom’s pitch to Matsson isn’t sexy, but it’s the same level of practicality that has kept him around. He’s not particularly needy. (I mean he’s married to Shiv for God’s sake!) He’s not high-strung or tempestuous. He’s not a good hang, and he knows it, but he is observant, and he knows the business. He is so thoroughly Midwestern: predictable, dependable, and can make hours of small talk about nothing. In the words of Logan, he works. He will not be a good CEO, he might not even be an okay one, but he will dissuade Matsson from his worst ideas, and that’s why he’s there. Logan was a striver, ultimately, and it feels poetic that a (less good) striver ends up on top.
Through brute force, rudeness, screaming “Ebba!” every ten minutes, and that sexy ass anorak, Matsson pushed the GoJo deal through. He got exactly what he wanted, at almost the sticker price. Realistically, Matsson is the most powerful person in that room when he’s signing the papers to complete the sale, and the most like Logan. But maybe I’m going soft putting Tom at the top, but Matsson finished season three and season four in almost the same position: raiding some rich kids’ spoils. He’s had little movement all series, and Tom’s arc is too good to pass up.
Miss Velma Kelly in an act … of desperation: firmly on team Matsson, Shiv thinks she can wear a blazer and say the word “unanimity” her way into the CEO job. We don’t hear Matsson say that she has the CEO job, exactly, but he hasn’t challenged her when she runs around the room saying it, and that’s good enough for Shiv. Of course he double crosses her — the disappointment of that, sure, but the humiliation that Kendall knew before her, god — and it takes her a beat to accept (still she’s asking for a threeway CEO tie … still!!) and throws her weight behind Kendall on a Barbados beach.
But at the board meeting, under the harsh fluorescents, she reneges. She saw that Kendall looked like a boss baby in Logan’s chair. Changing her mind is one of her strongest moments this season. It’s a move out of jealousy, and maybe self-preservation (she can be more powerful if Tom is sole CEO than trying to divvy up the company with her brothers), but she’s right. Kendall can’t do it, he’ll forget his lines and crash and burn. (As Roman said in season three, “Kendall will self-destruct because that’s his favorite.”) He is cosplaying Logan, and that’s it.
Shiv only gets up this high because she does, in her way, ultimately tidy things up with Tom. And by “tidy” I mean: they’re back to their usual dynamic of never knowing what the fuck is going on in their marriage but staying in it nevertheless. “I think I’ve always just been scared in relationships of the underneaths,” she tells Tom early in the episode, pre-his ascension. “You know, what’s the worst thing a person thinks? But we know!” (God what a line! What a scene!) I think that could be true of her relationship with Nate, maybe, or the exes she says fucked her up. But Logan read the fuck out of her in season one: “You're marrying a man fathoms beneath you because you don't want to risk being betrayed,” he told her after the family therapy session that wasn’t. Shiv could never make up her mind about Tom — is he too good, or too bad, or too weak, or too strong> — but his promotion finally makes up her mind for her. She wants to be near the power center but never have to compete for it, because she’s scared she’ll lose. Tom married into her royal family, but getting stuck with being just his wife feels like her foretold destiny. Finally she failed upwards!
I’m sorry to conjure the American Office in this space but: NoooOoOoOoo, GOD! No, god, please, no! Tom and Greg have always been paired together as the two outside people on the inside, and tonight Tom makes good. Even though Greg double crosses the night’s eventual winners, tipping off Kendall that Shiv won’t be Matsson’s American CEO, Tom won’t ever cut him loose. Talk about cheaters prospering; Greg has tried to split himself off of Tom at every opportunity but can resume his familiar position of glomming onto Tom when it suits them both.
Now I said Stewy was getting his ducks in a row and he was. At the start of the episode, Stewy was wobbling on whether to go team kids or team Matsson, and ultimately he sided with Kendall. When the board votes in favor of selling, he’s one of the first to congratulate Tom on his crowning. One thing about Stewy: he’s gonna be fine and look fine while doing it.
Let me just say this:
“Are you staying to dinner or just in and out with all the shouting?”
“‘Huge board meeting!’ Gosh, what an event.” (The Roy parents imitating the Roy kids … thank you, good night.)
“His special cheeses, he gets really boring about it.”
Y’all not touching Lady Caroline tonight, you’re not even getting close! Legally she has to be ranked pretty high up on this list because Lady Caroline is one of the few people who got exactly what they wanted: she got her kids all having a good time under the same roof, she got the divorce re-settled with Logan after Italy, and she wanted the kids to “say farewell, open a new chapter” outside of the Waystar fiefdom and look what they have to do now!
This needy love sponge is getting rung out, chile. I’m inclined to agree with Kendall, though, when it comes to Roman: “Do you even want it? At the funeral, yeah, like you’re not that guy … He just can’t say it. He doesn’t want it, he just can’t say it.” Roman can take up arms and stand next to Lukas Haas on the Pussy Posse’s front lines, he can buy a thieving meme account and turn it into the next FuckJerry (derogatory), he can think of Gerri when he’s not having sex with Tabitha (most likely). He is good in a boardroom and good over drinks, but so much of being CEO is putting on the blazer and acting like the adult in the room, and he’s not that guy. His brain was not poisoned by all that business school speak-Anne Taylor Loft blazer bullshit; he didn’t want to be CEO, he just wanted his dad’s attention. And now that Logan is dead … something something genie you're free …
Connor, always the one to fret over a formality, ends the series puttering around his new townhouse, getting rid of antiques. I love this for him! Connor Roy is my stay at home husband, and, coincidentally, might be Willa’s if Mencken’s election will likely be reversed in that Wisconsin court “hiccup.” (“Who Let The Dogs Out” is not a trending song; it’s not 2000 again!) Conn hasn’t had a lot to do this season, but he has really come out even-ish, with the same asterisk next to that that’s next to Mencken’s election.
After Logan’s funeral last week, Kendall chastises Roman for fucking them on the Mencken deal: “You tried to dad it.” But Dad-ing it has always been Kendall’s preferred mode; he’s most powerful and assured when he’s imitating Logan, and not trying to marry their two opposite modes. (Kendall is sharp and considered; Logan is gut decisions and experience.) Kendall comes in hot and confident, certain that he has the best cast to be CEO, and for a moment it looks like he does. Roman doesn’t really want the job; the brothers can’t exactly throw their weight behind Shiv, who literally five minutes ago was playing the other side.
The board meeting begins as the fan-fic version of the sixth episode of season one. Kendall is capable and in control, until he’s not: Shiv stomps out and he gives her his best pitch. He doesn’t tout his experience or his confidence, his best argument is that it’s his birthright. “If you don’t let me do this … it’s the one thing I know how to do,” he says. When Shiv hears her own go-to argument, she balks. This is nuts! He can’t be CEO just because he says he’d be good at it, or because he’d die without it, or because his dad, forty years ago, told him he should. Kendall is more delusional than Shiv, saying that he lied about killing that kid, and that’s saying something. At the end, he’s alone with knowing that Roman’s right: he never had it. The job, Logan’s approval, all of it — it was never his.
Kids can be in charge, Tom can be in charge, girl, whatever. Karolina and the one true power bob will live another day regardless.
Gerri still gets her big settlement, and still has Roman’s dick pics if anyone tries to talk to her crazy. (If I have one critique of the finale: not enough Gerri!)
Frank gets ranked above Karl because (1) he’s my favorite and I’m the one writing these rankings, and (2) because of that little run he did back into his office to secure his job.
Him singing that Scottish song or whatever … now that his Waystar career is over, maybe he can release an EP.
There has always been simmering tension between Hugo and Karolina, and the finale finds Karolina on top. Hugo hitched his wagon to Kendall at the funeral — “woof woof” — and with Kendall out and Karolina still on, Hugo is scrolling through LinkedIn looking for comms jobs at your local human rights violating right wing media company.
Dead boyfriend, dead career, and third round picks at the private Roy estate giveaway.
This human algebra equation, trying to PEMDAS his way into some more votes for team Kendall. If not at The Hundred, maybe there’s a job for him at whatever remains of Pierce Media?
Doing Roman’s eye drops, pitching care homes, getting his special cheese licked (not a euphemism) … these brats really won’t give any love to the step father that stepped up.