The Guide #4: Welcome to our Succession ruthlessness rankings

Squid Game, squeeze over. This weekend (or extremely early on Monday morning for those of us in the UK) the true CEO of compulsively moreish prestige drama Succession returns. Steel yourself for nine glorious weeks of super-rich squabbling, summits in the Hamptons and staggering amounts of swearing. Things are going to go full bleeping beast.

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Following the misadventures of a malfunctioning media dynasty as its patriarch mulls over who should eventually replace him, Succession is a show that allows us to have our cake and gorge ourselves into a food coma with it too. As much as we might like to convince ourselves we are watching it solely for the damning critique it offers of unfettered wealth, it also doubles up as the most irresistible super-rich soap opera around. Despite everything, we still ultimately want to know which of the show’s venal, brittle, selfish, blinkered, sadistic, songbird-devouring scrotes will ultimately be the undisputed head honcho of Waystar Royco. And doesn’t the show itself know it: positioning one of the Roy heirs to take over only to see them stumble, falter or commit an act of manslaughter while high at the final hurdle.

Ahead of season three’s launch, now seems a good time to take stock of who is most likely to win the day and claim Waystar Royco for their own.

Succession ruthlessness rankings

Rating the major players in the show from least to most ruthless. We’ll be revisiting at the end of the season, with a short update each week, but to start off with here’s how things stand at the end of season two …

11. Cousin Greg

Ah, guileless, gutless Greg. Ever since we first encountered Logan’s great nephew, vomiting into a theme park mascot costume in Succession’s opening episode, it has been abundantly clear that he isn’t cut out for the cutthroat world of the Roys. And yet, he’s still there, clinging on. Might he be about to mount an audacious attempt on the top job? Come off it – he’s more likely to go to prison. After all, you can’t make a Tomelette without breaking some Gregs.

10. Connor

Logan will never allow his eldest son anywhere near the Waystar head office because, to be blunt, he is a libertarian fruitloop. Less Peter Thiel, more Peter Fail. Just leave the man to his grand, sand-based theatre ventures and utterly doomed presidential bids.

9. Karl

Waystar Royco’s chief financial officer has never quite recovered from the watch-between-your-fingers humiliation of Boar on the Floor, and was the first one to crumple during Succession’s own spin on the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton incident. Doesn’t have the stomach for a power grab.

8. Frank

Logan’s one-time confidant does have the stomach for a power grab, as evidenced by his involvement in Kendall’s season one coup attempt – but the failure of that had clearly chastened him, judging by the way he came limping back into the Roy fold in season two. Plus, Roman seems to have made it his life’s mission to bring Frank crashing down to earth, and Roman is rather good at bringing things crashing down to earth.

7. Tom

The Roy family’s lickspittle-in-law is central to the cover-up of abuses on board Waystar’s cruise liner division, floundered horribly during a Senate hearing into said abuses and can’t even navigate an open marriage with his own wife. The fact that he’s as high as he is on this list is testament to how useless the no-hopers beneath him are.

6. Marcia

Logan’s wife did once seem well positioned to succeed him, much to the chagrin of his ungrateful brat children. But then Logan appointed Rhea CEO, and we last saw Marcia storming off in the wake of that announcement. Now Rhea’s out of the picture, might Marcia be ready to make her move?

5. Roman

Logan’s youngest son would be top of this list were it based solely on devastating putdowns (“You look like a dildo dipped in beard trimmings”), but alas it is not, and of the three Roy children he seems the least sufficiently ruthless.

4. Gerri

Waystar’s general counsel is not a Roy, which will surely count against her. But she does have Roman – with whom she is involved in a twisted psychosexual affair – in her corner, and crucially knows where all the bodies are buried. One to keep an eye on.

3. Shiv

Logan’s middle child can point to the fact that she was privately promised the top gig by the man himself. But then, err, he went and publicly gave it to Rhea. So a mixed bag. She’s still probably the only one on this list with the competence to actually do the job. But hey, when did that count for anything?

2. Kendall

What a power move that was at the end of season two from the 50 Cent of the 1%, landing his dearest daddy in deep trouble by publicly holding him responsible for the Waystar misconduct scandal. And yet, and yet, and yet … he remains a deeply unstable presence, still gives off the sense of immense fragility beyond the thought leader bluster, and there’s that small matter of him being responsible for the death of a waiter at the end of season one. Would Logan ever divulge that detail if it came to it? Doing so would look like mutually assured destruction but you wouldn’t put it past him. Speaking of which …

1. Logan

Yes, he has the mother of all career-ending scandals dangling above his head and has been in less than perfect health, but the man remains an absolute animal, willing and capable of savaging anyone who comes within a Grand Canyon of his power base. Will he even ever name a successor or would he see doing that as showing a scintilla of weakness? You’ll have to prise his fingers from the throne I suspect.

From the archive

Stuart Heritage made some very fun Succession “Top Chump” playing cards, and is VERY bullish on Cousin Greg’s chances.

Connor Roy’s Top Trump card.
Connor Roy’s Top Trump card. Photograph: Composite

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