By Andrew R. Chow
September 23, 2019

“Watching you people melt down is the most deeply satisfying activity on planet Earth,” Naomi Pierce tells Kendall in a recent episode of Succession. She’s right — there are few greater pleasures at the moment than taking in each member of the Roy family’s self-combustion every Sunday night on HBO.

Join us as we keep track of the swift rise and fall of each character in these power rankings, which will be updated every week. These rankings are painfully subjective and based on a mix of corporate leverage, deftness of negotiation, personal turmoil and insults thrown and received. Here’s where everyone stands after Season 2, episode six, “Return.”

8. Tom Wamsgams (Matthew Macfayden): ↔️ (last week: 8)

Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun in 'Succession'
Peter Kramer/HBO

See below.

7. Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun): ⬆️ (last week: 9)

Nicholas Braun as Greg Hirsch in 'Succession'
Peter Kramer/HBO

This makes four straight weeks of the Bumble Bros taking up the bottom two slots; they’ve essentially been relegated to another division, where the goal isn’t to achieve power but simply to not go to jail. (On the bright side, at least they’re getting screentime, which is more than can be said about Connor.)

It’s out of the bubble bath and into the flames for Tom, who has suddenly realized that Greg is a monster of his own creation. He tries to coral his lanky Frankenstein by bullying him into turning over the documents and deploying his favorite threat of leg-breaking, which he previously used on Nate. But Greg is improbably one step ahead, secretly recording their document-burning session and, a bit of great slapstick comedy, stealing a few papers before they hit the flames. (Tom, buddy, you gotta shred before you burn, that’s Criminal Conspiracy 101.)

Given the sheer incompetence of the two, it seems highly likely that there’s another set of documents out in the world and that their furiously dumb tete-a-tete will be for naught. But Greg’s haircut is actually quite great.

6. Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook): ⬇️ (last week: 5)

Sarah Snook in Season 2, Episode 4 of 'Succession.'
Peter Kramer/HBO

It’s been a long and brutal fall for Shiv, and this episode seemed like rock bottom. She chased her father around the world, was mercilessly mocked about her Amelia Earhart-quoting memo by her siblings, ate some lumpy pigeon, and walked right into a trap set by Rhea. Every decision she made this episode reinforced Rhea’s exacting assessment that “Shiv thinks she’s smarter than she is.”

5. Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong): ⬇️ (last week: 3)

Jeremy Strong in "Succession."
Peter Kramer/HBO

This season, Kendall has tried exceedingly hard to move on from his crime by throwing himself into his work and operating on an out of sight, out of mind mentality. His budding romance with Naomi seems genuine and actually kind of sweet, dick pic aside.

But Kendall’s anxiety and depression all came crashing down on him when his father, in an act of petty revenge, forced him to come along to the dead waiter’s house. When confronted with his victim’s humanity he becomes wracked by guilt, and even after dropping off a fat stack of bills at their house, he knows that money can’t alleviate his complicity. Is effort to confess to his mother failed spectacularly; who might he turn to next to relieve the crushing weight on his chest? Confiding in Naomi could have disastrous consequences.

4. Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin): ⬆️ (last week: 6)

Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin in 'Succession.'
Graeme Hunter/HBO

Gerri is moving forward with their “Dream Ticket” plan, and her opo research has failed to unearth anything especially damaging—a face tattoo isn’t near enough to get someone cancelled in this day and age. He got credit from his father for bringing his mother back into the fold, although he did very little to make that happen. (Ah, the wonders of being a white man.) On an unrelated note, “F*cking Cars, Buildings, Everywhere” is my favorite Richard Scarry book.

3. Caroline Collingwood (Harriet Walter): (last week: N/A)

Harriet Walter and Jeremy Strong
Graeme Hunter/HBO

Even in a show filled with cruelty, Lady Caroline stands out; she delights in tearing people down so much that she spent her daughter’s pre-wedding party polling the guests on how long their marriage would last. This encounter is no different: she’s a supreme verbal jouster, peppering her conversation with Roman and Shiv with effortless deflections and poisonous jabs. (“A bit of solidarity—20 years too late, but never mind,” she tells Shiv mischievously.) It’s a real delight to watch her cook, her eyes glinting and darting around—it’s not hard to see where Shiv got that mannerism from. I’m sure Christmas is going to be an absolute ball for everyone involved.

2. Logan Roy (Brian Cox): ⬆️ (last week: 4)

Cherry Jones, Brian Cox, Holly Hunter.
Peter Kramer/HBO

In “Return,’ Logan displays an unprecedented level of interiority and vulnerability, which is driven by several factors. His health is clearly failing: his disorientation upon waking up in London is a callback to the show’s very first episode, when he peed on the floor. He’s committed some bad recent missteps, including the slap of Roman, which he seems incredibly embarrassed by: “That’s not something I do,” he says ashen-facedly. But most importantly, Rhea has coaxed out a new side of him, in which he admits anxiety and indecision.

But while Logan is faltering emotionally, the London trip was a success: it appears he shored up enough support to keep Sandy and Stewy at bay.

1. Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter): ⬆️ (last week: 7)

Holly Hunter (center) in Season 2, Episode 9 of 'Succession.'

After getting canned by Nan, Rhea has landed on her feet with feline grace. Every move she made this episode—her gentle but harsh assessment of the Roy children; her late-night whiskey advice to Logan; her leg sweep of Shiv; her gentle roasting of Roman—was perfectly executed.

In this new dalliance between Logan and Rhea, it’s difficult to tell who is the hustler and who is the mark. At the moment, however, it feels like Rhea has Logan wrapped around her finger. She is in the inner sanctum and, after putting down the Roy children, very much in play for the top job herself.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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