Welcome back, to fans and sad sack wasp traps alike, to the craven death pit of greed and egomania that is Succession. 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 episode 1, “The Summer Palace”
9. Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun): DOWN (last week: 5)
In the real world, Nicholas Braun is absolutely crushing it this week, thanks to a glowing profile in Vulture and an endearingly bumbling interview on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. (How many people could commit a faux pas like calling President Bill Clinton by his first name and come off as even more charming afterward?) In the show, however, his character has once again been reduced to grunt work – in this case, buying park cocaine for Kendall and facing yet another torrent of abuse.
8. Connor Roy (Alan Ruck): DOWN (last week: 6)
At the end of episode 1, Logan calls his children one by one into his lair to solicit their advice about the future of Waystar, even granting the hapless Roman face time. He does not bother to seek the opinion of Connor, who is much more interested in the purchase of Napoleon’s genitalia. He does execute a flawless verbal leg sweep against Kendall, however, accusing him of espionage.
7. Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin): SAME (last week: 7)
It doesn’t take much to rattle Roman: He combusts into a pile of nerves when Shiv offers some genuine sisterly support. His pitch to his father about the future of the company – first, to “Scooby-Doo it,” then to pull out of news entirely – is summarily dismissed. He’s just as much of a nonplayer as Connor, but tragically has no idea.
6. Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong): UP (last week: 8)
Kendall’s grief and anger have given way to numbness as he crawls back under the thumb of his father. This week is a series of humiliations for Kendall: an emasculating, stuttering TV appearance which barely manages to salvage; a vicious insult barrage from Shiv and Roman, who aren’t privy to the reasons for his about-face with Logan; a relapse into his “straighteners.”
But while such a string of attacks might have previously unleashed his determined and wily side, here he mechanically submits to everything Logan requests like an automaton. This thick-skinnedness could actually be an asset as he climbs back up the family ladder. Plus, he’s already the company’s co-COO.
5. Tom Wamsgams (Matthew Macfayden): DOWN (last week: 4)
Tom thinks he’s been given a golden opportunity when Logan hands him the keys to the entire global broadcast news operation. Little does he know that the job offer is a sham; a misdirection used by his wife as she plots her own ascension. This marriage is not going to end well, and Tom’s professional trajectory is not what he thinks it is.
4. Stewy Hosseini (Arian Moayed) and Sandy Furness (Larry Pine) (last week: N/A)
When Kendall tells his former co-conspirators that Logan will “send men to kill your pets and f-ck your wives,” Sandy amusedly responds, “Good. Well, let’s move ahead with that process, shall we?” It’s a pointed reminder that while the Roy family tears itself apart from the inside, wolves are circling to devour whatever remains.
3. Marcia Roy (Hiam Abbass) (last week: 3)
Logan seems like he’s actually considering selling the company – until Marcia talks him out of it with a few perfectly chosen words of snark. But while she still holds plenty of power, Logan’s offer to Shiv could be very bad news for her: The pair shares an unmistakable hatred for one another.
2. Logan Roy (Brian Cox): DOWN (last week: 1)
Logan’s path forward is riddled with mines underfoot. He understands that no matter how he chooses to deal with the bear hug, he will either bleed cash or respect, or perhaps both. And while Shiv seems like the clear best choice to be his successor, she also, until very recently, was at war with him.
But while his position is tenuous, he remains fearsome in many ways, playing twisted mind games with his children and savagely tearing a contractor to shreds over a dead raccoon. He’s out for blood and will spare no expense to get it.
1. Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook): UP (last week: 2)
As the only Roy daughter, Shiv was never really given a chance to inherit Waystar; Kendall always had the fast track to the top. But while she could have moped about her misfortune, Shiv transformed her bitterness into relentless drive and intellect; unlike her brothers, she never took anything for granted, and was able to ascend farther than any of them because of that.
While Shiv’s hyper-competence was extremely clear, her actual ambitions were less so; she carried a steely guardedness that made her nearly impossible to read. But in this episode, her rigidity melted away once she realized might be able to get what she thought she could never have. Sarah Snook turned in a mesmerizing performance in her glass-eyed disbelief and growing resolve, making for one of the most compelling scenes in the show’s entire run.