Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Yikes, Living+ Is Just A Series Of Nervous Breakdowns

(The bid for power has not only intensified in season 4 of "Succession," but is approaching its end: now more than ever, anyone can come out on top. As the series comes to a close, we'll be tracking the rise and fall of the Roys, their allies, and their never-ending list of enemies.)

Much like the California episodes of "Mad Men," our LA excursion with the Roy family feels particularly unhinged. All three of the siblings (sorry, Connor) are coming apart at the seams in "Living+," which has always been true, but something about the California sun seems to exacerbate the problem. Or maybe it has less to do with the weather and more to do with their inability to process grief.

Instead of talking to various therapists or even just each other, their outlet of choice is the future of Waystar Royco. Unsurprisingly, mixing their emotional turmoil with business has some wild results: Roman (Kieran Culkin) starts firing every woman in his vicinity, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) is plotting his company-wide takeover via an Elizabeth Holmes impersonation and Shiv (Sarah Snook) is *checks notes* biting Tom's arm in a very public forum. To make matters a million times more concerning, the reason they've all come together in LA is for the product launch of Living+, a real estate venture that Kendall spins into an antidote for death. So, emotionally speaking, they aren't exactly doing well.

They try leaning on their sibling unity — the episode even offers us another group hug — but it's starting to ring hollow. The hug is considerably less tender, likely because it's preceded by Shiv calling bulls*** on her brothers who halfheartedly apologize after lying to her face about tanking the GoJo deal. But what did we expect? They can hardly keep themselves standing, let alone keep an eye on the emotional states of each other. I watched most of this episode with my head in my hands, muttering "seek help" every time one of the siblings dared to speak.

But their crumbling alliance aside, the episode isn't a total trainwreck for team Roy ... depending on who you ask.

10. Kendall's Grief Guy

Whatever happened to Ken's grief guy? Didn't he have the best guy in the business? How is that guy not on call?! He could make a fortune off of Kendall alone, not to mention the gold mine of Shiv and Roman. Unfortunately, the likely answer is that Kendall believes he's absolutely crushed the mourning process after a single session. The closest he gets to therapy now is jamming out to inspirational music *cough* Jay-Z *cough* during his morning drive to the office. I can only assume that the brilliant grief counselor has been fired. Either that or he's desperately trying to reach his unhinged client, but Kendall keeps swiping his calls away so he can do more important things (like Google stage clouds or order Waystar-branded flight jackets).

Though they probably don't realize it, each of these kids is in desperate need of a dedicated therapist. There's a reason that the episode begins and ends with one of the boys obsessively rewatching a video of their dad who — whether edited or unmanipulated — always has new insults to hurl at their psyche. He is very much haunting them (see: Kendall onstage having a heart-to-heart with a pre-recorded version of his father) and they have no idea how to cope.

9. All Of The Grunts

The life of a Waystar grunt is rough. Surviving a cutthroat beast of CEO was miserable enough, but their new reality — enduring the nonsensical rule of three impulsive nepo babies — is bats*** crazy. As Kendall, Roman, and Shiv balance the product launch with the Matsson deal, their underlings are scrambling around them to make sure everything runs smoothly. And their bosses do not make that easy.

Pour one out for all of the Waystar grunts that get caught in the middle as each of the siblings narrowly averts a nervous breakdown: Numbers guy Pete is given the impossible task of explaining to Kendall that no, Waystar can't double its worth overnight; Denny is given 24 hours to get Kendall a house and onstage clouds, which he (shocker) changes his mind about at the last second; Sara has to locate an empty room where Shiv can cry for 20 minutes; and some poor audio engineer gets yelled at by Greg, of all people.

And those are just the grunts that we get to see! Who knows how many other people these idiots are terrorizing on a daily basis?!

8. Cousin Greg

By virtue of being a cousin, Greg is one step up from being a regular ol' grunt. He's the guy who gets to yell at the grunts because if they don't accomplish their impossible tasks, he might be the next target on Roman's firing spree. But the threat of being unceremoniously ousted aside, Greg could be doing worse. Not only is he Tom's righthand man, but Kendall and Roman allow him into their inner circle of (bad) ideas. Greg is even privy to major secrets like their plan to bomb the Matsson deal! Don't people realize that he's the absolute worst at keeping secrets?!

Side note: I hate this bootlicking sycophant just as much as the next guy but in addition to becoming increasingly irritating, Greg is also getting funnier by the episode. Jaws if everyone worked for Jaws? His not-so-subtle, "It's really well-edited?" comment?! It's great stuff and it's maddening that Tom keeps ignoring Greg's actually very funny commentary. Maybe it has something to do with winning Shiv back, but Nero seems utterly unamused by his Sporus lately. Tom doesn't even crack a smile when Greg jokes, "You don't even have to worry about your speech, you can just go on and mop up all the blood." And if Greg can't even count on Tom, then who has he got left?

7. Waystar Studios

From the hit studio that brought you "Broderick and Friends," "Eric Is A Sinner" and "Dirty River" comes: "Kalipsotron: Hibernation," a movie that is now short one very important studio executive! This "Transformers" rip-off is three hours long, costs $300 million, and will eventually be made into a ride at Brightstar Adventure Park! But that's assuming production doesn't completely fall apart now that Waystar Studios is totally in flux: word has it that the Hollywood bigwigs are not happy with the fascist agenda of ATN. And since they aren't head over heels for their new CEO-Bros, they probably won't be thrilled to learn that Joy (Annabeth Gish) was abruptly fired for no good reason at all! Gee, I sure hope this doesn't have any long-term repercussions!

6. Gerri (& Joy)

Gerri (J. Smith Cameron) and Joy are casualties of Roman's emotional spiral. In both confrontations, Logan's shadow looms large over the insecure co-CEO. He expects to be the one needling Joy during their meeting but she dodges his "Kalipsotron" questions and presses for change at ATN. As for Gerri, she doesn't have an ounce of respect for her current boss: she pulls him into a room to reprimand him like a child. It's a dynamic that used to elicit innuendoes from Roman but this time only earns his rage. "You don't treat me with sufficient respect and that's a problem," Roman tells her. So he fires Gerri in the very conversation where she condemns his impulsive decision to fire Joy. The garbage cherry on this bad decision sundae? He tops it off by offending the hell out of her: "This is a simple business decision: you are not good at your job."

That is complete and utter bulls*** and Gerri knows it. The rage in her eyes is a far cry from her vulnerable expression three episodes ago — y'know, the first time that Roman fired her.

So yes, Gerri and Joy aren't in a great place at the end of the episode but I'm pretty confident that their precarious positions will quickly change. Joy, who has lots of important connections, already has outside counsel. Meanwhile, Gerri knows where all the bodies are buried... and by bodies, I mean dick pics, of which she has plenty, courtesy of Roman. She is simply too smart to be so easily defeated so Roman better watch out. Hell, Gerri even comes in the very next day for the Living+ presentation, so maybe she didn't even take the firing seriously!

5. Roman

"I need you to believe that I am as good as my dad," Roman tells Gerri. And apparently, it's a demand so impossible that she can't even play along. His former ally raises her eyebrows, squints, and eventually shrugs: "Say it or believe it?"

Moreso than his siblings, Roman still feels like a kid playing dress-up. Sure, he's walking around the office in a well-tailored suit and his desk has a plaque that says CEO, but accessories only get you so far. Logan Roy radiated power. He walked into a room, made demands, and often went unquestioned. That has never been the way people responded to Roman, who oozes insecurity.

When Joy doesn't immediately bend to his whims, even at the promise of "the money hose," Roman is unsettled. Money wins was Logan's mantra, wasn't it? So why doesn't it work for him? The truth, which he already knows, is that money was one half of the puzzle. Being taken seriously is the other half.

"I get it," he tells Joy, voicing his fears. "You're thinking, 'what the f*** does this guy know about anything? He's not his dad, he can't do it. Roman's track record is bulls***.'" And whether or not she was thinking that doesn't matter, because Roman is thinking about it all the time. When he can't get some lowly studio exec to do his bidding, it eats away at him. When Kendall gets on stage and pulls out a win without him, it's top of mind. And when he gets the (fake) video of his dad insulting him, there it is again, haunting him.

4. Scene-Stealer Karl Mueller

Holy s***, Karl! After many seasons of portraying the hilariously spineless Waystar grunt, David Rache is finally getting his moment in the sun. Karl has previously made power grabs, only to be slapped back by Logan. But now, the only thing standing in his way are the idiot kids of his former boss and he'll be damned if he lets them ruin this too. So when he realizes that Kendall might hop on stage and make Waystar a joke with phony numbers and a garbage product, he corners the co-CEO in a hallway with an outright threat: "You have my disk in your hand Ken, but I've got your dick in mine."

The dynamic between the kids and the Old Guard has been absolutely fascinating. Sometimes the Waystar execs are awkwardly butting in to squeeze out info but when it counts, the Karls and Gerris of the world don't hesitate to deliver a verbal lashing. Nothing reduces the Roys to children quite like a stern conversation.

4. Bitey Champion, Tom Wambsgans

"Tom Wambsgans, finally made me feel something." Ouch! The only thing that would make that statement more painful is if it were actually true. Shiv can lie as much as she wants, but we all saw her face in the season 3 finale — Tom really hurt her, and she hasn't even begun to process how much. And yet, Wambsgans has weaseled his way back into her life.

There's still a barrier between these two — every time they approach the subject of his betrayal, Shiv takes three steps back and says that she can't "get into it," which is language lifted directly from her emotionally closed-off father. But all the same, her rare moments of vulnerability always happen in his presence. Tom interrupts her scheduled grieving and immediately clocks that something is wrong. When he offers her a shoulder to cry on, she takes it. She allows him to hold her while she cries. When it comes time to strategize, she still enjoys having him in her corner. There is some real, residual trust there ... And Tom can take advantage of that.

As much as I believe that Tom truly loves Shiv, he isn't blind to the fact that rekindling their marriage would solve a lot of problems for him. He seizes every opportunity with her that arises. Within minutes of sleeping together, he casually brings up Logan's election party; by the episode's end, they've agreed to host it together. He takes notice when her phone rings and squeezes out some info on her Matsson connection; later, she invites him to listen in on her call. There's an unspoken truce being formed that gives Tom much more of a safety net than he had before. Saving his marriage is great, sure, but as he admits to Shiiv in the episode, he also really loves his career and his money. The closer she gets to forgiving him the closer he gets to keeping those precious watches.

3. Shiv

"I have an appointment that I can't reschedule," Shiv tells her brothers, before walking into a dark room to cry alone. Ah yes, scheduled grief, the sign of a healthy lifestyle! But if you still weren't concerned about Shiv's well-being then don't worry, the rest of "Living+" has got you covered. My personal favorite was when she and Tom played bitey in the middle of a crowded party. Just two mature adults chomping down on each other's arms. Somewhere out there, their respective divorce lawyers are fighting over who gets to keep Mondale, totally unaware that their clients are flirting with all the nuance of a schoolyard courtship.

Flirting with Tom in the midst of divorcing him is an excellent metaphor for Shiv's current approach to life: she is, quite dangerously, keeping all of her options open. She's in contact with Matsson but still semi-aligned with her brothers. Despite their apologies, the boys are still keeping her at arm's length (I hope we get to be there when Roman admits to firing her Godmother) but she doesn't outright betray them. She humors Matsson's complaints, and poisons Roman against Living+, but never actually moves to halt the launch. So far, this approach is a semi-success ... which is to say, it's bound to blow up in her face any minute now.

She doesn't walk away from the episode with a big win, but she still has a foot in both worlds, and that counts for something. So assuming Matsson doesn't flip out and turn on her, Shiv is still comfortably in the know on both ends. She has options and she has Tom, her semi-functional meat-puppet.

2. Tweet Deleter, Lukas Matsson

Blood bricks and holocaust jokes, huh? This guy is a barrel of laughs. 

Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) is not an easy adversary to unseat — he's still in the process of purchasing Waystar and I doubt that Operation Make The Company Too Good For Him To Afford is gonna work out. But even so, Kendall manages to snag a win. In the middle of Kendall's presentation, Matsson presses send on a tweet that makes the PR folks panic yet Kendall responds by making the Swede out to be insensitive and blind to the value of Living+. The public eats it right up and while Kendall basks in the glory of good press, Matsson deletes his tweet. That's like the tech bro equivalent of seppuku! Matsson will live to fight another day, though. He's still got the CEO-Bros cornered with his offer and they have yet to come up with a decent plan to steal back the company.

1. Long Live The King, Kendall Roy

Kendall spends most of this episode with the odds stacked against him. He has a frightening gleam in his eye, an abundance of hair-brained schemes, a maniacal laugh, and lots of unearned confidence in himself. Clearly, the episode is building up to an absolute trainwreck: Kendall is destined to crash and burn while everyone cringes themselves into fossil form. Really though — everything that could go wrong does g wrong. The clouds aren't right, the product sounds like tech bulls***, Roman abandons him right before showtime, Karl corners him with a threat and everyone supposedly on his side is making mean jokes in the green room. But to the shock of everyone, Kendall pulls through.

Ken makes a sold pitch for Living+ and by the time he's offstage, the stock is up and Matsson is forced to delete his tweet. Meanwhile, those naysayers Roman and Shiv are left feeling inadequate in the wake of Ken's success.

... But if we know anything about Kendall Roy, it's that the higher he climbs the harder he'll fall. The man is clearly having some kind of manic episode: did you hear the maniacal tint to his laughter? He throws a lot of crazy ideas at Roman and there isn't a single person that doesn't look concerned when he's speaking. His big plan for saving Waystar from Matsson? Unbelievable growth! Make the company so incredible that Matsson can't afford it! Sounds super doable to me!

I hope Kendall enjoys this brief period of success because I don't see it lasting much longer.

Read this next: The Best TV Shows Of 2022, Ranked

The post Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Yikes, Living+ Is Just A Series of Nervous Breakdowns appeared first on /Film.