Succession Season 3 Power Rankings: The Roys Have A Moral Crisis In What It Takes

(The bid for power has intensified in season 3 of "Succession," meaning now more than ever, anyone can come out on top. As the war rages on, we'll be tracking the rise and descent of the Roy's, their allies, and their never-ending list of enemies.)

"Succession" has a very special way of setting us ablaze with serotonin: something about watching these power-crazed psychos fight for power is endlessly thrilling and three seasons in, we've gotten pretty attached to them. Last season, Kendall's (Jeremy Strong) bombshell press conference had me hollering support at my screen and this year, Roman's (Kieran Culkin) rise to power has been an especially intriguing watch. Culkin's magnetic performance is a comedic masterclass and, honestly, Roman has become easy to latch onto. Frequently the most emotionally tangible of his family members, the youngest Roy has spent the season refusing to stab his brother in the back, and dumbstruck with terror at the reality of his father's declining health.This week, he spent the hour cozying up to a fascist and harshly reminding us what this show is about — terrible people.

This Week's Big Loser Is Us

We haven't quite arrived at the ranking yet, but let's get the episode's biggest loser straight from now: the American democracy! It's never been much of a winner in the long run, but watching the Roy clan and their gaggle of like-minded lunatics orchestrate a presidential nomination feels like an all-time low. "What It Takes" hits painfully close to home, forcing us to watch the wealth elites voice their concerns about how much they'll be taxed, then rant about the too-quickly changing nature of the nation whilst sipping champagne and blithely talk through the influence they have on the next four years of the country. "Burning books and measuring skulls," as Kendall puts it, teasing Shiv (Sarah Snook) about her lack of a moral backbone, when we all know how desperately he'd like to join her in the room where it happens.

Welcomed into a nice safe space where you can openly admit your hatred of Hamilton, the Roy's are looking to take their pick of the litter. They have the power to crush a presidency beneath them, a detail that was basically a footnote in last week's episode, but may become one of the most important plot developments yet. Because with The Raisin behind them, the family can move onto building up the next king — who will be the Republican presidential nominee? They need an ally to provide them access and, as usual, four bland men are in contention: current Vice President Dave Boyer (Reed Birney), man with mainstream appeal Rick Salgado (Yul Vazquez), full-on white supremacist Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk), and our favorite anti-tax inside joke, Connor Roy (Alan Ruck.) While Logan (Brian Cox) shops around to pick his prince, Shiv and Roman duke it out for a big win and somewhere in New York, Kendall flounders while his world falls apart. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

10. That First Born F***er, Kendall Roy

Kendall is an obstacle of Logan's past. Once the big bad of the season, looming so large over his father that the man was rage-driven with a surprisingly lost look in his eyes, this week he earns no mention from the man on top. No longer of need now that the shareholder vote is behind them, Logan just has to crush him in the only place that matters — the public eye. Kendall has long been defeated on the private front. To his father, he's just another blocked number, and that lack of attention is obviously eating away at him.

Based on what we learn of his case with the DOJ, legally crushing Kendall won't be nearly as hard as it once seemed. The mic drop-worthy papers he held are essentially useless, his lawyer has come to understand him for the idiot he truly is, and the Department of Justice is very invested in the prospect of sending him to prison. The reality Kendall still refuses to swallow is that they can chase Logan all they want, but actually sending him up the river is incredibly unlikely. They can get the Tom sundae and maybe even throw in the promised Greg sprinkles, but roasting Kendall on a spit is so much more thrilling. Unbeknownst to them, Kendall can be hanged for any number of crimes. Remember his dalliance with vehicular manslaughter? Well, now he can add perjury to his ongoing list, because he lied directly to their faces when asked if he knows of additional illegal activity, and will surely continue to lie as the season goes on.

On the somewhat bright side, it's unlikely Logan will drop the bomb himself not just because he could get burned, but because he doesn't need to. Kendall is living up to everyone's expectations — how did Roman put it? Kendall is self-destructing because "it's his favorite." In a last ditch effort to secure a win, he grasps at our favorite emotionally decimated straw, his reliable ol' brother in-law, Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen). But even this dead man walking sees no point hitching his wagon to Kendall. However hopeless his plight appears, with prison inevitably looming on his horizon, he understands that the only person more destined for failure than himself is Kendall.

9. Trophy Husband Tom Wambsgans

Speaking of the Christmas Tree, Tom continues to be in awful shape and the only real win we can award him is the success of his bleak acceptance of his fate. "I have, of late, decided not to tarry too much with hope," he tells Kendall, on his second visit to the town's 1-star diner. His first visit is similarly sunny: "What's good is to eradicate hope," he advises Greg (Nicholas Braun), "they can't get you if you have no hope."

With prison in his future, Tom had developed all sorts of new hobbies to prepare in the interim — like chatting away with his prison consultant about the latest cell-block availability and eating the worst that cheap diners have to offer, in preparation for the prison slob he'll have to force down his gullet. He even engages in an incredible conversation about the toilet he'll soon share a cell with, which apparently has all sorts of functions, such as "fridge," lover," "priest," and "perfect gentleman." With absolute sincerity, Tom asks a man: "your toilet can be a bastard?" then asks Greg to take some notes on the conversation (probably so he can pour over it at 4 A.M. while his wife sleeps soundlessly beside him). The list of things haunting Tom is long, including the "agricultural" tasting wine from his vineyard, but up top is said soundlessly sleeping wife.

The death walk to prison is bad of course, so bad this man is perpetually quaking with fear, but what fills him with utter hopelessness is that fact that no one cares. No one can be bothered, because they're too busy worrying about their own standing. Shiv rants about the potential presidential candidates but remains at loss for words when it comes to Tom's plight. She alternates between telling him to change the topic and straight up ignoring his desperate pleas for an ounce of her attention ("Does the topic of my imminent imprisonment bore you?"). Tom receives basically nothing but derision until Shiv decides she doesn't mind a quick hotel romp, but as it turns out, he can no longer be spurred on by her. What's the point? So he turns to the only other person he's ever been able to rely on.

A late night text sees Tom on a dinner date with Greg at a diner, where he hopes to coach his former lackey through the ins and outs of prison prep. Instead, Greg wonders if he can lessen his own burden by hooking his "bauble of corporate wrongdoing" to one of Tom's many branches. And Tom, no longer filled with the fire to drag anyone down with him or even attempt self-preservation, simply accepts. No deal needed. Because at the very least, Greg will continue to sit across from him and listen to his perpetual sorrows.

I guess Kendall bears mentioning, because Tom briefly toys with the idea of jumping ship. He answers Kendall's call, hears him out, and even asks for a more exact game plan — but he never really allows himself hope of an escape. Tom can see clearly — he knows there's no point betraying his wife and turning against Logan, certainly not if the alternative is Kendall.

Bonus points to Tom for delivering a harsh, but spot-on observation to Kendall: "Having been around a bit, my hunch is that you're going to get f***ed. Because I've seen you get f***ed a lot. And I've never seen Logan get f***ed once."

8. Shiv Roy, Another Liberal Shill

Is it just me, or does Shiv sound an awful lot like Kendall did earlier this season? She spends half the episode spouting off about the importance of responsibility to the American Republic and it took all my strength not to yell YOU'RE IN THE WRONG ROOM, BESTIE. Logan outright laughs at her rants and Roman is hungry for any opportunity to make fun — and she gives him every possible opening. She often seems out of her depth when it comes to the business of running Waystar Royco, but is willing to burn whoever she must for a chance at the big prize. This week, Shiv wavers and for a second you wonder — does she actually have the stomach for this?

Shiv is in agony here: she bristles listening to her fellow elites deem themselves the "party of the working class," because she has slightly more self awareness and a clear memory of what it was like to wreck them from the other side of the party line. She indeed tries her hand at wrecking them in conversation and ultimately, ignores boring Boyer and actuarial devil Mencken for Rick Salgado, the lesser of four evils. Mostly, he seems like another attempt at tasting some whats-in-it-for-me sprinkles, since he offers the alluring opportunity to help make her CEO. Out loud, she brushes this off as a joke, but it seems to help win him her favor. It also helps that he's not a (loud and proud) fascist. But Shiv comes to realize that you can't pick your shade of bad people — you're in this room or you're not, there are no degrees of complicity. Roman tosses out a helpful reminder during one of her impassioned rants, saying, "You have a trophy husband and several fur coats, I think you're gonna be fine."

Maybe Shiv really is overwhelmed by her conscience, but she repeatedly chooses a slim chance at the throne over whatever values she once held close. She starts to put her foot down, refusing a family photo-op with Mencken, but Logan continues to dangle the possibility of leading Waystar over her head: "Are you part of this family or not?" She knows too well what it means to be on the outskirts like Kendall, so she steps into the photo — but her morals are still intact, cause she's a whole two people away from him! "You win, Pinkie," Logan says of her embarrassing defeat.

Continuing the trend of being the new Kendall, Shiv now seems to be at a crossroads: continue playing a losing game at her father's side or seize power for herself. Salgado pushes her in the latter direction and at the very least, Shiv considers the possibility. As Logan continues to push, will she go fully over the edge? Miss Protect the American Republic might have to make a decision real soon.

7. Connor (And All The Conheads)

Oh to be an utter joke, like Connor Roy. The first pancake has had a rollercoaster bid for the presidency — he went from us not taking him one ounce seriously to actually fearing he might sit on the throne — errm, in the White House. But Logan never doubted for one second what a useless buffoon his son truly is. Connor probably should've stuck with being president of European cable, because not one member of his family is willing to consider his presidential run for more than half a second. Logan floats it to the group discussion mostly because of Connor's loud coughs for attention but also because the opportunity is so ripe for jokes. He even tosses the mic over to Greg who stutters uncertainly, considers spoiling his ballot in Connor's favor, then ultimately feels the need to speak up about how terrible Connor would be as president.

Other than being the laughing stick of his family, Connor has a few points in his favor: namely his fanbase of fellow tax-evading buffoons and the fact that he can always speak publicly about his father's general awfulness. This is never a threat he brings up with Logan present, but still sits in his back pocket. Most importantly, Connor has Willa (Justine Lupe) who finally makes an appearance, standing at his side whilst tying the next great American play in her phone notes. She also quietly resents him for trying to pimp her out for votes so okay, maybe he won't have Willa for much longer. But he'll always have the support of Maxim Pierce, leaning over to say things like, "the sword has been pulled from the stone, my liege."

Anyways, nothing to do now but await the upcoming thrilling presidential debate between Jeryd Mencken, Gil Eavis (Eric Bogosian) and Independent Party candidate, Connor Roy.

6. Greg Hirsch

We should probably keep an eye on Greenpeace Destroyer Greg Hirsch. The once easily dismissed Cousin Greg not only has a spot in the room, though he's invited with the caveat of "minimizing the Greg window" and keeping his mouth shut. He stays pretty quiet for much of the meeting, occasionally sharing our bewildered expressions and general distress over the direction of the conversation, but he also gets a chance to say his piece. And what's going on in that egg-head of his? Connor Roy should not be crowned president.

It's a very reasonable position that might be more thrilling if it weren't preceded by Greg asking Tom to take the fall for him and then followed up with a bunch of radical Republican bros hoisting Greg up on their shoulders. "F*** Greenpace," they chant thrilled by the idea of suing an environmental charity agency. It's picture-perfect proof that Greg continues to be top-tier comedy relief, but also that we ought to be worried about where he's heading. He dismisses the moment to Tom, saying he was commandeered, but the grin on his face says otherwise. He may not love their principles and wears a look of distress all episode long, but he'll be back in the office with the Roys on Monday, moral corruption aside. Greg wants to be in this world, and Tom registers this fact with a knowing grimace. Of all people, he knows what a dangerous desire that can be.

Bonus points because ... wow: "I just feel because of my physical length, I could be the target for all kinds of misadventure."

5. Lisa Arthur

As far as I'm concerned, this week is a big win for Lisa (Sanaa Lathan). Sure, she sullies herself by sharing the same space as Kendall Roy and even acts as his lawyer in what she once believed was a world-shattering case — but that was doomed from the start. She's forced to listen as he undermines her position, and accuses her of failing at her job BUT then she's set free. Fired might be the technical term, but at least she was tossed off the Titanic before it entered the final foreboding leg of its journey. Lisa no longer has to be roused in the middle of the night by news of her client's latest blunder! If this means we've seen the last of Sanaa Lathan, then it's a big loss for us as viewers, but at least she's free of Kendall's stupidity. Maybe she'll reignite her friendship with Shiv, now! But more likely, she'll take a long vacation and flick on cable to watch the Waystar empire collapse around these idiots.

4. Kerry

Meme queen Kerry (Zoe Winters) is Logan's favorite person at the moment; there's nothing more attractive than the woman who handles your meds, am I right? A teeny tiny subplot to the episode is a debate between Roman and Shiv — is Logan sleeping with his assistant? The answer is yes, most definitely, otherwise what the hell was that charged look they exchanged at the end of their presidential crowning discussion? Not only is Kerry the woman of the hour — with Rhea Jarell long gone and Marcia just a very expensive PR stunt — she also gets the freedom to speak her mind, and the power of some noticeable sway. She tosses some wood on the flames of Boyer's life when he casually bumps into Logan in the hallway, then freely voices her opinions on Mencken, the winner Logan ultimately crowns. Most importantly, she signals the end of the discussion by making eyes at the big man from across the room. While Roman and Shiv continue to bicker, she already knows Logan is ready to call it quits. He gives her a weighty nod, then exits by her side.

3. Lady Caroline, An Offscreen Queen

Lady Caroline, sharp of tongue and cold of heart, is marrying some fine chap named Peter Munion. And winning the gold medal in the withholding parent Olympics, she neglected to inform her three children or even invite them to the festivities. Psychological damage aside, it's mostly fine — they're too wrapped up in their Daddy damage to note what's going on with mommy. Except, of course, for Roman, the youngest of the three who is still deeply entrenched in both. Caroline doesn't grant us the gift of her presence and it's unclear whether or not we'll get to see her this season, but the world's worst mummy need not be onscreen to decimate her child. I'm crossing my fingers for a surprise cameo from Caroline next week, but since we're leading up to Kendall's birthday and he famously "bores the s***" out of her, I'm guessing she won't be at the big birthday bash. I'd suggest a scathing birthday card, but let's face it — she doesn't know her son's birth date.

2. Roman (& His New Boyfriend, Jeryd Mencken)

Sorry Roman/Gerri shippers (I'm talking to myself here), looks like our little psychopath is starting to branch out. A single mommy-figure in his life isn't nearly enough, he also needs a facist bestie for steamy bathroom discussions! I jest, I jest, Roman's heart remains with Gerri, but this week, Jeryd Mencken has his full attention. Much like Roman, the razor-tongued, charismatic presidential candidate is outwardly a scumbag, not hesitating to insult Logan from two feet away but just as willing to declare his fealty later on. The full blown fascist seems to strike fear in Siobhan, but Roman keeps his eye on the ball — if he has what it takes to win, why not back him?

Roman is in his best form this week, and manages to do it all without Gerri by his side, coaching him through. He doesn't even make a frenzied call to his better half, showing off just how well her tutelage has sunken in. When not distracted by news of his mother's new husband ("we have to stop the wedding, right?") he's lasered in on all that Mencken has to offer. "The guy is f***ing diesel, he's good on camera, he's fun, he'll fight, viewers will eat from his hand, no downside." Unlike Shiv, he understands that policy — as long as it leans in their favor — is no issue. It's a sharp slap in the face to us; Roman's humanity has been so oddly on display this season. In "What It Takes," he spends half the time spiraling about his mother's upcoming nuptials. Last week, the prospect of his father dying nearly broke him. But Roman's capacity for empathy is limited to his own circle: he hits a stride with Mencken and doesn't spare a single moment of internal debate over what it means for the rest of the country. Why would he?

Bonus points for the look he gives Greg when the gangly cousin boards the elevator.

1. Climate Denier, Logan Roy

This brings us to the kingmaker himself, Logan Roy. No longer burdened by a shareholder vote, Logan's future is back in his hands ... for now. There have been moments this season where we questioned whether he would live to see the next episode and the man is still a missed dose away from another meltdown, but people seem to have a short memory for his failures. The man who just lost the party a sure presidency is heralded on the convention floor, with people waiting in hallways for a second of his time or cozying up for an ounce of attention.

Kendall was a thorn in Logan's side and remains an annoying pinprick, but nothing more. While he self-destructs, Logan sits in a hotel room, casually "joking" to the vice president about maybe firing the deputy attorney general. Firing a cabinet member might seem too big an ask for a first date, but Logan actually starts off small — he calls Boyer up for a chat, telling the man who's one heartbeat away from the presidency that he would like a coke brought up to his room. The simple power play is akin to the time Logan ruined Kendall's reign with a box of donuts: Boyer missteps, sniping back, "Did you mean to call room service?" The whole exchange wins a huge grin from Roman, who thrills to see his father at the height of his power and later uses the request to secure Mencken. Of course the real winner is Logan — he's found himself another president to do his bidding.

Shiv makes the lackluster argument that Logan shouldn't side with someone so controversial, pleading "you have to look at the climate." But telling Logan what to do has never been the way to go. He shuts her down, and makes his final call: "Climate said I was going down. Climate said I should just step aside. I guess I'm a climate-denier."

Logan's superpower is denying the inevitable. We're waiting for him to topple because eventually, he will. Yet week to week, he finds new ways to cinch a win. He has to fall eventually and we know that, so why is it so impossible to imagine? A couple weeks ago, Shiv was trying to remind Roman that their father isn't some fantastically powerful god figure but ... I dunno. Isn't he? Until his mortality rears its ugly head, Logan's power bubble feels pretty impenetrable.