Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

(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.)

The shadow of Logan Roy looms large in “Kill List.” Waystar Royco is heading into battle with GoJo, and they no longer have their “f*** you” general leading the charge. Instead, they’ve got #1 Jay-Z fan Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) and a half-alive version of Roman (Kieran Culkin), still sick with grief as he mourns his father. But while there isn’t a ton of confidence in their ability to get the deal through, there are no other options. The interim leaders are in charge and, surprise surprise, they have ulterior motives.

To the shock of absolutely no one, Kendall loves being CEO so much that he wants to hold onto Waystar forever. So while they should be working out ways to “bleed the Swede” and earn more money for the eventual ATN-Pearce sibling spin-off, Kendall is considering ways to tank the deal with Matsson. He shares the plan with Roman, who follows his lead, but keeps Shiv (Sarah Snook) in the dark.

Meanwhile, rumors of the titular kill list indicate that not everyone will survive the transition so the Wystar execs start getting antsy. Gerri offers an inspiring pep talk, telling the group, “They may think they’re Vikings, but we’ve been raised by wolves.” Though not aimed at them, this applies to the siblings more than anyone. After years of being pitted against each other and tortured by their dad’s cruel business tactics, are they ready to follow in his lead? Gerri argues that they can take on anything after being “exposed to a pathogen known as Logan Roy.” But the episode itself argues otherwise.

Raised By Wolves

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

In this case, their constitutions haven’t grown stronger from fighting the virus, they’ve just weakened over time. The Swedes don’t quite eat them alive, but they do guffaw in their faces: eyes are rolled, looks are exchanged and jokes are tossed around at full volume. The episode plays out a lot like season 2’s “Tern Haven”: lots of cultural clashing as our crew meets another, and fails to fit in. Despite being raised by wolves, none of them have the grit to actually face off against the Swedes. The Hugos and Toms of the world are grating as they try to make small talk and elsewhere, Roman and Kendall are conversationally crushed by Matsson. “I preferred doing this with your dad,” Matsson eventually tells them. “He was a prick but at least he knew what he wanted.”

Within hours of knowing them, he nails the problem. They don’t really know how to win this situation: selling would get them closer to doing something of their own, but wasn’t that always just a consolation prize? But keeping Waystar — a dying brand, a sinking ship, their father’s life work — is still a pipe dream, right?

They consider their options and go behind each other’s backs. Shiv chats with Matsson as her brothers scheme to tank the deal. It’s Matsson who makes the Logan-like move of the episode. Money wins, so he offers a huge stock price for the company — the kind of offer that they can’t refuse, even though they desperately wanted to. So where does that leave everyone?

10. Waystar Studios

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

You’ve heard of ATN (news for angry old people)! You’ve heard of Parks & Cruises (the one with puking mascots and a history of sexual assault)! But are you ready to learn more about the most exciting division of Waystar Royco: Waystar Studios?! Because rumor has it they’ve been working on something big …

From the studio that brought us the bane of Roman’s existence “The Biggest Turkey in the World,” comes “Calypsotron Hibernation,” a movie about a sleepy robot.

“Calypsotron Hibernation” is a movie so bad that Kendall uses it to poison the GoJo execs against acquiring Waystar Royco. But then it turns out that the movie is so disastrously terrible that it’s utterly unbelievable for him to not be tricking them, so the plan doesn’t even work. This means that Waystar Studios is absolutely useless in these negotiations. All we know is that they’re in the midst of a crisis, while production continues on a movie about a robot sleeping in a cave. With a second producer out of the picture (citing “mental collapse”), the Roys have no choice but to keep bleeding cash since the movie has already cost well over $200 million and might as well continue with reshoots. Three cheers for corporate media, amirite?

9. The Dead Weight

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

The first casualties of war (aka the victims of the kill list) are as follows: Ray, Mark, Hugo, Frank, and Karl. Hopefully, there’s a sizable severance package in their future, but they’ve still lost their spot in the prestige suite. Their proximity to power is no more, leaving them with no choice but to take their money and go … or find new jobs … or retire early. Honestly, they’ve got plenty of options! Surely someone’s looking to snag Logan Roy’s scraps, right? It might even be a less traumatic experience! But I suppose that might be part of the appeal. After all, Frank was in and out of Waystar for years, but always returned to Logan’s beck and call. I suspect they quite like the unyielding pressure of being important at Waystar— the private jet rides and sizable checks don’t hurt. Assuming Krl gets his Greek Island ad Hugho avoids jail, maybe being ousted won’t be as bad as they think.

8. Roman

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

The second that Connor floated the idea of sending a selfie with their dad’s embalmed body and Roman begged him not to, I knew he’d do it anyway. And I knew that it would just f*** Roman up even more. Obviously, everyone is still grieving, but Roman seems to be having the most trouble when it comes to compartmentalizing. Everything he does in “Kill List” revolves around his dad: it goes from Let’s do the deal, dad’s deal and we have to keep ATN, dad’s pride and joy to Let’s not sell to Matsson, because he insulted our dad.

For the most part, Roman soldiers on by burying himself in work: checking in with the Waystar Studios disaster, and assembling his A-Team of young execs while Kendall is off choosing Jay-Z songs for his personal soundtrack. But big picture? He isn’t doing so well. “My sister is f*** up about it and my brother’s a mess,” he later rants to Matsson. “And I’m gone. I’m on the f***ing moon. I’m dead, it’s over for me.”

Roman goes from trying to keep the siblings united to agreeing with Kendall’s plan to tank the deal. But when he’s pushed too far, subtlety is eviscerated and Roman opts to lay it all out in anger: “We’re not selling to you,” he tells Matsson. If nothing else, he wants to hold onto the company out of pure spite, but his brutal honesty has made that very difficult.

7. Greg, The Sole Member Of The ‘Quad Squad’

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

Greg (Nicholas Braun) is a cousin of convenience. He’s a great prop that Tom uses to him to make himself feel big and a rando that Kendal throws at the press for some anonymous commentary. Everyone is happy to call him over when it seems he can be useful, but when Greg is moseying around a room, trying to use his Cousin status to his advantage, the siblings look absolutely bewildered. Who even is this needy weirdo? How does he keep getting on their private jets? And why the hell is he talking to them?

Greg has nobody in his corner except Tom — who might very well chuck him overboard to save his own skin.

6. Gerri & Karolina

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

Raised by wolves, indeed. By virtue of being good at their jobs, not stacking their plates full of danishes, and being the savvy badasses that we’ve always known they are, Gerri (J. Smith Cameron) and Karolina (Dagmara Dominczyk) will not be thrown overboard if Matsson takes over Waystar. They might have to attend Chairman Matsson’s Reeducation Camp, but that’s a given. The important takeaway is that Gerri and Karolina will be retained … so long as they don’t piss off the Roy siblings before the deal closes.

Shiv namedropped both of them while chatting privately with Matsson, painting them as essential whether she meant to or not. She (or a still scorned Roman) could always go back on that, or fire the women before the company is sold. Or, if things go as Kendall intends, there won’t be a sale at all and the entire Old Guard crew will be back to reinterview for their jobs. So though Karolina and Gerri are safe for now, the dust is far from settled.

5. Tom

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

Tightrope Tommy (Matthew Macfadyen) has survived to tip-toe another day. The clumsy interloper has somehow stumbled his way back into Shiv’s good graces … sort of. Apparently ruining shoes, flicking earlobes, and hurling insults is what passes for flirting in the Wambsgans-Roy marriage. (Imagine my surprise to learn that neither Shiv nor Tom are healthily communicating their affections!)

Where the episode begins, Tom very much understands the precarious position that he’s in: if the deal goes through as Logan planned, with an ATN spin-off, then he’s probably screwed. Why would Shiv keep him around when she’s on the verge of divorcing him? He’s no doubt relieved when word gets out that Matsson wants ATN too but even so, there’s plenty of time for him to still be ousted. Not to mention the possibility that Matsson himself won’t want him around.

So in typical Tom fashion, he tries to gain some allies … and ends up embarrassing himself (when he started talking about cargo pants, my brain short-circuited). And yet, he’s not on the kill list. Even though Karl really, really thinks that he should be. Even better, Shiv tells him to go ahead and fire Cyd right before asking him out to dinner.

I’d say everything is coming up Tom, but let’s be real: whatever happens next is wholly dependent on Shiv. Kendall and Roman flat-out asked if she’d like Tom fired. They have no allegiance to their brother-in-law. If shucking him out is a nice thing for their sister then sure — who cares if he’s good at his job? He’s only safe so long as she deigns him to be. “Happy wife, happy life” has never been truer than it is for Tom.

4. Vaulter Guy, Kendall

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

“We’ve seen him up close and he’s a card trick,” Kendall says about Matsson. “He’s gonna destroy everything Dad built.”

… Not to be rude but uh, that feels like a pretty accurate summation of Kendall himself. “Kill List” kicks off with a sequence that feels eerily reminiscent of the very first episode of “Succession”: Mr. L to the OG himself is in the back seat of a car, overconfident, with eyes on the metaphorical horizon, jamming to rap music, and wholly misunderstanding who he is. It’s all the same bravado but with more cracks in his composure. Never mind that he’s been on this precipice before or that he had something new planned with the sibs, Kendall is happy to do a “tightrope walk on a straight razor.” He wants to keep Waystar because he truly believes that he can handle it.

Kendall thinks he’s the big man in every room but next to Matsson, that front is hard to pull off. He’ll always be the “Vaulter guy,” as the GoJo Swede points out. Kendall thinks he understands what he’s getting himself into, but it’s bound to blow up in his face just like that came before.

3. Shiv

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

Shiv might be letting the confidence go to her head, but I’m just relieved that she managed a win this week. Lately, she’s been enduring the kind of never-ending torture usually reserved for Kendall. It’s been one hit after another: an unexpected pregnancy in the midst of her crumbling marriage, being officially cut out of the business while her brothers take over Waystar, plus an embarrassing tumble down the stairs. Oh, and her dad died.

“I have a giant hole in my heart and a 24-hour migraine,” Shiv reminds her brothers when the conversation drifts to Logan. And while that hole may never be filled, Shiv is in much lighter spirits by the time “Kill List” comes to a close. Pinky’s got her mojo back. Shiv manages to get dirt on Matsson and win his favor. And in the process, she gets to hear something that she probably really needed. “I like you,” Matsson says, with his coked-up toddler smile. “You’re cool. You’re not judgy and you can take a joke. I like that… like your dad.”

He’s right, Shiv is like her dad. Especially when filled with the confidence of a killer, something that she struggled with when Logan was breathing disapproval down her neck. She was at her best when she had distance from him and the company, and it seems she’s finally remembered how to be that person again.

Speaking of which, Shiv must’ve seen some radical s*** during her time as a political consultant because when she hears that Matsson sent a woman multiple liters of blood, she doesn’t even flinch. She reels a bit, sure, but she’s still quick to throw out advice. Clearly, she feels powerful again — enough so to throw dirt on Tom’s shoes, dangle her position over his head and ask him out to dinner. As for Matsson, she could throw his scandal to the press (or her brothers), but she doesn’t. There’s an angle there and she’s already working it. If she plays her cards right, it might be very lucrative.

2. Matsson

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

Finally, for the first time all season, we get to see Hans Christian Anderf*** in the flesh. Better yet, we get to spend an extended period of time with the GoJo CEO, watching him negotiate, snort cocaine and make incest jokes with his employees. The verdict? I can’t believe that we once considered Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) a threatening tech genius when in reality, he’s a lanky incel psychopath who spends his free time mailing frozen blood samples to ex-girlfriends and debating the likelihood of France’s fall. There’s also a rumor that he listens to podcasts while strangers “slide his beanpole” but let’s all agree to take everything that Greg says with a grain of salt.

I don’t know if you know this, but half a liter of blood is a lot. Trust me, I googled it. It’s like a medium bottle of coke and apparently, Matsson has mailed several liter-sized blood bricks to his Deputy of Communications. Y’know, the woman in charge of making statements about him to the public.

His utter insanity aside, we can’t really count Matsson out completely. When he’s not confessing his bloody misdeeds to Shiv, he’s radiating easy power in a room with her brothers. Dealing with the CEO-Bros is child’s play to him: they’re green and immature. They show their every intention on their sleeve, have no idea how to intimidate, and are easily backed into a corner. Matsson sees through their ploy in seconds and doesn’t take the bait. He throws more money at them, pleasing the board and pissing off the bros. He’s winning by a long shot. I was tempted to give Shiv the edge now that she has dirt on him but honestly, I wonder if she’ll find the right way to play the blood-liter card against him.

1. Ebba

Succession Season 4 Power Ranking: Operation Bleed The Swede Falls Apart In Kill List

“I keep notes,” Ebba (Eili Harboe) told Shiv. “When I walk it either goes in my book or they pay me off.” It’s not that I thought she was joking, I just didn’t anticipate a world in which her freezer is stocked with liters of her boss’ blood. Did she keep all of it? Only a few bricks? Has she already drafted the book that will make her famous? These questions may never get answers … or maybe they will. And very soon. Is it impatience or concern that’s making Matsson so anxious about this deal? Judging by her expression whenever he’s around, Ebba is getting tired of tolerating his bulls***. As Shiv said, it’s gonna be awfully hard for Matsson to claim deniability when she has several liters of his blood.

Whether she takes a payout or sells this insanity to the highest bidder, I get the feeling that Ebba is gonna be very rich one day.

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