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Theory: Cousin Greg Will End Up Running Waystar Royco On Succession

Fans of "Succession" were likely pretty disappointed when, in February of 2023, showrunner and creator Jesse Armstrong suddenly announced that the upcoming fourth season of the hit HBO series would also be its last. The only upside to the fact that the Roy family will only grace our collective screens with their scheming and squabbling for one more season is this: finally, audiences will get to see who wins the series' ultimate battle.

Throughout its run, "Succession" has, with good reason, been compared to one of Shakespeare's tragedies, "King Lear" — and if we look at what happens in Lear, we might be able to figure out what's going to happen in this final season. You probably know the basics of the story: an aging King Lear needs to figure out how to divide his power and his land between his daughters Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia, the first two of whom are wildly power hungry (as are their respective husbands the Duke of Cornwall and the Duke of Albany) and the last of whom doesn't want anything at all. As the infighting really gets going around the elderly, rapidly declining king, utter mayhem breaks out — Regan ends up poisoned, Goneril takes her own life, Cordelia gets executed, and another guy we haven't even mentioned yet gets his eyes gouged out. (Spoiler alert for a very old play, in case you haven't read it.)

According to the rules of Shakespearean tragedy, the endings are full of death and destruction, and typically, the last person to speak is the default "winner." So who's last to speak in King Lear? Though it was originally Albany, the First Folio changes it to Edgar, so we'll go with that — and we'll also say Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) is the Edgar of "Succession."

What's Cousin Greg's deal in the first place?

From the very beginning of the series, Greg has been at an utter deficit within the Roy family. Coming from comparatively humble beginnings — or, in other words, "he starts the show working as a Waystar Royco theme park mascot who gets really high and pukes in his costume — Greg shows up in Season 1 to ask his powerful great-uncle Logan Roy (Brian Cox), the family's patriarch, for a job. After getting a relatively nebulous job at Waystar and allying himself with Roy daughter Shiv's (Sarah Snook) eventual husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfayden), who's just as hungry for power as any member of the family.

Greg is, to be blunt, pretty hapless; enormously tall and undeniably goofy, he basically bumbles throughout each scenario he finds himself in, playing up his dumb, Labrador-esque nature in the process. By the end of Season 3, though, he's not in a bad spot. Throughout the series, he tries to place himself wherever he thinks he'll end up following the "winner" of whatever problematic situation is currently brewing, and by the end of that season, Tom is said winner, having sold out his own wife to Logan to ensure that the head honcho would cut off Shiv and her siblings Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) from running the company entirely. Since Greg is Tom's lackey, punching bag, and also kind of his best friend, he's entering the final season near the top, at the very least.

Why will Cousin Greg land on top?

The Roys are, if nothing else, brutal. Each and every one of them, including Roy-by-marriage Tom (who, based on his dynamic with Shiv, probably should have taken her last name when they got married), would stop at nothing to run the company and accept the wealth and power that comes with that position. That said, all of the Roys are, ultimately, too conniving for their own good, and all of them have significant skeletons in their closets. Kendall killed a server during the first season in a car accident, Roman has been sexually harassing an older female employee at Waystar, Shiv convinced victims of harassment to keep quiet, and Connor (Alan Ruck), the eldest, is even more hapless than Greg. Tom, though clever, will eventually see his wax wings melt as he nears the sun, and Logan is in increasingly poor health; plus, if we're sticking with the "Lear" narrative, he has to die and cede power.

That leaves Greg, and in the end, he'll be the Edgar, crowned king of Waystar Royco. Whether or not he'll right the ship and stop covering up endless abuses committed by the company remains to be seen, but that ultimately doesn't matter. The point is that the person least qualified to lead the company, by basically all metrics, will get the top spot simply because the other competitors will take out each other and themselves while Greg, the fool, stands on the sidelines, waiting for the carnage to come to a close.

The final season of "Succession" kicks off on March 26, 2023.