A Succession Theory Casts Greg as A Secret Mastermind

Cousin Greg has always been a source of comedic relief on Succession, but what if he's not as dumb as we thought?

Greg (Nicholas Braun) and Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) sit at a conference room table on election night
Photo: Macall Polay/HBO

This article contains spoilers for season 4 episode 8 of Succession.

Succession fans all know Greg (Nicholas Braun) as the dumb yet somewhat loveable cousin of the Roy siblings, but what if his stupidity was all an act? He’s done many morally questionable things under Tom’s (Matthew Macfadyen) leadership, but it never seemed like he was doing them entirely of his own volition, but rather because of Tom’s bullying. However, after a specific scene in the episode “America Decides,” we believe that Greg may be a lot smarter and calculating than he lets on. 

In this episode, the election that the series has been building to for four seasons is finally happening, but not without some bumps in the road. Likely Jeryd Mencken supporters set a Milwaukee polling place on fire, destroying many of the mail-in ballots that had yet to be counted. In order to show their support for Mencken (Justin Kirk), Roman (Kieran Culkin) urges ATN to go ahead and call the election in the state for Mencken, despite the fact that the ballots that were burned would likely give Jiménez (Elliot Villar) Wisconsin instead. ATN’s decision desk lead Darwin (Adam Godley) is one of the few that are vocally against this, since it really seems too soon to definitively call the state one way or the other.

Darwin finally agrees with the caveat that they call the result “pending” and they let him explain on camera that the call isn’t a “call” call. However, right as he sits down to work through what he’s going to say, he somehow gets wasabi in his eye. The same wasabi that Greg is eating right next to him. Greg then tries to wash Darwin’s eye out with lemon La Croix, making things even worse and thus preventing Darwin from addressing the viewers when ATN does make the call. 

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At first glance, this may just seem like another “how is Greg so dumb?” moment, but what if Greg intentionally planted the wasabi close to Darwin’s computer to keep him from going on camera and undermining the “win” for Mencken? Greg could be a secret fascist, but his conversation with Kendall’s assistant Jess (Juliana Canfield) after the Arizona votes came in felt like a rare genuine moment from Greg, so that seems like the hardest option to believe. The more believable reason is that he was trying to either support Tom or show that he’s capable of working in this world without Tom’s guidance.

If this “dumb cousin” thing has really been an act for Greg, the loss of Logan is arguably the perfect time for him to start shedding the persona and show his cousins what he can really do. Logan was never going to take him seriously, but there’s a chance that Roman and Kendall might in the future. Neither of them are exactly the brightest bulb in the box either, and if Greg really is some kind of mastermind, he could easily play them both to gain power without them realizing it.

Earlier in the episode, Greg fights back when Tom asks him for coffee saying “Tom, I don’t do coffee anymore,” further proving that he’s starting to come out from Tom’s shadow. Greg surprisingly has an in with Matsson, and uses that to tell both Tom and Kendall (Jeremy Strong) about Shiv’s (Sarah Snook) partnership with him, information that leads them both to turn on Shiv in this episode. Whether Greg really did wasabi Darwin on purpose or not, he has clearly learned a lot in his time with Tom and the Roys, and finally seems ready to use those skills for his own gain. There’s no telling what Greg’s ultimate master plan might be, if he has one, but it’s clear that Tom and the Roys have underestimated what he’s capable of.