Already considered to be one of the best hours of TV of all time, episode three of Succession season four has shocked audiences worldwide. The death of patriarch Logan Roy has been on the cards since the very first episode of the very first season, when he was admitted to hospital for a stroke. In fact, the potential for it to happen creates the central tension in the show: what will happen after he’s gone, and can anyone live up to his legacy?
But even though we were all expecting it, we weren’t quite expecting it so soon. In an excruciatingly tense 45 minutes, as Logan was given chest compressions on a private jet, we watched Logan’s children, attending the wedding of their eldest brother Connor, reason and deny that he was really gone, as we did the same ourselves. At the end of the episode, as his body was removed from the plane, there was a sense of disbelief as it finally sunk in.
Now, though, a host of questions remain. Will there be anarchy for the rest of the season? How will his kids make peace with his death? And crucially, with Logan gone, who will come out on top?
It’s been a long and winding road for Kendall: he has flip-flopped over the course of the show from his dad’s greatest supporter to his worst enemy. It has felt at points like the only way he could prove himself to Logan, who has kept Kendall firmly under his emotional control his whole life, was to be ruthless enough to betray him. Having done so in season three, creating an alliance with his siblings to form a supermajority at the board meeting voting on the sale of Waystar, Kendal now faces a quandary. Go out on his own, or fight to head up Waystar as its natural heir? It’s particularly loaded because if he chooses the latter, the relationship he has been building with his siblings will be shattered. But he also proved his keen business sense when he pointed out that their reaction to the death would “be in the memoirs” – thinking strategically even among the worst grief. My bet is that he’ll fight for Waystar til the bitter end.
It’s a turbulent time for Shiv. She’s backed herself into a corner over her divorce, which she felt was necessary to secure the Pierce deal – and now Tom has conflicted her out of every divorce lawyer in New York. While Logan’s death shifts the power dynamic between her and Tom back in her favour, she remains in a tricky position. She hasn’t always been involved in Waystar and, though she likes to convey an air of utmost control, often ends up getting shafted; though she always thinks she’s right, she has frequently been proven wrong. In other words, Shiv is more vulnerable than we think – a fact evident in episode 3 and Sarah Snook’s emotive performance of grief, as well as Shiv giving the statement about Logan’s death to the press. She was, though she wouldn’t admit it, very much reliant on Logan’s approval for her own self-worth. Now that he’s gone, Shiv is seeking comfort from Tom, whose warmth and affection she previously rejected. I have a feeling things may not end well for her.
Roman is a dark horse: though Kendall has always been Waystar’s natural heir, Roman is usually lurking in the wings. In the first episodes of season four it was revealed that he had been playing both sides – keeping in touch with Logan despite the siblings’ supposed estrangement from him. At the end of episode two, Logan told him that he needed him at ATN. I would put money on Roman emerging victorious as Logan’s successor. This would be hugely validating for Roman, who has always been a scrappy underdog rarely taken seriously by his father or anyone else around him. If the rocket launch in season two is anything to go by, it could make ATN highly dysfunctional – but I have a feeling Logan has always known he could do it, and a shot at the top might bring out the best in Roman.
Tough day at the office for Tom, holding a phone to a dead man’s ear while his ex wife speaks her last – unheard – words to her father. Even tougher given that that dead man was his one safety rope. Though he likes to lord it over his protégé Greg, Tom is something of an impostor in this world, having come from humble beginnings in Minnesota. His status always feels fragile. Pending divorce from Shiv and without backing from Logan – who had to show him loyalty after his betrayal – Tom find himself slipping down the pole very quickly. On the other hand, he might fight for his life, and prove that you don’t have to have family connections to come out on top. Is there hope for him and Shiv? She seems to need him emotionally, and he needs her for business – so who knows, they may yet reignite their marriage. It’s all to play for here.
Greg has proved again and again that he’s more ambitious and ruthless than he looks. It’s difficult to imagine him ever having enough influence to cause true disruptions, but he might be a key player for Tom’s power strategy, as he has been in previous seasons – doing a “deal with the devil” at the end of season three, when Tom betrayed Shiv to get on board with Logan, and when Tom made him destroy evidence of the cruises scandal in season 1. Now that he’s been cut out of his grandfather’s – Logan’s brother’s – inheritance, he needs to make his own cash, and he’s most certainly got a taste for the lifestyle: could Greg end up stabbing Tom in the back in order to save his own skin?
“The good thing about having a family that doesn’t love you is you learn to live without it,” said Connor in episode two. Of course, this isn’t strictly true – Connor simply throws money at the problem, paying for Willa to stay with him – but compared to the other three siblings, who come from a different marriage, he is a bit of a lone wolf. Connor has never been interested in Waystar – and Logan has never been interested in having him involved. Instead of jostling for power at the company, Connor has been preoccupied trying to gain power of the USA: the market instability that will result from Logan’s death will affect more than just his investments: the public might see him differently if he plays it right. Despite his appalling polling in episode one, I have a terrible but overwhelming feeling that he’s going to become president.
Gerri is, as we know from season three when Logan had to step down temporarily as CEO, a stable pair of hands. And yet Logan wanted to get rid of her – and he wanted Roman, with whom she’d been having a sordid flirtation, to do the deed. Until Tom called Roman to tell him about Logan, this looked to be the main event of the episode, with Gerri furious that she was being excluded from the Gojo deal. But except for Tom and Roman – who was less than pleased to be the messenger – nobody knew she was out of favour. Can she claw her way back in now Logan has gone, and prove to be the safe pair of hands once again?