The last time we saw Logan Roy, he was smiling while his son Kendall called him a malignant presence eating away at Waystar Royco on national television.
Succession is ruled by the whims of America’s evil fictional daddy. His reign has been longer than that of any president—men whom he always has on speed dial; he has adults literally on their knees chasing sausage links; he discloses nothing, confides in no one, least of all his children, who tip-toe around his feelings. To understand his emotions is to understand what will happen next. So when the Season 2 finale left us with that mysterious half-wrinkled smile, our curiosity naturally obliged. Was he proud of Kendall for standing up to him? Had he seen it coming?
The creators position Logan as a giant. His back, broad and misaligned, is the shot that opens every show. But they never go too long without reminding us of his fragility either. The possibility of Logan’s death has hung over the series ever since he keeled over in a moving helicopter and ended up unconscious in the ICU in the pilot episode. He pees in Kendall’s office upon his return to Waystar, regularly zones out and forgets things, and, according to Brian Cox, we can expect UTIs to plague him in Season 3. And thanks to the trailer, we also know that someone will (respectfully, of course) ask Roman when his dad is going to die.
I can imagine Logan faking a terminal illness before I can imagine him dying, but that’s a product of how the show has built him up. Death comes for everyone, and Succession is asking its audience to contemplate a world in which he doesn’t exist.
But who are the Roys without Logan? What would they even do if they were free of him? Every time Shiv and Ken have had enough space to find out, they’ve come back. Roman and Connor, meanwhile, have never been self-sufficient enough to not depend on him. They’ve been after Logan’s approval their entire lives. What would they chase if he were gone? As Kendall put it to Shiv in one of the show’s most chilling lines, “If dad didn’t need me right now, I don’t exactly know what I would be for.”
There’s a reason that last time Logan almost died, the subsequent episode was titled “Shit Show at the Fuck Factory.” Logan had just dangled the top job in front of Kendall before taking it away, firing Frank, and asking the kids to double Marcia’s power over the trust. He was playing what we now know is his favorite game: the emotional puppetmaster, wielding approval and punishment to influence his family and employees.
In “Shit Show,” the siblings squabbled and mocked each other every time a decision needed to be made. First, Roman tried to ingratiate himself to Marcia by signing the trust and trying to get Shiv to state that she wouldn’t. When his sister sussed out his motives, they got into a fistfight. Then they teamed up to sabotage Kendall when the board tried to put him in charge: They don’t know if they want to run WayStar, but they sure as hell don’t want Kendall to do it.
That fallout provides clues into what a post-Logan universe might look like: None of the four siblings has been outside of their dad’s clutches long enough to know what they really want. That’s what fuels their aching, insatiable greed. They don’t know what they want, but they could want anything—especially the power of running Waystar Royco—so they’d better make sure nobody else gets it.
The strategic fallout from Logan’s death is also easy to envision: Shiv taking shots at Kendall on CNN, Tom (but really Shiv) running a PR campaign from the ACN news desk, the ConHeads running a strategic campaign from a Stormfront forum, Roman and Gerri putting the rockstar–mole woman partnership to the test.
But how will they react emotionally? Something fundamental shifted in Kendall’s relationship with his father when Logan called the boy he inadvertently killed in the Season 1 finale an NRPI—short for “no real person involved,” the same phrase the company uses for the women who disappeared on Waystar Royco cruise lines. Ken is no humanitarian, but the realization that Logan used the kid to guilt him into taking the fall for the cruises scandal was the sign he needed to turn on him. If Logan told Ken he was dying, would he even believe him? What about the rest of the siblings?
When Shiv seemed like the most competent sibling—stable, cool-minded, employed and ambitious, and with the guile to pretend she has a conscience—Logan dangled the CEO position in and out of her eyeline so forcefully that the whiplash turned her into a reactive puddle. Roman, meanwhile, has always been Logan’s whipping boy. If Logan dies, he seems like the one most likely to take a one-way flight to Portugal and spend the rest of his days chasing highs and pretending his family doesn’t exist. He is also most likely to understand that the reason they craved Logan’s approval is because they all wanted safety from him, that the behavior Kendall defended as “the long type of love expression” was actually just abuse. How do you grieve the person who broke you? How do you let go of the fact that they’ll never give you the reconciliation you wanted from them? Can the Roys ever feel free or will they just feel empty? And how will they fill that hole? (Connor—maybe you forgot about him like Logan does—will probably be the only sibling to weep at the funeral.)
Logan, like a tyrant king, has worked his entire life to undermine the legitimacy of every possible successor. He does not act like a man who thinks about death very often. He hoards everything—especially approval—because it’s the source of his power, ensuring no one knows what he thinks about them. It’s hard to see him giving up that leverage in a moment when he’s about to lose everything. While Logan often excuses his cruelty as a duty for family, like a media-world Walter White, he does not seem to care much about his legacy. (Kendall was on to something when he accused his father of being jealous that his kids didn’t have to suffer like he did.) He’ll plunge his company into chaos with his last breaths, his only regret being that he can’t stay to witness the epic conflict left in his wake.
Because what use is power if it can’t be exerted, even from the grave?