clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

$10 Billion Should Do It: Breaking Down the Season 4 Premiere of ‘Succession’

With the Roy siblings (sans Connor) finally working together for once, Logan’s unwelcome birthday party goes from bad to worse

HBO/Ringer illustration

Television’s most miserable wealthy family is back for one final season of scheming, and The Ringer will be following their tragicomic power struggle every step of the way. Each week, we’ll break down the biggest developments, track who’s leading the literal line of succession, and catalog each episode’s most savage burns, best Cousin Greg–isms, and more. Let’s get started with the Season 4 premiere, “The Munsters.”

Succession’s Line of Succession, Week 1

It’s the beginning of the end of Succession, and while only nine episodes remain after Sunday night’s premiere, we’re still further than ever from figuring out who, if anyone, will succeed Logan Roy atop the Waystar Royco throne. For one, Waystar is 48 hours away from being sold to GoJo, the upstart streaming company founded by Swedish tech mogul Lukas Matsson. Then there’s the small matter of Logan’s children: Roman, Kendall, and Shiv have formed a unified front against their father following the explosive events of the Season 3 finale, while Connor is focused on maintaining the literal 1 percent share of voters supporting his presidential bid. The fact that this is all happening against the backdrop of Logan’s birthday party—also the central focus of Succession’s pilot—underlines how, the more things change on the show, the more they stay the same.

In keeping with that theme, “The Munsters” finds Logan once again trying to acquire Pierce Global Media, the left-leaning media conglomerate he set his sights on back in the second season. This time around, the Pierce matriarch, Nan, is far more inclined to accept a bid: The family wants out, even if PGM’s valuation has taken a nosedive. (Logan once offered to buy PGM for $25 billion; now, the Pierces will probably have to settle for $10 billion or less.) There’s just one problem for Logan: He’s not the only Roy eager to break the bank for the Pierces’ media empire.

While Roman, Kendall, and Shiv begin “The Munsters” with a digital media venture of their own—one that Kendall describes as “Substack meets MasterClass meets The Economist meets The New Yorker”—they throw those plans out the window once they discover that Logan is gunning for PGM and the Pierce family is entertaining offers. The PGM acquisition would be a win-win for the Roy kids: Not only would they be able to screw their dad out of a major deal, but it would also finally give them a chance to prove their business acumen with an established media conglomerate to call their own. (As for how the trio could afford to spend billions on PGM, they can liquidate their respective stakes in Waystar once the company is sold to GoJo.)

Roman, Kendall, and Shiv waste little time going to meet with Nan, who deftly uses the animosity between Logan and his children to boost the price of the sale. After a few bids are exchanged, Nan ultimately accepts a $10 billion offer from the siblings without giving Logan a chance to throw in a counter. (Such is the price of negotiating with someone who actively despises you, and vice versa.) Missing out on PGM shouldn’t hurt Logan’s prospects too much: The GoJo deal is imminent, and he’s essentially handpicked the next Republican presidential candidate (sorry, Connor). Even so, losing a bidding war against your own children is a bitter pill to swallow, especially for someone whose ego is big enough to block out the sun. (Another thing to note: The PGM deal is technically a handshake agreement and is contingent on the kids liquidating their Waystar assets, so nothing is set in stone.)

In a strange way, the Pierce acquisition could endear Roman, Kendall, and Shiv to their father: Time and again, Logan’s demonstrated that he’s impressed when his children show a killer instinct. (Lest we forget the subtle grin on Logan’s face when Kendall betrayed him in the Season 2 finale’s mic drop of a press conference.) But for the time being, Logan is unsurprisingly pissed off that things didn’t go his way for once. “Congratulations on saying the biggest number, you fucking morons,” Logan tells the trio over the phone, the only words he exchanges with the group all episode.

Obviously, none of the Roy kids make sense as Logan’s successor right now, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t worthy candidates waiting in the wings. Off the heels of betraying his own wife at the end of the third season, Tom Wambsgans continues ingratiating himself to Logan in “The Munsters,” leading the Pierce negotiations (albeit unsuccessfully) on his behalf and, perhaps more important, being one of the only people the Roy patriarch actually seems to tolerate at his birthday party. Meanwhile, we shouldn’t discount Kerry, Logan’s self-described “friend, assistant, and adviser.” Kerry’s technically been on the series since the second season, but she really made a name for herself throughout Season 3, during which it’s heavily implied that she started sleeping with Logan to curry favor with him. Whether or not the sexual component of their relationship is actually true, there’s no denying that Kerry has made her way into Logan’s inner circle—to the extent that she’s one of the only people who has a say on business matters without being told to fuck off. (To her credit, she seems like a shrewd operator.) Make no mistake, Kerry is a dark horse candidate, but when one is jostling among Logan’s many power-hungry subordinates, it’s never a bad idea to stay on his good side—by any means necessary.

Takeaway of the Week: A Family Divided

To address the elephant in the room: Of Logan’s closest family, only Connor attended his birthday party. According to Kerry, Marcia is off “shopping forever” in Milan, while Roman, Kendall, and Shiv are on the West Coast making moves to acquire PGM. Based on what we’ve seen in “The Munsters,” the splintering of the Roy family has been a welcome development for the kids. They’re productively working together, and with the exception of Shiv’s ongoing marital problems with Tom, they actually seem … somewhat content? Things on Succession can change in a heartbeat, but it shouldn’t come as a shock that being estranged from Logan is good for a character’s well-being.

Conversely, Logan is a bit of a mess without his kids around. He’ll never be mistaken for a cheerful individual, but I’ve never seen more disdain in someone who was serenaded with “Happy Birthday” by a bunch of people invited to his party:

Kerry is perceptive enough to know that Logan misses his kids, even if he would never admit it. But considering that they won’t give him a call on his birthday even after Kerry reaches out with a hint of desperation, perhaps the trio have finally reached the point of no return with their father. As their mother, Caroline, said about Logan last season: She never would’ve gotten dogs during their marriage because he loves kicking anything that loves him to see whether it’ll come crawling back to his feet. Roman, Kendall, and Shiv have been kicked around by Logan their whole lives, and it appears they’ve cut off that abusive pattern for good. (Or, at least, for one episode; my money’s on one of them eventually being a turncoat.) For Logan, that means one of his only remaining confidants is Colin, his loyal fixer and security guard, who has covered up all kinds of sketchy shit on his behalf, including Kendall’s involvement with the cater waiter’s death in the Season 1 finale. “You’re my best pal,” Logan tells Colin after the two step out and grab a meal in the middle of his party:

No offense to Colin, but it’s not a great look when Logan’s “best pal” is someone straight-up on his payroll. But the saddest indication that Logan is in a funk without his kids around is when he complains about the noticeable vibe shift within his team. “Nobody tells jokes anymore, do they?” Logan asks his subordinates before begging them to roast him. (Cousin Greg does roast Logan, and it doesn’t go well; more on that shortly.) Since none of the Roys are capable of expressing themselves like normal human beings, this is Logan’s version of mourning the absence of his kids—and more specifically, the savage one-liners that effortlessly roll off their tongues without fear of retaliation. (Don’t blame the corporate underlings: Even if he asked for it, would you roast Logan if you weren’t related to him?!) As Brian Cox told Variety earlier this month: “When the kids aren’t around, [Logan] is very focused on who he is. And not in a good way.”

But if Logan’s relationship with three of his four children has reached a low point, the situation isn’t any better between Shiv and Tom. “I saw from the calendar update that you’re back in the city tonight,” Tom tells Shiv at the beginning of the episode, which is all the audience needs to know about the sad state of their relationship. Though Shiv once proposed an open marriage on their wedding night, she’s far less happy that Tom is apparently hooking up with models after the two agreed to spend some time apart. It’s one of many indications that Shiv never aspired for a marriage of equals: She hates that Tom is doing exactly what she wanted for herself. (To be fair, it also doesn’t help that her husband betrayed her on behalf of Logan.) In another shining example of the Roy family’s unwillingness to confront their feelings, Shiv doesn’t see the value in talking with Tom once they decide to finalize the divorce. “We gave it a go,” Shiv says, a casual concession that belies the gravity of the situation. If there’s one thing that still unites all the Roys in a time of intrafamily division, it’s the instinct to bury emotions that any normal person would bring to the surface, whether they’re in reaction to the dissolution of a marriage or estrangement from most of your children.

The Most Callous Display of Wealth

In this section of our recaps, we can usually rely on Succession to reveal the ridiculous luxuries afforded to the 1 percent. But in “The Munsters,” the biggest über-wealthy flexing is told, rather than shown. First off, there’s Connor, who may be the least self-aware rich person on the series, and that’s saying something. During Logan’s birthday party, Connor explains to Greg and Greg’s date (more on her later) that he needs to spend an additional $100 million on his presidential campaign if he wants to hold on to his voters. “That won’t move the needle, no,” Connor explains. “The hope is that it would maintain my percent.”

Yes, that’s right: Connor wants to throw away $100 million so that he can cling to 1 percent of the vote and have, per Willa, a “place in the conversation.” Considering that it wasn’t that long ago when Connor was begging his father for more money after Willa’s Broadway play about Anakin Skywalker’s least-favorite granular substance turned into a high-priced disaster, I don’t think he should be this careless with such a colossal amount of money. At least when Mike Bloomberg wasted a bunch of his own money on a failed presidential bid, his net worth was in the tens of billions.

But against all odds, Connor wasn’t even the most egregious money waster within his family this week. During the PGM negotiations, Roman, Kendall, and Shiv speculate on how much Logan is willing to spend and what they should offer in response. “I wonder if we don’t nickel-and-dime it and just go to 10?” Kendall says after the trio agree to raise their bid to $9.5 billion. Just so we’re on the same page: Kendall treated a small nation’s GDP like someone rounding up a tip. “You do know what half a billion dollars is, right?” Roman responds incredulously.

No shade to Roman, but when he’s the voice of reason in a multibillion-dollar bidding war, that’s when you know things have gotten out of hand. Congrats to the Pierces, who got to nickel-and-dime their way into another $500 million during the sale.

The Most Brutal Insults of the Week

5. After a bunch of underlings sing “Happy Birthday!” during his party: “Jesus fucking Christ.” —Logan

4. On Shiv’s impending divorce from Tom: “Yes, it’s a sad, sad day when love dies.” —Roman

3. Upon finding out that Tom is spending time with Naomi Pierce: “You don’t discuss something, Tom, that’s already fucking happening. You don’t say, like, ‘Hey Shiv, do you mind? Uh, Naomi and I are at the Pierre, and I’m inside her, would you mind if I ejaculate?’” —Shiv

2. When Roman is on the phone with Kerry: “Tell her you’d be able to hear her better if she took Dad’s cock out of her mouth.” —Shiv

1. After Logan repeatedly asks Greg to roast him: “Where are your kids? Where’s all your kids, Uncle Logan, on your big birthday?” —Greg

The Cousin Greg Corner

The last we saw of Cousin Greg, he had hitched his wagon to Tom while uttering the immortal line “What am I going to do with a soul anyways?” So what does post-soul Greg have on the agenda? Well, for starters, our guy has moved on from Comfry, Kendall’s (former?) PR lackey, whom he was enamored of for most of the third season. For Logan’s birthday, Greg brings a new date, Bridget, who sticks out like a sore thumb among such wealthy and intimidating company. After Kerry grills Greg about allowing a stranger to attend the party, Tom roasts poor Bridget’s somewhat oversized handbag. “You could take it camping, you could slide it across the floor after a bank job,” Tom says.

Is Tom being too harsh about the handbag? I’ll leave that to our loyal readership:

Greg, for his part, isn’t too bothered about Bridget (and her handbag) rubbing some partygoers the wrong way because she’s just “another tick on the chart.” You see, Greg and Tom have a new nickname for themselves, the “Disgusting Brothers,” which suggests that they’re gallivanting through New York’s dating scene and celebrating their sexual conquests like a couple of overzealous frat bros. In fact, Greg is such a Disgusting Brother™ that, midway through the party, he tells Tom that he and Bridget hooked up in one of Logan’s guest bedrooms. What Greg doesn’t realize is that Logan has cameras installed all over his penthouse, and this [clears throat] extracurricular activity will attract a lot of attention. Or, as Tom puts it: “You’ve accidentally made him a sex tape, Greg.” (While a small part of me wonders whether Tom is just messing with Greg, having a bunch of in-home security cameras feels very on-brand for Logan.) Greg reacts accordingly:

Naturally, Greg picks the worst possible time to share the news with Logan: right after Logan discovers that his children are trying to buy PGM out from under him. (“He says he finds me disgusting and despicable, but he kinda smiled,” Greg tells Tom about the conversation with Logan, which, tragically, occurred off-screen.) But just because Greg is still in Logan’s good graces after he sullied his home and roasted him on request, that doesn’t mean Bridget will come away unscathed. Greg blames the entire incident on Bridget for being insatiably horny and possibly indulging in some “wacky tobacky.” As a result, Colin is assigned to kick her out of the party, and while Greg originally plans to accompany Colin, he chickens out at the last minute. “You know what? I think it is best if you go do what you have to do,” Greg says. “I don’t want to see what happens in Guantanamo, so, um, you go, you do your ways, and God be willing.”

So long, Bridget, we hardly knew ye. As for Greg, while he no longer has a soul, it sounds like he’ll never have to worry about losing his libido.