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‘Succession’ Made the Inevitable Feel Unbelievable. What Happens Next?

With “Connor’s Wedding,” the series makes a predictable outcome seem shocking—and turns in one of the best and most consequential episodes of its entire run

HBO/Ringer illustration

The true brilliance of Sunday night’s Succession—a high-water mark for the series and an episode that’s on the short list of the best hours of 21st-century television—is that it made the most obvious outcome seem unbelievable until the very last moment.

Since the show’s pilot back in 2018, the specter of Logan’s death has loomed over the proceedings. He’s survived strokes, severe UTIs, and near fainting spells in a meadow; as recently as two weeks ago, he mused openly about the afterlife, speaking very much like a man who knew he’d meet it soon. The idea is even embedded into the show’s title—how can there be a “succession” if there’s no one to succeed? Yet on Sunday, as he received CPR on his private jet and all signs pointed to this being the end of the line for Logan Roy, there was a sense that maybe it wasn’t. That maybe he’d survive—perhaps incapacitated, perhaps weakened, but still alive—and roar out “fuck off” a few times over the series’ final seven weeks. In that sense, the viewer was reduced to a state similar to the one Roman was in: powerless and in denial, but holding out slim hope. But Sunday’s episode put to bed any thoughts of another rebound. Logan Roy is dead, and now Succession is hurtling toward its endgame without the center of its solar system.

“Connor’s Wedding”—perhaps the most deceptively simple episode title of the show—picks up where last week’s “Rehearsal” left off. Logan is en route to Sweden to meet with Lukas Matsson amid various hiccups that threaten the GoJo-Waystar deal. The alliance between the children is shaky, as Logan continues to pull an anxious, isolated Roman closer to him and the new ATN. Cyd and Gerri are on the chopping block—and the latter is due to get the news from Roman. And Connor and Willa’s maritime nuptials are still on, despite her disappearing act the previous night and Connor’s stunning self-awareness about their arrangement. But within moments of the wedding guests boarding the boat for the ceremony, none of those details seem to matter. It becomes all about what’s happening with Logan.

None of us—those of us in the non-billionaire class, at least—may be able to grasp the nuances that surround your media mogul dad lying prostrate aboard a private jet, but what’s most impressive about Sunday’s episode is just how relatable Succession creator Jesse Armstrong and director Mark Mylod make it feel. The call comes from Tom, who frantically tries Shiv before moving on to her brothers. Logan collapsed in the airplane’s bathroom, and now he’s not breathing. Kendall and Roman struggle to make out what’s happening amid the chaos and dicey cell signal. Meanwhile, a flight attendant pumps Logan’s chest repeatedly, perhaps futilely—at one point, the kids are told that she’s only still compressing his chest because it’s legally required. It’s fitting that Mylod shows Logan in only short bursts—mostly from a distance as the attendant works on him, once in a brief shot from the top of his head. We get the news like the family does—in a manner that makes it nearly impossible to believe he’s gone until we see him transported off the plane in a body bag.

But Succession’s not particularly interested in showing you the play-by-play of Logan’s demise up close. While the show does not “hide the ball” very often, it does understand that the reactions to events can be more interesting than the inciting action itself. In a stunning, 30-minute scene that was shot essentially as one take—one of the finest-acted sequences you’ll ever see on television—we watch these reactions play out: confusion, heartbreak, and grappling with unresolved trauma inflicted by a larger-than-life monster. And to a person, every reaction feels authentic and understandable. Roman sits on the floor, hunched over in denial and guilt-ridden over an earlier voice mail in which he called Logan a cunt. As makeup streams down Shiv’s face, she frantically questions why it took her brothers five minutes to find her. On speakerphone, Kendall tells his likely already dead father that he loves him but that he can’t forgive him. (If anything were going to stir Logan back to life, it almost certainly would’ve been that.)

On the plane, reactions vary from worried to predictably professional. Kerry’s full-body shock is played against Karl’s and Karolina’s cool resignation. Frank—who’s known Logan longer than almost anyone on this show—tries to strike a balance between his responsibilities to the family and the shareholders. Meanwhile, Tom alternates between trying to plan for his career in a Logan-less world and dealing with his own grief—he’s about to lose the one ally he had in this corporate Hades. For a moment, he reverts back into the cruel middle manager we saw earlier in the series. He calls Greg and orders his subordinate to delete files from his work computer and to stick close to Cyd before reminding Greg that Logan was just “an old guy who fucking hated you.” When he hangs up, he looks out the plane’s windows, the blue skies glimmering in his tear-soaked eyes.

But with all due respect to the subdued sorrow of Logan’s bodyguard Colin, the most gutting response comes from Connor, the loyal but forgotten son: “He never even liked me,” he says upon hearing the news. Connor quickly adjusts—Logan did love him, he concedes, but Connor never got a chance to make his dad proud. But the news seems to stir something in him. Shortly after Kendall and Shiv tell him that their dad appears to be dead, he has a heart-to-heart with Willa in which he asks if she’s marrying him only for his money. That’s part of it, she says, but she’s also happy. He smiles, finding something good on what could’ve been one of the worst days of his life. It’s an unexpectedly tender moment for what began as a transactional union. By the end of the episode, Connor and Willa trade their vows in a dramatically austere ceremony in front of a smattering of guests. It’s fitting that perhaps the most honest romantic relationship on Succession got the show’s most low-key wedding.

While that feels like a happy ending for Connor’s story line—his electoral prospects aside—the rest of the episode points to an uncertain future for everyone else. When the series began with Logan’s incapacitation following his stroke, we saw the other three Roy children snipe, undercut, and doubt each other, striking only tenuous truces and short-lived management arrangements. While that feels like ages ago, it’s important to remember that in the show’s internal timeline, it’s not. (Remember: The presidential race that Connor entered back in Season 1 has yet to happen. While Armstrong himself is unsure of how much time has elapsed on Succession, it’s conceivable that Logan’s birthday two episodes ago was his first since the series premiere.) This means the bond between Shiv, Roman, and Kendall is still fresh—and it’s going to be tested by the likes of the Karls and a scorned Gerri, to say nothing of Matsson, Stewy, and the Sandies. The kids are smarter than they were in Season 1, and the events of the past few months have brought them closer. But their world is going to get a lot rockier without a force to bring them together. When the trio embraces outside the airport, it’s a raw moment between three trauma-bonded kids. But it also plays like the calm before a hurricane comes in to tear down a midtown skyscraper.

That hug—with Shiv embracing Kendall and Roman clutching tight to her back—may be the lasting image that emerges from Sunday’s episode. But the most important one may have come seconds beforehand. As the trio walk out onto the tarmac to greet their dad’s body, Roman looks at his phone. The Waystar Royco price has dropped by 20 percent in the hours since the news leaked. “There he is—that is Dad,” Roman says, holding his thumb and index finger an inch apart to mark the precipitous drop, a titanic life snuffed out and reduced to financial news fodder. This was always going to be the most obvious outcome of Logan’s death. Turns out the markets don’t need to see a body before they believe the news.