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‘Succession’ Precap: One Burning Question Ahead of Episode 4

Every Friday, Ringer staffers gather to answer one key question ahead of Sunday’s ‘Succession’ episode. This week’s topic: the aftermath of Logan’s death.

HBO/Ringer illustration

It’s Friday, which means Succession’s newest installment is around the corner. What can we expect from Episode 4? Read along as we examine one burning question heading into the next chapter of Succession’s final season.

The burning question heading into Episode 4: Logan Roy is finally, actually dead. What happens now?

Alan Siegel: I assume that, oh, 10 minutes into Sunday’s episode, it’ll become clear that the Roy kids’ alliance is going to shatter into a million pieces. My hunch is that the story will once again shift to Kendall. In the wake of his father’s death, I expect him to make an ambitious power play and simultaneously suffer a painful personal crisis. After all, no character on Succession is more tortured by their lineage than Kendall.

“You can tell there are flickers of moments where Kendall gets how monstrous their life is, and he wants something else,” executive producer Adam McKay told me in March, when I was reporting a feature about Tom Wambsgans. “From the very beginning, when we were putting this together with Jesse [Armstrong], I was certainly pushing hard for the idea that Kendall is the one whose, for lack of a better term, soul is in the balance.”

Katie Baker: The late Logan’s heirs have spent their whole lives in a state of ring-around-the-Roysy, forever circling their dad and falling down. But it’s one thing to scurry around playing a game of palace intrigue while a mad king is still with us. (If anything, the game is the point: It’s what keeps his usurpers busy while he stays on top.) It’s quite another to know what to do when the music stops. And that’s where the Three Stooges will surely come in. Death is law, filled with things like notaries and protocols and executors and plans. The most important sort of power in this kind of vacuum is the “of-attorney” type, which means that it will almost certainly be Karl, Frank, or Gerri who emerges in this episode as the kingmaker—if not the ruler—him- or herself. Old guard, assemble! Now, where’s that will?

Julianna Ress: After Season 3 ended with Kendall’s near drowning and a tearful admission of manslaughter to his siblings, our no. 1 boy had a relatively low-key couple of episodes until his father’s death. We saw him excitedly pitch terrible news ideas, order a bitters and soda, and beam after confronting family trauma with his dad … he seemed almost happy? And he was lingering in the background while Roman, Shiv, and Connor more prominently dealt with their own turmoils. Now, with Logan gone, Kendall will come back into focus. I believe that Succession is Kendall Roy’s story, despite theories about each sibling having their own spotlight season. We’ll see him fight another day for the Waystar crown, likely to the detriment of his mental health and his siblings’ already shaky alliance.

Meanwhile, Tom has to patch things up with Shiv. Tom’s grief watching Logan die was not just for his father-in-law, but for his position at Waystar. Who of the Gerri-Karl-Frank crew is going to care about Tom now? He’ll have to cling to Shiv if he wants to maintain any type of power within the company.

Andrew Gruttadaro: It’s true that Tom Wambsgans was with Logan Roy as the media maven took his final breaths—and if Greg did what he was asked, many will know that. But a fact that Tom understands all too well is that “I was with him” is merely a stay of execution. Tom made a bet that his wife didn’t love him (because she said so to his face) and that Logan would never get fucked, and in the immediate aftermath, that appeared to be a wise move—but Tom forgot that Father Time is the one who never gets fucked. Now, as the world comes together to grieve (or celebrate) Logan’s passing, Tom is standing in the middle of the battlefield naked, without a shield. On one side are the siblings, who know that Tom is the reason they were so brutally embarrassed at the end of Season 3; on the other side are Waystar’s old guard, who know that Tom can’t be trusted and who may not have all that much power anyway.

But beggars can’t be choosers, and Tom is nothing but a beggar now (along with Greg, who’s probably even worse off). With his protector gone, Tom will be in desperate need of a new one, and he will likely lunge at the first person willing to give him a little shade. There is so much to like about Tom: He was objectively kind and empathetic while delivering the devastating news about Logan’s health in “Connor’s Wedding”; it’s impossible not to feel sympathetic for him as the corn-fed oaf floating in a pool of sharks; and Matthew Macfadyen is so good in the role that he earns your allegiance. When he betrayed his own wife, it was hard not to applaud him after spending seasons watching him suffer. But the play backfired, and now, Tom needs a life jacket. The only question is who’ll be the first person to offer him one.

Kai Grady: Logan Roy—the longtime CEO of Waystar Royco and family patriarch to our favorite trio of spoiled-rotten siblings (and Connor!)—has finally passed on. “Connor’s Wedding” was a spectacular hour of television that featured the death of its central figure and briefly teased the fallout that will inevitably ensue. The HBO series finally delivered on its titular promise and in turn vacated the coveted top spot at one of the most powerful media conglomerates in the world … what could possibly go wrong?

I feel like it’s too early to make specific predictions with any sort of conviction, so I’ll keep it broad until we have a better lay of the land following Logan’s shocking demise. The Roy siblings are at a major crossroads, and the way I see it, their father’s death will make way for one of two things: It will either bring the kids closer than they’ve ever been before or fracture their increasingly fragile partnership to the point of no return. My money’s on the latter for the simple fact that they’re all still harboring secrets from one another—Kendall talked to Matsson without their knowledge, Shiv lied about her true intentions regarding the GoJo deal, and Roman went behind their backs to do Logan’s bidding. So much of their identity and purpose revolved around their father, and without him, I think their already fraught alliance will completely fall apart.

Ben Lindbergh: “You think there’s anything after all this?” Logan asked his best pal, Colin, in the season premiere. Colin equivocated, but Logan had his fucking suspicions: “I think this is it, right?” For Logan, oblivion probably beats the alternative; if there is an afterlife, he’s unlikely to go to the good place.

On Succession, though, there’s definitely life after Logan’s death: seven episodes’ worth. And even if Brian Cox won’t appear in flashback scenes (as he had believed), there’s a form of life left for Logan, because his influence and legacy didn’t perish on that plane. Did dear old Dad stick one final “fuck you” in his will? Will there be a surprise pregnancy or a postmortem tell-all? Was last week’s spontaneous sibling hug a sign that the patriarch’s demise will bring his kids together, or will the power vacuum created by his sudden absence intensify their squabbles—perhaps pushing one of them to prove that they’re “serious” by being ruthless enough to fill Logan’s shoes? Will the biggest twist turn out to be that there is no succession because Waystar Royco flatlines along with its founder?

Logan is gone, but he’s far from forgotten—and if you thought Succession weddings were fraught, just wait for the funeral. Here’s hoping Colin gets to give the eulogy.