Succession is all about power—who has the most, who can wield it the best, and who is disastrously blinded by it. So, as we did last season, every week during Succession’s fourth and final installment, The Ringer will check in on how the hierarchy at Waystar Royco shifts with each passing episode. Even after Logan made a deal with GoJo (and screwed over his kids), it’s still safe to say everything is in disarray—and to steal a line from another HBO series, chaos can be a ladder.
1. Logan Roy
The man took his final breath on a private jet 24 hours or so before the events of “Honeymoon States,” but he’s still the most important person in this universe, and he’s still pulling the strings from beyond the grave. As presidents and prime ministers across the globe send their personal condolences, obituaries cast Logan Roy as a great man who his kids may have actually liked to spend time with. The indignity of how he died—fishing his phone out of a clogged toilet, according to Tom—is being erased and replaced with the sort of respect and admiration that only the dead are afforded. One man even suggests that he went to heaven.
But there is no greater testament to Logan Roy’s power—and his knack for turning those around him into “scurrying rats” tripping over each other for his approval—than the piece of paper he leaves in his safe. It’s a highly informal document containing stray postmortem considerations and, most importantly, a declaration that has been either underlined or crossed out that Kendall Logan Roy be the child to take over as CEO in the event of Logan’s death. The old goat failed to drive a meaningful wedge between his children in that karaoke room, but with this piece of paper he does, while his former C-suite confidants remain too scared of him to flush the document down the toilet.
Kendall, Roman, and Shiv begin this episode as a strong coalition of three, comforting each other with jokes about their late dad—it’s one of the warmest scenes in the series, even if the joke in question is that their dad couldn’t have been a pedophile because he didn’t even want to hug his grandkids. But the second that piece of paper—and that fateful underline or cross-out—is revealed, the kids immediately revert back to lying to one another, sneaking around, and stabbing one another in the back.
Seeing that empty chair in their dad’s office, Kendall and Roman can barely move. They still feel his presence. Hear his footsteps. Logan may be gone, but the dysfunction he created will never dissipate.
Unfortunately for Kerry, it turns out some shopping trips do come to an end.
One day after Logan’s death, his estranged wife has returned in a funeral fascinator one senses she’s been dying to pull out of the closet. This is Marcia’s time, and the extent to which she’s running the show is almost disconcerting—in just one episode, she’s already overriding the wishes of the Roy children, welcoming the potential future president of the United States, putting Colin back to work, and dispatching her enemies with breathtaking, merciless cruelty. Shiv correctly notes that while it is a sad day for her and her siblings, it is an exciting opportunity for so many others, and no one seems more prepared for a post-Logan world than Marcia. Plus, she’s out here making $63 million real estate deals with nothing more than a little spit.
As for what happens next, it seems naive to think that this incredible show of force was just a onetime thing. Don’t forget: She and her son are two of the only people who know what really happened to that waiter at Shiv’s wedding, and it appears she already has a third person, Colin, on her side.
3. Lukas Matsson
We still haven’t seen Hans Christian Anderfuck in the flesh to this point in Season 4, but that doesn’t mean he’s not important. Just look at the phone call with his guy Oskar, during which Kendall, Roman, and Shiv fall all over themselves before agreeing to make an impromptu trip to Europe even though their father’s body is still warm. (“Bad one,” is how Oskar describes the sudden heartbreaking death of their dad.) Everyone needs the GoJo deal to happen; Karl is halfway in on a Greek island with his brother-in-law. Matsson is still in the driver’s seat, slamming Scandinavian junk food and attending an annual retreat that absolutely can’t be rescheduled.
We’ve met a lot of different Kendalls over four seasons: the aggro business douche, the beaten puppy, the venture capitalist in terrible sneakers, the woke warrior, the irrevocably damaged addict. Most recently, we were introduced to a Kendall who seemed to have found acceptance—acceptance that he was never going to defeat, or otherwise gain love or approval from, his father; acceptance that he struggles with self-destructive behavior; acceptance that there are limits to his abilities. Yet with the single stroke of a pencil, all of that hard-earned introspection is wiped away.
Seeing his name on that paper, Kendall almost immediately reverts back to his Season 1 self. He turns the knife on his sister (“It sure as fucking shit doesn’t say ‘Shiv,’” he barks after she questions the document’s mixed message), and starts trying to swing board votes from Frank and Stewy, who both openly question why he even wants the CEO role in the first place. And after he and Roman agree to both step up into the top spot, Kendall immediately undercuts their first act as joint CEOs, blackmailing Hugo into soft-pedaling the narrative that the Roy children were calling the shots behind closed doors before Logan’s death. He does all of this under the cover of it being what his dad wanted, or what he would’ve done, even though Kendall knows that it’s more about what he wants to do. By the time he’s threatening to pull out a strap-on dildo on Hugo, the worst of Kendall has resurfaced.
To be clear, this isn’t a good thing for him, long term. The eternal tragedy of Kendall Roy is that he is doomed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But right now? Right now he’s a man who’s finally gotten everything he’s ever wanted, a man who will forever see an underline, even if it’s a cross-out.
You know what they say: the best medicine for grief is spending $63 million—with no realtor fees!—on the house your dead dad lived in. I can’t wait to see what Con-man does with the place.
Speaking of, Willa’s looking to knock down a couple of walls to make Logan’s Upper East Side palace feel bigger, which is somehow one of the more ridiculous things a rich person has said on this show. But more importantly, is Willa the only character who scores a point on Marcia in this episode?
Just three seasons ago, Willa said nothing as Marcia told her the story of a “friend” who “was your way” who “actually was murdered.” Now she’s a wife of a Roy, too; she’s about to tear down the walls of the home Marcia lived in, and her mom is absolutely destroying that buffet.
Roman pre-grieved, so we don’t have to worry about his mental state. And he also wedged his way into becoming co-CEO by making a series of remarkably cogent arguments on his own behalf. Time and again, Season 4 has shown signs of Roman’s maturation and comparatively sound instincts, and this is yet another episode where he feels like one of the adults in the room rather than a child jerking off in the corner.
On the other hand, Roman is undermined by his co-CEO just minutes after they’re named to the position. His fatal flaw is his devotion to his family, and he underestimates his big brother’s unbridled egomania. With six episodes to go, we’re not even close to settling this matter of succession, but for Roman to come out on top—and to finally become a man—he may need to stand up to the brother who once so lovingly locked him in a dog crate.
8. Sandy Furness
No, seriously, his daughter swears: This is just how his face looks these days. He’s definitely not smiling because his enemy Logan Roy died before he did.
9. The Senior Group of Very Respected Greybeards, a.k.a. the Fucking Keystone Fucks
As it went for Karl, Frank, and Gerri during Logan’s life, so it goes for them after his death. At the onset of “Honeymoon States,” they’re having a legitimate—and legitimately spicy—conversation about which of them should take over. “We’re not gonna let the little princes screw things up,” Karl later tells Frank as they speculate in a comic mode—in a humorous vein—about whether they can destroy the paper with Kendall’s name on it. These are three loyal stewards of Logan Roy, who hitched their wagon to his on the way to the top without ever jeopardizing their own movements, and now that Logan’s gone, they’re primed to cash in on decades of maneuvering.
Or, at least, that’s how it briefly seemed. Soon after their comical speculations regarding Logan’s letter, the three ultimately choose to reveal it to the kids, thereby giving Kendall the motivation and ammunition to wrestle away the top job. Despite all the big talk, at the end of the day, and even with Logan in the ground, they are still his minions, afraid to reach out and take power for themselves. They’re still going to come out of this shitshow as multimillionaires—which is especially good for Karl, who may need to tend to some gastrointestinal issues—but that’s all they’ll ever be.
When Shiv opens up to Tom on the marble steps of her late father’s apartment, it’s impossible not to feel for her. Her marriage is a mess, her mom is the devil, and she’s feeling personally responsible for the fact that her dad won’t be around to meet her children—which is something she’s specifically been thinking about because, surprise, Shiv is 20 weeks pregnant. That everything is healthy with the baby doesn’t feel like good news at the moment; Shiv is alone, heartbroken and closed off, and it’s painful to watch.
But not as painful as Shiv playing herself for the umpteenth time. As Kendall and Roman make cases for themselves as CEO and strike up a partnership that was initially proposed the first time Logan fell ill, Shiv is relegated to third wheel, unable to build a convincing argument for her own acumen. Her brothers promise to keep her inside everything and that they won’t fuck her over, but those are just words. She makes an emotional plea to Kendall and Roman, and they respond in kind—but doesn’t she remember what happened the last time she (and her siblings) tried to turn a business deal over something as small and petty as love? Just as it was at the end of Season 3, Shiv has nothing but sausages in her hands.
It’s worth asking why Shiv even wants to be a part of all this. Now that her dad is gone, why does she want a job she only ever wanted because it was a symbol of his approval? A job that forces her to cavort with pseudo-fascists, and to be belittled because she’s a woman and the youngest child. Maybe it’s to feel closer to Logan. Maybe it’s just pure sibling competition. Maybe it’s a fear that if she doesn’t assert her Royness, she’ll disappear. Whatever the reason, it feels increasingly clear that the only way for Shiv to achieve anything even close to happiness is to get out and never look back.
For those of you who were waylaid by the shot of Colin from the end of last week’s episode, I have some bad news: He’s not doing much better. He doesn’t even know what to do with his arms.
Evidently, Hugo’s daughter—who he really doesn’t even have a relationship with!—might’ve done a li’l insider trading. That’s generally frowned upon. And now Hugo is being blackmailed by one of his bosses to go against the wishes of his other boss and leaving voicemails like the 2023 version of Alec Baldwin. Tough break for a guy who seems like a real piece of shit.
I’m gonna let Karl take this one:
And all of this 100 percent right—say what you want about Karl’s constipation, but he’s been cooking with gas in Season 4. Tom burned every bridge and sided with Logan; now Logan’s gone and Tom’s stuck on an island. He’s forced to go from Roy to Roy looking for a new master to serve—he almost literally uses those words—and all of them rebuff him in deeply harsh and specific ways.
If anyone is capable of withstanding such torture, it’s the guy who married Siobhan Roy. But it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
14. Cousin Greg
Hey so, uh, Cousin Greg sucks now? All of the Tom stuff applies to him, too (although it’s worse because Greg doesn’t have Tom’s survival skills), but he’s decided that his best shot at persisting post-Logan is by making off-color remarks about broken women to Marcia. It’s real dismal out here for a guy who just weeks ago was rummaging to fruition with girls with capacious handbags. I long for the days when Greg was just a well-meaning idiot in boat shoes.
The good news: Kerry is not inside Marcia’s trunk … inside an anaconda … inside a sarcophagus. The bad news: Her situation is way bleaker than that.
After reacting to Logan’s embolism like a lady who just caught a foul ball at a Yankees game, Kerry is now finding out what it’s like to be a man’s mistress after he has suddenly died. Bumbling and meek, Kerry is savagely cast away by Marcia—she doesn’t even pay for a taxi to drive Kerry home, she pays for one to drive her to the subway. All Kerry can do is mumble to Roman about how she and Logan had talked about marriage, and that he was “making arrangements,” while everyone else just looks on. The saddest thing is knowing that Logan was probably just making empty promises to her. Now he’s gone, and she doesn’t even have those lies to hold on to.