Succession recap: season four, episode four – did Logan mean it … or cross it out?

A scribbled note reveals the deceased patriarch’s choice for heir – or does it? One ‘undated doodle’ may prove to be the Roys’ downfall

Spoiler alert: this recap is for people watching Succession season four. Don’t read on unless you’ve watched episode four.

The post-Logan era began with some serious jockeying for position – 55 dizzying minutes of it in a single setting. Here’s your shareholder report on Honeymoon States …

The morning after the night before

We rejoined the day after the shock death of potty-mouthed patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox). Kendall (Jeremy Strong) was broken and sleepless but at least he’d had a nocturnal therapy session with his “grief guy”. For Roman (Kieran Culkin), it was teeth-brushing business as usual. After all, he’d pondered Pop’s demise so often, he’d “pre-grieved”.

The headline news was sister Shiv (Sarah Snook), whose doctor gave the all-clear on her amniocentesis tests. Next up was a 20-week scan. Was estranged husband Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) the baby’s father? The couple split months ago, so it could be someone else’s. Even a sperm donor, judging by the doctor’s reference to “the journey we went on”. Either way, Shiv looked numbed by the birth/death double whammy.

Alan Ruck and Justine Lupe as Connor and Willa.
The $63m question … Alan Ruck and Justine Lupe as Connor and Willa. Photograph: Home Box Office

‘Death becomes her

Arriving at their late father’s Upper East Side pad, the siblings were surprised to find his estranged third wife Marcia (Hiam Abbass) playing hostess to mourners. She’d been “in Milan, shopping, for ever” but flew in as soon as she heard the news. The ever-canny ice queen claimed their marriage status had been “complicated” but they’d talked daily. Nobody looked convinced.

Greeting newlyweds Connor (Alan Ruck) and Willa (Justine Lupe), Marcia wasted no time in selling the expensively beige apartment to Connor for $63m. Willa was soon planning renovations with her endearingly normal mother (look at her, actually eating the posh nibbles). The happy couple’s honeymoon plan? A romantic trip to Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, which just happen to be the swing states.

With the election a week away, there was a narrative-seizing speech by conservative grandee Ron Petkus (Stephen Root) – “He’s trying to make Pop into a neocon when he was a paleo-libertarian, practically an anarcho-capitalist,” grumbled Connor – plus a visit from far-right presidential frontrunner Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk), who had already acquired the nickname “Spooky Embryo”. A worthy White House successor to “The Raisin”.

Always answer your phone …

While the “greybeards” gathered around a table, boardroom-style, the siblings huddled in the lounge. Tom hovered between the two, before striding toward the corporate elders as Shiv shot him daggers. A board conference call was imminent, as was the impending sale of Waystar Royco to GoJo mogul Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård).

Roman dodged a call from Matsson so the siblings could get their ducks in a row. This proved a major misstep. When they called the tech bro back, his assistant told the baffled trio it had been their last chance. To get the deal over the line, they would have to fly to Sweden – the journey which just killed their father. Quite some power-play.

Death by socks

Robo-PA Kerry Castellabate (Zoë Winters) got a reception so frosty, viewers needed a Moncler gilet. Marcia wouldn’t let “Chuckles the Clown” go upstairs and coldly handed her a bag of belongings, which Kerry tearfully dropped everywhere. As Roman gallantly helped pick them up, Kerry whispered that she and Logan had planned to marry. What first attracted you to the billionaire octogenarian?

As Kerry was unceremoniously bundled out of the back door, victorious Marcia crowed about her “taking the subway home to her little apartment”. Logan’s “friend, assistant and adviser” even played an inadvertent role in his death. We heard how he’d died of a pulmonary embolism, partly because he hadn’t worn his compression socks on the plane “so he could look hot for Kerry”.

‘Coronation demolition derby

J Smith-Cameron as Gerri Kellman.
Frankly fabulous … J Smith-Cameron as Gerri Kellman. Photograph: Home Box Office

With the market wobbling, the Waystar exec team needed to recommend a new top dog to the board. They doubted the kids’ commitment to the GoJo deal, so who? CFO Karl Muller (David Rasche) fancied “taking control of the plane” (unfortunate phrasing) before “being strapped into his golden parachute”.

General counsel Gerri Kellman (J Smith-Cameron, frankly fabulous these past two weeks) had done the job before, but had fallen out of Logan’s favour. In fact, “he was going to fire half the room”. Across the hall, the siblings didn’t want “the Keystone fucks” to seize control of the family firm. Their recent united front felt good. Didn’t it?

I have in my hand a piece of paper

Executor Frank Vernon (Peter Friedman) was passed a document from Logan’s safe – a list of wishes in the event of his death, with some “undated, doodled addenda”. One glance and he was tempted to accidentally-on-purpose destroy it. Anyone else momentarily think “Loge” had left it all to Kerry?

Instead it suggested that he wanted Kendall, always the heir presumptive, to take over. The siblings immediately turned against each other. Shiv argued that Ken’s name wasn’t underlined, it was crossed out. “Well, it sure as shit doesn’t say ‘Shiv’,” he retorted. Roman pointed out that it could have been written four years ago and “you’ve tried to put him in jail, like, 12 times since then”. It was “moot”, “non-binding” and “not germane” but the closest they had to smoke from Logan’s chimney.

It proved the push that Kendall needed. Could he persuade the siblings and board to back him? He sold the idea to investor Stewy Hosseini (Arian Moayed), partly by playing on his sympathy. He reassured sceptical Roman and simmering Shiv that nothing need change. Already COOs, Kendall and Roman could pitch to become joint interim CEOs, just to swing the GoJo deal. A three-way split didn’t make sense but they would get Shiv on board and proceed with their plans as a “threebie”.

The old guard hesitated but as Stewy said, “a Roy at Royco works”. The board voted it through. The brothers were in charge. Furious Shiv stormed out, tripped and fell to the floor. Please tell me she didn’t just lose her baby.

Cousin Greg needs a new mommy

The Struggling Brothers … Greg and Tom.
The Struggling Brothers … Nicholas Braun and Matthew Macfadyen as Greg and Tom. Photograph: Home Box Office

A bad week for the Disgusting Brothers. When Tom threw his hat into the ring for CEO, he got a roasting from Karl: “You’re a clumsy interloper, no one trusts you … and you are fairly, squarely fucked.” Say what you really think, Mr Wonder-Bread-and-steak-frites. Tightrope Tom bounced between the siblings, brown-nosing with his newly coined “here to serve” catchphrase. Kendall brushed him off. Shiv told him he’d picked the dead horse and snubbed his attempt at romantic nostalgia. Roman dubbed him “lip balm Tom-wom, lubing up his lips to kiss my butt”.

Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) hovered at the periphery, and was told he “needs to get a new mommy”. When he interpreted his name on that piece of paper (complete with question mark) as a sign he should be Kendall’s deputy, Greglet was laughed out of the room. The sidelined pair were reduced to heckling at the back during Petkus’s speech. Also note how they were the only characters to explicitly state they were sad. Struggling Brothers, more like.

The heir apparent

Kendall was firmly in the ascendant after that late twist. Offered two paths for the brothers’ PR campaign – “Embalm Lenin”, signalling continuity from Logan’s regime, or “Bad Dad”, hinting that he’d been losing his grip – Roman righteously refused to “shit on dad”. Kendall, meanwhile, covertly instructed comms chief Hugo Baker (Fisher Stevens) to enact option B – using his daughter’s insider trading of Waystar stock as blackmail leverage. A textbook Logan dirty trick. Kendall broke into a wolfish grin.

Line of the week

It’s got to be the siblings decoding a Logan obit. “A complicated man” = “threw phones at staff”. “Sharp reader of the national mood” = “a bit racist”. “Very much a man of his era” = “again racist, also relaxed about sexual assault”. “Business genius” = “never paid a penny in US tax”.

Notes and observations

  • Right and proper to see Brian Cox’s name remain on the opening titles, not least with him set to return in flashback scenes. Those sepia-tinted scenes of Logan walking away from his children acquired extra poignancy.

  • Bodyguard Colin (Scott Nicholson) wore bad jeans and looked like “a dog without its person”, but it’s nice to hear Logan left him a watch.

  • “A shitload of investment impressionism, including three Gauguins that no one’s seen for tax reasons”. A throwaway line for the ages.

  • That NY Globe headline, in case you blinked and missed it: “Logan gets last laugh: Dems fume as world pays tribute.” As Roman added: “I only ever saw him laugh if a hobo was on fire.”

  • Life imitated art with last week’s revelation that Rupert Murdoch’s divorce settlement with Jerry Hall bans her from feeding storylines to Succession writers, while son Lachlan is convinced his brother James is collaborating with the production. Paranoid much?

Underlined or crossed out? Operation Embalm Lenin or Operation Bad Dad? Rejoin us here next Monday but in the meantime, please leave your thoughts and theories below.


Michael Hogan

The GuardianTramp

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