[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Succession” Season 4, Episode 3, “Connor’s Wedding.”]
Death has hovered over “Succession” since the pilot, when the stroke Logan (Brian Cox) suffers also sparks his kids’ first fight for control of his empire. But the Grim Reaper has loomed in the shadows of Season 4’s opening episodes, as well. During a routine jab at Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) jokes about what happens to Buddhists when they die. Amid last week’s “needy love sponge” speech, Connor (Alan Ruck) describes himself as a plant that can only live off the insects that perish inside him. (And Connor certainly can’t live, let alone run for president, without daddy’s money.) One could also argue we’re witnessing the death of a marriage, between Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) and Shiv, as well as the death of a company, as Waystar-Royco prepares to be absorbed by GoJo.
Perhaps the sale, which marks the end of Logan’s lifelong ambition, should have tipped us off to his impending passing. After all, it certainly felt like a death to him. In his soap-box speech to ATN, Logan railed against the idea that he was finished. Before that, at the very start of the episode, he was visibly irritated when Kerry (Zoe Winters) asked how he was feeling. (“Why does everyone ask how I’m feeling? It’s my decision!”) Logan was explicitly referring to his feelings about closing the GoJo deal, but he may as well have been referring to his health. In Episode 1, Logan spends his birthday thinking about his literal end. “Nothing tastes like it used to, does it?” he says to his bodyguard. “Nothing’s the same as it was.” These aren’t the thoughts of an appreciative man, a happy man, a man eager to experience life. And wouldn’t you know it? The next words out of Logan’s mouth are, “You think there’s anything after all this? […] I don’t think so. I think this is it. […] We don’t know. We can’t know. But I’ve got my suspicions. I’ve got my fucking suspicions.”
Now, after collapsing in his PJ on the way to a meeting with Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), he knows. Or, if Logan was right and death is nothing more than the lights going out, he will never know. There’s a fitting ambiguity to Logan’s fate: that seen one way, he got his answer, and seen another, he never will. But even better is the certainty of what’s coming; that the still-pending fate of his empire will be resolved in the coming weeks, and we’ll all get to see it shine or crumble to the ground.
Killing off Logan in the third episode of “Succession’s” final season is a brilliant creative decision. Shocking in its suddenness (to the family and audience), yet grounded in the reality that death waits for no man — not even one more day, so Logan could close the deal that would secure his legacy — the end is an aptly titanic shift captured as an utterly human ordeal. “Connor’s Wedding” has it all (even, for a hot second, Connor’s actual wedding). There’s the set-up of a pivotal meeting that never comes, the rug-pull (and subsequent fallout) of Logan’s mile-high demise, and the intensifying questions over what’s next. The imminent squabble over Waystar-Royco, whether or not the GoJo deal is rubber-stamped, will challenge and expose our remaining players in ways that are difficult to comprehend, yet inevitable all the same.
Just look at how long it takes for the children to process the news. Kendall and Roman must repeat themselves a dozen times over, shouting demands for more information or pleas for their father’s survival at poor, helpless Tom (Matthew Macfadyen). (Quick sidebar: Tom, for what it’s worth, handles the situation about as well as anyone could. He calls Shiv first — twice — before calling Roman. He’s as clear in his messaging as he is delicate with the news — by Roy family standards, anyway — and he does his best to follow every extreme resuscitation request from the ground, even when it’s clear to those on the plane that Logan isn’t waking up. Tom is likely witnessing his own career die alongside his father-in-law, since Logan was the one man left in Tom’s corner. He acknowledges as much in his phone call to Greg, which honestly happened later than it would have from anyone else on that plane.)
The pain seeping out of Kendall, Roman, Shiv, and Connor is messy and acute. It takes the two brothers what feels like hours to go get Shiv (it’s actually about five minutes) — who was at Connor’s pre-wedding cocktail hour, blissfully unaware of the chaos happening a few rooms over — and by the time the three of them are together, their grieving process only stretches out longer. There are pleas to talk to the pilot, demands for heart surgeons who have no way of reaching Logan mid-flight, and one desperate call from Kendall to “do it right.”
Kudos all around to Strong, Snook, and Culkin, but especially the man playing Roman, who carried an extra burden of guilt (over betraying his siblings to help out Logan) and worry (knowing his last words to dear ol’ dad included, “Are you a cunt?”). It will be fascinating to find out how the episode was written and shot, considering just how frenzied and raw the final cut turned out, but the considerate pacing and indelible framings are a testament to the full team, not just the hour’s credited scribe Jesse Armstrong and director Mark Mylod.
(Update: In the making-of video HBO released with the episode, Mylod said they first shot each scene involving the kids learning of Logan’s death individually, but they later ran through the entire sequence in real-time — essentially shooting a 28-page scene as a oner. “It was like us doing a one-act play on a boat in several rooms with background actors with lighting everywhere with three cameras,” Culkin said, while giving credit to Mylod for the idea. (Mylod, in turn, said Culkin though of it first.) “It was unlike anything I’d ever done before. [And] we just did it once.” Mylod also said a “massive percentage” of that take ended up in Episode 3.)
Kendall, on the tarmac, as Logan’s body is taken off the plane with Roman standing by the boarding steps — that shot has legs. And even though the three Roy siblings do hug before parting, it’s worth noting that none of them are together as the ambulance drives away. Each Roy child stands alone.
At the start of Season 4, much of the focus fell on the siblings’ united front: Could Kendall, Roman, and Shiv hold together after being trampled in Tuscany? The premiere makes clear they’re better off without their father, just as the second episode shows how ugly things can get when they’re lured back to his orbit. Roman all but defects after watching his vengeful brother and sister beat up dear ol’ dad, while Kendall and Shiv throw away months of effort establishing their own company as soon as they get a chance to fuck over their father. (The Hundred was a bad idea, sure, but it was their idea, and it promised a brighter, healthier future for the Roy kiddos than spitefully spending $10 billion.) Until Episode 3, it seemed like Logan was going to pick them apart via his typically dastardly ways, but now they’ll be tested by a familiar temptation — who will run Royco? — only without a villain to rally against. Can they stick together while mourning, or will Logan’s absence prove to be his ultimate power move?
We don’t know. We can’t know. But I’ve got my fucking suspicions.
It’s almost a shame that Logan had to die in the same episode where Tom drops the terms “Gregging for me” and “Greglet,” as in Greg the baby pig. My god. I love them both so much. Here’s hoping the latter leads to a future photo shoot of Nicholas Braun with mini pigs.
Episode 3 is a rollercoaster for everyone involved, but no one hits the ups and downs harder than Roman. Before the wedding, he’s questioning whether he should be helping out his father at all — especially after Logan asks him to fire Gerri. “I think it would be nicer coming from you,” Logan says. “You two were… close.” There’s no doubt Logan is purposefully punishing his son for fooling around with a top executive like Gerri (not to mention involving Logan via an accidental dick pic), yet Roman is powerless not to comply. The best he can do is leave an angry voicemail — a voicemail that comes back to haunt him once he finds out those may have been the final words Logan heard from Roman.
By going through with his dad’s wishes, he’s lost an ally in Gerri. By speaking to Logan in secret, he’s risked the bond he’s formed with Kendall and Shiv. On top of all that, he’s still got to find a way to say goodbye to his dad — which doesn’t go so well the first time around, as Tom holds the phone to Logan’s ear, and Roman says, “You’re a good dad. You did a very good job… no.” He stops himself from forgiving Logan in his father’s last moments, just as Kendall does seconds later. But at least Kendall says, “I love you.” Roman, well, Roman already regrets those forgotten words.
Whatever’s next for Roman, it’s not going to be easy. His older brother is joking when he tells Roman, “You’re not going to be OK. You’re totally fucked” — but that may turn out to be the truth.
“Oh yeah? Judging by her grin, it looks like she caught a foul ball at Yankee stadium.” – Tom, about Kerry’s reaction to Logan’s death.
“Mr. Scrooge just happened to be a huge wealth creator — they don’t mention that in Mr. Dickens’ books, do they?” Connor says.
“They do not. How very convenient.” Willa’s mother replies.
“Succession” Season 4 airs new episodes Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.