The dust has settled. It’s been a week—or, in the Waystar Royco Universe, only a day—since Succession’s big episode aired. We’ve all been eager to see the fallout. Well, it’s here, and in true Succession fashion, it’s a total clusterfuck.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead for Season 4 of Succession.)
The day after his passing, Logan’s (Brian Cox) closest allies (if you can call them that) rally at his home for a “celebration of life” of sorts. Marcia (Hiam Abbass) has risen from the dead to host. Though her relationship with the kids remains tense, at least she’s made peace with Connor (Alan Ruck) and Willa (Justine Lupe). Upon entering, Connor immediately attempts to buy Logan’s home. Never has a billionaire’s estate been so easily settled.
But there’s more settling to do in terms of Waystar Royco, which is now orphaned in the wake of Logan’s passing. Stocks are plummeting. The kids are fighting. No one knows who’s in charge. Though Tom (Matthew MacFadyen) and Kerry (Zoe Winters) were kept closest to Logan, neither of them are in the running to replace him in any sense—Tom is laughed off when he recommends himself for interim CEO, and poor Kerry is chased out of the house after a fight with Marcia. (Though Marcia has been away, she swears she and Logan had “intimate phone calls” pretty much “every night.” Yuck.)
That leaves the remaining execs to decide between two strong solutions: Gerri (J. Smith Cameron), who already ran the company when Logan had his first health incident in Season 1, or Karl (David Rasche), who wasn’t just fired by Logan. Gerri is the selection, ultimately, because who even knew that Logan had soured on her in his final hours? Plus, was he even lucid when he forced Roman to fire her? It’s settled. Gerri will be Waystar Royco’s new CEO…
…until Frank (Peter Friedman) discovers a long lost document with instructions left in the event of Logan’s passing. Succession neglects to show us the damage of the document, instead leaving us to read the faces of a disgruntled Frank, Gerri, and Karl as they read a specific line of text. We’re left guessing for a few minutes. What could be so bad to warrant these reactions? Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) will be the CEO? (That’s not it, but sure enough, Logan did leave his name paired with a rogue question mark on the document. Possible COO? Greg would like to think so.)
“Kendall Logan Roy should be named as the CEO of Waystar Royco” reads the document. Gerri, Frank, and Karl give the document to Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin), who now see that the line has been edited with a pencil. There’s no date. A penciled-in line either underlines or crosses out the statement. (I’d argue for the latter.) Though he runs Pierce with his siblings, Kendall wastes no time pitching himself as the interim CEO. Shiv and Roman are aghast—until Roman weasels himself into the COO position, leaving poor Shiv on the sidelines.
Shiv has, by far, become the most fascinating character in Succession. She’s not as fun to watch as idiots like Roman and Connor, nor as lovable as doofuses Tom and Greg. But there’s something mesmerizing about Shiv’s silent struggle—even a day after her father’s death, she wanders the halls of what used to be his home, pleading with anyone to give her emotional support while simultaneously pushing them all away.
Tom tries to win her back. She rejects him. Even Marcia, who has faced nothing but cruelty from Shiv, tries to extend an olive branch. Shiv rejects her. Near the end of the episode, as Shiv has been pushed out of Waystar by her two closest allies, Shiv takes a big fall down two stairs. The only person who comes to help her up is Tom, who she immediately pushes away before yelling at the entire room.
Even more enticing, and my apologies for burying the lede: At the beginning of the episode, we learn that Shiv is pregnant. Unlike Tom (who, at the very least, has Greg), Kendall and Roman (who, to a certain degree, have each other), and Connor and Willa, Shiv is completely alone. She has no stake in the company. She has no life partner. All eyes are on Shiv—and Sarah Snook, who has surely secured an Emmy after a tumble that felt crushing on both a physical and an emotional level.
Keeping Up With the Roys
Even though they may not be in the main plot, we still want to highlight the most blazing burns and spiciest moments of Succession. Here they are from this episode:
-Tom continues to throw his hat in the ring for CEO at all the inopportune times. Tom, can’t you see you’re not welcome here? When he first attempts to enter Gerri and Frank’s business conversation, Tom says he’s “sick with grief.” Sure. Gerri shoots back: “Oh, you’re sick with grief? You might want to put down that fish taco, you’re getting your melancholy everywhere.”
-There’s no shortage of Tom roasts in this episode. Karl is not pleased with his suggestion to become the interim CEO. Why? “You’re a clumsy interloper and no one trusts you,” Karl tells Tom, who can barely look him in the eye. “The only guy pulling for you is dead. And now, you’re married to the ex-boss’s daughter, and she doesn’t even like you! You are fair and squarely fucked.” Way to let him down easy, Karl.
-A subtle but brilliant roast from Willa: As she and Connor enter, Marcia congratulates the newlyweds. “Look how far you’ve come,” Marcia says, a dig at Willa’s callgirl origins. But Willa seems to be born with more Roy blood than Logan’s widow. “Look at us both,” Willa fires back before walking away.
-Alas, Marcia gets the last laugh when Kerry shows up uninvited. Kerry demands her things back from Logan’s room. “They’re in a bag,” Marcia says, bluntly, before the bag arrives and Kerry is pushed to leave. Don’t fuck with Marcia! (Unless you’re Willa.)