This piece contains detailed and immediate spoilers for Succession Season 4 episode 3, ‘Connor’s Wedding’.
Of course, having said that, the episode itself was more-or-less spoiler proof. A lot of people will have watched this week’s Succession knowing what happened; never mind how quickly conversation sprang up about the episode online, major newspapers and pop culture websites were running articles that openly referenced The Event in their headlines almost as soon as the credits began to roll. (It doesn’t stand for “spoiler ethics optimisation”, after all.) If you watched ‘Connor’s Wedding’ without knowing that Logan Roy died – spoilers – then you were, probably, in the minority.
It's been clear for a while that this was coming, though. How long is a while? Season 4’s premiere, ‘The Munsters’, laid the foreshadowing on thick; Logan spent the episode contemplating his mortality, and ended the episode slumped in front of the evening news, watching an item about a man who died after a family brawl went wrong. Even before that, though, the spectre of his death has long loomed over the series – Succession began with a near-death experience for Logan in a helicopter, and his ill health has been relevant more than once since then – it seemed essentially inevitable for the final season. That’s the promise of the title, after all. Logan needs to die for someone to succeed him. (Or, put another way: it makes dramaturgical sense.)
When the moment came, then, it didn’t matter if you knew it was coming – because whether you knew it was coming or not, of course you knew it was coming. It’s striking, really, how ‘Connor’s Wedding’ is structured such that shock and surprise clearly aren’t intended to be the primary response; Logan’s death comes early in the episode, neither climax nor cliffhanger, instead simply an absence that consumes everything around it. (It mirrors the structure of the season – even as Logan’s death was clearly on the cards, there’s a bravery to positioning it so early, leaving a further seven episodes to sit with that absence still.) The point isn’t whether the information catches you off guard, the point is watching Roman just absolutely spinning out when he understands what Tom is trying to tell him.
It’s an episode full of heartbreaking details. The way Roman visibly winces like the phone is scalding him when he says Logan had been a good dad, just one lie too much in that moment. Connor’s fixation on “looney cake” at the beginning of the episode – such a casual, offhanded portrait of childhood neglect all on its own – coupled with his later exhausted “my dad is dead, and I feel old”. Kendall, desperate to claw back some semblance of control, asking for “the best airplane medicine expert in the world,” as if that’s something that even exists. The phone calls from Tom that Shiv ignored. Calling last week’s karaoke debacle a “family function”, using it to argue they weren’t estranged. Colin the bodyguard, alone on the tarmac.
There’s something to be said, too, of the fact that Logan’s last exchange with his son Roman was just another test of loyalty: pushing Roman to fire Gerri, seeing if he could divide his children again, kicking Roman again just to see if he’d come back. It’s no wonder the three siblings entertained the idea, even if only for a moment, that it was all just a trick. It’s also no wonder that Logan died in an aeroplane bathroom, surrounded by shareholders and sycophants, rather than at his son’s wedding surrounded by family. “We can get a funeral off the rack. Reagan’s, with tweaks” is one of the best laugh lines of the episode, but damning in its own way too; there’s nothing personal, in the end, and the Scottish-Quebecois Logan Roy is transformed into an “American Titan” at the end of a hollow life. It's emphasised moments later when Roman points to the fall in the stock market after Logan’s death was announced. He died as he lived, in the end just an economic unit.
Every episode of Succession begins with a montage of sepia-tinted home video footage. The four Roy children – actually children, in these videos – play tennis and ride horses and argue amongst themselves. Logan flits about at the margins before eventually simply leaving, and a look of uncertainty passes between the kids. Now, in the series itself, he’s done just that. What next?
Succession Season 4 is airing weekly on HBO in the US, and on Sky Atlantic in the UK. You can find more of our Succession coverage right here.
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