Column | ’Succession’ Season 4 Episode 9: A question of success



“Succession” Season 4 has released on March 24.

By Theo Gary, Staff Writer

Maybe it’s obvious — but maybe it’s been lost in the weekly churn of “Succession” — that someday, at some point, somebody actually has to succeed. They can’t fight about it forever. There will be some sort of finality: The show has to end, the company has to move on. After all, there is still money to be made. No one is greater than greed, not even Logan Roy.

The funeral, like that of dictators, kings, queens and presidents, is a packed-out, important-person-filled affair. Same as the pre-election party, powerful people, all of them wealthy, vaguely fill the sibling’s space. 

These people remain unnamed. The camera focuses on the siblings; named characters get all the lines and the presence, making it clear that, especially outside their little world, the Roys exist truly above everyone else. 

The room full of senators and bankers and CEOs is not only barely acknowledged, but not important. There, the Roys only care about two figures: Mattson and Mencken. Both new money guys with names that start with an “M.” 

In this way, this massive room is boiled down to two guys, two competing interests. Mattson and Mencken. The weird Swedish tech guy and the fascist. The future of media. It’s odd, because in the ’80s, when all the cable news stuff started, that’s what Logan would have been seen as: the future.

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In so many ways, he was that. But now he’s dead and buried and so the future is the past. His kids are fighting over his bones. There’s a finality to everything that just had not been there in the past seasons. It really does, at this point, seem like somebody will succeed.

Or maybe nobody will? That would be a twist. Maybe, rightfully, the board gets the emotionally compromised children out and replaces them with competent people, finally humbling the Roys and forcing them to live outside the playhouse their father built. 

That would be the good ending. Cathartic for me because I enjoy their pain, and good for them because it would force them away from that toxic environment. Like at the beginning of the season, when it was fun to see them plan and work together, something which, by now, is totally gone. Since Logan’s death, they’ve trapped themselves in the playhouse and twisted themselves into knot after knot to keep the thing which makes them miserable.  

The bad ending, the one we are poised to get, is how the show started: with Kendall on top and his siblings in the backseat. The new Logan. His father’s son. Not breaking the toxic chain, but embracing it. 

That’s a kind of progress, I guess. It’s certainly the mark of a more emotionally mature person. Though, it’s still wrong and it still makes him a worse, more despicable person. Not rapping at his dad’s birthday and looking silly, but ruthlessly influencing presidential politics. A player, a real Logan. 

Or maybe we get another ending, the one where the mob protesting outside their offices finally gets to them. They won’t. Even with all the disturbances around Logan’s funeral, the rich and important feel basically none of it. That is, unless you’re Roman and you run out there and get elbowed in the head — my favorite part of the episode.

But maybe, and this isn’t a new observation, maybe it’s more like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s phrase “Families are always rising and falling in America.” Where one day the Roys are on top, then it’s Mattson, then it’s whoever comes after Mattson. The wheel keeps on turning. The people at the top keep on changing. No matter what, though, they all seem to be miserable and weird.


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