‘They eat their own’: Succession premiere sets the scene for epic final season

‘They eat their own’: Succession premiere sets the scene for epic final season

This story contains spoilers for the season four episode of Succession, The Munsters. Every week The Age and They Sydney Morning Herald will be recapping the latest episode of Succession. You can listen to our recap podcast here.

Succession loves a good party scene, even if the celebrations are often tense affairs with very little to celebrate. You might recall that the show’s first episode opened with Logan’s 80th birthday, an occasion where he gave himself the greatest gift of all: continuing his reign as CEO and denying Kendall’s ascension to the top of the Waystar Royco food chain.

His decision to remain was a bomb blast, and for three seasons we’ve watched as the Roy siblings stumbled about in the aftermath, tearing each other apart while trying not to tear the company down, just in case they became The Chosen One.

For three seasons, we’ve watched the Roy siblings tearing each other apart while trying not to tear the company down, but in season four they present a united front.Credit:HBO / Binge

But in last season’s finale, Shiv, Kendall and Roman finally realised that Logan would never pick them when he could still pick himself. Logan’s betrayal set us up for an obvious arc: the New Gen Roys vs Logan and everyone else (including Tom and his attack dog, Greg, AKA the Greg-weiler).

Then came news from the real world that raised the stakes: the fourth season of Succession would be the last. It is fitting that this episode – titled The Munsters (a not-so-subtle nod to the 1960s sitcom about a family of monsters) – begins with another birthday for Logan.

This time though, the children are nowhere to be seen, and even Logan realises it’s not much of a party if the people you love (to hate) most aren’t there to celebrate with you. “Why is everyone so f—ing happy?” he barks at Kerry, his friend, assistant, advisor and probable mistress.

Instead, we find them holed up in a compound attempting to “make a pile of their own” exactly as their father instructed. Their latest venture is The Hundred, a “disruptor” news site that would probably be terrible but also something I would likely subscribe to.

“It’s Substack meets MasterClass meets The Economist meets The New Yorker,” explains Kendall.

Like most of the Roy siblings’ ideas, The Hundred seems more style than substance, but at least it has the narrative effect of bringing them together. The crushing insults are still there (“Your face is giving me a headache,” Roman tells Shiv), but they remain a united front – for now.

The very nature of a much-loved show returning after a long absence (it’s been more than a year since the season three finale) demands a certain amount of box-ticking and context-providing.

So while the kids are cosplaying at being media moguls, back at the party we’re catching up with Tom and Greg now presenting as “The Disgusting Brothers”.

Life in Logan’s inner sanctum has its upsides for both. Greg can bring a plus one to Logan’s birthday party but, in classic Greg style, he invites a Hinge date who later asks Logan for a selfie. It’s enough to get him scolded by Kerry (“We’re not a f—ing Shake Shack, Greg”).

Meanwhile, Tom seems to be relishing his closeness to Logan, even if it hasn’t resulted in newfound confidence. The first conversation between the pair sheds light on two significant developments for the season.

The Disgusting Brothers, now more disgusting than ever.Credit:HBO / Binge

Firstly, Shiv and Tom are headed for divorce and Tom needs to know he’ll still be an honorary Roy even if he’s no longer married to one. “If we’re good, we’re good,” says Logan cryptically.

Secondly, Logan is looking to boost Waystar’s megadeal with GoJo (which still needs to go through) by purchasing Pierce Global Media, the anti-Waystar conglomerate helmed by Nan Pierce (Cherry Jones).

The Roy siblings get a whiff of the Pierce deal after Tom lets slip to Shiv (old habits die hard), and it doesn’t take long for them to abandon The Hundred in favour of pursuing Pierce and one-upping Logan.

Strangely, only Roman seems disappointed by how quickly they change lanes: “You want to f–k dad; you want to f–k Tom; I’m the only one that doesn’t want to f–k anyone.”

It’s here we see the first chink in the armour when it comes to Roman, Shiv and Kendall. Roman has traditionally been the least eager to challenge Logan, and The Hundred was a way of doing something new without poking the bear. His hesitancy to go into battle against Waystar feels like a watch this space moment; if anyone will flip, it’s Logan’s favourite little sicko.

Perhaps the most curious aspect of this episode is that, despite his wins, Logan seems adrift, surrounded by sycophants on his birthday but painfully alone.

He escapes the party to dine with Colin, his loyal fixer and bodyguard, and it’s a credit to the writing that we feel something close to empathy when Logan tells him, “You’re my best pal”.

Just two close pals going for a walk, ten feet apart. At the start of season four, Logan seems to a little lonely.Credit:HBO / Binge

Like everyone in Logan’s life, Colin is on the payroll, so his friendship depends on his employment – he’s paid to listen.

“Everything I try to do, people turn against me,” complains Logan. “Nothing tastes like it used to anymore; nothing is the same as it was.”

It’s a curious scene that hints a crisis of confidence is brewing for Succession’s infallible killer. The depressing dinner chat only gets darker when Logan muses about the afterlife, admitting he suspects nothing awaits us after death.

But the tender moment is soon disrupted by news that his children are trying to hijack the Pierce deal; time to bench the vulnerability and switch back to vitriol. “Tom, call your f–king wife and tell them to get their own f–king idea; it’s pathetic,” roars Logan. Now that’s more like it.

We soon find ourselves in a bidding war; Nan Pierce playing both sides against each other. This is fertile ground for Succession, bouncing between phone calls and billion-dollar bids.

Ultimately, Waystar is willing to spend $7 billion to lock up Pierce, but you can’t put a price on how much Shiv, Tom and Roman want to enrage their father and snatch victory…

Actually, you can: it’s $10 billion, otherwise known as a “conversation-ending” offer.

Siblings Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) are able to land the Pierce deal by doing what they do best: spending money that doesn’t exist.Credit:HBO/Foxtel

While the kids toast their success, Logan finally reaches out to pass on his best wishes. “Congratulations on saying the biggest number, you f—ing morons,” he spits over the phone before the line goes dead.

You can count on one hand the number of times Logan has come off second best, and while he may be unimpressed with how his children won, it’s still a win and a possible reflection that his gravest fears have come to pass: nothing is the same as it was.

Following the deal, Shiv returns to New York for a reunion with Tom. The pair trade blows for a while, Shiv taking shots at Tom’s newfound penchant for sleeping with models: “Do they sit on your face to shut you up?”

Tom uses the conversation to skewer Shiv’s coldness: “Do you really want to get into a full accounting of all the pain in our marriage?”

Neither of them does, so instead, they call an unspoken truce. Despite the animosity, the pair can’t help but seek each other out, and there’s beauty in their surrender; they end up lying on the bed, hands interlocked, unable to leave.

For a show so used to baring its teeth, Succession is choosing to bare its soul. The episode ends with a half-asleep Logan tuning into ATN’s nightly chat show, the ageing king surveying the fiefdom.

Unimpressed with the on-screen talent, Logan calls Cyd, the network’s head, to complain. “Who is this f–king lunk, anyway? Are you losing it, Cyd? Are you f–king losing it?” he asks.

It’s a question directed at Cyd, but you get the feeling Logan might be talking to himself.

Succession is dropping new episodes every Monday on Foxtel and Binge.

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