*PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SUCCESSION S4E3*
Episode three of Succession was not screened for many, if any, critics or outlets before its release. And for good reason…
The best episode of Succession just aired. And the king is dead.
On the day of Connor Roy’s wedding to Willa, Logan and Kerry are making their way to their private jet to meet tech billionaire Matsson in Sweden to close their deal for ATN. With Roman’s allegiance swaying back towards his father, Logan tasks Roman with firing long-time and loyal associate Gerri for her mishandling of securing the DOJ, and throwing in their cruise ship lawsuits as collateral damage for Gerri to take the fall on.
Logan insinuates to Roman that Gerri’s role may end up being his if he completes this task, but Roman’s previous (sexual) history with Gerri appears as the first roadblock into executing his father’s demands. Waiting at the jet is Tom, who is made aware of Logan’s plan to eradicate Gerri, and is told that today was the day that similar treatment is going to be shown to Cyd in order for Tom to take her position back at ATN.
Anxious, Roman arrives to meet Kendall and Shiv at the all-out, luxurious wedding event of the year, taking place on a yacht that screams “rich wedding”. As Connor freaks out to the caterers over cakes, the Roy siblings are escorted up to a private section of the boat to avoid the ‘pleasantries’ of mingling with guests as the VIPs of the occasion.
Shiv declines two quick succession phone calls from Tom as Roman breaks the news to his siblings that Logan will not be attending the wedding due to his trip to Sweden. Deciding the Shiv is the best person to break this news to the anticipatory Connor, she leaves the room to find him and break the news.
It is here where the Roy siblings receive the Earth-shattering phone call, and the foundations of the Roy empire begin to crumble. Tom alerts Roman to the fact that Logan has collapsed on the plane, and the staff on board are attempting resuscitation. Shocked by the news, speaker-phone conversations between Roman and Kendall on the boat, and Tom and Logan’s entourage on the plane, trigger one of the most anxiety-inducing, manic and sombre hours of television produced in a long time, maybe ever.
Succession may be one of the only shows that can have you dislike a character like Logan Roy for the way he treats people, specifically his kids, and then have you covered in goosebumps and in tears during his dying moments. Everyone in this episode deserves all of the awards for their performances, because they will break your heart.
Kieran Culkin’s duality as Roman shows the character’s bleeding heart for his father that is underneath the foul-mouthed, insult hurling exterior. Roman’s denial of the severity of his father’s condition makes you want to reach through the screen and console him. Culkin’s delivery of a line when everyone else around him is slowly coming to the acceptance of Logan’s passing was the highlight moment of the episode. Hearing the way his voice breaks, and the pure emotion that comes through two words: “fucking stop”, will sink your heart into your stomach. And when his reflection on his final phone call to Logan begins to weight him down, it’s impossible not to throw sympathy to him in spades.
This is the first time this season that we have seen Kendall emotionally crack since his barrage of mental trauma in the previous season. The weight of who Logan is to Kendall, and the ever running desire to outdo everything his father has done, comes to a crashing halt as he remembers the man he loved, aspired to be, and tried to make proud. However, out of the three siblings, in typical Kendall fashion, he is the first to begin making the calls on the ground to what the response will be from a business standpoint, and what the Roy’s siblings effectively need to do first in order to keep their foot in the competition. It takes time before Connor is made aware of the situation, and when the time comes, his reaction will take you through a wave of emotions, much like the ones he experiences in real time during the episode.
If there was an MVP for the episode, it was undoubtedly Sarah Snook as Shiv. Snook has gone from strength to strength as an actress, and with the character of Shiv, not just in each episode this season, but from season to season of Succession entirely. The powerhouse, emotion-driven performance given in this episode should be showered with critical praise. Snook grabs the drama and creates a force-majeure style epic tragedy in scope, but somehow manages to keep Shiv grounded, authentic and personal.
Approximately half of this episode plays out in a real-time fashion, and director Mark Mylod doesn’t miss a single beat. Mylod captures raw emotion on screen, using long, moving takes to frantically follow people around in a fashion that exudes tension and anxiety. It’s impossible to not be totally gripped to the screen as this major event unfolds. At times, it doesn’t even feel like you are watching the show through a screen, because Mylod’s camerawork completely immerses you to the point where you feel like you’re in the room where it is all happening.
The confirmation of Logan’s death prompts responses from Logan’s longtime associations, including Tom, Karl, Frank, and Karolina, to begin drafting up responses on behalf of the company and letting key people know before the news gets out to the media. However, the Roy siblings do not appreciate this control being taken away from them, firstly that it is their father, but also because of how close they are to taking everything for themselves. But Tom has an agenda of his own, one that involves Greg and what his next steps are to becoming more involved in the company.
The excruciatingly tense back and forth of how to react to Logan’s passing from a business perspective soon takes over the exhausting emotional section, and suckers you back into the heartless wheeling-and-dealing of the media conglomerate space. And it makes you feel bad as an audience member for wanting to jump back into that world so soon after such a tragedy! But, maybe Logan would have done the same? That is why this show is so goddamn amazing!
This episode of Succession is the best by far. Not only is it such a bold move for a show with seven remaining episodes to kill off one of it’s integral players, but to do it in such a moving and realistic way, without losing the tone and nature of what makes this world so despicably fun, is brilliant writing, engaging direction, and purely fantastic performances all around. You will hear about this episode for months to come, and it will undoubtedly be discussed come awards season.
Succession is streaming now, only on BINGE.
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