Being the follow up episode to one of the best hours of television the week before is like having to perform your first stand up comedy routine after a comedy legend has taken the stage before you. Sure, the crowd are primed and ready to laugh because they’ve been treated to a spectacular show, but one stuff up from you and everything comes crumbling down.
Thank God that Succession is made by some of the best dramatic creatives in television, because ‘Honeymoon States’ is a poignant and brilliant continuation of the heartbreaking ripple effect of Logan’s death, but with a good dash of the heartless and degenerative wheeling-and-dealing nature of business that this show does incredibly well.
Episode 4 picks up on the day after Logan’s death, with the entire episode taking place in his multi-million dollar, inner-city, mansion equivalent of a New York apartment. As Shiv awakens from a restless night’s sleep, a phone call comes through from her doctor asking Shiv to book in a 20-week scan. The questions arising – is Tom really the father to Shiv’s baby? And will Shiv reunite with Tom to raise the child despite their tumultuous last few months? Sarah Snook once again manages to steal the episode, right from these tender opening moments, as her internal battle of doing what’s right for herself conflicts with what her brothers and business needs. With Shiv always displaying her strong-willed nature on her sleeve, this complexity (which has always been essential to her character) will undoubtedly snowball into a fantastic arc to close out this season.
Kendall arrives at his father’s home to a barrage of condolences from friends, colleagues and most surprisingly, Logan’s ex-wife, Marcia, who’s overbearing presence causes immediate concern from the Roy siblings. Marcia greets the neverending arrival of mourners, immediately re-establishing her ‘claws in’ demeanour over a house and family that she once felt control over. The re-addition of Marcia into the storyline does a fantastic job of exacerbating the dreadful feeling she encompassed in previous seasons, almost feeling like the return of a villain or nemesis to our heroes (if you can call the Roy family ‘heroes’).
None of the Roy siblings have a good vibe about Marcia’s presence in the room, but there are two more slightly pressing issues at hand. In a few hours, the board are convening to vote in an interim CEO to take Logan’s position, and the deal with Mattson is still to be closed. However, concern arises when Mattson calls Roman, and Kendall decides to not answer the phone until the Roy siblings are all on board with how they want to approach the deal. But their call back isn’t met with a mocking hostility from Matsson’s advisor who requests they visit him in Norway within the next 24 hours, despite being fully aware of the Roy siblings own last, devastating 24 hours.
With the siblings struggling with their varying stages of grief, and the constant barraging of insincere sorrows masquerading pressing business questions from everyone else around, Logan’s motley crew begin infighting about whether Frank, Karl or Gerri should succeed the CEO role. But there back and forth comes to a halt when the discovery of undated last will from Logan reveals a name for Logan’s successor, but with an indistinguishable underline or line through the name, leading to a debate between the inner circle and the Roy siblings about whether Logan’s unofficial last wish should be honoured, and whether the name on the sheet is even the person he wanted to take over.
As snake-like as ever, Tom starts putting his fingers into the pie of whoever seems to be getting the most attention at the time. After being laughed out of the room by the inner circle for putting his hat in the ring to become CEO, he pivots to Kendall with promises of service and loyalty, despite Tom’s backstabbing betrayal that excommunicated Kendall from the family in the first place. This doesn’t phase the ‘always-on’ Kendall, who’s measly smile at Tom and dismissive: “I like you, Tom”, ends that conversation. For good measure, and good laughs, Greg intervenes in a conversation when it’s revealed his name is on Logan’s letter, but not over any writing, and with a question mark next to it. While everyone else in the room completely dismisses any idea of Greg taking over, Greg passionately and dim-wittiedly fights for his name to be added to the list of potential candidates.
As the backroom conversations occur, the uninvited Kerry arrives in a complete emotional state, unable to control her sobbing, she attempts to barrage her way into the Roy house before being escorted out by security with a lazily packed plastic bag of her items. Marcia at the helm of Kerry’s removal, immediately causes Roman to sympathetically jump into action to help Kerry, who reveals that Logan had talked about marrying her. Knowing that not every word that comes out of Logan’s mouth is truthful, but understanding the emotional loyalty that he could manipulate people like himself into, Roman defends Kerry to a heartless Marcia, once again showing that humanity he holds.
Time runs out, and the board meeting is moments away when Kendall puts forward the idea that he and Roman run the company together in the interim, as Kendall himself is too volatile of a choice with regards to his history of trying to destroy said company. A little blindsided, and with a re-emerging desire to run the company that she was promised years ago, Shiv hesitantly agrees on the basis that she is also involved in every decision made for the company. A promise her brothers say they will honour. When the vote swings the way of Kendall and Roman to become the interim CEOs, they are presented with two options to present the decision to the media: keeping Waystar Royco a family company despite their familial issues, or a course recorrection from the racist, sexist previous owner who despised his children. Initially disgusted by the thought of dragging their father’s name through the dirt, Kendall and Roman decide to stick with the former option. However, a fire reignites in Kendall, one he felt back when he tried to tarnish his father’s legacy and create his own. A journey that backfired on him due to the dirty cards Logan held against Kendall. Kendall sees revenge in his horizon, a revenge that he believes will bring him the satisfactory feeling of finally doing what he wanted to do to his father when he was alive. Kendall asks them to leak everything on Logan, with a shit-eating grinning on his face while he asks.
Succession each week continues to add fuel and ammunition to this already out of control dumpster fire. The seamless navigation back into the inhumane business dealings of the Roy family and their media conglomerate shines on screen, while never losing the impact of Logan’s death. It’s an odd, but symbiotic portrayal of heartfelt heartlessness, and it’s impossible to not be hooked to the screen as it happens.
Succession is streaming now on BINGE.
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