The season 3 finale of HBO’s Succession was perhaps one of the most riveting hours of television I’ve ever witnessed. Like ‘Ozymandias’ for Breaking Bad, or ‘The Rains of Castamere’ for Game of Thrones, seeing where Succession’s story led to in the final moments of last season was the ultimate gut punch (depending on who you’re rooting for in this sea of truly despicable, yet oddly endearing group of corporate media moguls).
After three seasons of forced and conscious division, both professionally and personally, the Roy siblings (Kendall, Shiv and Roman) banded together to once and for all destroy their conglomerate-wielding, back-stabbing, insult-spitting father, Logan and his decades-old media empire. However, when Shiv’s husband, Tom, betrays the Roy siblings by alerting Logan of their plan, it seemed all hope was lost.
Season 4 of the hit ‘dramedy’ picks up a few months after the betrayal, with Roy brothers, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) preparing to pitch their new, more modern attempt at a media company, called ‘The Hundred’, to a new group of Arabic investors. In true Roman fashion, the Zoom meeting with the marketing team is met with crude and debaucherous insults about their ability (or in his eyes, inability) to come up with a conceptual design that will reach the youthful masses who are disinterested in news. ‘The Hundred’ is truly Roman’s baby, as he states his desire to branch away from Logan’s limelight and create something of his own, despite knowing what happened previously to Kendall when he tried something similar.
All the while, Kendall, who is now even more hellbent on the destruction of his psychologically abusive father, manically attempts to put at ease the worrying queries of Roman aside when it seems like the launch of the new media empire isn’t going to be as convincing as first thought. It almost feels like Kendall, amongst all his other issues, is suffering from a bout of imposter syndrome after the onslaught of defeats he has been beaten down with over the last few years.
As for Roy-sister, Shiv, who is arguably the most sane and level-headed in the group (which is saying a lot for this family!), is still emotionally coming to ahead with Tom’s betrayal. The moral back and forth of the hurt from her husband’s decision to side with Logan, mixed with her own belittling and adultery in their own relationship tears her apart, and often is occupying her mind as she constantly gets called out by Kendall and Roman for not being present before their pitch.
Minutes before their potentially life-altering pitch for ‘The Hundred’ word comes through that Nan Pierce is potentially closing a deal with Logan for her share of ATN, and the price is not just at a level affordable for the Roy siblings and their investors, but they collectively believe that Nan would much rather sell her share of the company to them based on her hatred for Logan, and the Roy siblings ability to continue her legacy.
Back in New York, a disgruntled Logan (Brian Cox) begrudgingly celebrates his birthday alongside “friends”, colleagues and the closest family he now has, son-in-law Tom (Matthew MacFadyen) and distant cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun). Logan believes his deal with Nan is all but signed until he is told about his children’s plan to buy in and take control off of him. Obviously, this does not sit well with Logan, and he immediately assembles his team of loyalists into a war-room style bidding battle with the offspring that he hasn’t spoken to since the betrayal.
Succession returns with a bang. The frantic nature and energy of the story, plus the bombastic movement of the camera and direction start this season with the same amount of anxiety that it previously ended with. Creator Jesse Armstrong’s script is once again a perfect balance of intense conversations and dry, banter filled humour that now into its fourth (and sadly, final) season feels so in tune with the characters on display.
Having the episode bounce back and forth between the Roy siblings and Logan himself sets the pacing at a pitch-perfect level, keeping the intensity and energy at such a high that having to wait another week for an episode gives off an old sensation that we felt in a world before streaming. The strong desire to know what happens next after these huge decisions are made by characters will fuel water-cooler conversations all the way until the next episode.
The balance and pacing is also assisted by the fact that all the core characters have something to do in this episode. While the focus is on the Roy’s, the interactions between Tom and Greg bring much needed humour and levity in the background. And the final moments hammer down the emotional repercussions of Tom and Shiv’s relationship in a truly heartbreaking way.
If this first episode is any indication of what is to be expected from the remainder of Succession’s final season, then fans are in for a debaucherous, tense and fast-paced run to the finish… and we can’t wait to see how it all ends!
Succession returns on BINGE from Monday, March 27.
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