Fans were understandably a little taken aback when it was abruptly announced just a few weeks before Succession Season 4 debuted that this would be the show’s final season. The HBO original series’ creator and showrunner Jesse Armstrong had always been careful to construct a story that didn’t go on for too long, but with Season 3’s abrupt finale and the change in direction, it seemed like there was still so much to discover. The final table read before shooting was the first time the cast members even realized it was the end. Nevertheless, if you take a look at the Succession Season 4 opener, which was even shorter and directed by Mark Mylod, you can speculate as to why they did.
The youngest three Roy siblings had their lives upended by the conclusion of Season 3. They try to enact a stipulation in their parent’s divorce that gives them veto power over changes in company ownership in order to stop Lukas Matsson’s (Alexander Skarsgrd) GoJo from acquiring Waystar Royco and becoming its CEO. Instead, after learning of the information, their father, Logan Roy (Brian Cox), hastily renegotiates the terms of his divorce agreement to exclude them from the choice. In a surprising epilogue, it is strongly hinted that Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), the husband of the youngest Roy sibling, Siobhan “Shiv” Roy (Sarah Snook), was the one who had revealed their plot to Logan and had betrayed his wife.
After this, where do the siblings go? They became together after a dramatic confession moment at the conclusion of the third season, and they are still together as of Succession Season 4. They combine their efforts in an effort to launch their own media company to take on Waystar Royco. In addition to competing with their father (are they still trying to win his favor or disprove him? The pressure of the forthcoming presidential election, which appears to be a significant focus of this fourth season, is also present (probably both).
In Season 3, Roman Roy (Keiran Culkin), the second youngest sibling, assisted his father in selecting a fascist as the Republican candidate. ATN, a sizable conservative media organization owned by Waystar Royco, had a significant influence on the outcome of the election. While it would be good to not elect a Nazi as leader of the free world, in HBO’s Succession, personal interest has always come before politics. The Roy siblings are ready to combat fascism in their last season, but the alignment is more for practical reasons than it is based on any actual moral compass spin.
For the next election, the remaining cast members are also getting used to their roles. Connor (Alan Ruck), the oldest Roy sibling, is still vying for the presidency. His father does not perceive it as a serious danger to his own choice for president since, in his eyes, it is more of a vanity project than an honest political objective. Yet, the two remain in agreement since Connor needs his father to finance his campaign. Tom (Nicholas Braun) snuggles up next to Logan as cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) follows him nonchalantly. But it’s important to think about how long Logan will let Tom stay at his side. Being married to a Roy relative gave Tom access to Waystar Royco’s highest management, and few marriages can withstand the severity of the Season 3 finale’s treachery. Particularly one that started to break down the evening after their wedding.
Even though there isn’t much of a marriage left, Tom and Shiv continue to wear their wedding rings in the Succession Season 4 opener. Awkwardly, almost endearingly, Sarah Snook and Matthew Macfayden continue to play off one another. However, this is reduced when Tom and Shiv’s fragility is highlighted in the episode’s harsher sections. The subsequent episodes will likely focus more on their deteriorating relationship as they deal with the fallout from Tom’s treachery.
Logan is also extremely dissatisfied. He attempts to comfort himself by pointing to his astute business decisions that have helped him succeed, but he still mourns the passing of his three youngest children. Logan questioned Roman towards the conclusion of the third season, asking, “What do you have in your fucking hand?” as his children tried to talk him out of selling the business. Roman says, “I don’t know, fucking… love?” in response. Logan rejects that idea, avoids his kids, and now he has to learn to live without their love. After beating out everyone else to get there, the top is quite lonely. Brian Cox manages to debut his final journey as Logan Roy in the Succession Season 4 premiere with just as much twisted and curt as usual.
Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong), who is remarkably quiet during the Season 4 opener, is the only character that has not been acknowledged thus far. Outside of their sibling alliance with Shiv, there hasn’t yet been a plotline developed for Kendall or Roman, but this is where we can speculate. We may anticipate that a significant amount of Succession Season 4 will center on Roman’s breaking point. The focus of Season 2 was on how Logan forced Kendall to snap by denying him therapy, leveraging his trauma to exert control over him, and finally wanting to sacrifice his career to save his job. Moving on, Season 3 focused on how Logan forced Shiv to snap by failing to acknowledge her achievements, pressing her to support a fascist candidate despite the fact that she is a democrat, and ultimately turning her own spouse against her.
Hence, Succession Season 4 might focus on Roman finally making a firm decision about Logan. He frequently sides with his father over his siblings because he is the least at ease with conflict, as was revealed in the Season 4 premiere (i.e. the season one vote of no confidence where he told Kendall he would vote against their father but then ultimately changed his decision). Roman is the Roy sibling who is most likely to reunite with his father, as has previously been hinted in the trailers, and Succession Season 4 will probably follow him as he struggles with this choice.
The sexual assault crisis on cruise ships was briefly mentioned in the plot of this show, but it was swiftly dropped. Realistically, none of these characters would face any serious repercussions for their deeds, but this issue had been a major one from the start of the series, and it was addressed largely behind the scenes as the next season’s tensions developed. Jesse Armstrong and his writing staff need to bring the controversy back or at the very least bring it up again if they want Succession to seem really unified by the show’s final episode.
It appears that Succession fans are in for a fantastic conclusion. The writing is still clear and to the point, the comedy is still razor-sharp (they still manage to find new ways to make me groan in secondhand embarrassment as I audibly yell “no… no” at my television), and the cast ensemble keeps bringing layered performances that make each of these characters so compelling. It seems that the last season was never truly about who becomes CEO of Waystar Royco, albeit no one really knows how it will end. Instead, it’s about family, love, and how far people are ready to go to succeed, whatever that may mean.
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