‘Succession’ Season 4 Episode 1: It’s My Party and I’ll Fuck Off if I Want To (RECAP)

Welcome, my friends, to the show that now has an exact end date. We were all hoping for at least one more after this, but now that creator Jesse Armstrong has confirmed Succession Season 4 will be the show’s last, there’s a crazy, last-week-of-senior-year energy to things. Last night’s episode, “The Munsters,” was the last Succession season premiere we’re ever going to get! Logan Roy’s second-ever in-universe birthday was also, presumably, the last one he’s going to get! Shiv kissed Roman and bumped fists with Kendall, very possibly for the last time! Because the siblings are happy, you understand, and if there’s one thing we know about Succession it’s that happiness is more fleeting than a glacier and more elusive than inner peace. (This doesn’t even take into account the amped-up energy and near-despair in the fandom right now, about which the less said maybe the better.)

Without further ado, then, let’s just jump right into the Succession Season 4 Episode 1 recap for which you have come and try to make sense of everything else as we go. We begin this season of Roy Family Values the same way we began the whole story five (real-world) years ago: It is patriarch Logan Roy’s birthday. All his closest and most loving friends and advisers have gathered to pay tribute. Oh – and family! Who could forget family. Why, there’s Connor Roy (Alan Ruck), wishing his pop a Happy Birthday as he does every year! And…other family members might be around somewhere? I’m sure they’re all here. Although none of them are visible as Logan meanders around the house, barely acknowledging the well-wishes and smiles.

In fact, Logan looks almost exactly as he did in the pilot episode when he was reduced to shuffling about the penthouse while Marcia (the sadly absent Hiam Abbass) gave orders and the staff took them. Only this time the party is in full swing – such as it is – and Logan seems more trapped and adrift than anything else. (Possibly because his favorite loving punching bags are nowhere in evidence?) Also, I assume that this is Logan’s 82nd birthday? He turned 80 in the pilot, and since then we’ve had the U.S.’ midterm elections and are now apparently on the brink of extinction a huge, epoch-defining presidential election. So I think it’s been five years in the actual world and two years in Succession‘s world. Exactly like Breaking Bad! Only instead of meth, it’s money. (And a little meth.)

Anyway, that’s what’s going on at Logan’s house. I simply can’t imagine where on earth his three other children could be. Oh – hang on; they’re all as far away from their father as they could possibly get while remaining in the contiguous United States. I guess that collective “cut you out of the company” injury hasn’t just scabbed over and healed. No; instead, Kendall, Shiv, and Roman are in L.A., camped out in a house the size of a Star Destroyer and preparing a pitch for their latest galaxy brain strategy. It’s something called “The Hundred,” and the language they use to describe it is just deliciously meaningless. Kendall calls it “Substack meets Masterclass meets The Economist meets The New Yorker.” OK, but what will it do? Perhaps this highly classified Zoom presentation can clue us in.

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If you can make sense of this gibberish, congrats! You, too, can become a business huckster (COURTESY: HBO)

Here is exactly what the slide says:

The global media start-up is a digital hub delivering all the essential information needed to navigate the now. The world’s leading experts provide humanity’s most invaluable knowledge in bespoke bite-sized parcels, designed to improve the lives of subscribers and the world in general. The antidote to the modern malaise of empty-caloried input-overload.

OK, but, again: what does it actually do? Is it just a bigger version of Vaulter? Is it the Matrix? Because it sounds like it could be both of those things. And that is, of course, the point. Succession is really, really goddamn good at using business-ese – which is to say, words that sound like language, but that, once you start to think about them, don’t really mean anything at all – to make things sound more complicated than they are. In this case, The Roy Three want to make their own new-age media startup to compete with their father’s empire of dinosaurs. Also, Kendall’s voice is also so buoyant and his movement so bubbly that I can’t help wonder if he is a little bit…high? On one substance or another? It might just be that he’s high on life (and in California; I mean, remember what it did to Roman back in the day?).

Shiv arrives and greets her brothers warmly. I am a little bit flabbergasted.

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Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy and Kieran Culkin as Roman Roy in a Succession moment of…sibling…appreciation? Weird (COURTESY: HBO)

She comes bearing news of their potential investors’ arrival. Roman tells her “You look tired, and your face is giving me a headache.” Aah – there’s the Roy sibling dynamic I expected. Before the three can pitch, though, Roman and Ken need to suss out whether Shiv has been hamstringing them to suss out better opportunities for herself. They’ve heard she may be talking to the “Jimenez transition team.” This is, presumably, the Democratic nominee for the presidential race that we’ve already heard about six times. Shiv confirms that she is indeed “helping them out,” but that since there hasn’t been an actual election yet that those guys just “want to talk about talking.” Great – now we’re in a David Mamet play.

But here’s where the truly icky personal rationales start to come out (not that they’re anything we haven’t seen before). Kendall, in explaining his commitment to The Hundred to his sister, starts this way:

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Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy, getting a little too real for the room in Succession Season 4 Episode 1 (COURTESY: HBO)

OKAY I AM AWAKE NOW, Jesus Fucking Christ Kendall that’s a juice-dropper if ever one was. What Ken means to say, of course, is that smoking heroin like a cigarette is “really, really, really, really nice. And I need something super fucking absorbing in my life.” So Ken would like The Hundred to be the biggest, baddest New Kid on the block, please and thank you. Message…received? I guess? Ken, I think the message you’re really sending here is that you need a whole lot of help you still aren’t getting. Maybe Roman could point you in the direction of some help? Take it away, Rom: “Is [The Hundred] literally too good? Like, why hasn’t anyone done this before?” Well – we’ll keep working on this. What are straws if not for grasping at, yes?

On that note, we’re back in New York for a quick little serenade. Here’s Logan, basking in the loving glow of “Happy Birthday” sung by a bunch of soulless ATN fuck-weasels.

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Brian Cox as Logan “It’s My Party” Roy in Succession (COURTESY: HBO)

LOL. Then Logan just walks out of the room entirely, muttering, “Jesus fuckin’ Christ.” DOUBLE LOL. He calls the assembled guests “the fucking Munsters,” which is a decidedly dated reference and thus perfect for Logan Roy. Alas, it’s just a damn shame that no one is here to liven this party right up.

Except butter my beanpole, who should step off the elevator but Cousin Greg! Greg is his usual apple-faced self. He’s gotten a nice little haircut and has a nice new suit and all in all looks about as shiny and proud as we’ve ever seen him. Possibly because he’s brought a friend, whom Greg introduces as Bridget. Kerry – not Logan – has come over to figure out what’s what with this particular tableau; she stops Greg’s foot on the way to his mouth by introducing herself as Logan’s “friend, assistant, and advisor,” then snags Greg on the pretense of drinks so she can dress him down out of earshot. Greg insists that he knows who his date is: she’s Bridget! “Uh-huh. Right. But who is she?…Is she from the apps, Greg?” Greg is offended. “I am a cousin,” he says, with conviction. “I get a plus one.” Hahaha, oh Greg. Never change. That way, I can just keep laughing and laughing at you. And so Kerry can, too. Here is Kerry’s “Good for you, Greg” face.

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Zoe Winters as Kerry in Succession Season 4 Episode 1 (COURTESY: HBO)

He might as well be showing off his toy train. But Greg commits a serious blunder when, in justifying his date’s presence, he invokes the ghost of Marcia’s past words. “Marcia’s not here,” Kerry says. “She’s in Milan. Shopping. Forever.” Wait – but, really? Forever-forever? Are we not seeing Hiam Abbass at all this season? I have to say, cutting her out of the cast would be a huge blunder. I have to assume that she’s still included if only because we know from the trailers that this is the Logan Vs. Everybody season. So, divorce, Roy-style! Maybe she’ll slip Logan a ricin capsule.

Anyway, Kerry’s true worry is that Bridget might be doing a little corporate espionage via the Greg’s Pants Expressway: “Do you know she’s not going to leak details right before the board meeting? Are you sure she’s not a hostile corporate asset?” We’re only 48 hours away from closing Waystar’s sale to GoJo, after all.

Back in LA, Ken is practicing his pitch while the money guys presumably sit outside and wait. He says a bunch of stuff that still doesn’t explain what The Hundred is. He says it’s “a revolutionary new media brand that’s gonna redefine media for the 21st century.” It really sounds like Kendall is trying to share his vision of this blowjob-and-birthday-cake machine that will do everything a person wants it to, so long as that doesn’t involve specificity. The slogan on the screen behind Roman says “Know Everything. Now.” Which is the perfect tagline for such a vapid idea.

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Kieran Culkin as Roman Roy and Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy presenting their pitch of seriously what even is this (COURTESY: HBO)

And as if all of this weren’t enough right before the big pitch. Shiv has to leave the room and take a call. From Tom! (Wambsgans. [Her husband. {Still.}])

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Matthew Macfadyen as Tom “Happiness” Wambsgans in Succession, seen here picking up the check for the group of friends with whom he just had lunch (COURTESY: HBO)

He just wanted to let her know that he had “a little drink with Naomi Pierce last night.” Shiv doesn’t understand why he needed to call, since it sounds like he’s asking permission for something he already did. Tom also tells Shiv “No – I just wanted to perform the ask, out of due deference. Just in case of photos.” Tom, you’re separated, not in an open relationship. But Tom, being the lighthouse that he is, feels the need to bring just a little bit more clarity to the matter: “It’s a social, it’s not a sexual. It’s not a sexual…thing.…the headline is, there’s nothing to worry about.”

Okay – but then, to quote Shiv, “Why the fuck are you meeting with Naomi Pierce?” Aah, and now is when Tom chooses to get cagey, responding “See you, Shiv” before ducking into his chauffeured car.

Shiv, clearly not bothered by this pseudo-smooth operator, darts back inside and dashes down half a mineral water while claiming she’s “fine.” When Kendall and Roman realize she’s distressed because that was her estranged spouse on the phone, though, they immediately get defensive and loving and tell their business manager guy to keep doing parlor tricks for the investors in the driveway because they have to tend to their sister, now, thanks. The Roys being the Roys, though, Tom’s connection with Naomi just as immediately raises suspicions that the Pierces of Season 2 might be wavering on the potential sale of their own legacy media company. Kendall, with his lightning-quick Freeform-esque social media reflexes, even more immediately discovers that Greg’s date Bridget tagged one of the Pierce kids on Instagram from inside the birthday party. And thus did the siblings realize that their father is the potential Pierce buyer, which is also why Nan Pierce is maybe possibly having second thoughts.

Elsewhere in second thoughts, it’s Connor Roy! Connor’s hat remains firmly in the ring, presidential election-wise, and his numbers are holding steady. And by “numbers” I guess I really mean “number.” And by “number” I mean 1. As in 1%, which is what Connor has been polling at since forever. Because this election is going all the way down to the wire, though, it seems there’s a general fear – among pundits? Among Connor Roys? Who can say – that “in these last days, it could get squeezed.” Still others, as Connor tells Willa, are “saying I might need to get aggressive in certain media markets.” Which others – pundits, Connor Roys – again, it’s not for us to say, and it would be rude for us to speculate. Let the man think, will you? He’s got a $100 million decision to make!

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Hangdogs don’t hang this low (COURTESY: HBO)

El oh el. Connor hasn’t been this squeezed for a little hundred mil since the time he asked Logan for a loan of the same amount and Logan flipped out and told him to stop bankrolling Willa’s play because it was embarrassing. Which it was! Just not as embarrassing as this. Bridget: “And so, what could get for that – could you win?” HA! Bridget can stay. Willa, whose deft thinking and equally deft delivery have her playing the role of Marcia in this episode, tells Bridget, “[Connor] gets a place in the conversation.” Boy, this must be an absurdly close election for Connor’s percentage to matter that much. Greg chimes in with what’s really on his mind: “Which is great. Because conversation’s a great thing to be inside of.” Subtle, egg man. Instead of thinking about Greg inside of anything other than a coffin, I will focus on Chopin‘s Nocturne Op. 9 #2 playing in the background of this scene.

In a side room, Tom dishes to Logan about his drink with Naomi. Basically, it looks like the ribbon is tied atop the sale of the Pierces’ business, and Tom congratulates Logan on “landing the plane.” Then he asks Logan what will happen to him if he and Shiv get divorced. Only of course he doesn’t just ask, this is Tom Wormgasm we’re talking about here. Tom says things like “I’m sure we’ll iron it all out – but, the, rocky ole road of life.” He mentions “emotional shrapnel.” He wonders, “What would happen, were a marriage, such as mine…” and Logan finishes for him (lol) with the phrase “bust up.” Then Logan gives us the immortal “If we’re good, we’re good” from the trailer. Aah, yes – Succession‘s answer to the equally meaningless “It is what it is.”

In Los Angeles, the sibling trio is not being particularly subtle about their shiny new interest in buying Pierce out from under their father. Well – two of the three of them are. Roman, also playing double duty this week as he takes a turn behind the wheel of Marcia Roy-level maturity, notes “That’s quite the fucking pivot.” You guys have spent years mocking the Pierces for being in the same dying industry as your father; now, you want to go after their company? Shiv suggests that they could do both, but Roman points out the absurdity of trying to forge a new media empire while also trying to buck up the old one. And when Kendall asks whether he’s afraid to fight their father, Roman replies that he’s not, but that “that’s getting fucking old.” Nice meta reference for your final season, Succession. Also, has anyone ever noticed that in addition to sitting wrong, Roman Roy often stands like a toddler protruding his little jelly belly forth for all the world to ripple and raspberry?

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In addition to his expertise with chairs, Roman Roy can also stand normally (COURTESY: HBO)

Seriously – Roman stands with his hands palms-out against his back, like he’s pushing his little tummy out. In a toddler, it’s cute and silly because it’s a toddler. In an adult, it’s a mixture of weirdly haughty and diaper fetish-adjacent. Nine episodes left to unlock whatever kinks we’re gonna unlock.

Shiv calculates that, once the sale to GoJo goes through, the siblings will each net between two and three billion. Kendall quickly extrapolates that with that much combined worth, they’ll be able to attract more investors. “It makes sense, Rom,” he adds, stressing the importance of “an established brand.” I am giggling and shaking my head at these tiny people and the eagerness with which they jump back into bed with familiar monsters.

And thus do we get our first Tom and Greg scene of Succession Season 4. The first thing Greg says to Tom is “Disgustibus!” Because apparently they are calling themselves “The Disgusting Brothers.” Or, at least, Greg is. You know – in honor of how Tom is separated from his wife and can fuck the town red with his red sequoia (not a tree) dick. Or something. Greg refers to Bridget in similarly loving terms: “She’s another tick on the chart.” Yeah, Greg, and you’re a tick on Logan’s ass. Launch this motherfucker in to the sun.

Bridget, though, thinks they should go. Because Logan got angry when she asked him for a selfie.

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Francesca Root-Dodson as Bridget, Nicholas Braun as Greg “Exists” Hirsch, and Matthew Macfadyen as Tom “How Am I The Grown-Up One” Wambsgans in Succession Season 4 Episode 1 (COURTESY: HBO)

Ken, now talking with his birthday buddy and erstwhile flame Naomi, confirms that Nan Pierce wants to lock in a preferred bidder for their company “tonight.” And she feels “honor-bound” to the current (still technically undisclosed) bidder. But for some reason Nan will also talk about the matter with Shiv. God, Nan Pierce is exhausting. She wants more of everything but is too prudish and self-restrained to be frank about it. There has got to be a world of guilt and shame at work within that woman. For now, though: ugh.

Back at the party! Remember? The birthday party? The one with all the celebrating? Yeah – that one. We’re back there.

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Logan Roy on his birthday (COURTESY: HBO)

…or were we ever really here to begin with? (Cue haunted house noises remixed to the Succession theme.) Logan is further irritated that there’s no “churchman” at the party, like the Cardinal, to give it “a bit of class.” And Kerry informs him that he probably shouldn’t expect Jeryd Menken (Justin Kirk), the Republican nominee for President, to swing by either. FINALLY, after one final stroll down Grimace Alley, Logan hits the button for the elevator, summons Colin, and peaces out.

Shiv, off the phone, confirms on-the-record that Logan is the other bidder. And that Nan probably doesn’t want to sell to him because she hates him (which, no shit). Roman tries one more time to bring his brother + sister back to The Hundred: “You want to fuck dad; you want to fuck Tom. I’m the only one who wants to set up a business and doesn’t want to fuck anybody.” How can this be true – how can Roman be the most clearheaded one of all of them? And yet: behold, miracle of miracles, true it is. Except that, in the end, it’s Kendall who cuts right to the point of this whole thing: “Just think about how fuckin’ funny it would be if we screwed Dad over his decades-long obsession?”

Aah – and now, at long last, we’ve reached the true Existential Wander portion of tonight’s program. Logan walks through Central Park ostensibly alone, Colin at a safe remove to give the old bear a bit of privacy. He watches the lights; he watches the other passers-by. He looks a little…sad? He’s clearly pensive but this is something more than that. We almost never ever see Logan sad or truly pensive (i.e., not just “thinkin’ ’bout business deals”-pensive). But then we also almost never see him truly alone.

And then, all of a sudden, we’re at dinner? Logan is having dinner with Colin? At a diner? (I’m not trying to say it’s shabby; it’s just not the kind of place where we’re used to seeing Logan.) This is a worlds-colliding moment if ever one was. While looking over the menu, Logan tells his bodyguard and fixer and all-around body burier, “You’re a good guy.” Colin thanks him. (Says “sir.”) Logan says, “You’re my pal.” Colin looks over for a second and thanks him again. Logan goes in again: “You’re my best pal.” WOOF. There’s loneliness and then there’s calling Colin your “best pal.” So now Colin knows something is up.

Logan asks Colin this question: “What are people?” Colin thinks he’s asking rhetorically, so Logan repeats it. He calls them “economic units.” Immediately I think of There Will Be Blood; immediately I am reminded of Logan’s little speech, back in Season 2, about how politics are laws and laws are people and he can handle people. When Logan pulls his own curtain back just the merest little bit – the only way he ever does pull it back – you sit still and pay attention. He continues: a person has “values, aims,” but that they (the person and the things that make them) both operate “in a market.” Colin: “So everything is a market?” Logan, now doing his best Livia Soprano impersonation: “Everything I try to do, people turn against me.” He muses that nothing tastes like it used to. He asks Colin if he thinks there’s anything “after this.” Pulls the curtain aside a little more: “I don’t. I think this is it.” Colin tries to interject with a note about his dad, who is “very religious,” but Logan asks him to speak “realistically.” And of course Colin says the only thing he can: “I don’t know.”

“And that’s it,” Logan replies. “We don’t know. We can’t know.” Then he pauses. “But I’ve got my suspicions.” It’s unclear if Logan means about the afterlife or the current one. Maybe he’s thinking about some of the reasons he might have wanted the Cardinal at his birthday party. And then he closes the curtain. “I’ve got my fuckin’ suspicions.”

We pivot hard from this very quiet, very loaded scene to the other big set piece from the Season 4 trailer: Roman, Ken, and Shiv, walking across the tarmac to their Nan Pierce-bound private jet, when Kerry calls. It’s kinda hard to hear her, though, what with all the idling jet engines. Shiv says, “We could hear you a lot better without dad’s cock in your mouth.” Now it’s Kerry’s turn to be hard of hearing. Roman, holding the phone, tells her that Shiv said “We could hear you a lot better without our dad’s cock in your mouth.” Kerry absorbs this. She’s calling to try and set up a birthday conversation between the kids and their father. Awww. Except the kids shoot down every one of Kerry’s proposals while also reminding her that the three of them have “never licked dad’s big omelette nipples.” As they get on the plane, Roman adds that Kerry can “pop it back in your mouth now.” So things are moving! Both plot- and conflict-wise. We’re supposed to see a lot more of Kerry this season; I hope she’s a worthy stand-in for Marcia, who I’ve now tried to spread across three characters even though I know it can’t possibly be the same without her.

Before we get to the big Business Showdown, though, we’ve got to navigate Connor’s big hurdle. He sidles up to Willa with the eagerness of my son when he wants to play a video game and his mother has already told him “No,” and says to his fiancée, “I’ve been thinking.” LOL this should be good. There may be no funnier preamble in Succession than Connor saying “I’ve been thinking.”

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Alan Ruck as Connor, Jeannie Berlin as Cyd, and Justine Lupe as Willa in Succession (COURTESY: HBO)

Gee, I wonder what the Connster could have on his mind? Could it be something to do with the presidential election and his little 1% pinky-dinky hanging out there for all the world to see but not quite far enough to flap tantalizingly in the morning breeze? Oops, my mistake – turns out Connor has his and Willa’s nuptials on his mind! Aww, what a sweet guy. He’s just worried that the boat on which they are to be married might not be “special enough.” Gosh, what a thoughtful guy! Connor, look at you, trying to make this the most perfect day for your beautiful bride-to-be.

Connor keeps talking, though. “What if we got married underneath the Statue of Liberty with a brass band. I don’t know! Jetpacks, and confetti guns, and, you know – razor wire and bum fights and goodie bags! And hoopla and razzamatazz.” Hahaha Connor you absolute fucknut. Of course he was never interested in the ceremony at all; he just wants to generate the most possible publicity with this already fairly high-profile event so he can edge his way into the news cycle itself and save some of that hundred million for Willa’s next play. (He didn’t say that last part and he should have.) Willa, unsurprisingly, is unmoved. She also looks exactly like how my wife looks when our son sidles up to her with super-sweet aren’t-I-your-best-boy eagerness to ask about playing a video game even though he knows he already lost them earlier in the day. Connor is a child, you guys. He is the eldest son! But he’s a child.

And this episode is simply on fucking fire with transitions, because sure enough, here comes the biggest child of them all.

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Greg and Tom are definitely on the same page here (COURTESY: HBO)

Greg is all smiles because he and Bridget fucked in a guest room. Naturally, Tom takes the opportunity to turn this all around on him and convince Greg that since Logan is “camera-ed up the wazoo,” Greg and Bridget “accidentally made Logan a sex tape.” LOL Greg you goddamn moron, how can you possibly fall for this. Even if the thing about cameras is true, do you think Logan really sits there and “watches it back every night with a scotch”? Then Logan returns all in a huff because Karl and the rest of Waystar’s brain trust have found out about the still-anonymous “rival bid” for Pierce. Logan ends the party and orders everybody out except his old & trustworthy brain cells, but Greg is shaking in his boots and eager to go spill everything to Logan. I understand why they withheld it, but I’m a little bit mad at Succession‘s own brain trust for not giving us the scene where Greg tells Logan what he did.

All these cross-continental pendulum swings are starting to make me a bit queasy. But we’re back in California nonetheless, driving up to Nan’s estate. At least, it looks like California. But if I’m not mistaken, are we truly back among the rolling mountainside vineyards of Chiantishire? I mean, if I told you that the screencap below is actually from Succession 3.8, you would believe me. Wouldn’t you?

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Pictured: Tuscany. 100% authentic Tuscan. (COURTESY: HBO)

It’s not, but I made you think for a second didn’t I? No, we are only still in Tuscany metaphorically + spiritually. As soon as these kids get back to reality (or “the East Coast,” which ever you prefer) their whole alliance is gonna splinter like firewood chopped with a dull axe. But, for now: teamwork! Which includes being left to cool their heels in the driveway when Naomi comes outside to tell them her mother is “not sure [the deal] feels right” and also that she “might be getting a headache.” I am a little bit surprised that Roman doesn’t call bullshit right then and there. He really is growing up. Anyway Naomi asks if “you guys could give her five.” The siblings, who just hours ago were playing this game themselves, accede, because there’s no other move to make.

In New York, Frank susses out that it’s the kids who are the rival suitors for Pierce. He points out that they each have 5% of Waystar, which, when the company is sold, means they would collectively have more than enough money to make them attractive to investors & thus worthy competition for Pierce. Does Frank want to break that news to Logan? He would rather butter Karl’s beanpole than do so. Likewise Gerri. So Karl is chosen to share the intel by default, and chooses to do so while holding out a dish of candy as an ersatz shield. I cannot stop giggling at this image.

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David Rasche is hilarious and if you don’t agree then you need to find your funniest bone, stat (COURTESY: HBO)

Logan doesn’t want any candy (I hope it’s because he split a huge piece of diner cake with Colin. And let Colin pick the flavor). He wants more of that sweet, sweet insider info. So he tells Tom to “call [his] fucking wife” and while he’s at it to tell her she’s “never had a single fucking idea in her entire fucking life.” This whole angle reeks of “the toy is mine and I will not share it with you.” If I’m going overboard with the little kid metaphors this week, it’s only because Succession is hitting the adulthood/childhood parallels harder than Ms. Cobel revoking hallway privileges.

Then there’s another quick little aside where Greg tells Tom he blamed the inter-pants rummaging on Bridget being “a bit wild” and possibly high on “wacky tobaccy or worse.” Greg, you really are becoming a perfectly formed human shitbag, aren’t you. It only gets worse when Colin tells him Bridget not only has to go, but that because she’s been posting on social media from the party he has to go through her phone and delete everything, too. Greg follows Colin down the hallway until he hears about this, at which point he says Colin should be the one to break the news to the woman about whom Greg said just hours ago that he was maybe possibly falling in love: “I don’t want to see what happens at Guantánamo.” Greg is a human Oruoboros-turd, shitting itself out into its own open mouth in an endless cycle of unfathomability. Nicholas Braun watched The Human Centipede hundreds of times to prepare for this season; pass it on.

She’s nowhere near as bad as Greg, but Nan Pierce is just as insufferable in her own way. After the same kinds of pleasantries that Logan and Matsson both detest (compare Shiv’s declaration “And it’s a lovely place!” with the former pair’s introduction in Season 3 Episode 9), Nan gets right down to protesting too much. “I think it’s all wrapped up,” she says, of the impending sale. “I think it’s just a little bit too late; I hope that I have not inconvenienced you.” Then she tries to fob the Sibling Three off with some of her vineyard’s wine (tacky) while simultaneously protesting that it’s far too fancy and refined for her more pedestrian taste (double-tacky; you are bad at this). Nan says she likes her wines thin and vinegary and Naomi actually says “Like her men.” I…guess that’s true! I just don’t want to spend a whole lot of time thinking about vinegary men.

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Cherry Jones, whose character Nan Pierce is so full of shit it’s the only thing keeping her eyebrows pasted on, in Succession (COURTESY: HBO)

Kendall, in his finest moment this episode, gets to the fucking point. “You called this right before,” he tells Nan, referencing her deal-killing instinct back in Season 2. Shiv brings up the election and how important it is to be on the right side of history etc etc – oh, and she also says “I’m confident that we can be competitive on price.” Nan responds – decisively! – “How’s your financing. Not that I understand it at all.” NAN. Will you please stop twirling your dress and acting like nobody wants to dance with you. You’re the only one on the fucking dance floor. Nan also brings up the biggest elephant in the room – namely that, were she to sell to the kids, Shiv would “still be married to the head of ATN.” Shiv, just as decisively: “I’m getting a divorce.” Oh ARE you now? Why do I feel like that is a political calculation you made in the heat of this particular moment? Roman: “Yes, it’s a sad, sad day when love dies.”

Nan puts that emotional shrapnel aside for a minute to get back on her bullshit. “I don’t want to talk about the numbers. It’s not about the numbers.” Nan it is totally and completely about the numbers. At least Logan is fucking honest about this stuff. Then, when the kids do start mentioning numbers like seven and eight and eight-and-a-half billion dollars, Nan also tries this one: “Oh, I don’t like this…it’s like I’m in the middle of a bidding war.” OH NO DON’T THROW ME IN THAT BRIAR PATCH, PLEASE ANYTHING BUT THAT. “Eight, nine,” she continues. “What’s next?” Fortunately, this is the moment when Roman calls her on her gargantuan pile of steaming, fresh cow manure, wondering aloud, “I know – it’s so confusing. What comes after nine? Nine B?”

So now Nan makes Logan wait for a response while she ponders the kids’ offer of untold wealth. Logan, who just loves waiting around, makes the following observation for the room.

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Brian Cox’s Logan Roy, seen here attempting to induce cardiac arrest in his minions, on Succession (COURTESY: HBO)

RUN – DO NOT ENGAGE – RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. Hahaha this should be good. You ever tried being funny on the spot? OK – now, you ever tried being funny on the spot when the spot is Logan Roy? Karl flops harder than a corpse off a diving board. Frank flops harder than a diving board on a corpse. Logan calls on “Greggy.” Greg, somehow, finally, shows signs of life. “You’re mean. You’re mean; you’re a mean old man; you’re a mean old bastard.” He adds that Logan scares people and makes them so nervous that they don’t even know what to do. Logan is the merest little bit ruffled. He asks the room, “Who wants to smell Greg’s finger?” Reader, can I please tell you that I laughed at this line with such gusto. Logan is a miserable asshole but you can always count on him to dunk on Greg harder than Shawn Kemp.

When Greg tries again, though, he’s on to something: “Where are your kids? Where’s all your kids, Uncle Logan? On your big birthday?” OH SHIT GET HIS ASS GREG you’re still a piece of circulatory fecal matter but that doesn’t mean you can’t choke Logan to death too. Of course, then Logan starts in on Greg’s dad “still sucking cock at the county fair” and thus does the Roast of Logan Roy end not with a whimper, but with a bang from the roastée. So it goes.

Tom tells Logan that Nan doesn’t like the uncertainty (the fuck she doesn’t) and wants to lock in a bidder and a price tonight. Tom calls Logan “Loge.” If you’re ever going to bond with Logan, it will happen in the thick of a business deal. Logan wants to soft-sell Nan with seven billion dollars (which is already way lower than the kids’ first offer, though neither party knows that) but to start at six billion under the pretense that they’re finding fresh fault with some already-established complaint.

In California, Shiv comes back with “I think we’re very comfortable at eight billion.” Nan *immediately* says “This is disgusting,” then turns to Shiv and adds “But thank you.” Cherry Jones, you are fucking killing it in this episode’s Hypocritical Human Safety Deposit Box department.

In New York, Logan is getting antsy. He calls Tom “Tommy.” The weird camaraderie these two have in this moment is something you really have to see for yourself. Then Tom suggests increasing the figure and Logan smiles his all-knowing smile and says “Call your wife.”

Naomi wanders onto the patio where the Sibling Trio are huddled and conveys that Nan wonders if there’s “a little more upside” to their offer. Of course she does. Because she doesn’t like being in a bidding war and it’s not about the numbers. When Tom calls, there’s some back-and-forth and then Shiv pulls the rug out with a bluff: “Our ceiling is twelve.” Meaning billion! Tom scoffs and says “Ours too.” This is such a playground clusterfuck; it’s unbelievable. Based on this conversation. Shiv tells the siblings’ money man that they need to be at nine-five, because they think Logan is at eight-five or nine. Ken turns around like Bruce Wayne and suggests this is “nickel-and-dime” stuff (you know – the $500 million increments) and wonders if they just top it off at $10 billion.

Roman objects about as vehemently as he ever does, making the (excellent and worthwhile and excellent) point that the extra $500 million they need to get to such a nice round figure is a fuuuuuuck-ton of money and they could spend it on “snowmobiles and sushi.” Ken and Shiv look at Roman like he’s a Dickensian orphan child. The money man, Tellis (because he’s one letter short of a useful tool), tells them “It would be great to be the top bidder here.” LOL no fucking kidding you asphalt-studded dildo. Tellis adds that Pierce is “worth whatever the top bidder will pay.” Preschool economics teacher, that’s what he does in his spare time.

Anyway, the kids still have no idea that Logan has been holding firm at seven while implying he would rather pay closer to six. Which is why they go back inside and let Shiv make the following statement: “On an indicative handshake we’d like to take Pierce to the next stage of its evolution with a bid of ten billion dollars.” Nan manages to keep a straight face. She replies, “That gives us something to think about.” Maybe think about buying yourself some acting classes, you Obvious Olivia. (In case it’s not clear, I’m talking about Nan, here. Not Cherry Jones, who is fucking feasting on this role.)

On the way out, the kids get the biggest surprise of all. (That is, until they find out they overbid by about two-and-a-half billion dollars.) Tom calls one more time to let them know Logan wants a quick word. The quick word: “Congratulations on saying the biggest number, you fucking morons.” I mean, he’s a sore loser, but he’s also not wrong? I can’t want to see how he reacts when he finds out how much his progeny overpaid for a dinosaur. The kids, though, are elated that they managed to rattle their own dinosaur in his dinosaur cage:

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Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy and Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in another Succession moment of sibling appreciation? Guys what the fuck is going on (COURTESY: HBO)

And now we return to the aforementioned East Coast of Reality and Despair. Hours & hours later, probably early the next morning, Shiv pulls up to 120 Broadway. In New York City. Where she lives? (Sort of.) She goes upstairs and walks into the ole penthouse and is greeted by an apprehensive dog barking his apprehensive bark. It’s Mondale! Guys, remember Mondale, Tom and Shiv’s very good boy who they should really not have because they almost never pet him and are home even less often than that? Mondale is in his little pen in the giant kitchen in the giant penthouse! And he’s spooked by Shiv because he hasn’t seen her in three months. Because dogs are pack animals and when you remove a member of their pack they get anxious and confused no matter how distant that member may have been in the first place.

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Mondale, a very good boy, seen here confused beyond measure when Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook) pets him for the first time (COURTESY: HBO)

So Shiv pets Mondale for the first time in Succession history. We’ve only ever seen Tom pet Mondale twice: once in Season 1 and once more in Season 3 before he pulled Shiv’s pantyhouse out of the poor dog’s ass. That’s three pets for Mondale. In three full seasons and now into the fourth. These people should not own a dog.

Elsewhere in tiny cages, Shiv moves about the house, beautifully and distantly…

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No show makes isolation look prettier than Succession (COURTESY: HBO)

…and in a guest bedroom she comes upon Tom, roused from sleep by the barking. Shiv tells him “I hear you and Greg call yourselves the Disgusting Brothers now.” She hears he dates models and she compliments his body, then asks if he brings the models back to their broken marriage’s broken house: “Do you do the positions?” Tom mostly absorbs this; it feels less like Shiv’s heart is in her insults and more than anything else like she’s is trying to gin herself up for a big fight or a headfirst-dive into the unknown.

Eventually, Tom asks, “Do you really want to get into a full accounting of all the pain in our marriage? Because, if you do…I can do that.” But Shiv does not. Instead, she says, “I wonder if we might have run out of road.” She gets much quicker and more direct in her actions and her words: I don’t want to rake up a whole lot of bullshit for no profit, Tom….I think it might be…time…for you and I to move on.” Tom can’t get past Shiv not wanting to talk about what happened. You know, when he stabbed Shiv and her brothers in the back with a carving knife after finally, finally realizing that she was never going to stop stabbing him in the front with a letter opener. And it’s no surprise that Shiv doesn’t want to open up those wounds: she knows Tom has been hurting since their rehearsal dinner (Season 1 Episode 9), since his confession on the beach (Season 2 Episode 10); since forever, really. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have legitimate grievances against him. But when you’ve already announced that you’re getting a divorce to the woman from whom you’re trying to buy your very own separate legacy media company so you can wage a full-scale, full-frontal war against the mortal enemy known as your father, you don’t imperil the deal by going back on the announcement, do you?

Shiv tells Tom, “…I think a whole lot of crying and bullshit is not gonna help that.” And Tom, after a moment, agrees: “Well, okay.” They’re sitting with their backs to each other and Shiv looks like she really is doubting the issue, like she made the decision to get a divorce casually or flippantly or thoughtlessly or all of the above and didn’t consider what going through with it would mean.

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Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook) finding the resolve to follow through on her promise to Nan Pierce (COURTESY: HBO)

Tom looks pretty broken up. He lays down. Shiv lays down at right angles with him. He says, “…so this is it, huh?” Shiv says, “We gave it a go.” Tom takes his wife’s hand. She lets him. He says, “Yeah we gave it a go.”

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I can’t help assuming it’s for fairly different reasons. But they both look so lost.

And finally! (Trumpets; fanfare.) We close Succession Season 4 Episode 1 with Logan at home, by himself, sitting back in an easy chair with a look on his face that says “fatigue” but says “unimpressed” louder. He looks, more than ever, like the previous President of the United States of America, the one infamous for obsessing about his own media coverage the way we expect a president to obsess over, you know, us. He calls Cyd to complain that the “top of the hour” is bullshit. Cyd assures him that they’ll fix it. Logan asks her, “Are you losing it, Cyd? Are you fucking losing it?”

“The Munsters” uses a lot of energy and a lot of time to set up its pieces for a huge, multi-episode showdown while also obfuscating the fact that what actually happened in this specific episode was curiously simple. Logan wanted a thing; the kids got the thing instead. That is the first time that that has happened on Succession. Maybe it won’t be the last! I should also point out that I don’t mean “curiously simple” as an insult. One of Succession‘s greatest strengths is using language, dialogue, and cinematography to spin a web of crazy out of something that is itself less than crazy. One of its other great strengths is conjuring up and illustrating the huge, galactic fallout that results from these webs. And if you think a radioactive spider web is a mixed metaphor, I would invite you to recall that the great power with which the Roy children have been bestowed does indeed require great responsibility. Now, we get to find out whether they can wield one in each hand.

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