This article includes spoilers for season four of “Succession.”
In the gritty world of “Succession,” no one can be trusted, whether they be business associates, spouses, friends or — most of all — family. The dark comedy-drama series has spent its previous seasons defying viewers' every expectation with unanticipated twists and unforeseen betrayals, so much so that audiences have come to expect it. Revelations, incidents and complications have become so expected by the show’s fans that the most shocking thing “Succession” could do is have no twist at all.
This is exactly what the show does in its much-anticipated fourth and final season, paradoxically keeping the show fresh by flipping the script to become more predictable than usual. The predicted outcome is the last thing that fans of the series expect.
Season four of “Succession” begins with business as usual. Family patriarch Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox, begins plotting to take down his children's business deal with a rival media conglomerate by challenging them in a bidding battle to the tune of 10 billion dollars. Siblings Kendall, Roman and Siobhan Roy — played by Jeremey Strong, Kiernan Culkin and Sarah Snook, respectively — are plotting to outbid their father, undermining his efforts and overtaking his authority once and for all.
This familial conflict between Logan and his children is typical of “Succession,” the writing of which is no stranger to dichotomous “us versus them” antics. Characters frequently and without warning switch sides and allegiances.
This characteristic formula, however, is obliterated with the events of episode three, “Connor’s Wedding.” The episode begins with Logan Roy flying over the Atlantic Ocean in an attempt to ruin his children’s plan while skipping the wedding of his firstborn son. Mid-flight, he ceremoniously collapses and dies.
Echoing the disbelief of the two characters on the plane with Logan, the scene leaves viewers dumbfounded, wondering how such a prominent, enduring character could have been killed off. Earlier seasons took great lengths to prove that the octogenarian was indestructible. He has miraculously recovered from multiple near-death experiences, from the pilot episode where he suffers a brain hemorrhage to later instances such as heatstroke, UTI-induced delirium and bouts of dementia.
This is how “Succession” flips the script — his declining health and old age set the stage for his fate, yet the series had crafted a feeling of invincibility surrounding the character, making his inevitable death seem almost unreal. By depicting him as beating not only serious illness but multiple attempts at coups, betrayals and plans to render him powerless, the series created a feeling that Logan Roy could never lose. Given his legacy, it makes the sudden collapse that led to his death feel almost anti-climatic.
However, the writing was on the wall. Audiences could have reasonably expected it from the first episode. After all, the series is called “Succession,” implying that there would be a successor or at least a process of succeeding. When it becomes obvious that Logan is completely unwilling to give up his position as CEO, there is only one option left.
With Logan finally gone, the three Roy children are left at the helm of the multi-billion dollar media conglomerate Waystar Royco. The question of who will succeed Logan is still up in the air, with each Roy sibling considering how they could secure the position and if they even want it.
Kendall, Roman and Shibohan are forced to trust each other and work together as they steer Waystar Royco through a possible acquisition by Swedish conglomerate GoJo, by working with CEO Lukas Matsson played by Alexander Skarsgård. The Roy children are caught between upholding their father's values and desires for Waystar and making the decision that is best for the company's future.
Logan’s death was obvious but simultaneously surprising. This bold choice in just the third episode of the season sets a precedent for what to expect as “Succession” concludes. As the unexpected becomes the norm, the obvious outcome creates a more surprising twist.
With no obvious successor thus far, at this point in the season, it is really anybody's game. Is the true successor a shocking choice that no one saw coming or simply Kendall, who was chosen in episode one?