Succession S4E3 Breakdown: Emancipation

“Connor’s Wedding”

The Roy siblings hugging
Courtesy of HBO

This might be the most difficult piece I’ve ever written. How can you recap or even analyze this landmark episode of television? Succession has been in a league of its own since its second season, when it shattered glass ceilings and cemented itself as one of TV’s best, perhaps ever. Sometimes, the show strikes these raw nerves that make it true to life in a way that art rarely does. Succession S4E3 has been all people have been talking about since Sunday night and for good reasons. We’re about to get into heavy spoiler territory here so if you haven’t seen “Connor’s Wedding,” proceed with caution.

Promises Kept

The king is dead. Logan Roy died in Succession S4E3 in unexpected and confusing fashion. The news came early in the episode, giving us close to a full hour to process the grief with his children, see how his long time associates reacted and get glimpses of what the future might hold.

We’ve been told since Day 1 that this show was the story of who would replace the media tycoon. We’ve been teased and tortured with ideas over who would take the crown, told by the title of the show itself that the line of succession was the series’ promise. Now here we are, on the eve of a sale designed to keep the birthright from the Roy siblings.

Logan has been acting like a caged animal for a while now, never more apparent than last week when he followed his children to a bar to try to change their minds and uttered the now famous line “I love you but you aren’t serious people.” He didn’t believe that his kids could replace him nor did he ever want to step down. It makes a lot of narrative sense that he would die before his company could be sold so a true successor would have to be named.

In his last act of cruelty, Logan started the episode by telling Roman that he had to be the one to fire Gerri, his longtime confidant and mother like figure. I admire Jesse Armstrong for writing Logan’s final act to be one of a mean-spirited nature, causing his youngest child harm mere hours before his demise.

The Kids Aren’t Alright

So much of Succession S4E3 is about the raw reaction of the Roy siblings. The confusion and panic, questions over whether Logan was actually dead or not, felt really real, like how we feel watching the news about a tragedy, waiting for details to break. The Roy siblings knew that their father was dying while flying to Sweden but given the chaotic nature of it all, there was little clarity as to whether or not there was a chance of him surviving.

Kendall grieving on a couch in Succession S4E3
Courtesy of HBO

Watching Roman and Kendall speak into the phone that Tom held to their dying father’s ear was gut wrenching. Roman refusing to accept the reality that his father was dying. Kendall, saying he loved the old man and then feeling the need to be honest. He couldn’t forgive Logan and said that to him as he was dying. “I cant forgive you Dad.” It felt so real but also so true, and a moment of growth for Kendall. The last few years have taken a toll on him and he’s owning up to that now. His pain perhaps has been worth it in a sense as he’s becoming his own man and not just the man he thinks his father would want him to be.

The bonding between the Roy siblings felt real. There is a closeness there between them but with a father who pitted them against each other, they rarely showed it. The genuine grief and vulnerability here was so refreshing to see and gives you hope for how they will navigate the choppy waters to come.

Then there was Connor, who is struggling with not being loved. In another final act of cruelty, Logan was skipping his oldest child’s wedding to conduct business, with no regard for Connor’s feelings. The same Connor who was never treated the same as the younger three siblings, because Logan disliked his mother more. As we would come to find out in “Connor’s Wedding,” when Logan had Connor’s mother institutionalized, he gave Connor a cake to make him feel better. The kid quietly ate cake for a week, alone. While we’ve had a few insights into Connor throughout the series, this was the greatest and most cutting.

Which made Connor and Willa’s arc this episode that much more fulfilling. Connor asking Willa if she’s just marrying him for the money and her saying that yes, it’s part of it. Willa telling Connor that she’s not going to run. A refreshing burst of honesty between the two, who on the outside might seem like a really odd fit, but do have real feelings for one another. Their choice to get married on the day Logan died and while the younger siblings ran off to tend to both their feelings and the PR elements of Logan Roy dying was profound. Connor didn’t need to stop and grieve the father who didn’t like him. He didn’t need the support of the siblings who treat him as an outsider. He just needed Willa, their moment and the security of the fact that she’s not going anywhere, today at least.

Connor and Willa’s wedding
Courtesy of HBO


One of Succession’s strongest qualities is showing us exactly how each character is feeling at any given moment. It’s almost like watching a therapy session with all these other people around, but all equally as obviously to what others are going through. It’s just for the viewer to see, to feel and absorb.

Succession S4E3 was a heavy hour of television. The grief was raw. The emotions trying and real. Kendall mourned the relationship he never got to have with his dad. He tried to be the older brother his siblings needed him to be. He tried to hold it together. He tried to not take any steps backwards in the healing he’s experienced over the years. He was trying and in situations like this, sometimes that’s the best we can do.

Shiv was in shock. The viewer could see her thought process. She didn’t think it would end like this. She thought she would win her father’s respect and have the relationship she always desired with him. Daddy’s little girl had the ruthless instincts the boys didn’t have. She would be the one. But now she won’t, nor will anyone else. Her last conversation with her father was tense, ugly and manipulative.

Roman, the one who always craved love and affection, couldn’t believe it. This isn’t happening. Denial drove his actions and words. The father he wanted to please, whose approval he craved despite how abusive he could be, was gone. Roman’s sense of identity is in flux because his actions have always derived from wanting his father’s love.

Yet now, they are free. They are emancipated from a controlling man who never wanted to give his children what he built. A man who thrived when his children were competing amongst themselves for his love. Those children are now free to live lives not dictated by Daddy, to make choices of their own, to be their own people. They are free, which some of them wanted, some weren’t ready for, but now they are. The future is wide open and scary.

That freedom, that emancipation, extends to others in the company too. Let the power struggle begin, with Carl, Frank and company clinging for dear life to the positions they kept for decades, working for a man they despised. They too are free but perhaps with different motivations. They want to dig their nails in to keep their piece of the pie. What does their future look like?

Then there’s Tom, who knows that Logan was the only one who wanted him in a position of power. His soon to be ex-wife will want him out. Frank and Carl won’t protect him. He’s an island in a great big sea, alone, after years of fighting to get where he is. Tom is likely to be much like a caged animal moving forward, desperate to keep what he has, regardless of the cost.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I don’t think anyone expected Jesse Armstrong and company to take us here, with seven episodes remaining in the series. We will get to see how the Roy siblings move forward without their dad. We’ll get to see their grief, their growth and their aspirations. Do they want to stay with the family company like they always planned to? Or do they want to finalize the sale and be free?

My personal assumption is that they keep the family business and the final hours of the series show us who is fighting for power like their dad would’ve wanted and who is interested in generational change. Who wants to be less greed and power motivated and do right by the people they share blood with? Will there be another large act of betrayal in the quest to take the throne?

Succession pulled the rug out from underneath us earlier than expected, giving us one of the most emotional and raw hours of television since perhaps the final season of Six Feet Under. Who expected that from a show about the richest people on Earth?

Written by Andrew Grevas

Andrew is the Founder / Editor in Chief of 25YL. He’s engaged with 2 sons, a staunch defender of the series finales for both Lost & The Sopranos and watched Twin Peaks at the age of 5 during its original run, which explains a lot about his personality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *