Succession S4E4 Breakdown: Pre-Grieving

“Honeymoon States”

Shiv, Kendall and Roman huddle in their dad’s home
A photo from the production of episode 404 of “Succession”. Photo: David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO. All Rights Reserved.

After last week’s emotional rollercoaster of an episode, what could Succession possibly do to us this week? Well, we would learn about pre-grieving, Roman Roy style of course. Succession S4E4, entitled “Honeymoon States,” didn’t take the foot off the gas at all, although we did get a chance to catch our breath a little bit. The final season is moving towards some inevitable fireworks, so let’s go ahead and get straight into heavy spoiler territory. You’ve been warned.

The Name

Succession S4E4 took place the day after last week’s episode, making this mere hours after Logan died. That context is important when you consider exactly how manipulative everyone was in this episode. Sure, some were grieving (thankfully, Roman pre-grieved) but knives were out and everyone wanted their piece of the old man’s empire.

The entire episode, minus the pre-credit scenes, took place at Logan’s home. His absence was felt. It was heavy, being in the castle without the king. The show did a magnificent job of conveying his looming presence simply being gone. A very real void was felt while countless people sat in his home and played the games he taught them all how to play.

Quickly, we see Frank summon Carl to Logan’s safe. There were instructions on how what to do when Logan passed. Kendall had been named successor, although the paper had no date and Kendall’s name had a line that mysteriously looked like both an underline as well as an attempt to cross it out. Other notes on the paper included the name Greg with a question mark and instructions on what to do with Logan’s art.

In a show all about determining who was the next in line, of course Logan’s own personal wishes would be shrouded in mystery. When did he name Kendall his successor? Was the line an attempt to cross out Kendall or emphasize it? Let the debate ensue from those all vying for their seat at the table.

Gerri and Carl look ahead during a meeting about their future
Photograph by Macall Polay/HBO

The siblings, who have been a united front, aren’t having it. Carl, Frank and Gerri aren’t having it. Tom attempts to manipulate each of the siblings. Kendall is rocked. He, more than anyone, went to war with his father. Logan tried to send him to prison. Kendall tried to get charges brought against his father. Kendall tried to steal the company, more than once, and Logan turned everyone against Kendall, hanging the life Kendall took in a drunken car wreck over his son’s head.

For Kendall, this would only add to the lack of closure he has with the most important relationship of his life. Did his father respect the fight he took to him? Did he see something in his son throughout their conflict? Or was this written years before their conflict? Kendall made his peace with always being at odds with his father prior to his death but the wounds were ripped wide open again here.

The New Guard

Carl, Frank and Gerri are determined to not let the kids ruin the end of their careers, if they can help it, but the Roy siblings are a formidable force. Shiv and Roman aren’t interested in letting Kendall be “the one.” They both make arguments for themselves until Kendall tells Shiv that she ultimately is the one without a leg to stand on. She never had a senior role in the company. She doesn’t have the industry experience that her brothers do. Roman is the COO and Kendall’s name is on a piece of paper naming him the successor. They can go to the board and say that the two of them will be co-CEOs while silently keeping Shiv as an equal third.

But unbeknownst to anyone but Shiv, the new guard is getting even younger. Shiv is pregnant and this only complicates her feelings more. She and Tom are heading for divorce. Her father is dead. Now her brothers might be trying to power play her out. Shiv knows that she has to stand up for herself more than ever, but she was out of cards to play here. Besides mocking Roman for “pre-grieving” their father’s death of course.

Roman and Kendall go through the motions of being announced co-CEOs but the writing is on the wall: Their approaches won’t be aligned. Kendall pulls a Logan Roy power move and changes course without Roman’s knowledge or permission. He instructs Hugo to go for a public character assassination of Logan instead of the loving tribute Roman wanted, blackmailing Hugo in the process.

Kendall and Hugo having a tense discussion
A photo from the production of episode 404 of “Succession”. Photo: David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO. All Rights Reserved.

A lot of people will view this as Kendall turning away from the personal growth we’ve seen from him over the years. Tasting his father’s power and becoming him. I don’t at all. Kendall, we must remember, had the strongest feelings about their father. He didn’t forgive him or idolize him. He did respect him and in some ways, probably feels like he’s honoring the old man by using a page from his playbook while being true to himself at the same time. There will be no fake tears here.

It’s also important to recognize the extremely complex feelings of grief Kendall is experiencing here. In his father’s home. Even in death, he’s being messed with. Was his name crossed out or underlined? He’ll never get resolution. And he’s not going to falsely praise the old man as he takes over either.

This isn’t going to sit well with the siblings. There will be conflict. There will be tension. But I don’t think their relationship will be beyond repair. While all three siblings are still saying they want to sell to Matson, I’m doubting that more and more. The grieving and healing process will be ugly and will be hard but I do think it will bring the Roy siblings closer together ultimately.

Misc Beats

One thing Succession S4E4 did that I was not expecting was to humanize Kerri more. She’s been a punchline for so long now, but here we saw her grief. Her feelings for Logan were real. Her pain is real. She’s struggling and although everyone wants to write her off as a gold digger, she is hurting. Good on them for showing that.

Shiv and Tom have an awkward conversation on the stairs of her father’s home.
A photo from the production of episode 404 of “Succession”. Photo: David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO. All Rights Reserved.

Tom and Greg are desperate. Once the lovable comic relief of the show, we can see how far gone they are in a lot of ways. Both know that Logan was the only one protecting them and with him gone, they could be out within a blink of an eye. Of course Tom doesn’t know that his soon to be ex-wife is expecting, which could prevent him from doing something really dastardly to stay in power. He has a new golden ticket.

Part of me wonders if their marriage can be repaired though. For years now, I’ve written that they do love each other underneath it all. And I still believe that. However, years of scar tissue and mistrust are hard to overcome. At this point, their marriage is one of the plot points I’m most invested in. I’d like to see them have a happy ending, although I’m not sure I would bet on it. Although all things can happen in love and Succession.

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.

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