Succession Season 4 Episode 3 review: Masterful, bombshell TV

A still from Succession Season 4 Episode 3HBO

Succession Season 4 Episode 3 is an extraordinary televisual force majeure; nobody could have foreseen such a devastating rug-pull landing with such shock and grace. L to the OG.

We’ve had Shakespearean betrayals, attempted suicide, and season-long arcs unraveling with a single tantrum – but there was good reason to believe something really big was coming in this week’s Succession.

Screeners weren’t distributed to critics ahead of time (they’re usually released two or three days before the episode airs), and given it’s not the sort of series to be hampered by unfinished VFX breaking the immersion, like The Last of Us or House of the Dragon.

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A plot lockdown was the mandate, so what sat on the horizon just three episodes into the final season? There are major spoilers ahead, but here’s a quote to tee up the biggest moment in the show’s history: “Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Final spoiler warning for Succession…

Logan Roy and Tom in Succession Season 4 Episode 3HBO

Succession finally pulls the trigger

There’s no point sugar-coating this: Logan Roy kicks the bucket at long last, with the episode hurtling towards it and limping on after much like How I Met Your Mother’s famous countdown. However, what’s most surprising isn’t the death itself, but how it’s navigated, emotionally and structurally, within the immediate fallout.

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We begin in a state of fuzzy calm. Roman is uneasy about this new-formed, behind-their-backs alliance with his dad, who asks him to fire Gerri as he avoids his son’s lavish wedding, instead flying to see “the Swede” about the GoJo acquisition. Shiv and Kendall are none the wiser; they float onto the ceremony’s yacht like it’s any other day, unaware of the bombshell slowly whistling down from above the clouds.

Meanwhile, Greg is in “the bad books” after letting Kerry down roughly about her laughable ATN audition and warring with him in a roast-off at his birthday party. Tom and Logan, accompanied by the board’s usual suspects, take to the skies for a fatal voyage. His behavior is par-for-the-course in his final alive moments on-screen: no genuine consideration of his children, all business no party, and his words were barks, almost the opposite of a grace note: “Clean out the stalls, strategic refocus, a bit more f*cking aggressive.”

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A wedding becomes a funeral

Connor is fretting about his “loony cake” while acting as a Scrooge apologist (remember, he “happened to be a huge wealth creator”), while Roman anxiously stumbles his way through sacking Gerri, whose eyes fill up with tears as she tries to take in this pro-longed, half-arsed Goodfellas hit. “Let’s just enjoy this sham marriage and the death of love,” he snaps at Shiv when she checks in afterwards.

He steps outside to phone his dad, who doesn’t pick up, and leaves a message explaining how uncomfortable he is with their new arrangement. Oh, and he asks if he’s a c*nt (if he checked his voicemail, this might have been the last thing he heard). Connor ushers his siblings to a quiet spot on the upper deck, but their peace and quiet doesn’t last long: while Shiv mingles, Kendall and Roman surrender to the repeated buzzing in each of their pockets and answer the phone. It’s Tom, and Logan’s “really sick.”

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We see brief shots of Logan lying on the floor like a dead boar as the crew works on him with endless chest compressions. His heart and breathing have stopped, but nobody is willing to say the d-word; everyone talks in maybes and don’t-knows when the wafterons of death are almost waving off the screen. Nobody can comprehend a world in which he’s actually gone, nor does anybody want to be the person who pronounces him dead; as Kendall later says, “we’re highly liable to misinterpretation.”

Final words pave the way for an acting masterclass

If you thought The Last of Us had next year’s Emmys locked, think again – as Trudi told Rick Dalton, “that was the best acting I’ve seen in my whole life.” The writing is stellar, obviously, and the trio responds to the news with heartbreaking specificity: Roman tells him he’s “gonna be okay, because you’re a monster, you always win” and refuses to accept he’s dead without hearing from a doctor; Kendall ums and ahs towards telling him he loves him, but also that he can’t forgive him; and Shiv quickly falls to pieces, even calling him “daddy” as the loss sets in. They struggle to muster real emotions, trying to masquerade as another version of children who’ve lost their father – they can’t figure out how to be devastated.

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a still from Succession Season 4 Episode 3HBO

Grief gives way to guilt. “Did I tell him I loved him?” Roman asks, briefly considering shouting it down the phone to his dad’s corpse. “Why didn’t you come and get me?” Shiv asks her brothers, both resentful and regretful over not getting the chance to hear his voice one last time. When they break the news to Connor, his first reaction is jaw-dropping: “Aw man… he never even liked me.”

For those on the plane, the atmosphere is totally different. Panic is rushing behind Tom’s shock, as he’s lost “his protector”, and he phones Greg to tell him to delete a folder called “logistics” from his computer (presumably, those were his plans for when Logan bumped him up, which may not happen now). Karl, Frank, and Karolina quietly echo respectful tributes, but their priority is the business. Really, it’s the kind of death Logan deserved: alone in a crowded tin can in the sky, surrounded by people who serve him, rather than anyone who holds actual affection for him (a brief shot of his bodyguard Colin, standing alone on the tarmac, put a lump in my throat).

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There is one scene that stands out: Kendall phones Frank to try and talk to the pilot, and he tells him: “The pilot’s flying the plane, son.” After laying dormant, we’re reminded that Logan was never a true paternal force to Kendall – Frank was there all along.

So, what happens next?

Uncertainty is in the air. Kerry giggles like “Chuckles the Clown” after Logan dies (perhaps she’s pregnant), and a fresh divide comes into focus: the old guard vs the new gen Roys, who refuse to let Logan’s posse proceed with anything that frames them in a negative light. Their vipers disguised as sympathetic shoulders to cry on, not-so-subtly demanding they’re included in the statement by name to fortify their position on the board.

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But as the kids sit apart, shell-shocked and confused, they’re suddenly more together than ever: Roman is encouraged to talk to Matsson, Kendall is assured he can take charge of discussions, and Shiv handles the press conference.

Connor and Willa in Succession Season 4 Episode 3

Of course, the wedding is called off – but not entirely. As Logan’s plane touches down, Connor and Willa have a private, low-key ceremony that’s more about them than their money; just as their wealth couldn’t protect their family from death, it wasn’t any use when it came to love, either. They’ll either be haunted by his ghost or liberated by it.

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Let’s just take a moment to remember Brian Cox’s portrayal of Logan Roy. There’s no doubt that this will be the role his legacy is defined by: the no-bullsh*t, appalling patriarch who, for all his teeth-gnashing anger and tide-turning power, was layered with brilliant, peerless nuance. He’s perhaps the greatest TV villain of the 21st century, but one we couldn’t help but root for in spite of himself.

Succession Season 4 Episode 3 review score: 5/5

A legendary milestone and quite simply one of the greatest episodes of 21st-century television; the highest masterwork in Succession to date.

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Succession Season 4 Episodes 1-3 are streaming on HBO and Sky now. Episode 4 will be available to watch on April 16 in the US and April 17 in the UK. Check out our other coverage below:

Season 4 cast | Season 4 release schedule | Season 4 runtimes | Is Succession based on a real family? | Who will succeed Logan Roy? | What time does Succession drop?

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