Succession Season 4 Episode 9 review: The end is nigh

Roman Roy in Succession Season 4 Episode 9HBO

Succession Season 4 Episode 9 is an exceptional piece of television chock-full of unexpectedly scathing and tender embraces, and it highlights just how self-obsessed the Roys are even in grief.

Early in the fourth season, on the eve eve of his death, Logan mused to Colin: “You think there’s anything after this? Afterwards? I don’t think so, I think this is it… realistically though. That’s it. You don’t know. You can’t know. But I’ve got my f*cking suspicions.”

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It was one of the character’s best scenes in the entirety of the show, because it finally showed the “brute”, the “terrible force” that is Logan Roy, having a rare moment of self-awareness: he may be one of the most powerful people in the world, but he’s destined to fade into the bowels of history; look on his works, ye mighty, and despair.

Alas, Kendall, Roman, and Shiv cannot foresee the oblivion. With the ninth brilliant penultimate episode, coming after the inevitable horrors of themselves at the election, we see how truly lost they are. Spoilers for Succession to follow…

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Succession Season 4 Episode 9 kicks off Logan’s funeral

It is a day after Kendall and Roman launched a homing nuke straight at themselves in the form of Jeryd Mencken, the fascist president-elect. Pandemonium is brewing: Daniel Jiménez is seeking an injunction to block the certification of the election results until the absentee votes are counted, and large crowds have been protesting Mencken’s specifically outside ATN’s headquarters.

Meanwhile, Roman seems like he’s on top of the world – he’s even “excited” on the day of his dad’s funeral, something he realizes makes him a “sick f*ck.” We see him breezing through a rehearsal of his speech that may as well be masturbation; he bigs himself up to the point he says he’s the “king of dong” who has the president’s “pecker in his pocket.” In one very telling line, he tells the mirror: “I perhaps remind you of him, just a little,” referencing his dad.

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In the first of many portraits showing how disgustingly out of touch the sibs are, Roman smirks to himself as he hears about the chaos on the news, swanning around his dreamy apartment hundreds of feet in the air – he’s lording above them in his own little bubble, blissfully arrogant.

Kendall phones him to check in, but also to ask if Mencken would consider “turning the volume down” with the political rhetoric, but Roman loves it. “Discord makes my dick hord,” he giggles to himself, but Kendall is feeling a bit “Queasy Gonzalez” for jokes, especially after Rava calls to say she’s taking the kids out of the city. “It does not feel safe,” she says, worrying about the threat of “major disturbances” and possible attacks around the funeral.

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Kendall orders Fikret to get him to Rava in three minutes – he’s unbothered by “fines and regulations”, as he’ll just pay them off – and he growls at her on the street about her “hysterical bullsh*t”, even though he’s the only one not in control. Kendall wants to be another cold titan in the Roy dynasty, but he’s a sensitive soul who can’t process his family willingly distancing themselves from him.

He tells her she’s “too online” – most people are these days, but she’s bang on this time – and that she’s “lost context.” As she tries to get back in the car, he threatens an emergency court order to prevent her from leaving the city, and says he’ll lie in front of the car to stop it going anywhere. Of course, the car moves less than a foot before he moves out the way – he’s totally spineless when he can’t buy his way out of a situation.

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Shiv and Matsson have a game plan

Shiv was rumbled. Like Kendall said, “Pinky can’t dance.” For all intents and purposes, they’ve cut her out, so she has no choice but to double down on her relationship with Lukas Matsson. With the overwhelming stench of bad Mencken news filling the airwaves, she thinks it’d be a good time to dump GoJo’s wonky numbers and minimize blowback.

“If you have a little dicky, maybe don’t go to the nudist beach,” he says, but Shiv assures him that nobody is looking at his “dicky” when there’s a “tsunami” of sh*t. He clearly feels at ease with her and respects her opinion, but for the first time, Matsson shows real vulnerability when it comes to Mencken – what if he can’t win him over? Shiv tells him to make sure the “algo is pushing that straight dope”, and everything will be fine.

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Shiv and Lukas Matsson in Succession Season 4 Episode 9HBO

At right-Tilted Towers, Tom is trying to manage the swirling storm of controversy in the wake of the election, but he notices how his role in Mencken’s ‘win’ has been “diminished” by the media. “A lot of people don’t want to go to the Hague for war crimes,” Greg quips, before trying to pressure Tom into letting him go to the funeral. He’s supposed to be a “casket wheelman”, but he can’t get away, so he tells Greg to go and save him a “good place” on the second row, as well as big him up to Mencken when he sees him.

Shiv carpools with Kendall and Roman, and the pit-in-your-stomach tension between them is almost unbearable, until Shiv notices something wrong with Kendall. He tells them about Rava, and they both offer genuine, no-caveat support. “That’s dumb and shitty,” Roman says, and Shiv adds: “I’m sorry, Ken.” She then gives them the big news: she’s pregnant. Roman’s first response: “Is it mine?” The jokes don’t stop there: he says she’s having a “Wambsgland”, and that if he sees her breastfeeding, he’ll “have to jerk off” because “it’ll be hot.” It’s been a while since we’ve been treated to some trademark grotesque dialogue from Roman – what a treat.

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As they sit in the car, Jiménez protesters batter their windows as they march along the street. Sirens are blaring around every corner – but the Roys shut it out; fear, guilt, indifference, or perhaps it’s a pick ‘n’ mix of all three? Kendall asks his siblings to call a “funeral truce” and put their differences to the side for the sake of the day.

The Roys continue to be the worst

As they step out of the car, Kendall asks his assistant Jess to look into family lawyers for him, because he suddenly wants custody of the kids. He notices a meeting scheduled with her for next week and opts to bump it, but his curiosity gets the better of him. She pleads with him to leave it until after the funeral, but he can’t ignore the “all sorts of thoughts” going through his head.

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Shockingly (not really), she wants to quit before the Mencken win is uncovered as the scandal it is. She thanks him for “always supporting her aims”, but thinks it’s time to move on. He reacts well at first, but the realization that it’s because of Mencken sends him off. “It’s very juvenile… it’s f*cking dumb,” he barks at her, and she’s left to trail behind him, scowling. “Nice timing, Jess. Lovely day to tell me, really thoughtful,” he snarls, in yet another example of the Roys justifying their callous behavior with their dad’s death. Yes, it’s only been a week, but they’re treating grief like an excuse rather than a thorn in their side.

Kendall and Jess in Succession Season 4HBO

Inside the church, plates are spinning: Connor wants to do a “formally inventive” eulogy that may leave them open to legal action, Hugo gives Kendall rolling updates about Matsson’s India numbers, and Roman starts “hitting up” board members to butter them up for the GoJo-block aftermath and coronation. “Target-rich environment and glad-handing sad faces,” Shiv observes from the side as Roman tries to round up Frank for his “posse” – but he’s already spoken for in the choice of two brothers.

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Elsewhere, Gerri asks Karl: “How much are you glad?” Karl says they had their fights, but that he misses him, something Gerri attributes to “Stockholm syndrome… and a little bit of China syndrome.”

The sibs reunite with their mummy

“I thought I could hear the sound of Dalmatians howling,” Shiv says as they see their mother, Caroline, approaching. They all hug, but Caroline doesn’t need Shiv to tell her anything: she can tell she’s pregnant. “Blimey, well I never,” she reacts, asking why Shiv didn’t talk to her about it before now. After the Season 3 finale backstabbing with their veto powers stripped, she says she didn’t want to share anything that could be used against her.

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They all get a brief reminder of her painfully cringe-worthy partner, Peter, who punctuates his arrival with “Daddy’s here” and awkward hugs. “He spoke of you often… you were one of his favorites,” Shiv says, in another brutally cutting line.

A still from Succession Season 4 Episode 9HBO

Shiv then catches up with Matsson, and all is well after releasing the numbers. “Gold star for the red devil,” he says, before asking what the status is on Mencken. “Ironically, would [him winning] be bad for a tall blonde white guy?” he asks, in what may be the funniest line of the episode, perfectly written and delivered by Alexander Skarsgárd. Shiv has a plan, which she tells him privately away from Ebba and Oskar’s ears: give Mencken a US CEO to appease his issue with a “dirty foreigner” running the company. Guess who she thinks it should be? “Shiv Roy.”

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Matsson knows she’s pregnant, but Shiv says she’ll be a terrible parent. “36 hours maternity leave, vanity caesarean… poor kid will never see [me],” she says. Shiv also relays what other people are saying about him: that he’s little more than a puppet being controlled by her. We’re so used to it by this point, but let’s not forget: it’s her father’s funeral, and she’s still finding a way to manoeuvre her way to succession – these f*cking people, man.

The episode then pulls off its most affecting moment: Caroline sees Kerry, who’s trembling and teary, and asks her to sit with her, Marcia, and Sally-Anne, the latter of whom being Caroline’s Kerry, so to speak. As they all file into the front row, they joke about Logan not “grinding his teeth tonight.” The last time Kerry saw Marcia, she unceremoniously threw her out of Logan’s home and sent her back “in a taxi to her little apartment.” But the water is under the bridge now, and Marcia gently taking Kerry’s hand as she sobs actually put a lump in my throat – four women all afflicted by the same man, all free in their own ways.

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What is Greg up to?

Greg is a sneaky snake. He’s playing all sides at all times: he doesn’t want to be seen endorsing Mencken and bragging about calling the election, unless he’s talking to Mencken. As soon as Tom confirms he won’t be able to make it, he slides in and takes his spot at the casket, standing side by side with his grandpa. Matsson says, “Hey, sexy” when he sees him. By being in everyone’s good graces bar the Roys, who may end up exiled when all’s said and done, could he end up as the CEO? Perhaps.

Then again, he fumbles his one and only funeral request from Roman: don’t let Ewan walk up to the pulpit. “Do you want me to take his legs out?” he powerlessly says to the sibs as they mutter a host of expletives in his direction.

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Ewan’s eulogy is incredibly powerful; raw, occasionally touching, and ruthless. He tells a heartbreaking story of their evacuation during the war: the engines on the boat across to America failed, leaving them adrift in the ocean. Ewan and Logan were really young, and they were told they’d alert the U-boats with their vibrations if they moved in an inch – so they stayed silent and still for days. “There’s a sob story,” Ewan says.

The cast of SuccessionHBO

We then finally find out what happened to their little sister, Rose. All we’d known until this point is that she’d died at a young age and Logan blamed himself for her death. Well, after they arrived to live with their aunt and uncle, they sent Logan away to a nice school, as they had a “bit of money”, but he absolutely hated it. Among other things, he was sick, but he managed to make it home “on his own steam.”

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Rose was just a baby at the time, and she got polio shortly after his return. It “took her”, and Logan believed he was to blame. Ewan doesn’t know if he was responsible for bringing polio into their home, but their aunt and uncle didn’t do anything to “disabuse him of that notion.” We all have our demons, and this may be the root of Logan’s greatest, most insurmountable guilt.

Ewan says he loved him, but he “wrought great terrible things” upon the world. He fed a meagreness in men, perhaps even in Ewan, and “at some point, he decided to not try anymore, and it was a terrible shame.” Kendall and Shiv look to Roman to “tell the other side,” but as he takes to the stage, he’s visibly shaky. “Are you okay, son?” Frank asks, but he doesn’t have the same paternal dynamic with him as he does Kendall. “Not your son,” Roman snipes back.

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He’s standing up there for all of 15 seconds before he breaks down completely, melting into a weeping, inconsolable mess in front of everyone. “Is he in there?” he asks, pointing to the coffin. “Get him out,” he cries, as his siblings pat his back and others watch on like it’s theater. We have to say it: Episode 8 killed our sympathy for Roman, despite his strong start at the beginning of the season. His cockiness has been allowed to run amok unchecked and his insecurities and grief have caught up to him big time.

Kendall and Shiv say goodbye to their dad

The sibs elect Kendall to take Roman’s place, and he knocks it out of the park with poise and a crowd-pleasing blend of humor and heart (Strong’s performance is also the standout this episode). He admits his dad was a “brute”, but praises him for “acting” when there’s a thousand reasons not to. He lauds the “lives, livings, things, and money” Logan made over the course of his long, decorated career as a businessman. “He had a terrible force to him,” he says, but while people like Ewan may want to “prune” his legacy, Kendall hopes that “magnificent, awful force” is in him too, because his dad was “comfortable with his world, and he liked it.”

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Shiv takes her turn to speak, recalling her dad’s “terrifying” fury when they used to play together loudly outside his office just so he’d notice them. They couldn’t comprehend what was so important that they couldn’t have fun near him; why should they care that he’s talking to presidents, queens, and world bankers?

Shiv then sums up their toxic relationship perfectly with a single metaphor: “When he let you in, when the sun shone, it was warm in the light.” She also admits that it was hard to be his daughter, given he “couldn’t fit a whole woman in his head… but you did okay, dad. Goodbye to my dear, dear world of a father.”

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Shiv and Kendall in Succession Season 4 Episode 9HBO

As the congregation leaves the church, Mencken shakes Kendall’s hand and tells him his words were “perfect”, while Hugo fills him in on Shiv’s plans to placate Mencken with an American CEO. They all head over to Logan’s walk-in mausoleum, which cost a cool $5 million (they even have the gall to say it was a good deal). Shiv jokes that there must have been a bidding war between Stalin and Liberace, and that it was probably a “tax write-off because it’s technically a residence.” But there’s a sombre truth to it all: for all of his resilience, Logan didn’t want to go in the ground.

As his coffin is carried in, Roman flees to the car because it’s “too much.” Shiv walks over to Karl and Frank and asks them: “How bad was dad?” Frank tells her: “He was a salty dog, but he was a good egg.” As she walks away, they give each other a knowing look – another golden moment from the better Disgusting Brothers.

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Kendall enters a new villain era

Kendall takes Hugo to one side and asks him to brief the media on the “sour” background murmurings surrounding the GoJo deal. He then proposes a frank offer: This is an explicit plan to f*ck the deal, and he wants Hugo to come with him – but he won’t be anyone reputable, he’ll be Kendall’s dog, and the “scraps from the table will be millions.” Hugo has two words: “Woof, woof.”

Nicholas Britell’s score then soars into its hardest track in the season yet; it’s the same motif from the theme, but composed with pulse-racing, villainous “BRAAMS” in mind. How does this show manage to be so exciting at this stage in the game? Britell is a key part of that answer.

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Kendall and Jeryd Mencken in Succession Season 4 Episode 9HBO

Everyone wants a piece of Mencken at the wake. But let’s just take a second to talk about Justin Kirk’s performance: Mencken doesn’t work if Kirk’s performance doesn’t completely sell his appeal to voters. Yes, he carries himself like a Nazi, but he also has an intimidating, upright charisma; he zeroes in on every word and decides whether or not it’s worth his time. He’s a clinical conversationalist, and Kirk plays him frightening grace.

Kendall approaches him and asks about publicly coming out against the GoJo deal. “I thought you were the sound system, now you want to choose the track,” he says, but their mutual laughter exposes a flaw in the brothers’ plan: they don’t have a single bit of leverage if Mencken’s win is certified. They gave him everything he wanted, with the hope – and only the hope, none of it in writing – that he’ll repay the favor.

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Greg clumsily inserts himself into the conversation, telling him how he was “glad to be rooting for him” with Tom, but Roman quickly tells him to “f*ck off.” Mencken doesn’t take pity on Roman after his meltdown, calling him the “Grim Weeper” and “tiny tears” – and, in another extraordinary fight-or-flight defence of his sibling, Kendall tells the president-elect to “take it easy.” He’d be despicable if he didn’t try so hard to be good, even if he doesn’t realize he’s doing it.

Shiv and Matsson butter up Mencken

Shiv swoops in and “extracts” him, shepherding him over to meet Matsson. Mencken’s concerns are obvious: having a foreign CEO at a major American company is against the “national interests” under his regime, and he needs the same “ideological sympathy” that he had with Logan. Matsson brags about GoJo “making the thing everyone has, but nobody knows how it works”, and offers up Shiv as CEO. “Who, Kinder Küche Kirche over here? I thought you hated me,” Mencken says, but Shiv says she’s adaptable and “respects our audience.”

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Tom eventually shows up at the wake, and he’s greeted with the usual snark by Shiv. “You’d have never dared to not come to his funeral when he was alive,” she says, and when he asks her why she didn’t tell him about the baby right away, she replies: “Because it seemed so sad.” Caroline comes over to congratulate Tom and ask Shiv how she’s feeling, but she doesn’t give her the benefit of being daughterly. “Oh, I’m not gonna see it, I’m just gonna do it the family way,” she dryly jokes.

Shiv and Tom have yo-yo’d between lust, love, and bitterness since the beginning of Season 4, but there’s a sense that they’re closing on some sort of equilibrium in light of the pregnancy. He apologizes for not coming to the funeral and tells her how tired he’s been, and how he still said goodbye to Logan when he found him dead on the plane. Shiv says he can go back to their apartment and sleep for a while, and as he walks away, the moment brings her pause – almost as if she has a vision of a life they could have together.

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Any reflection is cut off by a call from Matsson: Mencken’s people are keen on the arrangement, so their “meatball burger” may actually work. At the other side of the room, Kendall tells Roman about her “accommodation” and that they need to work together against “Shiv the Shiv.” Kendall also doesn’t mince his words, despite Roman being upset and fragile. “You f*cked it,” he tells him, and despite Roman’s pleas for him to stop digging in, he keeps going. “It happens… you tried to dad it,” he says, before giving him an infantilizing pat on the back.

In the closing scenes, Roman flees into a sea of pure hatred on the streets of New York. At first, he stands at the side of a Jiménez march, shouting “f*ck you” into rushing tides of protesters who couldn’t care less. He then barges into the march itself, and it doesn’t take long before he’s elbowed in the face and pushed to the ground. His value of himself is so low that the only place he could find any sense of relief was among those who have no interest in him – their dispassion, even their anger, is better than the judgment of his brother.

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Succession Season 4 Episode 9 review score: 5/5

Another spectacular, unflinching episode as Succession draws to a close, and our excitement for the Battle Roy-al is at an all-time high: who will thrive, and what will be left of them?

Succession Season 4 Episodes 1-9 are streaming on HBO and Sky now. Episode 10 will be available to watch on May 28 in the US and May 29 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?Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7 | Episode 8

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