Recap: Succession (S4, Ep3) — Logan (Predictably) Mucks Up Connor’s Wedding in an Unpredictable, Exceptional Episode

Editor’s Note: this article contains massive show spoilers. You’ve been warned.

This article is written by Sam Layton.

Who do you think I am? You think I want you dead? I’ll be broken when you die.

Kendall Roy

Up until a couple of days ago, I thought Succession’s biggest talent was to make a business decision that only half the fanbase would pretend to understand into a grand, climactic battle that leaves at least one character hemorrhaging power and money. But I think I was about as ready for “Connor’s Wedding” as the Roys were.

Time and time again, Succession has delivered scenes as though we’re watching a bloody, season-ending massacre in a crime show. Their content doesn’t read as too big and showy in a world of “Breaking Bad” and “The Sopranos,” but they’re as tense and horrifying as anything you can imagine.

So when Logan Roy (Brian Cox), arguably the main character of this show (either him or Kendall [Jeremy Strong]) collapses 14 minutes into “Connor’s Wedding,” it’s not presented with any sort of season finale-type flair. He’s on his way to Sweden to talk to Matsson instead of attending Connor’s (Alan Ruck) wedding ceremony, but then he’s on the floor of his plane, dying. Son-in-law Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) is on the plane with him; he calls Logan’s other children—Kendall (Jeremy Strong); Shiv (Sarah Snook); and Roman (Kieran Culkin)—and they pass the line back and forth to each other trying to figure out what’s happening. By the time the plane lands and the siblings are on the runway to meet it, Logan is dead.

It’s not unfair to say that the majority of Succession alienates the Roys. Probably none of us reading this are going to make a multibillion dollar deal for another family’s news company, or do cocaine in a helicopter with the daughter of that family, or spend our 40th birthday with that daughter in a million dollar shrine to how miserable we are. Nearly all of us are going to live to see our parents die. I’ve outlived two of my grandparents so far, and both times, there was never any fanfare after I found out. I just learned that they weren’t here any more, and that was that. “Connor’s Birthday” does what no other episode of Succession has done so consistently—it makes the Roys into people, people that actually experience something we can understand. It removes all the glamour and showmanship from their exploits and just allows Logan to die.

What this accomplishes is brilliant in its simplicity—in this moment of intense emotion, all of the characters revert to their most base instincts. Shiv has always followed whatever it is that will lead her to her father’s approval, so she regresses, trying to string together a coherent sentence that amounts to begging him to not die. Roman stutters through a phone call that Logan may be too far gone to even hear. Jeremy Strong doesn’t give as strong a performance as the other two (and believe me when I say that they both probably do series-best work here), but hearing him try to keep his voice steady while he tells his dying father that “I love you, but I can’t forgive you” is a testament to how good he is. Kendall becomes the businessman Logan never thought he could be as he forgoes grief in favor of figuring out how to handle the situation. If Logan could see him, he might even be proud—but that’s the tragedy of Kendall’s character, and of that line. He was only going to be a man Logan could be proud of after Logan was dead.

And again, Connor goes completely under-looked, this time at his own wedding. “Oh, man. He never liked me,” he immediately says of Logan upon learning the news, long after his siblings already know, of course. We learn a little bit more about what Kendall meant about Logan “having Connor’s mother locked up” last week here—she was institutionalized for an unknown reason, and the cake at Connor’s wedding is the same one he was eating when he found out. And now, because he’s Connor and can’t catch a break, it’s the same cake he’ll associate with losing his father, too. “I never got the chance to make him proud of me,” he mumbles.

“Connor’s Wedding” almost feels like it ends Connor’s arc entirely—last episode saw him fully accepting his place on the bottom of his family. In my favorite shot of this episode, he goes through with the wedding anyway, and he embraces Willa as storm clouds gather on the left side of the frame, over the monolith skyscrapers behind them. But Connor is more towards the right, away from the gathering storm, as though he can maybe free himself from this endless power struggle that may only get worse now that its central figure is dead.

“Connor’s Wedding,” despite being easily the most important episode in the series so far, is not something that’s concerned with being loud, and that’s what makes it so effective. It forces us to live in the moment with these grown children who are learning that their father is dying, and can only do something about it when his plane has touched the ground and he’s already dead. Aircrafts have always represented power on this show, and it says everything about Logan’s character that he dies on one surrounded by people who subsist off him instead of being with his children at his son’s wedding.

Succession has always been about the relationship between Logan and his children, and now Logan is dead. It could go anywhere from here in the seven episodes remaining, and that’s remarkably scary—almost as scary as the idea that we could be the Roys someday too, and we’ll have to live through the universal experience they did. The humanization in this excellent episode makes it infinitely more effective, yet just as chilling.

This episode of Succession is now available on HBO Max.

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