Recap: Succession (S4, Ep6) — The Roy Children Do Their Best in the Season’s Best Ep Yet

The latest episode of Succession, "Living+," opens with a shot of Logan Roy (Brian Cox). Immediately, the viewer can tell that this isn't real—the guy's not really a part of the show anymore, you do the math—but it's as though Logan returns for a minute as he tries to sell the "Living+" retirement communities that his company was planning to roll out before his death. The promotional video's director tells Logan that his excitement seems fake, and he predictably cusses them out and growls that they're "as bad as my idiot fucking kids!" Logan's absence has caused a kind of reverse ripple effect on the world of Succession—every episode, the effects of his loss are felt more and more.

Logan's presence looms over his children in "Living+", an episode that could be my favorite of the season so far. "Connor's Wedding" is the current and undisputed fan choice for the season champion so far, but I loved this one. The three approaches each of Logan's children take in grieving his passing are (predictably) unhealthy, but they all make for equally captivating performances by Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook, and Jeremy Strong, all of whom do their best work this season since the aforementioned "Connor's Wedding."

Roman (Culkin) does what he tends to do best: he screws it all up. Despite being the second youngest of Logan's children, Roman has always been by far the most immature of them, and it shows through both his foul mouth and leadership decisions. What does Roman do when he gets a new office near the beginning of the series? He looks over New York City and jerks off onto the window, that's what. Not much has changed as he fires the head of Waystar's film production company just...because, and then follows this up by firing longtime general counsel and former sexual partner Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron).

"I need you to believe that I am as good as my dad," he tells her when she lambasts him for dropping the production head.

"Say it, or believe it?" she sighs, and this is what prompts Roman to fire her.

He's doing his best Logan imitation—which, by all accounts, isn't a very good one. He's emulating Logan's aggression and anger without thinking about the reason why Logan would do these things. Logan's least qualified child (ignoring Connor, as is the norm on Succession) wants so badly to be him now that he's dead, but he's just as good at it as he was when Logan was alive.

Shiv (Snook) is also grieving in a quieter way, but it's more in the actions she refuses to show than the ones she actually takes. Estranged husband Tom (Matthew Macfayden), who last week seemed to almost get back in her good graces after selling her down the river at the end of last season, walks in on her weeping following the revelation that her alliance with her brothers is essentially over. After a meeting where Kendall (Strong) and Roman try to claim that potential Waystar acquirer Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) is trying to disrupt their deal when they're actually to blame, Shiv sees right through her brothers.

"What the fuck happened?" she sighs on the topic of the alliance that seemed so ironclad in the first episode of the season, and Kendall ignores her and begins rambling about how they can keep Waystar if they really try.

With her brothers not providing the support that she once had, Shiv lets Tom put his arms around her after she explains that she's been (as he puts it) "scheduling your grief" about Logan due to how busy she's been. They accost each other later that night at a party and play "Bitey" (I assumed by the name that they'd just be insulting each other, but sometimes I forget how damn weird the Roy family is) before running off to an empty bedroom to do, you know, what healthy couples do after months of not speaking to each other following a significant betrayal.

When it's over and they're putting their clothes back on, Tom admits that "I think I would like this back."

"Well, then you shouldn't have betrayed me," Shiv sighs. She's always sought the approval and support of others, whether that be her father or her brothers. Tom was a good source of this because he was, for the first two seasons, essentially subservient to her, and while Snook really sells how tempted Shiv is to take him back, deep down she knows that she may not be able to trust Tom ever again.

But perhaps the most enigmatic figure in this episode is Kendall, who is left to do the Living+ presentation on his own after Roman, convinced by Shiv that Kendall is going to screw it up like he always does, pulls out at the last minute. The brothers know that if this works, their stock price may rise so high that they'll be too profitable for Matsson to touch, but Roman assumes he's backing the right horse rather than putting his trust in Kendall's repeated instances of poor judgement.

But for once, Kendall actually gets it right. He has the video of Logan from the beginning of the episode chopped up to make it seem like they're conversing about Living+'s benefits ("That's really well edited," Greg notes, the one who was tasked with editing it in the first place), even going so far as to fake some of his voice lines. And then, in front of everyone, Kendall begins to process what he's lost.

"If you asked me, would I take an extra year, right now, with my dad? Say the things unsaid?" he asks the crowd, and pauses for a moment, his eyes glittering in the light. He pauses, and his voice shakes a little as he murmurs, "That would be priceless."

In the end, Kendall wins the day. Despite an anti-Waystar tweet from Matsson in incredibly poor taste that he drops in hopes of disrupting the pitch, Kendall sells the idea and walks away with the knowledge that he did it alone. Tom and Shiv agree to host a victory party at their apartment for "strictly party and strategy," while Roman is driven back alone and gets a video from Kendall—another edited video of Logan, this time of him insulting his son. It could be malice on Kendall's part as revenge for pulling out when he needed his brother, or it could be lighthearted ribbing, but Roman seems both moved and wounded by it, as though Logan is reminding him that he'll never be the man both he and his father wanted him to be.

But what I think is the most striking part of the ending of "Living+" is Kendall. He takes a walk down by the Pacific, and Logan is clearly on his mind—he draws a "1" in the sand, a callback to how Logan referred to Kendall as his "number one boy" at the end of the first season. And then, in an even more haunting callback, Kendall strips down and dives into the ocean, floating face-up and gazing aimlessly at the darkening sky—the reverse of how he almost died in season three by floating face-down in a pool.

I understand that "Living+" can be seen as a bit of an odd choice for my favorite of the season, but I found it to be everything I watch Succession for. The performances were both understated and phenomenal. It is funny, it is sharp, it is full of power plays and people making stupid decisions, and all of these elements are near perfect. Succession only has four episodes to go, and yet the specter of its patriarch still looms high over his children. The final image of Kendall in the ocean almost feels hopeful—his near-drowning was perhaps his lowest point, and yet now he looks upwards towards what could be a better future. Or maybe, instead, he's looking up at Logan.

This episode of Succession is now available on HBO Max.

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Sam Layton

Sam Layton is a Chicago suburb native that's trying his best to make a career out of his (probably unhealthy) habit of watching too much television. When he's not working as the Third Coast Review's current sole TV reviewer, he's making his way through college or, shockingly, watching too much television.