Succession's bold decision makes for one of the greatest TV episodes
"Well, I'm just dealing in facts here."
Major spoilers ahead for Succession - Season 4, Episode 3.
When the end came, it was as grim, shitty and gut-wrenching as so many ends are. No bawling prophecies, no tear-filled redemptions or howls at the moon. Just chest pains in an airplane toilet and a phone placed beside an un-hearing ear.
Logan Roy, the media titan, marionette extraordinaire and towering father figure, is no more.
Succession delivered one of the greatest, most jarring and compelling hours of television ever made when, in 'Connor's Wedding', the makers did what they had long been threatening to do - they snuffed Logan Roy.
Many of us that have followed the show over these three and a bit seasons would have told ourselves Logan was not long for this earth. He had a stroke in the pilot episode and was often seen in various states of discomfort, distress or hooked up to some fluids. Perhaps it were the moments that he was hale, healthy(ish) and roaring his head off that convinced us this guy could go on, though.
We witnessed the grubby, funny dance for positions of power, albeit under his yoke, and told ourselves the fateful day would come.
For all of that - for all the hints, nods and flashes - very, very few of us expected it to come in episode three of what will be a 10-episode final season. Two of the shows best set-pieces have revolved around weddings - Shiv and Lady Caroline's - so we were gearing up for a shit-show as presidential no-hopeful Connor Roy tied the knot. A hilarious, whirling shit-show.
Around 13 minutes in, we all had the rug ripped from under us.
The Succession race is well and truly on
It was all shaping up to be a typical Succession episode of family dramas, false pretences, cutting remarks, multi-billion deals and the Roy siblings taking vicious cuts off everyone in and out of ear's reach.
Connor Roy was using his wedding to Willa as a glorious two-for-one - locking down the woman he loves and using the ceremony as a free advertisement for his floundering presidential push [his 1% in the polls was getting 'squeezed']. As the wedding boat prepared to depart, we had visions of Willa literally jumping ship to avoid marrying into the Roys.
Kendall, Shiv and Roman found some privacy, away from the V.I.Ps, and were trying to track their father's trip to Sweden - he had opted to skip the wedding - when the life-altering phone call arrived.
Credit to creator Jesse Armstrong and director Mark Mylod for their scripting and shooting of the first 27 minutes of this episode. It was non-stop movement, claustrophobic shooting and, crucially, allowing the actors to take full ownership of how their characters would react to the news of Logan Roy's death.
Roman was a non-believer, Kendall still had baggage that needed sorting through, Shiv's 'Daddy!' was a heartbreaker and Connor, well, this was another speed-bump on his wedding day/presidential campaign. Between that and the 'loony cake', it was all too much.
Above it all was the sense of rawness and shitty finality that so often comes with death.
Those moments when the Roy children were on the phone to their father, who may well have already passed on, were so realistic and gaping that you felt as though you were intruding on reality.
It was a bold decision. Armstrong has since explained that he wanted the end of Logan to come when we were not expecting it.
Those that did not expect Logan to make it to the end of the series told ourselves we'd see it coming. That we'd be ready.
In the end, though, it just happened and all we could do was watch on and try and get our heads around the Roy children, as they struggled to get their heads around it.
It does not get much better than this.
- JOE's Succession Power Rankings: Connor's Wedding
- THAT emotional Succession scene was actually a technical marvel
- Succession's shocking twist was teased in its own poster months ago
- Succession star explains the mysterious motivations behind her character