The Pitch: After three seasons, the Roy reign of terror is due to come to a close, as one of TV’s most vicious families has all the knives out following the explosive Season 3 finale of Succession. Picking up a few months after a betrayal-filled Italian wedding, Waystar Royco is still on the verge of being sold by patriarch Logan (Brian Cox), while siblings Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin), and Shiv (Sarah Snook) plot to create their own media empire.
On the sidelines, as per usual, are Shiv’s estranged husband Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), who has successfully maneuvered himself into a position as one of Logan’s favored advisors, while still finding the time to torment poor Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun). And as the election grows closer, oldest sibling Connor (Alan Ruck) continues his campaign for President, holding on tightly to his position at one percent in the polls, though maybe his upcoming wedding to Willa (Justine Lupe) might aid his campaign….
The Beginning of the End: If you didn’t know, going into Season 4 of Succession, that it was the last season of the Emmy-winning juggernaut, you’d still come away from the first four episodes feeling pretty sure this story was wrapping to a close. Creator Jesse Armstrong and the writing staff are going big with their plot choices as the season builds to a crescendo; put it another way, the shit hits the fan hard as Season 4 progresses, with more fireworks clearly to come.
Accordingly, there’s not a lot that can be said about the narrative without drifting into spoiler territory, though Connor’s wedding does play a significant role in these early episodes, with his attempts to celebrate his impending nuptials going about as well as you might expect given this show’s attitudes towards romance and happy endings.
Emmy For Sarah Snook! For as low an opinion as its characters might have about the general public, Succession remains a shining example of a show that refuses to treat its audience as dumb. The dialogue remains as whip-smart as it is brutal, moving from insult to insult at a lightning pace — the writing staff apparently has an inexhaustible supply of ways for its characters to put each other down.
Meanwhile, the show also indulges in only the barest hints of context for some of its references, never backing up to explain things that might be a little bit esoteric. Take Kendall’s sales pitch for his siblings’ new endeavor: “Substack meets Master Class meets The Economist meets The New Yorker” — to at least this viewer’s ears, never have so many smart things sounded so dumb when mashed together, but the writers don’t hang a lantern on just how clueless Kendall might be here.