Succession season 4, ep 1 recap: marital combustion, an unhappy birthday and The Disgusting Brothers


Succession season 1-4 spoilers below

Logan’s yelling at people, his lackeys are quaking in his presence, Kendall is fist-pumping his siblings, Roman’s saying lewd things about d***s, Shiv is spatting with Tom on the phone, Greg is being lame... oh yes, baby, Succession is back and it feels so, so good.

Season four episode one aired last night in the wee hours, and will be playing again on Sky tonight (or you can catch it up on Now anytime). It wasn’t what we expected – there was no GoJo anywhere to be seen – and instead, the Pierces ended up being the focus of the episode. But it felt natural and comfortable to be back in the New York penthouses and LA mansions with our favorite characters – as if we’d never left.

It’s the Pierces, rather than GoJo

We all thought that season four would open exactly where the last episode dropped off: with the nail-biting GoJo acquisition of Waystar Royco. But in episode one, GoJo’s in the background (it’s happening and it’s just two days away) and there’s no sign anywhere of good-looking tech billionaire Lukas Matsson.

Instead, a real surprise: one of the Pierces, the family that own rival media conglomerate PGM, is at Logan’s birthday party. Kendall, Roman and Shiv, who are hanging in a mansion in LA starting to organise their new venture, The Hundred, get wind of the attendee, and assume, correctly, that the Pierce member is there because of business. Using the money from GoJo, Logan plans to buy PGM.

The Roy kids see it as a zinger of an opportunity: Shiv has been wobbly about The Hundred anyway, Kendall is salivating over the idea of taking something that his father wants. Roman is more reluctant – they’ve been working full-out on The Hundred – but in the end, the kids agree to abandon everything and to go after PGM.

So begins a bidding war, though head of the family Nan Pierce pretends she’s above it all and that her choice of buyer isn’t about a number. But of course it is – and who is the go-between during the negotiations, but none other than Naomi Pierce, who has been on a “social date” with Tom (he indicates it wasn’t romantic, but given he’s one of the least trustworthy human beings in the fictional universe, who knows).

The young Roys, who are at the Pierces’ gorgeous estate, give one number; Logan, on the phone, via Tom, gives another. Logan, who has successfully played hardball his whole life, goes low, the kids, eager as ever, go high. And so the kids win, after agreeing to buying Pierce for “10 bil” – they’ll have the money when their Dad sells Waystar Royco to GoJo. Logan has lost, for now, and he’s furious.

The Disgusting Brothers

Greg and Tom are back to their Batman and Robin double act, but somehow even more depraved. Previously, it was Tom kicking Greg and Greg periodically nibbling Tom’s hand, and Tom liking it. Tom would take Greg out on the town and show him how to be rich; Greg would share his unsuccessful sexual escapades with Tom, and Tom would grimace.

This time it’s more of the latter, but they now have given themselves the label of The Disgusting Brothers. Later Shiv mentions to Tom that he’s been working out and dating models now – you have the feeling over the last month Greg and Tom have been up to a lot of no good.

Greg brings a date to Logan’s party and they end up fumbling around in one of the bedrooms (humiliatingly he has to tell Logan about the act later when Tom tells him there’s CCTV in every room and Greg has essentially made Logan a sex tape). The date is a little uncouth, or at least, a little basic. Tom says she’s brought the wrong sized bag, and that she has no idea how to navigate polite society; he’s correct in a way, as the date asks Logan for a selfie, asks dumb questions to the snooty guests and ends up being escorted out of the party.

Connor is part of the conversation

Bless Connor. He’s looking more strained than ever: his eyes look small and pinched and his hair is becoming quite white now. He only has a one per cent lead above the rest of the pack in the running for the Republican candidate, and that’s after spending a gazillion dollars. Now he’s wondering whether to spend another $100 million to continue to be “part of the conversation”. He asks fiancée Willa whether that’s a lot of money. She says, errr yes, but that he’ll still be, umm, rich though.

He asks her whether they can do the wedding in New York under the Statue of Liberty with some rappers and jetpacks and stuff, so that he can get some free press attention. Willa is a little upset, she says she knows it’s silly but she had imagined that her wedding would be... nice, but seems to not completely kick Connor’s mad idea.

Logan goes existential

The second that Jesse Armstrong announced that Succession was ending, bets started to be placed over when – not whether – Logan would die. It was because the only way the young Roys will ever be able to crack on in their lives is if Logan steps aside, and the patriarch will never bow out. He needs to be zapped off the planet.

Would it be in episode one, asked some (it wasn’t), making the subsequent episodes an absolute free for all? Would it be half way through, giving viewers a little Logan send off first? Or would it be right at the end of the season, just as a major deal of some sorts is about to be clinched?

In episode one, Logan’s acting a little strangely - could this be the beginning of the end for the Roy patriarch? He walks through Central Park alone, a baseball cap pulled down over his face, looking more sombre than usual. He asks the team to make jokes about him – obviously no one wants to roast Logan, as they’ll get murdered – so it’s an awkward scene where everyone is looking down at their toes while Logan, like a mad dog (slightly ‘boar on the floor’ vibes) takes bites out of his posse, before spitting them back out again.

He goes for dinner with his bodyguard, calling him his best friend and then asking about the afterlife. At his birthday party he asks, why is everyone so f***ing happy. It’s subtle, but something is off – since when does Logan give a fig about life after death?

The end of Shiv Roy and Tom Wambsgans

After a couple of biting and truly awkward phone calls – mostly about business – the episode concludes with Shiv and Tom having it out in their New York home. She’s jealous because he’s been with models; he asks whether they really want to get into all of the hurt now. She says she thinks there’s nothing to say, and that it’s over. He seems a little upset, but accepts that the relationship is done (in one hilarious exchange at the party, earlier, Tom asks Logan what will happen if he divorces from Shiv, and Logan offers Tom a vapid, “If we’re good, we’re good”).

Tom asks Shiv whether they should sleep together one last time, but Shiv declines. The two of them lie on the bed holding hands, and there it is – a very quiet end to the rambunctious back and forth that has been their marriage.

Final thoughts

There is very little in episode one that can’t be garnered from watching the season four trailer. Although everything seems in motion, and the young Roys manage to clinch the Pierce deal, the writers have essentially masterfully brought audiences back into the show without giving anything away at all.

Everyone is still very much themselves, nothing has changed much, and so it’s just, simply, a pleasure to watch. After episode one, everything is set up for an extraordinary fourth season, and we can’t wait to find out what happens next. It’s not called television’s current greatest show for nothing.

Succession season four is now streaming on Sky and Now