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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Gwilym Mumford

The Guide #79: Five big questions going into the final season of Succession

Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin and Jeremy Strong in Succession.
Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin and Jeremy Strong in Succession. Photograph: Home Box Office/HBO

Here they all come, pouring out of helicopters, SUVs and yachts, clad in impeccably tailored pant suits and $340 T-shirts, Ortolan juice dripping from their chins. Yes, the Roys are back this week for one final round of Who Will Get a Kiss From Daddy, AKA Succession.

This is the last time we’ll see television’s first and worst family; as confirmed by creator Jesse Armstrong last month, Succession will end with its fourth season. Sad news, but one small positive is that we can expect the ante to be upped by several notches for this final outing. There will surely be more betrayals, blood sacrifices, hostile takeovers and, well, hostility in general than ever over the next 10 weeks. At the end of it all someone will win the big cash prize (or bag of M&Ms). Or perhaps not – maybe Logan Roy will tell the whole lot of them to “fuck off” in that mouth-full-of-tablet, transatlantic snarl of his.

And, of course, the Guardian will be covering every bon mot and back-stab as it happens. There has already been a review of the first episode from our TV critic Lucy Mangan (contains the mildest of mild spoilers), the verdict from corporate high-flyers on the show’s accuracy, and a run-down of who is most likely to come out on top. And there will be recaps every Monday after the show airs.

But before we get to see anything of this wildly anticipated fourth season, here are some questions we’re keen for the show to answer.


How will the brats strike back?

Succession’s third season ended with hopeful heirs Kendall, Shiv and Roman being ruthlessly cut out of the family empire by Logan, after they attempted to torpedo his deal to merge Waystar Royco with tech company GoJo. They are essentially powerless, deprived of voting rights by Logan’s shrewd renegotiation of his divorce settlement with their mother, Caroline.

So their golden goose is cooked, right? Not necessarily – the trailer for season four hints at some sort of alliance with the Pierce family, those liberal do-gooder media giants, who behind the false smiles seem just as brutal as the Roys. Plus, if that doesn’t work out there’s always several nuclear buttons to press: remember Kendall’s press conference takedown of his father at the end of season two? It’s not like Logan is lacking a skeleton – or several – in his closet.


Which Logan underling will seize the day?

With the heirs appalling sidelined, a vacuum has emerged to claim a juicy role at Logan’s side (if you consider being routinely humiliated and shouted at as “juicy”). In pole position is Tom, after he sold out the Roy children to benefit their dad, but how much does Logan actually like and respect him – and how does Logan view him for betraying Shiv (even if that betrayal was to assist Logan himself)? Greg is being carried along in Tom’s slipstream, but surely doesn’t have the ruthlessness – or competence – to push his way to the head of the queue.

The same goes for Connor, who has the added distraction of a flatlining presidential bid. There are also the usual collection of advisers-slash-lickspittles – Frank, Carl, Gerri et al – who are extremely adept at avoiding the axe, but surely stand no real chance of ever succeeding Logan, obsessed as he is with bloodlines and the like. Which leads us on to …


How much power do Kerry and Marcia hold?

With the sale of Waystar Royco inching ever closer, who will end up on top? The fourth and final season of the Emmy-winning drama begins
With the sale of Waystar Royco inching ever closer, who will end up on top? The fourth and final season of the Emmy-winning drama begins Photograph: Home Box Office/HBO

One ominous, if overlooked, detail from that season three finale: it was suggested that Kerry, Logan’s assistant and, well, more than assistant, is trying for a baby with the big boss. Now that would really rebalance the scales in the succession issue. But, Logan doesn’t half cycle through partners (who, I ask, you, who could be the inspiration for that?) and could easily discard Kerry like others before her.

And then there’s Marcia, Logan’s estranged (though crucially not yet former) wife, who we haven’t seen since she savvily negotiated a settlement with her husband to keep shtum over various Roy indiscretions. What does that settlement include? What power does she hold? And what of her son Amir, who we haven’t seen since season one?


Will Mattson do something wildly unpredictable?

Logan may have engineered it so that he has the votes to push through the Waystar-GoJo deal on his end, but there’s still GoJo’s extremely capricious Scandi tech-bro, Lukas Mattson, to contend with. Could Mattson suddenly torpedo the deal, or include some awkward stipulations? He does seem to have a good relationship with Roman, after all.

Regardless, Alexander Skarsgård, who plays Mattson, is tipped to have a bigger role this season, so expect him to launch a grenade at some point. (Side note: I’d love to see another outing for Adrien Brody, and his magnificent layering, this season).


Will Kendall’s crash finally come back to haunt him?

In season three’s most bruising scene, Kendall came clean about his car crash under the influence at Tom and Shiv’s wedding, which resulted in the death of a caterer. It was a moment of intense catharsis – and potentially a disastrous move. Yes, the three siblings might be allied for the time being, but who knows how long that paper-thin accord might last. Certainly, you could imagine Shiv quietly leveraging it in her favour at some juncture. Obviously Logan is well aware of Kendall’s criminal behaviour too, but given he covered it up, isn’t really in a position to capitalise from it.

Either way though, we’ve been waiting Chekhov’s drowned wedding caterer to re-emerge for three seasons – could that moment be imminent with only 10 episodes left?

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