SPOILER ALERT: This recap contains spoilers for Season 4, Episode 4 of “Succession,” now streaming on HBO Max.
After standing united against their father for so long, it’s a Roy Sibling Battle Royale on “Succession” once again.
Last week’s episode delivered a series-best bombshell that had the entire “Succession” world (and our own) buzzing about the death of Logan Roy (Brian Cox). Somehow, this Sunday’s follow-up cranked the drama and tension even higher, with the Roy extended family wasting no time in plotting the interim Waystar Royco CEO. After the dust settled and the tears dried up, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) are the ultimate victors, with Shiv (Sarah Snook) getting left out…for now.
But this episode gives us another jaw-dropping twist in the “Succession” circle of life. Barely two minutes in, we learn that Shiv is pregnant! Cue the opening credits as we sit in shock.
Almost every major player in the “Succession”-verse makes some kind of appearance at Logan’s wake, with some strictly negotiating business, like Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron), Frank (Peter Friedman) and Karl (David Rasche), and others getting kicked out for turning the “waterworks” on a little too high — sorry, Kerry (Zoë Winters).
And returning from her “forever” Milan shopping vacation is none other than Marcia (Hiam Abbass), who holds court in Logan’s mansion, and spit-shakes on a $63 million bid from Connor (Alan Ruck) for the prime real estate. It’s great to have the “Succession” queen of shade (and of oversharing) back: Marcia claims she was having “intimate” phone calls with Logan every night, and orders a weepy Kerry to be escorted out the back entrance to take the subway back to her “little apartment.” Savage.
Ahead of the board meeting later that morning, everyone is divided on who should be interim CEO in the wake of Logan’s death. Kendall, Roman, Shiv, Gerri, Frank, Carl and wayward Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) all throw their names into the ring at some point. However, the elder Waystar Royco executives discover an earth-shattering piece of paper that could change everything: an undated addendum of some kind to Logan’s will, which may or may not hold up under scrutiny. In the addendum, Logan named Kendall as his successor, but Kendall’s name was either underlined or crossed out, depending on how you want to view it. Hilariously, Greg’s (Nicholas Braun) name was written with a question mark on the piece of paper, but Roman laughs it off as Logan writing Greg’s name down as to not forget who his nephew is.
This newly discovered addendum divides his formerly united children. Shiv approaches Roman for an alliance, Kendall asks his longtime pal Stewy (Arian Moayed) for support, and Tom, lost and disconnected without his father-in-law, buzzes around to remind everyone he’s “here to serve.” Tom tries to comfort Shiv, but she coldly reminds him that he’d backed the wrong — and now dead — horse.
After ignoring Kendall’s requests to talk, Shiv and Roman finally acquiesce, and address the elephant in the room: Which one of them will be interim CEO? Shiv and Roman agree that it can’t be only Kendall, but all three of them would be too wonky. Kendall argues that Shiv doesn’t have the experience, which leads them to the duo of Kendall and Roman. They agree to not betray Shiv, and to keep her involved in the background, so they present their choice to the rest of the board. After a brief (and thwarted) power play from Gerri, and with Stewy’s backing, Kendall and Roman are sworn in. “Long live the king, and the other king!” proclaims Greg.
Shiv rushes away, defeated and self-conscious, as guests celebrate. After yelling at Stewy to stop laughing, she trips and falls down a step. The embarrassing tumble makes the moment even more humiliating — but it’s also concerning, because nobody knows Shiv is pregnant.
Upstairs, Kendall and Roman enter Logan’s office, an inner sanctum they’ve rarely stepped foot in. PR masterminds Karolina (Dagmara Dominczyk) and Hugo (Fisher Stevens) pitch the brothers on two options for announcing their succession. There’s “Operation Embalm Lenin,” where Kendall and Roman speak highly of their father and vow to follow in his footsteps. Or they could burn their posthumous bridge to Logan and reveal his health issues, secret relationship with Kerry and how he abused his kids. Roman and Kendall choose the first option, but in a twist, Kendall goes behind his brother’s back and tells Hugo to go ahead and begin Operation Bad Dad. As Hugo confided in Kendall earlier, Hugo’s daughter sold some Waystar Royco stock before Logan’s death was announced in the press, so Kendall has some leverage over the PR guru. Kendall threatens to “pull out the strap-on” if Hugo tells Roman or Karolina. And thus begins Kendall’s reign.
With the presidential election and Gojo deal looming in the days ahead, Kendall is off to a subversive start as CEO. But one that would probably make Logan proud, if he were alive to see it.
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