This week’s Succession begins with a eulogy. No, it’s not for Logan Roy (Brian Cox), whose funeral takes up the majority of this episode. The speech is given by Roman (Kieran Culkin) and is actually for Roman. Roman eulogizes himself twice in this episode, a tribute to the times he held any power in the company. This is Roman’s swan song. Roman is still alive, but he’s dead to Waystar Royco, after a dreadful attempt to salute his late father.
In the beginning of “Church and State”—one of the best Succession episode titles of all time—Roman rattles off his speech from a series of pink (pink!) note cards to himself, alone in his apartment. “My father was a legend,” Roman says, “and fuck shit fuck.” Or something like that. This scene plays out the same way I practiced for a science presentation in seventh grade: half-assed. But he doesn’t even have a PowerPoint to back him up! Roman can’t get one single line of coherent thought across in his practice round, so God only knows what mess he’s about to cause at the real-deal funeral, in front of everyone in the entire world—his siblings, Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), even POTUS.
Only Logan Roy’s funeral would happen the day after the election. Swarms of left-wing protesters take to the streets of Manhattan to push back against fascist Jeryd Mencken’s (Justin Kirk) win. Did he even win? After Milwaukee’s ballots were set ablaze by another batch of protesters (presumably right wing, though Roman argues the opposite) in the last episode, the election is being contested. The only news network to call the election for Mencken was ATN, which is now under fire for making an early and possibly incorrect call.
Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) is so distraught by a New York Times centerfold article, which unpacks the events at ATN on election night, that he demands Greg (Nicholas Braun) to call the paper with a correction. Tom wants to be named as the one who called the election. Yes, it might incriminate him—but what’s the point of getting in trouble if you’re only going to be a small bubble of blame in the NYT? He wants his face as big as possible in the paper. Tom is so upset about this and all the election hubbub that he skips Logan’s funeral entirely.
Also skipping are Rava (Natalie Gold) and Kendall’s (Jeremy Strong) kids, who are shuttled upstate by their mom after violent protests rumble throughout New York. Kendall is infuriated. He threatens to stop traffic. He threatens to call the state of New York to put Rava on watch. All this anger—and yet, he couldn’t be bothered to protect his own kids by not calling the election early. Fans of Succession used to root for Kendall (as did I, a bit). Are we not all rooting against him, at this point?
Which leaves all the attention on Shiv (Sarah Snook), who is using her father’s funeral as a way to gain leverage in the company. No longer upset about the election—this woman has a steel wall protecting her heart, I swear—Shiv has set her sights on Mencken. She sets a deal with Matsson, who will promote her to CEO if Matsson is allowed to buy out the Waystar shares. The pair just have to convince Mencken that he should avoid Roman’s pleas to block the deal so that they can carry on.
Luckily, that might not be too hard, seeing as Roman completely botches his chance to be seen as a strong family leader. After Logan’s brother Ewan (James Cromwell) invades the funeral stage—Greg was supposed to be holding his grandfather back, preventing him from making a scene—to give a fantastic eulogy, Roman’s up next. He makes a complete fool of himself. After spending the last few episodes stomping around, firing everyone, trying (and usually, succeeding) to take as much control as possible, Roman loses everything as he crumbles on the stage.
It’s unclear if Roman is sobbing from sadness or embarrassment. It’s probably a mix of both, though the ladder makes more sense, considering how emotionally unaffected he has seemed to be following their father’s death. (On the ride over the funeral, Roman was joking about how he might find Shiv sexy during her pregnancy. How sad can he be?)
Roman disappears for a while, before he gets his dignity back at the wake, in which all the attention has been diverted from Logan to Mencken. Again: Roman can’t be in mourning, because he wastes absolutely no time sauntering up to the president-elect, to ask when he’ll block the deal with GoJo. But Mencken has been playing the idiot brothers this entire time—he tells Roman that he’s “still thinking about it,” before Greg walks up to interrupt their conversation. Then, suddenly, everyone’s trying to have a chat with Mencken. It’s Shiv who gets the final word, stealing Mencken away to chat with Matsson—later on, they get the “yes.” Matsson and Shiv will take over Waystar.
The biggest power play at this funeral wasn’t about the company at all, though. Rather, it involved all of (unless there are more hiding beneath the woodwork) Logan Roy’s ex-lovers. Caroline (Harriet Walter), the mother of Shiv, Kendall, and Roman, totes her new husband around at the funeral. She makes a grand gesture, when she accepts Kerry (Zoe Winters), Logan’s assistant and most recent woman of the hour, into her loving arms, supporting her through lots of tears. Caroline guides Kerry through the crowd to Sally Ann, another woman whom she pulls beside her. The three walk like a line of ducklings up to Marcia (Hiam Abbass), Logan’s widow.
“Sally Ann was my Kerry, so to speak,” Caroline says to the group of women. “But it’s all water under the bridge now.”
The women sit together in the very first row of pews. As the event starts, Marcia clasps Kerry’s hand in hers. Not only is this a slightly humorous, gasp-worthy moment—I could not keep my jaw closed as I watched Kerry and Marcia squeezed next to each other, staring at their shared lover’s casket—but it’s also quite powerful. These four women have been the biggest supporters of one of the world’s most powerful menaces. They’ve seen it all. They’ve seen Logan cycle through other women (Where’s Rhea Jarrell?), trash his children, build an empire—and now, they only have each other.
Keeping Up With the Roys
Even though they may not be in the main plot, we still want to highlight the most blazing burns and spiciest moments of Succession. Here they are from this episode:
-Kendall, Roman, and Shiv’s mother has invited everyone to a relaxing family getaway in the Caribbean, where they’ll all reflect upon the past week. “Mom suddenly wants to mom now,” Shiv says. Ouch. And although Kendall has been crying over his kids all morning, he has no remorse for his mother: “I’m a hard ‘no.’”
-Karl (David Rasche), Frank (Peter Friedman), and Gerri (J. Smith Cameron) chat about their former boss at his funeral. “He’s actually gone,” Karl says. Gerri snarks, “How much of you is glad?”
-After Roman flubs his eulogy, Kendall takes the reins. He’s such a supportive brother. But Roman does have to face a huge blow to the ego when Kendall grabs his notecards and begins rewriting his speech on the stage, just feet away from their father’s lifeless body.
-Logan’s tomb is a big topic of discussion. It’s so big! There are empty holes in the wall for the kids to lay their bodies to rest in the future—how thoughtful. Connor (Alan Ruck) claims top bunk. My favorite line, though, comes from Shiv, who is left aghast by his $5 million crypt decked out with red streamers: “Was he in a bidding war with Stalin and Liberace?”