So, uh, what happens to America under a Mencken presidency?
Spoilers follow for the penultimate episode of Succession season four, “Church and State.”
In the wake of Roman Roy dive-bombing into a sea of Fifth Avenue protesters in the final moments of “Church and State,” 38 episodes of Succession now stand in our rearview, with a supersized, 90-minute finale episode coming to us in less than a week’s time. So far, each episode in this fourth season has taken place over one(ish) day, which means “With Open Eyes” might have just 24 hours to wrap up an array of subplots, dangling threads, and character arcs before we say good-bye to Waystar Royco for good. Let’s head once more unto the breach, with some musings about what lies ahead for our very bad-for-America, very good-for-TV friends.
This is the big question, of course. Kendall certainly seems best positioned for success at the end of “Church and State.” We know that godfather Frank would be on his side; we see his increasing ruthlessness, particularly toward his own family (very Logan-esque to attack ex-wife Rava, scare his children, and berate Roman all in the same day); and he’s been quite good at controlling the narrative around Waystar Royco thanks to Hugo’s scheming and media connections. It would be very in line with Succession’s Shakespearean leanings for Kendall to become CEO by mimicking the father he tried to, as Roman says at one point, kill over and over again.
But I don’t think we can count out Shiv, who, though not nearly as savvy a businesswoman as she thinks she is, is still reckless enough to promise loyalty to whoever guarantees her the top job. (And Shiv, too, is becoming a bit like the mother she hates, already joking about handing her child off to hired help to raise.) Finally, there’s Roman, whose pre-grieving over Logan was, of course, a front; I know this guy gave us a neofascist president, but Kieran Culkin’s portrayal of an utterly broken youngest son was heartrending stuff. I can see a world in which Roman leaving Logan’s wake and walking into the stream of anti–Waystar Royco protesters is actually Roman walking away from the family altogether; whether that’s a freeing choice or a self-destructive one, I can’t quite figure out. For now, my guess is Kendall on top, The Godfather–style, becoming the man he swore he would never be.
I’m going to roll the dice on these crazy kids and say yes. They will probably be absolutely awful parents, and they will be miserable, and that is exactly what they deserve. Let’s all hum the Mountain Goats’ “No Children” together: “In my life, I hope I lie / And tell everyone you were a good wife / And I hope you die / I hope we both die …”
The thing about Connor is that I genuinely believe he’d find a way to be satisfied anywhere, given the odd mixture of haplessness and self-sufficiency that’s fueled him for so long. Marcia’s former home (that he might have overpaid for), that New Mexico ranch where he and Willa used to live, Slovenia or Slovakia, North Korea or South Korea, Oman, Peru, Tajikistan, Uruguay — wherever. Provide Connor with enough amenities and an internet connection and he’ll be fine. Willa, maybe not so much! But till death do they part, et cetera, et cetera.
I simply cannot think of a worse path forward for Colin. Yes, he’s obviously lonely and aimless. But remember when he had the upper hand in knowing about Kendall’s involvement in that waiter’s death? To now go work for that same Roy son would be a phenomenal loss of leverage, even if Kendall is doing everything in his power to resemble Logan, Colin’s maybe closest friend in the world. I wish for a future in which Colin just wears jeans to therapy in peace, but I worry it won’t play out that way.
With Jess gone (good for her!), I think Kendall is going to hold onto Fikret even tighter. Ask for a raise, Fikret!
By the end of “Church and State,” we know that, as Shiv was leaking information about the CEO bros to Lukas Matsson, his sexually harassed head of communications Ebba was spilling on GoJo’s internal workings to Hugo. Her latest intel: Per Shiv’s suggestion, Matsson put forth an American CEO to probable president-elect Jeryd Mencken in the hopes of getting the GoJo deal approved. When did Ebba’s turn happen? Hard to say, since the “one episode, one day” format means tons of narrative development is happening off-screen. But I’m assuming Matsson is going to regret sending her all those blood bricks before this all wraps up.
Jeryd Mencken is one slippery slimeball, isn’t he? I hesitate to agree with Kendall that Roman “fucked it,” but Kendall isn’t wrong that Waystar Royco and ATN now have very little to gain in their partnership with Mencken. He’s the president-elect because of them, and he doesn’t have to do anything related to the GoJo acquisition that he doesn’t want to do. Because both Mencken and Matsson are such chaos agents (and sorta Nazi sympathizers), I totally believe Matsson when he calls Shiv to say that Mencken agreed to let the deal go through. Why not mess with the CEO bros to show them who’s boss? And isn’t the president of the United States sort of the boss of everyone?
I hope so, and I hope if the GoJo deal goes through, she gets rehired to work alongside Karolina. Sure, they were leaders at a perpetually damaging and harmful company that, as Uncle Ewan says, “fed that dark flame in men.” But, you know, what else is feminism if not the freedom for women to do things that are as reprehensible and morally vacuous as men? Girlboss it up, ladies.
The prevailing theory around Greg is that he’ll eventually supersede Tom in power and rank, and in the back half of season four, he does — somewhat surprisingly — worm his way to the side of Matsson, and maybe even Mencken, by being willing to do whatever humiliating thing is requested in order to get ahead. Best of luck to “Sexy” in his frantic race toward soul-crushing, pocket-lining daily degradation.
Logan’s funeral in “Church and State” brought together almost everyone who has been on Succession, and I think we can assume that for most of these characters, this is our last time seeing them. Uncle Ewan got to give the “he was mean” speech he always wanted to say to Logan’s face; Marcia got in one more devastating aside to Shiv (“He broke my heart, and he broke your hearts, too”); Kerry was accepted by all the other women who loved and lost Logan — all these moments felt like closure for these characters. Maybe Sandy and Sandi Furness show up at the board meeting that could take place in the finale, but for a fair amount of Logan’s family, I think “Church and State” was a fitting good-bye.
I am asking this for the enlightened among us who know that Stewy Hosseini is the hottest person on this show. Where’s he at? He didn’t show up to pay his respects to Logan, probably because he already went to that mini-wake at Marcia’s apartment and gave Kendall a hug there, and it’s not like he had any fond feelings for Daddy Roy. Respect to Stewy for living his principles, but also: Give us a shot of that man in a beautifully fitted turtleneck one more time! If the final episode really is a boardroom showdown like Kendall suggests, then we can hold out hope.
$225 million sunk cost! Three weeks of reshoots! Exorbitant CGI demands placed upon nonunionized workers! Will Waystar’s movies division ever get, as Roman so crudely put it, the “hit machine pumpin’,” or are we looking at a failed Dark Universe situation?
Let me repeat myself: I hope so. And Frank better have a standing invite!
Hard to say. The empirical evidence is, well, not great!