The penultimate episode of SUCCESSION is entitled “Church and State.” This is an obvious nod to the often generalization of the First Amendment of the United States: The Separation of Church and State. S4E9 features the state of the union being decided within the walls of the church where Logan Roy’s eulogy transpires. The opening scene is Roman Roy rehearsing his father’s eulogy. The youngest Roy child is clueless as to how hard it is to say goodbye to a loved one, but this hard truth is learned in a few hours.
Protests over President-elect Jeryd Mencken’s controversial victory rage across the United States. Manhattan is the epicenter, for it was Waystar’s media outlet ATN that called the election before all votes could be tallied. This is merely the backdrop of Kendall’s troubles; for the Logan children formally say goodbye to their father on this day. As Kendall eyes protestors with gasoline containers roaming the NYC streets while riding in the funeral limousine, he is informed by his ex-wife that his children will not be at the funeral. Despite the palpable dangers, Kendall is so vexed that he threatens to get an emergency court order to not allow his children to leave the city. His bluff is called, but this scene is indicative of the old man. Kendall is gradually becoming the best and worst of Logan Roy – the unfiltered mouth, the disregard for others’ feelings, and conducting business on days of mourning or celebration. Kendall may not be Logan, however, he is the closest derivative.
Shiv has agreed to a “truce” with Kendall and Roman until their father has been laid to rest. All are hypocritical, and still eye to take their father’s place as head of Waystar. Up to his usual quirky and equal opportunity-violating antics, Roman makes several incestuous jokes when Shiv reveals she is pregnant. The semi-poignant and awkward moment is interrupted when protestors surround their limousine. Nothing significant transpires, but it is clear Kendall’s ex-wife made the correct decision to temporarily leave the city.
Busy handling the fallout from the election, Tom is unable to make the funeral. He gives Greg permission to take his spot as a wheel bearer, which can be best described as additional pallbearers for rich families. Several of the series’ funniest occurrences transpire before Roman is set to deliver the eulogy.
- Conner is politely denied permission to speak at the funeral, due to his speech being too hard to follow. Sorry ‘Conheads’.
- Logan’s second wife invites the estranged wife (Marcia) and his concubines to all sit together.
- Shiv says yes to Greg being a wheel bearer and hell no to her mother’s husband being a wheel bearer.
- Moments after the secret service arrives with President-elect Jeryd Mencken, the funeral begins. Ewan Roy, Logan’s older brother forces his way up to the altar to speak. When Greg is chastised for not stopping his grandfather, he asks, “Did you want me to trip him up”?
Ewan Roy’s speech is everything that viewers of this sublime series would expect. Ewan begins telling the story of the Roy family’s escape from WWII-torn Europe to the United States. He speaks of the abuse and guilt that Logan faced, being blamed for spreading polio that killed their younger sister. The sympathy ends when Logan’s ruthlessness is expounded on; Ewan holds his brother accountable for all his negative interactions on a personal and business basis. Roman attempts to eulogize their great father; hoping to articulate Logan’s legacy and to impress the President-elect to guarantee that Roman and Kendall can be depended on when favors are needed. Roman is awkward as expected but suddenly summons his brothers and sister to the altar. He breaks down and admits he does not have the strength to deliver the eulogy. He tearfully asks when pointing at the casket “Is he in there”?
When Ken takes the podium, the camera is underneath him. This is an artistic choice to show Ken is GROWING in power. Ken acquiesces to his uncle’s assessment that his father was a brute. Yet, Ken boldly states that the world benefited from the innovative thinking of his father.
After hearing the powerful speeches by Ewan and Ken, I thought about the dueling speeches between Marc Anthony and Octavian Caesar’s speeches in William Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR. Two different trains of thought are being executed to sway an audience.
After the funeral, Ken flashes more traces of Logan. Despite comforting Roman earlier, Ken now chastises Roman for crying in front of the world. For the event has gone viral on the internet. Ken is now worried that Mencken will view the co-CEOs as weak. This is a heartless yet true assessment because Shiv continues to work with Mattson. The latter manages to spark up a chat with Mencken, seemingly getting Mencken to have second thoughts on his unofficial deal with the co-CEOs.
The 74-minute episode ends with Ken courting Hugo to help him secure the alliance with Mencken. Ken warns Hugo that shit is about to get nasty, but Hugo will make millions. Ken says that he needs a “dog” for the job and Hugo replies “Woof-woof.”
The series finale is reportedly 90 minutes. How will the Waystar-GoJo deal go down? What will happen to Shiv and Tom’s relationship? Who will be the lead at Waystar? Like many great series, it is possible that SUCCESSION will have some ambiguity in some or all its story arcs. This is not always a result of lazy writing, but a representation of reality: Many of life’s biggest questions go unanswered or do not have the catharsis that we believe was deserved
The series finale for SUCCESSION airs May 28, 2023 at 9PM ET on HBO.