A review of the fourth and final season of Succession, presented via Good News and Bad News…
GOOD NEWS: Succession is back, finally, over a year after the third season ended with various family members dropping bombs on each other, figuratively if not literally, at least for now. Tom and my sweet boy Cousin Greg sided with Logan and left the three primary children — Shiv, Kendall, and Roman (sorry Connor) — flailing in the breeze, detonating marriages and friendships and what little parent-child bonds remained, to the extent any ever existed. The show’s creator, Jesse Armstrong, included a very nice note with the first clump of screeners released to critics in which he politely asked us not to reveal too much of what happens or why and when it does, but I think I can say this much safely: Season four picks up in the aftermath of all that, with everyone scrambling to look for an edge amid the chaos, and, to quote Jesse, the show has “some big moves coming.” Yes. Yes, it does. There are going to be so many screencaps of devastating lines of dialogue. I am going to make more of them. People in my group chats are going to get so sick of it. This will not deter me at all.
BAD NEWS: This is, as we have discussed, the final season of the show, both for better (go out on top instead of slowly fading away, fire all your bullets fast and win the gunfight as quickly as possible, etc.) and for worse (BUT I WANT MORE). This is going to amp everything up quite a bit. Things are going to mean more because we can see that end date coming. These goons have been trying to destroy each other for three seasons now and, if they’re ever going to do it, this is the time. It also increases the pressure to bring things in for a landing in a way that works, whether that’s something that’s satisfying or deliberately unsatisfying to the viewer, and the aforementioned big moves that happen in the first half of the season are going to raise those stakes quite a bit.
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GOOD NEWS: At some point, unless the trailer lied to us, Cousin Greg will be riding a bicycle through New York.
BAD NEWS: It’s going to be much harder to root for Greg in these last few episodes, owing to the thing where he sided with Logan and Tom in the season three finale and embraced his Corporate Goon turn in full, complete with suits and a haircut and a new position in the company. I kind of hate it. But it does make sense. Everyone on this show is a cretin or a weasel or both, in some way. Logan is a crotchety old dinosaur who loves to manipulate people for his own interest and sometimes uses slurs, but he also built something important that he doesn’t want to watch crumble if and when he steps away. The kids are a little sympathetic in that they’ve all been broken in different ways by their domineering father but they’re also all entitled brats who seem to think they’re owed a whole lot on account of their DNA. I can talk myself into and out of who I hate most three or four times every episode. My weekly Report Card recaps read like a man in crisis.
GOOD NEWS: Good Lord, this show can still turn a phrase like nothing else on television. Examples from the new season include, but are not limited to:
- “Rummage to fruition”
- “Butter my beanpole”
- “He looks like a ballsack in a toupee”
There is also a scene that opens with one character saying “Nobody tells jokes anymore, do they?” and leads to a few minutes of the most uncomfortable squirming you’ve ever seen, by both the people on the screen and anyone watching it at home. Very few shows can do more to advance a story with these little scenes between the action than Succession. Conversations about nothing become vital to the proceedings because of what they reveal on a deeper level. It’s kind of like Seinfeld in that way, and yes, I do believe this makes me the first television critic to compare Succession to Seinfeld. I feel okay about it.
BAD NEWS: There is some heavy stuff ahead. I suppose that’s not really “bad news” when you’re talking about a television drama. It’s part of the deal, really. But with things all wrapping up and everyone at each other’s throats after last season, there has to be some fallout coming. The obvious stuff is with Tom and Shiv, on account of Tom straight-up betraying his wife for his father-in-law, for reasons that aren’t entirely unreasonable if you dig a little, but still. I don’t think it’s really spoiling anything to tell you that there’s danger on the horizon there. Same with Logan and the three kids. This show is fun and preposterously watchable but it’s also a show about broken people walloping each other with the scraps of a personality they have left. Buckle in.
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GOOD NEWS: You don’t have to wait much longer for any of it, and I don’t have to keep all this information inside either, as the new season debuts this Sunday, March 26.
BAD NEWS: That’s still like three or four whole days away.
GOOD NEWS: You can watch the trailer 10 times a day until then if you want. And drive around with the theme music blasting. You have options. That’s the point.