Warning: this story contains major spoilers for Succession Season 4, Episode 3. You’ve been warned.
The king is dead; long live the king.
After three seasons, Succession‘s media tycoon Logan Roy (Brian Cox) is dead, captured in one of the most devastating episodes of television this year. How fitting that he would be skipping his son’s tacky wedding and flying, via private jet, to a meeting about selling off his empire. How perfect that his son Roman Roy (Keirin Culkin) left him a voicemail calling him a “c—“, before saying his goodbyes over the phone less than an hour later. It was a death as only Succession knows how to deal them, and one creator Jesse Armstrong has been planning since the beginning.
Logan Roy was initially supposed to die in season 1, but in a 2021 interview, Cox said the writers realised that Logan was the “centrifugal force of the piece”.
“Everything has to spin off him, and the kids’ vices are all about their father, and relating to their father,” he told The Guardian. “Do they love their father, and if so how do they show that love?”
Now his character is gone, Cox is a little more blunt. When Vulture asked him what reason Armstrong gave him for Logan’s death, he replied: “It’s about succession. You need a corpse. If it was a different kind of show, it could have gone into a more mysterious frame — Is Logan dead? That kind of stuff. But I think Jesse realized it had to be the way it had to be, and he made the decision to do that.”
The death of the fictional media mogul — and abjectly cruel and manipulative father — played out in real time. His children Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman were attending the wedding of their brother, Connor Roy (Alan Ruck). Logan had chosen to skip the ceremony and instead board a plane to Europe to broker a deal to sell Waystar Royco. Instead of telling Connor he would be missing the wedding, he calls Roman and tells him to give legal counsel Gerri (J Smith-Cameron) the “heads up” she was about to be pushed. Even right to the end, Logan was testing his children’s loyalty.
Roman reluctantly tells Gerri, before leaving his father the aforementioned voicemail. A few minutes later, Shiv’s soon-to-be-ex husband Tom (Matthew Macfayden) calls the kids to tell them their father has collapsed, and chest compressions have started. What follows is an excruciating, powerful portrayal of how each of the kids react, and how they say their goodbyes.
“We love you, I love you,” Kendall says over the phone, not even sure if his father can hear him. “I don’t forgive you. I love you.” (For those who’ve forgotten season two’s finale, Logan tried to make Kendall take the fall for the cruise ship scandal.)
Roman tries to tell him he’ll get through it, before handing the phone back to his brother with a “I can’t do this”. Shiv, who comes in a few moments after it’s believed Logan has died, reverts back to a young girl: “Dad. Dad. Daddy,” she says down the phone. And Connor, who is always forgotten, reveals his heartbreak in a different way. “Dad never liked me.”
Even as the kids are coming to grips with their father’s death (with various success), Logan’s team are preparing a statement for shareholders, and Tom is plotting to make the situation work for him. “People should know I was with him,” he tells Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) over the phone.
It’s Kendall who is the most practical. Roman refuses to believe Logan is dead until a doctor has confirmed it, while Shiv is crumbling under the enormity of what life without Logan Roy in it means. “What we do now will always be what we did on the way our father died,” Kendall says. “It’ll be in the history books.”
In perhaps the most touching moment we’ve seen in the entire series, Shiv, Kendall and Roy exchange a hug after making a brief media statement. The siblings are, as Logan said last episode, “not serious people”, and have been manipulated and used by their dad their entire life. But he was still their dad. And now he’s dead.
How Are People Reacting To Logan Roy’s Death?
Logan Roy might have been a dispicable character, but there’s no doubt Brian Cox gave the performance of a lifetime. Such was the impact of Succession and Logan Roy that the LA Times put up an obituary for a character.
On Twitter, people are both sad for the character’s death and in total shock at the way it happened.
What Has Brian Cox Said About Logan Roy’s Death?
Brian Cox is deeply unbothered about his time on Succession coming to an end, which is finishing up with season four anyway.
“It’s fine by me,” he told the New York Times. “I’m doing a lot of other stuff. I’m going back to the theater. I’m going to hopefully direct my first movie in my grand old age. And I’m doing Long Day’s Journey Into Night in London [in 2024]. So I know what I’m going to be doing probably till next summer.”
But he said Logan’s death — particularly so early in the series — does change the stakes.
“The main protagonist is gone,” he continued.
“And the kids are having to deal with it, or not. I think it’s going to be hard next week for a lot of the audience because they’re going to miss Logan. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing — I think that’s actually quite a good thing.
“Logan was coming to a rest point anyway. He realized that his children were never going to be — he’s got that great line when he says, ‘I love you, but you’re not serious people.’ And I think that is so fundamental. The whole premise is really about entitlement and the rich and the fact that he’s plowed this particular furrow. And the consequences of that plowing are these kids and how f–ked up they are, not necessarily because of him, but because of the wealth. They all suffer from entitlement in one form or another. And they behave like entitled spoiled brats a lot of the time.”
The main question is: who will take over Waystar Royco now? Everyone is jostling for position: Shiv assured the media the kids will “see the company through the transition”, while the company’s top brass are making sure their names are significantly featured in all conversations.
The beautiful part of Logan Roy dying in so early in the season is that we have seven episodes left to see how this plays out. And don’t think for a second that anyone is safe.