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The Group Chat

Succession Season 4: Is the Sibling Rivalry Really Over?

The truce among the Roy kids is holding… for now.
  • Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, and Kieran Culkin in Succession (Photo: Macall Polay/HBO)
    Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, and Kieran Culkin in Succession (Photo: Macall Polay/HBO)

    The Group Chat is where Primetimer staffers and contributors share everything from first impressions to warring opinions on TV's biggest moments. Because everyone needs a group chat.

    [Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for Succession Season 4, Episode 1, “The Munsters.”]

    Cue Nicholas Britell’s magnificent, melancholy title themeSuccession is back. The fourth and final season of the Emmy-winning HBO drama kicked off with customary brio and some nods to seasons past. It’s been roughly three months since the events of “All the Bells Say,” when Logan Roy (Brian Cox) thwarted a coup by his children — Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin) — with the help of one Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen). Relationships are strained, to put it mildly: Logan’s reduced to celebrating his 80th birthday with yes men and “Disgusting Brothers” Greg (Nicholas Braun) and Tom. Marcia (Hiam Abbass) has taken up semi-permanent residence in Milan. Meanwhile, Kerry’s attempts to get Shiv and her brothers on the phone to wish their dad a happy birthday make up nearly as tense of a negotiation as Logan’s latest bid for PGM.

    But, rather miraculously, the Roy kids really seem to be doing it for themselves — and by “it,” we mean launching an “indispensable bespoke media hub.” They’ve set up a funding round for The Hundred, a new venture that Kendall claims will be "Substack meets MasterClass meets The Economist meets The New Yorker." Just as important, they all seem to actually be getting along. Roman is a bit stung by how quickly Shiv and Kendall want to pivot to snatching PGM from their dad’s grasp, but he can’t deny the appeal of the Pierce media empire.

    The question of who will be Logan’s “number one boy” has preoccupied Succession viewers from the beginning, but whether his kids would ever unite against their tyrannical father has been just as fraught a matter. They appear to still be supporting each other after Season 3’s emotional outpouring, when Kendall revealed the source of Logan’s hold over him. As the series prepares for its endgame, will they keep a united front, or will sibling rivalry take over once again? And what did our staff think about the premiere episode as a whole? For answers, let’s take it to the Group Chat.

    Danette Chavez: Succession, The Umbrella Academy, even The Righteous Gemstones — some of my favorite shows are about siblings banding together against their tyrannical father. (Somewhere, my own dad is asking “Now why am I in it?”) Naturally, part of me hopes that Shiv, Roman, and Kendall continue to stand strong against Logan, who will always see them as extensions of himself instead of as people, even as I realize that dynamic could defang the show a bit. This is the first time all three of them have had a common goal — hell, that they’ve managed to agree on something for longer than three months. In the past, it’s been Kendall and Roman edging Shiv out (with their plan for succession in Season 1), or Shiv and Roman icing out Kendall (in Season 2, after his previous attempt at a coup). But in Season 4, they’ve kept the peace long enough to come up with both The Hundred and the PGM buyout.

    Their little victory walk to their SUV in the final moments of “The Munsters” was thrilling, but you can already see the fissures start to form. There’s just too much history here, as well as a reflexive desire to make someone the odd sibling out, so Shiv will always worry that her brothers will push her out again. Roman knows he’s seen as the least serious (read: intelligent) among them, which means his ideas will always be a harder sell. And Kendall’s taken too many shots at the king (and missed, repeatedly) with the help of outsiders for Shiv and Roman to be confident about their union.

    In Sunday’s post-episode breakdown, Jesse Armstrong and Sarah Snook acknowledged that sibling rivalry will always be a part of the Roy kids’ story. So maybe the question is, can this truce really last? One thing I’m not questioning is whether the wait between seasons was worth it — "The Munsters” is one hell of an opening (final) salvo, readily pulling viewers back in to this one messed-up family’s drama. Oh, and if I may add a question of my own: Was Greg’s date’s purse really that “capacious”?

    Brianna Wellen: Seeing the Roy siblings — or Shiv, Roman, and Kendall at least — get through an entire episode without turning on each other is equal parts endearing and unnerving. There’s something so sweet about seeing Roman and Kendall clear the room to talk to Shiv when she’s spiraling about Tom being out with Naomi Pierce, but just as quickly as it seems they want to offer some semblance of emotional support, it becomes once again about business and, most importantly, screwing over their dad. Still, those small moments show that this time the siblings are building at least a slightly deeper bond as they band together against Logan, and that just might be the glue that keeps together any cracks that might form between them — not to mention they’re now all in $10 billion as business partners.

    But what’s unnerving is knowing what each of these three is capable of, and how much more an inevitable stab in the back (because there’s got to be some big conflict among them in the final season, right?) will hurt after all the emotional and financial capital they’ve invested. Shiv especially this season is more impulsive, cutthroat, and unstable, floundering from the shift in the dynamic between her and Tom, caught off guard by how much pain she feels about her marriage actually ending, and not on her terms. Shiv could easily throw her siblings under the bus or push them out to regain her sense of power and as of now seems like the most likely to break the bond first. Then of course, anyone can fall back into their old ways: Roman is the one who will always go running back to daddy and Kendall is the loose cannon who is capable of just about anything.

    What “The Munsters” really shows is Logan is losing his edge and his power. His kids are successfully icing him out, his cronies aren’t as willing to indulge in his sadistic parlor games (not one good roast among them!), and Greg isn’t afraid to “rummage to fruition” in a spare room at his birthday party. He’s still terrifying to a degree, of course — no one wants to be the one to tell him that his kids are the competing bidders for Pierce media at first. But as he becomes more isolated, the cracks in his own façade begin to show. The question for the rest of the season is, who among all the Roys will shatter first?

    Claire Spellberg Lustig: I would love to say that the Roy siblings will keep their bond alive long enough to seal the Pierce deal and restore the competing empire to its former glory, but Succession just isn’t that show. (And if the Warner Bros. Discovery merger has taught us anything, it’s that these media takeovers rarely go smoothly.) Brianna, you’re right that Roman and Kendall show far more affection for Shiv during her moment of emotional crisis than we’re used to seeing, but I can’t shake the feeling that they’ve been played by their father. It was just too easy to defeat Logan: All it took was “saying the biggest number,” a move that very may well come back to bite them. And as Tom said last season, he’s “never seen Logan get f*cked once.” I’m hesitant to believe that this time would be any different, even with Logan’s powers diminishing.

    If (and when) the Pierce deal falls apart, it seems likely that the siblings’ alliance will follow. As you say, Danette, too much has happened between the Roys for them to jump into their new endeavor with both feet — each is quick to draft a resignation letter, but refuses to file it, knowing a better offer may be out there. The question is, will that better offer come from their father? And if so, who will be the first to take it?

    As for that oversized Burberry tote, I would have to agree with Disgusting Brother Tom. In this group, the only sin worse than screwing over Logan is trying to look conspicuously wealthy while doing it. Bridget (last name unknown, despite Kerry’s best efforts to do a background check) may not be a corporate spy, but everything about her, from her loud, floral-print dress to her request to take a selfie with Logan, screams she doesn’t belong in this world.

    Joe Reid: Speaking of feeling unsettled by this episode, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of rooting for the warm feelings and general supportive atmosphere that we mostly get in "The Munsters." Kendall, Shiv, and Roman's truce is of course still tenuous, but there were multiple inflection points this week where you could have seen it all fall apart. Roman felt hurt that Kendall and Shiv seemed so eager to jump off of The Hundred idea. Shiv is so thrown by Tom getting one over on her that she could do anything to feel in control again. And Kendall's eternal drive to be seen as a cool thought-leader of a billionaire will always rub the other two the wrong way.

    But the stress of pivoting from launching The Hundred to acquiring Pierce didn't break the trio. In fact, the further they got into negotiating against Logan, the more galvanized they became as a group. Even Roman, who is the most allergic to Nan Pierce's liberal hypocrisies, ends up enthusiastically pushing for more money while still getting to make fun of their money guy, Tellis, on the phone. I was so happy watching these three siblings working so well together! This is not how I should be watching Succession, any more than I should be rooting for the Trump children to band together and purchase NPR. Now I'm just going to be waiting for that other shoe to drop… and to see whether it's Shiv, Roman, or Kendall who drops it first.

    TOPICS: Succession