Succession Season 4, Episode 9 Recap: “Daddy’s Here”
It’s time to admit that Succession isn’t an easy show to watch. If you want to sit back after a long day and embrace some smooth-brain entertainment, try Jury Duty, literally any of Bravo’s programming, or a good scroll through TikTok. But when the television screen erupts in the static-y HBO intro followed by the musical stylings of Nicholas Britell, by now you should know that you’re about to embark on an anxiety-filled, confusing, and often cringey one hour filled with some of the most despicable characters ever written for the screen. It seems obvious, yet following “America Decides”, many took to Twitter to express their surprise that an episode of television inspired by the 2016 U.S. election night was stressful to watch, and—“Wow, these are not good people! They sold democracy down the river to keep control of their company.” (Well, better ridiculously late then never.) Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can dive into episode nine of Succession.
“Church and State” finally puts Logan to rest five episodes after his shocking death. It’s a reminder of how much these characters have been through since his passing, and the extreme brevity of the season’s timeline. In a matter of days, the Roys have mourned the loss of their verbally abusive and manipulative father, traveled to Norway, executed (and subsequently attempted to destroy) a major deal, held an investors meeting in Los Angeles, and rigged an election. It’s no wonder episode nine finds these characters both mentally and physically exhausted. Despite the somber mood of the day, Shiv, Roman, and Kendall use the gathering as yet another opportunity to screw each other over in order to get ahead, just as Daddy would have wanted. But when it’s time to process behind Logan’s casket and begin the task of saying goodbye, the distractions, dealings, and jokes evaporate. The usually superficially strong siblings can no longer deny their emotions. All three of them suffer (and some succeed) in different ways throughout “Church and State,” so let’s break down the mourning processes of Shiv, Roman, and Kendall.
Kendall starts off episode nine in the worst place of his siblings when he learns his children will not be in attendance at the funeral, and no amount of tantrum-throwing or legal threats can change that. By the time he arrives at the church, he seems fairly over the snub, however, ready to engage in a custody battle we will likely not see play out, and distracted by a new problem—his assistant is no longer content with being an assistant. Gasp! It’s unclear how Kendall didn’t see this coming—most assistants, especially competent ones like Jess, usually reach a point of saturation with their thankless position. Plus, the fact that Kendall just helped put a fascist in the White House doesn’t exactly incentivize women of color (or anyone with a conscience) to remain on his team. And maybe, at another time, Kendall would have handled Jess’s news a little more appropriately, but with his father’s funeral on the horizon, his ex-wife’s “betrayal” on the brain, and a city erupting in riots, the news elicits yet another tantrum.
Luckily for Kendall, he possesses the ability to rise to the occasion. And even luckier for Kendall, his siblings do not. A last-minute meltdown from Roman (more on that in a minute) places Kendall in the starring role of the funeral, where he proves his onstage skills extend beyond cringe raps. The co-CEO demonstrates his ability to act under pressure with an impromptu speech that confirms the immense pedestal upon which the Roy siblings placed their father. The immortality of Logan’s god complex aside, Kendall does well, and his success in that moment clearly motivates him to keep moving forward despite the obstacles of the past few days.
He spends the remainder of the funeral gathering up his best men (or, more accurately, Logan’s best men). Thanks to recent disappointments on the part of his wife and sister, his heart is once again icy enough that it won’t get in the way, like it almost did on election night. Going into the finale, it seems we can expect a hardened Ken, ready for battle.
The person shaping up to be Kendall’s largest opponent, meanwhile, isn’t letting the misogynistic nature of her surroundings keep her from a victory. At this point, everyone knows Shiv’s pregnant, and her impulse to combat the news with a never-ending supply of “bad mom” jokes, could almost lead someone to believe she’ll be putting effort into this upcoming role. The reemergence of Shiv’s mother might have reminded her just how debilitating a bad parent can be—so she seemingly makes an effort to smooth things over with Tom, possibly for the sake of their unborn child.
While Shiv may be gaining the title of mother, there’s another position she’s more interested in—and she’s pretty convincing when it comes to persuading the necessary parties she’s the right fit to become the U.S. CEO of a GoJo-owned Waystar. Shiv has no problem bringing Matsson on board for this move, despite her less-than-stellar presentation on the funeral stage. In my opinion, Shiv’s seeming manipulation of Matsson is added proof that the more we learn of the Swede, the more he lowers himself into the pathetic sewers of his Roy rivals. While previously, Matsson seemed like a strong-willed, bright, if not insolent techie (compared to his American counterparts), it’s now clear he’s just as hopeless as everyone else in the Succession universe, and Shiv has managed to play him in a fairly impressive manner.
While his siblings end episode nine on a high note, Roman could not find himself any lower. Seriously, can it get worse than lying in the fetal position on a Midtown Manhattan street? It all seemed to be going so well when “Church and State” began—Roman was all but power-posing in the mirror, talking himself up and readying his speech. He also seemed to be in an even naughtier mood than usual, making some especially slimey jokes at the expense of his sister and father’s widow. It was all classic Roman egotism, the youngest son riding on a high following his election success—that is, until it was time to actually prove himself in a meaningful way. It seems all of his rambling about pre-grieving was just, well, rambling. The second Roman hits the stage, he breaks down into a blubbering mess. Swimming in a sea of piranhas, the moment of weakness is enough to elicit the most vicious of attacks, and in just seconds, Roman’s credibility is completely destroyed. Does being sad at your father’s funeral make you an incompetent leader? Likely not; if anything, it just means you’re a human. But in the world of Succession, it’s enough to put the final nail in your coffin and book a one-way ticket to Logan’s dotcom pet store mausoleum. Clearly, Roman is aware of this, as he’s unable to recover for the rest of the episode. He was likely still rife with grief, but also embarrassed that his breakdown has gone viral among the change-makers of the world.
So, what is a man to do after falling off the pedestal on which he placed himself? It depends. Are we talking about a mentally well-adjusted man? Well, they would probably go to a “head shrinker” à la Collin. Roman, however, feels the need to exact control over a group of people, and it seems he’s aware any authority over the St. Regis sect dissipated when the tears started to flow. So, he heads outside, to the rioters he no doubt feels are miles beneath him, where he stands protected behind a barrier, screaming uncharacteristically bad insults as they run by. When he does get in on the action, he’s immediately knocked down, an apt metaphor for the fallen false god.