Season 4 Episode 5 of Succession proves that Logan Roy’s death only caused more problems than it solved for the legacy of his crumbling empire.
This review contains spoilers for Season 4 Episode 5 of Succession.
As we move towards the half-way point of Succession’s fourth and final season, the show’s stakes are getting higher and higher with every passing episode. Last week’s episode saw the Roy siblings deal with the emotional fallout of their father’s death, but Season 4 Episode 5 takes the chance to explore how the media tycoon’s absence is going to affect the GoJo deal that’s been on the table since the end of Season 3. The future certainly doesn’t look bright for Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv (Sarah Snook) as Succession continues to move closer towards its ultimate endgame.
Succession has always been a show about conflict, and while that’s mostly taken the form of Logan’s conflict with his children, Season 4 is proving that Waystar Royco is founded on so many more tensions and volatile relationships than we previously realized. It seemed like Logan’s death was going to make things easier for the Roy siblings, who have finally been working together for the first time since the show’s first few episodes, but Episode 5 has quickly shown that even their father’s death wasn’t enough to dissolve the tensions and secrets between them. As the family is whisked away to Matsson’s (Alexander Skarsgård) retreat in Norway, the pretense of teamwork is completely destroyed and the siblings’ master plan immediately falls apart.
Succession’s biggest strength, without a doubt, is the rich complexity that’s hidden behind every single character. Each person in the show wants something different, and while certain alliances are often born from mutual intentions, the show’s impeccable writing ensures that nobody is ever friendly for too long. The beginning of Season 4 saw Kendall, Roman, and Shiv working together towards the same goals, but thanks to their wildly conflicting personalities and their vastly different outlooks on business, Episode 5 has already torn them apart and ruined their chances of cooperation. These characters are heading towards their own personalised fates, and the magic of Succession is how seamlessly the writers weave these foundations into the story and guide them towards their final destination – without ever making this obvious to the audience.
Episode 5 also brought back Lukas Matsson from a brief absence, and the dissolution of his friendly pretenses has instantly made him much more interesting as a character. He’s always been good at keeping his true intentions hidden behind a mask of nonchalance and apathy, but his true colors are finally beginning to shine and he’s effortlessly adopting the role of Succession’s central antagonist in Logan Roy’s stead. Tensions are really running high throughout “Kill List”, and it’s fascinating to watch how the different characters manage to deal with this intense pressure that Matsson is brewing. Some are managing to keep their cool and rise to the top, some are finally reaching their breaking point and letting their emotions override their judgement, and others are simply too blind to the truth of the situation to understand that they’ve already lost.
While it’s admittedly beginning to feel like the Roys have been negotiating this GoJo deal for way too long, Episode 5 does a fantastic job of diving into Matsson’s headspace and showing exactly how GoJo’s acquisition is affecting Kendall, Roman, and Shiv differently. The episode is immaculately-paced and features some of the season’s funniest lines yet (with Shiv and Tom continuing to balance that fine line between flirting with and bullying each other at every opportunity), and while it feels like a slight departure from certain plot threads that need nurturing, finally exposing Matsson in his true form as a cocky, anarchical villain was a necessary step in these characters’ journeys as they move closer and closer towards the deal that’s threatening to tear the company (and the family) apart.
Season 4 Episode of Succession is now available to watch on HBO Max.