Jesse Armstrong, who made the HBO drama “Succession,” recently said that the fourth season will be the last. So, it makes sense that the new season, which starts on Sunday, March 26, will focus on the title topic more than ever before: Who will replace Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox, as the leader of the Waystar/Royco media empire?
In the first four episodes that were shown to reviewers, there was a serious business tone on top of the sometimes funny, always-changing equations of loyalty, favoritism, and backstabbing that have made the drama series so entertaining since it started in 2018.
Even though that formula could still make morality disappear, one had to wonder how many more ways it could be used before it got boring.
A sense of finality that is more serious does the trick. Along with maybe some signs of kindness from some Roys. This doesn’t mean that Logan has stopped saying “F— everything, all the time” or has changed the way he talks. Or that his children, especially messed-up rebel Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and provocative perv Roman (Kieran Culkin), aren’t still using the toilet mouths they inherited in hilariously painful ways.
The Roys are now much more their own pop culture figures than the Murdoch-lites they were first thought to be. They all seem a bit more thoughtful than we thought they could be, maybe because of all the crap they’ve put themselves and each other through.
Even though they still snipe at each other and don’t trust each other, the three of them act with a new sense of purpose and even Roy-like respect for each other. The sale of Waystar to Matsson’s GoJo is happening in 48 hours, and the Kids, or “Rats” as Logan now calls them, have already given their notice. The Kids’ plans to get back at Dad while they all wait to get their share of GoJo money show businesslike maturity if not great money sense.
A risky move shows how good the actors and the people behind the camera really are for a long time. In an early episode, Strong, Snook, and Culkin give their deepest, most sympathetic performances of the whole series. Characters’ complicated, often contradictory feelings lead to grace notes and actions we never thought they were capable of, but they stay true to who they are at their core.
Waystar executive players Peter Friedman (vice-chairman Frank Vernon), J.
Smith-Cameron (general counsel Gerri Kellman, who doesn’t have time for Roman’s special needs yet), David Rasche (CFO Karl Muller), Dagmara Domiczyk, and Fisher Stevens all give realistic, but still humanizing, performances (P.R. pros Karolina Novotney and Hugo Baker).