‘Succession’ Season 4: How does episode 9 set up the show’s grand finale?

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The Roys sure know how to ruin a funeral. 

Succession‘s penultimate episode, “Church and State,” sees the Roys finally gathering for Logan’s (Brian Cox) funeral. Naturally, it’s an hour’s worth of the most jarringly emotional stuff on TV. While the siblings are in mourning, they’re also in business mode (as always), and they throw all decorum away when they willingly treat Logan’s funeral as another playground for their own affairs. Even the funeral’s eulogies become a means for the Roys to reaffirm their claim to the Waystar throne as they compete for the most tear-jerking yet powerful speech. 

Things get even worse at the funeral’s reception, when the Roys literally crowd over their most important attendee, Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk), to win him over to either side (aka team Roy-bros vs. team Sweden). The result is a funeral full of jabbing one-liners and sibling betrayal, providing a tense set-up for Succession‘s final episode ever. Based on everything that went down this episode, here’s what we can expect from Succession‘s finale. 

Roman is back on the sidelines. 

A man wearing a suit leans over a table in an office space.


Credit: Macall Polay / HBO

As Kendall (Jeremy Strong) succinctly puts it: “You fucked it.” While Roman (Kieran Culkin) was on a high in last week’s election episode, seeing his own aspirations through by pushing for ATN to vouch for Mencken’s win, this week, Roman finally broke down. When stepping up to give his dad’s eulogy on behalf of the siblings, Roman fell apart, publicly crying on national television and forcing Kendall to speak in his place. 

On the one hand, it’s completely normal to cry at your dad’s funeral. On the other hand, in the patriarchal world of business tycoons and fascist presidential nominees, crying is a sign of weakness. Roman breaking down was taken as his inability to step up to the tasks required of him. It’s completely unfair to expect a son to not cry at his father’s funeral, let alone any man in any situation, but this is Succession‘s world, and it’s notoriously ruthless and gendered. 

Roman’s outburst quickly becomes a meme, with Frank (Peter Friedman), Karl (David Rasche), and Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) rewatching clips of it online and making fun of him. The damage trickled its way onto Roman’s relationship with Mencken, who clearly becomes more pro-Kendall, and even Shiv (Sarah Snook). This might mean we’re going to see Kendall stepping up for him — to a point of completely eclipsing him — in the finale. Here’s why. 

Kendall is all in. 

A man wearing a suit stands beside a table in an office meeting room.


Credit: Macall Polay / HBO

Kendall won in a lot of ways this episode. His impromptu eulogy won the esteemed prize for “Best Roy” at the funeral. He’s also gone into full “become Logan” mode by hiring Logan’s former bodyguard and close friend, Colin (Scott Nicholson), and recruiting Hugo (Fisher Stevens) to do his bidding and keep an eye on Shiv. Mencken even congratulated Kendall on his eulogy, calling it “perfect,” and officially passing his seal of approval onto him. But naturally, Kendall has plans of his own

It isn’t far-fetched to assume that Kendall wants to be the sole CEO of Waystar and is only stringing Roman along temporarily to oust Shiv and let the GoJo deal tank. Heck, that’s exactly his plan by the looks of this episode. While Kendall was there for Roman as a brother during his outburst, he wasn’t necessarily there for him as a business partner. When Kendall confronts Roman at the funeral’s reception and hits him with “You fucked it” (plus that ruthless roast of Roman thinking he’s Logan but actually isn’t), it’s visibly clear that he’s ready to take charge as Roy-bro #1 to reinstate their claim to the throne — whether or not Roman is up to the task. 

We might see Kendall pulling all the strings in the finale, with or without Roman’s consent, and it’s possible that their allegiance might hit a roadblock. Roman has his own CEO aspirations, so if he bounces back, it’s also possible he might get up to his own plans. In either scenario, it feels like the Roy-bro situation is nearing its end. Although the siblings might still surprise us with a Roy-bro reunion, it’s feeling like it’s going to be Kendall’s world vs. Roman’s again. 

Shiv is back in the ring. 

A woman wearing a gray pantsuit speaks on the phone while sitting in a restaurant.


Credit: Macall Polay / HBO

After the explosive revelations in last week’s election episode, it seemed that Shiv was out of the CEO ring, but she’s managed to bounce back. Recognizing that Mencken might actually win, Shiv whips up a new plan that caters to him. Instead of having Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) as CEO, a foreigner who contradicts Mencken’s belief in basically making America great again, Shiv suggests letting the GoJo deal go through with an American CEO in charge — herself. While it’s initially unclear if Mencken likes the idea, the episode ends with Matsson calling Shiv and confirming it’s a go.

There’s the first off-chance that Mencken’s playing them both, but there’s the more sure chance that Shiv’s pregnancy might change Mencken’s decision. I doubt someone as conservative as Mencken would believe that new moms can be CEOs, and with Kendall and Roman now aware of Shiv’s pregnancy, they’ll probably reaffirm his beliefs any chance they get. There’s also the chance that Kendall and Roman might whip up a new plan to counter Shiv’s plan. And Mencken might not even win the election. Despite Shiv feeling secure in this temporary agreement, there are plenty of hurdles that can happen in the finale to overturn it. 

It seems that Succession‘s final episode is gearing toward a Roy vs. Roy vs. Roy battle. While the siblings started off the season together, in a mere two weeks (Season 4 is occurring on consecutive days) they’re back to where they were last season. We can assume that the finale will see either a lone Roy (probably Kendall) on a sure-fire path to the Waystar throne, or none of them at all, if there’s a twist of fate and Matsson ends up taking over everything. Whatever the CEO outcome is, one thing’s for certain: The siblings have officially done irreparable damage to one another, and it doesn’t look like that’ll be mending anytime soon. 

The final season of Succession is now streaming on HBO Max(opens in a new tab), with new episodes airing weekly on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. 



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