This story contains major spoilers for Season Four, Episode Three of Succession.
Let’s all take a moment of silence for a legendary TV dad. No one has inspired more Is it wrong that I really like him? thoughts in audience’s brains more than Succession‘s Logan Roy. (Well, since Tony Soprano, anyway.) He was vulgar, treated his family like shit, and ran a god-awful (yet very successful!) media company. He also looked damn good in a cableknit sweater, just a thought. Part of me always thought that Succession was a tongue-in-cheek title—that it was actually a reference to the very thing its writers were never going to actually give its audience. At different points, all four of Logan Roy’s children have seemed likely to take over for their father throughout the HBO show’s 32 episodes thus far—even Connor!—but all fell short. Boy, was I wrong.
While Kendall, Shiv, and Roman attend Connor’s wedding in this week’s shocking episode, Logan’s heart stops en route to meet Lukas Matsson in Europe. It happens with the likes of Tom and Frank on the plane with him, so Logan’s children are left to speak their last words to him over the phone, as Tom cowers near his father-in-law’s body, cell in hand. Obviously, Logan’s passing is a major blow to his kids, who never received closure from their tyrannical father—aside from last week’s awkward karaoke plea to not destroy the upcoming sale of the company, which was debatably heartfelt. (Speaking of the deal with Lukas Matsson GoJo… yikes. If that guy wasn’t screwed before, his situation has turned from prickly to full on Danger Town, U.S.A.) Throughout the episode, we see the Roys go through every stage of grief, right down to whichever one involves obsessing about the stock market.
Still, it’s a bittersweet passing for Succession fans. Brian Cox is a highlight! Maybe even the best part of the series. Who wants to stop watching him?! Hardcore fans will be distraught by his character’s death, without a doubt. To kill him off in just the third episode of the season is very bold, indeed. Turns out, even Cox agrees. “When [Succession‘s showrunner] Jesse [Armstrong] decided that he said, Look, I think we’re going to kill him off in Episode Three,” Cox told Deadline of learning his own character’s fate. “I just thought, Okay, and then I thought, You’re making a tough job for yourself, because you’ve created this role for three seasons, and we all know it’s about succession, and you’ve got seven episodes to fill out after he goes.”
Cox’s point is understandable, but at the same time, it feels like the best way for Succession’s story to stay interesting—and to truly create stakes leading into the final episodes of the series. So, what happens next? Well, someone must take the reins. Finally. The question remains: which failson or faildaughter will it be? Roman (Kieran Culkin) was secretly brought into his father’s side of the deal at the end of last week’s episode, but the kid can barely sit in chairs right or keep rockets from exploding. Shiv (Sarah Snook) was once announced as his potential successor only to have her ambition rip the rug out from under her, and Kendall (Jeremy Strong) is on a rollercoaster of personalities from out of his mind, to his father’s lap dog, to Judas.
Elsewhere, Connor (Alan Ruck) doesn’t want any part of the company, Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) is embroiled in a sex tape scandal, and Matsson is left with, well, we’re not sure yet. But not ATN. In a twist of fate, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) may be the only feasible option at the top of a massive shitpile, which he seems to be doubtful about, after his phone call with Greg from the plane’s bedroom. You’re surely asking: what does Brian Cox think? “My suspicion is that it won’t be the kids,” Cox added to Deadline. “I think that they will get locked out. Ultimately, they’ll get locked out.”
But unlike the Roy children—or Cox, apparently—I can’t get there yet, emotionally. Lord only knows how Logan’s circle is going to figure it out. For now, I’m in mourning.
Josh Rosenberg is an Assistant Editor at Esquire, keeping a steady diet of one movie a day. His past work can be found at Spin, CBR, and on his personal blog at Roseandblog.com.