The Talking Head to Fascism Pipeline?
Rob Henderson on Succession, S4: Ep 2-4
Appears in this episode
****NOTE: SPOILERS BELOW****
Rob Henderson joins me once again to talk about Succession, S4: Ep 2-4.
Of course, our conversation revolves around the shocking death of Logan. I really appreciated how the episode gave us a realistic perspective on what happens when someone dies. It’s not always dramatic, or foreshadowed all that much. We usually don’t get to see the moment they grab their chest and keel over or hear their final words. Rather, we learn about the event from people who happened to be around the individual the moment they passed away. Others end up unsure of what really happened or what tricks of memory might have distorted their perceptions.
Succession could have given us a glimpse into what Logan’s final moments actually looked and sounded like, as most shows do in a situation like this. But we are not owed it. So much of the event is wrapped in mystery. Was he really fishing his phone out of the toilet when it happened? What was his mood like just before he died? Did he listen to Roman’s final voicemail? And of course, did he want Kendall to be his successor, or not? We’ll probably never know the answer to most of these questions, and I’m fine with that.
Another big piece of news is Shiv’s pregnancy. Rob and I do the math and calculate whether Tom is likely to be the father. According to this, it probably works out. We speculate on how interesting it would be if Shiv went and got knocked up by another guy immediately after they broke up, given how badly Tom wanted to have kids.
Shiv seemed like she was never taken seriously as Logan’s successor, and Rob and I wonder if her fate is to remain in the shadows of her brothers or eventually find a way to triumph, pregnant and all.
I previously predicted that politics might start intruding more on the universe of the main characters, given that we were told in S4:Ep 1 that the election was weeks away. The last episode supports this view, as Republican presidential candidate Jeryd Mencken arrives at Logan’s old apartment to pay his respects. Will the passing of Logan, an icon of American life, be seen as the watershed that ushered in a new, more dangerous era?
Rob and I note how overwhelmingly white the decisionmakers are in this show. I know they get away with it in part because the main characters are supposed to be conservatives and therefore bad people, but still, it’s quite striking and an unusual artistic choice. A bunch of white people in a room making big decisions is still a very normal thing in real life, but not on TV. I find that artificial diversity is often a distraction, as I imagine producers always navigating their way through a minefield or trying to make an ideological point. Here, you can simply sit back and enjoy the characters and situations for what they are. I don’t necessarily want artificial homogeneity in art either, but artificial diversity is the norm and it unquestionably subtracts from most shows and movies. Succession should be given credit for accurately representing what an elite conservative institution actually looks like.
Then again, what is up with Kendall’s daughter? How is she so much darker than her parents and why am I apparently the only person in the world who has noticed this? Please share your thoughts. The best Rob and I can come up with is that the show will end with Stewie having cucked everyone. This is our White Lotus conversation all over again. For context surrounding our discussion about whether one’s sexual perversions can be separated from a person’s regular life, see here and here.
We close by reflecting on why we dislike Kendall, while perhaps having a bit more sympathy for Roman.
Listen to the episode here, or watch on YouTube.
Me and Rob on the first three seasons of Succession
Me and Rob on Season 4, Episode 1
Michelle Goldberg on Succession (New York Times)