The premiere of the final season is a biting and brutal beginning of the end.
Plot: The sale of media conglomerate Waystar Royco to tech visionary Lukas Matsson moves ever closer. The prospect of this seismic sale provokes existential angst and familial division among the Roys as they anticipate what their lives will look like once the deal is complete. A power struggle ensues as the family weighs up a future where their cultural and political weight is severely curtailed.
Review: The season premiere of Succession, titled “The Munsters,” is a prime slice of what makes the saga of the Roy family one of the best on television. Entering its final season, Succession is as biting as ever, with the family drama between patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and his children reaching a boiling point. While it has felt like I have said that same thing in the past, this season opener solidifies the warring factions in this billion-dollar skirmish as it brings together plot threads from the preceding seasons for an endgame none of us may be prepared for. Succession‘s final season begins in a way that does not feel like the start of the final chapter but just another start for one of the best series on television.
The third season of Succession concluded with Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin) attempting a coup behind their father’s back. In the final moments, they learn that Shiv’s husband, Tom Wambsgans (Matthew MacFadyan), betrayed them and aligned with Logan. It was a crushing plot twist that left everyone wondering what that meant next for the family. As this season begins, Logan is celebrating his birthday while Kendall, Siobhan, and Roman are across the continent. Plotting their new business venture away from Waystar-Royco, the siblings learn that their father is making a play for the Pierce family business and shift their plans to outbid their dad. Over the hour-long episode, Logan and Tom position themselves while the trio counter with everything that has. It is a solid collaboration that brings the brothers and sister closer together while also positioning a potential fracture as the season goes on.
“The Munsters” is a quieter episode that turns phone call negotiations into a tense chess match of an episode. The two sides, spaced thousands of miles apart, indulge in scheming and theorizing without being close to their opponent. Sequences like this make Succession feel like war camps plotting their next attack, and it is surprisingly exciting to watch. It also helps that Brian Cox volleys profanity without equal while Kieran Culkin shines as the vocal equivalent on the side of the siblings. Most of this opening episode is designed to align Kendall, Shiv, and Roman despite the challenges all three are now facing. Kendall has the least direct issues in this opening episode. At the same time, Shiv is bogged down by her separation from Tom, and Roman questions the amount of money they put into this endeavor instead of trying to build something new. It is a surprisingly mature take from the usually joking Roman but offers a tease of how his perspective may change this season.
There is sadness for Logan Roy as this season begins. At the start of the series, Logan was briefly in a coma and at death’s door. His health has always been in question, and now Brian Cox gets to return to the patriarch waxing on mortality as this series begins its final season. Logan Roy has always been full of piss and vinegar, and now it seems that the challenge from his kids may be the final straw. The closing moments of this episode do not betray his sadness at losing connection with his children, but it does tease where he will shift his attention. The other big plot thread addressed in this opener is the dissolution of Tom and Shiv’s marriage. After Tom’s betrayal, which barely balances Shiv’s countless betrayals, the two are sadder than we have ever seen them. Shiv looks hurt to lose her marriage, while Tom’s normal teasing of Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) doesn’t have quite the same energy as it used to.
“The Munsters” is written by series creator Jesse Armstrong and directed by veteran series helmer Mark Mylod. Both are accustomed to showing the Roys in a positive light as well as a bitingly satirical one. The scene featuring Roman questioning if his siblings understand how much money is half a billion dollars comes across as hilarious but also the most informed view of money that any of these characters has shared before. Logan’s restaurant soliloquy on mortality and the afterlife is also one of this series’s best-written moments. As an opener for a season, this episode is quieter than I expected but still features everything that makes Succession great. We got a few good moments with Connor (Alan Ruck) as he tried to cling to his minuscule stake in the presidential election. We got a good scene with Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron), Karl (David Rasche), and Frank (Peter Friedman). We got some good zingers between Greg and Tom and some trademark Roman one-liners. All in all, this is peak Succession.
The beginning of the final season of Succession does not feel like the end of the series. With all these characters continuing to battle one another and dress well while doing so, they rip each other apart in their vacuum of entitlement and wealth, and we all eat it up from our living rooms. Succession premiered the same year as Yellowstone, yet this series feels far more consistent and rewarding than Taylor Sheridan’s. Succession rarely dips into soap operas but revels in these characters tearing each other apart and making nice when it benefits their bottom line. There is so much to hate about these characters, yet it remains impossible to look away as they act like spoiled brats fighting over the last cookie. I will be sad to see Succession end in just a couple of months, but this premiere shows that it will be finishing its run on its terms with peak quality on the horizon. Now, let’s watch these despicable people tear each other to pieces for our enjoyment.
Succession‘s final season airs Sundays on HBO.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/succession-the-final-season-tv-review/