What the Roys’ Eulogies Mean For Their Characters

Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Season 4 Episode 9 of SuccessionThere are always one or two television shows that are untouchable. In the early 2000s, The Sopranos was appointment viewing on Sunday nights. Mad Men sucked us into the world of advertising and sold us on the suave and oh-so-flawed Don Draper (Jon Hamm). HBO’s Game of Thrones not only captivated loyal fans of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy book series on which the show is based but also recruited millions of viewers who would never have previously considered themselves people who would watch a show involving dragons.

Succession is that show. The show that everyone is watching, and that everyone is talking about, and that everyone can’t get enough of. And for good reason. Since it debuted in 2018, Jesse Armstrong’s black comedy about the media conglomerate-owning Roy family led by patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) has dominated our TVs, and with that, awards season. Knowing that it’s in its fourth and final season, there’s an eeriness lingering over Hollywood, an especially impressive feat considering how insanely saturated the TV landscape has become.


Thanks to Armstrong, director Mark Mylod, and the number of playwrights and other top-tier talents in front of and behind the camera who have been sculpting these complex characters and storylines since day one, audiences cannot get enough of the narcissistic, out-of-touch reality that the Roys live in and personify. The second to last episode of this series maintains the excellence it’s worked so hard to achieve as it thrusts the Roy siblings into their most vulnerable positions yet.

Related: There’s No Coming Back From That Baby Reveal on ‘Succession’ Season 4

Logan Roy’s Funeral Brings Out the Best and the Worst

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The penultimate episode of Succession titled “Church and State” has a lot of responsibility. In addition to it carrying the weight of being the precursor to the finale and one of the last chances for the series to tie up loose ends, it’s also the mighty Logan Roy’s funeral. Season 4 injected us with adrenaline in Episode 3 when Logan died seemingly out of nowhere to both the audience and his self-centered children, who were smacked in the face with a reality check bigger than their egos. Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin), and Connor (Alan Ruck) were suddenly stranded at sea with no life preserver for the first time in their very privileged life.

Logan’s funeral is truly an event like no other, and Armstrong facilitates it so organically. People from Logan’s past crop up out of the woodwork, with almost every character having an ulterior motive than simply giving their condolences. James Cromwell solidified himself as the front runner for the Emmy with his biting, emotionally-charged return of Ewan, Logan’s brother who is unequivocally disgusted by virtually everything Logan has done to mar the Roy name. Logan even stole Ewan’s once-innocent nephew Greg (Nicholas Braun) from him and, over time, converted him to Logan-ism. Ewan’s eulogy was more of a public shaming, not just of his late brother, but of every single person before him donning black who had in one way or another been part of Logan’s schemes.

Ewan was far from the only character to leave an indelible mark on the audience. The most humorous part of the somber and tense episode came from seeing Logan’s four exes meet (some we meet for the first time) and share a weird camaraderie only they could share. Caroline (Harriet Walter) was her theatrical self, unselfishly taking the incredibly emotional Kerry (Zoë Winters), Logan’s assistant-turned-lover under her wing. Logan’s widow Marcia (Hiam Abbass) maintained her righteous, hardened exterior. We also meet Sally-Anne (played by Brian Cox’s real-life wife Nicole Ansari-Cox), whom Caroline concisely sums up as being “my Kerry, so to speak.” Seeing them together in the front church pew felt like a convening of the Avengers.

President-to-be Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk) was also surely there with his American flag pin and smug smirk to keep up appearances and continue whispered business deals with the Roys. Lukas Matsson’s (Alexander Skarsgård) quiet, looming presence was metaphorically deafening as the Waystar-GoJo deal was still up in the air. Logan’s bumbling henchmen Hugo (Fisher Stevens), Frank (Peter Friedman), and Karl (David Rasche) continue to behave like chickens without heads. Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) is in the odd position of knowing Logan planned on letting her loose right before he died, plus she was pseudo-fired by Roman. Notably absent is Rava (Natalie Gold), Kendall’s ex-wife, who came to her senses and didn’t attend the service for the safety and mental health of her and her children. All eyes, though, when not staring in disbelief at the casket, were on the four Roy children. And they knew it, for better and for worse.

Kieran Culkin’s Exceptional Performance Sets a Shaky Tone for the Siblings

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When Roman offered to do the eulogy earlier in Season 4, he almost made it seem like he was “taking one for the team,” but it was more than that. This was as big a moment for Roman as it was for Logan, as it was a chance for Roman to finally step up, showcase his effective public speaking skills, honor his dad with whom he had a very fractured, yet oddly close relationship, and, of course, prove to everyone—especially himself—that he was worthy of becoming the successor. From his very first time on screen in the pilot, when he quite literally sauntered into a meeting and proceeded to make funny faces and mock everyone for taking themselves and what they do way too seriously, it became clear that Roman “didn’t give a shit.” But, as we see over the seasons, he actually really does. In fact, he’s the only Roy sibling that seems to feel for his father (no matter how cruel he was directly to his face) and sincerely wants to make him proud.

The opening of “Church and State” mirrored the Roman of the pilot. He was overly confident, barely looking at his little cue cards he made for his eulogy as he gallivanted through his lavish apartment, rehearsing his eulogy in a “this is so not a big deal” sort of way. That’s what Roman tends to do when things get “real.” He softens the blow with some irreverent, ill-timed quips, a shrug of the shoulders, and a twist of his mouth. (After all, he has claimed to have “pre-grieved.”) But right when Roman started to literally fill in the gaps of his practice eulogy with “blah blah blah,” it was clear that this was not going to be the smooth sailing Roman was confident it would be.

Roman’s attempt to honor his father shocked everyone, himself included. After callously brushing off Frank who wanted to make sure he was okay to follow Ewan, not only did Roman trip up the stairs, but he couldn’t even get the words out. He nervously laid his cue cards out like he was a youngster preparing for his presentation at the science fair. The silence in the pews only got louder, and Roman burst into tears and ran off the altar into the arms of his baffled (and frankly surprised) siblings. “Is he in there? Get him out!” he whimpers through uncontrollable tears. Underneath it all, Roman’s just a sad little boy in way over his head.

Season 4 Roman has been the most puffed-out-chest Roman we’ve ever gotten, with him rigging elections, easily firing the Waystar studio head, and telling off Matsson on that weird business trip in the mountains. But this false bravado finally hit its breaking point, shattering with the eulogy which Kendall effortlessly swoops in to save. Kendall’s slick softening (and downright fabricating) of his father’s legacy following such a curveball shows how much Kendall’s grown.

Even though we might not want to ever remember this, think back to the L to the O-G rap that Kendall did in Season 2. A cheap, horrifically cringey attempt at saying to his father, “You da man!” His look-at-me birthday party. Even that mess of a sales pitch for Living+ this season. It all came across as someone doing what they think someone in his position should be doing. But with the careful attention to the GoJo deal, his reservations about Roman’s calling of the election and even being a co-CEO, and the way he cleaned up Roman’s mess shows how much Kendall finally seems to realize how much his reputation and decisions will actually reflect everything his father worked to create. Who would have thought the person rapping his father’s name in a baseball jersey would actually have some composure and cohesion with words?

Shiv and Connor Have Never and Will Never Belong

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And then there were two: Shiv and Connor. These two have always and will always be the odd ones out, no matter how unfair the reasoning might be. If we go the obvious route, Shiv is the only daughter and Connor is significantly older and from Logan’s previous marriage. Those two factors, whether anyone wants to acknowledge them or not, unfortunately, make them inferior in the eyes of many. Shiv’s often had to worry about what her bumbling husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) would say or do next while also trying to remind her brothers that she is on their level and is a force to be reckoned with.

There have been small moments here and there when Logan seems to have his full faith in Shiv, but then she blows it by going one or two steps further than she should have. (Ah, remember that Tern Haven retreat?) Sure, Logan will throw her a bone by calling her “Pinky,” the pet name he’d whip out in order to get through Shiv’s hard, always-on-the-defensive exterior, but ultimately, Logan puts his faith in one of the Roy boys. Season 4 showed Shiv indulging her rebellious side the most she’s ever had when she gives intel to Matsson on the side, sabotaging her brothers’ business dealings. This was immaturity at its apex, a total fight-or-flight response to Roman and Kendall being the CEOs and not her. (Saying they’d include her on big decisions even though she’s not a CEO on paper can only go so far.)

Shiv’s eulogy felt forced, which is exactly how her relationship with her father, her brothers, and the business always seemed. She tried to pull out a fond memory from her childhood, (literally about playing outside of Logan’s office), but like most attempts to fit in, it falls flat and feels inauthentic. She even makes a point to say that Kendall didn’t say everything there needs to be said, which is true for most interactions Shiv has with her siblings. Her eulogy sort of becomes a stream-of-consciousness situation, with her rattling off the types of important people Logan would deal with on a regular basis, like kings, queens, bankers, and prime ministers. “I don’t know, yeah, he kept us outside, but he kept everyone outside.” Everyone, or mostly Shiv?

Connor Not Saying Anything Says a Lot

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And then there’s Connor and his eulogy. Oh, wait, he wasn’t allowed to give one. In a simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking moment early in “Church and State,” we see Connor feverishly scrolling through a long document on his phone of his carefully prepared eulogy. He’s told he isn’t allowed to say any of it, however, as it could result in “legal action” against the family and Waystar Royco. This blip of a scene, this lack of eulogy, is so fitting for Connor.

Over the course of the series, Connor’s little power has waned with rapid succession, despite his many enormous efforts to turn the tide. He was so desperate to be taken seriously by his father (and, well, anyone that would listen) that he even funneled his wealth into becoming president. His Season 3 “I am the eldest son!” freak out on Kendall was the culmination of his continuous disrespect. Season 4 emphasized Connor’s black sheep status with the karaoke excursion, being given nothing of importance to do other than hang around Pop’s casket and give unnecessary updates to his siblings, and then not being allowed to speak at the funeral. Connor knows he doesn’t belong (he even went ahead with his wedding when Logan died because he knew no one would care about it, really) and the lack of a eulogy is just the final nail in the Connor coffin.

Succession has never pulled a single punch over the course of its four seasons. The penultimate episode of the sharp series puts the Roy siblings in the hot seat as they attempt to prove to their deceased father and to themselves what they are made of. Logan’s funeral served as an opportunity for the troubled descendants to show their stuff, and their eulogies (or lack thereof) brilliantly capture their complex character arcs from beginning to end.

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