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Home > A Recap of the Past Four Seasons of HBO’s Succession

A Recap of the Past Four Seasons of HBO’s Succession

succession

Relive the Show Before Jesse Armstrong’s Masterpiece Sweeps the Emmys

Created by Jesse Armstrong, Succession (2018-2023) is commonly lauded as one of the best shows in modern history. So, before Succession’s final season sweeps the 2024 Emmys, let’s take a look back through each of its seasons. Warning: spoilers ahead. 

Season 1

Season 1 introduced us to the Roy family: a deliciously dysfunctional—equally high powered and hilariously incompetent—gaggle of billionaires. Logan Roy (Brian Cox), the all-powerful patriarch, is the CEO of Waystar Royco: a media conglomerate that he built from the ground up. Two of his sons, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin), both work at Waystar, while his daughter, Shiv (Sarah Snook), is enjoying a (momentary) foray in the world of politics. Logan’s other son, Connor (Alan Ruck), is basically useless and spends most of his time with his call-girl girlfriend, Willa (Justine Lupe); Tom (Mathew Macfadyen), Shiv’s soon-to-be husband, and Greg (Nicholas Braun), an out-of-place yet lovable cousin, are family interlopers.

Sparing the majority of the plot, season 1 focuses on the rise and fall (but mostly fall) of Kendall as he attempts to weasel his way into the top job, CEO of Waystar. The finale, at Shiv and Tom’s wedding, features Kendall teaming up with some of Logan’s business rivals to take control of Waystar. However, in a shocking turn of events, Kendall ends up accidentally killing someone, and Logan offers to protect him if he switches back to team Logan. So, he does. That being said, some of season 1’s best episodes force the whole family into one place. In “Austerlitz,” we get a deeper look into the Roy siblings’ crushing yet hilarious daddy issues via a therapy getaway (that’s really just a publicity stunt), while episode “I Went to Market” showcases Tom and Greg’s uniquely odd relationship via document destruction on Thanksgiving Day. That, ultimately, is what Succession does best—showcases an unparalleled fusion of drama and comedy woven into a tapestry of truly twisted family dynamics.

Though Succession was not immediately lauded as the best show in recent history, it got off to a strong start with four Emmy nominations, including writing, directing, and drama series. Ultimately, Jesse Armstrong won the award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. 

succession seasons

Season 2

Season 2 begins with an offer—Logan offers Shiv the top job. The season does not focus on Shiv, but it certainly follows her more closely as she fumbles her way out of politics and into Waystar. Naturally, she is not successful, and the season begins to shift toward threats to Waystar; a takeover battle introduced in the season 1 finale is underway, and a sexual assault scandal is rising to the surface. In the end, Logan decides that in order to save the company, a senior staff member is going to have to take responsibility for the scandal. He picks Kendall (with an unspecified but definitely present level of regret), but Kendall decides not to go down without a fight.

In a mind-bogglingly dramatic finale, Kendall switches sides yet again and publicly accuses his father of being personally responsible for Waystar’s wrongdoing. Also explored in season 2 are Shiv and Tom’s open marriage (she asked for an open marriage on their wedding night!) and Roman’s perverted relationship with senior staff member Gerri. Yet sometimes, Roman is just pitiful or even endearing; nothing is ever just one thing in Succession. By season 2, the truly awful billionaire Roy family has begun to appear more human. Kendall, Roman, and Shiv are terrible people, but we kind of love them. That, also, is what Succession does so well—viewers want to watch bad people doing bad things, but we also want people to love, relate to, and root for. The series delivers both. For season 2, Succession was nominated for 18 Emmys. Jeremy Strong won for Best Actor, while Jesse Armstrong and Andrij Parekh won for Writing and Directing. Succession won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. 

succession seasons

Season 3

In season 3, both the sexual assault scandal and the takeover battle come to a head. Kendall—having accused his father of being responsible for Waystar’s wrongdoings—has positioned himself squarely in opposition to every single member of his family. That being said, given that he wants the opportunity to become CEO, Kendall wants the family to stay in family hands, so he is also anti-takeover. This produces one of the greatest episodes of the season, “Retired Janitors of Idaho,” in which the very much divided family must work together to prevent the takeover.

Once it becomes clear that the sexual assault scandal will blow over and the takeover is unsuccessful, the plot shifts—Logan wants to buy Lukas Mattson’s (Alexander Skarsgård) tech company, Gojo, so Roman and Shiv go after it for him. Season 3’s finale is the most dramatic and catastrophic yet. The deal has shifted; Logan now wants to sell to Gojo, a deal that would basically cut the siblings out of Waystar forever. As soon as the siblings catch wind of this (at their mother’s wedding!), the three of them work together to concoct a plan to block the sale. But, in a fatal blunder, Shiv tells Tom the plan.

Throughout the entire series, but particularly season 3, Tom has been building up brownie points with Logan, going as far as to offer to go to jail for him. So, betraying Shiv, Tom tells Logan about the sibling’s plan, affording Logan just enough time to stop them and thereby initiate the sale. In season 3, it is Roman who thinks he could be the hot new commodity. Logan has given him false hope, similarly to what he gives to Kendall in season 1 and Shiv in season 2. Shiv is still trying, of course, but she is particularly turned off when Logan decides to elect a fascist as president in “What It Takes” and is quick to turn on Logan in the finale. Obviously, though, by the end, all three siblings have been cut out and betrayed by their father. Season 3 of Succession was nominated for 25 Emmys. Matthew Macfadyen won for Outstanding Supporting Actor, Jesse Armstrong won for Outstanding Writing, and Succession once again won for Outstanding Drama Series. 

succession

Season 4

Season 4 begins a few months after season 3’s finale. Logan is securing a deal with Gojo while the siblings are managing their own, vaguely unimportant, situation. But, for once, they are united! Initially, episode 3, “Connor’s Wedding,” seems like it is going to be about, well, Connor’s wedding (yes, he is marrying Willa). However, it quickly becomes one of the most beautifully crafted yet devastating episodes in television history. Logan has opted out of Connor’s wedding and on a private jet completely separated from his family, Logan dies. Tom calls, and Kendall, Roman, and Shiv all sob their parting words into a phone. The sheer amount of genius that occurs over the following eight episodes is impossible to get into. There’s a pregnancy, an election, a funeral, and the future CEO of Waystar Royco (spoiler alert—it’s Tom) is decided.

However, it is safe to say that season 4 of Succession leans into all of its best dynamics. There is more of Tom and Greg, more of Shiv and Tom, and most importantly, more of the siblings. There are some truly tender moments between them before they, naturally, go to battle over who will succeed their deceased father. Season 4 also adds some interesting dynamics to the mix. The Gojo deal is still on the table, and though each sibling (Roman, maybe, excluded) is basically interested in becoming the CEO themself, they have to go through Mattson first.

Shiv and Mattson end up hitting it off, and producing some of season 4’s funniest scenes (i.e. when Mattson confesses that he’s been sending his ex-girlfriend/director liters of his blood). By season 4, Succession had risen to peak popularity—it was all anybody could talk about! Critically, Succession was getting rave reviews. The Emmy awards have been pushed back due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, but Succession is currently nominated for 27 Emmys and is expected to win many of them. 

All four seasons of Succession are available on Max. Be sure to tune into the Emmy awards on January 15th, 2024 to watch Succession sweep!

succession seasons

Official Max Succession Season 4 Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Author

Elisabeth joined Dead Talk News in 2022 and loves movies and TV! After working for various sites, including Screen Rant and Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Elisabeth joined DTN to critique and review various movies, from horror flicks to Disney live-actions.