Will Tragedy Bring The Roy Siblings Closer Together On Succession?

The Roy kids are most definitely not alright. In an evil and brilliant masterstroke, "Succession" just dropped the biggest bomb of the series. The formidable media titan and Roy family patriarch, Logan, has died, and the family is already in pieces. The one silver lining in all this might be that the bond between Logan's typically competitive children seems to have strengthened in the wake of their father's passing. Without Logan's approval as a prize, will the Roy siblings stop fighting at long last and work together? Or will the family fall apart without the sun around which they all orbit?

Kendall, Shiv, and Roman have been vying for their father's affection — and for Waystar Royco — all their lives. They have been at odds for almost the entire series, from the pilot until the tail end of season 3. The only reason they aren't at each other's throats in the pilot is that Roman and Shiv don't think they have any hope of succeeding their father. When Kendall goes from heir-apparent to apparently not, Logan opens the door and invites Shiv and Roman into the ring. Sarah Snook, who gives an Emmy-nominated performance as Shiv, shed some light on their cut-throat sibling dynamic on the Succession Podcast:

"There's always this fight for supremacy to be the favorite child when we know that the company is. And so in some ways, it's a deal with the devil where if you can be the head of the company then you get to be the favorite child because you'll become the company. I mean, it's just sickening. You will become the kingdom."

Now that Logan is gone, becoming CEO of Waystar Royco holds no hope of winning their father's approval. How does that impact the Roy sibling power ranking? Will they still want to fight each other for the position at all?

Kendall, Shiv, And Roman Are Closer Than Ever

The three younger Roy siblings were brought together after several seasons of turmoil at their mother's Tuscan wedding at the end of season 3. Kendall opened up about his vehicular manslaughter and was received with open arms. On top of this emotional bond, they also gained a new common interest: stopping the sale of their father's company. When Logan outplays them, they are joined by something new: his stinging betrayal.

At the start of season 4, three of the four Roy siblings are finally getting along again. Their newfound camaraderie was joyful to watch and gave "a sense of them having a second childhood," as director Mark Mylod put it in an interview with HBO. They aren't exactly holding hands, but there is a newfound levity to their biting insults.

"Their manner of interrelating is harsh jokes and taking each other down a peg or two," series creator Jesse Armstrong explained in the same clip. "That's just their family culture."

They are a united front in the wake of their father's death — not totally without conflict, but ultimately a team. There are truly touching and vulnerable moments of human connection there that we haven't seen before — like Kendall and Shiv holding hands as they approach Connor to give him the news, the awkward hug between Roman and Connor, and the hug that Kendall, Shiv, and Roman share after the press conference.

"They're pretty close at the end of the last season as they shared big confidences, but I think it is [the closest they've ever been], and it feels right, doesn't it?" Armstrong said in an interview that followed the pivotal third episode of the season (via HBO). "I mean, sometimes families can fracture at these kinds of moments, but these kids come together and I think that felt right."

But, Sadly, It Won't Last

The Roy children may seem close now, but their competing ambitions for Waystar will create conflict sooner or later. "There was a lovely simplicity to that [early season 4] dynamic that I loved," Mylod admitted, "and you want it to stay and for it to go on and for that to be their lives, but you know that won't happen." 

Although their bond seems strengthened by Logan's death, the episode ends with each of Logan's children going their separate ways, signifying a schism in their apparent closeness. "Maybe it's a fast forward to the sad inevitability," Armstrong offered, "that however much you get bonded by these moments, that then you have to face life alone."

Their bond had already started to fracture before Logan died. The moment that Shiv and Kendall decided to undercut their dad and go after his white whale, the rival media company Pierce, it created conflict with Roman. They take things a step further when they move to contest the Waystar sale. Shiv wants to poke her father and squeeze more money out of the buyer, but Kendall wants the deal to fall apart completely so he still has a shot at taking over the company.

When Shiv and Kendall deliver a particularly brash set of insults and business maneuvers to their father the night before his death, he reaches out to Roman to form an alliance. The media mogul passes before Kendall and Shiv find out about Roman's betrayal, but Gerri and Tom are fully aware that he switched sides, so that bomb is bound to go off sometime soon. When it does, it is unlikely that he will remain in his siblings' good graces.

Could Connor Hold The Family Together?

And what about the Connor of it all? Connor may not have any role in the company, but he does have emotional power over his siblings. When his bride-to-be abandons him at his rehearsal dinner, Roman is genuinely touched by his sadness and agrees to go out with him and even embarrass himself at karaoke. Although he may have already been working for his dad, since he'd been getting texts from him all night, he may have unknowingly walked himself into a trap that Logan and Connor set just to make his brother happy.

Despite their conflict the night before, Logan's oldest son comforts all of his siblings with a hug when their father dies. Connor chides them for chasing after their father's affections in the previous episode, but he has often stepped in to play the parent when their old man was absent. He once took them on a fly-fishing trip in Montana, quality time that Logan would never spend on them.

Connor insists that he doesn't need love in a soul-crushing monologue, but everything he does on his wedding day suggests otherwise. He marries Willa in front of an empty crowd just hours after his father's death, which he admits is a desperate attempt to prevent one more person from leaving him. The oldest Roy feels abandoned by his siblings, who did not think of him at all while their father was dying and only remembered to tell him after it was all over. He doesn't feel supported by anyone in his family, especially now that his benefactor is gone.

There is a dark look in the groom's eyes at the altar, a look that suggests that Connor will use whatever power he has against his siblings. Logan's death might mark a new and tumultuous chapter for the least confrontational Roy.

The Roys Were Bred To Be Fighting Dogs

The Roy children may reach for one another from time to time, but they have been groomed to compete. Their power play traces back to their early childhood, as Roman revealed in the season 1 episode "Prague." They played a game called "dog pound," where the youngest son was locked in a cage and forced to eat dog food by his siblings, the psychological effects of which got him shipped off to military school.

Connor recalls both his younger brothers enjoying their roles in the game, an insight into their competitive nature at an early age. He also offers an illuminating quote from Logan about sending Roman off to military school: "Dad's theory was you got two fighting dogs, you send the weak one away," he tells Kendall. "You punish the weak one. Then everyone knows the hierarchy, then everyone's happy. So, away he went."

They may be leaning on one other in grief, but the Roys are a vindictive bunch by nature. This fleeting moment of true compassion was sweet while it lasted, but it won't hold. Without a Roy or two head-butting for the top job, there would be no central conflict in the show. Even though they might have seemed close at the season's start, they were always doomed to rehash their rivalry. "Even when working together for a common goal, there is still that sibling rivalry of like, I hate you, I want you to fail," Snook explained to HBO following the season 4 premiere.

The Roys have no idea how to be truly supportive of one another without betraying each other for their own interests. It's heartbreakingly sad, but it's true. The Roys will never be a loving family, not even now — especially not now.

"Succession" airs on HBO and streams on HBO Max every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.

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