The penultimate episode of Succession finally addresses the funeral of Logan Roy. The family splintered once again on Election Night. With Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) feeling himself, he takes to the stage to eulogize their father. Can he keep his emotions in check? We know the sparks will fly as the family deals with its past and present demons. Mark Mylod directs Season 4 Episode 9, “Church and State.”

The Recap – Succession – “Church and State”

Shiv (Sarah Snook) watches the news, where demonstrations about the election are national headlines. Demonstrators are outside of ATN, and Jimenez is pushing for all votes to be counted. Roman (Culkin) practices his speech in his apartment. He talks himself up and seems very happy to give the speech. Kendall (Jeremy Strong) calls to check on Roman and asks Mencken (Justin Kirk) to turn down the volume on the election rhetoric. Roman says their dad would love it and hangs up.

Kendall gets a call from Rava (Natalie Gold). She’s stressed about the violence in New York and will bring the kids to the funeral. Kendall is angry about the decision and tries to rush to her place.

Matsson calls Shiv to talk about the events in New York. Shiv tells him to release the numbers while other stories take up the oxygen. He’s concerned, especially about Mencken. Shiv tells him to bury the numbers.

Kendall arrives at Rava’s as she’s about to head out. He screams at her and questions why she will not bring the kids to their grandfather’s funeral. Rava tells him that it is not safe. She blames Kendall for giving their daughter false hope. He thinks she’s “too online” and threatens to take her to court. She drives away as he threatens to lie in front of the car.

Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) reads about the ATN call in the New York Times. He’s angry the timeline got leaked and that he’s not listed as a player. Greg (Nicholas Braun) listens to him as Tom rants but checks his phone. Tom asks what’s up, and Greg asks to go to the funeral early. Tom’s annoyed but tells him to leave, get good seats, and talk him up to Mencken.

Roman gets in the limo with Shiv and Kendall. Shiv asks if Mencken is coming to the funeral, and he asks if Matsson will. Kendall reveals Rava took the kids. Shiv tells her brothers about her pregnancy. Roman cracks jokes, but Kendall asks everyone to call a truce for the day.

Jess (Julianna Canfield) calls about an ongoing march, and they must be dropped off at a new location. Protestors knock on the window of the car as they drive to her. The Roys get out to walk. Kendall asks Jess to schedule time with family lawyers to get custody. He notices a meeting with Jess on the calendar. She does not want to talk about it, but when he pushes, she tells him she’s moving on. He asks if it’s because of Mencken, and when she says, “It’s time,” he explodes on her as they walk.

Hugo (Fischer Stevens) tells Kendall about the GoJo numbers release. Shiv tries to talk Connor (Alan Ruck)and Willa (Justine Lupe) down about his speech. It’s too long and doesn’t make sense. Roman tells Kendall they need to make the rounds and speak to the Board.

Roman speaks with Frank (Peter Friedman). Rome pitches himself on top of the company, but Frank refuses to engage. Mencken walks in, and a hush falls over the crowd. Greg also asks Roman to introduce him to Mencken. Roman asks Greg to stop Ewan (James Cromwell) from making a scene. Greg agrees that he can get a meeting with Mencken.

Frank speaks with the former leadership about Logan being gone. Jerri makes a joke that they all had Stockholm Syndrome. The Roy kids see Caroline (Harriet Walter) walk into the funeral. She stands silently with her kids, knowing they do not want to speak with her. She had invited them to the Caribbean for a ceasefire, but they had not responded.

Succession Church and State

The GoJo team awaits in the back of the church. Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) says the press has been quiet about the numbers, so Shiv made the right call. He then asks about Mencken and what it means for them. Shiv believes offering an American CEO might satiate Mencken. She pitches herself as the option. She can also be “controlled” by Matsson. He brings up her pregnancy, and she tells him not to worry. He agrees to use her as CEO if they can meet Mencken today.

Logan’s body arrives at the funeral. Caroline brings Kerry to meet Sally-Anne, and the three meet with Marsha (Haim Abbass). They all sit up in the front row together. Marsha offers Kerry solace when she gets emotional.

Greg tells Tom the funeral is about to start. Tom says there are fires in Baltimore, and he will get there as soon as possible. Greg tells Shiv and takes Tom’s spot to bring the casket to the front. The funeral begins.

The first speaker becomes Ewan. Greg and the family try to stop him, but he goes to the front anyway. He tells a story about when he and Logan were almost killed in World War II as children. He speaks about their sister who died from Polio. Logan blamed himself for his sister’s death. When everyone thinks it is a positive speech, Ewan turns on his brother. He says Logan made the world worse for money. Ewan believes that he makes the world better, and it was a sad day when Logan stopped trying.

Roman gets shaken up by the speech and the moment. As he walks to the front, Frank asks if Rome is okay, but he gets brushed off. Roman struggles with his speech immediately. He makes eye contact with the coffin and crumbles. Shiv, Kendall, and Connor go up to comfort him. Kendall takes the speech and goes up to the podium.

Succession Church and State

Kendall says that Logan was a brute for his actions. However, he was a man of action. He was a person who created and changed the world. Logan made money, but that’s what helped the world create. “He made life happen.” While some people may want to tear down Logan, Kendall hopes some of his father is in him.

Kendall takes his seat, and Shiv takes her turn at the podium. She talks about how seriously Logan took his work. While he often pushed people away, it meant that much more when he paid attention. She says it was hard to be his daughter and says goodbye.

The pallbearers take the casket out of the church. The processional takes everyone outside, and Kendall thanks everyone as they leave, including Mencken. As he leaves, Hugo tells Kendall about the US CEO deal Shiv floated.

They arrive at Logan’s tomb. According to Connor, Logan bought it from a “pet dot-com guy.” They walk into the tomb and look around. Roman cannot enter the mausoleum while the other three joke about joining him. When the priest performs the burial rights, Roman becomes overwhelmed again and walks to the limo.

Shiv goes to Frank and Karl. She asks who he was, and they tell her that Logan was mostly good. She thanks them and walks away. Marcia joins Shiv. She misses Logan but he broke her heart and the kids’ hearts too. Kendall asks Hugo how he’s doing. When he says okay, Kendall tells Hugo to break the deal in the press. However, Hugo will be his lapdog. Hugo agrees.

At the reception, Kendall speaks to Colin about going to a shrink. He offers Colin a job, and while Colin is not sure at first, he agrees. Kendall then speaks to Mencken at the reception. He specifically presses him about killing the GoJo deal. Mencken says he’ll see what he can do.

Succession Church and State

Kendall does not take kindly to that answer, but Greg interrupts the conversation. Roman comes over to stop the talk, and Mencken insults Roman for crying. Connor also comes over to talk about his position by dropping out. Mencken does not seem thrilled, and Shiv pulls him out of the circle to meet Matsson.

Matsson and Shiv talk up Mencken. They throw some barbs at each other, but Matsson makes points about the power and unknown nature of the tech world. He can amplify Mencken, and when he balks, Matsson promises an American CEO. Mencken asks Shiv if she hates him. Shiv says her feelings don’t matter and that Mencken is who the audience loves. Immediately after, Mencken gets pulled out by his team.

Succession Church and State

Tom arrives at the reception. Shiv laughs at him for only just showing up, and he says it’s difficult today. Shiv takes a swig of alcohol, and Tom seems frustrated. He knows it’s “fine” and asks if she would explain her behavior to him. Shiv says she was not sure she would keep it and which made her sad.

Caroline steps in to lower the temperature. Tom says it’s a disaster, and Shiv thinks she will just hand off the kid to nannies anyway. When Caroline leaves, Tom apologizes to Shiv for not being there. Tom begins to get emotional about saying goodbye to Logan. Shiv tells him to go back to the apartment to sleep and hide.

Shiv gets a call from Matsson. He got a yes from the Mencken camp. He’s going to make the US CEO work with Shiv. She smiles and hangs up. Kendall tells Roman about Shiv’s deal with Matsson. Ken also tells Roman that he screwed up the deal with Mencken. They need to act now. They have to fight Shiv against the board. Kendall keeps repeating that Roman screwed it up, but he walks away.

Roman rushes out of the room and begins walking home. There are ongoing protests running in the street. Roman heckles them, and someone punches him in the face as the police advance. He keeps trying to fight people, but they just run by him.

Episode Breakdown – Succession – “Church and State”

The emotional performances from the big three were stellar tonight. Culkin arrives in top form, only to crumble under the weight of the grief. We’ve known that Roman did not handle it well, but Culkin turned in a beautiful performance of overwhelming grief. Strong bounces between grief and his fire & brimstone rage. He plays a cockey when he needs to, but allows the vulnerable side of the character to leak out. Finally, Snook brought the full package once again. She displays a confidence we only see in the best Shiv episodes but allowed a rare emotional nerve to expose itself. These three performers remain some of the best in the world.

Shiv seemingly takes this round, but time remains on the clock. Kendall and Shiv are squaring up for the final push, and for the first time, Kendall seems to put together the pieces. Rather than working out of emotion, he works strategically. He laid the groundwork for the deal to get broken by Hugo, he got a huge cheer at the funeral, and Roman seems to be despised by all involved.

However, while Kendall seemingly acts out of pure business feel and acumen around Shiv, he shows signs that he’s crumbling behind the scenes. The discussion with Jess could not have gone worse. Colin does not trust Kendall and knows how he killed a teenager. Inviting him into the henhouse may have been a bad idea. His interactions with Reva were disastrous. He once again shows no sympathy for what his children are going through, instead focusing on his own hang-ups. The news that Shiv is starting a family of her own becomes threatening to him for a number of reasons.

Meanwhile, the outskirts of the episode feature three excellent performances. Skarsgård brings a comical edge to the episode but continues to make room for a nuanced businessman performance. Kirk thrills in limited screentime, bringing out his smarmy edge with Mencken. Arrogance rarely breaks through so effectively. In the shortest screentime, Cromwell firmly throws his name into the Emmy race. His stunning monologue seems to sum up Succession in a way that feels like a Jesse Armstrong‘s thesis statement.

Whoever pitched Logan’s women coming together was a stroke of genius. It allowed for some of the more powerfully subtle moments of “Church and State.” It also gave us an opportunity to say goodbye to three characters, who may see limited time if they even appear in the finale. It certainly said a lot about Logan, even without Brian Cox to play the part. No matter what history, what relationship, or what was on the line, Logan Roy acted entirely out of self-interest. It’s another subtle nod from Armstrong to remind us of how dark and twisted this man became in life.

While Braun’s Cousin Greg rubs shoulders once more (proving his destiny as Tom 2.0), Macfadyen fades into the background in this one. He will come roaring back in the finale. With Shiv and him reaching a place of understanding, their finale will be a huge deal. The old guard continues to make pithy jokes, and the limited interactions with the kids will say a lot about the future of the company. Do they buy Kendall’s pitch? They seem completely out on Roman. Do Shiv’s actual questions about losing their friend make any difference? Money talks and the GoJo deal may matter above all else. We’ve got the stage set for a wild finale, and Succession will be heading out on the highest of highs.

Alan’s Rating: 9/10

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