SPOILERS for last night’s episode of Succession. Although if you’ve been anywhere online this morning, hard to believe it hasn’t been spoiled for you already.
Congrats to Succession on a truly unexpected and deftly handed death of the patriarch, Logan Roy (Brian Cox).
I’ve never seen a death like this, for two reasons. One is that it isn’t platformed at all. (“Platforming” meaning there’s a character coughing, or having a wistful “last moment.”) The Sopranos would do this: they wouldn’t set anything up, it would just happen—and the characters would react to it, the way you do in real life.
Two in that the death is handled completely off-screen (Brian Cox said he wasn’t even on the set): the children get a phone call that their dad has fallen ill on a private plane, and it’s looking really bad.
I watched the “about the episode” wrap-up on HBOMax, and the creators say they wanted to show death the way we experience it now: you get a phone call that something terrible has happened, and you’re struggling the find out how bad.
At first, I was thinking, are they really going to kill him this way? But as it went on, I became convinced, they absolutely would.
Having it be a false alarm (after all of Logan’s other health scares) would have cheapened the show.
This also throws into overdrive the storytelling for the final season. I had been wondering why the “this year on Succession” previews had been so vague—now I know.
The plotting had started to become repetitive, with all the characters screwing each other. With the dad gone, and (due to his selfishness) no actual succession plan in place, it’s about to be a free for all—and highly entertaining.
Kudos to the creators for choosing to end their show when it was right for the storytelling, not for the corporate need to make money.
Also, a word about the brilliant location photography. I’ve always loved movies and TV shows shot on real locations—Bullitt comes to mind. Most of the Succession episode takes place aboard a yacht for Connor Roy’s wedding. The production value of looking out the window and seeing a real boat on real water is priceless—you just can’t get that with bluescreen or “the volume” or editing trickery.
It will be a great treat to watch the conclusion of this masterful series!