Where Does Succession Season 4 Go After That Shocking Episode?

This post contains major spoilers for "Succession" season 4, episode 3.

"The king is dead, long live the king." It's a fitting proclamation for this week's episode of "Succession," which just delivered the series' biggest shocker with the sudden and — in a testament to this show's ability to bring us inside its world — emotionally devastating death of Logan Roy (Brian Cox). Logan saw his last moments play out offscreen, in the bathroom of a private jet, with a death that was all the more surprising because audiences were only given the same fragmented, real-time information as the Roy siblings.

Kendall (Jeremy Strong) makes it clear that he doesn't want to think about — or at least publicly talk about — the future of Waystar on this day, telling Logan's team and his siblings that, "What we do today will always be what we did the day our father died." But once our tears (for the shattered and temporarily sympathetic Roy kids, not that old windbag) have dried, it's definitely something we can think about. The king is dead, but who reigns next? The question of the series' title, a Roy family successor, is finally upon us, and it'll surely have a messy answer.

Which Roy kid is in the will?

"Succession" pulled off something tremendously gutsy with this episode, dropping an event that most shows would place in their finale or penultimate episode into the third installment of a ten-episode season. That means we still have seven more hours of Roy family dysfunction to witness, despite the fact that the abusive, powerful presence overshadowing the kids is gone. As anyone who's lost a parent can tell you, though, when a loved one dies, it's sometimes just the beginning of a long struggle between family members with competing interests.

Where does "Succession" go from here, and how will it fill its remaining time? The first step will surely be naming his successor, an obstacle that has always been fraught but is especially complex now, given how much Logan's relationship with his family has changed day-to-day lately. Depending on when Logan last updated his will (and his power rankings), any of his kids might be named heir to his throne. When season 4 starts, it's been a few months since the falling out in Tuscany, and Logan isn't on speaking terms with any of the Roy siblings — but he is a fan of Tom (Matthew Macfayden). Roman (Kieran Culkin) sends him a birthday text, though, and soon ends up tentatively back in his good graces.

Except, hilariously, there's a chance that Logan didn't hold Roman in very high regard in his final moments. The businessman's team mentions that he died in the bathroom, phone in hand, meaning there's a chance he might have been listening to Roman's rather critical voicemail. While that would be both darkly funny and horrifying for Roman, it doesn't particularly impact his standing in the company, given that Logan didn't get the chance to tell anyone if his youngest son was on the outs.

Is Gerri in or out?

Logan did, however, tell people that Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) was out of his good graces, and Roman told her she was being fired in the middle of Connor's (Alan Ruck) wedding. Gerri has quietly acted as interim CEO since Waystar's cruises scandal and has done nothing but a great job, but Logan first voiced doubt about her after discovering that Roman had been sending her nudes. It was clear then that Logan wanted Gerri gone to protect Roman from a sexual harassment scandal, but since then, his line of thinking on the competent lawyer hasn't been very clear.

Judging by his voicemail, Roman seems to think he was tasked with firing Gerri as a loyalty test, and that may well be true. Still, both Roman and Gerri know the truth about her firing, and everyone else who was on the plane for Logan's last moments likely knows too. Gerri would be the most uncontroversial, neutral choice for Logan's replacement, and she could probably argue he wasn't in his right mind in those final hours when he axed her, but she's also not family. "Succession," it's clear by now, is all about family.

When will the family's dirt come out?

The Roy siblings have gained some semblance of deeper peace with one another in recent episodes, and it's compelling to watch the way they work when they're undivided. As much as a corporate structure with all of the Roy siblings at the top (perhaps two as co-CEO and one as CFO, with Connor left to his own devices) would make sense, it might not make for particularly exciting television, and it seems unlikely that these entitled adult children could make it work for long.

Thus, it seems likely that there will be a battle for succession, and it could get ugly. Each of the Roy siblings who are interested in taking over has major skeletons in their closet; Roman has the whole kinky Gerri thing, plus a brief aside seasons back indicates that he may or may not have paid his male personal trainer for sexual favors. Shiv (Sarah Snook) may be the most squeaky-clean Roy sibling, but her affair with political strategist Nate (Ashley Zukerman) may come up again since it's an election year. Kendall, of course, has the biggest black mark on his record: he was responsible for the death of a waiter who drowned when the pair were out scoring drugs way back in season one.

As manipulative as Logan was, he also protected the Roy kids in ways they sometimes weren't even aware of, so it's likely he suppressed dirt on all of these scandals. With him gone, will the Roy kids' secrets come to light? Even if witnesses with dirt don't come forward, it seems likely that any one of the kids could keep the others' collateral in their back pocket, ready to use it at the opportune moment.

How will this effect the future of the free world?

It's fun to speculate about the show's inevitable game of thrones, but it's also worth noting that Logan's death came at a time when there's never been more on the line for Waystar. The company was due to be sold to Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgard) at any moment, but Shiv and Kendall both secretly slowed down the deal despite being told it'll make the wishy-washy tech mogul back out completely. There's also that ten billion dollar handshake deal the Roys made with the Pierce family, which was a bit pie-in-the-sky to begin with but will surely be impossible to fund now that the stock market has plummeted in the wake of Logan's passing.

As if all that's not bad enough, the show keeps reminding us that this is an election year, and FOX News-like network ATN — which Logan took active control over just before he died — is capable of shaping the outcome of the nation's future. Behind closed doors last season, a group of right-wing bigwigs, including Logan, chose charming quasi-fascist extremist Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk) as the man to throw their support behind, but we haven't heard much from him since. If Mencken becomes president, America will be royally screwed, but alternative candidates like VP Dave Boyer (Reed Birney), Rick Salgado (Yul Vazquez), and Connor don't seem to hold favor among the corporate elites, and the premiere makes it sound like the primaries have come and gone. It is worth noting, though, that Salgado took a pro-Shiv, anti-Logan approach to Waystar last season, so he could be an ally to her in the future.

With seven episodes left, there's a lot more chaos on the horizon

With four emotionally stunted adult babies now in charge of a company that controls much of the free world, it seems likely that "Succession" could end in chaos, not just for the Roy family but for American democracy. The show's decision to present its most climactic moment to date a third of the way into its final season is a bold one, but if anyone can pull it off, it's creator Jesse Armstrong and this stellar cast. With seven episodes left, "Succession" could pivot in even more unexpected directions, but few if any of them spell out harmony for the Roy family.

Logan is dead, and the "Succession" we knew has died with him. The show has always been shaped by Cox's stellar monologues and cutting quips, and his tyrannical cycle of paternal abuse became the show's status quo. Now that's gone, and the Roy siblings are left deeply destabilized, but with a whole lot of power at their fingertips. What could possibly go wrong?

"Succession" airs new episodes on HBO and HBO Max on Sundays at 9pm ET.