Why Succession Couldn't Pull Off Its Biggest Twist Before Season 4

This post contains spoilers for the third episode of "Succession" season 4.

Logan Roy (Brian Cox) was a mean old son of a b**** and a seemingly invincible tyrant. But in the latest episode of "Succession," Old Scratch finally came knocking for the aging media tycoon; Logan died from a heart attack while flying, with none of his children getting a proper goodbye. I wrote about how Logan's abrupt demise is perfectly in keeping with the usual storytelling on "Succession." Yet despite how out of the blue Logan's death was, a question emerges: Why did it take this long?

Ever since the pilot when he suffered a stroke on his 80th birthday, Logan has seemed to be dancing with death. Indeed, Cox has confirmed before that Logan was originally supposed to die in season 1 — that he lasted this long is a hefty reprieve. Why did "Succession" creator Jesse Armstrong and his writers change course and spare Logan (until last night's "Connor's Wedding," anyway)? Did the writers get too comfortable with the status quo? Was Cox too good an actor to let go of so soon?

Speaking with Deadline, Cox shared why Logan had to stick around until season 4. The actor opined that "the tension between the father and the children" is what "Succession" is about. Per Cox, the writers realized this was the core of their story while making season 1. To keep exploring that tension, they had to keep Logan around longer. Now, though, it's time for it all to conclude.

The group dynamic changes

Back in February, Jesse Armstrong made a surprise announcement that "Succession" would end with season 4. Brian Cox has said before that he thought four to five seasons was the series' shelf-life, and in the Deadline interview, he seemed content with how the story unfolded. Cox echoed a common fan interpretation about the structure of "Succession" —  each season was centered around exploring Logan's relationship with one of his children while the patriarch also sized them up on whether they should be his heir. Cox explained:

"Season 1 dealt with Kendall. Season 2 very much dealt with Siobhan [...] and season 3, all was intermittent through was Logan and Roman. And so the last season was really about the family ... you know, about the group, and that dynamic.

Many have argued that "Succession" is really about communication and power dynamics within abusive families. Now that those dynamics have been explored in such detail, the only thing left to do is explore how the Roy siblings handle themselves and relate to each other with their father gone. At the same time though, killing Logan kills the aforementioned "tension" that has sustained the show. That's why Logan's death could only happen in the final season; it's a harbinger of the story's end.

In a February 2023 interview with the New Yorker, Armstrong said he considered keeping "Succession" going past season 4. However, he felt that to do so, it would have to become "a more rangy, freewheeling kind of fun show." Now I understand why — further Roy sibling squabbles would grow petty with Logan out of the picture. In the "more muscular and complete" story Armstrong decided to tell, Logan's death couldn't have come any earlier or later than it did.

New episodes of "Succession" air on HBO and stream on HBO Max every Sunday at 9:00 p.m. ET.