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‘Succession’ Nailed the Odd Reactions Grief Can Stir Up

Jeremy Strong, Sarah SNook, and Kieran Culkin hugging as Kendall, Shiv, and Roman on Succession

HBO’s Succession tackling grief is something I never thought I would say, and yet they so nailed some aspects of it that was shocking to watch, especially because for so many of us, we’ve been there and we know exactly what this feels like. Obvious spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of Succession so read on with caution.

Grief is a tricky thing to navigate. Some of us react by getting organized and are quick to just focus our energy on what needs to be done. It’s the kind of grief we also often see displayed in movies and on television shows. But then there is the grief that shuts off any kind of logical thinking. You hear what people are saying around you but you don’t register it, and the logic of the situation is lost on you. And that’s what made the third episode of Succession’s final season so powerful.

The news that Logan Roy (Brian Cox) died shocked fans, but it definitely hit different when you’ve been through it. Being a card-holding member of the “dead dad club” sucks. There’s no easier way of describing it. You’re just always that kid who doesn’t have their dad anymore, and while the Roy children had a very complicated relationship with Logan, that pain is still something they felt.

And each of them reacted to his death in a different way, and that’s the beauty of this sequence. News breaks that Logan is “unresponsive” on a flight at Connor’s wedding, and Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Kendall (Jeremy Strong) are the two who find out first. Then they get Shiv (Sarah Snook) and eventually Connor (Alan Ruck), but their reactions all pinpoint how vastly differently grief can effect us all.

The tears and incoherent kind of grief

When Kendall Roy heard that his father was unresponsive and said, “Is he talking?” I felt that in the deepest part of my soul. Because that’s what sudden grief can do to you. Thinking about the easy things or even taking a second to unpack can be the hardest thing in the world to do. Shiv saying, “Daddy, I love you,” and regressing to being a kid, even with everything that was happening with Logan prior? That was something that really did hurt, because in those moments, you ignore whatever happened because you know this might be the last chance you get.

That chaos that the Roys experience is a grief we’ve never really gotten in media. Sure, there are the post-knowing moments where everyone is still a mess, but the uncertainty of what is going on in the moment is what we’re missing. And that’s where Succession really shines—just the raw emotion and pain of hearing that your father is dead, navigating that and trying to balance your own emotions with the denial and planning that has to then be done? It just makes for really great television.

I have been here. My brother and I have been the two who have stopped listening to the regular reasoning of a situation and asked questions that made no sense, and I know that we’re not the only ones to do it. And now Succession has given all of us who have experienced that something that we can relate to, and I’ll be thinking about it for at least the foreseeable future.

(featured image: HBO)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.