“Funeral Truce”: Succession Season 4, Episode 9

Jeremy Fassler
8 min readMay 22, 2023
Photograph courtesy of HBO

“Church & State,” the penultimate episode of Succession, opens with the Roy siblings getting ready for their father’s funeral. Roman walks through his apartment, practicing his eulogy; Shiv talks to Matsson on the phone in her apartment; and Kendall sits in the back of his car talking first with Roman and then with Rava. Meanwhile, protests over the election have been taking place all over the country. ATN’s call has upended America, as Mencken is already appointing his cabinet while Jimenez has refused to concede until the situation in Wisconsin can be fixed; Darwin’s threatening to resign; and Tom is angry that ATN employees have talked to the Times for a major exposé on how they made the call (and that his photo in the article is smaller than Darwin’s.) The world the Roys have created is falling apart — but all they care about is how it will affect their getting to the funeral.

If Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? provided the template for “Tailgate Party,” then Jean Genet’s The Balcony is the template for “Church & State.” Genet’s masterpiece takes place in a bordello where the 1% cavort while protests against the inequality they have wrought take place in the streets. Throughout much of the play we don’t actually see the protestors, but we hear their protests offstage. Similarly in Succession, we learn most of the information about the unrest through TV clips playing in the background (and Succession’s production team are to be commended for putting together all the fake broadcasts that play in the posh apartments and offices towering over Manhattan), rather than through onscreen action, save for a few choice moments. The Roys’ unwillingness to comprehend the consequences of their actions — such as when Kendall throws a tantrum over Rava’s decision to escape upstate with the girls rather than subject them to the protests surrounding the funeral , and when Jess asks to leave the company — only adds to their callousness.

But if the Roys were wholly callous, we wouldn’t be as obsessed with this show. We understand that the traumas that produced them have resonated into their adulthood, and we can understand the same with Logan. When his brother Ewan assumes the podium for a eulogy nobody expected, he shares stories of their childhood that would make even the most ardent Logan-hater feel sorry for him, the most…

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Jeremy Fassler

Correspondent, The Capitol Forum. Bylines: The New York Times, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, etc. Co-author of The Deadwood Bible with Matt Zoller Seitz.