It’s our last first day at Succession school.
The final season of HBO’s remarkable hit on billionaire echelons who’ve become the internet’s favorite fancam material is finally here, and things are kicking off with a familiar festivity. Like its Season 1 pilot episode, the final season of Succession is wrapping things up the same way it all started, with Logan’s (Brian Cox) birthday. But things are looking pretty different this time around.
In between Logan’s birthdays, we’ve had a slew of divorces, court cases, attempted coups, and familial betrayals. Naturally, that’s affected who’s gotten an invite to Logan’s exclusive Waystar Royco–approved birthday bash.
It’s officially the beginning of the end of the Roy-verse, and Succession‘s masterful full-circle moment employs Logan’s birthday as great comparative ground to see just how much has changed since the pilot. Who’s still allowed to get a slice of the Logan funfetti cake, and who’s begging to be on his guest list?
Here’s everything that’s changed between Logan’s b-day extravaganzas past and present, and what it reveals about where the family’s headed.
Logan’s birthday in the pilot episode saw the family happy-ish and together.
Just some happy Roy kids ready to play a game with their daddy.
Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / HBO
Plotwise, Succession‘s pilot episode mainly untangled Logan’s decision to bestow all his assets (including Waystar) upon his third wife, Marcia (Hiam Abbass). Birthday-wise, Succession‘s pilot episode was a full-fledged family affair where our ragtag gang of Roys had a home-cooked (five-star) lunch and even played some softball — family fun on all ends!
In the pilot, Logan’s 80th birthday laid out the blueprint for how things work when you’re a Roy. We got to know the family. We got to see their mansions. And we quickly learned that of Logan’s four children, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin) were the main three players up for the Waystar throne. At this point, all three were still close enough to their dad — albeit a complicated kind of close — to show up for his birthday with gifts in hand and speeches ready.
Kendall Roy is the internet’s babygirl
Alongside the core four Roys were the newly minted Roys — Tom (Matthew Macfayden), Shiv’s partner and soon-to-be husband, and Greg (Nicholas Braun), an estranged cousin looking for a slice of that Logan pie. The pair were initially on the sidelines, two cubs desperate for validation from a family of lions, but all of that has changed by Season 4.
Every ounce of the dynamic introduced to us in Succession‘s pilot episode is a thing of the past; everything we knew about Kendall, Shiv, and Roman’s relationship to their dad is now a memory. Long gone are the days of happy engagements, Logan lunches, or a family game of softball. The Roys are more fragmented than ever, and Logan’s birthday in Season 4 works to show that divide.
Logan’s birthday in Season 4 is a hot pile of family drama.
Tom and Greg are now Logan’s right-hand men.
Credit: Macall B. Polay / HBO
After Season 3’s explosive finale, the Roys are essentially split up into two teams: Team Logan, which includes Tom, Greg, and Logan’s eldest son, Connor (Alan Ruck); and Team “New Gen Roy,” as Kendall so proudly coins his allyship with his siblings Shiv and Roman. The schism is woefully apparent, with none of team New Gen Roy present at Logan’s birthday. Instead, the trio is miles away, planning on buying a company Logan wants, while the patriarch is in some swanky penthouse in New York celebrating his birthday with colleagues who fear him.
The siblings eventually enter a bidding war against their dad during his birthday, and they win with a whopping nine-billion-dollar deal. But stocks and financial fluff aside, Logan’s birthday in Season 4 is incredibly depressing. None of his favorite kids are actually there. None of his grandchildren are there. Shiv and Tom are now basically on the cusp of divorce. And Logan’s not-so celebrating his birthday with his kids, who are hellbent on destroying him.
The emptiness of Logan’s birthday speaks volumes about what he’s done to his kids, and what they’re ready to do to him. His birthday in Season 4 felt more like a battleground than the familial bash it did in Season 1, and its war cry isn’t ending there. Tom and Greg now have top seats at the Logan table (surprising, I know), and Kendall, Shiv, and Roman have banded together, with Logan’s eyes ex’d out as their sigil.
Looking at Logan’s birthdays past and present, we fully see the scope of just how much betrayal has happened, what it changed, and what’s at stake. While the kids wanted the CEO seat in Season 1 and blew out their dad’s candles together, in Season 4 they want his entire empire dissolved and are sparking a flame sure to burn the whole cake. Succession‘s decision to end things the same way it all started sets us up for the divide between the Roys reaching new heights — well beyond awkward birthday parties.
Get ready for even more betrayal, backstabbing, and bad birthdays, because the New Gen Roys are here, and they’re ready to eat up the whole buffet.
Succession is streaming on HBO Max(Opens in a new tab), with new episodes airing weekly on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.