This episode began to move the chess pieces for this final season, which was set up by how Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) betrayed his wife Shiv (Sarah Snook) and the other Roy siblings.
Of course, below this little warning, you'll find all sorts of Succession season 4 episode 1 spoilers, because that's what recaps are all about! Disagree? Logan (Brian Cox) has two words for you, and one is "off."
Succession season 4 is all about the endgame — just like the other seasons
Primarily, Succession kicked things off with two concurrent situations. First of all, Logan (Brian Cox) is not enjoying his birthday party, at all. That said, he's of the belief he's got everything he could ask for: the Matsson deal is happening, he believes he has control over whomever the next President of the United States will be and then there's a new acquisition of Pierce Global Media (PGM), the Pierce family's own media empire.
Everything seems to be going great, and Logan's going to win.
Except, well, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) kinda blabs about the Pierce situation to Shiv (Sarah Snook). And while the estranged husband doesn't reveal the entire deal, he does tell his wife that he was seen out with Naomi Pierce (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), which leads the Roy siblings to figure out that Logan's got a deal up his sleeve. Tom says it all to try and curry favor with Shiv, but not for business. He's trying to convince her that he isn't dating Naomi.
Speaking of the siblings, Shiv is the last one to make it to the latest planning meeting for The Hundred. And she's a little late for Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin)'s comfort, but we can't blame her: the site, described by Kendall as "Substack meets Masterclass meets The Economist meets The New Yorker" — sounds like a failure waiting to happen. Especially when it's called "clickbait, but for smart people."
And while Roman wants to pursue The Hundred, Kendall and Shiv are still out for vengeance against their dad — and the siblings shift their focus away from The Hundred to meeting with Nan Pierce (Cherry Jones) to beat Logan on the PGM deal.
Logan Roy's worst birthday ever
Everything's going silly at Logan's birthday, as Greg's brought a date named Bridget (Francesca Root-Dodson), who Logan's assistant Kerry (Zoe Winters) doesn't want there. She's an interloper and doesn't belong.
Greg, one half of The Disgusting Brothers (him and Tom have a nickname for their duo), is trying to be cool, and Tom has too much fun messing with his head. After Greg tells his fellow DB about how he and Bridget engage in some handy NSFW behavior behind the scenes, Tom convinces him that there are cameras everywhere, and that he just gifted Logan a sex tape.
Meanwhile, Connor (Alan Ruck) is down to 1% in the presidential election polling, and fears going sub-1%. When he's not debating investing more money into his failure of a campaign, he tries to convince Willa (Justine Lupe) to make their wedding a publicity stunt. His ideas include a brass band at The Statue of Liberty, a rapper, jet packs, confetti guns, bum fights, razor wire, goody bags, hoopla and razzmatazz.
Out on the west coast, the sibs meet with Nan Pierce, who is already ready to get into business with Logan. Or at least she was until Kendall explains that Logan only wants to destroy PGM. This sets off a very polite bidding war, and one the siblings win.
Once Logan hears this, he gets angry that the Pierces are refusing to let him outbid his kids, And it all ends with the birthday Roy talking to his children on the phone, angrily snapping out "Congratulations on saying the biggest number." All the while, Tom's the messenger. Throughout the episode, Tom's been keenly aware that his position is all too tenuous in the family, even trying to get assurances from Logan about his role if he and Shiv were to break up.
Outlook: Holding hands on the bridge of the Titanic
The episode ends with Shiv having finally come back east, and finding Tom at their home in New York City's Financial District (they're at 120 Broadway, which is marketed as "Downtown's original symbol of power and stature").
And while Tom wants to defend himself and to air his grievances, Shiv doesn't think that's healthy for her — and she's basically calling their marriage off. Tom seems legitimately hurt by how cold she is, though his offer to "see if [he] can make love to [her]" is far from inspiring.
For those keeping track at home, it seems that we enter Succession season 4 episode 2 with the following pieces moved: Logan inching towards the Matsson deal, Kendall, Roman and Shiv have bought PGM (building some sort of empire to challenge dad) and Tom and Shiv are kaput.
But the very obvious fissure — Roman didn't want to go attack Roman, he wanted to do something new — will likely be how Logan seeks to divide and conquer this season.