In sterile, soulless penthouse bedrooms overlooking the Manhattan skyline, the Roy children wake to a world without their father in it. In episode 4, this is barely the primary indication of many who a reality sans Logan shall be no less opaque than one with him. His children might need escaped the immediacy of his abuse, but they’ve also lost the sun around which their lives orbited. Alone, Kendall stares into nothingness. Roman brushes his teeth like he’s wrestling them into submission. Shiv fields a call from her doctor, Sharon, and lo and behold: All that talk of eggs between Tom and Shiv in season 3 was not for nothing. Logan’s only daughter is 20 weeks pregnant, and her amniocentesis test has revealed a wonderfully healthy baby. But does anyone but Shiv and Sharon know? It seems unlikely, given the loaded glances Shiv shoots in Tom’s direction multiple times throughout the rest of the episode—if, that’s, he’s even the daddy of her fetus.
Initially of “Honeymoon States,” family and “friends” converge on Logan’s apartment, where his third wife, Marcia, has decided to re-appear in time to sell the juicy piece of real estate to Connor. (For the low price of $63 million!) The youngsters share a moment of quiet unity, during which Roman fails to persuade them he’s doing just dandy, actually. (You see, he’s already “pre-grieved.”) But, as in all Roy family affairs, business matters outweigh emotional ones: The board is meeting at noon to call a brief CEO, and the contenders are already splitting into factions that split into sub-factions. There’s the family—Kendall, Roman, and Shiv, already bristling at the concept of working for each other—and there’s the minions, comprising primarily Frank, Karl, and Gerri, who’re already trading barbs as they joust for a shot on the throne. Such battle lines ultimately leave Tom because the wild card and not using a deck to call his own, which Karl spells out in no uncertain terms. “You’re a careless interloper and nobody trusts you; the one guy pulling for you is dead; and now you’re just married to the ex-boss’s daughter, and he or she doesn’t even such as you,” he says, and Tom is so startled he almost looks proud.
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Frank, as executor of Logan’s will, shares a beguiling tidbit with Karl: Logan apparently penciled in some addendums to the document. Each Frank and Karl would favor for these addendums to vanish down a bathroom drain—Only a thought! A thought in a “humorous vein”!— but Gerri mercifully interrupts. The camera cuts away before we will watch the following conversation, but context clues throughout the rest of “Honeymoon States” inform us that she steers the duo toward a savvier plan of action. She plans to lure the youngsters into cannibalizing themselves.
David M. Russell
Meanwhile, Matsson has called Roman to deal with the as-yet-unfinished GoJo deal. The youngsters let him go to voicemail in order that they can screw their heads on straight; in the method, they only disturb his fragile ego, granting him permission to mess with them further. His second-in-command informs them that, to execute the deal, they’ll must travel to Matsson, not the opposite way around. As for the astonishingly recent death of their father? Oof, sorry, that’s an actual “bad one.” It’s just not enough to trigger the billionaire’s sympathies.
The board meeting draws nearer by the second, and still Hugo finds a spare moment to drag Kendall aside in a plea for help. Hugo’s daughter, Juliet, might or may not have by chance engaged in insider trading, courtesy of her father’s window into Logan’s final moments. Kendall doesn’t outright comply with help the communications exec, but the data is a useful bargaining chip as he and his siblings meet with Team Minions within the late Waystar Royco founder’s library. There, the trio is confronted with the shocking news that Logan did name a successor in his will—once upon a time, anyway—however the words “Kendall Logan Roy” are actually marked up with pencil. Whether or not they’re underlined or crossed out stays entirely as much as individual interpretation. One last mindfuck from the master.
The damage is instantaneous. The siblings activate each other with a ruthless lack of restraint, as Gerri and the remaining of the Minions knew they might. Is the name underlined or crossed out? Does it even matter, if the document isn’t legal? Shiv confides to Roman that Kendall becoming their de facto leader isn’t quite the move she had in mind, but before Roman can respond, Tom swoops in to attempt to rekindle the rapport between him and his wife. She accepts this white flag, albeit briefly, and shares her own unvarnished feelings re: her dad. “I’m slowly coming to simply accept that we killed him,” she says. “If we had said yes to GoJo, then he might need been around for 20 more years, so he can rock his grandkids to sleep.”
Tom quirks an eyebrow. “As he was evidently so keen to do.”
“Yeah,” Shiv replies, shutting down. “Well, that’s fucked now, isn’t it?”
Tom attempts to regain her confidences by recounting one among their early romantic interludes. But Shiv has disappeared from him again, brushing her husband aside to confront the nearer pressures of the day. As an alternative, Tom tries his luck with Roman, reminding him that Logan had just tried coaxing the youngest Roy back into the Waystar inner circle. Roman—accurately, I’d add—calls Tom out on the bootlicking, however the haunted look on his face reveals Tom’s reminder was an unnecessary one.
Elsewhere within the apartment, Kendall rallies support for his own cause. He conquers Stewy first, then turns to his siblings with a pitch: He takes on the short-term CEO role and bags GoJo, paving the best way for the three of them to steer the corporate together in its PGN era. Shiv and Roman aren’t convinced, however it’s ultimately Shiv herself who’s shut out as Roman (the COO, in case you forgot) and Kendall comply with co-manage CEO duties. They assure her that is temporary; she’ll be “inside all the pieces.” Furious at her brothers’ obvious underestimation of her—not to say the healthy shavings of sexism sprinkled atop—she demands they not abandon her of their scuffle to the highest. They agree, but when there’s one thing the Roy family does worse than weddings, it’s vows.
David M. Russell
The vote goes through, and Kendall and Roman are not any longer princes but kings. As they sign paperwork and ogle Logan’s unfinished sudoku, Karolina and Hugo advise them on the PR spin: They will either emphasize the ways wherein they’re faithfully following of their father’s footsteps, or they will toss Logan’s name out with the remaining of the rubbish. Latest CEOs, recent Waystar Royco, right? Roman is squeamish at the concept of dancing on their dad’s grave. Kendall initially agrees.
But that rattling piece of paper, and his crossed-out/underlined name…It’s an excessive amount of for Kendall to go away alone. He desires to be the person his father once spelled out in ink. And so he confronts Hugo, alone, and makes his first demand as CEO. Naturally, it’s an easy betrayal of his siblings and their newfound trust. Release the hounds, he says. Tear Logan to shreds. Herald a recent era. “But soft; no prints.” In other words, tell not one single soul—not Karolina, not Roman—unless Hugo wants his daughter’s little trading incident to change into a problem for the SEC. Kendall delivers this order with a smile, his transformation as frightening because it was inevitable. Perhaps only Kerry, weeping as she begs Roman to look into the wedding “arrangements” Logan surely made for her, higher accentuates the broken guarantees left within the Roy family’s wake. A recent Waystar Royco remains to be, ultimately, Logan’s legacy.
Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture author at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television and books. She was previously an associate editor at ELLE.