So while his kids are still trying to survive Logan Roy, they are oddly, suddenly, liberated from him.
Maybe. Sort of.
The first episode of this final season (of the four offered to critics) asks a new question, and hints at the way this story problem will be solved and stasis avoided: Without their father setting them against each other in the way he always has, and without the dynamic they have all known since birth that has prevented them — Shiv, Kendall, Roman and Connor — from developing durable and meaningful relationships with anyone as adults, who are these people? What will drive them, if not that competitiveness for his approval? And without them as his playthings, will Logan somehow manage to ... miss them? Can torturing Greg and being exasperated by Tom ever give Logan anything close to the visceral pleasure he gets from emotionally abusing his children?
The first episode also introduces an important choice that comes back over and over in the first few episodes: the comedy and the tension that’s inherent in the unseen. There is a discussion between Logan and Greg that sounds so funny, the kind of exchange that the writers would dig into and that the actors could devour like a Christmas ham — but we don’t see it, we only hear Greg describe it. There is a series of telephone conversations where we seem to be watching the wrong side, the less important side — the listening side rather than the speaking side. Information arrives first via a telling flicker in the eye of a person who’s receiving it, who only later makes explicit what was said. Succession has always been a sharply written show, but there is a delicious restraint in this season that feels new.
To do less, to say less, and to leave out scenes that could have been dramatic or comedic or both, requires confidence in both the writers and the cast. Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin and Alan Ruck have in common a talent for summoning both childlike, love-me expressions and loathsome, snide, ice-cold ones. They can sneer and snivel with only seconds separating the two.