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The Ending Of Succession Season 3 Episode 4 Explained

As the third season of HBO's "Succession" rolls along, it's becoming clear that the Roy family might be damaged beyond repair. They weren't a particularly loving family in the first place, but the ongoing struggle over Waystar-Royco threatens to tear them apart — if it hasn't already. 

Season 3 has spent the first three episodes tracking the Roys as they react to the fallout of Kendall's (Jeremy Strong) betrayal in the Season 2 finale, when he publicly revealed that his father Logan (Brian Cox) knew about the sexual harassment scandal at the Waystar-Royco cruise line division. Last week's episode saw various characters at some of their lowest points in recent memory. After Kendall ruined his sister Siobhan's (Sarah Snook) big debut as President of Domestic Operations by playing Nirvana's "Rape Me" over the company's public address system, Shiv hit back by publishing a letter detailing his many failings as a husband, father, and human being. Meanwhile, Logan was forced to do the unthinkable and allow the FBI to search Waystar-Royco's headquarters for files about the scandal.

In episode 4, "Lion in the Meadow," the overarching plot of Season 3 finally comes into play. Kendall's revelation has caused the Waystar-Royco stock to drop and its shareholders to lose millions. This has also created an opening for Stewy (Arian Moyaed), Sandy (Larry Pine), and Sandi (Hope Davis) to engineer a takeover of the company. In episode 4, Kendall and Logan are forced to (barely) put aside their differences and convince a 4% shareholder, Josh Aaronson (Adrien Brody) not to back the three S's.

Here's where everyone ends up at the end of episode 4, and what it means going forward.

Tom and Shiv are having second thoughts

Tom (Matthew Macfayden) and his wife Shiv are both experiencing shaken confidence after recent decisions, and both react to it in very different ways. 

For Tom, his personal crisis has come after he foolishly offered to go to prison to placate the Department of Justice, all as a way to curry favor with Logan. This week, Tom is realizing a stay at Club Fed might not be best for him — hilariously, he tries to figure out whether prison toilet wine can even come close to the white wine he enjoys nightly. He tells Shiv he's having second thoughts. But what Tom really wants is for his wife to show even a little concern about his wellbeing. And Shiv being Shiv, she doesn't. She cuts him off to take a call from her father, and that's that. 

Theirs is not exactly a loving marriage. But to be fair to Shiv, she does have a lot on her plate. After spending years working in politics, Shiv is finding that her new position at Waystar-Royco doesn't come with the respect of other top-level employees. Frank (Peter Friedman) and Karl (David Rasche) aren't keeping her in the loop about anything. Worse, Logan backs Frank and Karl and tells her to butt out, since he doesn't "need another toothache."

In response, Shiv throws her weight around. She pays a visit to ATN's political commenter Mark Ravenhead (Zach Robidas) and demands that he start attacking the president, to give Waystar-Royco leverage against the DOJ. Ravenhead threatens to embarrass the company, and Shiv says, "We don't get embarrassed." 

This moment might seem like a win for Shiv. But if Ravenhead does go public, it could easily blow up in Shiv's face — and make Logan regret giving her the job.

Roman re-traumatizes an old friend

Meanwhile, Roman (Kieran Culkin) has one of the show's more depraved subplots in the show's history. Years earlier, during a drunken evening in New Orleans, Roman and Kendall cruelly paid a homeless man to tattoo Kendall's initials on his forehead. Roman hopes that going public with this story will hurt Kendall's public image. Roman finds the guy, who's had the tattoo removed and just wants to move on. Roman humiliatingly examines the guy's forehead for traces of the tat, then offers him a million dollars to go public. In the end, Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) tells him to keep the story to himself, because it would also make Roman look bad. (Which would also hurt her position, since Roman is her closest Roy ally). 

This kind of heinous behavior is nothing new from Roman. The moment echoes the sene in the pilot when he mockingly offered a kid at a local baseball field a million dollars if he could hit a home run. But what's important here is that Roman is the only Roy sibling who's acting out of his own initiative to help his father's cause. Roman ultimately doesn't go public with the story, but Logan surely would have appreciated it if he had. This could have huge implications for the future of Waystar-Royco and who might take over for Logan. Kendall is obviously out of the picture, and Shiv's prospects aren't looking great. Could Roman eventually be the chosen one? That's never seemed possible, until now. 

Kendall and Logan's vulnerabilities are on display

The main event this week is the meeting between Kendall, Logan, and Josh the shareholder. It's the first time Kendall and Logan have been in the same place since the betrayal. It's also an uncomfortable reminder of how precarious their position is. As Josh reminds them, the Roys work for the shareholders, not the other way around. The Roys' future as the owners of Waystar-Royco depends on keeping people like Josh happy.

Both men have to put on a show. Both have to promise Josh that the family can work together if they don't want Josh to defect to the other side. In a devastating moment, Logan reassures Josh that Kendall is "a good kid," and that he loves him. Kendall knows that it's all lies, yet a big part of him still wants them to be true. Later, the trio hikes back to Josh's mansion through a grassy meadow — hence the episode title. Logan, who's 80 and suffered a stroke in the pilot, isn't up for the long walk, and he collapses. 

For Logan and Kendall, this sequence shows how weakened their positions really are. While Logan's health literally fails, the worse loss is his loss of status. In earlier seasons, he was in full control of Waystar-Royco. But Kendall's betrayal has changed that, and Logan is reduced to begging for support. 

As for Kendall, it's a heartbreaking reminder of what really makes him tick. In the episode's final moments, Roman calls and berates him for endangering their father's health, and Kendall looks remorseful. He very much still does want to defeat his father. But he also desperately wants his father's love and approval, despite everything.

Heading into the big shareholder meeting, things aren't looking good

In the end, Logan's health scare convinces Josh to switch sides and support Stewy-Sandy-Sandi. This obviously does not bode well for the upcoming shareholder meeting, which is just four days away.

There are a lot of ways the upcoming meeting could go. While it's totally possible that the shareholders could vote to remove the Roys entirely, or that they could reject Stewy-Sandy-Sandi's play, it seems most likely that there will be some sort of power-sharing arrangement. Negotiations for this exact situation began last season, when Kendall met with Stewy on his yacht in the Mediterranean.

"Succession" has always revolved around one big question: which member of the Roy family will take over for Logan when he retires or dies? It could very well be that the answer is "none of them." Whatever happens, next week's episode will be pivotal.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).