That ‘Succession’ Funeral Episode Had a Killer Callback You Probably Missed
Barely a scene passes in the rarefied world of Succession without mention of money, the dollar amounts typically quite large. Connor Roy torches $100 million in his deluded presidential campaign. The other Roy siblings outmatch their father, Logan, in a bidding war for Pierce Global Media by offering $10 billion. (“Congratulations on saying the biggest number, you fucking morons,” Logan rages at them afterward.) But it is a far smaller sum mentioned toward the end of the HBO series’ second-to-last episode that packs the most emotional punch: $5 million.
That’s how much Logan, now very much dead, paid for a giant mausoleum in which he was entombed following a brutal sequence of funeral eulogies in Season Four, Episode Nine, “Church and State.” Among the Roy offspring, only Connor had previously known about the forbidding structure, and its price. Shiv is amused to learn that Logan bought it from an online pet supply mogul who built it, per Connor’s recollection — a cheeky reference to the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000 — while Kendall, who initially recoiled at his father’s final resting place, is impressed at the value of the real estate. “$5 mil?” he asks, nodding to himself at Logan’s investment, “Good deal.” Connor and Shiv agree.
It’s a small, funny moment that comes in the aftermath of an unbearably fraught public ceremony, and Shiv can’t resist riffing a little more: “Is it also a tax write-off because it’s technically a residence?” she wonders. But the mention of that $5 million, a pittance to a billionaire like Logan, is a poignant echo of a joke in Season Two, back when he was seemingly immortal. In the pertinent episode, “DC,” Cousin Greg is pondering the risks and benefits of allying with his great-uncle Logan over his morally strident grandfather Ewan Roy, who has threatened to deny Greg a promised inheritance of $250 million if he continues to work as a lackey of Waystar Royco’s corrupt executives.
Greg makes the calculation to side with Logan, hoping for an even greater fortune in the long run, and explains his reasoning to Connor and his mentor, Tom: “I’m good, anyway,” he says, because apparently Ewan will “leave me five million anyway, so, I’m golden, baby.” Connor is quick to disabuse him of such confidence: “You can’t do anything with five, Greg. Five’s a nightmare,” he says. “Can’t retire, not worth it to work. Oh yes, five will drive you un poco loco.” Tom chimes in to add, “Poorest rich person in America. The world’s tallest dwarf.”
When this scene aired, it read like an idle gag at the expense of low-status Greg, though one that gave us a glimpse into the wealth-poisoned mindset shared by the Roy circle, where literal millions are considered more of a burden than a bonus. Greg, not used to the financial logic of the 0.01 Percent, can only stammer as his brief satisfaction evaporates into instant regret. Of course, were he not falling under the influence of his aristocratic relatives, he might reasonably counter that $5 million can be readily used to generate more, and with it a comfortable standard of living. Yet it’s too late: he’s been infected by the peculiar greed that comes with material abundance. The actual lesson he’s learning is that no amount of money — that meaningless paper — will ever be enough.
If the $5 million Logan spent on his cemetery memorial is a screenwriting coincidence, it’s a resonant one. After all, this is the triumphalist counterweight to the devastating speech that Ewan Roy gave at his funeral, reminding those assembled of his cruel legacy as a shaper of world events and divider of people. That it should be Greg’s rejected grandfather, the family’s unsparing conscience, to deliver that blow — and Connor, the snobbish ne’er-do-well who laughed off the advantages of $5 million, to inform us that Logan sensibly purchased a mausoleum at that cost — seems too apropos.
And, in a sick way, perhaps Connor was proven right. The Roy siblings’ sarcastic commentary on the grandiose tomb calls to mind the familiar adage: “You can’t take it with you.” Having his remains installed in a marble temple, Logan insisted on his importance in life by expressing his affluence one last time. Capital can only ever be proof of itself, and is therefore as hollow as the dark space within these cold walls. Whoever comes out on top in the series finale may confront that same bleak epiphany, assuming Logan’s nihilism along with his empire.
So, yes, $5 million is a nightmare. You can’t do anything with $5 million, or $100 million, or $10 billion, except think about doubling it again, and meanwhile buy an expensive box to decompose in after you drop dead on a private jet. It’s a monument to the Roy family’s futile and consuming ambition: they have everything, just not the ability to enjoy it.