This article contains major spoilers for Episode 4 of the final season of “Succession.”
After the grief and anguish of last week’s episode, “Succession” wasted no time in getting back to the ice-cold heart of the series: power grabbing. What else should we have expected from the day after Logan’s death? The Roys are going to Roy.
While the episode opened with some shots of Kendall, Roman and Shiv still in their feelings — and the revelation that Shiv is pregnant — by the end the knives were out. The “sibs” are back making moves against each other. Logan’s executive team is back trying to stop them. Marcia is back from shopping in Milan. Tom and Greg, the “Disgusting Brothers,” are back whispering profanities to each other in the corner of the room. We’re still focused on the question: What does one even wear to a half-wake, half-business meeting?
Jessica Testa: We should start by talking about Shiv, whose wardrobe so far this season has revealed a lot about her emotional state. The composed shell is cracking. Now we better understand that it isn’t just the divorce. She’s pregnant. Which makes her wardrobe in this episode all the more interesting, because the old Shiv is BACK.
Guy Trebay: Everything was so studiously muted. And the rendering of mourning clothes was masterful, if typically off-kilter. It’s a contemporary dilemma: What do you wear to mourn? A Loro Piana polo? A black suit? Jeans?
Vanessa Friedman: Well, to mourn and to do battle with the board to run the company at the same time. That’s a hard balancing act to pull off. The star of this episode, for me, was Shiv’s houndstooth jacket. Which I think was this one by Alexander McQueen (or a very similar one, anyway).
Stella Bugbee: Most of the guests milling at the house looked solemn and formal, which made the brothers look overly casual by comparison. Shiv struck a balance between the suits and the kids. Perhaps a signal that she would have been the best choice to run the company?
JT: It’s like she came dressed for the coronation demolition derby. And then was the first one of the siblings out of the running. But my favorite style moment was Marcia’s mini mourning veil hairpiece.
VF: Very Power Widow. As Shiv said, “Death becomes her.”
GT: Only Marcia was conventionally dressed for mourning. She was old school, and the clothes worked as unambiguous visual statements of authority.
JT: Who makes a $63 million real estate deal at a funeral? Marcia!
SB: Meanwhile, poor Kerry was a mess.
VF: I wanted a closer look at the Kerry detritus that spilled out of the bag.
GT: Lots of pills. White powder on the floor. Having her exit through the service door was grim.
VF: Shiv’s stilettos were spot on. So sharp, even if she tripped going down the stairs.
SB: The trip was the one moment that felt a little too on the nose for me.
GT: Agree, and falls usually presage miscarriage.
SB: Yes, though she did get right back up. It was a costume moment that really highlighted the gender inequality at the heart of that family.
GT: And of the culture. Almost without exception, the women were formally dressed, and the guys looked like they were going to lunch at the Ivy.
VF: Except poor old Tom, always a pretender to the throne.
JT: Here to serve!
GT: I want to take five showers every time he says that. I don’t know if someone can be physiologically disposed to insincerity. It’s like Ben Affleck’s RBF: can’t help it.
SB: And yet, that moment on the stairs, when he’s talking about the silk shirt Shiv was wearing the first time they were together, was an exquisite bit of writing (even if it was manipulative).
JT: And a reminder that these sartorial details are deeply important to the writers of this show.
VF: Her journey from silk shirt to black turtleneck and buttoned jacket is sort of the story arc of their relationship. He couldn’t get through all those layers if he tried.
GT: Yes, and the buttoning up “Don’t touch me” moment closed it out. To go back to Jess’s comment, what made this episode forceful in costuming terms was the extreme restraint, where you’re unconsciously directed to drill down into the details.
SB: Absolutely. The episode began with the three main Roy siblings in their pajamas, each emerging from their own dark night of the soul. In the opening shot, Kendall sits on the floor in muted tones, wan and puffy faced. Cut to Roman aggressively brushing his teeth in a stark white V-neck, followed by soon-to-be-sidelined-Shiv, still under the covers. The clothes play a part in keeping the audience guessing who is up and who is down.
GT: Roman had “pre-grieved,” as he put it.
SB: I guess we’ll see how well that works out for him.