Editor’s note: Deadline’s It Starts on the Page features 10 standout drama series scripts in 2023 Emmy contention. It showcases the critical role writer’s work plays in a show’s success. All arrangements were made before the WGA strike began on May 2.
Succession‘s title has always suggested that the series’ narrative will move beyond Logan Roy and tackle the succession to his reign at Waystar Royco. After creator Jesse Armstrong in February revealed that Season 4 would be the Emmy-winning HBO series’ last, that prospect became very real.
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Still, Armstrong surprised fans by killing off the drama’s larger-than-life central character with no warning in Episode 3 whose title, “Connor’s Wedding,” was suggesting a different kind of family drama we have come to expect at a Roy celebratory gathering.
The episode does start off delivering on the title promise in the first few minutes, with Logan bailing on his son’s wedding to chase a business deal while barking termination orders and Roman carrying out the assignment to fire Gerri at the wedding.
Then word comes out of nowhere that Logan’s heart has stopped while aboard a plane.
Deepening the Shakespearean parallels Succession has been subjected to from the start, “Connor’s Wedding” feels like a play, with most of the action happening in confined spaces in real time — on the yacht where the wedding takes place and on the plane where Logan dies.
At the heart of the episode, hailed as one of the best in Succession’s four-season run — and beyond, is the 28-page scene on the boat after the call comes that Logan is gravely ill. In it, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv (Sarah Snook) grapple with the confusion and lack of information, say their goodbyes over the phone not knowing whether Logan could hear them or not, overcome the initial shock and denial to accept the fact that their father is dead, break the news to Connor and plan their next steps — all while grieving the loss of a parent whom they all loved in their own ways even when he made it very hard.
In Succession‘s Inside the Episode companion featurette, Armstrong spoke about the decision not to show Logan’s death on-screen and instead focus on how his children learn about it.
“We wanted to capture a feeling of death that people experience in the modern era, of separation of communication over phone and email,” he said.
Breaking convention, the episode’s director Mark Mylod shot one continuous take of the scene with Strong, Snook and Culkin, a large portion of which ended up in the final cut.
The scripts of Succession have taken on a life of their own, with the published collections of Season 1-3 scripts shooting up to the top of the bestselling lists in the wake of the series finale on Sunday.
As fans continues to reel from Succession coming to an end, click below to read the script of Episode 403 by Armstrong, who has won the Writing For Drama Series Emmy Award for each of the first three seasons.
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