The Golden Globe-winning thespian Brian Cox is known for several phenomenal roles, including in series like “Nuremberg” and “Manhunter,” and he once again showcases his brilliance in HBO’s drama “Succession.” Cox plays the patriarch of the Roy family, who owns one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world and has spread their influence across the globe. Like any billionaire, Logan is a cunning businessman and understands exactly how to close his business deals so that he comes out on top. However, this exploration of Logan is not a deeper look into his business acumen but rather how he’s more than just a bad father. He’s a manipulative monster who pits his children against one another so that he can put a leash on the one that remains standing as his lapdog to do his bidding. Remaining emotionally unavailable for the entirety of his kids’ childhood, he doesn’t understand why his children want to betray him. Through several instances, Logan proves why he can’t be pitied in the slightest, and here’s a detailed look at how he’s a shark that’ll devour anyone, even his own children.
Mere mortals like us might not know what it feels like to be the owner of a media conglomerate that’s globally renowned and has a net worth of billions of dollars, but we do know some things about the family. It seems, for all his fancy cars, helicopters, and private jets, Waystar Royco’s founder and CEO, Logan Roy, didn’t understand the first thing about what it took to be a father, or at least a loving one. He began his business at an early age and created an empire, spreading his company’s name across the world, and he had four children from two marriages. Logan was a phenomenal businessman with razor-sharp acumen because he spent the entirety of his children’s childhood helping his business become the behemoth it is today. Unfortunately, he couldn’t translate the love he had for Waystar Royco towards any of his children, and he never really managed to love any of them like a father truly should—unconditionally with a whole lot of acceptance. Like most things in his life, love was a currency that he used to buy loyalty from his children, and he offered it only when one of them did something truly impressive. At other times, they earned a few f-bombs and emotional abuse. Although he was terrible at loving his kids because he never really grasped the concept as a whole, he knew just how to manipulate the children in such a way that they were at each other’s throats just to curry favor with their emotionally absent dad.
At the start of “Succession” Season 1, Logan seems very old and infirm after he suffers from a stroke and goes into a coma from a brain hemorrhage. All along, his eldest son from his second marriage, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), was preparing to take over his dad’s business as his octogenarian father inched toward his retirement. The stroke seemed to the final nail in the coffin for Logan’s time at the head of the company, and Kendall planned to give a speech where he’d joke about his dad’s retiring age, but the head honcho took offense. He not only refused to step down but also refused to make Ken the CEO. Angered by his father, Ken begins gathering support from Logan’s rivals to plan a dethronement of the old man while Logan goes around being a menace to his other children. He not only insults his daughter Siobhan’s boss, Senator Gil Eavis but threatens his own daughter, saying he’ll casually stand aside when “they” come for her. With every episode of Season 1, the diabolical nature of Logan slowly comes out in the open until he’s presented as little more than an all-consuming black hole that gulps down entire lives with zero regards for how it destroys others. Often, the worst victims of Logan’s all-consuming hunger are his own children, as Kendall learned when he fell prey to his megalomaniac dad in the “Succession” Season 1 finale.
While trying to overthrow his father in his quest for power, Kendall relapsed into his drug use and accidentally killed a young, nameless waiter, reducing him to a mere pawn to be tormented by his father. Logan cornered Ken in a room and reminded him just how much power he held over his son, then blackmailed him into giving up his plan to dethrone the mogul using cunning words. He’d only show affection when it furthered his business interests, as it did in this situation, and he opened his arms for the broken son to crawl into an embrace, but the hug was laced with venom. Logan whispered in his son’s ears, “You’re my number one boy,” not as praise but to remind him that he now owned his son before kissing him on the forehead. The son, starved of his father’s affection, found his father’s arms to be the safest space for himself, while the guilt of killing a kid harrowed him as Logan manipulated him into believing that he was saving Ken from certain destruction. Much like a business deal, though, Logan motioned towards one of his men to get this crying mess away from him because he was done here. A man who treats his son like as a tool to help him stay in power really isn’t the father of the year, even if he might claim all he does is for his children.
By “Succession” Season 2, it becomes apparent that Logan acts like an arrogant ox that bulldozes through everyone’s wishes and does exactly what he feels like. He proposes to his daughter Siobhan the possibility of her becoming the CEO of Waystar Royco and then begins avoiding her anytime she wants to ask about it. Refusing to even slightly bend his opinions based on what others have to say, Logan continues to impose his own will upon his family. It seems redundant then that he has an entire team of advisors, lawyers, and assistants because Logan does what Logan wants and snaps at anyone violently if they try suggesting anything. While having dinner with the family of Nan Pierce to discuss the Waystar takeover of Pierce Media, Logan is intensely irritated at Shiv for blurting out that she’s to be the CEO and rudely barks at his wife Marcia for speaking. It’s rather obvious that Logan is unable to scold his daughter and misdirects his anger at others in his vicinity, as we shall soon see. When Nan Pierce accepts the deal but includes the stipulation to make his daughter the CEO, Logan calls off the entire deal because he won’t play by anyone’s rules, even if it means denying his daughter something he promised her. What’s more, his assistants, and even his own children are too terrified to share their opinions about how much they hate the idea of their father spending $20 billion to purchase another conglomerate in the middle of a proxy battle with Logan’s rivals, Sandy and Stewie. This makes Logan’s empire a reign of fear where his subjects (children and staff) are too scared to speak their minds lest they’re made to suffer the consequences.
When Logan takes his whole crew to Hungary for the company retreat, he begins considering the idea of having Ken succeed him, but that’s only because the son has caved in and become a trusty lapdog for the megalomaniac. In their palatial residence in the European nation, news breaks that Waystar’s plans to purchase Pierce, aka PGM, have gone viral and that someone has agreed to become a whistleblower against the company. In an unbelievably humiliating and eviscerating design to weed out the traitor from the lot, Logan makes the most suspicious of his lot play a ‘game’ of “Boar on the Floor.” This cruel charade has Cousin Greg, Tom Wambsgans (Logan’s son-in-law), and his long-time associate Karl Muller groveling on the floor and making animalistic grunts like the porcine creature and fighting each other for pieces of sausage. While the other lackeys cheer on as three men sacrifice their dignity and self-respect to remain in the despot’s good books, his lapdog of a son Ken is embarrassed by his father’s actions. This episode goes to show just how much of a monster Logan is and how he uses his seemingly infinite wealth to treat even his family members in a subhuman way. If you felt a shred of pity for the weak and feeble 80-year-old in “Succession” Season 1 when he went into a coma, remember that it’s the same man who makes three grown men grovel in the dirt and fight for the scraps that he throws the next season.
Abuse has many languages, and Logan excelled in the emotional and psychological kinds. While he had already broken his eldest son from a second marriage, Ken, he seemed to show a bit of physical affection towards his youngest boy, Roman, something he didn’t show towards anyone else. He’d mess up Romulus’s hair, as he liked to call his son, and pat his back time and again, while at other times, Logan called his son a “moron” and hurled homophobic slurs at him. However, his abuse wasn’t limited to just emotional when it came to Roman—after the siblings talked about the steps they’d be taking in response to the allegations of sexual misconduct in Waystar cruises on a stage, Logan turned physical. Shiv made rather insensitive, albeit indirect, comments about her father on stage, and when Roman joked about it in private, Logan turned his anger at the one closest to him—in this case, Roman. The father slapped his son across the face, knocking a tooth out, because he couldn’t do the same to his daughter, and then pretended as if nothing had happened. To his credit, though, Kendall—completely under his father’s thumb by that point—rushed to his brother’s defense and warned the old man never to put another finger on Roman. While we’re on the subject of the reckless Roman Roy, it’d be good to mention how unaccepting Logan was towards anything he considered unnatural. When Roman’s questionable proclivities were exposed, Logan demanded of him, “Are you a sicko?” and lambasted him for liking Gerri Kellman, the elderly interim CEO. A loving father at least makes an effort to understand his children, but Logan clearly tells his son to fix himself up, but he doesn’t want to hear about it. The old man considers his son’s preference to be a sickness or a blot that can be scrubbed clean and demands of him that he do so. He’s also an extreme hypocrite because he despises his son for liking an elderly woman but sees no qualms in going after younger women like his assistant, Kerry, which makes him even more despicable than he already is.
With the “Succession” Season 2 finale arriving, Logan needs someone to be the sacrificial lamb whom he can offer up for slaughter as the crimes at Waystar Cruise keep gaining more attention. After skimming through a lot of less-important family members, Logan finally decides to sacrifice his son Kendall because that’ll help his empire. After Ken realizes that all his slaving and appeasement earned him was an all-expenses-paid ticket to prison, he flips the script on his dad and blames him for everything wrong with Waystar Royco, and starts a war with Logan. At the height of their battle, when the father-son duo are invited to the countryside by a shareholder, Josh Aaronson (Adrien Brody), he makes the elderly Logan walk back from the location they discussed business propositions, as he wants to see some connection between the father and son. However, Logan’s gigantic ego steps in, and he refuses to ask for help from the man he doesn’t respect—Josh. Having spent his entire life belittling and strong-arming others, Logan never understood humility or the need to bow when his life might be at risk. Instead, he continues putting on a brave face because he won’t admit to his son either that he needs help. The only time he does request his son for water, Ken snaps back at him violently, which is but a testament to how he raised his children. In a way, whatever befalls the old man is the result of his own misdeeds; he reaps the fruits of mistreating and emotionally abusing his children and having them fight each other to prove themselves to him. A man who didn’t think twice before cheating a contractor of $200 grand because he let a raccoon into the fireplace and someone who doesn’t bother learning the name of a waiter who died because of his son’s foolishness can’t be expected to be very sensitive.
Logan continues alienating people because of his nature to do as he wishes and ends up losing his third wife, Marcia, when he has his interest piqued by PGM’s Rhea Jarrell. He forgoes his promise to make Shiv the CEO and instead chooses Rhea, earning the ire of both his wife and daughter. Later, when Rhea abandons him and his falling empire, he tries fixing things with the two women he initially wronged, but all of that goes down the drain yet again when the young assistant Kerry finds his fancy. Logan sells his children out and does a deal with Lukas Mattson, a businessman his two sons brought in, and signs a plan to sell Waystar to Mattson without bothering to ask his children. When Kendall, Siobhan, and Roman confront the ancient geezer, they learn that he’s already made arrangements that nullify his children’s positions and ensure he remains at the top. Even then, Logan tries manipulating his son Roman, whom he always managed to strong-arm because of his weaker resolve and tries getting him to betray his siblings. Upon realizing that Roman has steeled his resolve for once, he declares that he has ensured his children are nothing more than “toy soldiers” for him. It seems rather ludicrous that he’d claim all he did was for his children when they’re usually his last concern, and furthering his own interests remains his supreme interest.
After “Succession” Season 4 premiered this Sunday, this season is set to be the last in the Emmy-winning series, which will probably end with Logan having yet another stroke that he can’t come back from. In any case, Waystar Royco will either stumble face-first, unable to continue being the dinosaur in the age of tech, or it’ll pass on to someone better than the selfish giant, also known as Logan Roy.