This post contains spoilers for "Succession" season 4.
The universe of "Succession" was totally uprooted when the patriarch of the Murdoch-like media family, Logan Roy, died suddenly in the third episode of the final season. Logan was the sun around which all the other characters orbited, and his passing has knocked their whole world off its axis. His unceremonious send-off came as an incredible shock to viewers, who expected a grand Shakespearean death scene worthy of his enormous on-screen presence.
Brian Cox, whose performance as Logan earned him an Emmy, does not even appear in his own death scene. As it turns out, fans of the hit HBO show weren't the only ones frustrated by the show's big twist — Cox also had mixed feelings about his character's abrupt departure.
The actor initially took the decision in stride, but he was tentative about how early in the season series creator Jesse Armstrong had decided to place his death. "[Armstrong] called me, and he said, 'Logan's going to die,'" Cox told The New York Times after the fateful episode aired in early April. "And I thought, 'Oh, that's fine.' I thought he would die in about Episode 7 or 8, but Episode 3, I thought … 'Well that's a bit early.' […] Not that I was bothered."
The actor was unsure how the series creator would approach the show with the main character gone. "When Jesse decided that he said, look, I think we're going to kill him off in episode three," Cox recalled in an interview with Deadline back in April. "I just thought, okay, and then I thought, you're making a tough job for yourself, because you've created this role for three seasons, and we all know it's about succession, and you've got seven episodes to fill out after he goes."
'I'm Going To … End Up As An Ear On A Carpet Of A Plane'
Even though Cox understood the creative decision to kill off his character unexpectedly before the show ended, he was hurt by the unceremonious nature of his character's passing. The actor wasn't even in Logan's death scene. "I think the last [scene I shot] was the one moving towards the plane, for what's the beginning of episode 3," he revealed.
Keeping Logan off-screen might have made sense dramatically, but it didn't feel right to Cox emotionally. As a veteran Shakespearean actor playing a tragic character, he would have preferred some potent final words like Macbeth or King Lear. "I was fine with it ultimately, but I did feel a little bit rejected," the thespian admitted to Variety ahead of the series finale. "You know, I felt a little bit, oh, all the work I've done and finally I'm going to, you know, end up as an ear on a carpet of a plane."
So why did the "Succession" creators decide not to give Logan a dramatic death scene? We all know the British theatre actor would have handled it with incredible experience and talent, so why were we deprived of a gut-wrenching final monologue from this self-proclaimed corporate pirate?
Armstrong and director Mark Mylod had three aims in keeping the media mogul's demise off-screen: to subvert audience expectations, to mirror the reality of sudden death in the digital age, and to maintain the formidable presence of the character Cox had created through his years on the show.
It Made Sense Dramaturgically
The series creators wanted to capture the reality of sudden death in the modern era through the broken communication of a posthumous phone call in a terrible reception zone. "It's messy," Mylod explained to Entertainment Weekly. "And this just seemed right to us as well as dramatically surprising."
Bringing the audience onto that plane also took their eyes off of the siblings, which Mylod felt was "letting them off the hook," he explained in a Max segment after the episode. He wanted the camera to be "sadistically voyeuristic" following Logan's death, not letting the emotionally guarded Roy siblings escape the close confrontation of the lens.
The director found that showing Logan onscreen in a powerless position, laying on the airplane floor, deprived him of the gravity that he had built up in the lives of the audience and the other characters. "Whenever I put the camera on him, lying on the floor, it felt oddly disrespectful, so I didn't," Mylod elaborated, "except for one very deliberate moment where the camera specifically sees that it is Logan there. It felt intense and it still does remembering it."
Because we don't really see Logan, our image of him is still invulnerable, and his death is still a bit of a question mark. It's easy for us to understand Roman's point of view, who even at his funeral struggles to believe that his father is really dead. "Is he in there?" he says, his voice breaking as he points at the coffin. "Can we get him out?" Mylod teased this moment in an interview back in April after episode 3 aired, joking that Logan is "going to pop out the coffin at some point."
Cox Thinks Logan Might Still Be Alive — Is He Right?
Not showing Logan's death onscreen made the audience's experience closer to the siblings — we too were cut off from the American titan, unable to believe he was really gone. Cox also has a hard time believing that his character is actually not coming back. As Kendall would say, it's "very un-Dad" of him to die. Could someone so impenetrable as Logan really be just as susceptible to death as the rest of us?
"I still believe this, maybe Logan isn't dead," Cox said, still holding out hope. "This could be part of an elaborate ruse to find out. Well, if you think about it, from Logan's point of view, he has to find out, how are his children going to behave when he dies, what will then happen? And the only way to do that is to fake his death and actually, at some distant point he's observing the chaos that is following."
I suppose there is still a minuscule chance that Logan could be alive — could it be that in the scene where Roman went to look at his dad's corpse, he was just acting? Keeping that small sliver of hope alive creates a fun dramatic suspense in the back of the audience's minds, even though it's obvious at this point that Logan is gone and he's not coming back. Still, it would be much more Logan-like to pull off an elaborate ruse than it would be to drop dead in a bathroom stall, wouldn't it?
Read this next: 10 Worst Things The Roys Have Done In Succession
The post Succession's Brian Cox Felt Rejected Over Logan's Big Scene And Hoped It Was Fake appeared first on /Film.