Fans of the HBO drama Succession know that the main character, rapacious and unprincipled media mogul Logan Roy (Brian Cox), died suddenly in episode 3 of the current fourth — and final – season (as of today, two more episodes remain).
He’s survived by three ex-wives and four children: Connor (Alan Ruck), from his first marriage; and Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin), from his second.
After Logan’s sudden death aboard his private plane, Connor decided to make a bid for the presidency (while planning the funeral), and the younger three have been vying and politicking for control of the family firm, Waystar Royco.
While Connor is feckless and mostly harmless, it’s a challenge to find truly good impulses in the younger three (or just about anyone in this show).
Logan’s Wishes for His Funeral
In his will, Logan left explicit instructions for said funeral, including:
Regarding my funeral arrangements, my funeral and burial should be carried out according to the customs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
My preferred hymns: Amazing Grace, Abide With Me, Here I Am Lord, I Watch The Sunrise Lighting The Sky
And The Lord’s My Shepherd (Psalm 23).
I would like to change the epitaph on my headstone to…
Truthful lips endure forever but a lying tongue is but for a moment. (Proverbs 12:19)
And It Looks Like He Gets What He Asked For
As I pointed out here, in an earlier episode, Logan lamented that there was no cardinal at his birthday party, and mused later to his bodyguard about the afterlife.
I expressed a hope that he might have some kind of crisis of faith, but alas, he apparently departed the world without such an epiphany.
While Logan was not a poster boy for how to live out one’s Catholic baptism, in the penultimate episode of the show, on May 19, he gets a full-on Church funeral — with Roman planning to do a eulogy (which, if it’s a funeral Mass, would not be officially allowed, not that the Roys are exactly sticklers for rules).
But, Should He Get the Funeral He Wanted? A Priest Weighs In
So, considering Logan’s apparent situation at his death, would he really be given a Catholic funeral?
To answer this question, I turned to my boss at Family Theater Productions, Father David Guffey, C.S.C., a Holy Cross priest and a Succession fan.
He’s been waiting to binge this most recent season, but he’s caught up through season three, and he was already aware of Logan’s fate (so I didn’t spoil that for him).
My questions in bold.
In a real-world situation, would someone like Logan be able to get a full-on Catholic funeral, or is it just because he’s rich and powerful?
He would be able to get a Catholic funeral. A couple of things. One is the viewers have had the advantage of watching this man’s life very closely in a very specific way.
Almost any Catholic priest or cardinal is only going to see the man in snapshots. They may only know him as the donor of the center for the homeless or for whatever, and so it could be really likely that the full range of his conduct isn’t known.
In fact, we hardly ever know that of anybody we’re burying.
The other thing is you don’t know what kind of peace a person makes in their last hours or days or months with their family, with their God, and you always pray for God’s mercy no matter who it is, and we all need it. It’s a matter of varying degrees.
Would it be proper for Roman to give a eulogy?
In the Catholic funeral, we’re not supposed to give eulogies. The wisdom of that, on the one hand, you think, “Well, people want to hear about the person. They want to hear about their achievements, and they want to hear that.”
And yeah, they do, they might, but part of the reason you don’t give a eulogy is because you don’t know the whole person’s life.
While you want to celebrate and you hope there’s other occasions where people can tell stories, and people can kind of talk about who the person really was in the liturgy, it’s really supposed to be about focus on the eternal life, God’s mercy, and placing the deceased in God’s hands for whatever comes next for that person.
And so I don’t know how they’re going to portray the funeral. I hope they don’t have somebody, a cardinal, standing talking about all this man’s virtues, although perhaps some people perceive them in ways different than the series showed them.
Why do you think series creator Jesse Armstrong gave Logan a Catholic background? After all, he could have given him any faith, or none at all.
(And if you think it’s because mogul Rupert Murdoch, who supposedly inspired the Logan character, is Catholic — he’s not. Despite some interest in Catholicism, he remains Presbyterian.)
Your last point is key, they could have made him anything, because he was Scottish, because he had that sensibilities to him.
The Catholic piece is an internationally known piece, as opposed to other denominations that he could have belonged to. I think he doesn’t represent his faith very well …
He didn’t let his faith become very much of a part of the service of his life because my God, the poor man was loved. I think he truly loved his children, but was utterly incapable of offering it within any unconditional way, unless the last season is very different than the other seasons that I’ve already watched. (Not really.)
The whole series is about people who you think are going to get close to loving one another and just can’t — the incapacity to give to love genuinely and selflessly, nor to receive it.
You see that somebody’s offering it, they’re just not able to receive it, and then that just shapes a lot of the narrative of that series.
In my earlier post, I also mused on why we watch shows, like Succession, that are about awful people. So, I asked…
Where do you think the benefit is for a Catholic in watching a show like Succession, which there just really aren’t much in the way of good people?
Well, I think they’re tragedies for one thing, and I think tragedies are often cautionary tales, and so that’s one part of it.
I think the other part of it is it shows the Scripture passage, “What good does it do if you gain the whole world to lose your soul?”
And so there’s a spiritual truth underlying that’s affirmed and underlined, even though the narrative just shows these people who just can’t let go of control and are so blind to the rest of the world around them.
It’s tough storytelling, but I think it’s good storytelling, again, because it’s a cautionary tale. The wages of sin are death, and what good is it that you gain the whole world and lose your own soul?
If only Logan had actually had that crisis of faith …
And all of them had all kinds of chances at it. The heart attack could have been a crisis of faith. The rift with his son could have been a crisis of faith.
But, he never really took up the Cross in a way that led to a resurrection. He just picked it up, threw it away, without learning the lessons that the crosses in his life could have offered.
RIP, Logan Roy.
Image: David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO. All Rights Reserved.
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