The fourth and final season of HBO’s beloved, Emmy award-winning satirical drama, “Succession” has started. The season has been underway for a little over a year now and while the abrupt announcement that it would also be its last left some fans worried about the quality of its final run-through — the season premiere proves otherwise.

In true “Succession” fashion, the season three finale left viewers with total uncertainty about the future of every character’s life, career, and sanity. The Roy family find themselves at their mother’s wedding in Italy during a high-profile deal with a new tech company run by Lucas Mattson (Alexander Skarsgård). However, without consulting his children, Logan decides to cut them out of the deal and sell his empire to Mattson. In an attempt to stop this, the kids use their positions as board members to create a supermajority. However, when Shiv tells her husband Tom about the plan he takes it upon himself to rat the kids out to Logan, ensuring his survival within the company ranks and effectively cutting the siblings out completely.

The season four premiere opens up three months after the betrayal, at Logan’s birthday party, where we see the patriarch standing awkwardly in the room of strangers. This decision was something that immediately caught my attention. The scene is a stark contrast to the season one premiere which also happened on Logan’s birthday. However, while the season one celebration was an intimate family affair filled with personal gifts and a game of baseball, this celebration was loud and impersonal, a cushy and ostentatious affair filled with social climbers and elitists. I found this decision to be incredibly well made, the contrast between the celebrations in season one and season four show the shift in the family dynamic as Logan’s abusive behaviors have caught up with him and caused him to become isolated from the people he loves the most, his children. This scene helped set the tone for the rest of the episode as well as the theme of the show’s final chapter: reckoning.

Immediately after this introduction, we cut to the kids, who have decided to skip out of their father’s plans, as they lounge about in their Los Angeles mansion creating their new business venture “The Hundred” or as Kendall describes it “Substack meets Masterclass meets The Economist meets The New Yorker.” From the minute we see them the entire mood of the episode completely changes, where Logan’s party feels tight and claustrophobic, every aspect of the kids’ scenes feels like a release of stress, playful and free. This change is highlighted by the relationships of the siblings themselves.

The Roy siblings have always been pitted against each other, usually by their father. With Logan’s absence in their lives, we see them starting to open up to each other and act out of love and kinship. But this sense of trust doesn’t come easily and that’s what I value most about their new dynamic. There are multiple parts in the episode where one or more siblings grow suspicious of the other’s intentions causing trust issues to resurface. Their dynamic as a whole is healthier and more open but these characters have grown up in a “kill or be killed” environment and have never seen family as a safe space. This realistic take on trauma and emotional abuse is one of my favorite aspects of the show. The writing doesn’t treat characters as linear or one-dimensional and that adds a breath of humanity and genuineness to the story.

Back at Logan’s party Nero and Sporus or “the Disgusting Brothers” once again prove to audiences why “Succesion’s” comedic genius oftentimes rivals its Shakespearean plot lines. The actors who play these characters have done masterful work since the first season of the show, creating passionate energy and romantic flair to their parasitic relationship that has oftentimes left me wondering how the two have gotten through three seasons without dramatically kissing, this episode is no exception.

The standout scene and performances of the episode belong to Sarah Snook as Shiv and Matthew Macfayden as Tom. In the second to last scene of the episode, the estranged couple finds themselves in their apartment together where Shiv suggests a divorce. The couple’s complicated dynamic creates a heartbreaking realness to the characters’ relationship as two people who know the mistakes they have made will never be patched up by their love for each other. Snook in particular took me by surprise in this scene, shifting seamlessly between a vulnerable, heartbroken child to the icy, stoic woman she wants to be.

Verdict: The season four premiere of Succession is an incredibly well-written and crafted opening chapter to the final season with incredible comedic and dramatic performances.