SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers from Season 4, Episode 6 of “Succession,” now streaming on HBO Max.

Director Lorene Scafaria first entered the world of HBO’s “Succession” with the Season 3 episode “Too Much Birthday,” in which Kendall (Jeremy Strong) attempts to throw an elaborate party for himself, and ends the night having an emotional breakdown. She followed that up two weeks ago with Season 4’s “Honeymoon States,” the first episode after Logan’s (Brian Cox) death. Now, in Sunday night’s new episode, she “resurrected” Logan in a bizarre promo video for Living+, Waystar Royco’s new cash-grab product that combines real estate, healthcare and, naturally, IP integration.

As in “Too Much Birthday,” Scafaria’s episode showcases Kendall’s love for extravagant theatricality, and it throws several curveballs in his quest to lead Waystar as co-CEO with Roman (Kieran Culkin). Kendall spends much of the episode worrying about the flashy Living+ investor launch, which he ends up doing alone after Roman gets cold feet. The presentation is a success, despite an antisemitic, underhanded tweet from Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), and Kendall celebrates with a quick dip in the ocean on an otherwise overcast day. It’s a striking parallel to the penultimate episode of Season 3, which ended with Kendall floating face-down in a pool after he was blocked from selling his Waystar shares, and is at a possibly suicidal low point. This time, he’s floating face-up after a triumphant win.

Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) rekindle their romance, first after a shared kiss in an empty meeting room that Shiv books to cry in, and later during a game of Bitey, where the object is to chomp down on each other as hard as possible. After spending an intimate night together, it appears the two are reunited and strategizing. However, unknown to anyone else, Shiv is still working as Lukas’ inside woman within Waystar, where she’s feeding him information and perhaps securing herself a job after the GoJo acquisition.

Roman asserts himself as co-CEO by axing a Waystar movie executive on a whim, and later getting into an argument with Gerri (J. Smith Cameron) — and firing her on the spot. As doubt clouds Roman’s mind, Kendall, perhaps naively, supports his younger brother, but Roman can’t shake the feeling he’s not living up to his father’s standards. The episode closes on him watching a fake Twitter video of Logan saying Roman has a “micro dick,” as he’s clearly still grappling with his grief and self-worth.

With Variety, Scafaria discusses bringing Logan back, whether or not Shiv and Tom are officially together and filming that Bitey scene.


You directed Episode 4 of this season, which was the first without Logan. How was it bringing him back for this episode?

As you can imagine, after Episode 3, I didn’t think I’d be working with Brian again. It was thrilling to think of the audible gasp from the audience seeing his face again. I love that we’re seeing him in this completely surreal setting, this strange green screen behind him and the clapper in front of his face. It’s a little bit meta. In the scene with Brian, I’m playing the director off camera. Jesse Armstrong asked if I’d like to play the part, and I can safely say it was the most nervous I’ve ever been on the set of “Succession,” hands down. Acting opposite Brian Cox, I was sweating and brought a change of clothes that day. It was a dream to have Brian back on set, resurrected.

The big question I have at the end of this episode: Are Shiv and Tom back together?

I think they feel like their roles have returned in a way, and they’re happy to play the part of husband and wife in that moment. There’s an indignity to being separated, and there’s a comfort in finding their footing again and finding their roles. So I can’t help but think that. This feels like everyone’s therapy. Maybe it’s as good as it gets when you’re used to a certain kind of love.

I mean, I think that’s what’s so funny about Bitey being the way back into each other. Of course, their expression of love can’t help but have some violence in it, or Shiv’s anyway. Who can hurt the other one more? She’s learned to associate love with pain. In the scene with Matthew making that speech, it’s so honest, because money is the last taboo. They have it in common, it does bring them together — and in a way, it sort of does make him the right man for her. They have that laugh at the end with each other that feels incredibly real and painful, but it’s also so suspicious. He looks at her one last moment, just to see, “Is this real? Is this really happening?” I think they know it’s messed up; maybe that’s the beauty of it. 

Where Sarah and Matthew actually biting each other during Bitey?

We definitely took our time with that because it was just such a fun scene, and so electrifying to watch. I think they were actually biting each other. It was a fun figuring out how to get their arms in each other’s mouths while their faces were that close together. I don’t think anybody got to hurt. No blood!

Your previous episode this season revealed Shiv’s pregnancy, but she still hasn’t told Tom. Why didn’t she tell him in this episode?

Telling him would make it very, very easy for him to plant his flag and want to be there for her. The way they move toward each other in this episode comes from something else, that comes from creature comfort. It comes from how Tom was that voice on the phone in 403; he was the calm during the storm. In Episode 4, he has that beautiful scene on the stairs between the two of them. It reminds you he was really there for her then; we’re also trauma bonding.

He might also be a little manipulative here, but it is also genuine maybe. Like any relationship, like any flirtation, they’re playing a game of chicken with each other and inching back and seeing how real this is. In this episode, you’ve got this kiss and this moment of vulnerability on her part, then it carries into this party that feels like these teenagers who are expressing their love.


At the end, when Kendall walks into the beach and floats face-up, I drew parallels to Season 3 when he was floating in the pool face-down. Was that an intentional callback?

It was intentional. This was one of those scenes that appeared in a draft of the script, and then it would sometimes disappear and sometimes reappear. I was so adamant about the beach scene, there were days I think I was the only person who really wanted to shoot. It was a logistical nightmare. It was a cold day in mid October with rough seas. I am a superfan of the show, so I was excited to see Kendall face-up in the water. Even though there are dark clouds on the horizon, it’s a bit of a victory lap, even though he’s doing it alone.

My only regret is I would have would have liked to play the action straight through, because Jeremy really did dive into those waves rather fearlessly. There’s no stunt double there. But I felt like it was just deeply important to see him in this way. We’ve been used to seeing him in water in quite depressive states: We’ve seen him in empty bathtubs, we’ve seen him around water almost as much as we’ve seen him looking out the tops of high buildings. It’s a victorious moment, but it’s a little more ominous than that. It’s not the perfect sunset; it’s Kendall on top, but I don’t know if there’s anything more ominous or dangerous than that.

Why does the fake video of Logan get under Roman’s skin so much at the end?

There are so many things happening to him when he’s listening to the edited version of his father. You see everything flashed across his face in rapid succession. First, he knows it’s funny. Then the pain of it seeps in. It’s almost like finding a photograph of your dad you never saw, or hearing a voicemail that you never heard after someone’s gone. When he holds the phone up to his ear, it makes me physically sick, because maybe he did love his father the most — even if it came from a dark place because he was the most abused and manipulated. He’s a deeply vulnerable, sensitive person; I think the funniest one in the room usually is. 

My father died in 2009, and it was just like the great hinge of my life. There’s me before and after. If I got audio of my father saying something, even if it was meant as a joke, I think it would just cut through and really hit my heart.

There were two great scenes with Karl v. Kendall and Gerri v. Roman. It’s the first time we see the old Waystar guard really rise up against the younger crew. How did you show that power balance?

Seeing Karl go toe to toe with Kendall, it was so intense on set to have these two guys in this very tiny hallway, actually sort of stuck in a doorway together. It’s the most claustrophobic, cramped space to see Karl put the screws to Kendall. We’ve never seen Karl go off script like this. We’ve never seen him lose control, even though I would say he is very much in control in that scene. As Logan gets further and further away from people’s minds, there’s so much more freedom to speak their minds. Karl’s right — they really do have each other’s members in each other’s hands. It was fun to let them go wild. We did a lot of different takes where various things happen. Sometimes Kendall put his earbuds in his ears at the end when Karl was still talking, sometimes Karl got even more explosive, and sometimes Kendall did

Roman is coming off of firing the head of Waystar Studios, which I think was him feeling undermined and triggered. His grief is kicking in, in various ways. The moment that he’s triggered by the head of Waystar, he’s bringing that energy into the knife fight with Gerri. You see him talking with Kendall about death right before that. All of this is coming from pain, really, and not feeling like he’s measuring up. The earlier scene, “I’m sure you are, where you are, for a very good reason,” that pushes them over the edge. This scene with Gerri saying, “You’re not your dad,”  it’s a testament to such great writing that it’s taken halfway through Season 4 for someone to actually say those words.

Roman firing Gerri, I think it started in 403 when his dad told him to do it, but in that same episode when Roman told Gerri he was sad and she just walked out of the room. That rejection was so incredibly painful for him. Firing Gerri is hurting her the way that she hurt him, and also filling his dad’s shoes. But the shoes are filling with blood in this episode.

This interview has been edited and condensed.