All the Insults in “Church & State,” the next-to-last episode of Succession (Episode 4.9)

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Written By Liz R.

Liz R. is a writer and educator in Indiana with an MFA in Creative Writing. She has been writing and teaching about movies, TV, and books for years. You can find her on TikTok

Almost every time I write one of these articles, I get nervous for the first 10-20 minutes of the show because the insults just aren’t there. People say mean things, sure, and they make clever quips–but they don’t really start insulting each other until later. 

You can tell the Roys are off their game by the fact that the first few insults of the episode were Roman and Kendall calling people “dumb.” Not exactly topping the list of the most clever insults the Roys have lobbed at each other and the rest of the world, huh? 

Roman’s claims of “pre-grieving” were definitely undermined in this episode, despite his bravado in the opening scene. In Episode 8, we were reminded of what an awful person Roman is, but in Episode 9, his humanity was again front and center. 

In this episode, there were really only a handful of real insults. When Logan’s brother Ewan spoke at the funeral, he told some emotional stories that caused the family to be enthralled–then said the following:

But I can’t help but say he has wrought some of the most terrible things. He was a man who has here and there drawn in the edges of the world. Now and then darkened the skies a little. Closed men’s hearts. Fed that dark flame in men, the hard mean hard-relenting flame that keeps their heart warm while another grows cold. Their grain stashed while another goes hungry.

And even has the temerity to tell that hard but funny joke about the man in the cold. You can get a little high, a little mighty when you’re warm. Oh yes, he gave away a few million of his billions but he was not a generous man. He was mean, and he made but a mean estimation of the world and he fed a certain kind of meagreness in men. Perhaps he had to because he had a meagreness about him and maybe I do about me too, I don’t know. I try. I try. I don’t know when but sometime he decided not to try anymore and it was a terrible shame. Godspeed my brother. And God bless.

Those are hard words, but they are not insults. They are not designed to hurt Logan, but rather to speak the truth about the terrible things Logan brought on himself, his family, and the world. 

Roman Roy practices in front of a mirror.
Roman in the opening scene of “Church and State.” Image from YouTube

Let’s Get to the Insults…

“Well, that’s dumb and s****y.” –Roman about Rava taking Kendall’s kids out of the city 

“It’s f*****g dumb. You’re being dumb. Everybody’s being f*****g dumb.” –Kendall, to Jess, who is quitting 

“Here she comes. Thought I could hear the sound of Dalmatians howling.” –Shiv about their mother arriving at the funeral

“Was he in a bidding war with Stalin and Liberace?” –Shiv, teasing about Logan’s mausoleum 

“Hey, hey, it’s the Grim Weeper. Tiny Tears.” –Mencken to Roman, making fun of his crying at the funeral. (Noteworthy: Kendall stood up for him at this point!)

Roman: I don’t feel so great. Sorry.
Kendall: Yeah, I know. That’s because you f****d it.
Roman: Jesus, man, what the f***?
Kendall: It’s okay. Look, it happens. It happens. You thought you were Dad, tried to Dad it. But you f***** it.”
(I’m counting this as 2 insults from Kendall–one for the repeated line that Roman messed it up, and one for the insult that Roman couldn’t come through like his dad.”

“He sounds like a sow that’s about to get the stun gun and knows it.” –Karl, describing the sound of Roman’s crying

Roman also yells a bunch of insults at the protestors, including mostly, “Idiot,” “Moron,” and “go f*** yourself” over and over.” I’ll call this 1 insult.

Insult Count

This episode:
Kendall: 3 insults
Roman: 2 insults
Shiv: 2 insults
Karl: 1 insult
Mencken: 1 insult

Season 4 Totals:
Roman: 37 insults
Shiv: 29 insults
Tom: 12 insults
Kendall: 12 insults
Matsson: 10 insults
Logan: 5 insults
Greg: 5 insults
Kerri: 2 insults
Karl: 3 insults
Gerri: 3 insult
Stewy: 1 insult
Ray: 1 insult
Hugo: 1 insult
Oskar: 1 insult
Joy: 1 insult
Mencken: 1 insult