'Succession' Cast Reveals What's Most at Stake Following the Season 4 Premiere (Exclusive)

Alan Ruck, Kieran Culkin and more from the cast talk to ET about the fourth and final season of the HBO drama.

Warning: Spoilers for Succession season 4 episode, "The Munsters," written by creator Jesse Armstrong and directed by Mark Mylod. Alan Ruck, Kieran Culkin and more from the cast talk to ET as they break down what's at stake for members of the Roy family and tease the shifting dynamics that will follow the first episode. 

The Emmy-winning family saga, Succession, is finally back with new episodes, as the HBO series comes to a close with its fourth and final season. According to the cast, the final installment promises to be as "surprising" as ever, with the "gloves coming off."

"It's thrilling to watch," Alan Ruck teases, with Nicholas Braun adding that "this season is just ratcheted up. It's kind of just madness. And the intensity of it all is another level than we've had in the last three seasons."    

Taking place just a few months after the shocking season 3 finale, the premiere picks up with three of the Roy siblings -- Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) -- striking out on their own, as they prepare to launch a "revolutionary new media brand" to compete with their father Logan's (Brian Cox) aging conglomerate, Waystar Royco. 

"They're sort of forging their own path together," Culkin says of their plan, despite lingering doubts. "It's a good idea, but there's a couple reasons to hesitate… Like, going toe to toe with Dad is scary because historically, anytime anyone does that, they lose." 

Elsewhere, Logan is celebrating his birthday with his cohort of longtime executives, including Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron), and the remaining family members who've sided with him, son Connor (Ruck) and his fiancée, Willa (Justine Lupe), Shiv's estranged husband, Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), and cousin, Greg (Braun). 

The episode then sees the two sides of the family get into a bidding war over Pierce Global Media, which is run by matriarch Nan Pierce (Cherry Jones), with Kendall, Shiv and Roman ultimately beating out their father -- and securing an early win in their ongoing personal and professional war. 

(Although Jones' return in the final season is "quite small," she says she enjoyed the part she had in it. "The few times I got to play with the gang, it was just heaven on a stick.")

"I think what they actually want to do is get rid of Dad. They want to fight him and beat him. They wanna make him feel bad," Culkin says of Roman and his siblings' continued efforts to take down Logan. The actor says Roman is "justifying it by saying, 'It's a good business decision.' But that's not why you're doing it." 

However, for Roman, despite what may look good on paper, there's a faltering need to keep going at it with his family. "Sure, that's good business, but I don't want to fight. I don't want to do that anymore. We've done that so much," Culkin says. 

While a strong opening to the season, the episode just gives a taste of the stakes at hand and how things have dramatically shifted for many of the show's other core relationships.

For Tom, who learns that Shiv wants a divorce, and Greg, who continues to rise within the ranks of ATN, that means a big change in how the two interact moving forward. "There are some shifts. There are some unexpected, aggressive turns in their relationship season," Braun says. "Their relationship gets weirder and Tom is probably meaner than ever. Loyalty is tested for sure." 

When it comes to Gerri and Roman, in particular, things ended in "a very abrupt way," Cameron says, describing the end of their relationship as a "cold and awful breakup." 

Culkin, however, suggests there's no hard feelings between the two, at least not on Roman's end. "It's a couple months later and I feel there's probably not really any bad blood," he says. Despite ending season 3 on opposite sides of the attempted coup, "she made the right business decision in that moment for her and he knows that."

But there still may be some fiery encounters to come, with Cameron teasing that there are still "some pretty heavy dynamics going on between them." 

For Connor, who mainly has sided with his father to keep bankrolling his presidential campaign, "his political ambitions" are his main focus, Ruck says. "It's not an easy path but he's determined to try to the best of his ability to make this thing move forward." 

And as teased in the previews for the upcoming episodes, there will be a wedding for Connor after he finally proposed to Willa during season 3. "Things seem to be moving forward with Willa. It seems like the marriage is on," Ruck says, before adding, "Without spoiling things, there might be some bumps in the road. But we'll see." 

But as we know from previous seasons, weddings on Succession are never drama-free. 

Succession season 4 airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.

Reporting by Stacy Lambe and Rachel Smith