“If it is to be said, so it be, so it is.” With far more clarity and decisiveness than anything Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) has ever uttered, Sunday night’s series finale of “Succession” was as close to perfection as it could be.
The episode felt like a greatest hits album for the show. We got to see the central three Roy siblings — Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv (Sarah Snook) — at their silliest, sharing a rare moment of childlike joy at the Caribbean vacation home of their icy-as-ever mom Lady Caroline (Harriet Walter).
Of course, moments of joy for the Roys are always fleeting. In the epic conclusion, the siblings’ flimsy alliance falls apart one last time, culminating in a blowout conference room fight. The deal to sell Waystar Royco to Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) goes through — and to Shiv’s embarrassment, it leaves Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) as the victor. The “corn-fed basic from hockey town” is now the new CEO, over his estranged wife and brothers-in-law.
Along the way, many of the characters got their final schemes and maneuvers in: Stewy (Arian Moayed) returning with his trademark panache, Frank and Karl (Peter Friedman and David Rasche) pondering their golden parachutes, Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) angling for a return under the new management, Karolina (Dagmara Domińczyk) knifing Hugo (Fisher Stevens), and so much more.
Like all great episodes of this show, it was equal parts laugh-out-loud funny and pathetic. In the end, the Roy siblings are back to square one: as terrible and broken as they’ve always been.
It’s hard to sum up the exhilaration of watching these four seasons of “Succession.” But at the very least, it’s safe to say Sunday night’s satisfying conclusion lessens the sadness of the show coming to an end. (TV and film writers, including those who worked on “Succession,” are currently on strike over pay and working conditions.)
Join HuffPost’s Marina Fang and Ruth Etiesit Samuel as we convene our final Waystar Royco board meeting and say “fuck off, be gone, bye-bye” (but with much more love than Logan Roy) to our number-one show.
We’ll Miss So Many Things About ‘Succession’
He never misses. The Season 4 soundtrack came out at the absolute best time: midnight right after the finale ended. I’ve been playing it on loop ever since. In fact, I am playing it right now. — Marina
Oh, how can we forget: "I AM THE ELDEST BOY!" I laughed out loud when Ken blurted that out. — Ruth
I yelped. And I also love how we see bits of that fight from the POV of the other board members, seeing and hearing these idiot kids screaming through the conference room windows.
The “I am the eldest boy!” line reminds me that we could do a whole other discussion about how there were so many wonderful callbacks to prior episodes and seasons stuffed into the finale: Lawrence Yee and Vaulter, Kendall being on an inflatable raft at their mom’s house, him calling Roman “ROMEY!” in a singsongy voice, the whole board meeting feeling a lot like Kendall’s vote of no confidence in Season 1 (which is one of my favorite early episodes), Connor claiming Logan’s fake war medals when they’re all deciding which of Logan’s items they want.
I could go on. The point I’m trying to make is that I will not only miss watching the show, I’ll also miss writing about it and being able to track the consistency of its through lines and connect all these dots. — Marina
Ugh, I’m really going to miss America’s most dysfunctional first family. It is so puzzling how such a sick and twisted group of people brought me so much laughter on Sunday nights. One could compare it to a train wreck that you can’t look away from, but I genuinely think it’s a testament to stellar writing, creating complex characters and enlisting fresh talent to portray these figures. (Speaking of stellar writing, I need these networks and streamers to pay up NOW.) I have always been that person who prefers television to movies — especially with the influx of these ridiculously long three-hour films — and “Succession” is no exception. Truly an exemplary series. If I were Jesse Armstrong, I’d personally just disappear for a while because I’m unsure how I’d be able to top this masterpiece. Regardless, well done and brava. — Ruth
Shiv Did Exactly What Any Wealthy White Woman Would Do
Secondly, the premise of this series is that all of these siblings are terrible. Evil. Heinous. They replicate and regurgitate the cycle of abuse they endured in the name of holding onto power. That being said, I do not hold any of them to a higher standard than the other. I find the people who were expecting “character development” from any of them to be lost souls, and those who claim that critiques of Shiv are “sexist” are, quite frankly, being intellectually dishonest.
We are talking about a woman who assumes a white feminist stance when it suits her, i.e., advances her ability to attain power. This is a lady who actively intimidated former Waystar Royco employees/assault survivors into dropping their testimonies. Shiv is not someone who needs or deserves coddling! My sympathies do not lie with her! These are not adolescents trying to “find themselves”; these are full-fledged adults. “aLL shE’Ll bE nOw iS a mOtHeR aNd a wIF—” SHUT UP! Are we even watching the same show?
Shiv did exactly what a woman of her background and stature would do: put herself first by any means necessary. Like a wealthy white woman would, she thought that by “playing the boys’ game” that she would get ahead, when in reality, it was never going to be her. In what she saw as the final moment for her to obtain power, she chose to side with Tom. She chose what she thought would be best for her. Stop clutching your pearls over this. (And if you lot decide to start watching “Industry” on HBO since “Succession” is over, please leave your half-baked takes and projections behind. I’m so serious.) — Ruth
You said it all, Ruth. I’ll only add that the beauty of this finale is that every character choice is completely consistent. It all makes sense! The show and the writers are not trying to trick us.
This also goes for some of the conspiracy theory-like predictions I saw out there on the bird app in the lead-up to this finale. The writers know exactly what they’re doing, and the thesis statements of this show have always been crystal clear. — Marina
Cousin Greg Proves He’s Strategic Once Again
This is completely consistent. The thing about Cousin Greg is, he knows when to be strategic, even if it’s done in his usual bumbling way. He aligns himself with whomever seems to be winning at that particular moment, and deploys himself whenever it’s advantageous. I think a lot about how, for instance, in Season 2, he saves those cruise documents. And then in that great season finale, during Kendall’s press conference when he knifes Logan, Cousin Greg is right there with those documents! This show and these characters are nothing but consistent. (This is a good segue into the next topic, which I know you have MANY thoughts about, Ruth!) — Marina
Roman Dropped A Huge Bomb During The ‘Succession’ Finale
I should not have laughed as hard as I did when Rome referred to his literal niece and nephew as “randos.” It is objectively not good to refer to your brother’s kids as “randos”! In this context though, it was a very charged comment, both emotionally and racially. I thought Ken’s kids were adopted, and considering the fact that Sophie is a young girl of color, the comment felt like Roman was saying, “Look, she isn’t even blood, and she sure as hell isn’t white. So she’s irrelevant to me and this company.” — Ruth
So does “filing-cabinet guy” mean sperm bank? I had always assumed Sophie was adopted, and in Season 1, if I recall correctly, there was some indication that Kendall and Rava had fertility issues. For some reason, I assumed maybe they tried again after adopting Sophie, and then Iverson was biological. But I think Roman is saying Iverson was conceived via sperm donor, and therefore Kendall is not the father of either kid.
It’s absolutely chilling and vicious, as you note, Ruth. And to choose this precise moment to deploy this piece of ammunition! This show and these characters are nothing but consistent. — Marina
Not Kendall being a deadbeat and us having a possible "Maury" situation. “Kendall Roy…you…are NOT the father!” This is peak DRAMA. I love elite white mess. I really do. — Ruth
I am cackling. Now I’m picturing these idiots going on "Maury"! It makes me wonder what other secrets we’ll never know about. You know all of these idiots have them stored in their emotional armory, ready to deploy them during the next big fight or business squabble. — Marina
Let me tell you, I have been waiting all season long for someone to bring up the homicide! All season long, we watched Shiv and Roman be antagonized by their secrets: her pregnancy and his illicit affair with Gerri, respectively. Kendall was just vibing, trying to secure the throne this time around. I was impatiently waiting for someone to let it rip, and it did not disappoint. When he started fumbling his words and said he made that up to feign closeness with his siblings? I knew he lost the plot, literally. — Ruth
The Roy Siblings Are Just Hilarious Together
Now, Shiv spitting into the smoothie concoction (???) made out of the booty pieces of the bread was … uncanny yet accurate. It’s like when your sibling backwashes into the family jug of apple juice — instead of pouring it into a cup like a well-raised human — and you drink it just to prove a point. Simpler times. — Ruth
I 100% lost it when Kendall started conducting their “meal fit for a king” song with a wooden spoon. Absolutely cackling. Or when Rome and Shiv decide to “anoint” Ken, and Shiv says: “You can smile, bitch.” He’s never smiled like that before. Ever. — Marina
YES, MARINA! When Shiv said, “You can smile, bitch,” I lost it because we’ve only seen that man in suffering. — Ruth
And their accents, mocking their mom! Yes, they’re terrible idiots, but they are also bonded by having a terrible childhood.
Also, I’ve never referred to those bread end pieces as “knobbies,” lol. My parents and I jokingly call them the “lids” of the bread. Does every family have some funny shorthand for this? — Marina
Farewell To Our Number One Boy
I absolutely agree with you, Ruth, that Kendall does not come back from this. — Marina
Like, imagine being a deadbeat daddy just to spend eternity pursuing a pipe dream that was never going to be yours? It’s a wrap for the boy. — Ruth
I actually thought — for a split second — that in that final scene, when he’s looking at the water at Battery Park, he would jump, and that’s how the show would end. Also, during their big conference room fight, Kendall tells the siblings: “I am like a cog, built to fit only one machine. … It’s the one thing I know how to do.” Then he adds that if they don’t give the CEO post to him, “I might die.”
Obviously, it didn’t happen. But in an interview with Vanity Fair on Monday, Jeremy Strong did say that in one of the takes, he got up from that bench and tried to jump over the railing, and Colin stopped him from doing so.
He also says: “This character's arc had run its course down in Battery Park at that water. I don't think I get up from that bench. I wouldn't have been the actor to get up from that bench and keep going, or go back into the corporate scrum or whatever that would've been.”
I think I agree. Kendall's whole life, he’s been singularly focused on chasing after his father’s approval and trying to win the prize he thinks he has been promised. And now that’s all gone — and to him, his life is probably meaningless. At best, maybe he does what he did in Season 1: tries to start his own company, fails, relapses, goes back to rehab, rinse and repeat. A miserable cycle, proving one of the main points of the show. — Marina
The 'Succession' Finale Made Sense Dramaturgically
I’m not surprised that the rich white woman … did the white woman thing. “If I can’t have it, then I’ll give it to my terrible husband!” Talking to my friends after the finale, one said that as soon as Tom told Shiv it would be him, she predicted right there that Shiv would fold. She’s never been a person of strong moral conviction and neither is Tom; Matsson was literally testing how much Tom would roll over for him by saying that he would gladly pursue and have sex with the man’s wife. I was like, “Damn, Tom, you’re not even gonna fight back?” LMAO.
However, I’m just a tinge annoyed that Greg literally has more job security than an actual journalist. Sorry, not sorry, but I did not want to see that man prosper. He is just not bright! But $200k a year to be Tom’s personal punching bag? Say less.
I increasingly respect and understand creator Jesse Armstrong and the writers’ decision to end the show here. I remember sitting in a grocery store parking lot when The New Yorker announced that Season 4 of “Succession” would be its last — and I was in SHAMBLES. The pain was palpable. But at this point, it makes perfect sense to end the series here, following Logan’s death, the culmination of Kendall’s personal journey, etc. (Because let’s face it, Logan’s #1 Boy is never coming back from this.) Moreover, I feel like after four seasons, the faction of delusional “Succession” fans would begin to project their emotions and aspirations onto these characters; it was even annoying to read some of the inane discourse on the bird app, goodness. But congratulations to the writers on creating such an incredible series. — Ruth
Yeah, I remember being a bit stunned at the news, thinking it could easily go on for one more season. But I also understood it, since so much of this show is about these characters spinning their wheels, finding new ways to not deal with their shit, and ultimately never escaping these cycles of abuse that Logan started and they’ve perpetuated.
At the same time, I was also a bit surprised by Armstrong’s admission he wasn’t 100% sure about the decision to end it, and only finalized it in the course of writing and filming what became this final season. It also made me a tad nervous that the series finale wouldn’t feel definitive since it wasn’t initially written as such.
However, lesson number one of this show: Always trust the writers. Week by week during this season, especially each episode after Logan’s death, I could see exactly why Armstrong came to the decision the way he did. To quote Jeremy Strong: “It made sense dramaturgically.”
Whether it’s within an individual season or in the arc of the entire show, the writers have always been so good at figuring out precisely when to move the chess pieces forward and position them toward some sort of endgame. It had to end here. Sure, it’s easy to imagine the contours of a fifth season: Do Tom and Shiv continue their marriage of convenience? Does Shiv have the baby? What happens to the company under the new Matsson regime? Roman probably continues to be a fuckup — or does he try to maneuver his way back in? Does Mencken actually become president? How long does the court battle in Wisconsin drag out? Etc. etc. etc. I’m sure it would all still be good television. But as Armstrong says in the post-episode commentary: These characters’ stories will continue, but it doesn’t mean we have to see them. — Marina