Hand up, I was late to Succession.
Super late, actually.
I watched the first four episodes of Season 1 almost two years ago and walked away thinking it was just OK. The story of the show intrigued me, but I didn’t get a “must-watch” feeling like I immediately felt with Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones.
This past Fall, I decided to give the show another chance. I found that it drastically improved in the back half of Season 1, finding its stride in the final two episodes of the season. I completed Season 2 one week ago, and it blew me out of the water. A tremendous season headlined by an all-time performance from Jeremy Strong as Kendall. He brought so much nuance to a smug character that should be so unlikeable, but Strong had me rooting for Ken by the end of the season.
Fast forward to Friday afternoon when I finished the first episode of Season 3. I had an important life-or-death decision to make. Do I complete seven more episodes to watch the finale on time or go at my own pace and risk spoilers?
A weaker man might have gone at their own pace, but I’m a (mentally) tough specimen. I binged the rest of the season over the next two days and made it in time for the finale.
Who better to give immediate thoughts about the finale than someone with every detail of Season 3 still fresh in his mind?
SPOILER ALERT. STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FINALE.
– It was only a matter of time before the Roy siblings teamed up to face their father. Up until now, Kendall was the only child who went against his father and failed. Shiv made small moves against Logan when he refused to publicly name her CEO (suggesting Logan steps down in “Argestes”) while Roman never went against his father. But once Roman and Shiv showed compassion towards Kendall, the wheels for a team-up were in motion.
– Speaking of Kendall, that entire scene on the dirt road where Kendall confessed to the murder was an acting clinic from Jeremy Strong. The actor has been in the news all week because of the profile in the New Yorker. Frankly, I walked away from the piece thinking that Strong was a genius, not difficult to work with. Episodes like tonight prove that there’s a method to the madness.
– In that same piece, Strong stated how he treats the life and death stakes of Kendall as seriously as he takes his own life. Kendall’s confession to Roman and Shiv perfectly illustrates the debate over Succession‘s genre. Is it a tragedy or is it a comedy? Kendall is pouring his heart out, looking for forgiveness and sympathy for anyone who will listen. He’s hit rock bottom, and desperately needs a life preserver (or pool float) to save him from drowning. And yet all Roman can do is brush it off with humor, saying things like “we’ve all killed a kid, no big deal!” Shiv even supports Roman’s dark humor, saying that they’ve all killed before, too. At this moment, Shiv and Roman are incapable of human decency and compassion because they’ve never felt what it’s like to feel powerless like Kendall. The Roy family name is a suit of armor so there are no life and death stakes like Kendall has faced time and time again.
– Brian fucking Cox!
– The final scene. Holy shit was that terrific to watch. This was the Shakespearean tragedy playing out in real-time. Kendall, Shiv, and Roman were left out of the GoJo negotiations so they decide to finally join forces to take down Logan. They spend the car ride getting their affairs in order, confirming the legality of the clause they prepare to invoke on their father. Logan and Caroline’s divorce agreement granted the children a vote over any change in company control so if Logan sold Waystar RoyCo and gave control to Lukas Matsson, Logan would need a supermajority vote to make it official. The children can invoke the clause to form an opposing majority to stop the deal.
Once again, Logan was three steps ahead of his children. Logan tried to explain why selling the company to GoJo would be good for the children because they can go out and earn their own worth, but they insist on invoking the clause. It turns out he renegotiated the divorce settlement with Caroline to remove the clause, making the Roy children powerless.
Everything about this scene was perfect. Logan always wins (which I’ll talk about later as well) and he will stop at nothing to make sure he comes out victorious even if it means going against his kids. The entire season was one long explanation as to why the Roy children are not ready to become the new face of WayStar. As Logan repeatedly says, he needs a killer. Shiv embarrassed her father time and time again with her words, highlighted by the deal with Sandy and Stewie where she compromised much more than Logan would ever consider. Roman made some key introductions especially with GoJo, but sending the dick pic to Gerri proved he was too immature to be CEO. Kendall is the only one to ever get a semi-nod of approval from Logan thanks to his powerplay at the end of Season 2, but his addictions and mental health make him an unreliable successor to the throne. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to the children that Logan made his own deal. He only trusts himself so the kids were naive to think he would ever consider their opinion.
Roman and Shiv finally experienced what it’s like to get the shitty end of the stick. Roman confessed his love to his Dad and Logan returned the favor by calling him a moron. A moron! A desperate Roman tried to plead to Gerri, but she knows that Logan holds the keys to her future and therefore can’t help her friend. The puppy dog eyes broke me if we’re being honest.
For Kendall, he already knows what it feels like to have nothing so, therefore, why beg for anything? He can’t beat his dad alone and now, he learned it’s tough to beat him with numbers on your side. All Kendall could do was console his siblings since Roman and Shiv can finally empathize with their older brother after the shared experiences of being fucked over by their father.
– Then there’s Shiv, who was a villain lurking in the shadows but stepped into the evil spotlight last week with her threat to Gerri. Shiv thought she could have it all. CEO of Waystar, an obedient husband, power, money, etc. It turns out she’s just as naive and inexperienced as her brothers. Her own husband knew this, too, so it’s time to talk about the man, the myth, the midwest legend himself, Tom Wambsgans.
THE HEEL TURN FROM TOM!
Jesse Armstrong you sneaky bastard! Tom FINALLY took a stand and did something for himself. Shiv deserves all the hate in the world for how she treats Tom. From requesting an open marriage on their wedding night to the meanest dirty talk ever recorded, it’s clear that Shiv married Tom so she could feel like the man of the family, the one who holds all of the power. Shiv doesn’t care about Tom. She proved that many times this season. Tom was most likely going to prison and she couldn’t give two shits.
Tom may look like a doofus, but he understands the one thing the Roy children refuse to accept; Logan always wins. If you side with Logan, he’ll be your best ally. If you go against Logan, he’ll gut you like a pig. Tom literally told this to Kendall at the diner. It’s why Tom offered himself up as the one to fall on the sword for the company. Tom understands that Logan appreciates loyalty so when the company learned no one would go to prison, Logan went out of his way to tell Tom that he’d always remember his sacrifice.
Tom was done riding Shiv’s coattails. It was time to get in the game and cash in his ticket. He alerted Logan of the coup, and Logan will return the favor in the form of power and positing within the company. Neuro and Sporus. Chef’s kiss on the payoff.
I could talk forever about this finale so I’ll try to wrap it up. Tom, Greg, Gerri, and Logan all realize that actions have consequences. They’ve all come from small beginnings. Nothing was handed to them. They can’t afford to take a loss because if they lose, it’s over. It’s why they naturally will side with the winning side aka Logan, and they’ll do whatever it takes to stay in the game.
Kendall, Roman, and Shiv never had to take huge risks because they could always fall back on their inheritance and family name. Kendall learned the hard way about what it’s like to go against the family and now Roman and Shiv got their slices of humble pie. Do you know what happens when Logan leaves you behind? You become Connor Roy, and the blowout from Connor at the beginning of the episode was another example of beautiful foreshadowing. Connor knows to stay on his Dad’s good side because once you cross him, it’s over. Connor knows what it feels like to be passed over for new blood, and if Logan’s maca root and almond butter smoothies work, the remaining Roy siblings will be passed over, too.
Remember, betrayals are always sealed with a kiss.
I can’t wait for Season 4. Jesse Armstrong has now crafted three perfect season finales. He pushed all his chips into the center in each finale, and the payouts were huge. Here’s to King Greg!
What are your thoughts on the Succession finale? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.