The Emmy-winning HBO series kicked off the season with an abundance of hype, which inevitably led to wondering whether that reputation was deserved. But the final two episodes (which weren’t available for review beforehand) produced the kind of thrilling moments that got the series all that cultural fuss and made it one of the TV’s premier dramas.
In a seemingly inevitable development, business-hungry mogul Logan Roy (Brian Cox, spectacular throughout the run of the show, but especially here) went from buyer to seller, negotiating a deal for control of his Waystar company with up-and-coming tech company GoJo and his own Chef Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård).
The deal – brokered behind the backs of his adult children – stripped them of the baton everyone had aspired to from the start.
That ended in a confrontation between Logan and Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin). He did this by reaching out to his ex-wife and her mother (Harriet Walter) for whatever leverage they could have to thwart any deal. (Shiv described the process in characteristically colorful and crude terms.)
In hindsight, an opening sequence in which the Roys were playing a game of Monopoly and cheating seemed like a premonition, except that Logan is used to doing so with real qualities. His children, born to power, just don’t measure up, at least for now.
The final showdown left the youngest, Roman, in the thick of it with the vague promise of a position at the start-up company and Shiv warned him about his father, “You can’t trust him.”
This sequence was followed by another operatic moment when Kendall – having barely survived the cliffhanger of the penultimate episode – suffered a near collapse. He confessed to his siblings the death for which he was at least partly responsible during the first season, which his father had covered up.
The extra long hour also contained several memorable lines that emphasized that laughing out loud is one of the secret weapons of “Succession”. This included Willa (Justine Lupe) belatedly agreeing to marry the oldest Roy child (Alan Ruck), not by saying “Yes” to his proposal, but rather “How bad could it be?”
While series creator Jesse Armstrong has pointed out that Rupert Murdoch and his clan aren’t the only inspiration behind the series, it’s worth noting that Murdoch closed his own stunning deal in 2019 to sell vital assets to Disney and keep control of others . Given that Matsson has opened up the possibility of leaving Logan a few key characters, there is little to fear that he may be inactive in the coming seasons, however many there are. (Like CNN, HBO is a unit of WarnerMedia.)
The finale didn’t answer every burning question, but of course in this kind of serialized format and it didn’t have to. At the same time, it introduced a huge new unknown – namely, what will become of “Succession” when the battle for leadership of Waystar is indeed lost, and what will the Roys do without that price to argue and argue about?
The answer probably won’t be pretty, but if the first three seasons are a guide it will be almost irresistible.