I’ve always been too wimpy for amusement park rides. I wish the same fear could pull some strings with my feelings about emotional rollercoasters. Because I sure as hell can’t keep my distance from shows that inevitably leave me a weeping mess in their wake. Who in their right mind gets emotionally invested in a show like Succession? A show with the worst possible people you can’t help but feel an ache for–doing the worst possible things you wish you could have a say in. I am that fool. And therefore, I’m rewarded with the warmest comfort that emanates out of Rome, Ken, and Shiv’s childlike shenanigans in their mother’s kitchen. And I can’t help but have my heart shattered with every tear that roll down Roman’s cheeks, every look of acute defeat on Ken’s face, and every growl of aching rage that Shiv lets out.
Making you love just as much as loathe these irremissible, cold-blooded, unimaginably entitled fascist degenerates is the success of Succession. And now it’s gone. So, what should you and I do when we’re done marinating in the melancholic ocean of grief with a touch of acutely personal self-reflection? While we send out our prayers to the universe for a rebound, let’s get on with the breakdown (oh well) of the very last episode of Succession, the very best show that ever existed.
Where Do We Stand Now?
It looks like Hugo’s been a good little pet and spread Ken’s hush-hush words around. But who does Ken even have on his side? Not his siblings, for sure. And from the looks of it, Stewy is still evaluating his prospects and letting himself be wooed by both parties. With the shareholders and the board members leaning towards giving a green signal to the GoJo deal, the only thing keeping Ken up and running is his devastating and completely wayward desperation for the CEO seat. And Shiv, on the other hand, can’t wait to reap the sweet benefit of the seeds of manipulation she’s sown. Is it just me, or is Shiv too overcome with the anticipation of her imminent golden future to notice that her beloved Swede sounds a bit dicey? Yet it’s not just her future that she needs to worry about.
Growing a little Roy inside her also necessitates at least a smidge of effort toward giving Tom an agreeable ground to walk on after the Viking revolution. She’s got to nudge the preoccupied Swede as his eyes rage against the sight of the cartoon that not-so-aptly describes his dynamic with the Roy princess. And she must make him take a look at the benefits of keeping a bootlicker. The bootlicker now holds a considerable amount of power in shaping the future of her offspring. Now that all the cats of their marriage are out of the bag, Shiv wouldn’t mind giving it another shot.
Did Anyone See That Coming?
It’s a call from mother dearest letting us and Shiv know that Rome hasn’t quite gotten out of last night’s rampage unscathed. A bruise here, a couple of stitches there, and little Roy has crawled back to Mom for a bit of comfort. Well, as long as he doesn’t make her administer drops to his “face eggs,” right? This is not the reunion that they hoped to have. But what else can Ken do but run when Hugo hands him Rome’s whereabouts? Every vote counts. And with Shiv already there and Caroline playing the faux-peacemaker, Ken’s already got more fires to put out than he can handle. But is it really the best time to bicker over bygones when the Swede is on the move? We can see where they’ve gotten their ruthless mind games from, though.
The only reason Caroline has even harbored her broken little boy and gathered the other two of her children is to pitch a business idea. Do these people ever relent? Greg’s beyond concealing his double game. It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate all that Tom has done for him, but being on tenterhooks as his savior’s future hangs in the balance has clearly made him look into other options. What he doesn’t know is that his boss is in for the tastiest little treat. In the odd world of Succession, you never know when your worst quality will be your biggest boon. All of his fawning and stripping his self-worth down to zilch is the very thing that makes Tom exactly what Matsson is looking for in the new CEO. He couldn’t be less interested in having a partner. And Matsson’s sketchy fantasies about Shiv, along with his very recent, bitter little experience with mixing business with pleasure, have evidently made him wary of giving Shiv what she’s paid dearly for. This is the first instance of us seeing an explosive turn of the tide go down in Succession. And while I wouldn’t have it any other way, I can’t help but feel bad for Shiv.
Three’s Better Than One
It’s practically embarrassing how this horrendous trio pulls at my heartstrings. But here we are, honest in even our worst moral commotion. Early birds may not get the worm, but Greg pulling the most wicked trick and outsmarting the Swede with a darn translator app has to be the most “Greg” he’s ever been. And now that Ken’s ascertained that all of Shiv’s backstabbing has resulted in nothing, he can go ahead and make a pitch for himself once again. If Shiv were Homelander, Carolina’s beach house would be kindling at that point. She’s been taken for a fool and used in the worst possible way by the worst possible person. And even though it still takes them a while to cease fire and make up their minds, at least they’ve banded together again. What a sight! 7-year-old Ken’s memory of his father promising him the throne, Rome’s relatively recent recollection of being offered the same, and Shiv’s lifetime of being caught up in the hope of becoming the queen—all of that falls short when it comes to their fury against the common enemy. With Tellis tallying up the odds and pushing for one over three, the siblings have got to form a united front with a single face visible to the world. Let the games begin.
What Will Happen To the Roys After The GoJo Takeover?
You’d think that a show with decidedly awful characters would at least need to give them special charismatic appeal to make it work. Yet what I love most about Succession is its resolve to show these irredeemable morons as the real, vile creatures that they are. And if you find yourself wondering why you should care about people like that, take a look at how they are when they’re stripped of their billion-dollar glory. Underneath the diamond-studded layer of what makes them feel like aliens to us wage earners are their glaringly human scars. They bleed the same blood that we do. Only they have access to the world’s most effective ointments to soothe their wounds. But what about the emotional scars? There’s nothing exotic about the bittersweet tears they shed when Logan shows up on a videotape and sings as though he is just about to walk in through the door.
The materialistic value of the belongings they stick their sad little stickers on is no more significant than that of the keepsakes we hold close because they remind us of simple times. Take away the money and the luxuries, and they’re just people. But then again, why should you not hate their guts enough to not even grant them the privilege of being seen as human beings? The answer is, “You shouldn’t.” You’re to allow your rage to take over because, however sad Connor may be and however small his chances at being the Slovenian ambassador are, he’s still a worthless millionaire who can use a bundle of cash to soak up his tears. Even if Ken, Shiv, and Rome’s coup fails, they’d still receive bigger compensations than you and I could ever hope to see in our lifetime. So your hatred is more than justified. As is your love, should you choose to see them as the broken little children that they really are.
My heart was practically in my throat when Shiv was almost about to make the same mistake that she had made once before—trusting Tom with her plans. But thankfully, Tom breaks before she does. Because his name has officially been picked by the Swede, he has nothing to lose. Well, nothing except his trust for his little Greglet, who’s ambushed with a literal punch and fights back to avoid a bruise on his pretty face. Could they be any cuter? But now that both sides know what the other is up to, it’s all hands on deck. Matsson has never been more Viking than when he shoots a blood-curdling, animalistic howl at his sluggish team. It’s time to wake up and eviscerate the Roys. If you were wondering why Frank changed his mind, it’s because Matsson got to him before Ken did. It’s not a sorry sight at the Waystar office, either.
Pulling in Stewy with the promise of the chairman’s chair, Ken’s all set to walk into the conference room, thumping his chest. But not before he cuts Roman down to size. Why not Roman for CEO? Because there’s nothing more to the broken little guy than tears in the worst possible moments. The man who lets his bully of a brother hug him and pop his stitches is not the man who should have the wheel in his hands. And why not Shiv? Because her very recent and embarrassingly failed attempt at one-upping her own blood is public knowledge. The amount of ammo Ken has at his disposal even unnerves Frank, who can’t wait to wash his hands of the Roy family and their never-ending cycle of mutual destruction. Say what you will about Ken, but the man’s seldom been wrong about his capabilities. Can you imagine the amount of strategy it takes for him to even bring the vote to a draw? But while we acknowledge and appreciate his good business sense, we must also consider that his biggest weakness is his family. His siblings are the only people he doesn’t bother tying up loose ends with. Because, at the end of the day, he’s naive enough to believe that they have his best interests at heart. But the root of that arrogance isn’t just the love he has for them. Ironically enough, it is his intense narcissism that makes him believe that everything will go his way.
So, when Shiv turns 180 degrees and changes her mind about her vote, Ken’s shock is as sincere as his heartbreak. Ken’s love-hate relationship with his father has made him more like his old man than his siblings could ever be. It’s the Logan-ness that Shiv recognizes in Ken. And she can’t, no matter what’s at stake, get sucked back into the cycle that only her father’s death could momentarily put a stop to. She loves her brother, but the prospect of once again being the woman with a title but no voice whatsoever just doesn’t sit right with Shiv. She’s seen Tom’s state as the head of ATN, and she knows it too well to believe that it will be any different for her. Instead, and to the absolute dread of her dejected brother, Shiv secures her husband as the CEO–in the hope that Tom will acknowledge her gesture and give their marriage another shot. Better a CEO’s wife and the mother of his child than another CEO’s subdued little sister and the ATN pawn. What she achieves, or at least hopes to achieve with her decision to back the GoJo takeover, is the termination of the wildly problematic and misogynistic family dynamic that the Roys have set for ages. However sad it may be, with Tom, she would at least have a voice, or so she hoped.
Quite poetically, as it always has been under its hedonistic facade, Succession ends with the birth of some hopes and the death of some others. It ends with the disillusionment of Roman, who is ready to accept that they’re just not “serious people.” It ends with Shiv and Tom hoping to chart a different course under the Swedish regime. It ends with the absolute dissolution of all of Ken’s hopes and dreams. By his own admission, not that we needed him to vocalize it, he’s nothing if not the successor of the Roy legacy. And considering how far Jeremy Strong has taken his method acting, I genuinely hope that this ending doesn’t affect him as much as it does Ken. And even though my fingers are going numb at the thought of this being the last thing I’ll ever write about Succession, I’d wholeheartedly accept that it couldn’t have had a more apt ending. This is exactly what Logan had in mind for the future of his legacy. For the insanely narcissistic and pompous man that he was, Waystar Royco’s future was only important as long as he was there on the throne. He didn’t really want any of his children to continue his legacy because he knew that not one of them was capable of doing justice to it. To him, it didn’t matter if the Roy legacy ended up falling into good hands as long as it didn’t fall into the hands of someone who would bring shame to the Roy name.