Succession: With Open Eyes
May 29, 2023 2:20 AM - Season 4, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Series Finale
posted by chill (104 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I am overwhelmed by how good that was. I can’t think of another series I’ve watched in my near half century of a lifetime that succeeded in crafting an ending so fitting.
It was created with confidence, with respect for the audience, and compassion for the characters.
I literally laughed and I literally cried.
I am bereft but grateful that the show didn’t just know when to close the story, but how.
I haven’t seen any other reaction yet, so I hope mine is the consensus opinion and I’m not about to fire up Twitter to loads of comic book guy reactions because that would bum me out!
posted by chill at 2:23 AM on May 29, 2023 [27 favorites]

Not to be that "comic book guy" but I realised halfway through this season that the actual succession was probably the least interesting bit of the show for me. I found the story less exciting once Logan was no longer manipulating the siblings. Having said that, I'm excited to see the discussion of the episode here.
posted by orbific at 3:22 AM on May 29, 2023 [4 favorites]

The business-machinations viewer in me: deeply satisfied (a series of hairpin turns, each of which threatens to transform the balance of power in the final vote, resulting in an unexpected-yet-completely-earned climax)

The Shakespearean-drama viewer in me: deeply satisfied (the sheer ambiguities of why Shiv makes her final choice, Ken's borderline-madness meltdown, Roman seeing low after low while realizing how fundamentally poisonous his father, made manifest as the company he left behind, has been to his entire family)

The dumbass fan/shipper in me who refuses to examine said emotional ambiguities whatsoever: deeply satisfied (Tom and Shiv stay together!! Tom and Greg stay together!! Hooraaaaaaaaaaaaaaay also Stewy kisses boys)
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 3:56 AM on May 29, 2023 [28 favorites]

God. Just so many perfect details. The recording of Logan, genuinely happy, at a dinner without any of his kids but Connor; the scene with Kendall out at sea; the meal fit for a king. Succession was so shockingly tender at the rare moment when it felt appropriate.

The ambiguity of Mencken's presidency is such a perfect note. If Mencken becomes president, it's a condemnation of the Roys in one way; if he doesn't, it's a condemnation of the Roys in another. Either they've built this towering monument to the corroding soul of America, or they've devoted their lives to this giant juggernaut which... literally just does not matter. Shit movies, terrible theme parks, awful cruises, and can't even overturn democracy. An outright waste.

(And an equally perfect ambiguity to Connor and Willa. There's something so good about the possibility that either they're at "long distance relationship" two weeks in or Willa won't even get that opportunity.)

Karolina's would-be shanking of Hugo is a great final grace note for her. Ditto Hugo's would-be sucking-up to Tom. Gerri gets one final moment on video tape, as well as triggering Roman's meltdown IRL; Karl gets degraded one last time by Logan, then has one last Statler-and-Waldorf moment with Frank which doesn't matter because the two of them only stayed around because Logan wanted them to stick pins into. Kerry gets one final hilarious moment as a face popping out from the other room; Peter Munion gets one final awful, awful business pitch.

Oh, and Lawrence and Vaulter get one last ghost appearance too. I bet Matsson loved Vaulter the same way that Elon Musk loved The Onion. (And Matsson totally has a sense of humor, he thought that cartoon was super funny.)

There's an unfortunate vein of anti-Shiv misogyny popping up from the sort of dim Discord shithead who thought he was watching Corporate Game of Thrones, but by and large people seem to recognize what a flawless landing this was. Can't believe Armstrong et al didn't think we'd want a season 5 which revolves around The Hundred, though. Leaving money on the table, that.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 4:10 AM on May 29, 2023 [22 favorites]

I'm so glad they stuck the landing !
posted by Pendragon at 5:33 AM on May 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

Such a satisfying sendoff.
For instance: the 'meal fit for a king' hazing. That seemed how the other siblings would be able to accept one of them succeeding.
But no.

Also: so much comeuppance.
And the story resolution for most characters.
Their final path is clear. I'm feel ok with letting them go. Not care about them anymore.

posted by jouke at 5:38 AM on May 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

Trending on twitter this morning: "I AM THE ELDEST BOY."

Mrs. HeroZero and I were a little confused by the "bloodline" talk in the climactic sibling confrontation, thinking it was some ridiculous "Logan's not really Kendall's dad" twist, but actually it was about his adopted/sperm-donation-sourced kids.

It was great and Roman licking the cheese will haunt me.
posted by HeroZero at 5:43 AM on May 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

Wow, that was a great ending.

Shiv realised she had nothing without Tom, and she only chose him because he was CEO.

And Matsson only chose Tom because he thinks Tom's his puppet. I thought the dynamics of Matsson's relationships with Shiv, Tom and Greg were brutal in the last few episodes. Matsson has the same kind of cruelty as Logan deep in his soul.

Roman realised he had nothing without love. Seeing Gerri floored him.

Ken realised he had nothing without the company.

I had a sense of foreboding three times during this episode that Kendall might die before the end. Harking back to last season where they left us on a cliffhanger that he'd drowned, I felt anxious when he waded into the water during this episode. I also thought he might have taken the elevator to the roof and jumped, but when I saw him walking towards the river and he saw how rough the water was, I wondered again if he was going to jump in, until I saw Colin a few steps behind.

The LOL moment for me was Willa's face when she learned she'd be stuck with Conor if Jiminez won.
posted by essexjan at 6:17 AM on May 29, 2023 [18 favorites]

All due respect to everyone involved in this show; they really nailed the finale. Just great TV all through and through. I wonder if this conclusion was what they had in mind all along. Not just Tom finally winning the succession war but how it all fit together to get there. It felt like the groundwork was quite deeply laid.

So many great things in the show I just want to highlight three things.

Matsson's feeling out Tom for CEO, then telling Tom he wants to fuck his wife. "Why don't I get the guy who put the baby inside her instead of the baby lady". That is the single most vile line I've heard spoke on TV in quite awhile.

The scene of the siblings goofing around playing "Meal Fit for a King" in the kitchen. Such a shift from the usual nastiness and drama, they looked like kids who grew up together having fun clowning around. A ritual to bring a conclusion to a difficult sibling rivalry. Nice tonal contrast and a form of catharsis. Bookended by the video of Logan at Connor's. That scene was sort of like the traditional clip show you'd get at the end of a TV show as a lazy way to indulge everyone's fond nostalgia for their beloved characters. I liked they used that device here, but briefly and distorted (literally filmed a TV showing the video, with tinny sound). Together both scenes bring the family back a little bit to normal and relatable, at least briefly.

And then the perfect ending. Shiv reconciled with Tom for the least romantic reasons. Tom putting his hand out for Shiv to hold, she putting her hand on top of his. Her hand laying there like a dead fish.

I also want to appreciate the arc of this episode's lighting, from daytime to night to day again. The key plot scenes all happen at night with very dim lighting, first Matsson and Tom in the restaurant and then the kids in the water in Barbados. So dark it was a bit of a struggle for my TV, but still perfectly visible. Murky in a way that dramatizes the action. It reminds me of the Dogme 95 film Festen which similarly uses natural lighting to frame the emotional arc of its story of family drama.
posted by Nelson at 6:25 AM on May 29, 2023 [12 favorites]

Hooraaaaaaaaaaaaaaay also Stewy kisses boys

I was so glad to see Stewy again! Arian Moayed's instagram suggested we would, but nevertheless I cheered when he appeared. What a wonderful arc he had.

On insta, Moayed was celebrating that he had a trifecta just now: Succession, A Doll's House on stage and You Hurt My Feelings on the big screen. I like him LOTS.
posted by BibiRose at 6:26 AM on May 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

It occurred to me that Tom is now explicitly Matsson's Greg, in a way that feels absolutely fitting for all three of them.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 6:29 AM on May 29, 2023 [22 favorites]

lickspittle to the guy boning his pregnant wife.

Matsson wants to bone his wife but he hasn't... yet...
posted by Pendragon at 6:58 AM on May 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

Not just Tom finally winning the succession war
Matsson won the succession war, not Tom. Matsson owns Waystar Royco, is the one and only boss, and can do with it whatever he'd like.

If Tom has succeeded anyone it's Frank, not Logan.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:01 AM on May 29, 2023 [17 favorites]

Matsson wants to bone his wife but he hasn't... yet...

I mean Shiv did think, in happier times, that a threesome might be good for the marriage
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 7:05 AM on May 29, 2023 [4 favorites]

I watched every episode, and at various points throughout, I could not figure out why this "brilliant" show was falling so flat for me. I finally realized, it's because nothing changes in the show. There's precious little character growth. There's relatively little circumstance change.

The Roy children are all phenomenally rich, and unable to enjoy their wealth. Tom's a suck-up at a higher level but still the "pain sponge."

Even after their abusive father died, after they were potentially free from that cycle, not a one appeared happy or relieved. Obviously it would be a conflicted sort of relief, but how interesting if one of them finally had the moment of clarity to actually wrestle with those emotions and trying to shift their life's path while their siblings remain stuck.

Instead, everything's static, and the characters from season four are the same as the characters in season one. Yet, I watched each and every episode, which is a testament to the craft, that such a flat narrative could still be relatively compelling.
posted by explosion at 7:14 AM on May 29, 2023 [9 favorites]

Karolina's would-be shanking of Hugo is a great final grace note for her.

I think her real final note is Kendall looking around and asking Hugo, "Where's Karolina?" and that's the last we hear about her. So quick and brutal. Do we know the backstory about the Karolina/Hugo fight? I forget if we got anything there.
posted by mediareport at 7:20 AM on May 29, 2023 [3 favorites]

In the podcast, Skarsgård emphasizes the scene at the funeral where Matsson overhears Greg tell Shiv that Tom is still at work. So the parallel to the pilot—Kendall going to Logan's birthday and losing his shot at CEO—becomes the explicit moment when Tom is crowned, so to speak.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 7:29 AM on May 29, 2023 [3 favorites]

I dropped Succession after season 2, frustrated with the reliance on coincidence and irrational behavior, but came back on friends' recommendation of the election night episode, which was one of the best hours of TV I've seen. The funeral episode seemed to set us up perfectly for tonight, and then it went back to having everything hinge on people behave irrationally. Which I get now, that's the point -- these terribly broken people are incapable of making rational decisions and so of course the only possible outcome was a frog-and-scorpion (and another scorpion?) thing.

But... man, it's hard for me to accept Shiv's decisions. In my (admittedly incomplete) viewing, she's been intelligent, the closest one to stable, and the most Machiavellian of them all. And with the way they set up the vote (which also made no sense), she completely own her brothers right then. Seemed to me like her obvious choice was to say, "Ummm, boys? You want my vote, you want to keep Royco in the family? Then I'm your boss, bitches." Because she's ambitious-- and because how the hell could she let Tom win? And even if the boys don't cave, that would have been a better trigger for the final meltdown.

TL;DR: I like, even admire, the outcome. Brilliant. But I'm really frustrated with how they got there, and now I'm trying to reconcile those feelings. Maybe I need to go back and watch S3 and the rest of S4. Comic book guy out; have at me, FanFare.
posted by martin q blank at 7:58 AM on May 29, 2023 [3 favorites]

But... man, it's hard for me to accept Shiv's decisions.

Yep, Shiv's character has been written in such a haphazard way this season. Someone mentioned in an earlier thread that she seems to be whoever the writers need her to be at any moment, and this episode confirmed that.

how the hell could she let Tom win?

I know what you mean. Given the choice between a) her weak brother, who less than 12 hours ago she agreed to crown king, thinking he'd be easy to work with, and b) giving ATN to Tom and Mattson, both of whom JUST NOW got done stabbing her in the back with a huge jagged piece of glass...that she'd suddenly choose option b) seemed absurd to me. Took me right out of the show. I've had some issues with the writers doing Shiv wrong all season - the will-she-won't-she with Tom got so absurd by the end, and her stereotypical (for TV, which routinely avoids showing women characters seriously consider abortions - see the Abortion Onscreen folks for more) adoption of the Kinder/Küche/Kirche role the show clunkily tried to address in that Mattson-Tom dinner, just ended so clumsily, I thought.

The writers did Shiv wrong this season. The Shiv frrom previous seasons deserved better than that. Not saying I needed her happy, but the clichéd place she did end up made no sense at all.
posted by mediareport at 8:18 AM on May 29, 2023 [9 favorites]

None of these people deserved better! None of these people deserve on millionth of what they have! it's been fun watching them flail and suffer.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:24 AM on May 29, 2023 [21 favorites]

Like I said, I'm not saying I needed her happy; that all three kids end up miserable is a decent ending for a show about family misery. I'm saying her character deserved a more thoughtful arc and a less stereotypical end.
posted by mediareport at 8:26 AM on May 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

Shiv's decision makes a lot of sense. She wants to be powerful, she wants to support her brother, but she realizes that as much as Tom and Mattson fucked her over, they're still better for the company, for the stock price, for her wealth.

Kendall is a fuck-up, always has been, always will be. His tantrum at the end is just the confirmation she needs. He was never going to power-share, she realizes that she's pushed out either way, so at least she can pick the way where actual adults are at the helm of the ship.
posted by explosion at 8:26 AM on May 29, 2023 [19 favorites]

She did it for Tom, right? It was a callback to that earlier conversation about how neither of them would sacrifice power for love because they love power too much... And she wanted him back so badly that she was willing to demonstrate that she could live that ideal.

posted by kbanas at 8:40 AM on May 29, 2023 [3 favorites]

I thought she did it for Kendall and Roman, recognising that keeping Waystar was the worst end for them, that it would consume Kendall totally. Their mother’s advice to leave it and escape is still fresh.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:45 AM on May 29, 2023 [8 favorites]

I appreciated a friend pointing out that no matter what way Shiv tries to play it, she's always the victim of misogyny. From the very first season her whole thing was wanting something of her own. And she almost had it, she was almost CEO under Matsson. Not a complete victory, but something she could work with. But then she's not in the room and Matsson chooses Tom over "the baby lady" witih vile language of sexual ownership. Betrayed by Matsson and her husband, she goes back to playing the other side, her brothers, but she realizes at the end that's not going to get her anything she wants either. She can't win.

I realize that's a bit of a cliché and a victim narrative. But it also felt very true to me. And well written. Shiv's the main character in this episode, everything revolves around her decisions. She's not without agency, she's making power plays of her own and has her own form of pathology just like Kendall and Roman do. She's a well written character. But in Logan Roy's patriarchy she's never going to be in charge and all of what she does are well motivated reactions to that limitation.
posted by Nelson at 8:58 AM on May 29, 2023 [28 favorites]

I was also on the whole very satisfied with this as a finale - it also certainly leaves open the possibility for a fifth season. I would imagine HBO has told Armstrong, look if you ever want to do a fifth, you can. But even if one doesn't happen, this was an excellent finale. Worth pointing out, given the WGA strike, that Armstrong believed in the value of writers and having them around for the whole process, spelled out nicely here.

Anyway, a few things to add:

-Everyone seems focused on Shiv deciding to stay with Tom, but that's seemed pretty clear since at least the last episode. She's pregnant and wants to keep the baby, she genuinely enjoyed their 'second honeymoon' post-reconciliation - she has a very hard time verbalizing affection, but she pretty clearly has wanted things to work out with him. It's Tom who has been uncertain - he started the fight on the balcony (he understandably wasn't too keen on all the jokes she made about him being expendable), and he left her hanging when she called him before departing to see Roman. The unresolved tension between them, at least lately, is that Tom cares about his career, whereas Shiv has been happy to help him at times, putting pressure on Logan to promote him and the like, but she hasn't until the finale been capable of stepping back and considering not just what is best for her, but best for them. Her vote is perhaps a sign of a shift, and Tom's invitation she join him in his car ride home indicates he's now willing to forgive and reconcile.

But... man, it's hard for me to accept Shiv's decisions.

-My read is that she was truly on board, more or less, with Kendall taking over, but also clearly somewhat begrudgingly for a variety of reasons. First, Kendall hasn't proven particularly adept over the course of four seasons - he has his moments, but there are reasons Logan had his doubts. And second, it's clear Kendall would rule like his father did - as an authoritarian, unwilling to take in much input from others. Shiv wouldn't be much closer to power than she was with her father in charge.

Then she's blindsided the morning before the vote by Tom revealing he's Matsson's pick. Which initially pisses her off, but then she's in the meeting - perhaps she notices Roman's cut is bleeding and suspects Kendall, or perhaps the fact that plenty of people whose opinion she trusts are not keen on Kendall starts to make her doubt, or she's realizes this is her chance to prove to Tom her loyalty - in any case, I think when she asks for a bit of time to think, it's not a play, it's real. She's still uncertain at that point. And what does Kendall do? He launches into pure bully mode, because of course he does - at his core he's a petulant child whose only strategy of getting square pegs into round holes is to try to jam them in, and then he's consistently shocked and dismayed when it doesn't work. And that's when her choice becomes clear to her. I think one can debate whether it's a good choice, but it makes sense to me why she'd decide that in the moment.

The award for MVP goes to Sarah Snook - obviously great acting all around, but I really hope she wins every award.

There's precious little character growth.

-Kendall never grows, but I'd say both Shiv and Roman change, and that it's a sort of growth - they are still deeply flawed people obviously, but in the wake of Logan's death, Roman comes to accept that none of the kids are able to live up to their father's legacy, as does Shiv (though based on her final expression, this is a bitter pill - Roman meanwhile ends on a smile).

A couple of criticisms:

-Why does the Pierce deal just completely disappear? I kept waiting for someone to suggest at Caroline's, "Well, if the deal goes through we can always run this other major media company together."

-Given Mencken isn't president yet, and it should have been clear on election night that the legal fight would be longer than a few days, I don't get why Mencken ever had any power over the deal - I could see why if he won outright, but given what a mess it was, I don't see why Matsson would have bothered making a deal with him regarding an American CEO.
posted by coffeecat at 8:59 AM on May 29, 2023 [12 favorites]

I thought that Shiv had a moment of realization that Kendall and Roman are both incompetent and likely to tank the company, while she will be in a position of power as Tom's wife, able to manipulate and puppet him as CEO. And she still has power over Mattson that she hasn't used, I think? The blood thing and overall dark/bizarre sexual harassment of Ebba is still on the table between them, I think? (I might be forgetting something if it was resolved somehow.) I think she made a decision to pivot based on a real assessment of what would get her to the most power/influence/money/relevancy - and, it's not the amateur hour brothers.
posted by lizard music at 9:01 AM on May 29, 2023 [7 favorites]

I finally realized, it's because nothing changes in the show. There's precious little character growth. There's relatively little circumstance change.

I think that's the point, really. For all the machinations and drama, the machinery keeps grinding. The Roys and the Mattsons keep fighting to be at the top, to stay at the top, and die at the top. The prize? Dying in the toilet while trying to cling to power. For what? What possible earthly desire could any of them have that they couldn't have fulfilled with all their money and power even after the deal?

They don't even have a world-view that they're trying to bring to fruition other than them at the top. They don't believe they're making the world better, they know they're making it worse and don't care. It only matters that they have their hands on the controls, even though they don't really care what the controls do.

And they are all horrible people. All of them. Petty, vicious, no real moral compass other than power. You see Shiv abandon any pretense of principles to suck up to Mattson if it means being CEO. Kendall has no reason for wanting to be CEO other than the belief that he's entitled to it.

And for all that to have no point, and yet... the influence they have. The presidential succession is left unresolved but we see that there's a very good chance this Trump-like character is going to win because they tried to throw the election in the hopes that he'd kill the deal. And it doesn't even matter in the end, the deal happens anyway.

And Kendall's denial at the end. They've voiced it before in the series, but it drives home the point that the vast majority of people "aren't real people" in their books. Shiv and Roman don't care about the kid, either, it's just a thing for Shiv to say as a reason to deny Kendall the only thing he wants.

I'd have been happy if the series ended with Kendall getting the job, I did enjoy the sibs bonding and coming together – but of course it couldn't last. Not even 12 hours.

What was Karolina's beef with Hugo? Did I miss / forget that? Or was it just to show that the knives come out all over? (And perhaps to give Dagmara Dominczyk some lines in the finale?)
posted by jzb at 9:01 AM on May 29, 2023 [18 favorites]

Shiv has a prenup with Tom, she has what with Kendall?
posted by kingdead at 9:02 AM on May 29, 2023 [3 favorites]

Also, the only thing my heart wanted was for Gerri to walk into that bar and sit down next to Roman.
posted by lizard music at 9:02 AM on May 29, 2023 [24 favorites]

To not abuse the edit button: it strikes me as fitting that the first episode has Kendall failing to bully Lawrence into a deal, and then the final episode ends with Kendall failing to bully Shiv (and to a degree Roman - he votes for him, but he also supports Shiv's choice in the end) into a deal.
posted by coffeecat at 9:08 AM on May 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

I think Shiv's choice is fairly rational actually.

Seemed to me like her obvious choice was to say, "Ummm, boys? You want my vote, you want to keep Royco in the family? Then I'm your boss, bitches." Because she's ambitious-- and because how the hell could she let Tom win? And even if the boys don't cave, that would have been a better trigger for the final meltdown.

Honestly, at this point the boys not caving should be seen as a foregone conclusion. For a moment Shiv might think she could work with them, but over the course of the episode she finally acknowledges that's just not going to happen. Kendall will never accept her as boss. Because sexism. Because he's Kendall. He won't share the power. He's staked his whole life on the crown going to the eldest boy, and there's only one crown for only one head. Kendall would never crown her, and it turns out, neither would anyone else. No one believes in her like that. Because sexism. And also because she's Shiv.

I think Shiv finally realizes that she can't be on the throne, no matter what. And if being the power behind the throne is the best she can do, there's an argument to be made for picking Tom's throne instead of Kendall's. It's worse for her pride, it makes her look weaker, and it might even be a sentimental miscalculation that the baby could give her more leverage than a continued stake in the ownership. But from a purely financial perspective, thinking about it in terms of future discounted cash-flows, it's definitely what I would do.

The baby might not give her not all that much leverage, fine. But let's face it, so far neither did her stake in the ownership. It gives her a vote, but it won't automatically make Kendall listen to her. She doesn't trust him to make good choices, to not go off the rails, and when he does, she'll have to plot again to depose him, or the value of her share goes down the drain. It will be a constant struggle. She's just done with that. Investment comes with risks, and she won't take a risk on Kendall. So she takes the pay-out. Makes perfect sense.

Giving it to Tom, eh, it's of course a humiliation. But he'll earn more than he could ever spend as CEO and a lot of that will be eventually left to her baby. She'll still be the richer on in the marriage though, because of the pay out, so while he can probably make her eat a certain amount of crow now, there's very much a limit to the amount of crow he can make her eat.

Shiv realizes that she can't have respect, so she chooses the money. Of course these people are all so fantastically rich that we can't imagine money still being a concern for them, but money is power just as much as a crown, and clearly the more useful part of it. Shiv choosing money over pride is the most rational thing anyone has ever done in this story.
posted by sohalt at 9:18 AM on May 29, 2023 [17 favorites]

"Ummm, boys? You want my vote, you want to keep Royco in the family? Then I'm your boss, bitches."

The second she voted for Kendall she'd lose all leverage. He'd do exactly what he's always done--throw her and Roman aside. He's the eldest boy and nothing will stop his belief that he's entitled to rule like his father. Shiv had no good option, and the choice she made makes perfect sense.
posted by Mavri at 9:20 AM on May 29, 2023 [4 favorites]

I think her real final note is Kendall looking around and asking Hugo, "Where's Karolina?"

That was Tom asking "Where's Karolina?" and I took it to mean Hugo is out.
posted by Pendragon at 9:22 AM on May 29, 2023 [12 favorites]

I finally realized, it's because nothing changes in the show. There's precious little character growth. There's relatively little circumstance change.

If you want character growth, then yes, I can see this might not be the show for you. As a whole, it kind of reminded me of that Mexican film "The Exterminating Angel" about a bunch of rich people that for reasons that are never explained and despite a desire to do so, never leave a party. They just don't. They head to the exit and then just... stay.

Even after their abusive father died, after they were potentially free from that cycle, not a one appeared happy or relieved. Obviously it would be a conflicted sort of relief, but how interesting if one of them finally had the moment of clarity to actually wrestle with those emotions and trying to shift their life's path while their siblings remain stuck.

I think this is exactly what was happening to Roman at the end. He was released and he was relieved. We're only a week on from Logan's death here, so maybe Ken will not be far behind. Shiv? I don't know.
posted by chill at 9:30 AM on May 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

I never wanted the sibs to retain the firm, but my "happy ending" would have been what the show gave us in Barbados. I wanted them to find peace with each other, but that was never going to work. I love that we get to see them have that night with each other and then the moment in Logan's apartment. The obscenity of "Peter's cheese" alone made that worth it. And the awful fight during the board meeting is the honest ending.

The only single moment I struggled to believe was Greg using his phone to translate Swedish, because I think Greg is too stupid to think of that. Then again, he's been part of Mattson's hangs for at least a week so maybe his survival instinct kicked in.
posted by gladly at 9:38 AM on May 29, 2023 [4 favorites]

Do we know the backstory about the Karolina/Hugo fight? I forget if we got anything there.

I think he's just an ass and it humiliates her to have to be his colleague..
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:42 AM on May 29, 2023 [4 favorites]

maybe Ken will not be far behind
I don't know why I wrote that. Of course he's not. He'll get up from that bench with some hair brained scheme and just keep on being Kendall. I don't know maybe Colin will put him out of his misery and push him in the drink or something.
posted by chill at 9:45 AM on May 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

Do we know the backstory about the Karolina/Hugo fight? I forget if we got anything there.

Backspill from a conversation Hugo and Logan had in a limo in Hungary? Hugo was trying to replace her a while ago.

I don't know maybe Colin will put him out of his misery and push him in the drink or something.

I mean, talk about the writers punishing Colin. He's getting over the death of his boss and now has to keep an eye on Kendall.

He's a goon, muscle to protect the rich, but I kind of feel a bit of sympathy given the end to poor Colin's story. He deserved better!
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:05 AM on May 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

I loved this, but for me possibly the most surprising element was Branston Pickle being namedropped. I have it on sandwiches pretty regularly, while my partner finds it repellent, so she got a kick out of it being referred to as “wartime pickle”. Curious to see if they have a twitter account and are playing off this, this must be their very first appearance in a prestige drama.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:09 AM on May 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

When Kendall hesitates before sitting in Logan's chair, Roman and Shiv wave it off, saying "it's not a magic chair." Then he sits, and there's something about Kendall's posture. Uh-oh, it's a magic chair. You can see a wave of revulsion wash over the other two.

Is it just because they can't stand to see him get the thing they wanted? Or is it because they can see that this will turn him into a less competent version of Logan, and if that happens, they're tied in to a lifetime of that constant whiplash between the warm light and betrayal, and all they'll get in exchange for their effort is, most likely, partial ownership over a failing megacorporation? The possibility of the former doesn't change the reality of the latter.

Shiv leaves--she's going to talk to Sandi, I thought? But there's no evidence that ever happens. Roman spirals, and Kendall neutralizes him with a sick manipulation of Roman's history with intertwining love and physical abuse. Shiv doesn't witness this. She wasn't there to see how Kendall spoke to Colin or Hugo last episode, either. But she still knows, because it's obvious--Kendall has Logan's cruelty but none of his sense.

The fact that voting for the merger "helps" the husband she was trying to win back while netting her millions of dollars is a thing that is true even if it's not her primary reason. I think her real reason is what she says it is--one way or another, she can't stomach it. I wouldn't be able to, either.
posted by lampoil at 10:18 AM on May 29, 2023 [7 favorites]

People are already talking through why Shiv did what she did, so forgive me for throwing my own overeager take into the mix, but: God, in an episode full of stunning direction, the moment that struck me the absolute most was the board meeting, when the camera kept cutting to Shiv ever-so-slightly too often. It wasn't especially obvious, but—in a sequence where all the other shots were following pretty basic procedural developments—I felt this increasing, panicky dread at what was to come.

The dread was this mix of "No fucking way, it makes no fucking sense, it couldn't be her, it couldn't," and this deeper recognition that, on some level, it had to be. Even before she spoke. Something was mis-aligned somewhere, some pieces had been masterfully and subtly left ajar, and this was the faultline that the script had subtly left unshown.

And weirdly, the key to the final season, I think, is Roman: the theme established from the very first shot of season 4 is Roman's relationship to his family, and his desire to form some kind of meaningful family bond. In the first episode, he's the one who's reluctant about Pierce, because he wants the family to stay together; in the second episode, he's reaching out to Logan, hopeful to re-establish some sort of peace; then Logan dies, and everything goes to shit.

The rest of the season, from the wake onward, sets up an increasing tension between Shiv and Roman. Yes, it's technically Ken+Roman versus Shiv, but the personal animosity is a Shiv/Roman divide, whereas the tension between Shiv and Kendall is framed as "just business." But Ken's the one making moves, talking Roman into doing his bidding, then presenting it to Shiv as a collaborative choice. And Ken's going behind Roman's back at the same time, maneuvering Hugo, establishing a scheme to dissolve the Gojo deal by slowly pressuring Roman into it (and using Roman as leverage with Shiv).

By the time of the election, Shiv is spitting mad at Roman—but the narrative that Ken adopts is that Shiv is the one betraying the family. Ken, who has been going behind his siblings' backs this whole time, reacts to Shiv reaching out to Matsson as if she's the one tearing the family to pieces; once again, Roman is enlisted as his backup and the shield that absorbs most of Shiv's ire. Because Ken's being a manipulative piece of shit, but he's doing it for family. But Shiv? Selfish spoiled spiteful Shiv? Real family-hater, that one.

Roman is the only person genuinely invested in some kind of family. His blow-up at Matsson. His complicitness in Ken's scheme. Even his pushing Mencken—as Kieran Culkin put it in the podcast, Roman's primary motive there is that it's the right move for the siblings' plan, and his antagonism of Shiv is more fueled by his weird Freudian kid-brother thing than by any real political stances (since he doesn't have any).

The climax of the penultimate episode can be seen as Roman's breakdown, and his subsequent pummeling in the streets. Roman knows the manipulative things he ought to say at the funeral. He's got cunning. He knows the move. But he's confronted with the fact that, basically, he can either mourn his father or he can be a shark. And his grief is intermingled with the anxious panic of him knowing full well that he's fucking himself here.

This final episode more-or-less begins with Shiv being called to Roman's side. She comes to him. She sees him as he is: broken, finally just done with it, and deeply deeply wounded. Then she sees how Ken barges in, already yelling at the both of them, as if all that matters is this fucking business move.

Ken's logic is sound. It can only be him—that is, if the siblings are to retain control. And the underlying premise to his argument is that the family must retain Waystar-Royco, because the company is their family. Therefore, it must be Ken. And Shiv hates it, but she gets it.

Hearing that it's going to Tom is the first crack—cleverly masked by the fact that Shiv's response is to get furious at Tom. Tom is absolutely as self-interested as Kendall is. But Tom owns up to that. Moreover, Tom says the most honest thing he's ever said to Shiv: "Don't tell me you wouldn't have done the same thing." Yes, he's fucking Shiv. So what? Shiv fucked him plenty. They're not happy together. But they're on the same page. Their child cements it: they are as much a family, legally and symbolically if not lovingly, as Waystar is an enterprise.

The board meeting itself carefully composes itself around Shiv. She's the first shot we get of the scene, striding in, teary-eyed but determined. (The second shot is of Roman hovering uncertainly around the edges.) As she enters, we continually get shot-reverse shot pairings: something happens, Shiv watches. The establishing shot of the compete board ends on Shiv.

The second real crack is Kendall's presentation to the board. His exact phrasing: "We were proud to land it, me and Rome." Cut to Shiv's face; pan to Roman's face, completely miserable and doubting. The implication: This is not Roman's idea. Ken then throws a gauntlet: "If you want it to go through, you'll have to fire me." As he talks about Gojo "flailing," we get a shot of Roman mopping his recently-reopened scar, wincing; we pan to Shiv eyeing him, still taking this in, her eyes narrowing. (Here's about where it becomes subtly obvious that the camera will not stop floating back to Shiv.) Ken dismisses Frank with "Let's do it for my dad, guys," and we get a shot of Shiv smiling a weird, emotional smile—reflecting, probably, on the irony of Kendall acting like he'd ever have done something for his father's sake, when the season opened with his gunning for Pierce just to fuck him. (The colloquial use of "guys" is just salt in the wound.)

After Kendall's "no" vote comes Sandi's. Her exact phrasing, speaking for herself and her father: "We want out." Again, we get a Shiv reaction shot. (Remember that Sandi is only here, and thus the board only needs Shiv's vote, because Shiv maneuvered Sandi into an extra seat at the shareholders meeting; now, Sandi gets to vote twice, once for her near-comatose father and once for herself. The show glosses over this, but Sandi is the single most powerful person in the room, literally controlling her own father. And at "We want out," Shiv starts to look genuinely distressed.

But the last vote, and the final one in Ken's favor, is Roman's. And Roman gives almost the exact same response here that he gave at the vote of no confidence back in season one: he looks absolutely terrified, uncomfortable, unsure of what he wants. But now the one he's terrified of is Ken.

Roman: "Uhhh... nope."

Ken: "That's fuckin' right."

And he smirks.

Shiv wasn't in the original vote of no confidence—but she sees Roman here. And she knows what she sees on his face. You can see the alarm in her eyes as she fully, consciously recognizes what she's been unconsciously processing this whole time. She looks at Kendall and sees... well, everything.

On a more pedestrian level, she sees that she's been reading recent events wrong. Roman has been Ken's stooge this whole time; Ken's been propping Roman up as the dummy to get literally beaten, while hiding behind his lofty statements about family values. He's fucking her even as he accuses her of fucking him. At the very least, he's as bad as her husband and Matsson—and that's at the very least.

On a deeper level, though, she finally recognizes that Kendall literally does not care about his family. He sees what Roman's going through and he's smirking. He only gave Roman COO because he knew he could keep Roman in his pocket. (More directly, although Shiv doesn't know this, Ken's "you fucked it bullying of Roman propelled Roman right into the crowd where he got his scar.) Ken cares about the family in the sense that the business is the family—and he only cares about the business inasmuch as the business is him. Roman, the one who fought and pleaded for the family to stay together, is now borderline suicidal, because that's where Ken needed him to be.

There's one last echo to an older season here: "Mass in Time of War," where Kendall makes lofty sounds about family unity right up until donuts arrive, at which point he abruptly starts lashing out at Connor, Roman, and Shiv. It's textbook narcissism: he knows what his siblings want to hear, but beneath that always runs the quiet, consciously-suppressed chant of "Me, me, me." And here, in the final confrontation between the siblings, Ken goes through a series of similarly manipulative responses, one by one:

"Think about what? Whether you want to hand this company over to Tom and the piece of shit who killed our dad?" (Specifically targeting Shiv's marriage, in other words, while appropriating Roman's accusation towards Matsson—and of course Kendall caused Logan worse stress than Matsson ever did, up to and including the Pierce deal.)

"I'm good for this company. I'm good for us. We all vote, then we keep control, and everything's good forever." We, we, we. But who is everything "good" for? Who "keeps control?" Shiv has never had control to begin with. She literally doesn't have a position at this company.

Then, the most honest confession: "I am a cog, built to fit one machine. You don't let me do this... it's the one thing I know how to do."

Which is when Shiv says the real crux line of the series, maybe: "It's not all about you. You are not the most important one."

"I don't think I am," says Ken. "Yes you do," Shiv replies. Which is when Ken goes from talking sense—horrible, manipulative, narcissistic sense—to flat-out breaking down: "You're voting against yourself here," he says, which Shiv recognizes as a sleight of hand: "You're voting me, and I am the family, therefore you're voting against the family, and therefore you're voting against yourself." Shiv, by this logic, isn't "the family."

She retorts with the line that breaks Kendall: "I don't think you'd be good at this." And then she repeats it, again and again and again, until Kendall claims that he'll die.

On that claim, Roman speaks up, and asks Shiv to "just vote." Because Ken's plea to her was also a plea to Roman, and Roman responds in that pavlovian way he does. Which is when Shiv pivots to reminding Ken that he killed someone, at which point the Shakespearean madness kicks in and Ken loses his fucking mind.

Succession is unbelievably slick. It's soooo good at playing all this off casually, with just the slightest nod to what's happening in the camera's flicking to Shiv again and again and again when there's no reason it should be. And it does the thing it always does, and plays with its cards face-up: we are given reason after reason after reason why Shiv would vote against Kendall, we literally see her spit into his drink—and that comes immediately after she tells Roman that they should murder him—but we're so used to this, we're so used to them all telling each other to fuck off, that we assume Kendall's just-business logic holds sway. Kendall's the sane (male) rational (male) one in the room, so Shiv throws her little hissy fit but it's just business, and besides, they all love each other, don't they? It's just business when Ken needs it to be business, and it's love when Ken needs it to be love, and nothing else matters, so nothing Shiv does is important. Besides, she's really mad at Matsson, and she's really mad at Tom, and she's going to do what women do and cry about it and make decisions based on her feelings.

Ironically, Tom's completely bloodless responses to her—his "I'm not sure" about her asking whether he wants a relationship, and his "You'd have done this too" when he talks about the Matsson treachery—is a part of what helps Shiv see Kendall's plea to emotions more clearly. And also-ironically, Shiv is swayed by emotion: not towards Tom or Matsson, not even towards Kendall, but towards Roman. But that feeling doesn't cloud her judgment: it leads to her seeing clearly, and being the only sibling to do a single fucking thing in this episode that Logan would have approved of.

I'd have to rewatch the season to be sure, but I suspect that every scene between Shiv and Roman, or between Ken and Shiv, lays the groundwork for the events that happen here—just as this episode lays the groundwork for that final boardroom scene, and the sibling discussion which follows. Yes, it happens incredibly quickly, and it's done in such a breezy off-handed way that it virtually evades detection. But it's not only there, it's laid out with merciless iron-clad logic. Virtually every line of this episode sets up that climax; by the time Shiv walks out of the room, it's clear that no other ending was possible. (And it's clear by the time she walks into the boardroom too, even if the show hasn't added up all the pieces for us.)

At the end of the day, Kendall isn't just ruined because he's lost the company. He's ruined because he's lost everybody. His only power, consistently throughout the show, has been that people have believed he had something worth a damn. He literally persuades Stewy in this episode by basically saying "C'mon, man, trust me." And beneath all that, there was the simple fact that he was a Roy, and that that meant something. It meant something because of his father, and then it meant something because he was CEO, and finally it meant something because his siblings were willing to agree, at least in public, that it meant something. And now he's lost his family. Maybe he and Shiv will find a way to get amicable dinner together one day, but Shiv will never lose the clear-eyed vision that she had of him today. And Roman? Roman is fucking free. Free of the poison that was his family and his family business, now and forever.

Tom won, ironically, because he had exactly one more family connection than Kendall did. He had the world's shittiest marriage with Shiv. And that was enough, once Kendall had nothing. Shiv sets Tom up with Matsson by offering the meanest possible justification for not firing him; Matsson sees the comic of Shiv manipulating his strings, and realizes that she's describing his perfect puppet for him. It's puppets all the way down over there: Tom and Shiv playing each other, Matsson playing both of them, Greg letting himself get played by whomever happens to win.

That ambiguous shot of Tom and Shiv in the car feels worse than cold, somehow. It feels rational: an Ayn Rand vision of two perfectly sober business partners, finally united by the most tenuous connection. (One that they'll never break, because neither of them will ever leave, because each of them craves money and power, and each of them craves love, and neither of them deserves it—but they understand one another, which is as close to love as either of them will ever get.)

And Ken exits to shot after shot that might well imply that he's on his way to kill himself. Jeremy Strong says in the podcast that, in one take, he did in fact make as if to jump, forcing the actor who plays Colin to rush and stop him. But there's no ambiguity to that final shot, because it doesn't matter if Ken lives or dies. He was a jellyfish, an unthinking parasitic creature that fed off the sea, barely alive but for the body of water that contained him. Now he is beached, the dryest he'll ever be (for all that Ken is a fundamentally wet kind of creature). He has nothing; he is nothing. He is closer to being Logan than he has ever been before: even alive, he is finished.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 10:36 AM on May 29, 2023 [75 favorites]

T_H_C_B_T...your commentary on all the episodes has been A++++. Thank you for sharing.
posted by mmascolino at 11:01 AM on May 29, 2023 [16 favorites]

^Yes, strongly agree with both THCBT's analysis and mmascolino's reaction.
posted by lampoil at 11:05 AM on May 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

🥹 and I sincerely hope I haven't sucked too much oxygen out of the room with my takes! I've been obsessed with the Morris/Iannucci comedy umbrella for ages and ages, so HBO letting Jesse Armstrong make this show has reduced me to utter dribbling fanboy in a way I can't quite help.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 11:05 AM on May 29, 2023 [8 favorites]

People are shockingly overcomplicating Shiv's decision here:

If it isn't going to be her, it sure as hell isn't going to be Ken. It's that simple.
posted by star gentle uterus at 12:08 PM on May 29, 2023 [3 favorites]

Great comment, Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted, but a quick correction: it might not seem that way, but Roman has been co-CEO with Kendall this whole time, not Kendall's COO.

Oh, and I'd thought blaming Matsson for killing their father wasn't necessarily because of the stress of the deal, but because otherwise Logan never would have been on that plane (and thus would have received real medical attention), which is extra complicated here because Shiv has already blamed herself for precisely that, since the trip was only a thing at all thanks to her earlier machinations (back when everyone else in the family was happy about the deal, and she pushed a vote to force Logan to ask for a higher offer. The trip was to negotiate that higher offer.) I think that helps her see the full venality of Kendall's attempt to manipulate here.

And then it's precisely during that line of Kendall's that you can see Shiv having made her final decision (still uncertain/overwhelmed in the shot before; resolved in the shot after). And I can't tell: when she takes her last look there upward and out the window, is she visualizing a future with Tom as CEO or is she visualizing Logan's airplane?
posted by nobody at 12:08 PM on May 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

That was Tom asking "Where's Karolina?" and I took it to mean Hugo is out.

You're right, and yeah, Tom's response to Hugo's try at ingratiating does heavily imply he'll be looking for Karolina instead, which is great, because Hugo is such a sleaze.
posted by mediareport at 12:19 PM on May 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

Just stumbled on Twitter on comments explaining the bit where Carolina asks Shiv to get rid of Hugo as a turning point got Shiv as she realizes Kendall lied to her:

It hit me last night - Carolina asking her to get rid of Hugo meant she didn't know and Ken lied about her knowing. That's why she was so pissed.

...When Ken was listing people he called to confirm that Shiv was getting screwed out of the CEO job, he listed Carolina as one of the people. Carolina didn’t know. It’s a foil to Shiv faking the call on election night.

...Yeah he said Carolina took Shiv's name out of the press release but Carolina still thought it was going to be Shiv.

I don't know how crucial this is to Shiv changing her mind, but I do think it contributed somehow?
posted by bitteschoen at 1:53 PM on May 29, 2023 [13 favorites]

just want to say I've been reading all of this and appreciate all the thoughtful, well-informed takes. I tend to agree with the view that Shiv was reading Kendall's cruel manipulation of Roman and that she realized the struggle for control of the company was killing all of them. Not so sure she had the long game of influence and financial and emotional security figured out in the heat of the moment, but maybe? Clearly I missed a lot by bailing early and returning late, and I'll remedy that.
posted by martin q blank at 2:02 PM on May 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

This was so good, and so satisfying.

Like others have said, it really delivered for so many of the characters, in ways that felt true and earned. Plus it finally gave me the one other thing I watch Succession for that I've been missing all season: the ultra-luxury scenic location. Finally some non-NYC real estate and seaside views to drool over. I adored all the scenes there: the way the sibs perfectly imitated Kendall's reaction if they tried to murder him and botched it, the way they told him that they would have done it, but the admin would have been too much work, the whole amazing scene in the kitchen. I really believed that the Meal Fit For a King was something they did regularly when the right circumstances arose, not just as kids but possibly through teen and maybe even young adult years - the way they gleefully sang the song, the way Shiv took her time with adding ingredients, the fact that Ken actually drank it - they have done this before to one another. And the way that Shiv said "no!" to Roman pouring it on Kendall's head, and Kendall barely fought it - he was happy. They were happy. This was the happiest moment he had in the show. And it was because he had won, it was because he was getting his patrimony, it was because he was playing with his younger siblings and letting them be silly, the role of the patient, indulgent oldest child. It was perfect all around. And then having the scene showing the video of Logan - the flip side to them as a family, the emotional, shared intimate moments that they missed... and which each of them, together, experienced alone. Connor was the lucky one. It was masterful.

I don't know what I liked better - Connor and Willa already being on the outs, or Willa being eager to get rid of everything so she could put in a cowhide couch. I know she didn't mean something like this, but that's what I'm picturing and it makes me extra happy. I also found myself looking around the room with an imaginary roll of stickers and feeling really underwhelmed. Does anyone here remember when Wheel of Fortune made the winners "shop" for prizes instead of giving them the money? And you had to spend all of it, so eventually someone always got stuck with crap like a life-sized ceramic dalmatian? I'm sure everything in the rooms was expensive, but man, I couldn't see anything I wanted to put a sticker on. It was ceramic dalmatians all the way down. Have fun with those fireplace pokers, Greg.

I think I agree with the idea that Shiv was building and building in uncertainty about what to do, and left so she could think. I can definitely see how Kendall's "I'm the eldest boy! / I deserve this because it's all I can do" garbage line of reasoning would have swayed her to vote against him. It was like he was literally saying "I'm not capable, I just want it!" But still. I know she didn't see the moment of Matsson frantically working the phones, but she knows what it takes to whip up a board vote. She knows that Tom is only just barely up for the job. She even knows that Tom's word is only good for so much - why did she even believe him? I just can't truly buy that once she decided her vote, she wouldn't get in touch with Matsson and say, "I can deliver this to you. Make me CEO and it's yours. Don't and I vote the other way" and force his hand. She's not stupid. I could see her making a mess of it. I could see him calling her bluff. But I don't see her just voting no. I guess it was for Tom's sake. I guess. But I don't really believe that she thinks he's capable.

And oh, I hated hearing her talk with Matsson about Tom's role. She was so busy feeling Matsson out about he wanted, ready to play it either way, it's almost no wonder he didn't keep her. Who wants a CEO who's unable to say "this is what we need to do." Who would trust someone who can't definitively defend her own spouse / soon-to-be-ex-spouse, or cut them loose? It's just bad leadership. I know that's how all the junior Roys roll. And if Tom were decisive, again, choosing him over her would make sense. But everyone is so. damn. flaky. It took me out of the show, both as someone in a healthy relationship and as someone in a management role at work. Pick a lane. Show that you can make a decision. Sheesh.

I wanted more Gerri. Any sort of moment with Roman, even just a look. Any sort of business win. She deserved more than a raunchy limerick.

I also couldn't stop feeling a bit manipulated the whole time - I know that this is about succession; it's the name of the show, this is their family business and it means everything to them, so losing control of it is a huge deal. They want us to feel heartbroken for each of them, as they truly lose their chance to take over, something they each presumably always wanted (did Shiv? Really?). But the whole series was also largely about selling the company. The deal that they signed was for an insane amount of money - so overvalued it shocked all of them. This was a win. They can all start new companies. I just can't feel sorry for them, or like they lost. I can feel like I witnessed a personal tragedy for Kendall - but it's more like Gatsby than Job. He lost, I get it. But by any business definition, he still seriously won.

The final scene was beautiful. I thought it was wonderful that off in the distance you could just barely make out the Statue of Liberty. Throughout the series we're reminded that Logan Roy's story is an immigrant's story - that he came with nothing and built an empire. And we end with Kendall, heir to nothing, the empire being handed back across the ocean. Just perfect all around.
posted by Mchelly at 2:39 PM on May 29, 2023 [15 favorites]

and I sincerely hope I haven't sucked too much oxygen out of the room with my takes!

absolutely the opposite! reading your takes helps me appreciate the show's real depth and get even more out of every episode.
posted by augustimagination at 2:43 PM on May 29, 2023 [3 favorites]

And poor Tom. What a way to be a winner and a loser at the same time. He gets the big job, but he gets it knowing that he has to be in charge of announcing and carrying out huge layoffs. Something he knows he's not good at, but which he can only kind of hand off to Greg now because he a) has to cut his salary, and b) definitively knows he can't trust him. And he's working for a man who has told him straight out that he'll be making a play for his wife.

I think the moment in the car was lovely. When Shiv made the first move, asking if there was hope, Tom said he didn't know, but didn't lay himself emotionally bare again. Especially after she made it clear that it was about convenience. I think they're broken. But he asked her to the car. He held his hand out. He's the one with power now. I love that she just lay her hand there. I love not knowing if they're reconciling or not. Like all of her huge moments, she's caught in the act of deciding. And that's the best Tom will ever get from her.
posted by Mchelly at 2:49 PM on May 29, 2023 [5 favorites]

in all them time
Henry could not make good.

posted by chavenet at 3:16 PM on May 29, 2023 [3 favorites]

Brilliant finale! (and I like to think there would have been a different twist ending if the boardroom voting had happened to go clockwise).
posted by rongorongo at 3:25 PM on May 29, 2023 [3 favorites]

While I agree this was very much a stuck landing (Hooray!) I can't help but wonder if a better play for Shiv would have been to get something ironclad that made her CEO of ATN, vote for Kendall, wait for him to inevitably self-destruct while she turns it from fox news into MSNBC (or at least old school CNN), then parlay her actual CEO experience into her own shot at the top job.

Though, admittedly, if I was faced with that decision myself, I'd probably take the alternate offer of billions for simply saying 'aye' to the Mattson deal. The fact she was over her family's shenanigans just sealed the deal. It is kind of hard to feel sorry for any of them, considering how obscenely (more) wealthy they all just became.
posted by Sparx at 3:27 PM on May 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to jump in and posit that Matsson telling Tom he wanted to sleep with Shiv was part of the CEO interview that Tom didn't realize was happening. I think Matsson wanted to see how Tom would react. Matsson says vile stuff about Tom's wife, and instead of protesting or giving his best attempt at Logan's "fuck off!" or ending the conversation, Tom basically acts cool with it. "Well … we're men." That's when Tom passed the CEO audition — Matsson now knows he can do and say anything, and Tom will happily go along with it. The perfect puppet.

I'm not saying that Matsson wouldn't get busy with Shiv if the opportunity arose, but I don't feel like that's what that exchange was really about.
posted by General Zubon at 4:07 PM on May 29, 2023 [28 favorites]

I read Matsson's indecent proposal as a flex, to get a sense of whether Tom has a weak spot for Shiv that could affect his allegiance to the real boss, not an actual thing Matsson would probably do.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:27 PM on May 29, 2023 [5 favorites]

I noticed Kendall was holding a drink right before the big board meeting… figured this would be a plot point but it wasn’t.

Wasn’t he supposed to be sober?

Here’s a screenshot
posted by kpmcguire at 6:44 PM on May 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

A particular thing I liked was that when Roman was going on about them all being nothing, during the siblings sidebar during the board meeting, Kendall's shit blended into the wall behind him. Looked like he was fading into nothing.

So much about this show to enjoy. Looking forward to rewatching at some point.
posted by MadMadam at 6:57 PM on May 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

Not much else to say about the conclusion -- I'm surprised people were surprised by Shiv's choice, I didn't see it coming but it felt perfectly plausible -- but I'm impressed the show managed the trick of fitting in all the sentimental series finale things (the kids bonding in the Caribbean, the footage of Logan enjoying a last meal by charming/bullying his underlings into entertaining him) and the long-promised succession.

The Caribbean scenes were my favorite, not even the cute bonding scenes so much as the return of their terrible mother who basically tricked them into coming so her awful husband could make a business pitch. Her anti-hospitality/eating disorder's probably not cool that I find it so funny, but oh God it was hilarious even before "don't go down on Peter's special cheese!"

Matsson has released a lot of poison over two seasons, but the "maybe I'll hire the guy who impregnated the baby lady" was particularly revolting. I like that the show awarded the top prize in the most degrading way possible. Tom wins, because he is the most abject, and selecting him is a nice little sideswipe at Shiv.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:49 PM on May 29, 2023 [5 favorites]

I don’t recall if Kendall was supposed to be sober, but I do believe he was drinking rum punch at Mom’s house with no comment from his siblings.

Succession was a good watch but I’m glad I’ll never have to spend any time with any of these characters again. Go fester in your shamefulness and vitriol, you awful, awful people.
posted by ejs at 8:55 PM on May 29, 2023 [3 favorites]

Kendall really was responsible for the death of a kid. Even if Shiv invoking that crime was just an excuse to make him unacceptable, which he handily obliged with his horrific and cravenly backpedaling, it was very, very good that the show actually reminded us of that having happened.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:21 PM on May 29, 2023 [18 favorites]

Who would trust someone who can't definitively defend her own spouse / soon-to-be-ex-spouse, or cut them loose? It's just bad leadership.

But Matsson doesn't want leadership, he wants a puppet. And Shiv has been selling the role of the American CEO as a puppet for Matsson. Her only mistake was accidentally selling Tom as a better puppet than herself.

Of course her final vote is not a power move, but a sign of giving up. Just like Roman, she has finally accepted her limitations - limitations of personal ability, and limitations forced upon her due to her gender. Clearly Shiv has always known that sexism is still a thing, but she thought she was an exception; she's never shown much solidarity with other women, she clearly didn't really think she would share their fates. And that recent ordeal with Matsson has robbed her of those illusions.

There's a phrase from a restoration comedy I had to read for college, that will always stick with me, a scene in the third act. The couple is already negotiationg the terms and condition of their impending marriage, the woman keenly aware that this is the last time she's got any leverage, hellbent on getting as many concessions as possible before she's ready "to dwindle into a wife".

That's what's happening to Shiv - she's dwindling into a wife. She's realizing she's in the same position as the lady in the restoration comedy. This is the last time she's got any leverage. These guys need a yes from her now, and they will promise her all sorts of stuff to get it, and these promises will be worthless, because once they get that yes, she won't have anything to hold them to it.

So Shiv trades her yes to Matsson not for a promise, but for a pay-out, and for shot at dwindling into Tom's wife. Since she gave up the hope of anyone casting her in another role, she takes the one that's left.
posted by sohalt at 11:24 PM on May 29, 2023 [26 favorites]

I must note just how gross it was that Roman and Shiv used the “bloodline” argument to send Kendall over the edge. Roman saying that Logan had not considered Ken’s children “real” because they were adopted/not his biological children. I mean, in that patriarchal world, of course that is a thing that people think and sometimes say out loud. Of course Shiv is both at a disadvantage as a pregnant person and also has a bit of leverage as a biological mother. I had a tiny bit of empathy for Ken in that moment, but at the same time I was rooting for Shiv and Roman to strike the final blow, as it were, and of course that would be an effective one.
posted by alicat at 11:35 PM on May 29, 2023 [7 favorites]

You guys have some amazing commentary that I can't hope to top, but I do want to share what I hoped would be how the final episode ends, though it would've been outright hated by...well, everyone but me.

I wanted the last ten minutes of the final episode to center on Jess. Now, in episode 9 Jess (finally!) got a chance to have a real scene with Ken, albeit quite short, so it kind of spoiled what I imagined: we leave the Roys to whatever fate they have, then it cuts to Jess going home to her life, whatever that is. Meeting her friends, her SO, unwinding at home or maybe hitting a bar. Just being real. A friend mentions "the prince" and Jess rolls her eyes and everyone laughs.

It would take the audience outside the Roy Bubble and into the real world, where people are normal and have actual lives. Maybe not just Jess, but a montage of other minor characters being real, contrasting with the miserable, miserable Roys.
posted by zardoz at 1:29 AM on May 30, 2023 [11 favorites]

The Caribbean scenes were my favorite, not even the cute bonding scenes so much as the return of their terrible mother who basically tricked them into coming so her awful husband could make a business pitch.

I love the fact that Peter Munion is so close a name to Peter Mannion (no doubt the same person in the writing team has dreamed these names up)

What's especially wonderful is the little snippets we overhead:

"sailing close to the wind but they can't get you"

"it's not quite a care home"

clearly the scheme they're being picked is some kind of retirement / care home scam operation which is dodgy from the word go.
posted by atrazine at 2:53 AM on May 30, 2023 [8 favorites]

It’s funny how it seems like a mickey mouse version of Living+
posted by Apocryphon at 3:12 AM on May 30, 2023 [14 favorites]

Something I was thinking about while watching the last few episodes: I don't think I've ever watched a show where we see a character think as much as Shiv. Normally you're so stuck with how to demonstrate thoughts in TV and movies--the dreaded voice-over, or using another character as a sounding-board. But Shiv lets us into her thoughts--not the text, so to speak, but their presence, their intensity, the sheer weight of calculation. And it's made most explicit at the board meeting, where her head is so full of moves and counter-moves that she simply cannot function in front of people, until she figures it out. It's such a great performance of something that is very hard to convey.
posted by mittens at 6:30 AM on May 30, 2023 [14 favorites]

I think Shiv is my favorite character on the show. That said, I think there is something incomplete about her. There is a case against Shiv as CEO, but I think the show forgets to make it. Some of it is lost in the drama with Tom and so the wires don't quite connect.

I don't want to write a long comment but I think the upthread analysis is lacking. Kendall is not the only narcissist. It's really a three way meltdown between the siblings. Each of them is bitten by the "why not MEEE tho" bug. None of them is a good choice and none of them can drop it.

Ultimately, I think, Shiv just loves the chase. She has no interest at all in what to do with the company. I don't think she really stops being a campaign manager. She wants to win. She is very good at bringing about a victory for her client. What happens after that is not her problem. So for her, becoming CEO, just to be a puppet, was something that to her still seemed like winning. But already, I think, this is a sick thing for her to seek out.

When that is yanked away from her, she sees the possibility of ditching her brothers and going back to Tom, and that also seems like it meets the definition of a win state.

She didn't look happy about it, but then, Shiv is always being ruthless, and then later being like, "Why is pain? How happen???"

- Do we know the backstory about the Karolina/Hugo fight? I forget if we got anything there.
- What was Karolina's beef with Hugo? Did I miss / forget that?
- Carolina asking her to get rid of Hugo meant she didn't know and Ken lied about her knowing. That's why she was so pissed.

I don't think it's stated specifically? Hugo got jumped up from parks and cruises in the crisis IIRC and stuck around underhandedly to be a rival of Karolina. Karolina approaches Shiv because she's desperate, because it looks like the family is going to win, and everyone knows Hugo is Kendall's creature. And that's why Hugo's gone when Tom wins instead.

I'm not really sure why they thought we needed to see the resolution to this PR rivalry when they never really invested in it (or, at all, in Karolina). I don't think it factored into Shiv's decision?
posted by fleacircus at 7:16 AM on May 30, 2023 [4 favorites]

I don't want to write a long comment but I think the upthread analysis is lacking. Kendall is not the only narcissist. It's really a three way meltdown between the siblings. Each of them is bitten by the "why not MEEE tho" bug. None of them is a good choice and none of them can drop it.

This ending was inevitable from the start. They would all rather burn the place down than let one of the other two "win". The only question was whether it would end as comedy (Tom) or farce (Greg).
posted by Etrigan at 7:23 AM on May 30, 2023 [8 favorites]

Oh yeah that too. I was so scared over the last handful of episodes that they were somehow going to make us swallow the winner being Greg, and I am SO HAPPY that that didn’t happen. And that not only didn’t that happen, he didn’t even really get a meaningful moment ending. I thought, narratively, since the series started with him screwing up in the mascot suit, somehow we were supposed to see him as our bellwether. Nope, just a not-quite-as-good-as-a-Roy-sibling bit player all along. But maybe good enough at being useful to Tom that he’ll still end up okay.
posted by Mchelly at 8:30 AM on May 30, 2023 [3 favorites]

I’m always interested in references to the land of Logan’s birth. In this episode we get two pointing towards the role of women, I think: first of all Burns’ Green Grown the Rashes (here not being ‘ruined’ by Michael Marra) and finally the very Lady Macbeth scene where Shiv holds the hand of the spouse she has made king on the back of the limo.
posted by rongorongo at 9:48 AM on May 30, 2023 [1 favorite]

a great end to a brilliant series. I won't reiterate the many fine analyses from above, THCBT especially bringing the depth, thank you!

so I just want to say, Caroline is a background character from whom we have not seen (nor would expect) any emotions. so we see a new level of her this episode, we see her having feelings. feelings of human eyeballs. *chef's kiss*
posted by supermedusa at 10:32 AM on May 30, 2023 [2 favorites]

Greg as CEO never made any sense to me, just total absurdity for that to happen. But what would’ve been a twist just as absurd would have been to give it to Connor- the true eldest who never wanted the throne, the one who sought actual temporal power with the state, the one who was their father’s side last.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:05 AM on May 30, 2023

I'm not sure whether Roman is a narcissist. I mean, they're all somewhere on the NPD spectrum, but Roman's emotional damage is weirder and more complicated than Ken's. People like to point out that he's the only sibling who ever seems to feel empathy in less-than-self-centered ways; he's also got such a strong drive to keep the family together, even though he expresses love within the family in the grossest possible ways.

Shiv's closer to being a "traditional" narcissist, but Shiv is also just... so unbelievably alienated and alone. Partly that's because, more than Ken or Roman, she's picked up Logan's habit to kick whoever loves her just to test whether they'll still come back... but from the start of the show, she's positioned as an outsider, and it's made perfectly clear that her being the only daughter is a huge part of that. She and Tom are initially scheming to help Tom rise up and take over the company; it's never actively stated that Shiv chose Tom as her partner because she knew she needed a placeholder male to have any chance at all, and she never (to my recollection) hints at resenting Tom for being Logan's "son", however ersatz, in ways that she'll never be, but I think it goes some way towards explaining how she starts acting once Logan suggests he may want her as successor. It's not like she ever respected Tom, but at some point she does treat him like they're at least on a team together, however mercenary. The moment she sees herself in the top spot, though, Tom more-or-less disappears from her vision.

Shiv is incredibly arrogant. She's extremely resentful, and takes it personally whenever someone seems to disrespect her or violate her trust. And she has an infinitesimal capacity for empathy: she can't even absentmindedly say "awww" at Tom like she means it. It's probably fair to say that this is all close enough to narcissism that the difference is academic at best. But I think that the writers and Sarah Snook are accurate when they describe Shiv as someone whose need for loyalty and dependency, whose need to be acknowledged, lie at the root of who she is—with her tragic flaw being that, with Tom at least, she could have everything she wanted if she was open about that need with him. But she can't, in part because that runs counter to every man in her family, and in part because, the moment Tom first acts against her, she locks up.

Ken, on the other hand...

I mean, on some level it's funny that Ken is the most emotionally open of all the siblings. It's why he's the Internet's babygirl! He wears his sorrow (and his mania, and his fury) on his face. And Ken, similarly, has maybe the most overt performance of empathy out of any of the siblings: he's all about demonstrating how good he is at understanding other people's feelings, right up until, you know, he isn't. But those are also extremely central narcissistic tendencies: they're great at mirroring people, and they're also aware that emotion is an effective tool for quieting other people down and making them give room for you. It's the gaslight-y thing that narcissists do: they're so good at emulating textbook "good" behavior that, unless you know the pattern you're looking for, it's easy to dismiss their deviancies as weird, unsettling quirks, rather than as hints of what's really going on.

The thing Ken says about being a cog that only fits exactly one machine isn't wrong—and there's a reason why Shiv's rejoinder to that is that he's not the only person who matters. To Ken's mind, he is Waystar-Royco: he and the company are Logan's true children, and, just as the company is essentially Logan's force made manifest, Ken will one day eat his father whole and become him. He is the successor: that is his only identity. The company is both his inheritance and it's Kendall himself.

While Ken changes more overtly than his siblings in every season, all of his iterations are hellbent on preserving the company. He tries to usurp Logan twice over in the first season, but gets pained at the thought of damaging Waystar itself. (His entire vote of no confidence scheme revolves around the narrative that Logan is causing Waystar harm, and is no longer "legitimate"—and that Ken alone can keep it whole.) At his lowest point, as his father's puppet, Ken acts as a surprisingly effective agent for the company... up until he's asked to sacrifice himself, at which point he once more attacks Logan for—in a sense—corroding Waystar's soul. Even when he's overtly playing an adversary, though, Ken can't help but repeat that he's doing this for the company's own good, it's nothing personal, it's to save the company from harm... and the thing that crushes him is Logan's stark declaration that Ken will never be what he wants to be, first in the form of the birthday stock buyout and then in the things Logan snarls at him in Italy.

That's when Ken confesses to his siblings—and the one moment when he seems legitimately uninvested in what happens to Waystar next. That only lasts for a moment—soon, he and the siblings are racing to prevent the sale—but when that too is thwarted, we get a brief glimpse of a Kendall who might have genuinely accepted that Waystar isn't his. Up until the moment that he sees his name crossed out underlined on a piece of paper, giving him the slightest hope that he might become his father after all, and he might become the company. After which, it's just a matter of how quickly he can sell out his siblings and even his children in the name of gaining what he wanted.

He's a lich, and Waystar is his phylactery. And whether or not Ken is capable of being something else in his brief divorces from the company, he essentially becomes a narcissist whenever Waystar is on the line. Because Ken will do anything for the company—and Ken's vision of the company is "Kendall Roy." Literally anything is an acceptable sacrifice; he'll gratefully try and believe Shiv when she tells him that Jiminez is open to killing the Gojo deal, for his children's sakes, but he and Shiv both know that he'll pick white-nationalist fascism over his children if Waystar is on the other end of the deal.

Kendall argues, all throughout the fourth season, that Waystar-Royco is essentially the Roy family. Everything he does, he claims, he's doing for his siblings too, and even for the memory of his father. And that's the thing I'm calling narcissism: the fundamental conflation of family and self, of love and self, of world and self. The world only makes sense to Kendall if he's CEO, and therefore the world only exists inasmuch as it pushes him towards the spot.

There's a small subset of Succession's fandom that sees Ken as a fundamentally good father, maybe even as someone who wants to be a good husband; they don't go as far as hating on Rava the way Breaking Bad fans hated on Skylar White, but they make sad faces over Rava's treatment of Ken and wish that she'd just give him another chance. And most of Ken's scenes with Rava, up until that very last one before the funeral, do put Ken in a place of acting like he's trying to be a good dad, acting like he cares, acting like he wants to be a family again. To which Rava responds in a way that feels very reminiscent of how people who've suffered through narcissists respond to them: not even disbelievingly—she recognizes that Ken believes what he's saying—so much as with the full awareness that none of this is real. Nothing Ken does or says or feels really means anything, because it's all just a way of trying to assert that he is fundamentally the important person, the person who matters, the person whose feelings and desires are the only ones in existence. He can emulate empathy, he can feign understanding of other people, so long as he's given his way; the moment that he's denied that, he will deny them the right to exist.

Hence that moment of Shakespearean madness at the climax, when Shiv reminds him of that waiter. Ken can be all kinds of sad over that waiter, when he's alone in the water with a corpse, when he's scrambling to cover his tracks, or when the waiter becomes Logan's favorite tool to deny Kendall the right to Waystar. But in the moment that Shiv brings it up, the only real thing in the world to Ken is his traitor of a sister: he doesn't know who on Earth Shiv could be referring to, and then, when the issue is pushed, Ken simply says that the waiter never existed. It didn't happen. Ken was never in the car. Because nothing is real, nobody else exists, nobody is ever missing.

That point-blank denial of reality, that point-blank inability to acknowledge other people, feels different to me than Roman's and Shiv's respective damages. Roman is an emotionally stunted prick, but he does seem to be aware of other people as people. Shiv is monstrously self-important, and is blithely dismissal of Tom's feelings, but when Tom pushes, Shiv reveals that she is, on some dank dark level, capable of acknowledging what she's done to him, even if she can only do it while admitting the pain she refuses to ever feel. (Tom, for that matter, is a real piece of shit, but he's not a narcissist by any means.)

The person whose behavior Kendall's most mimics, unsurprisingly, is Logan Roy. Logan is similarly capable of expressing "love" only when someone's letting him have his way with them; he's similarly able to justify all of his decisions, his fundamental untrustworthiness, by saying that the other person forced his hand, or that the external situation changed, or anything but claiming responsibility. But Logan fundamentally owns his nihilistic narcissism, again and again and again: he knows what he is, he just refuses to believe that anyone else is ever any other way. Ken, on the other hand, doesn't see it: he's a narcissist who believes all his own lies, and flies into a rage whenever anyone truly challenges him. (Just as he similarly rages when anyone questions his competency at the job.)

That, in a way, was the central theme of season 3. Kendall insists, again and again, that all the things which Logan called "weaknesses" in him were in fact proof of his moral superiority, proof that he is a better man than Logan ever was. And what Logan tells him, again and again, is that Kendall is bullshitting himself: he's exactly the self-obsessed monster that Logan himself is, he just never cared to learn the game. And when Kendall, all but broken, tries to assert himself as the kinder, better, more caring man to justify how thoroughly his "plan" has failed, Logan brings up the waiter too. Not even as blackmail—Logan doesn't need blackmail anymore—but as the final proof in his argument. Kendall doesn't care. He just pretends. Logan doesn't bother.

There was an argument to be made, at the end of season 3, that Logan was wrong, that he said the things he said for cruelty's sake alone. One season later, it's hard to disagree.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 11:23 AM on May 30, 2023 [13 favorites]

so we see a new level of her this episode, we see her having feelings. feelings of human eyeballs

This struck me as the writer putting his own neurosis or that of someone he knows into the mouth of a character—either way, a nice example of how good writing builds from small, highly specific details.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:34 PM on May 30, 2023 [4 favorites]

Do we think Kendall possibly has killed or been involved in any other accidental deaths? His response to “you killed someone” was “which…” I could see him being in a room where someone overdosed and he left without calling or something.
posted by glaucon at 12:58 PM on May 30, 2023 [4 favorites]

Roman might have empathy but let us not forget at the end of the very first episode of the show the absolute torture he did to the groundskeeper’s son. He is as monstrous as the rest of them. Just as with Kendall’s act of manslaughter, let us not forget the sins from the first episode.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:25 PM on May 30, 2023 [3 favorites]

It was a wonderful Shakespearean tragedy and I am thrilled that nobody got a happy ending.

What I loved/hated most is that of all the things, all the horrible possible futures for Shiv, she chose the worst possible one:

she became her mother. Trapped in a loveless marriage, pregnant with an unwanted child, rejected by her husband who chose his assistant over her.

posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:30 PM on May 30, 2023 [9 favorites]

> rejected by her husband who chose his assistant over her

posted by STFUDonnie at 5:46 PM on May 30, 2023

Two characters I’ll miss:
Marcia (criminally underused)
Gerri (criminally undervalued)
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:41 PM on May 30, 2023 [14 favorites]

> Roman might have empathy but let us not forget at the end of the very first episode of the show the absolute torture he did to the groundskeeper’s son. He is as monstrous as the rest of them. Just as with Kendall’s act of manslaughter, let us not forget the sins from the first episode.

I'm not justifying Roman-the-character, but I do think that his overt act of cruelty seems to me, at the series' conclusion, as a false note in the pilot. That's not how Roman has been written in the rest of the series. The Roman-with-empathy is the one developed in the 39 episodes written after the series was commissioned.

However, it's canon and yeah, he's a monster, and would be even if the episode 1 wager had not taken place.
posted by kandinski at 8:32 PM on May 30, 2023 [2 favorites]

I wonder what sort of money the Roy children had when they escaped WWII, did Ewan and Logan go into business together, hence the ROYCO and they bought Waystar and some point, then of course fell out. Interesting also that perhaps there would have been a sister there if she hadn’t died.

Alas Kendle whose life is now stopped in a perpetual silent scream, as said by Strong in some interviews, you were the number one boy, underlined and struck through, if you hear the mermaids singing each to each, sing back!
posted by oldnumberseven at 9:01 PM on May 30, 2023 [1 favorite]

Also: Glad to see Roman realize his entire existence was fake news bullshit.

I wondered if Shiv made her mind up when she heard Sandi’s vote of fuck this these Roys are toxic and we are out, and realized she could do the same, and Tom could also be her pain sponge.
posted by oldnumberseven at 9:11 PM on May 30, 2023 [1 favorite]

Article about Matthew Macfadyen's journey to playing the role of Tom. He has done a lot of interesting work - and, as an eye opening experiences - I'd recommend fans who know him only for Succession, to check him out playing another Tom (but Mathew to his girlfriend) - except this time English, hyper confident, and twenty years ago (excerpt)
posted by rongorongo at 12:14 AM on May 31, 2023 [1 favorite]

A season ago, I'd have said that Macfadyen had been the absolute revelation of the show. Stunning, stunning performer. (Jeremy Strong is right there, of course, but he already just feels like a force of nature.)

But Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook have been fucking astonishing this year. As has Alan Ruck, to the extent that we've gotten to have him. (The only Succession spin-off I'd genuinely love to see is the one that gives us more of Connor; my friend suggested he and Willa should get a Better Homes and Gardens show all to themselves.)
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 8:30 AM on May 31, 2023 [6 favorites]

Yeah, on Gourmando!
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:39 AM on May 31, 2023

that was an amazing series finale. tastefully restrained and so natural. bravo to all involved!

my takeaways: if Sarah Snook doesn’t get an award for this season, i will riot. her ability to showcase emotion using just her eyes amazes me.
posted by ener at 12:04 PM on May 31, 2023 [1 favorite]

Here's a interesting, though wrong, read: ‘Succession’ Tricked a Sliver of America Into Thinking That It’s a Good Show
posted by chavenet at 3:55 AM on June 1, 2023

Here's a interesting, though wrong, read: ‘Succession’ Tricked a Sliver of America Into Thinking That It’s a Good Show

I disagree with almost everything about that, except the last paragraph. I would have been 1000% okay with that ending (though not as the final, final scene).
posted by Mchelly at 5:05 AM on June 1, 2023 [1 favorite]

‘Succession’ Tricked a Sliver of America Into Thinking That It’s a Good Show

Maybe I was hate-watching them from the start, but I always thought the writers were treating the three kids the way this person wanted them to be regarded.
posted by Etrigan at 5:22 AM on June 1, 2023 [3 favorites]

The siblings were not serious people.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:25 AM on June 1, 2023 [5 favorites]

There were a lot of sitcom resets as well as Wile E. Coyote futility, but kudos to the writers for sticking with the character-is-destiny finish.
posted by whuppy at 7:09 AM on June 1, 2023

Twelve retrospective clues about Tom and Shiv. Nobody should forget the holder of the "royal sceptre" for example.
posted by rongorongo at 11:56 PM on June 1, 2023 [1 favorite]

That dead fish hand will haunt my dreams.
posted by h00py at 1:43 AM on June 2, 2023 [3 favorites]

Twelve retrospective clues about Tom and Shiv. Nobody should forget the holder of the "royal sceptre" for example

Still blowing my mind, from this article:

So about Tom Wambsgans’s name - Major League Baseball player Bill Wambsganss, the second baseman for the Cleveland Indians during the 1920s, is famed for completing the only unassisted triple play in World Series history, taking out three opponents at once.
posted by Mchelly at 3:51 PM on June 2, 2023 [9 favorites]

Here's a interesting, though wrong, read: ‘Succession’ Tricked a Sliver of America Into Thinking That It’s a Good Show

I was bemused by the tone of that article, which I assume was meant to be satirical. Where does the writer get the idea that Kendall doesn't know what "carpe diem" means? I think he does. That "arma virumque" riposte is the weakest thing ever. Kendall wouldn't stoop that low; Stewy or Gerry or Marcia certainly wouldn't. And on that topic, what would the writer have to say about all the secondary characters? (They were always the best part of the show to me, anyway.)
posted by BibiRose at 8:43 AM on June 3, 2023 [1 favorite]

Chiming in a bit late—There was that moment when the three siblings were fighting—physically tussling—after Shiv fled the boardroom vote, and admitted she was going to vote yes. I said to my wife "This is the ending I've wanted." My read on her change of heart is that of the three, Shiv is the only adult; she recognized that Kendall as CEO would be a disaster. She wasn't as invested in having the CEO title as either of the other two, who both had breakdowns over it. Voting for the sale was the only adult choice at that moment.

Speaking of character development, at least Roman recognized in that moment that he was just "bullshit" (four seasons is a lot of setup for that payoff). I expected Kendall to take the elevator to the roof and walk off the edge; instead he was left confronting the howling void within.

Great acting by everyone, conveying so much without words. That look of dread Willa gives when she learns she might not have a long-distance relationship with Connor. So many little moments like that.
posted by adamrice at 11:38 AM on June 19, 2023

Also late to the party... and so much good commentary above!

One thing I haven't seen commented on ...anywhere?... and it seemed almost too on-the-nose to me, but also a gut-punch when it happened. At the end of season 2, Logan told Kendall he couldn't be CEO because he wasn't a killer. In the series finale, Shiv says he can't be CEO because he had killed someone. The echoes of NRPI were there in both cases--in the first conversation, Logan was insisting the waiter was a "not real person," and in the second, Kendall was borrowing and leaning on that same lie. Not in the same words or context in each convo, but the symmetry was amazing.

On one other topic--
fleacircus said
I'm not really sure why they thought we needed to see the resolution to this PR rivalry when they never really invested in it (or, at all, in Karolina). I don't think it factored into Shiv's decision? reference to discussion above about why Karolina wanted Hugo out. I actually think it very well might have played into Shiv's decision. I think a lot of analysis could be done of the way the show in the last few episodes leaned into the misogyny guiding the decisions of so many of the principals... and maybe Shiv's absorbing all of that and ending up with her "fuck you" to the status quo (family continues to run the business). There were the awful comments made to and about her by Mattson and Mencken (and Roman!); the way Kendall treated Rava and the way Rome (and everybody!) treated Gerri; Kendall's gross dick-swinging interaction with Stewy. Kendall's cutting Shiv out when he claimed credit (with Rome) for the GoJo deal. Caroline warning the kids to get out, and also her reference to her own role as wife to a man who endlessly put board meetings above her.

Going further back, there was the time that Shiv was called in at Argestes to be the face of a woman defending a fuck-up she'd had no part in; and the next time she was called on to talk the whistleblower out of telling the truth about cruises. And then, final season, she was expected by Mattson to eat the incredible crap that Mencken was throwing at her. In all cases, she played the good soldier; but in no case was she rewarded for playing a support role that turned her stomach.

It's ironic of course that, in the end, misogynist-in-chief Mattson ends up in charge of the company, and Shiv ends up in the same role as Caroline, married to the CEO. (There are differences, of course, in that Shiv in theory has pull/power over both Mattson and Tom that Caroline might not have had.)

My point is that I DO think that Shiv's burn it down turn at the end could well have been influenced by all of this (as well many other factors of course). And that the brief exchange with Karolina about Hugo could have signified a small push in that direction. As well as a reminder that she had thought she would be CEO, and Karolina had thought so too--bringing that resentment again to the fore.
posted by torticat at 11:41 PM on June 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

I think a lot of analysis could be done of the way the show in the last few episodes leaned into the misogyny guiding the decisions of so many of the principals

I think the things that keep me from agreeing with you are: 1) there's not really a misogyny angle to Karolina's predicament. Hugo is on track to replace Karolina because of chance eavesdropping. 2) Matsson is the foulest misogynist there ever was and Shiv knows this better than anyone, and 3) I don't think Shiv gives a fuck about Karolina's career at all. Thus I can't believe that Shiv would throw things to Matsson of all people, out of some kind of sudden attack of wild feminism, and Karolina's pitiful last-second play would not be a factor.

I think whatever Shiv's qualms, what it comes down to for her, what it always comes down to, is beating the rivals. The irony that her decisions run counter to her own ideals and even her own happiness -- that's Shiv for ya.
posted by fleacircus at 6:31 PM on June 27, 2023 [2 favorites]

"It's like a huge water subway, for things that wanna eat me."

The "virtual dinner" with Logan was so sad--the three kids got to see their dad spending relaxed, funny, social time with people he actually liked, something none of them had gotten (either ever, or in a very long time).
posted by mabelstreet at 11:37 PM on February 5

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