Fuck off. And just like that… Succession has ended. The battle royale for Waystar Royco saw GoJo victorious, and all of us choking on a large slice of Tomelette. It’s a conclusion few of us saw coming, variable as the business alliances, shifting sibling rivalries, and strategic bids for empire have been in Jesse Armstrong’s HBO monolith.
The final episode of Nepo Baby Monopoly picked up after King Lear’s funeral (with its front row of Logan WAGs) in the wake of Roman’s cataclysmic coffin-side meltdown. Our potential successors made a quick Caribbean jaunt, much like in the opening of a Bond movie, and though we were starved of a high-speed car chase or laser watches, their mother, Lady Caroline—a master of passive aggression—was every inch the Bond villain. After a conflab in the ocean, the siblings unite, but never has their three-way treaty held fast enough to get them through an entire episode, let alone a critical board vote. Shiv and Roman joked about murdering Kendall, and then went on to do it—in a business sense, but also very nearly in a non-business sense—at the eleventh hour. There were guest bathroom fisticuffs, boardroom fisticuffs, and a delicious cameo from a cow-print couch. Lukas “Privacy, Pussy, Pasta” Matsson seized the throne, Tom “highly interchangeable modular part” Wambsgans ascended to American CEO.
Despite its unpredictability, the finale felt entirely apt. No matter how rocky or easy the terrain towards Kendall’s defeat, it’s been underlined (or struck-through) since the pilot, when he flew right up to the sun. Watching him Icarus forward on half-melted wings has been the macabre joy of Succession.
It’s hard to say who’s truly victorious. Each character is still living on the creamy margins of their position: rich and privileged is forever, it’s only power that differentiates them. And Matsson aside, who has the power now? Shiv’s partnership with Tom—the hokey-pokey divorce proceedings, the baby, the bitey—has never been clear-cut. The Roy sons—Kendall, Roman, and even Connor—are all “nobbies” (bread ends) forgotten in a bag. I honestly wonder if Greg still has that sticker on his face? All of them had the savvy and the cunning to succeed Logan, had they only worked together. But they’re each too selfish, too untrusting and untrustworthy, too ravaged by their own riches and empathy-free childhoods. Who are the Roy children if not pain sponges, soaking up cutthroat ambition, marinated in mercilessness? When trust is worn down to a nub, when everything is a play or a bid to succeed, betrayal is the only currency left. When sincerity dies, treachery is the only ace. That’s the card Tom played to win.