Sunday, April 21, 2024

Who Really Won The “Succession” Finale?


As expected, most of the speculation and then aftermath over the “Succession” finale revolved around who “won,” who “lost,” who lost even while they won, and vice versa. On that note, there seemed to be at least two clear-cut winners, one obvious loser, and a few who mostly lost and only slightly won.

But for all the betting, debates, and arguments over whether Kendall, Shiv, Roman, Tom, Matsson, Greg, Geri, or even Connor would be the ultimate “Succession” winner on finale night, it doesn’t take much to realize the one single undisputed winner at show’s end was someone who technically wasn’t even there anymore – and who didn’t even need to be alive to win. And yet “With Open Eyes,” it is clear the ending was Logan Roy’s final triumph from beyond the grave.

Despite all the theories on how “Succession” would end, it turned out they already told us how it would end over a year ago. And as much as the ultimate outcome may have shocked some, it is an outcome that pretty much already played out one finale ago, way back when Season Three ended in what turned out to be the final major Logan vs. his children showdown.

For everything that happened in Season Four, right down to Logan’s death and the potential death of American democracy, it all ended exactly as Logan already intended it to end that night in Italy. And for everything, his children did and didn’t do for the entire final season, they could ultimately do nothing to stop his final wishes from coming true.

Season Three ended with Logan cementing a deal to sell Waystar/Royco to Matsson – and the final closure of that deal is exactly how Season Four ended. Season Three ended with his children temporarily uniting to stop the deal and save their birthright that Logan snatched away, but their long overdue teamwork was finally not enough. With some tweaks, this is pretty much how Season Four ended, too, right down to a near catatonic Roman by the end of it all, and Shiv officially filling in for their mother this time by shattering their last hope for victory.

Of course, the children did far more to destroy their alliance for good in this finale than in the last one. But either way, the outcome remained the same: their brief moments of finally fighting their father and his vision came far too late. Even after death, Logan had done far too much to ever let that kind of unity last between them.

Season Three also ended with Tom, not the children, as the one now in favor while his kids were shut out – which is exactly how Season Four ended. Of course, if Logan had survived to the end and had Tom and Shiv finally called it quits and made it stick this time by then, Logan probably wouldn’t have allowed Tom as Matsson’s U.S. CEO to seal the deal. But if the children were still frozen out by then and a surviving Logan had gotten to fire Geri too, he likely would have had no options left but to go with Tom anyway – especially if he ever found out about Shiv’s pregnancy.

Since Logan died instead in a less-than-glorious fashion, it’s hard to argue that he truly got everything he wanted. But considering how he probably would have wasted away after taking himself out of the game, assuming his literal last-minute idea to take the reins at ATN didn’t pan out long-term, dying while still on top was likely better than the alternative. Besides, as his children finally proved, some fates are worse than an instant and comparatively merciful death.

Otherwise, everything that happened at the end of “Succession” is pretty much everything Logan wanted to have happen at the end of Season Three. He didn’t even need to be alive to make sure it happened because everything he’d ever done to his children assured they “never had it” to stop it anyway. As it always was in life and finally after death too, the game was rigged so that Logan would always and forever be the only winner, whether he actually planned out every detail or not.Unlike most other TV antiheroes, Logan was never really a mastermind who planned everything ten steps ahead. Even the initial Matsson deal was more impulsive than anything else, as he just mostly just went from want to want, pursued and then abandoned most anything on a mere whim, and was mentally compromised by poor health in at least some capacity for the entire show. He only made it look like he was a puppet master by sheer bullying and gaslighting, which Shiv called out in their very last moments together. And yet, by accident or brute force more than mental force, he just kept winning and kept being proven right – all the way up to his “I love you, but you are not serious people” proclamation as his prophetic final words to his children.

There was only one scenario where Logan would have ever lost, and it wasn’t the one that stopped the deal. Even if Kendall or some other Roy “won” and controlled the company, they would have completed their transformation into Logan’s clone and continued his legacy that way. The only way the cycle would have been destroyed is if Waystar/Royco was destroyed first.

Arguably, it would have been the most poetic ending if the children took only weeks without Logan to annihilate a company it took him decades to build. Whether they and Matsson obliterated each other in battle, whether enough dirt finally got out to tank the company that way, or whether any kind of price got paid for calling the presidential election for a would-be Nazi too early, it would have made some “dramaturgical” sense to end it that way. For that matter, certain pockets of the audience would have cheered very loudly if the Roy empire – unlike other real-life family media empires – ended up in total ruins at long last.

That would have been a wish-fulfillment kind of ending for those audiences, yet it is very clear “Succession” does not do those endings for any audience. Plus, having every post-Logan-death episode occur on consecutive days compressed the timeline too much to make any total Waystar collapse make sense. As bumbling and ill-equipped as the Roy children are, with and without Logan, even they couldn’t have screwed up enough to completely wreck the whole empire in just a few weeks – although, at times, they almost came close to trying. However, the only ones they would ever totally waste would be each other.

Still, it took until the end of Season Three for Logan to finally give up on having his children take over, whether or not he actually meant to cross Kendall’s name out in his revised will. He may have ultimately conceded defeat on having the family keep the company after he was gone, yet even on that point; he stumbled his way into ultimate victory after death.

Now that Shiv and her unborn child are back with new CEO Tom, the cycle of succession will continue for a new generation after all. Logan waited until Kendall was seven years old to promise him the empire and doom him right then and there. Considering that Shiv’s child will someday have the chance to do what Shiv finally could not – especially if it’s a boy – Shiv probably won’t wait for even half that long to start poisoning it with hopes of fulfilling her unfulfilled dreams. And if/when she has multiple children, the whole story really will just be remade anew.

Either way, the Roy name will still have its claws in Waystar/Royco, no matter which outsider technically runs it – and no matter which Roy children are left out in the cold. Either way, the empire Logan built will survive long after him, no matter what people, systems, or countries it kills in the process. Even his own children weren’t screwed up enough to destroy all that – and most importantly, they were screwed up too much to ever seriously change any of it too.

As such, nothing really changed in the “Succession” finale beyond the obvious. Kendall lost like usual, Shiv compromised herself and her former dreams like usual, Roman was left alone to pick up the pieces like usual, Tom and Greg sucked up enough to survive and even thrive like usual, and Matsson gobbled up ever more power and money like usual, and Geri and most of the board survived like usual for one last go-around with the new regime.

And the most essential fact of life on “Succession” never changed either – precisely as its only true winner, in this life or the next, proclaimed in those final few minutes over 18 months ago, “I. ****ing. Win.”

What did you think of the “Succession” series finale? How do you think the show will perform at this year’s Emmy Awards? Please let us know in the comments section below or over on our Twitter account. Thank you!

You can follow Robert and hear more of his thoughts on the Emmys and TV on Twitter at @robertdoc1984

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