four men taking shots at a bar in the finale of hbo's succession

Photograph by Macall B. Polay/HBO

All our thoughts about the ‘Succession’ finale



The Daily Dot Staff

Internet Culture

Posted on May 30, 2023   Updated on May 31, 2023, 7:57 am CDT

Well, it’s official: HBO’s Succession is over after four seasons. The series, which inspired a lot of discourse online on the Sunday nights that it aired, concluded with a polarizing finale. Some Succession heads felt it tied the story up nicely, while others were left in shock.

We had many thoughts about it—so many we decided to do another Daily Dot staff chat. In this conversation, we touch on several topics—including Shiv’s fanbase and our favorite scenes of the finale. Proceed with caution if you’re avoiding big spoilers!

What was your first reaction after the episode ended?

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, staff writer: Loved it! excellent ending. I felt like the writers really threaded the needle on it being unexpected yet intelligently foreshadowed and psychologically coherent for all the main characters.

Also, I was like, “Kendall and ANOTHER body of water??” lol

Laiken Neumann, news editor: Jaw agape. Tears. Trying to smile because it happened, not cry because it’s over.

Tiffany Kelly, senior culture editor: They love putting Kendall next to water.

Laiken: Kendall step AWAY from the water!

Audra Schroeder, senior writer: I thought about all the very detailed Cousin Greg will be CEO theories I saw last week! The conclusion was devastating but grounded, and hewed as close to the reality of this world as it could.

Whitney Jefferson, executive editor: I was just so happy for Tom. I couldn’t believe he pulled it off!

Michelle Jaworski, staff writer: I was so stressed out watching the entire thing that most of what I felt immediately after it ended was relief.

Tiffany: It was truly such a satisfying ending. Halfway through, I was like, how are they going to wrap everything up? But it all worked!

Laiken: The sibling bonding via “meal fit for a king” made it so much sourer at the end.

Were you satisfied with the ending? 

Audra: I am satisfied. It being Tom makes perfect sense! And, as people have noted on Twitter, the writers subtly told us in season one. Succession is not a big twist show.

Gavia: I was satisfied but I wasn’t really watching it from the perspective of “rooting” for anyone, even though I think the discourse around judging people FOR “rooting” is kind of silly. Like, you are meant to engage with the characters, that’s how drama works! It’s not the same as rooting for the actual Murdoch family lol. But yeah, I felt like I could trust the Succession writers to stick the landing even though there have been some patchy elements along the way.

Whitney: I’m satisfied! Especially considering how stressed out I’ve been for the past few episodes for everyone’s well-being. People couldn’t stop talking about which Roy sibling would die by the end so I felt like I was able to let out a sigh of relief at the end when they were all still breathing. Kendall, though, and those waves…

Tiffany: I’m a “team Ken” person myself, but yeah the Tom trajectory is easy to see, especially after he skips Logan’s funeral. He’s like Logan. Because Loagn would skip a funeral due to business.

Gavia: And Audra’s right, Tom makes sense. Who are you gonna vote for as a businessman—the semi-reliable guy who says “I’ll cut costs and obey orders,” or one of the three squabbling rich freak babies whose entire argument is “We’re the Roys”??

Laiken: Incredibly satisfied. I knew it would end in tragedy but the finale left the Roys in a new place of devastation (or hopeful freedom with Roman?) that still felt like a culmination of their story arcs.

Gavia: 90% of 21st-century prestige dramas are about someone being poisoned by wealth and ambition and then ending up miserable and alone, so Ken’s trajectory makes perfect sense, and the idea of expecting/rooting for anything else is quite frankly baffling to me.

Michelle: I jokingly was on the Greg train—mostly because I thought it was funny, and if Succession pulled a Bran becomes King on Game of Thrones, I wouldn’t be “surprised”—but I don’t think I actually wanted that. But I was satisfied with the ending, as far as you can be with a show full of despicable characters that Jesse Armstrong and his writing staff made us empathize with. Also, what tremendous writing all the way through!

Many viewers seemed to want someone to win—like in the show was Game of Thrones. Did you want someone to win? If not, what did you want to happen in the finale?

Gavia: I didn’t really “want” anyone to win, but most of the time I was leaning toward Kendall winning while also alienating everyone and being doomed, so I was half right lol. There were points where I was leaning Tom (for the reasons he eventually did become CEO) or even briefly Greg (until it became clear that Matsson has no interest in him) but that was more predictions/guesses than outright support.

Audra: I wasn’t as invested in someone winning, but I understand that motivation. The writing on this show is incredible. I was hoping Shiv’s outcome was different, but considering how men have ruled her life, that last shot of her and Tom was devastating but it felt in line with her character.

Gavia: I would’ve liked to have seen more Gerri in the finale, which is true of this entire season. It feels like Gerri was sidelined which kinda ties into the show having patchy writing for female characters on occasion.

Tiffany: I thought the point of the show was going to be no one ends up happy. I think even if Kendall got the CEO gig, he would be unhappy in the end.

Michelle: Jokes about Greg pulling a Bran aside, I don’t know if I engage with Succession like that. I was a really recent Succession convert.

Laiken: Especially after watching the bonding through grief that the sibs went through this season, of course, I would love for them to remain in the “meal fit for a king” childhood fantasy, because I deeply care about these characters. But 1) that just would not jive with their character arcs and 2) they were destined for tragedy. I’d love for Kendall to not have ended the season on suicide watch and rather have finally stepped into the shoes of his father, but Logan made this fallout inevitable imo, via the rivalry he inserted into the sibling relationship.

Gerri may not be CEO but I think Gerri lowkey won either way the vote would’ve swayed.

Whitney: At the beginning of the season, I expected Kendall to come out on top. But in a post-Logan world, each of the siblings really showed exactly how unfit they were to replace him in the episodes that followed. So I hopped aboard the Tom train fairly early this season it was very fun watching through that lens along the way.

Shiv stans online are upset that she didn’t have a better outcome—especially because she’s the lead woman character. What did you think of Shiv’s choices—which ultimately determine if Waystar Royco was going to be bought by Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård)?

Gavia: I’d like to embed a tweet I wrote that I think encapsulates most of my pre-finale thoughts on the Shiv discourse haha:

Shiv, like the rest of the Roys, is a bad person. the idea that she was a feminist role model was always bizarre, not just because she does awful stuff but because she’s incompetent and not very smart! She never comes up with clever strategies and was easily hoodwinked by Matsson.

I think Sarah Snook gave a stunning performance throughout, and a lot of people tend to engage emotionally with really authentic performances, but that doesn’t actually mean Shiv was an admirable person to root for.

Laiken: My friend said she’s throwing away her Shiv Roy shirt after the finale.

Whitney: I found Shiv’s story to be ultimately pretty haunting when you think about how hard she tried to win power for herself, only to end up just being the wife to the CEO at the end of the series. There’s also something there about generational patterns you can’t escape no matter how hard you try…

Michelle: Shiv was always going to get judged so much more than her male counterparts even if she didn’t do anything anywhere near as bad as them by the people who wanted her to be this feminist hero (she’s not). But also, between shows like this and Barry (which also ended on Sunday; cannot stress how stressful my Sunday was), we’ve collectively learned nothing from the Skyler White backlash from a decade ago. 

Gavia: Even to the end, she had the option of forging her own path, but instead she decided she still wanted proximity to the Roy legacy so she returns to her toxic marriage to bear the Roy Heir even in the midst of a catastrophic personal/professional failure.

Laiken: After sitting with it more, Shiv’s choice makes sense to me—it still felt like a shock given the sibling relationship development, but I think she just reached her maximum desperation for power.

Tiffany: Willa is ultimately the woman role model because if I had money I’d always be doing plays and redesigning an expensive apartment.

Gavia: The thing about the “Shiv is a girlboss who deserves her chance to shine” argument is that Shiv has never displayed any particular skill for being in charge of the company. The only person with qualifying experience is Kendall (who is totally erratic and insecure), and the show makes it pretty clear that Logan gave Shiv less-important jobs because he’s sexist. So yes she’s suffered under sexism but also there’s no reason to think she’d be good at this job. Her only argument is ever “It should be me!”

The thing is that if people DO want to latch onto a girlboss businesswoman character, Gerri and Karolina are both there, AND they wind up in the new administration.

Kendall has been a beloved yet tragic figure in the series since the first episode, when his dad decides to continue being CEO instead of letting him take over. The last shot is sad, but what do you hope for Kendall in the future?

actor jeremy strong weeping in a suit in the finale of succession
Photograph by Macall B. Polay/HBO

Michelle: Therapy, lots and lots of therapy. He probably won’t, but a woman can dream.

Gavia: It’s basically impossible for me to imagine him finding a positive evolution from this, but for the sake of his kids, I hope he either goes no-contact OR, like Michelle says, gains enough self-reflection to not be an abusive parent/ex-husband.

Laiken: I can’t imagine an ending where this isn’t fatal for Ken, but I’d love for him to go see his kids and be a good dad. 

Audra: I think Kendall will get manic again and try to find his next thing but I don’t know if it will fulfill him enough. Maybe he does a silent retreat or something lol.

Gavia: In general though, while there are plenty of shows where I think you’re invited to imagine what happens next (including in a fanfic way), the period depicted over these four seasons feels perfectly self-contained to me. I don’t really feel the need to speculate what happens outside the bounds of this story. It’s over!

We can’t leave out Roman. What did you think of his ending? He smiles at a fancy bar after ordering a martini. He seems content.

Gavia: lmao that man is MESSED UP. I think he’s fundamentally broken.

Laiken: I do think he feels relief at finally being free. but I’m also not sure where he goes from there… he’s alone.

Audra: Yeah a lot of people were reading into that scene, like he was smiling about Gerri. He seemed least interested in the CEO role but he needs therapy too.

Whitney: Roman is going through his grief in the messiest way possible and I really appreciate seeing that kind of realness on TV. Give Kieran all the awards!

Laiken: At my most optimistic, I hope he reunites with Tabitha.

Are we going to get another HBO show like this again?

Gavia: Under [Warner Bros. Discovery CEO] David Zaslav? lmao no.

Laiken: It already exists. Otter Dynasty is the next Succession.

Michelle: Hollywood’s current obsession with IP means they’re gonna try to hound Jesse Armstrong for like, a Young Logan show well before another creator gets to tell an original and compelling series again.

Audra: This is a very HBO show: They love shows about fucked up families. But yeah, considering the new management, I’m not confident.

Did you have a favorite scene in the finale?

Gavia: the funniest moment was when we learn that Caroline partially invited her kids over so her husband’s scammy friend could pitch them on what is clearly a wildly corrupt business venture. That was so funny to me. The most memorable moments were the intense emotional scenes with Kendall or Roman breaking down though.

Laiken: Absolutely.

Audra: The scene where they watch the video of their dad was pretty touching.

Gavia: I guess I’d say “I’M THE OLDEST BOY!”

Tiffany: The Oldest Boy line was incredible, like something a Victorian child says.

[Editor’s note: Kendall’s exact line was “I’m the eldest boy!”]

Whitney: The “meal fit for a king” scene was a nice relief, though I was secretly worried that it would accidentally poison Kendall.

Laiken: I think the final shot of Tom and Shiv is most memorable to me, so devastating.

I love that the “meal fit for a king” scene was the last one filmed, they’re all great actors of course so it was always going to be good. But their childlike joy in that scene is so real.

What will you miss most about the show?

Michelle: The memes!

Laiken: I’ll miss its mad dialogue and the crew of actors working together. So much talent in one series. I love when Kieran talks about how much he loves working with Sarah. 

Gavia: The music!! Also seeing such amazing actors get top-tier roles to perform. It reminded me a little of my all-time favorite TV drama Black Sails, in that it cast a mostly non-famous group of actors who gave INCREDIBLE performances and will likely never get such good roles again. I mean, maybe Jeremy Strong will, but the vast majority of TV shows and movies just aren’t very good, so… you know.

Whitney: I’ll miss the online discourse each week, but also talking about the show with friends IRL!

Gavia: Seeing people’s dazzlingly stupid takes and misinterpretations each week WAS very fun.

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*First Published: May 30, 2023, 3:06 pm CDT