Thursday, April 25, 2024

“Succession” Finale: A Brilliant Shakespearean Ending with Nods to “The Godfather, Part 2” and even Mary Tyler Moore (SPOILERS)


“Succession” has ended, with terrible infighting, backstabbing, and the truth: Kendall wasn’t capable of running the company, and Shiv lived up to her name.

In the end, Shiv did Kendall in, went with Tom, the father of her baby, although she doesn’t love or trust him. Shiv chose “the striver” over her brothers.

As Logan, their father said, “You are not serious people.”

The ending of “Succession” had echoes of “The Godfather II” — Kendall as Michael Corleone winds up alone after many betrayals — and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” You remember that the only person who kept his job at WJM was the clown, Ted Baxter, who turned his back on his friends.

Let’s start with the main trio: Kendall, Shiv, and Roman are just three children with billions of dollars who are still getting ice cream in the ultra expensive Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen (nice mention, now everyone will be trying to get a fresh peach cone).

The beauty of the final episode was the writing. Jesse Armstrong dangled the hope of a united front and then dumped it, viciously. Assembled under their brittle mother’s roof, the kids argue it out, Shiv is told she’s been betrayed by Matsson, and they vow to take the company away from him. Shiv and Roman finally agree that Kendall should be their leader.

Or do they?

Sarah Snook lets that look pass over her face. Either Shiv is unconvinced or she’s already been plotting something. When it comes time to vote, you know she will be a hold out, only the way she does it is as shocking as a killing on “Game of Thrones.”

“You can’t be in charge,” she says to Kendall. “You killed someone.” She’s referring to the waiter who drowned, Chappaquiddick style, after her wedding to Tom, in a car with Kendall. So that’s one sword in. The cutting blow comes from Roman, who reminds Kendall that his children aren’t even his biologically, just “rando’s,” and that Shiv’s unborn child is really the rightful heir to the Roy throne.

And that’s it. Kendall is down. It’s a chilling moment to see what these three can do to each other. It’s even worse because Kendall, with lots of mental health issues, is the most vulnerable. Shiv and Roman see it, and they disembowel him.

Two things Armstrong did not wrap up: the three adult kids bid $10 billion for Pierce Media Group. Presumably they now own it. Will Kendall recover and buy out the other two? And even more importantly, we don’t know the outcome of the presidential election. Will Mencken win and stop the Go Jo purchase of Waystar? The board has voted but the deal is not consummated.

It’s possible, but unlikely, we will see more “Succession” one day, either in a limited series, a movie (HBO likes these things– “Sex and the City,” “Entourage”) that really ends the story. Or maybe we’ll just live on with the memory of Kendall sitting in Battery Park, protected by bodyguard Colin from killing himself.

There’s one postscript. Earlier in the day, or late Saturday, after four years, someone finally drew a comparison between Tom’s last name and that of an obscure long ago real life baseball player who scored a triple play in the World Series and rose to stardom. Tom was named for him, apparently, which signaled his eventual success in taking over the company. I don’t think this hurried last minute news, which went viral, was a surprise. It was a planned leak. But it worked heighten the tension of the ending on social media. Nicely done.

“Succession” can only win Best Drama, Actor (Strong or Culkin or a tie), Actress (Snook), Supporting Actor (MacFadyen), Guest Actor (Brian Cox), plus writing and directing and some below the line credits. If it misses any, the Emmys will never be taken seriously again.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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