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Succession Is Officially An All-Time Great TV Show (Finale Breakdown)

* * * SPOILERS AHEAD * * *

Holy shit.

What else is there to say after the Season 3 finale for 'Succession'?

Most great shows and series are lucky to have one or two incredible season finales, but somehow 'Succession' has absolutely nailed all three of its opportunities. Where some shows will jerk you around and throw down a crazy, out-of-nowhere twist, or give you an unsatisfying cliff-hanger that never really puts a bow on the season, Succession has found a way to get you excited for what's to come, but also blow you away with how the storyline wraps up and advances.

Everything in Succession is completely earned. Every single moment in the final few weeks of each season, especially the finale, is paid off in a way that can be justified by dozens of small moments throughout every episode. There hasn't been a single end-of-season moment that has left me thinking, "okay, that's a bit of a stretch." That's the beauty of this show, the creators, the writing, the acting, and everything in between. Succession doesn't really do filler episodes, and even if you thought that during the season, especially a heavily character-driven Season 3, look back now at each episode and you'll realize that every line of dialogue and scene mattered in the build-up to the explosive finale.

I will say it again: EVERY MOMENT IN SUCCESSION IS EARNED.

There were a ton of small callbacks, such as Gerri warning Roman about the importance of keeping your own interests front and center a full five episodes ago…

Then, of course, the payoff of the entire Tom (and Greg) storyline that has been teased, honestly, dating back to the end of Season 2 when he ate Logan's food…

Two moments, among many, stick out the most for Tom in Season 2.

The first is the Nero and Sporus scene between Tom and Greg from Season 3, Episode 4…

TOM: Greg what do you know about, um… Nero and Sporus?

TOM: Sporus was a young slave boy. He was Nero's favorite. And, uh… you know what Nero did to him? 

TOM: Well, Nero… pushed his wife… down the stairs. And then he had Sporus castrated and he married him instead. And he gave him a ring. And he made him dress up like his dead wife.

GREG: Wow! Plot twist! Didn't see that coming. 

TOM: I'd castrate you and marry you in a heartbeat.

(via TV Show Transcripts)

At the time, it might have seemed like a throwaway moment. Another weird interaction between the whacky duo of Tom and Greg. But the Roman mythology was layered on thick this season, much like biblical references flowed throughout Season 2, especially in the finale…

But then fast forward to the massive moment in the Season 3 finale where the name Sporus gets brought up again…

If you remembered that conversation from a month ago on this show, the moment Tom called Greg "Sporus" again, you knew what the fuck was about to go down. Then, sure enough…

Shiv is out, Greg is in.

Tom's reluctance to trust Shiv, or play by her games, dates all the way back to their wedding day. He has always raised issues with the ways in which she treats him. Season 2 ended with what seemed like a fractured relationship between the two and it spilled over into Season 3. He said to Shiv in the Season 2 finale, "I wonder if the sad I'd be without you, would be less than the sad I get from being with you." That theme remained constant as the disconnect continued and things began to unravel, especially as their "dirty talk" in Episode 8 progressed to a point where Shiv straight-up told Tom she didn't love him.

Matthew MacFadyen, the actor who plays Tom in the show, discussed with GQ the moment Tom really decided it was time to move on from Shiv…

There’s a scene [in the previous episode] with Shiv in their quarters when they’re playing a sexy game and she implies that she doesn’t love him. Something is very off there. Then the following day she talks about freezing their babies. But then maybe it’s a subconscious decision. We all have that thing ticking away in our brains and you make a decision but the decision might have been made months before, and you just don’t know it yet. It’s interesting playing with that. He’s had a rough ride. And also there’s an element where he thinks that she wasn’t relieved when she learned he wasn’t going to prison. There’s a collection of incremental things that he’s noticed with Shiv that’s made him think I have to look after myself. I can’t rely on anybody. My wife doesn’t trust and believe in me. (via GQ)

This isn't some random betrayal. It was a deep-seeded, painful character arc for Tom that left him with no choice. His only decision to make was one where he aligned with Logan and left his wife for dead…

And don't begin to think the bond between Tom and Logan hasn't been there since the second Season 3 kicked off, either. Who was at Logan's side when the initial post-Kendall press conference happened? Tom. Who was at Logan's side when the idea of prison and sacrifice was on the table? Tom. Who was at Logan's side as his medication took over during the shareholders meeting and he was up and down in the bathroom? Tom.

Tom knew Logan was the answer. He essentially told Kendall this much in Episode 6…

It was all right there, the entire time. But never too obvious. Succession Season 3 was a character study and a complex one at that. All three children and their relationship with their father was the focus of the season. I saw people asking for plot development and resolution, but that was never intended to be the focus. This was a season about family, which made the visual parallels to the end of this season and 'The Godfather' all the more incredible…

While we all focused on which kid would win over Logan, or take him down, the storyline of Tom, the antichrist in this saga of the Roy family, lurked in the shadows…

The Antichrist brings about the end of the world. In antiquity, Christian thinkers came to identify the world-destroying figures in Daniel and in New Testament texts as the Antichrist, who was sometimes interpreted as a historical person who would return in the future. Nero was an excellent candidate for the role of Antichrist.

Christians seeking the historical identity of the Antichrist in scripture were also drawn to Nero because of his reputation for tyranny and criminality, and because of the execution of the Christians who were condemned for the Great Fire in Rome in 64 CE and executed the following year, during Nero’s reign. (source)

To use the simplest term following up a complex breakdown: damn.

Everything about the finale gave me chills.

You saw emotion and reactions from the family, especially the kids, that we've never seen before…

You saw the kids team up for the first time, with a feeling of inevitable power… only to see them at one of their lowest points yet…

…and with possibly only one more, and at most two more, seasons left, we stand at a stunningly unexpected spot…

The Roy kids are finally together, as a unit of one, but they are somehow farther from the top than ever before.

What a show, what a fucking show.