Everything You Need To Know Going Into Succession's Final Season
The 4th and final season of HBO’s Succession premieres tonight, and if you haven’t hopped on the bandwagon for this beautiful mess of a show, it’s not too late. For anyone who wants to jump in on Sunday, needs a refresher, or wants to walk down memory lane, here is a comprehensive summary of everything you need to know from the past three seasons.
Let’s start by establishing the characters and then fast-forwarding through the events.
Setting the Table:
Logan Roy is the founder of Waystar Royco, a goliath conglomerate. He is an intelligent, savage, and cutthroat businessman. Logan built his empire by playing dirty, burying his opponents, and always trusting his gut. He is also a shitty abusive father who raised a bunch of privileged brats who all lack the key traits to take on his role.
Kendall is Logan’s second son. He is ambitious and dead set on taking over Waystar Royco. Kendall is a drug addict, has real mental issues, lacks people skills, and has no talent/strengths. All Kendall has going for him is a sense of entitlement from being his father’s son.
Roman is the youngest son. He is quick-witted, snarky, and often jokes around so that if he fails, nobody will care. Roman is a bit of a sadist, yet also a massive cuck with intimacy issues stemming from his childhood. Typically, Roman plays second fiddle to both Shiv and Kendall, although his loyalty and fear of his dad keep him in the picture.
Shiv is the lone daughter; she begins the series as a Democratic political campaign strategist. The moment the carrot of succeeding Logan gets dangled, Shiv bites. Shiv is the smartest and most cutthroat Roy sibling, all while vastly overestimating her intelligence and lacking the business experience to be a CEO.
Logan’s first son Connor is a non-serious character who has never had a job in his life, falls in love with a call girl, and has Presidential aspirations even though he has no true grasp of the political system or the world itself.
Non-Sibling Family Members
First engaged and later married to Shiv, Tom works for Waystar Royco and uses his relationship with Shiv to climb the company ladder. He adores Shiv and is in love with her even though she mostly tolerates him. Tom is the Roy family punching bag, and in turn, he is exceedingly cruel to people below him. Tom is not very capable, yet he is a go-getter and ends up with big responsibilities. The person we see him interact most with…
Cousin Greg is Logan’s nephew who gets fired after his first day working at the company’s theme park. He arrives at Logan’s birthday, hoping to get his job back, and instead stumbles into working under Tom. A mostly comedic character, Cousin Greg hilariously rises the ranks no matter who is in charge. Greg’s significant edge over the Roy siblings is that he knows how much a banana costs.
This, personally, is my favorite Greg moment…
Logan’s “new wife” at the beginning of the series. Just a vicious human being. Honestly, a badass.
CO-WORKERS & OTHERS
Head legal counsel for Waystar Royco, nobody knows where the bodies are buried more than Gerri.
Frank & Karl
Two older Waystar employees who are loyal and fearful to Logan, even as he throws them under the bus constantly, including firing Frank in the pilot (only to rehire him).
Now, let’s go through three seasons of events…
The pilot opens on the day of Logan’s 80th birthday.
Kendall assumes he is going to be announced as taking over Waystar Royco. Except, we and Logan see Kendall get absolutely bodied in negotiations to buy Vaulter, a media startup.
The Roy family at large is gathering for Logan’s 80th birthday. Roman gets sent to spy on Kendall’s negotiations to give intel back to his dad. Shiv is with Tom out to buy a gift so he can properly brown nose, and Cousin Greg, fresh off losing his theme park job, saunters into town hoping to beg for it back.
At his party, Logan tries to get the kids to sign forms that would give additional power to their stepmother, who they do not know well, if Logan was to die/become incapacitated. Logan additionally drops a bomb on Kendall in front of Shiv and Roman that he will be staying on as CEO, and down the line, Kendall could “maybe” get named heir. Roman and Shiv cannot help but laugh and grin as their brother is emotionally devastated.
Kendall leaves the party to close the Vaulter deal while everyone else goes to a park for a family softball game. Shiv gets Tom promoted to head of Parks and Cruises, though Logan offers her a position first.
Following the game, we see Logan dangle more opportunities in front of Shiv and Roman as they ride in a helicopter to grease them up and get them to sign the forms. When Shiv and Roman still decline to sign, Logan becomes incensed and proceeds to have a stroke.
We then move to the hospital following Logan’s stroke as everyone scrambles to figure out what they are going to do and if Logan is going to die. Roman and Shiv immediately oppose the idea of Kendall taking over.
At the hospital, Tom decides it is romantic to propose to Shiv while her dad is still alive. She was over the moon excited.
Not long after, Tom offers Greg a job and takes him under his wing.
Ultimately, Kendall assumes the role of temporary CEO, and he gets Roman to relent once offering him the position of COO.
Kendall couldn’t be happy for two seconds because Gerri informs him that they are three billion dollars in debt, due to their stock price dropping, and must find a way to pay.
Trying not to lose major assets, Kendall follows his nose to his former coke buddy and college friend Stewy, a venture capitalist. Stewy bails them out for a stake in the company and board seats. Kendall is unaware that Stewy is backed by Sandy Furness, one of Logan’s longtime rivals.
The Barstool equivalent would be Gaz selling a healthy chunk of the company to someone not knowing they were getting funded by Roger Goodell.
Logan’s first coherent thought following his stroke is to call Kendall a fucking idiot for the deal he brokered.
Meanwhile, Shiv tries to snoop out their stepmom, getting dirt on her from this scumbag named Nate, a campaign strategist she used to date. Shiv cheats on Tom with Nate for the entire first season. He recruits Shiv to work on the campaign for Presidential Candidate Gil Eavis.
Gil is a Bernie Sanders-like character who Shiv chooses to work for, mostly to gain Logan’s attention as he is a consistent enemy of ATN (their news network).
In Tom’s new role as Head of Parks and Cruises, he finds out the job comes with baggage, including loads of undisclosed settlements varying from female cruise workers soliciting sexual favors to actual deaths. Tom has Greg shred these documents on Thanksgiving; however, Greg realizes he might be getting set up, and smartly chooses to keep some copies for himself.
The moment Logan gets back to 20% health, he assumes his position as CEO again. In retaliation, Kendall attempts to remove Logan with a vote of “No Confidence,” only to fail miserably, coming up a vote short after Roman gets too scared to vote against his dad. His late arrival to the vote did him no favors, as everyone got cold feet after he was delayed due to bridges, tunnels, and air space being shut down in New York City due to a terrorist threat. Kendall is fired and removed from the company.
To bury his son’s reputation, Logan gets the news and gossip outlets begin circulating rumors that Kendall is hooked on drugs again. With even Kendall’s ex-wife believing the rumors, he relapses and begins to spiral.
At Tom’s Bachelor party, Kendall finds out that Sandy is behind Stewy, and together they hatch a plan for a Bear Hug/Proxy battle where they will try to take majority stock of Waystar. Kendall is in on the idea if he can be CEO.
Also, Tom gets a blowjob from a woman at the party (Tabitha) who spits his load back into his mouth. Roman proceeds to date her and even takes her to the wedding.
Tom and Shiv’s wedding was a blast.
Connor meets Gil Eavis and decides after pestering him for one minute that he is more than capable of becoming President.
Kendall drops the Bear Hug letter on his dad, yet cannot even look him in the eyes, and struggles to talk without stuttering when explaining why he is doing it.
Shiv asks Tom for an open marriage after their ceremony. BRUTAL.
Then things fucking escalate. Kendall is hellbent on a search for coke, meets a caterer Logan accosted earlier in the day, and then attempts to drive this caterer (who was high on ketamine) to his drug plug’s house. They veer off the road and crash into a lake. Kendall survives, but the caterer does not. He flees back to the wedding.
Logan covers up the murder in return for Kendall abandoning Sandy & Stewy’s side in the proxy battle.
Season 2 is all about the Proxy Battle, Kendall trying to figure out why he still exists, and Roman & Shiv jockeying to be in the top position to succeed Logan.
Logan outwardly asks Shiv whether she wants to take over. The moment the idea becomes real, Shiv is in. However, Shiv assumes it will be a fast track. When Logan tells her she will have to do a management program and work overseas for a year or two (something Kendall did), she immediately views it as below her, which is insane for a person with no prior business experience.
Roman begins a fascinating relationship with Gerri, originally hoping she would guide him on ways to raise his business acumen to impress Logan, and somehow it devolves into a humiliation kink – including Roman jerking off as she degrades him.
Tom gets another promotion as he is now the head of their news network ATN. During his time, he struggles with one of his major anchors being a legitimate Nazi sympathizer. Greg keeps getting promoted under him, especially after blackmailing Tom with the cruise documents he kept.
Logan attempts to buy the family-owned liberal-leaning media company, Pierce, hoping the asset would fatten them up, making it impossible for Sandy and Stewy to win the Proxy Battle. They fail to acquire Pierce, though Pierce’s consultant Rhea Jarrell (played by Holly Hunter) weasels her way into Logan’s good graces and even gets named Logan’s successor. We assume Logan and Rhea banged as well, and soon after, his marriage to Marcia ends.
The Cruise scandal becomes known, leading to Logan, Kendall, Tom, Greg, and Gerri having to testify under oath in front of Congress. Rhea walks away from Waystar because of the scandal.
Logan tries to figure out who they can sacrifice to move on from the Cruise scandal and focus on the Proxy Battle. Logan chooses Kendall, and Kendall seemed willing to take the bullet until Greg comes in at the last minute with the documents he saved. Seeing this as his last chance, Kendall denounces his father on live television and is back, alleging to have documents proving his father’s misconduct and that he will be gunning for control again.
The Biblical references in the season finale were amazing…
While I am not the first person to point this out, 'Succession' packed an incredible amount of foreshadowing and imagery into their finale. First up, they teased early on that Kendall would be the "blood sacrifice" with the way he was laying in the pool like a crucifix…
…the episode slowly built up to the moment where Kendall was, in fact, the choice to be the "blood sacrifice," but another moment of biblical imagery teased that the ending may not be as obvious as it seemed…
That's right, Kendall giving his father the Kiss of Judas. If you caught this reference, then you probably had a feeling Logan would actually be the one to take the hit. Some people have also compared it to the Fredo kiss from 'The Godfather'…
Regardless of the comparison you think fits the most, Kendall marked Logan with that kiss. He roped him in only to make sure his father was the one who went down with the ship. This leads to the next moment of imagery, which was also fairly biblical…
There were some skeptical looks thrown around by Logan at dinner but little did he know, he was actually at his own Last Supper. 'Succession' did a great job at misdirection with this scene, keeping the focus on Logan, but, upon re-watch, they did a lot here to show you that Logan was nearing an early defeat in his tenure at Waystar Royco.
What a fucking show.
Kendall is all smoke and no fire in Season 3. After making noise by denouncing his Dad, he fails to rally his siblings to his side. He burns through multiple lawyers and strategists the moment they do not automatically enable his bad choices. Even Greg silently slinks back to Logan’s side. By the end of Season 3, he is defeated, tries to sell his stake back to his father, and when Logan declines, Kendall falls asleep in a pool (he lives).
Logan proves to be bulletproof. Instead of Tom or anyone going to prison, Waystar is able to settle. The Proxy Battle ends with a whimper when Sandy’s health deteriorates to where he can’t even speak. Sandy’s side settles for four board seats (Shiv negotiates the deal because Logan had a UTI from banging too much). The Roy family has so much power they can hand-pick who they are backing as the next U.S. President. They choose Neo-Fascist Jeryd Mencken, Roman’s pick, where there might be sexual interest in one another.
This leads to… as Roman was building himself up as the top child to succeed Logan, he accidentally sends Logan a dick pic meant for Gerri during a business meeting. Simply, one of the greatest scenes in television history is the moment Logan sees it and when Roman realizes what he has done.
Shiv and Tom are a mess this season. At the end of Season 2, he lashes out at her by noting he never wanted an open marriage. Every time it feels as though they are getting healthier, Shiv reveals her true colors. Including during a dirty roleplay/foreplay session, where Shiv tells Tom she doesn't love him, and he will still want her anyway.
An interesting wrinkle to Season 3 is the introduction of tech billionaire Lukas Matsson, who Roman meets at Kendall’s 40th birthday. He is supposedly based on Elon Musk, except he is portrayed by Alexander Skarsgard, one of the most chiseled humans on earth, so that can’t be true.
The Season 3 finale takes place in Tuscany as the three major siblings' mother gets remarried.
Important details from this trip are Shiv’s mom telling her she wishes she didn’t have kids and then urges Shiv never to have them. Connor feels taken for granted after Kendall calls himself the eldest son and when the family chooses Mencken as their Presidential candidate. He ends up getting engaged to Willa, his escort-turned-steady girlfriend. Willa says, “Fuck It,” though she definitely cares about Connor far more than Shiv does Tom, at least. Kendall tells his siblings about the caterer incident in an emotional scene.
In Italy, Logan meets Matsson and is impressed because he’s smart and has balls, unlike his children. Not only that, Mattsson has the capital to buy Waystar.
Once realizing that Logan might be icing them out of a deal, Roman and Shiv rally a depressed Kendall to get back on board and unite as a trio to surprise their Dad with a veto.
Shiv informs Tom of this move, and a scorned Tom takes matters into his own hands to tip off Logan. Logan re-negotiates his divorce agreements with his ex-wife in secret to take power out of his kid’s hands.
Tom’s betrayal sets him up as a top-of-the-totem-pole guy, and Greg is by his side. But it was also something foreshadowed almost the entire season…
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.
The siblings are at a loss and have to figure out what they can do to get back at the unbeatable force that is Logan Roy.
…and now, SEASON 4!
Enjoy. Cue the music.