The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE SEASON 3 FINALE OF SUCCESSION
A week before Succession’s finale, the internet was flooded with articles and tweets insisting that the show had hit a lull. Fans thought season three would be the weakest of the series. But every episode and every conversation of this season was like a strategic move in a game of chess, setting the show up for its divine move in the last 15 minutes of the finale.
The writing was all over the wall. The promotional posters released before the season teased the different “teams” that may be at play during the season. The season’s promo poster — which featured Kendall leading Shiv, Roman and Connor against Logan, Tom and Greg — was almost immediately written off as a trick. It would be too easy for us to believe that the Roy siblings would actually be aligned this season, much less that they even had a chance at winning, but that’s exactly where everyone ended up.
The first time Kendall and Logan speak in season 3, Logan tells Kendall that he’s “not a killer.” However, the tables have turned in this episode when Shiv asks her siblings how they feel about (metaphorically) killing their dad and Kendall says “hand me the f*cking shotgun.” This makes it even harder to watch Kendall and his siblings lose to their dad yet again only minutes later. The Roy siblings have been manipulated by Logan their entire lives and, as much as I love the twist of Tom entering his Reputation era, it would have been nice to see the siblings finally win.
At the beginning of the episode, Logan is reading Goodnight Moon to his grandson — a moment so paternal and so rare you wonder if he’s had a change of heart. By the end of the episode, Logan has shown himself to be crueler than we thought possible and proved once and for all that business will always come before his children.
And the foreshadowing doesn’t stop there. In episode four, when Roman asks Gerri for advice, she tells him to think “How does this advance my personal position?” at all times. In the finale, we see Roman drop to his knees in a truly heartbreaking moment and literally begs Gerri to help him. Gerri proves herself to be the cold-hearted bitch that we all knew she could be and turns him away. Why? Because it doesn’t serve her interests. Helping Roman won’t advance her personal position, so she leaves him in tears on the floor.
Even the jaw-dropping moment of betrayal from Tom is something that we should have seen coming because it was basically spelled out for us all season. Remember when Logan sent doughnuts to Kendall’s house when the siblings were meeting up behind his back? It wasn’t a coincidence that the “gift” arrived right after Shiv told Tom that she was with Kendall. Of course, he would tell Logan that they were on their way to try to gain control of the company.
When it looked like there was no hope for Tom and we watched him fall apart episode after episode, he was still telling us that he would back Logan and make a move like this. Right after he’s finally come to terms with going to prison at the diner with Greg, he tells Kendall in the parking lot that he’s never seen Logan lose. We even get a direct callback to the story of Nero and Sporus that he told Greg. And after Shiv literally told Tom that she’s too good for him and doesn’t really love him, it’s no surprise that Tom went full Nero on his wife.
All of these little moments and more, came together in a perfect storm to create Succession’s very own version of the Red Wedding. But this episode wouldn’t have been so impactful if it wasn’t for the brilliant performances of the cast.
There has been plenty of discourse about Jeremy Strong and his acting methods following the New Yorker profile that came out the week before this episode aired, but there is no questioning the effectiveness of his tragic, grief-stricken portrayal of Kendall as he breaks down in front of his siblings. Kiernan Culkin’s ability to make the audience feel Roman’s desperation as he attempts to appeal to his father with love is the stuff Emmys are made of. And on that note, so was the scathing look on Sarah Snook’s face in the final seconds of the episode.
In all seriousness, this episode reminded me why I love television so much. By the time it came to the final episode of Succession’s third season, it had already firmly cemented itself as one of the best television shows of our time. But the last 15 minutes proved that with the right actors, writers and cinematographers, you can create a perfect piece of media.