‘Succession’ Series Finale Recap: The Dotted Line

‘Succession’ Series Finale Recap: The Dotted Line

Who won? Who lost? Who was left staring off into the sea?

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By Noel Murray

Season 4, Episode 10: ‘With Open Eyes’

Five years ago — on June 3, 2018 — HBO aired the first episode of “Succession,” introducing the world to the 80-year-old Logan Roy: the cranky billionaire founder and chief executive of Waystar Royco, a media conglomerate controlling a movie studio, a cruise line, a theme park chain, multiple newspapers and magazines, and the influential right-wing cable news channel ATN. We also met Logan’s adult children: the troubled heir apparent Kendall, the lefty gadfly Shiv, the bratty Roman and the sweet but inconsequential eldest half brother Connor.

At the end of the series premiere, Logan suffered a debilitating stroke, setting in motion the plot that would go on to drive four “Succession” seasons. Heading into the series finale, most of the big questions raised by that first episode remained unsettled. Who — if anyone — will take over for Logan as C.E.O.? Do any of the scheming, self-absorbed Roy children really deserve the job?

We will have a full review of the final “Succession” episode soon. In the meantime, here is a quick summary of how some of those questions were answered by the finale.

Who ends up in charge?

In a stunning upset, Shiv’s husband, Tom Wambsgans, claims the prize. The Swedish tech bro Lukas Matsson — on the eve of completing his purchase of Waystar — has second thoughts about his plan to name Shiv as the C.E.O., to placate the America-first political leader Jeryd Mencken. Instead, Matsson becomes convinced that the sycophantic Tom will do whatever dirty deed the new bosses need done after the takeover. To secure that position, Tom is more than willing to betray Shiv, knowing that she would do the same to him.

Did the Waystar board approve the sale to GoJo?

In a tense 7-6 vote, the board ultimately backs Matsson’s company, GoJo, approving the Waystar sale. Shiv ends up being the deciding vote — not out of any loyalty to Tom, but because at the last minute she realizes she can’t stomach the thought of Kendall running their family’s company. As she puts it — honestly and somewhat cruelly — she just does not think Kendall will be any good at the job.

Did Kendall’s biggest secret come out?

All season long, as tensions have developed between the Roy siblings, many viewers wondered if Roman and/or Shiv would use what they know about Kendall’s role in the death of a cater-waiter in a drunk-driving incident against him. Instead, in a roundabout way, Kendall uses it against himself. When Shiv is explaining why she can’t vote for her brother, she brings up the incident and Kendall lies to her and Roman, saying he exaggerated the whole thing to win their sympathy. This seemed to make Shiv even more determined to vote against him.

Who wins the presidential election?

The election remains unresolved by the closing credits, though we do learn that the Daniel Jiménez team has gone to court in Wisconsin. Ultimately, it does not matter to the resolution of “Succession” whether a Republican or Democrat becomes the new president. Presumably, Matsson and Tom can work with any administration.

Are the Roy siblings still on speaking terms?

If there is one thing that this entire series has made clear, it is that no matter how terrible the Roys are to each other, they keep coming back together. By the end of this episode, Shiv and Roman are furious with Kendall and he doesn’t like them much either. But if there were a fifth “Succession” season, these three would undoubtedly reunite and bury the hatchet — perhaps in each other’s backs.

Will Cousin Greg be OK?

Greg ends up being a major player in this episode, feeding information about Matsson’s shifting plans to Kendall, who then passes the news on to Shiv. When Tom finds out what Greg has been up to, the two get into a short, awkward slap-fight. But after Tom officially gets his new job, he reclaims Greg as his overpaid lackey.

Are Shiv and Tom back together?

This season began with Shiv and Tom at odds with each other but still holding hands. It ends with the two of them driving off in a car together, and her limply placing her hand palms-up atop his. They are not really even grasping each other any more. But they are still in physical contact.

Did anyone die?

Does a spiritual death count? Kendall ends this episode staring blankly at the water, extending an ongoing visual motif on this show where water either consumes him or buoys him. Here, it does neither; instead, it remains stubbornly off in the distance.

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