Succession ended its incredibly strong second season with a deserving finale, one in which all of our main players took noticeable steps forward or backward. This season has been largely about the Roy siblings’ desire for their father’s approval, which not only doesn’t come easily but also seems to come in the strangest of ways. If you’ve been reading my coverage all season you know by now that I won’t be recapping the episode but rather diving into the details, and there’s a lot to get into here.
This episode felt like a “B-Side” of sorts to the infamous “Boar on the Floor” game Logan played with his family and employees earlier this season. The difference this time was that he was encouraging them to cut one another’s throats. Logan knew all along that Kendall would be the one selected to take the fall. There was no questioning that. What Logan was doing in this episode was seeing who would step up and say it. Who was enough of a “killer” to pick out the former golden boy who was by Logan’s side all season long? The answer was nobody. Out of all of the names tossed around, not one single person suggested that Kendall would be a good fit as the fall guy.
Shiv, as we would find out later, knew that her father was thinking about Kendall. Logan saw Shiv choose to protect her husband over all else and to Logan, that took her out of the running. For Shiv, it was a huge step because it was the first time she’d chosen Tom over anything. Tom’s been like a volcano ready to erupt this whole season and instead of an epic Succession-style meltdown, what we got was both sad and sweet. Tom doesn’t want other women. He doesn’t want an adventurous sex life. He loves his wife and despite his many annoying qualities, the soft-spoken manner in which he chose to tell Shiv how much she hurts him acted as a redemption of sorts. Shiv, not with words but rather with actions, showed that she heard him and doesn’t want to hurt him. Whether their marriage is built to last or not is unclear but for the first time perhaps ever, I have hope for them. The lingering question is whether Shiv can love Tom the way he wants to be loved. Is her best good enough? Look at who her parents are. She didn’t exactly have the best role models.
Roman’s arc this season has been about his lack of self-worth. He’s uncomfortable in his own skin and doesn’t know how to cope. The first step towards Roman beginning to heal from this pain that began in childhood was Gerri. Despite the humor in some of their scenes, Gerri believing in Roman and not treating him like an afterthought or the black sheep of the family enabled him to chase the deal that had him in Turkey last week. His ability to spot a deal apparently also extends to being able to pick out which deals are winners and which aren’t. Roman spoke up this week in a way we’d never really seen from him before and demonstrated the business acumen he’s always had. His father saw that, too. Logan believed Roman and although he still may not have treated him as he deserved to be treated, he saw his son’s potential, perhaps for the first time.
Connor caught his father’s wrath, with Logan showing exactly how he feels about his eldest son. Connor, enjoying the fame his presidential campaign is bringing him (and Con-Heads is amazing—admit it, you’d buy the T-shirt), is bleeding money between the campaign and supporting Willa’s show, which appears to be tanking quick. He finally got his father’s attention—something he’s been fighting for his whole life—long enough to ask him for 100 million dollars. Logan pounced on this opportunity to tell Connor that his campaign is an embarrassment to him and in this moment, you can see Connor’s whole life. Just like his siblings, all he wants to do is earn his father’s respect. However, to his father, Connor is an embarrassment and nothing he ever does will be good enough. Imagine living with that feeling your whole life. Not only does Connor have to deal with these feelings, he’s always pushed aside in favor of his younger siblings. There’s an underlying sadness to the character, typically masked by comedy, that really adds another layer of depth to the show.
Finally, there’s Kendall. All season long, after failing to take the company from his father and having to rely on him to cover up his involvement in a young man’s death, Kendall has been broken. “Broken Kendall” functioned on autopilot, acting out his strongest character defect: his overwhelming need to please his father and win his respect. While the closing moments of the season finale were a new declaration of war from son to father, ultimately Kendall was just acting out on the same pattern: his overwhelming need to win his father’s respect.
I firmly believe that Kendall would’ve accepted his role as the company’s fall guy had Logan answered Kendall’s question differently. If Logan would’ve told Kendall that he did have what it takes to be the successor but he’s made too many mistakes, Kendall would’ve accepted that. By telling Kendall he wasn’t enough of a killer, Kendall set out to prove him wrong and show his father that he did have that killer instinct his father didn’t see in him. Are you proud of me now, Daddy? Actually, Logan was proud of him. The look on his face told the whole story. The father-versus-son feud that dominated the show’s first season is now back at the forefront, although now we understand Kendall’s motivation and psyche more.
So where do we go from here? Surely Logan has to be out of power, forced by the board into resignation after Kendall’s stunt, right? Did Kendall’s power play give Stewy and company the upper hand in their quest to take over Waystar? Will Kendall now look better to the shareholders or is the door open for the Roy siblings to truly duke it out next season to see who takes the throne? Could Greg Sprinkles take over? Who doesn’t like Greg, even with his foot fungus problems? Speaking of Mr. Sprinkles, why exactly was he on the plane with Kendall? Did they hatch their plan for Greg to bring the documents he saved prior to the plane ride back to NYC? So many questions there.
I’m sure I will spend the next few months thinking about and analyzing the larger themes of Season 2 of Succession. Tonight as I sit here, I can’t help but think that this year was about the cycles children of bad parents go through. None of the four Roy kids ever knew what love felt like and that’s ever so obvious in the way they act as adults. It’s seen in how Shiv treats Tom, in how Kendall and Connor will do anything for their father’s respect, and in how Roman just needed someone to believe in him and show him genuine kindness to start moving toward his potential. If Logan was dealt a fatal blow from a corporate perspective, what will his dynamic with his kids be like next year? Can any of them begin to move past their daddy issues and move forward? That remains to be seen but I can’t wait to find out. Until next season, Con-Heads!