HBO’s Succession series finale recap: With Open Eyes

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 12: Sarah Snook, Arian Moayed, Brian Cox, Jesse Armstrong, Kieran Culkin, J. Smith-Cameron and Alan Ruck attend the HBO's "Succession" Season 3 Premiere at American Museum of Natural History on October 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 12: Sarah Snook, Arian Moayed, Brian Cox, Jesse Armstrong, Kieran Culkin, J. Smith-Cameron and Alan Ruck attend the HBO's "Succession" Season 3 Premiere at American Museum of Natural History on October 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images) /

The big series finale of HBO’s Succession begins with Kendall “Ken” Roy craving the board votes necessary to halt GoJo’s acquisition of Waystar RoyCo. Ken knows he is being outmaneuvered by his sister, Siobhan “Shiv” Roy, though he seems confident he can wrestle some key out of her grasp, such as Stewy Hosseini.

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At the same time, Shiv seems mightily confident that she has more votes. Also, as she talks with GoJo’s CEO, Lukas Matsson, she seems rather pliable regarding her estranged husband, Tom Wambsgans, either staying on board with the company or being fired, so long as she can be the CEO.

As the drama unfolds, the three most prominent Roy siblings visit their mother, Lady Caroline Collingwood (Harriet Walter). Though they are rivals and also have a dysfunctional relationship with their mother, it’s apparent that this non-corporate setting is important for the Roys to gather their senses and strategize, either with or against each other, (a common theme to Succession is that the Roys don’t blend in perfectly with business life, or practically any other setting they find themselves in).

Of course, other characters have their awkward attributes, too. Tom and his underling, Greg Hirsch continue having a tumultuous business partnership.

Especially when it’s clear that either one could be fired if they don’t play their cards right.

Succession season 4, episode 10 series finale recap: Tom defends his job

The next scenes give us insight into the almost lizard-brain, primordial nature of both Tom and Lukas. As Tom defends his job to Matsson over dinner, Lukas crassly tells Tom he wants Shiv sexually, and uses it as an excuse to not make her the CEO.

Tom has some interesting motivations for not challenging Matsson’s crude behavior. Sure, it is a comment on corporate, male-dominated sexism and all that, but it’s also about Tom pathetically clinging to the prospects of keeping his job or advancing in the company.

Additionally, of course, Tom recently had an extremely bitter breakup with Shiv, whose insults and faithlessness were intended to cut right down to the core of his being. In a lowkey compelling moment for the episode, Matsson tells Tom that he wants a “front man” and “not a partner.”

Basically, Tom has the image of someone who’s perfectly normal, and, though he’s perhaps not totally spineless, nevertheless is willing to play the role of “yes man” and fulfill the basic aspects of his job well. Matsson sees most of the characters in corporate life as “interchangeable parts.”

Overall, sort of like the shark in Jaws, the biggest movers and shakers in industry don’t entirely know why they do what they do. They just do it, (sort of as the Nike slogan says) because it’s their job.

Succession season 4, episode 10 series finale recap: Greg’s little betrayal/a meal fit for a king

In another critical moment in this episode, Greg uses a phone app to translate Lukas’s conversations with Lukas’s Swedish colleagues and learns that they are rejecting Shiv as CEO. Greg promptly relays this information to Kendall, who then spills the beans to Shiv herself.

At first, Shiv disbelieves Ken, but he verifies that she’s been removed from the latest deal announcement draft. After this knowledge takes its toll on Shiv, Ken uses it as an opportunity to formulate a new plan for them to wreck Matsson’s plan.

Ken says Roman couldn’t be the CEO under their plan because he cried at the funeral of their father, the great Logan Roy. He also says it can’t be Shiv because she was previously singing Matsson’s song.

Predictably, he says he should be CEO, which prompts Roman and Shiv to joke about murdering him. Instead, they humorously “anoint him king” later that night in their mom’s kitchen, after Roman makes out with some forbidden cheese that belonged to their mom’s new husband, Peter Munion (Pip Torrens).

They concoct a gross-out meal “fit for a king” in a blender, and it’s the lightest moment in an otherwise pretty dark episode, (more on that in a bit).

Succession season 4, episode 10 series finale recap: How Mencken’s election is similar to real events

The Succession finale has a few developments that might be, “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” moments, including that a Wisconsin court might stop the Presidency of Jeryd Mencken. This might seem relevant to some events within the last few years.

It’s also a callback to the 2020 election, where Al Gore was expected to potentially make a more serious challenge to the election results in Florida by recounts, though his efforts were curtailed as that recount was stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court. Why is this relevant?

This is happening in the background of the power-wrangling between the Roys. Recall that Shiv distrusts Mencken considerably, finding him a real threat to U.S. democracy.

Ken and Roman, on the other hand, are willing to set aside any criticisms of his politics, if they think he can help them in their struggle against Lukas Matsson, as he might be willing to block Matsson’s takeover on regulatory grounds. It seems as if Shiv tries to avert any relationship with Mencken, though that gets complicated further down the line.

Succession season 4, episode 10 series finale recap: Another betrayal, but by whom?

Before the episode’s biggest betrayal occurs, there was the other betrayal of Tom by Greg. When Shiv informs Tom of Greg’s decision to leak the news that Tom’s the new CEO, it prompts a physical fight between Greg and Tom.

After that, Tom tells Shiv that, indeed, he’s going to be the CEO if Matsson has his way, and it seems to change Shiv’s perspective on things. In fact, they even seem to reformulate a relationship, but more of a strictly business relationship than a romantic one.

It doesn’t seem entirely unlike how Logan had created his relationships, both with his wives, mistresses, and children. Then, as the big board meeting happens, things start going haywire for Ken, even though he has reason to be confident that he can keep Waystar in the family and be the big CEO.

Though Ken has people on his side, Shiv changes her mind, causing Ken to blow a gasket. As they meet semi-privately in a separate room (where they can still be seen and partially heard through the glass), Shiv says she does not think Ken would be good as a CEO.

She also brings up his confession that he killed the waiter (Tom Morley) in the car accident, as seen in the episode, “Nobody Is Ever Missing.” Ken lies and says the waiter did not die because of him.

Then, in a big mistake, Roman insults Ken’s own family as not being authentically part of the bloodline, which causes Ken to physically attack Roman. Ultimately, because of Shiv and Ken’s freakout, Waystar decides to sell out GoJo.

So, in the end, Shiv and Tom end up in what appears to be a loveless marriage, it seems Ken will never be able to forgive Shiv or the other siblings, and perhaps only Connor and Willa will have a relatively stable, albeit minimal, relationship with the rest of the Roy family. Then again, if legal challenges halt Mencken’s Presidency, Connor would lose his ambassadorship, which could maybe put a strain on their relationship, too.

Final thoughts on the Succession finale

Though plenty of Succession fans will be satisfied with this series finale, possibly even considering it perfect, it does seem like there could have been room for further examination of the characters and additional closure. Perhaps one more season could have delved deeper into what happens with Mencken and how Waystar and the siblings grapple with a monster they helped create.

Nevertheless, the finale does have a lot of implications for the future, and the open-ended finale still suggests the characters will never be the same. Overall, Succession is about how family, business, and politics tie together, and how there is never a “final episode” to powerful families.

The impact they have ripples throughout human history, even in ways we will never truly know.

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We hope you enjoyed Succession! You can stream the entire series on HBO.