The New StatesmanThe New Statesman

Succession’s unsettling ending

By Anna Leszkiewicz

29 May 2023 · 5 min read

informed Summary

  1. The final episode of Succession showcases the consequences of the Roy children's relentless pursuit of power.

How do you end a demonstration of perpetual motion? As Logan Roy once explained to his daughter, in the world of Succession as in the world of corporate America, “everything, everywhere, is always moving, forever”. Jorge Cotte writes in the LARB that the series’ swaying, shaky camerawork suggests “the instability of the Roy family form” and our own nausea at the events on screen. But, paradoxically, plots of constantly fluctuating, unstable alliances keep the Roy children immobilised. It is as if they are treading water in a relentless whirlpool, trapped on a lurching superyacht, or strapped onto an endless, looping Waystar-Royco Parks rollercoaster. It thrilled them (and us), it made them (and us) queasy. But they were never going to voluntarily get off the ride.

The show’s last episode opens the morning after Logan’s funeral. Though his death brought a new sense of finality, the gears of the perpetual motion machine kept on turning: in place of his towering presence enters the looming threat of The Deal – the show’s comedy and horror orbit around this rather than Logan’s terrifying might. The promise of a more permanent seat of power – leadership of Waystar – is seemingly closer than ever for the Roy children. Current co-CEOs Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) might “tank” their late father’s planned agreement to sell the company to the sinister Swedish tech-bro Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), who has guaranteed Shiv (Sarah Snook) the role of CEO in exchange for her support in getting The Deal through. Shiv and Kendall count up board votes and rattle off the names of shareholders and board members, while Kendall declares this “huge board meeting” is “Defcon 1”. Of course, we’ve been here before. (As their mother, exquisitely portrayed by Harriet Walter, says, exasperated: “‘Huge board meeting!’ Gosh. What an event! That’s never happened before in my life. I’ve never had my plans ruined by a ‘huge board meeting’ before.”)

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