Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Succession finale.
After four seasons, HBO’s Succession aired its series finale today. In a blistering 88 minute episode, the final episode took fans on a rollercoaster of emotions as the Roy siblings laughed, cried, and everything in between. But if you didn’t catch how it all went down, or you don’t actually watch the show but want to be able to keep up with the watercooler chat around the office, we’ve got your back. Here is the Succession ending, explained.
Waystar Royco Is Sold to GoJo
Season 3 of Succession ends with Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Siobhan Roy (Sarah Snook) uniting to take down their father Logan Roy (Brain Cox). However, their alliance is short-lived.
In the wake of Logan’s death early in Season 4, Kendall makes some big moves behind his siblings’ backs, in the hope of positioning himself as the one and only CEO of Waystar Royco. From there, it’s once again every Roy for themselves.
Kendall and Roman take on interim co-CEO roles of the company, but Kendall’s aim is to oust his younger brother and claim the top spot he believes to be his birthright.
Meanwhile, Roman is cozying up to alt-right presidential candidate Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk). Kendall feels threatened by Roman’s relationship with Mencken, and tension brews between the brothers.
As co-CEOs, Kendall and Roman agree to block the sale of Waystar Royco to Norwegian tech company GoJo and its founder Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), but Shiv has other plans.
Feeling uneasy about her place in the company, and her dwindling alliance with her brothers, Shiv decides to team up with Matsson and push the sale of Waystar through, stabbing her brothers in the back.
She pitches herself to Matsson as the US CEO of Waystar, and says she would act as his puppet. Of course, Shiv’s actual plan is to use Matsson as her puppet. The media sees this, and publishes a cover story with a caricature of Shiv pulling Matsson’s strings.
Matsson cools on the idea of naming Shiv CEO, which leads us to…
Tom Wambsgans Is the New US CEO of Waystar Royco
That’s right, folks! After all that, none of the Roy siblings end up running Waystar Royco. The sale of Waystar Royco to GoJo goes through in a 7 to 6 board vote, and Matsson names Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) the CEO. But how does this happen?
Matsson decides that instead of going with “the baby lady” for CEO, he’s going to offer the position to Tom, who gladly accepts.
However, the deal is almost blocked because of a little misunderstanding between Tom and Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun), aka the Disgusting Brothers.
With the sale of the company looming over everyone’s heads, Greg is feeling unsure of his position within the company moving forward.
Greg asks Tom if his position is safe, and Tom keeps things pretty vague. With uncertainty in the air, Greg uses an app to translate a conversation between Matsson and one of the GoJo executives, and learns that Shiv won’t be named as CEO.
Greg passes this information along to Kendall, Kendall tells Roman and Shiv, and once again, the three siblings are back on the same page. They go into the vote as a united front, ready to block the sale of Waystar Royco, and to name Kendall as CEO.
But that’s not how it plays out.
Shiv Roy Blocks Kendall From Becoming CEO
The vote is split six-six, which means it all comes down to Shiv’s vote. She freezes, and then leaves the boardroom. Kendall and Roman follow, and have a vicious fight for the ages.
Kendall begs Shiv to vote with him. He tells her that it’s his birthright at the firstborn son (sorry, Connor), he says it’s been his plan since he was seven-years-old.
— Oyinda Odewale (@OyindaOdewale) May 29, 2023
“I feel like if I don’t get to do this, I feel like that’s it. Like I might die,” Kendall pleads.
Shiv and Roman take issue with Kendall’s belief that it’s his birthright, and Roman tells Kendall that if he’s going to play the “bloodline” card, then Shiv — who is pregnant with Tom’s baby — has the upper hand. He tells Kendall that their late father didn’t think of Kendall’s children as “real” because they were (apparently) not biologically his.
Kendall attacks Roman, and when Shiv tries to break them up, he turns on her, too. Shiv leaves, and votes for the sale to go through, sealing Kendall’s fate.
Why Did Shiv Block Kendall From Becoming CEO?
This part of the Succession finale is intentionally left ambiguous. As viewers, we’re left to ponder Shiv’s motives.
On the one hand, it’s possible that Shiv sees what the power is doing to Kendall and wants to save him from himself. Over the course of the season, Shiv watches on as Kendall destroys his relationships with his ex-wife Rava (Natalie Gold) and former assistant Jess (Juliana Canfield). He also ushers Mencken’s presidency in, despite the harm it will do his daughter.
At Logan’s funeral in Episode 9, Shiv notes that her late father “was hard on women”. It could be that Shiv wants to break the cycle, to stop Kendall from being able to become Logan Roy. As Shiv said, Logan was a man who “couldn’t fit a whole woman in his head”.
On the other hand, the Roy siblings aren’t known for putting others before themselves. Early in the finale, we see Shiv try to make amends with Tom. After Tom is declared the new CEO, he joins Shiv in the car.
The final shot we see of Shiv is of her placing her hand on Tom’s. They’re reunited and having a baby, but whether this is a win for Shiv is again left open to interpretation.
On the one hand, she still has an in at Waystar Royco, and control of the company is in her family. On the other, Shiv may be doomed to follow in her mother’s footsteps, never getting a win, and being reduced to the wife and mother of the CEO.
What Happens to Roman?
In Roman’s last moments onscreen, we see him order a martini. He looks to be at peace and accepting of it all. He’s free of the burden of living in the shadow of his father or in competition with Kendall.
It’s a hopeful, positive note for Roman.
What Happens to Kendall?
After the vote goes through and Waystar Royco is sold to GoJo, Kendall is devastated and despondent. We see him walk through Battery Park, trying to reckon with the idea that he will never be CEO.
The final shot is of him sitting on a park bench, staring out at the water. Logan’s former body man Colin — who Kendall hired to protect him in Episode 9 — stands in the background, watching on.
And there you have it! That’s everything you need to know about the Succession ending explained.
Succession is streaming in full on BINGE now.
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