10 Questions the Succession Series Finale Needs to Answer

Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, and Jeremy Strong in Succession
Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, and Jeremy Strong in Succession
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Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, and Jeremy Strong in Succession Credit - Claudette Barius—HBO

So, here we are. Just days away from the deliriously anticipated Succession finale, with no verdict on the Waystar-GoJo deal, no certainty as to who will be the next President, and no idea who Logan Roy’s successor will be. It seems like a lot of ground for creator Jesse Armstrong to cover in the show’s 90-minute conclusion, but were we really expecting anything different? Here are just 10 of the dozens of questions that remain open going into the final episode.

Who, if anyone, is Logan’s successor?

Brian Cox as Logan Roy in season 4 of <em>Succession</em><span class="copyright">Macall Polay—HBO</span>
Brian Cox as Logan Roy in season 4 of SuccessionMacall Polay—HBO

This is the big one. The truce that united Kendall, Shiv, and Roman against their father at the end of season 3, when he made a deal with their mom to sell Waystar Royco out from under them, was never going to last. Ironically, it took Logan’s death to tear the trio apart again. For much of the current season, CEBros Ken and Roman—who decided after tangling with Matsson in Norway that they didn’t want to sell to him after all—have been trying to wriggle out of a lucrative deal about which their board is sanguine. What they didn’t know, until the harrowing Election Day episode “America Decides,” was that Shiv—bitter to have been demoted by her own brothers and desperate to dump “toxic asset” ATN—was secretly helping the Swede.

As a result of that rift, there are now two obvious contenders for Logan’s crown. If the merger doesn’t happen, or if Waystar acquires GoJo rather than the other way around, then the frontrunner is Ken. He has a burning desire to lead and a new affinity for his dad’s cutthroat worldview, and he has become the voice of both the company and his family. Plus, Roman proved himself unfit as CEO after placing too much trust in Mencken, melting down at Logan’s funeral, and hurling himself into a crowd of protesters at the end of the series’ penultimate episode. He may not be physically injured, but his career has been mortally wounded.

Shiv is the potential spoiler. By the end of last week’s episode, she had convinced Matsson to offer Mencken an American CEO—and seemed to believe her loyalty to him would secure her that position. Hey, it’s possible! But it’s also possible, now that Matsson and Mencken are communicating directly with one another, that they’ll choose to push the deal through and appoint a truly spineless puppet as CEO. Like Tom. Or Ken’s new lapdog Hugo. Or, hell, I don’t know, Greg.

Is Jeryd Mencken the next President of the United States of America?

Justin Kirk in <i>Succession</i><span class="copyright">Macall Polay—HBO</span>
Justin Kirk in SuccessionMacall Polay—HBO

Well, it sure is looking that way, isn’t it? One of the bombshells of “America Decides” was Succession reenacting the night of Nov. 8, 2016 with a nominally different but extremely similar cast of characters—and we all know how that election turned out. Then again, with a timeline this compressed, it’s easy to forget that Logan’s funeral takes place something like 12 hours after ATN calls the election for Mencken. We’ve yet to learn how Wisconsin is going to handle the Milwaukee ballots that went up in flames (though Shiv’s revote solution seems unlikely).

Does the GoJo merger pan out?

There are a few relevant variables here. First is the question of whether Mencken, who can be influenced but is unpredictable, or Jimenez, who has thus far ignored the Roys’ overtures, winds up in the White House. The case for blocking the merger on regulatory grounds seems pretty shaky either way, but that won’t stop Mencken if he’s convinced it will give him an advantage.

The other crucial factor is the Waystar board—whose fateful meeting is almost certainly going to happen in the finale. Roman made a weak appeal to Frank, his erstwhile punching bag, to help him block the deal at the funeral. Ken has Hugo undermining it in the media. But the real question mark is the activist alliance of Sandy Furness, his daughter Sandi Furness, and Stewy Hosseini. We don’t know exactly how much of the company they own, but the Financial Times’ insanely detailed dissection of Waystar’s economics estimates that the family and the activists each own “somewhere in the mid-high forties” percentage-wise. Not only do Sandy, Sandi, and Stewy have about as much power to sway the decision as the Roys do, but also, in the event of impasse between the two camps, the deciding vote could go to a much smaller shareholder.

Read more about Succession‘s final season:

If Waystar GoJo happens, what does the combined company look like?

Alexander Skarsgård as Lukas Matsson in season 4 of <em>Succession</em><span class="copyright">Graeme Hunter—HBO</span>
Alexander Skarsgård as Lukas Matsson in season 4 of SuccessionGraeme Hunter—HBO

The offer currently on the table is for GoJo to acquire Waystar in its entirety. But that’s hardly the only possible outcome of a merger between the two companies. There’s still the possibility of carving out ATN—maybe as a consolation prize for Roman. Or, if Ken gets his way, Waystar will acquire GoJo, thus vanquishing the viking. These are not concessions Matsson is likely to make on a voluntary basis. What gives the Roys some additional leverage is the news that GoJo has been fudging its numbers in India. Meanwhile, Ebba (or another Matsson confidant) could go public with the nauseating story of Matsson sending her frozen bricks of his blood.

What happens with Pierce?

In one of their last acts of Oedipal solidarity, Ken, Shiv, and Roman outbid Logan for PGM. If they end up with the funds to shell out $10 billion for Nan Pierce’s empire, their dad won’t even be around to seethe over their victory. Which probably means that only Shiv, who looks at Nan the way rescue puppies look at potential owners, remains invested in this acquisition. Either way, it can only happen if GoJo buys Waystar, affording the Roys ample access to cash.

Do Tom and Shiv break up?

Matthew Macfadyen as Tom Wambsgans and Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy in <em>Succession</em><span class="copyright">Macall Polay—HBO</span>
Matthew Macfadyen as Tom Wambsgans and Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy in SuccessionMacall Polay—HBO

This is a very different question from Should they break up? Their marriage is fully toxic. We know this. And they know this; they’ve spent all season poking at each other’s weaknesses and dredging up the darkest moments from their shared past. The thing is, they’re also kind of perfect for one another. He makes her feel powerful. She makes him feel important. He lives to serve. She demands fealty. Also, Shiv is pregnant. It’s an emotional time for everyone!

Does Kendall make good on his threat to claim full custody of his kids?

Yes, he’s an absentee father with a long history of drug abuse and erratic decision-making. But the Roys have a long history of bending the legal system to their will—especially when it comes to family matters. I’m not advising Rava to flee the country with her children while she still can, but I would certainly understand if she did.

Is Connor really going to be an ambassador?

Vienna for lunch. Venice for dinner. Dubrovnik for breakfast. That’s the dream Connor and Willa were chasing when he conceded “in Mencken’s direction” the night of the election. Of course, that dream is contingent on Mencken not just becoming President, but also honoring the deal Roman brokered to make Con the administration’s ambassador to Slovenia—which he doesn’t have to do any more than he has to block the GoJo deal. I can’t imagine Con babbling at Mencken, at the funeral, about a “pan-Hapsburg American-led EU alternative” helped matters.

Does Gerri get the settlement she so richly deserves?

J. Smith-Cameron on <i>Succession</i><span class="copyright">Macall B. Polay—HBO</span>
J. Smith-Cameron on SuccessionMacall B. Polay—HBO

Oh man, do I hope so. Look: there are no heroes in Succession. If there were one exception, it would probably be Ewan—not a sweet guy, but in the grand scheme of things a good guy, with a solid moral code to which he actually adheres. But, give or take a Rava or a Colin or any number of truly minor characters, Gerri might be the least-terrible person in the Roys’ thrall. And so if any of these human wrecking balls ends up with the “eye-watering sums, hundreds of millions” she promised Roman, in “Tailgate Party,” she would extract, I want it to be her.

Does anybody (else) die?

Sure, Logan’s sudden, inflight demise was the big death that the final season of any prestige drama is obligated to deliver. It was also kind of inevitable. We didn’t know when it was coming, but the odds were always in favor of it happening before the series ended. A surprise, untimely demise in the finale would certainly be in keeping with Succession’s love for evil twists.

With that in mind, I see two main candidates. First there’s Roman, whom we last saw taking swings at protesters. A tortured soul whose deep reservoir of neo-fascist sorrow separates him from even his unhappy family, he certainly doesn’t have much to live for. His dad is dead. His surrogate dad, Mencken, seems to have double-crossed him. He’s unable to form healthy romantic relationships. And he just blubbered like a baby in front of not just Logan’s associates, but also potentially millions of people who saw a video of his funeral fail on social media. It would be kind of fitting if he sacrificed himself to the masses that he holds in such contempt.

If I had to put money on it, though, I’d choose Ken, whose death by drowning has been repeatedly teased—and more often than not in close proximity to each season’s finale. It wouldn’t be like Armstrong to let that whole vein of symbolism dry up, so to speak, without some form of resolution. Also, Ken’s supersize ambitions are liable to result in supersize disappointment. He is not a man who handles pendulum swings well.