Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Succession series finale, "With Open Eyes."
While series creator Jesse Armstrong has a more optimistic take on Culkin's final scene as Roman Roy, the actor sees things very differently. Speaking with Variety, Culkin responded to the interpretation that Roman's ending is the happiest of all the Roy siblings. "That's not saying very much, is it?" Culkin said. "None of the siblings are in a particularly good place at the end."
The series concludes on a pretty dour note for TV's unhappiest family, with the Roy siblings finally losing control of Waystar Royco. While Kendall (Jeremy Strong) reflects on his punishing loss and Shiv (Sarah Snook) holds the hand of a husband she doesn't love, Roman hits up a New York bar for a martini. But is he drowning his sorrows or celebrating his freedom?
Macall B. Polay/HBO Kieran Culkin on 'Succession'
"[Jesse Armstrong] has said that he thinks it's more of like, 'Roman has gone back to where he was at the beginning,'" Culkin explained. "What's really sad about that was all of this was for nothing. It's been a waste of his time. Like, what's the point? What did he learn? What did he gain?"
Culkin called it a "cool interpretation," but added, "I had my own idea."
He explained, "People inevitably do grow when they go through experiences like this. I think he has evolved as a person. I don't think he's gained nothing from this. I think there's something he must have taken away from it, whether or not that's for better or for worse."
Culkin's take on the ending gets particularly sad when it comes to Roman's relationship with his siblings, now irrevocably changed by them turning against each other in the final moments.
Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images Kieran Culkin
"I think he not only just genuinely loves his family, I think he needs them," Culkin said. "Now that it's done, and he's out, and they're all out: When is he going to see them again? Who does he have? He has f---ing nobody. That's it. And [his] siblings are out there, somewhere. And it's not like we're gonna get together for a beer. He's very much alone. Have you ever seen Roman with a friend?"
Asked if there was any possibility for the siblings to reconnect, Culkin said that "Roman would be very much up for that," but added that he has no idea if the relationships could be salvaged.
"I love that there are different interpretations of it, and different theories," Culkin said of the final episode. "I love that, because all these things can exist at once — that's why I think it's great that it ended where it did. It feels very much like the end, but there could be more. Because there really could be!"
Others have pointed to Roman's choice of drink as a potential silver lining in his final scene. His martini is the signature drink of his former mentor Gerri (J. Smith Cameron), with whom he shared a seasons-long flirtation. Granted, the pair's last interactions were anything but sweet, with Roman firing her from the company on two separate occasions.
On the heels of the finale, Cameron told EW that it's "too bad" Gerri didn't join Roman for that drink in his final scene. As for the complicated nature of their relationship, she added, "I feel Roman really considered it a romantic relationship, but I'm not sure that Jesse ever did, and I don't know what Gerri [thought]... But I do think that over time Roman really got under her skin and she had a real true affection for him. That's why it hurt so bad to feel betrayed with the horrible, horrible firing scene in season 4."
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