WASHINGTON — With the end of the critically acclaimed drama's fourth and final season, dedicated fans of “Succession” now know the answer to the series' central question: Which of the Murdoch-esque Roy family siblings will prevail?
Oh, and — for those who haven’t yet watched, here’s the spoiler alert.
The whopping 88-minute finale on Sunday evening, which concluded HBO’s hit series chronicling a billionaire media mogul and his children’s struggles to take over the family company, Waystar Royco, left viewers reeling — because none of the Roy siblings won.
In the episode, Shiv Roy took one final turn against her brother Kendall, blowing up his plans to keep their late father’s company and become CEO by voting to let their media empire be acquired by a Swedish tech giant, GoJo.
The series-long tussles between the three key siblings turned into an actual tussle, as a screaming match descended into a wrestling match, with the nihilistic Roman declaring the trio “nothing” in the end. And Shiv’s no-longer-estranged husband and soon-to-be-baby-daddy, Tom Wambsgans, triumphed as the new chief executive, with Cousin Greg by his side despite last-minute treachery.
In the finale's closing shot, Kendall stares in despair toward the water. And the credits roll.
“I put my marker down on Tom and Greg,” said Jennifer Gould, an Oregon-based trusts and estates lawyer, minutes after she finished watching the show, “and I was right.”
“Succession” always has been about the membership of its audience, not its size, and its popularity among the coastal media and agenda-setting groups that the show depicts and attracts means the finale will likely leave a cultural mark. #Succession was trending No. 1 on Twitter on Sunday night, followed by Shiv, Kendall, Greg and Tom Wambsgans.
The Emmy-winning show even permeated the discussion around the debt limit in Washington on Sunday when a deal was reached just hours before the finale aired. A White House official ended a call with reporters by telling them to “enjoy Succession.”
More recent prestige TV finales are a better analogue for “Succession” than those of the network behemoths of decades past. For example, “The Sopranos” suddenly cutting to black to the song "Don’t Stop Believin’” in 2007 set the standard for both talkability and inscrutability.
But “Succession” left its own unanswered questions. Did far-right presidential candidate Jeryd Mencken, who the Roys’ network questionably declared the winner, actually ascend to the White House? Will the GoJo deal really be finalized? Do Tom and Shiv make their marriage work?
“I will be thinking about this for a while,” Gould said.
Pamela Soin, a management consultant in New York City, and a group of friends have watched every “Succession” episode this season with a serious ritual, but Soin only watched the final episode with her father — a new convert — because of the Memorial Day holiday weekend in the U.S.
“I feel like it was the closest thing to a succession if they didn’t pick one of the siblings,” Soin said.
Soin's father, who had only watched the pilot earlier Sunday before dozing intermittently during the finale, declared his hope for a family reunion to save their dad's company.
Not so much.
“Where we left it is: Those three kids with all their personalities — they lost control of everything due to their characters and who they are as people,” Soin said.
Conclusions to hit TV series can be hit-or-miss. The bloody 2013 ending of Walter White’s story on “Breaking Bad,” and Don Draper’s more zen ending on “Mad Men” in 2015 generally satisfied their finicky fans. The 2019 conclusion of “Game of Thrones” — the last big finish for an HBO show — generally did not. Endings are hard to pull off, and disappointment tends to be the norm, to which the makers of “Seinfeld” and “Lost” can attest.
For Kendall fans who assumed he would ultimately succeed, Sunday's finale was a shock.
“A lot of people will be very upset with this ending,” Soin said.
Suraj Nandy, a 20-year-old college student from Bengaluru, India, said he was counting down the hours until Sunday's finale. While the episode aired at 6:30 a.m. local time, Nandy won't be able to tune in for a few hours because he had to take his sick cat to the veterinarian.
Nandy hopes he won't come across any spoilers in the meantime.
“I'm completely avoiding every social media platform until I get to watching it,” he wrote in a Whatsapp message a half-hour before the episode aired. “Taking no chances!”
Dalton and Dazio reported from Los Angeles.