The Roys Will Never Live Happily Ever After: "Succession" Finale Recap

Are any of the Roys redeemable?

By Gina Florio6 min read
shiv finale

At some point in every season, the Roy siblings come together for just a brief enough moment to convince you that they could unite as a successful team (a "powerful block," as Kendall calls it) and, more importantly, live happily as a loving family. In season one, it's the night before Siobhan's wedding when she agrees to meet Kendall and Roman in a familiar childhood spot "for old times." They share a joint and giggle about the fact that they all forgot to invite their eldest half-brother Connor. Roman jokes that Shiv and Kendall (and Connor) are all adopted, leaving him the one who will inherit everything. Ken suggests a group hug, into which Rome enters "butt first."

In season two, this moment happens on the Roys' luxurious yacht, where the family and business associates gather to decide who will be offered up as the sacrificial lamb in the midst of the cruise scandal. Roman has just gotten home from an international business trip gone awry, involving a kerfuffle with some terrorists; while he sits around the on-deck pool alongside Kendall and Shiv, he throws out the possibility of them talking about their feelings.

"I did think, when I thought they were going to vacuum out my innards and fill me with concrete or something," Roman says. "If we come through this, is there a thing where we, like, talk to each other about stuff normally?"

Ken and Shiv pause before mocking him in funny voices—"We can talk about the big sh*t!"—and you can't help but laugh along with all three of them. They may be poking fun at Rome, but there's a sweet vulnerability about them.

Maybe, just maybe, the Roys can live in peace after their patriarch has died.

Season three may be the most memorable moment of the Roy sibs. They find themselves in Italy to attend their mother's wedding to a seedy character named Peter, but this time around, Kendall is estranged from the family and isn't even permitted to be in the same room as his father. When Shiv and Rome catch wind that Logan may be selling the company to GoJo, they pull Kendall aside to try and come up with a game plan. But Kendall, at his lowest point ever in the entire series, unleashes the biggest secret of his life: He's partially responsible for a cater waiter's death at Shiv's wedding. "I killed a kid," he confides in his siblings. They stare at him shocked, and that's when he breaks down into tears, resulting in both Rome and Shiv embracing him and agreeing to turn on their father as a united front.

The last time we ever see the Roy siblings in a perfect moment in harmony is the series finale, when Shiv and Roman agree to name Kendall as CEO in order to vote against the GoJo deal and keep the company in family hands. Shiv and Roman make a "meal fit for a king" out of every ingredient in their mother's fridge. Jesse Armstrong, Succession creator, and the writers give the audience just enough hope to think that maybe, just maybe, the Roys can live in peace after their patriarch has died. But hope dies quickly as things turn south.

Tom Steals the Crown

Tom Wambsgans has never been the most powerful man in the room. In fact, much of Shiv's family believes that one of the primary reasons she married Tom was because he's easy to control. But what has been considered one of Tom's most glaring flaws actually turns out to be his greatest asset. Lukas Matsson, shrewd Swedish GoJo owner known for sending pints of blood to his ex-girlfriend and head of comms, realizes that he's not really interested in appointing a new CEO who wants to pull his strings and be in charge. He has enough ideas, he tells Tom over a disappointing fish entree, and he doesn't need someone coming in with more suggestions. That's why he started to seriously doubt his choice for Shiv as Logan's replacement. She was just a bit too pushy when it came to dealing with his India numbers. Oh, and he also wants to have sex with her and is quite convinced that she would be up for it under "the right circumstances." So instead of handing the crown over to Shiv, who comes with a lot of complications, why not pick her baby daddy instead? After all, Tom describes himself as a "simple" manager who is more than willing to be Lukas' "pain sponge."

Tom Wambsgans has never been the most powerful man in the room.

It makes sense if you really think about it. After all the in-fighting and backstabbing, could you really imagine one of the Roys succeeding Logan? Kendall was the one with the most Waystar experience, but his past has been riddled with drug addiction, publicity stunts rooted in insecurity and bravado, and dangerously unstable behavior. Granted, Kendall is the only Roy who has taken the time to stop and contemplate the impact of the media behemoth that his father has created. He's the only one who has had flashes of asking himself if what they're doing is right. Roman also has experience in the firm, but he has shown his weakness and unreliability one too many times. His sexual deviancies, which include sending numerous d*ck pics to general counsel Gerri, also make him a poor candidate to sit at the helm. And then there's Shiv, the only sister of the pack who tried to carve her own way in the world of political strategy before agreeing to be an executive at Waystar in the middle of a crisis. Although she enjoyed cozying up to her father in times of need, she thoroughly enjoyed backstabbing her family members every chance she got.

Lukas didn't need the family name for the new Waystar CEO. He wanted someone he liked, someone who could take the punches publicly while he did whatever he had to do to squeeze every last dollar out of the company. Tom was the only person fit for the job at the end of the day. Many fans suspected that he would become the successor after a viral TikTok from explained the history behind Tom's odd surname Wambsgans. There's an American baseball player named Bill Wambsganss, who is remembered for one huge thing: "completing the only unassisted triple play in World Series history." He took out three players at once, leaving many Succession fans convinced that Tom shares Bill's last name because he too will take out all three Roy siblings in order to take the crown.

Tom is kind enough to warn Shiv that Lukas has selected him to take over the company rather than drop a bomb on her later. This kindness even came after Tom admitted that he wasn't so sure if he wanted to continue a relationship with Shiv after everything has been said and done. Shiv proposed that they have a real, adult-like union now that they've gotten out everything nasty they think about each other. But Tom still doesn't know if they're able to move forward emotionally. The final scene of the still-married couple shows them driving away in a car from the hustle and bustle of Waystar's sale to GoJo. Tom extends his hand to her, and she lightly (quite unenthusiastically, in fact) places hers on top. Are they able to mend their relationship? Are they going to raise their child together? It seems as though all emotion has drained from their faces, leaving us wondering what is in the future for these two.

Shiv Digs the Knife One Last Time

None of the Roys are exactly reliable people. Each of them is known to undercut one another and abandon loyalties whenever it suits him or her. Logan was about to send his own son to prison to escape accepting responsibility for the cruise scandal. Roman made a public mockery out of Kendall at his 40th birthday party in order to temporarily entertain his father. Kendall loudly disrupts Shiv's first speech as President of Domestic Operations at a town hall meeting. Humiliation runs in the family. But nobody can deny that Siobhan Roy is the one who enjoys backstabbing most of all. From season one, she has done whatever it takes to propel herself forward, even if it means throwing her family members under the bus. She united with Gil Eavis to attack her father. She published a particularly damning and revealing letter exposing Kendall's deepest personal struggles. She exposed Roman's odd relationship with Gerri as a power move to gain favor with her father. Also, let's not forget that Shiv has been cheating on her husband Tom since before they were even married.

None of the Roys are exactly reliable people.

Of course, Shiv would be the one to undercut the Roys and hand away their family's company to a shroom-loving tech bro, if it means she can stab her older brother in the back one last time. Kendall, Rome, and Shiv came to an agreement that they would unite against Lukas and swing the board vote in their favor to stop the sale of Waystar to GoJo. They were all finally able to agree that Lukas is a menace who played Shiv "like a pregnant cello" and has no interest in maintaining the integrity of their birthright. And so they walk into Waystar as a united front, ready to take on the board meeting. They even bring Stewy over to their side. The votes are tied at 6-6, with only Shiv left to weigh in. She leaves the room, nearly in tears, to take a moment before she casts her decision. Kendall and Rome follow her into a conference room, where their alliance breaks down in a matter of seconds.

"You can't be CEO. You killed someone," she says to Kendall, throwing his vulnerable confession from season three back into his face. Kendall, in a desperate attempt to secure his rise as Waystar CEO, denies that the incident was even real, fumbling around and trying to say that he wasn't even in the car with the kid and he just wanted them to "bond at a difficult moment." It didn't happen, Kendall now claims. But this only upsets Shiv and Rome even further. (Perhaps he could have salvaged it if he owned up to what really happened rather than fabricating the truth and saying he "false-memoried it.") Kendall begs her to vote for him and screams, "I'm the eldest boy!"

It all unravels even further when Rome says that Shiv is the only real bloodline because her child is actually hers and Kendall has no children (one is adopted, and the other isn't even his). Physical violence ensues, and Shiv leaves to cast her vote in favor of the sale. One last bloody backstab to get back at Kendall because she "can't stomach" him any longer. What she really couldn't stomach was the thought of him gaining all the power while she was left with nothing. And so she chose to secure her own child's succession, who would be the heir if she gave the CEO position to her husband. Better to be in proximity to power as a disgruntled wife and mother rather than lose the crown to a self-obsessed older brother.

Are Any of the Roys Redeemable?

Kendall's subsequent self-destruction was painful to watch. The entire series ends with Ken staring out over the water, lifeless and deflated. Even fans who were Team Kendall have to admit that his descent in the last moments of the finale prove that he's not fit to run the company. While there is a part of Ken that does want to do right by his family, it's easy to see that he is driven mostly by ego and an unhealthy, singular goal of succeeding his father because their relationship was so broken. While none of the three Roy sibs won in the end, it sure did feel like Shiv walked away with a victory. She screwed over her family one last time while still maintaining a close tie to the head honcho, her own husband (who ironically was the person that she expected to control and manipulate for the rest of her life).

Tom and Greg's relationship from the very beginning was painted with sarcasm and salty digs, but Tom did in fact promise him in season one that he would look after him if he stuck close. Tom fulfilled that promise, even though Greg was dubbed Judas by Lukas for relaying the news to Kendall that Shiv was out of the running for CEO. But was there really any other team that made it through all four seasons without dismantling?

Even Roman lost the goodwill of viewers. His utter breakdown at his father's funeral left us feeling sorry for him. As much as he tried to convince people that he "pre-grieved," he was ill-equipped to handle the pressure that came with honoring his father in public while Logan's casket sat a mere 20 feet from him. Roman fell into a pit of self-despair and nihilism, and just when you started feeling sorry for him, he spews vitriol at Kendall that is so vicious even Shiv tries to stop him.

"You don't have kids," he tells Kendall, claiming that he's simply relaying whatever his father really thought about Kendall's children. "Dad's view was yours weren't real," he said. "I'm just saying what Dad said. They are a pair of randos. One is a buy-in, and one is half Rava, half some filing cabinet guy, right?"

Just like that, you lose all pity for Roman and realize that he doesn't really have much humanity left. None of them do, in fact. The Roys will never know peace, loyalty, or even true love, even after their "world of a father" is long gone, and perhaps why that's what makes them the most entertaining fictional family on TV in recent years.