May 27, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Succession “With Open Eyes”

OK, I predicted in my last write-up, written before the finale aired, as to who would end up on top in the end.  I’m writing this a few weeks after seeing that finale.  And it turns out I was wrong about who would end up as CEO of Waystar, but the reason for that person to be on top was right.  So…I was maybe half right.

Yes, Tom is the new CEO, having beaten out his own wife for the job in a way that temporarily got Shiv to side with her brothers in a plan to make Kendall the CEO.  And anyone who thought, at the halfway point of this episode, that this was going to carry the day by showing Shiv, Roman, and Kendall actually getting along (even as they are acting like children in the mother’s house) has clearly never seen a single episode of this show before.  It was never going to work.  It was more of a question of how it wasn’t going to work.

But why Tom?  Why not?  He’s a self-confessed pain sponge.  Matsson can use that.  Someone has to take a lot of abuse, and that’s what Tom basically does, passing it along to Greg, the lone member of the family still working directly for Waystar when the dust settles even though Greg tried to join the other three.  Besides, Tom’s motivation is different from most of the Roys:  Tom wants money while the Roys want power.  The deal that Kendall and Roman are fighting and that Shiv eventually joins in on will make them all much, much richer.  They don’t want the money.  Tom, rather openly, prefers the money.

It’s a sign that, once again, Connor may oddly be the most well-adjusted by this point.  I’ve seen more than one commentary point out that Connor, alone of his siblings, actually tried to get to know old Logan Roy as a person and not as some sort of media king to appease.  It’s worth noting that when the other Roys arrive at Logan’s former apartment to see Connor giving away or selling Logan’s old stuff, there’s a video playing of Logan in one room, showing Logan having dinner and acting like a human being with his friends.  Much I have seen has been made on how Kendall, Roman, and Shiv all react to this footage of their dad, but what hit me was two things:  1)  Connor is in the video and the others aren’t (as are the other longtime Waystar execs), and 2) the others didn’t even know this video existed.

So, ultimately, Shiv turns on Kendall, whose reasons for why he needs to be CEO become increasingly childish and even increasingly inaccurate (“I am the oldest boy!” something Shiv points out isn’t even true).  She may have done it for selfish reasons, seeing how Kendall was going to be the boss and, deep down, she couldn’t stand that.  Or it could be she was right when she said it wouldn’t be good for Kendall.  It wouldn’t have been.  He was turning into his father, and my long assumption that Kendall was the most self-aware of the three was wrong in that Roman turns out to be that guy, the fellow who knows that the three of them are, in a word I rarely use when I write these things up, “bullshit”.

Logan said they weren’t serious people.  He was never wrong about that.  Kendall may have been the best option of the three, but he was never a good option.  Shiv’s ambitions hurt her in a man’s world as she ignored the blatant misogyny that Matsson displayed in front of her.  And Roman?  He may end up happier far away from the business world in the end.  That may be what Connor realized at some point since he rarely tried to exert any influence on Waystar.

And thus ends the Roy’s story, with Kendall standing by the Hudson and looking miserable as the one thing he wanted his entire life will now never be, and he has nothing left for himself.  Shiv is in a loveless marriage with the man she initially pushed to have that job before realizing she could have it herself.  And Roman, well, he’s back where he started, potentially none the worse for wear.  It’s hard to get upset if you maybe never cared that much to begin with.  Matsson had to end up on top in the end.  He wasn’t any more brilliant or talented than the Roy kids.  He was really just another Logan, a man with a ruthless streak that understood how the corporate world worked by mostly being the biggest bastard in the room.  He was the killer.  He was the next Logan.

Logan’s kids, instead, are all to varying degrees broken people.  They never had to work hard to build something like their father did.  They were just handed the result, and the cycle of abuse will no doubt continue.  Pity Tom and Shiv’s unborn child.

But man, despite the fact that the Roys were, every last one of them as well as the majority of people in their orbit, awful people, it was something special that a show like this could actually make them all sympathetic.  I doubt in any real world scenario that I would feel pity for the likes of Kendall or Roman.  But here?  It hurts how much these people fought so hard for stakes that most people could at best only dream of.  It’s a credit to the cast, directors, and writers of Succession that they made assholes likable people.

10 out of 10 symbolic dips in water.

So, after all that, now what?  You know, since I am watching one comedy with a former SNL cast member maybe doing the best work he’s even done on Wednesdays, maybe I should do the same for Thursdays.  As such, starting with the first Thursday of 2024, I’m working my way through HBO’s Barry.

A hit man who wants to be an actor?  And I think it gets really dark in its final season.  Works for me!