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Succession Season 4 Review: The Series Soars with an Amazing Ensemble & Stellar Finale

Jeremy Strong in the Succession Series Finale
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

Written by Joel Pesantez 

Spoilers Ahead

The entire premise for Succession has always hinged on answering the singular question: who will succeed Logan Roy (Brian Cox, X-Men 2) as CEO of Waystar Royco? Yet, by the end, the answer four seasons in the making feels somewhat like an afterthought. Instead, the power struggle amongst the Roy siblings, Kendall (Jeremy Strong, The Gentlemen), Roman (Kieran Culkin, Fargo), and Siobhan (Sarah Snook, Black Mirror), takes center stage. Therein lies the beauty of Succession, creating some of the most despicable, selfish, pathetic characters on television that we can’t help but want to watch and see succeed. 

Succession Season 4 picks up right after the family’s plan to rebel against their father is blown up by Siobhan’s husband Tom (Matthew Macfadyen, Ripper Street), who earns Logan’s trust to the detriment of his marriage and reputation. Early into the season, though, the show delivers a bombshell – Logan dies. The remaining episodes chronicle the aftermath, which amounts to arguably Succession’s best season, with constantly shifting character dynamics and masterful performances from the entire cast. 

A major reason why Succession is so compelling is watching Kendall’s drastic highs and lows. Unfortunately for him, the show ends on his biggest low. Kendall, who had shared the protagonist role alongside Logan, completely steals the show in his absence, with Strong giving one of the best performances in recent television history. He perfectly captures the character’s unwavering desire for power and approval which makes him such a great candidate for CEO. Despite all of Kendall’s good attributes, it’s his delusions that ultimately cause his downfall, as he ends the series without any family or friends by his side. As monstrous and immoral as Kendall becomes in his quest for power, it’s Strong’s sympathetic performance that completely anchors him and makes him feel like the most human character in the cast. At Kendall’s core, he is a neglected child who wants to prove himself to his family, something that resonates with most audiences. 

Siobhan’s ultimate betrayal of Kendall in the series finale had been foreshadowed throughout the entire season. Aside from the fact that she never took him seriously, her nickname, “Shiv,” literally means knife. None of this takes away from the emotional impact that does come when she finally stabs Kendall and twists the knife at the last moment, delivering a verbal onslaught that only Logan Roy was capable of. Snook has consistently been able to perfectly balance Shiv’s cold-heartedness and desperation, but she is particularly great in the finale, as she makes a last-second play to cling onto what little power she still has left. 

Roman arguably becomes the most complex character by the finale, undergoing the greatest character shift. Throughout the series, he had been characterized as an immature, unqualified brat who was only in a position of power because he was a Roy. By the end of the series, though, he is the only one to break out of the cycle of obsession for power out of his brother and sister, accepting that none of them were ever meant to be CEO. Culkin has always been able to convey the character’s twisted sense of humor and add some much-needed levity to the show, but he becomes the MVP in this final season. He adds a sense of regret and pity to the character that prevents him from becoming completely irredeemable. 

After constantly being underestimated by the Roy siblings and left with a number of enemies after his betrayal in season three, Tom’s character felt somewhat aimless. While the power struggle among the siblings takes up most of the focus of the season, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Tom swoops in at the last second, with the buyer of Waystar Royco anointing him as the new CEO. This hypothetically glorious moment for Tom ends up being much more somber in actuality, with him signing his soul away to essentially become a figurehead. Macfadyen flawlessly conveys the character’s spinelessness and unfaltering loyalty that makes him such an asset to the real power players. Despite this, Tom remains a relatively submissive character, incapable of gaining actual control or power. The few moments when he does stand up to his wife or the other Roy siblings provide some of the biggest moments of catharsis in the entire series. Seeing the title of CEO end up in the hands of the only candidate not in the Roy bloodline perfectly wraps up the show and the perfect comeuppance. 

Creator Jesse Armstrong and director Mark Mylod had a seemingly insurmountable task in figuring out how to wrap up this series. Not only do they manage to deliver, but they also manage to top their finest episodes, creating a finale that feels both satisfying and open-ended. The show’s signature drama and satire of wealth are on full display, showcasing what has made the show favorite amongst audiences and critics. By the end, Succession proves its legacy as not only one of the best modern television shows, but one of television’s greatest achievements, belonging in the same breath with masterpieces like Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and The Wire.

Succession Season 4 and the entire series is now streaming on MAX.

Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.


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