There's a lot that can still happen in the final three episodes of Succession, with both an election and a multi-billion dollar acquisition hanging in the balance. But if we were to stop the count now – to borrow a phrase from a recent failed Presidential candidate – the winner would be quite obvious after season 4 episode 7. Connor (Alan Ruck) and Willa (Justine Lupe) have quietly trounced the terrible trio that take up most of this show's focus.
The journey to this point has been far from smooth. At the beginning of the series, Connor was a reclusive conspiracy theorist, whose ramblings and general oddness were mostly played for laughs. Meanwhile, Willa was an escort who seemed somewhat uncomfortable with the unfettered adoration her most loyal client displayed. The three-decade age gap separating the couple, combined with their unorthodox introduction (by way of Roman Roy), provided some easy targets for the family to exploit.
Things went from bad to worse when Willa's ill-fated stage play took a sizeable chunk out of her partner's fortune, with little to show for it besides a stack of brutal reviews. There appeared to be cracks in the foundation as recently as this season, when the couple's wedding rehearsal ended with Connor slurring Leonard Cohen songs to his spiteful siblings in a karaoke bar, after being ghosted by his supposed bride.
But where the death of Logan Roy (Brian Cox) shattered the spirit of his youngest children – Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv (Sarah Snook) – it seems to have done the opposite to his eldest. Losing his father only brought Connor clarity over how distant they had always been, while it also gave him the courage to ask the woman he had fought to marry about her true feelings toward the arrangement. The outcome is a testament to the power of open communication.
While acknowledging that the security granted by his wealth is a factor in their partnership, Willa made clear that she was not staying with him under duress. It may not be true love, but real affection has grown between them – and more importantly, respect. The latter is the one thing that Connor always lacked from his father and siblings, as discussed quite touchingly in season 4 episode 7 – titled Tailgate Party – where he has a moment of genuine triumph.
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During an event held for political elites on the eve of the US Presidential election, Connor becomes an unlikely person of interest to the far-right candidate Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk). The rival campaign is eager for him to drop out of the race, feeling that the pitiful percentage points he holds could be just enough to sway the result. Having poured an eye-watering sum into his ambitions, Connor is reluctant to succumb to the demand – but tempted by the offer of ambassador work abroad.
Ultimately, it's Willa who talks him into staying the course. When Roman unleashes a tirade of abuse in response – declaring that everyone in the room thinks he's a joke – Connor fires back with a powerful rebuttal: "There's one person here who doesn't think I'm a joke, so that's who I'm going to listen to." The moment has such a strong impact partly for demonstrating how far Connor and Willa have come, but also because it contrasts so starkly with how little the other Roys have left.
The episode began with Kendall callously blaming his ex-wife, Rava (Natalie Gold), for failing to prevent a racially motivated attack on their daughter, which had been incited by the inflammatory news coverage his company specialises in. Later, we saw Roman humiliated by his former mentor, Gerri (J Smith Cameron), who he attempted to throw under the bus not long after harassing her with unsolicited pictures of his genitalia.
Finally, the episode ended with Shiv plummeting deeper into an emotional torture pit with husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), all the while continuing to conceal a pregnancy she may not even want.
Whatever happens on election day and whomever rises to the top of Waystar Royco, the true winners of Succession have already emerged. In refusing to long for his father's approval, Connor has freed himself to live a life of genuine contentment, while his siblings spiral further and further out of control. What's more, Kendall and Shiv risk inflicting the same hurt they endured on another generation, while Connor is ending the cycle of misery. It's enough to make anyone a Conhead.