Succession ending explained: Who wins in the HBO drama's finale?
The critically acclaimed HBO drama came to a close in a dramatic feature-length finale.
Spoiler warning for Succession season 4 episode 10 "With Eyes Open"
So, it has all come down to this.
The operatic struggles of the Roy media dynasty came to a close with the Succession season 4 finale, titled With Eyes Open.
The final episode picks up with the cast of Succession characters after the dramatic events of the funeral of Logan Roy (Brian Cox) who died in the season's third episode aboard his private jet.
The Roy siblings entered the finale divided over streaming giant GoJo's acquisition of Waystar Royco. with Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) gathering his allies to kill the deal with a plot for Waystar to acquire GoJo instead, while his younger sister Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook) plotted with GoJo's eccentric founder Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) to push the lucrative deal through with the goal of him naming her as the company's CEO.
Meanwhile, following his emotional breakdown in the penultimate episode, Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) was nursing his physical and emotional bruises.
So, just who came out on top for the Roy family at the end of Succession? RadioTimes.com has all you need to know about the show's final episode - including who wins.
**Final spoiler warning for Succession's ending**
Succession ending explained: Who wins in the HBO drama's finale?
The winner of Succession is ultimately...Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen).
The GoJo deal goes through with Lukas Matsson acquiring Waystar Royco and he names Tom as CEO due to his American nationality and submissiveness.
Despite an earlier falling out, Tom promises to take his "disgusting brother" Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) with him.
The episode ends with Tom newly crowned and leaving the offices with emotionally numbed pregnant wife Shiv by his side.
So, what happened to all of the major players?
What happened to Kendall Roy?
Kendall Roy opened the finale trying to firm up his support on the board but was even struggling to confirm the support of his old friend Stewy Hosseini (Arian Moayed).
Deciding to confirm Roman's support, Kendall also headed out to the Caribbean for a reunion with his troubled younger brother and also sister - and current adversary - Shiv. The three siblings argued about the board vote.
Kendall conceded to Shiv that she was winning in the fight for the soul of Waystar and she accused him and Roman of pushing her out.
At a tense dinner with their mother, Caroline encouraged the siblings to sell and go into business with her doltish husband Peter Munion (Pip Torrens), prompting Kendall to walk out and accept a call from Greg who revealed Matsson's plan to abandon Shiv in exchange for an incredible reward.
After telling Shiv what was going on, the trio reconciled and turned on Matsson but debated on who the CEO should be as Logan promised it to all of them.
In the end, Kendall convinced his siblings that he would be the best choice of CEO and they "anointed him" during a fun night, while Caroline was pleased they were united.
The three then headed back to New York and gathered support before heading to Logan's old apartment to look at his belongings and share an emotional moment watching a video.
At Waystar's offices, Kendall sits in his father's old seat as his siblings back him and Stewy joins his side. Roman begins to freak out, however, at the sight of Gerri and Kendall comforts him and tells him he loves him.
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While voting was split, Shiv walked out of the board meeting and began to doubt their decision to join and voiced that she does not think Kendall would be good at it. Kendall begs Shiv to make him CEO or he will die.
Shiv then threatens Kendall with knowledge of the driver's death at Shiv's wedding and Kendall then denies that it even happened and he made the story up, prompting anger from Roman that he lied to them.
After this, both Roman and Shiv tell Kendall they won't vote for him. Roman then tells Kendall that Logan would want Shiv to succeed due to her being pregnant with a biological child and mocks Kendall for having either an adopted child or a child through artificial insemination, prompting a physical altercation between the three siblings.
After the deal goes through, Kendall leaves the offices and walks to the river with Colin behind him before sitting down and looking at the horizon, despondent.
A broken Kendall is the final shot of the series.
What happened to Roman Roy?
At the outset of the finale, Roman Roy remained missing in action and it was unknown whether he would even show up for the board vote on the GoJo deal.
It was swiftly revealed that he was hiding out in the Caribbean with his icy mother Lady Caroline Collingwood (Dame Harriet Walter) who tried to get Shiv to come and visit him.
Both Kendall and Shiv made their way to Roman who was giving mixed messages about what way he would now vote, resulting in arguments. Roman was accused along with Kendall of pushing Shiv out once Logan died and she gloated that she had won.
At a tense dinner with their mother, Caroline encouraged the siblings to sell and go into business with her doltish husband Peter Munion (Pip Torrens).
After Shiv was betrayed by Matsson, she once again joined in an alliance with Kendall and Roman to kill the deal but they debated on who the CEO should be as Logan promised it to all of them.
Roman was told by Kendall that his emotion at the funeral was perhaps a sign that he was the nicest and does not really want that role.
Shiv then discussed the prospect of Kendall succeeding with Roman and they decided to support him and he thanks them.
The three siblings' reconciliation was well received by their mother as they enjoyed a fun night together before they returned to New York and gathered support.
The three share a moment at their father's former apartment as they collect keepsakes with Connor and watch a video of a dinner at Logan's and get emotional.
Roman accompanies his siblings to Waystar and supports Kendall but begins to crumble emotionally again after catching sight of Gerri and questions why it is not him. Kendall then holds Roman as he breaks down and his older brother tells him he loves him and that he could have been CEO too.
During the board meeting, Roman votes no to the deal but after Shiv backs out and Kendall claims he lied about the death of the driver at Shiv's wedding, Roman mocks Kendall's children for being either adopted or artificially inseminated and the three siblings fight.
Roman backs out and says that none of the three siblings is fit to run the company.
After begrudgingly signing the company over to Matsson, Roman sits down at a bar for a martini (Gerri's drink of choice) and smiles - he's free.
What happened to Shiv Roy?
Shiv Roy opened the finale with the GoJo team as she calculated which board members will vote for the acquisition and who won't.
The only Roy sister also advocated for the survival of her husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) at ATN but Matsson appeared unconvinced while also reading magazines suggesting that Shiv was pulling his strings.
Shiv soon headed out to the Caribbean in a bid to get Roman on her side and appease her concerned mother.
Along the way, Shiv called Tom in a bid to save their marriage and asked him for a "real relationship" but he was not sure.
Arriving in the Caribbean, Shiv found a bruised Roman but was also confronted by the arrival of Kendall too as all of the siblings ended up arguing.
Shiv was bothered to learn from Kendall that he was talking to former Vaulter boss Lawrence Yee before offering to help give them some consolation prizes. Shiv also gloats that she has won after her brothers pushed her out by trying to seize the crown after their father's death.
At dinner with their mother, Caroline encouraged the siblings to sell and go into business with her doltish husband Peter Munion (Pip Torrens).
Shiv was later informed by Kendall that Matsson planned to abandon her as his proposed CEO and she reacted with denial and anger at Kendall before having it confirmed herself when she saw an email draft announcement for the deal left her name out as the named US CEO.
Despite her anger, Shiv decided to unite with her brothers to kill the Matsson deal but the trio debated on who the CEO should be as Logan promised it to all of them.
Kendall then tried to convince Shiv that he was the best choice of a CEO to go against Matsson due to Roman's visible issues at the funeral and her flip-flopping over Matsson.
After, Shiv and Roman discussed the prospect of Kendall as CEO and then anointed him as their choice to take on Matsson, with Caroline pleased they were all united.
The trio returned to New York for the board vote united against their common foe and called board members to gather support.
The siblings share a moment at their father's former apartment as they collect keepsakes and watch a video of a dinner at Logan's and get emotional.
In a conversation with Tom at the apartment, he confesses to Shiv that Matsson approached him about the CEO role, prompting her to grow furious.
During the board vote, Shiv walked out amid the tense meeting as the voting was split and had an aside meeting with Kendall and Roman before asking to think.
Deciding Kendall is not fit to run the company, Shiv threatens Kendall with knowledge of the death of the driver at her wedding but he claims he lied.
Shiv backs out of killing the deal and votes in favour of the acquisition. Tom is crowned CEO and the deal goes through.
Leaving the offices in his car, Tom sits with Shiv and the back seat and holds out his hand. Shiv places her hand in Tom's but does not intertwine her fingers in his and looks dead inside. Shiv hates Tom but she doesn't know how not to be with him as he truly knows her and also this gives her proximity to power too.
What happened to Connor Roy?
Now living in the former New York apartment of his late father, Connor Roy and Willa Roy invited his siblings, Tom and Greg to the apartment to decide which of his belongings to claim. Willa also has big plans to redecorate the apartment.
The pair will trial a "long-distance" marriage as Connor intends to work for Menken in Slovenia and Willa plans to stay in New York for a play reading, which Roman jokes is the 'Second-Week Itch".
However, as Shiv notes that Menken faces legal challenges to his ascension that Willa may end up stuck with Connor after all.
Later, Connor showed his siblings an amusing video of a dinner showing their father Logan having fun with Kerry, Gerri, Karl, and Frank. The siblings shared a moment.
All in all, Connor and Willa seem the most healthy (kinda) out of all of them.
What happened to Tom Wambsgans?
Tom Wambsgans entered the finale with his professional future uncertain while trying to draw a line under his marriage to Shiv who remained open to their marriage surviving.
Later, Tom attended a social meeting with Matsson and the GoJo team as he worried about whether he will survive the upcoming changes and took it out on Greg.
Sitting down for dinner with Matsson, Tom sold his professional worth in a bid to stay at the company whilst also selling his personal threshold for pain.
Matsson confessed to Tom that he was now in doubt about Shiv being the CEO of Waystar and that he had a conflict of interest in being sexually interested in her. It was then that Matsson offered Tom the chance to be the CEO, due to being American and liked by Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk). Matsson did make clear that he did not want a partner in Tom and instead a "frontman".
At Logan's old apartment, Tom confessed to Shiv that he was the next potential CEO, prompting her to react furiously.
Tom attacked Greg for betraying him and calling Kendall leading to a physical clash before he warned Matsson of the siblings' plan to go against the deal.
After the Roy siblings lose the board vote, Tom arrives at Waystar and is congratulated as many expect him to be the next CEO.
Tom tells Greg that he will take him with him as he is crowned CEO by Matsson.
Leaving the office to fanfare, Tom gets in his car to find Shiv waiting for him and he holds out his hand which she hesitantly takes but looks despondent.
Forever servile and willing to bend into whatever shape those truly in power need, Tom wins Succession but seems destined to be in an unhappy marriage with Shiv forever.
What happened to cousin Greg Hirsch?
Greg Hirsch entered the finale convinced he would survive whatever way the board would vote as Matsson likes him but soon fretted after Tom's personal meeting with Matsson and then joined him for drinks.
During the drinks, Greg used an app to translate the conversation between Matsson and his subordinate Oskar Guðjohnsen (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) and discovered their plans to abandon Shiv.
Greg then called Kendall and revealed this in exchange for a reward down the line.
Later at Logan's apartment, Tom then attacked Greg for informing Kendall and the pair got in a physical fight before parting ways.
Greg is present as Tom arrives and the latter promises to take him with him into the future of the company.
Despite surviving the acquisition, Greg is jokingly referred to as "Judas" by Matsson.
Are Tom and Greg the true love story of Succession? Maybe.
What else happened in the final episode?
Some other developments occurred in the final episode of Succession.
- Early in the episode, it became clear that Jess Jordan had already left her role as Kendall's personal assistant and had been replaced.
- Among the "secondary" mourners at the apartment to claim keepsakes was Logan's mistress and personal assistant Kerry Castellabate (Zoë Winters).
- It seems that Jeryd Mencken may not become President of the United States after all after a legal challenge to some of the called-for votes. Maybe democracy wins after all, but doesn't bode well for Tom, does it?
- Actor Brian Cox made an additional appearance as Logan Roy via the characters watching video footage of a dinner which also featured Kerry, Gerri, Karl, Frank, and Connor. Where were these cute dinners before?
- Logan's old bodyguard Colin Stiles (Scott Nicholson) is now loyally at Kendall's side. Cute. Kendall's going to need him.
- Karolina Novotney (Dagmara Domińczyk) suggested to Shiv that the new culture at Waystar could see Hugo Baker (Fisher Stevens) out on his ear. However, she's vanished by the end of the episode and innocent Hugo is looking for her but it seems she'll survive into Tom's era.
- Stewy Hosseini backed his old friend Kendall after their usual filthy banter and worked with Shiv to get Sandi Furness (Hope Davis) and her father Sandy Furness (Larry Pine) on side - to no avail. At least Kendall will have his bestie who "kisses guys on Molly".
- Frank Vernon (Peter Friedman) and Karl Muller (David Rasche) appear set to join each other when they "golden parachute" out of Waystar - the true dynamic duo!
- Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron) stays winning with her payout and now has the Roys out of her hair for good and it seems a new position with Tom.
We still have a few questions, however...
What questions remain after the end of Succession?
There were a number of questions we were left with after the end of Succession.
- Will Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk) become US President? If not, will his failure to do so lead to repercussions for ATN and specifically Tom after he was the one who authorised calling a victory for Mencken?
- Where will Shiv fit into the power dynamic now at Waystar Royco as a triangle has emerged between its owner Lukas Matsson and the new CEO, her husband Tom?
- Will Nan Pierce (Cherry Jones) get her money? Kendall, Roman and Shiv agreed to buy Pierce News Group for quite a substantial sum from their pay packet from the GoJo deal, but given the fraught situation we leave the siblings in, will they still be pursuing this? It seems unlikely, but we imagine the Pierce family won't be pleased.
- Will Kendall ever put things right with his ex-wife Rava (Natalie Gold) and their two children?
- Where was Tabitha (Caitlin Fitzgerald)? It seems that scenes were filmed for a reunion with Roman in an early episode but they did not make the cut.
- Will the three siblings ever make up? Roman and Shiv still seem sweet, and while Roman sends unforgivable things to Kendall, the pair were still being honest with each other in their final scene. The chief discord will likely remain between Kendall and Shiv as she was the one to kill his dream.
What have the creators said about the end of Succession?
So, wondering what the creators have to say about it all? Check out the behind-the-scenes video below.
In the behind-the-scenes video for the finale, creator Jesse Armstrong said of the ending: "There was an odd emotional tension ... My understanding of the show has always been that it’s a tragedy. Therefore, every moment of hope is so cruel, because we’re just waiting for that shoe to drop and waiting for their essential nature to be exposed. To break your heart again."
He added: "As with Tom’s betrayal at the end of Season 3, everything was always working toward this idea of Sarah’s character of Shiv ultimately sabotaging herself and sabotaging the deal."
However, on discussing where the siblings each go from here, Armstrong had some thoughts.
On Roman, the showrunner said: "In a reductive, brutal way, Roman ends up exactly where he started - he is that guy still. And he maybe could have easily been a playboy jerk with some slightly nasty instincts and some quite funny jokes. He could have stayed in a bar being that guy and this has been a bit of a detour in his life, I’d say."
Armstrong added about Shiv and her ending with Tom: "Shiv is still in play, I’d say, in a rather terrifying, frozen, emotionally barren place, but she has got this kind of non-victory, non-defeat. I mean there’s gonna be some movement there. There’s still a lot of that game to play out, but that’s where we leave it, and it feels like it’s going to be hard to progress for them emotionally given the things they said to each other."
Finally, the hardest conclusion had to come for Kendall Roy, who ended the series in the darkest of places.
"For Kendall, this will never stop being the central event of his life, the central days of his life, central couple of years of his life," concluded Armstrong. "Maybe he could go on and start a company, but the chances of achieving the sort of corporate status that dad achieved are very low go, and I think that will mark his whole life."
Director Mark Mylod also concluded: "My understanding of the show has always been that it’s a tragedy. Therefore, every moment of hope is so cruel because we’re just waiting for that shoe to drop and waiting for their essential nature to be exposed - to break your heart again."
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