Across Succession's thunderously good four-season run, one question kept our brains buzzing into the small hours: who will win?


Our power ranking shifted more times than this year's Championship play-off race as social media remained awash with theories and speculation about who would emerge resplendent from the battlefield.

And in the final moments, Kendall was readying himself to settle permanently in his father's hallowed leather chair, his destiny within touching distance. Flanked by Roman and Shiv, at no other point had he looked more certain to assume the throne.

But in a staggering turn of events, the winner was none other than Mr Tom Wambsgans, with the Roy siblings, by stark contrast, left firmly out in the cold.

Well, how about that.

Shiv's unforeseen decision to give her vote to tech bro Lukas Matsson delivered Waystar Royco to the Swede on a platter, with Tom crowned as US CEO, a position all three Roys had repeatedly torched their sibling bonds for at one point or another. And he looked every inch the killer as he strolled into the company's headquarters following the exchange of power, wearing his new title with ease.

It was an especially surprising turn when you consider that Tom's initial encounters with Matsson heavily implied that he didn't feature in the entrepreneur's vision for the future. He was the butt of the joke, his presence inviting sniggers and palpable disdain.

What could a man called Wambsgans possibly have to offer?

Tom sat at a table in a bar drinking a martini
Matthew Macfadyen as Tom Wambsgans in Succession. HBO

But during their one-to-one in the finale, Matsson finally saw Tom for what he was: "a pain sponge".

"I'm not looking for a partner, I'm looking for a frontman 'cos we're going to cut s**t close to the bone, we're going to get right f**king in there. It's going to get nasty, so I need a pain sponge when I'm under the hood."

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Tom is a meddler rather than a maker. He understands his place in the hierarchy, with no ambitions to set the agenda or curtail Matsson's schemes, however questionable. He's been brought in to "s**t gobble and firefight", to "cut heads and harvest eyeballs". While Matsson chases world domination, Tom's expected to "worry all night about everything", chowing down on a daily diet of "pain and visible discomfort".

When you put it like that, it sounds less like "winning" and more like a lifetime of servitude that will, in time, wring every last drop of humanity out of him – if he hasn't been cleaned out already.

Tom and Shiv having a heated conversation at a gathering
Matthew Macfadyen and Sarah Snook as Tom Wambsgans and Shiv Roy in Succession. HBO

There's also Tom's relationship with Shiv, which remains as loveless and chilly as ever. As they left the fanfare together, the pair were silent, unable to look at one another, even for a moment, as they settled into their new dynamic. The power balance has now shifted in Tom's favour while Shiv, who showed herself to be an increasingly fickle individual in the battle for Waystar, has been relegated to the sidelines.

Regardless of whether she acted out of loyalty to her husband and the father of her unborn child, or to spite Kendall following a lifetime of being pitted against him by Logan, or to save him from the poisoned chalice, what remains abundantly clear is their marriage is both a husk and as business-like as it ever was.

The verbal sparring has since ceased and in its place is a barely there handhold and the grim resignation that they cannot exist without one another, however heavy the yoke.

If that's what victory looks like, count us out.

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Succession airs on Sky Atlantic and NOW with all seasons available to watch on Sky and stream on NOW – sign up for Sky TV here.
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