Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Succession season four
After a dazzling four seasons, Succession will air its final episode this Sunday. As expected, the internet has been ablaze with fan theories about who will succeed the newly deceased Logan Roy as the head of Waystar Royco, the fictional multinational conglomerate at the heart of the show, based loosely on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox empire. While the established wisdom is that it’s likely to be one of the three kids who the bulk of the show focuses on, the sheer number of twists and turns in the series so far means that we can’t be sure — and the thought it might be someone else in control of the huge business that Logan built is becoming more and more prominent among the fandom.
This hasn’t been helped by the stream of press that’s come out in the past few days in preparation for the series finale. And, in a Variety interview, Succession’s Arian Moayed spun the rumor mill around with his pronouncement that his character, Stewy, was the child that Logan Roy would have preferred to have:
“You know, he’s the son that Logan always wanted. He’s just more interested in winning than anything else. I think it’s actually pretty healthy that Stewy can still do both those things… But the thing is that Stewy will always take money first. Truthfully, he wishes that Kendall would do the same. He’s always bogged down with these bulls**t backstories. He’s like, ‘I don’t care about any of that. I’m here to make money, and you’re here to make money, and we should try to make money together. That’s the point of this.’ I think people think of that as backstabbing. I think of that as the world that they live in.”
This isn’t too big a stretch, if we’re honest. Logan eviscerated his children earlier on in the series, pointing out that they were not “serious people.” As a self-built man, he could see how he’d failed his kids when it came to turning them into the sort of people who could survive in a cut-throat environment. Throughout the series, he’s had many different moments where he’s referred to the modern world (and, by extension, his kids) as “soft,” and he seems painfully aware that without the financial heft he’s given them, his children would be struggling. Stewy, on the other hand, has a killer instinct that would make Logan proud.
As anybody who’s watched the series know, Logan was willing to do anything to “win” before his untimely death, even if that meant alienating his own children just so he could earn a few extra bucks and take more control of a situation. This shark-like nature is part of the reason why the patriarch actually seemed to be impressed with his kids at the beginning of the fourth season, when they were throwing their own clout around in an attempt to outmaneuver him during a business deal. However, all this talk of strategy and smarts is a bit hollow, given that Succession shows that whoever has the most money is who will win, regardless of their talents and abilities. This was evidenced by the fact that the three “pampered” kids were “outplaying” the smart, rough Logan at the beginning of the season, purely by virtue of having secured more funding than him.
That said, Logan and those around him certainly believed in his vitality and strength of will, and he did build his company from the ground up. And, while the patriarch may have implied Kendall should take over the reins of Waystar a few times, there’s also some question as to how unhappy he would have been had a non-family member, like Stewy, taken over — as long as they’re the right type of person.
While Stewy would be a completely left-field “winner” in the Waystar wars, there is a candidate who seems like he could usurp one of Kendall, Shiv, or Roman to the spot of top dog: Shiv’s husband, Tom. The pair have had an incredibly rocky relationship since Shiv told Tom on their wedding night that she wanted an open marriage, and the past two seasons have seen them hurt and embarrass each other in increasingly sadistic ways, culminating in a weird, love-hate dichotomy that almost hurts to watch. But, despite all of this, Tom remains in charge of ATN, the fictional analog to Fox News and the one part of his company that Logan was desperate to keep instead of selling to the massive tech firm Gojo. Tom also aligned himself with Logan at the end of the last season, which is what really drove Shiv and his relationship onto the rocks at top speed. With the future of the company up in the air, Tom could be well placed to end up in control.
If we’re looking at the “facts” of the situation, that ending doesn’t seem so farfetched. Waystar is still about to be taken over by tech conglomerate Gojo, and if that happens, all manner of outcomes are possible. While Kendall and Roman wanted to sabotage the Gojo/Waystar deal by helping a far-right, nativist, anti-tech Jeryd Mencken gain control of the presidency, it now appears that their political puppet has reached a deal with Gojo CEO Lukas Matsson that would allow the tech bro to go through with his deal, as long as he keeps U.S. properties under the control of a U.S. citizen. This was brokered by Shiv, who is expecting Matsson to anoint her as the one in charge, but as we know, double-crosses and backroom deals are the name of the game here. And, sadly, this season Shiv has shown herself incapable of keeping her normally-level head when it comes to her family and father’s legacy.
Now, Kendall and an increasingly erratic Roman seem prepared to sabotage the deal in the boardroom, as their presidential gambit doesn’t seem to have worked. If they succeed, it seems apparant Kendall will rise to the place of CEO, given how Roman fell apart in the last episode whereas Kendall gave a brilliant (but slightly awkward) eulogy at their father’s funeral. However, if Matsson does end up buying Waystar, there’s every chance he could place Tom in the role of head honcho. Tom, ever the slimeball, has already offered himself up to Matsson, and in a show where no line (even the most sweary) is out of place, that could be a factor in the back of the tech billionaire’s mind.
There are also some other smaller clues that Tom might be in line to take over. He missed the vast majority of Logan’s funeral as he was working at ATN thanks to the political instability and opportunity for great ratings — a very Logan Roy move, it must be said. Plus, although he is technically an outsider, he has married into the Roys, so it’s not so farfetched that he ends up in control of the family business. And, importantly, he has a real family member on his side: Greg, the slimy yet surprisingly adept cousin who has risen in the ranks by holding on to Tom for dear life.
Whoever ends up in control of the company at the end of Succession, we have no doubt that it will happen at the end of a phenomenally twisty episode. Showrunner Jesse Armstrong has spent the last few years screaming at us that wealth and power don’t equal competence and intelligence, yet if he does leave Tom in charge, it will be sending the message that the guy who worked hardest for it is also the one who knows how to play the game the best, and with the right tactics, even a small player can usurp those born on third base, like the Roy kids. In his interview, Moayed was effusive about the ending, too:
“As we were reading all the scripts, it became very clear that we are in the midst of — and I hate to say this, because the word is overused — but we are in the midst of a genius who knows exactly how to make this satisfying. The ending of this series is very satisfying. It’s kind of stunning, really.”
We might all be devastated when Succession ends, but there’s no doubt it’s been a wild ride, no matter who ends up in charge of Waystar at the end.
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