‘Succession’ finale: six questions we want answered in season 3

Team Cousin Greg for life

Words: Gem Wheeler

Succession’s season two finale was as stunning an hour of television as you’ll see. The nine episodes leading up to it seemed to be telling an age-old story with a classically grim outcome: the son as sacrifice, a tribute straight out of the mythological playbook. Blood was spilt – symbolically, of course – and Waystar Royco escaped the wrath of Congress. Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) had other ideas though. Backed by loyal Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), the heir apparent ripped up his prepared statement and tore down his father Logan’s (Brian Cox) legacy in front of a watching world.

A third season’s already been confirmed. But after that ending, it can’t come soon enough. Here are six questions we want answered ASAP…

What’s going to happen to Kendall?

It’s been pretty tough for our Ken, played by the brilliant Jeremy Strong. Kendall’s attempted coup in season one ended in disaster. A narcotic-fuelled car crash during sister Shiv’s wedding festivities led to the death of a young English waiter, only there to help the rich businessman buy drugs. Kendall sleepwalked his way through season two as Logan’s enforcer, walled in by guilt and inextricably bound to his father by a shared secret. His acceptance of a new role as the public face of the scandal engulfing the company’s cruise division seemed like the last step in a process of self-abasement. And yet, as he heard his father dismiss the dead kid as merely another ‘no RPI’ (Real Person Involved) incident, Kendall made a momentous decision. Logan’s half-smile as he watched his son unmask a decades-long cover-up on national television was almost one of pride. Has he finally found out which of his children deserves to take over as the head of the firm? Whatever happens, one thing’s certain: Kendall’s back. Fresh with a new zeal for reforming his father’s boorish business practices, he’s better than ever.

Will Roman go into partnership with Gerri?

Roman (Kieran Culkin) is a bundle of contradictions: waspish and whiny, petty but, when it counts, surprisingly kind. We’ve seen him take out his frustrations on cringing subordinates, explore his more outré kinks with bemused girlfriend Tabitha (Caitlin FitzGerald), and let dad Logan gloss over the physical abuse that appears to be a longstanding feature of their father-son relationship. Culkin’s portrayal of this weirdly likeable character has grown even more complex this season, as his relationship with Waystar Royco’s general counsel, Gerri Kelman (J. Smith-Cameron), evolved into something rather unexpected. Is the ‘dream ticket’ union Roman suggests between them a two-finger salute to his pops, a bid to embed himself within the corporate structure represented by Gerri, or an Oedipal fascination? Not even they seem to know, but it’s fascinating to watch.

Succession finale

Partners in crime: could Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) team up in the future? Credit: HBO

Will Shiv and Tom stay together?

While we’re on the subject of weird relationships, it’s worth casting an eye over one of the sadder pairings in this dysfunctional clan. Shiv (Sarah Snook) married Tom Wamsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) in a glittering, English country-house ceremony that was the centrepiece of season one’s finale. The cracks in their glossy façade appeared on the wedding night, when Shiv asked for an open marriage. Tom reluctantly agreed, but his heart wasn’t in it. With overtones of betrayal and disillusionment setting in, the mismatched couple began to draw apart. In the season two finale, Tom tearfully opened his heart to Shiv with the revelation that he’s no longer sure if the pain she causes him is worth it. She loves him enough to plead with Logan on his behalf, ensuring his safety from the disastrous allegations against the cruise division. Will it be enough to keep them together in a third season? At this stage, it’s hard to say.

What is Logan’s plan?

How did Logan become the man we know and love (to hate)? Brian Cox’s multilayered depiction of this strange, overbearing figure, who manages to be loving, brutal, generous and grasping all at once, keeps us constantly on edge. The comical group therapy session in season one raised spectres of a difficult childhood. While a trip back to his hometown of Dundee in season two revealed childhood poverty. His disapproving brother, Ewan (James Cromwell), notes the irony of Logan’s reluctance to accept blame for the social upheaval his news network has caused. But the lifelong burden of guilt over the mysterious death of their sister, Rose, highlights yet another aspect of his character. It’s an interesting plot strand that may yet prove revealing in season three. 

Succession finale

Warning signs: Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) confronts Greg (Nicholas Braun) in ‘Succession’ season 2. Credit: HBO

Will Connor become President?

Given that Logan told him to drop his presidential campaign in the season two finale, it’s looking unlikely. Connor (Alan Ruck, who gets better and better each episode) is the eldest son without a place in the family business. He hilariously put himself forward as the éminence grise lurking behind the cruise ship scandal, purely so his ‘sacrifice’ could win him the cash handout he needs from Logan. However, Connor is far from the bad guy here. In fact, when it comes to proximity to power, he is – to steal a quote from an infamous character in another Jesse Armstrong-penned show – “out by the fucking bins”. Will his relationship with playwright girlfriend Willa (Justine Lupe) survive the failure of the play he bankrolled? It’s not looking good.

Will Greg end up on top?

Now, this is the really big question. Cousin Greg – sorry, Gregory – has been a standout since season one. The lofty, lovely family joke, played with enormous charm by Nicholas Braun, abandoned management training for a place near his great-uncle’s side, mocked by his cousins and bullied by his boss, Tom. As the cruise scandal erupts, both Greg and Tom are drawn into the morass. Greg’s disposed of the copies he kept of the incriminating files, under pressure from Tom, but he’s a lot smarter than he lets on. As he breaks free from their toxic bond, Kendall offers a different path. That envelope marked ‘Secret’ wasn’t quite such a joke, it turns out, and neither is the sweet kid still clutching it. He is a Roy, after all. The prospect of a Kendall-Greg duo at the head of Waystar Royco is quite enough to make season three an enticing prospect, all on its own. See you at the next hearing.

Succession season 3 will air in 2020