If the final episode of Succession season 4 (aka the series finale) is of the same consistent quality as the nine episodes that have proceeded it, then the darkly comedic drama will most likely rank as my favorite TV show of all time. I appreciate that’s a bold claim, but Succession is just that good.
However, in the run-up to the Succession series finale, I keep thinking about How I Met Your Mother. It’s not because the shows have much in common thematically or share any main cast members. Instead, it’s because HIMYM was a popular show that pretty much trashed its entire legacy with a final episode that didn’t just jump the shark, it cleared a freaking megalodon.
I’m awaiting Sunday night with a mixture of excitement, wistfulness and nerves for how the final chapter of the Roy saga will play out. I’m keeping everything crossed that Succession can nail its finale, just like it’s nailed pretty much every other aspect of its near-perfect four-season run.
There’s a lot riding on the Succession finale
As we enter the final 90 minutes of Succession there is a whole lot still to be determined: Who will be Logan’s (Brian Cox) successor? Will the GoJo merger actually happen? Will Mencken (Justin Kirk) be named President, and did he double-cross Roman (Kieran Culkin)? Will Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) and Shiv (Sarah Snook) call it quits for good?
And there's more: Will Greg (Nicholas Braun) ever attend a social gathering without making a major social faux pas? Will Kendall (Jeremy Strong) finally quit the family business and become an MC full-time? There’s a lot at stake in this final episode and plenty of burning questions that need to be answered.
With so much ground to cover, I’m definitely a little concerned that even a feature-length episode won't be enough time to properly wrap everything up. I want each of the show’s dangling story beats to be given the appropriate breath rooming required to bring them to a satisfying conclusion.
It would be a huge disappointment for the final episode to basically breeze through, attempting to tie everything within a few scenes in a way that feels almost mechanical. And I really hope that important side characters, like Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron), Karl (David Rasche) and Hugo (Fisher Stevens), aren’t forgotten about either.
If Succession must twist, make it make sense
Of course, as noted, my biggest fear that is Succession will pull a How I Met Your Mother and offer up a lame twist in the finale. A shock ending that reveals Logan actually has a secret will that denotes Willa (Justine Lupe) as his successor, would certainly grab headlines and subvert viewer expectations. Such an unearned ending, though, would be a stain on what has been to this point a nearly faultless run.
As for my personal wants? Well, I’ve always had a soft spot for Kendall and had hoped to see him come out on top at the start of season 4. But considering his recent actions, particularly in last week’s episode "Church and State," I get a whiff of Icarus about the middle Roy brother.
Clearly empowered by the knowledge that at one point his father had named him as the successor to the Waystar Royco Empire, his hubris is starting to alienate his allies, and I can’t help but think Kendall's self-destructive tendencies may rear their ugly head once more.
Outlook: Succession season 4 has been masterful
There is a part of me that feels a little foolish for even worrying about the Succession series finale. After all, I had somewhat similar fears ahead of this fourth season. I assumed a dip in quality was practically guaranteed after three incredibly strong seasons. The hot streak couldn't last forever, I naively thought. I shouldn't have been so pessimistic Succession season 4 has been arguably its best effort yet.
The third episode, "Connor’s Wedding," is already been spoken about as one of the best TV episodes of all time, and pretty much the whole main cast are now frontrunners for Emmy awards (as well as the show itself, its Outstanding Drama gong is pretty much a lock at this point). Creator Jesse Armstrong has kept a tight leash on season 4, personally writing (or co-writing) more episodes this season than he has ever previously, and that is paying off in spades.
It’s also worth remembering that Succession has a track record of truly excellent season finales. The final episodes of its three prior seasons all stuck the landing expertly, and the third season finale, "All the Bells Say," was previously my favorite episode of the show (Connor’s Wedding may have now surpassed it). If there’s one show that seems near guaranteed to go out with a bang based on all the evidence, it’s Succession.
So, here’s to the Succession series finale. Admittedly, I arrived a little late to the party, but what a ball it’s been. Let’s just hope that once again Armstrong and the show’s remarkable cast, prove my fears unfounded, and Succession can take its rightful place as one of the best TV shows of all time, with an ending worthy of its already impressive legacy.