HBO’s incredible tragicomedy has finally wrapped up and Monday nights will never be the same again. Instead of mourning the end of our favourite show, we’ve picked the top moments (again) from across the show’s 39 episodes.
The baseball game
I hated watching this scene. It’s exactly the type of drama that I despise (rich people using poor people in their little games) and yet it worked to keep me watching. As the centrepiece of the pilot episode, the baseball game established each character perfectly. Roman as the masochist, offering a groundskeeper’s kid a million dollars if he can hit a home run; Shiv as the empathetic killer, telling Roman not to be an asshole yet still making sure to throw the ball to home in time; Kendall entirely absent; and Tom on the home plate, tagging out the kid and sealing his indignity. It’s a truly grimy scene to watch and it let us all know early on that these were not sympathetic people (though plenty of people have certainly tried to present Roman and Shiv as innocent bystanders).
Most telling is how the scene ends, with Logan – who has, until that moment, been watching the scene unfold from the sideline with mild disgust – shaking the crushed boy’s hand and saying “magnificent effort”. He doesn’t give him any money (he never would) but Logan is the only person in that scene besides the boy’s family that has ever worked for something while having nothing.
In the end, the rich stay rich, the poor stay poor, and Logan’s children disappoint him.
Bonus moment: Frank half-jokingly trying to grab the bat for a chance at a million dollars. His final real moment in the show is him running (literally) to keep his job. We love a very specific callback. / Mad Chapman
Tiny attack children
It was a relationship unlike another of the others. Tom and Greg weren’t family, didn’t really seem to be friends. Instead, they were two snivelling gutter-rats using each other to claw their way to the top. Their rudeness, aggression and neuroses were allowed to fly around each other, their dirtbag drama imbuing every interaction they had. But when Waystar Royco’s news division is locked down over what’s believed to be an active shooter incident, that paranoia comes full circle. Inside a panic room, Greg wonders why he isn’t receiving the same protection as the bosses higher up. “A person can fit through there,” he says, pointing towards an open window. “A small person … an attack child.” Anyone worried about armed toddlers coming to get them is concerned about one thing only: themselves. That, right there, is Succession in a nutshell. / Chris Schulz
Just as the best trick the devil ever played was convincing people he didn’t exist, Succession’s superpower – OK, one of its superpowers – was making us, every now and then, care deeply about such plainly reprehensible people, even while we loathed what they stood for. Call it recency bias, call me a sentimental goose, but two moments knocked me over in the finale. First, the video of Logan and his retinue joking and singing, Karl (Karl!) sending Rabbie Burns shivers down the spine: What signifies the life o’ man?
Second (though earlier in the episode) is the late-night kitchen, in which Kendall is anointed with a “meal fit for a king”. There are countless examples of the Roy children being infantile across the four series – at one point they play out a lengthy scene squeezed into a kid’s bedroom – but the truly childlike glimpses are vanishingly rare. As so cruelly expounded last night in Roman telling Kendall that his children were not considered true “bloodline” by Logan, this is a world where childhood largely exists as an irksome necessity of dynasty, of succession. But in the scene in the kitchen, throwing every ingredient in the blender, in defying their mother’s instruction not to touch Peter’s cheese, Roman, Shiv and Kendall are, fleetingly, unburdened; for a hilarious, achingly poignant moment, they’re a bunch of kids. / Toby Manhire
L to the OG
“I think he’s going to masturbate on stage to a photo of Dad,” says Roman Roy when his big bro Ken strips off his blazer to reveal a “Roy 50” baseball shirt, a maniacal twinkle in his eye, and a mic. “My man hooked up this beat for me. Check it,” Ken says before launching into television’s most cringeworthy rap performance (relegating Marnie’s Kanye West cover in Girls to a close second).
The faces around the room: Karl, stony; Tom, gob-smacked; Shiv, revelling in her brother’s deep shame; Greg, attempting to dance like he’s into it; Gerri, gaping; and Logan Roy, somewhere between resigned, derisive and implacable. This scene is why Ken could never be the CEO of his Dad’s company: he’s deluded, he’s a clown, he’s an erroneous male ego falling over himself in front of the father who would never give him what he wanted, or needed.
I am going to forever imagine that after the camera turned away, Kendall Roy got up from that park bench overlooking the choppy waters of the Hudson River and headed straight to the studio (I’d bet a mill he has one at home) to work on his heart project: the rap album of his life. While all of the sibs in turn squeezed my heart (Roman at the funeral!), it’s Ken who strove for the highest highs and crashed into the lowest lows. An unwell part of me (the Shiv bit) wishes he had gone through with Billy Joel’s ‘Honesty’ in the birthday party episode: surely the most poignant of the Ken moments – the failed father/son lost in a sea of meaningless tokens. / Claire Mabey
The Roys meet the Pierces at Tern Haven
The Pierces and the Roys have one of the most enduring business standoffs of the series, and most instructive about the general disposition of the creators. While the Murdoch-proxy Roys are bombastically cynical, the patrician Pierces are no less unpleasant in their own way. They represent that establishment strand of US media which for decades met privately with presidents and withheld certain stories from publication for reasons specific to the interests of owners like Time’s Henry Luce or the New York Times’ Ochs-Sulzberger dynasty.
While their politics are broadly much more agreeable, the portrayal of the Pierces throughout proved that Jesse Armstrong does not respect anyone on this show, a disciplined worldview which gave it that air of hyper-realism in the absence of easy moral grandstanding. Tern Haven, a season two highlight, saw the clans together for an extremely awkward weekend, the broken families of two fading media oligarchs clinging to the baubles of power and influence, every interaction radiating a very specific contempt. / Duncan Greive
The Roys convince us of their vulnerability in the perfect shot
I love this moment for so many reasons. Kendall, crumpled in the gravel after their mother’s wedding to a new “bowl of porridge” husband. Roman pressing down hard on Kendall’s shoulder and Shiv just lightly touching his head, turning away, as a large cloud blocks out half of an otherwise blue sky. It is the final episode of season three and once again viewers are being danced around the hopeful thought that empathy, loyalty and family will prove to be the redeeming features we believe them to be.
This show has been about so many things – power, grotesque wealth, iron fists and velvet words. An allegory for the Trump era and a mirror to the media industry. Ultimately though, it has been the story of siblings. Despite these characters being some of the most morally bankrupt to ever grace the screen, we have rooted for them and spent hours with long reads and podcasts trying to understand them, seeking the glimmer of comfortable humanity that never came.
Every moment of depraved bonding between the Roy siblings could have made it into a list of my favourite moments – they’ve been such a trick of the light that I can’t help elevate them above the many other brilliant moments of television over the last four seasons. This one rises above for being an absolutely perfect shot, cinematographer Patrick Capone outdoing himself in its composition. The shot of Kendall alone at the end of the series final also shatters this one perfect shot. A reminder that this show was never going to stick the knife into the values we hold dear just once, but twist and twist until the reality of the pursuit of empty promises was laid truly bare. Blood is not thicker than the toxic water of hurt, ego and betrayal. / Anna Rawhiti-Connell
Kendall backstabs Logan
The final of Succession’s second season is arguably the best of the show’s entire run, and the last few minutes are pure what-the-fuck-is-happening joy to watch. After building up to a moment where Kendall is expected to sacrifice himself over sexual misconduct allegations within Waystar’s cruise division, a last ditch decision sees him instead choose to throw Logan – his dad – under the bus. He blames his father, accusing him of a cover-up, and labels him a bully.
It’s an exciting, shocking twist – made even more exciting and shocking by Logan’s reaction. He’s angry, of course – but he also looks proud. His son, who he had accused earlier in the episode of not being a “killer”, had just decided to kill him. Kendall did exactly what his dad would have done. While last night’s series finale will surely go down as one of the best of all time, Succession had already demonstrated its ability to nail the landing and leave you wanting more. / Stewart Sowman-Lund