I get it, the news is hard to take. But it’s easy to forgive a show like Succession for ending on high if you accept that nothing is promised, especially an endless supply of great television. Actors and writers leave, storylines repeat or get exhausted, and then legacies get called into question. With only 10 more episodes to go, we may dodge all those bullets to get something truly historic. That’s the silver lining to the revelation that our allotment of Logan Roy “fuck offs” is hereby capped.
Allow me to sidebar the overall notion of diminished legacies for a second. It sucks that we deduct points from shows that don’t know when to get off the stage. But while their greatest moments aren’t somehow recut or otherwise desecrated by the drag of the shiftless episodes and zombie casts to come, one can’t deny that nothing kills a first impression like a last impression. And a needlessly extended universe.
To that last thought, I’m really grateful that we’re not immediately being fed the concept of a spin-0ff to ease our pain. While Succession does an amazing job of creating compelling side characters with their own agendas and orbits, I’m not interested in seeing a show centered on Frank and Karl, the Pierces, or Alexander Skarsgård’s Lukas Mattson being bored at parties (okay, maybe that last one). I also never want to see a version of the show that would have to stray from its initial formula or cast.
Yesterday, I would have taken my shirt off and fought you in the street had you suggested Succession shouldn’t go at least three more seasons. I wanted more Greg as an evil extra tall cherub! More Shiv/Tom dysfunction! More grand political aspirations for Connor! More Jeremy Strong and a microphone! In light of this news, however, I do have to acknowledge one slow-developing flaw in the show’s model that might have presented a problem in later years: I don’t know how many more rounds Logan could have realistically gone before it started to strain credulity.
He was in a coma for a chunk of season one and Adrien Brody’s al fresco Hamptons dining plans nearly put him in the ground in season three. I’m quite sure the Grim Reaper (like everyone else) is terrified of Logan Roy, but after so many battles and health scares, there comes a point where you start veering away from “what a tough sonovabitch” to “is Logan a meta-human?” I don’t think we’re there right now, but with a season five or season six, maybe. And then what? You need Logan upending every room he’s in and sparking chaos as his brood of grown nepobabies try to contend with his hyper volatility. Without that or with less of it, Succession isn’t Succession.
So, here we are, a probably well-timed final chapter that fits so well as a response to the stunning season three closer. That seismic shift in the power dynamics and alliances of the main players feels like even more of a masterstroke now that we know that it was, essentially, the start of the end game. The news also lends a sense of unpredictability to these next ten episodes because suddenly there’s no need to think about the future. Just about ending with a roar.
As I said up top, great TV isn’t guaranteed (there are plenty of shows that have failed to stick the landing after great runs), but Succession‘s track record commands respect and honor. We’ve had 29 episodes, no skips. That ratio is unheard of. Showrunner Jesse Armstrong and his writers have been throwing a perfect game, now we know they’re heading into the final innings. If they end the show on par with everything else they’ve done, Succession‘s place among the best shows of all time is locked, a standing that might have been diminished had the show hung on years past its expiration. Is that fair? No, but when has fairness ever been anything more than a joke in the world of Succession?
Succession is ending at the exact right time. That’s incredibly hard to say about something that has given me so much joy, but to quote Kendall Roy and Billy Joel, “honesty is such a lonely word.”
To quote Billy Joel once more, “only the good die young.”