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Succession: Goodbye, My Dear, Dear World of A Show

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

Succession ended its run with a shot of Kendall Roy staring at the open sea, bathed in orange dusk as he sits defeated and lost; a contrast to his introduction from the first season --- humming to an upbeat tune of the Beastie Boys as his driver sends him to Waystar, the company that he sought to succeed after his father. Just as the irony of jovially entering his father's company in the first season to distraughtfully leaving its haunted four walls, betrayed and dethroned from what he believed to be his birthright, Kendall's arc, along with the rest of the Roys, was penned poetically and painted in the light and shadows of Logan's domineering influence throughout the season finale despite his early exit.

Succession's season finale highlighted the fate of the Roys in the words by Roman, "We're nothing.", --- a life forever scarred by their father's influence that even in his absence, they continue to orbit around him and his ideals, like moons who hold no magnetic fields of their own but rather depend on the ginormous figure that held them in place. Without Logan, who were these wealthy, spoilt, morally ambiguous figures if not children lost and imprisoned in the crumbling empire built by an emotionally distant and manipulative father? Yes, Jesse Armstrong (writer/creator of Succession) has not failed to remind us from time to time that the Roys are despicable humans who care nothing but wealth and their place in power, yet despite their luxurious life and social status, Succession does not glorify them at all. All that said, how does one relate to and root on any of these characters at all? In fact, why is there a niche group of individuals so invested in a show of contentious billionaires who all share an impressive tally count of repulsive acts that would cause hostility and discourse if they were real-life people? As a reader who loves to dwell in the exploration of morally ambigious fictional characters, I believe the answer lies in their humanization and how careful the show tackled family trauma and the generational cycle of abuse that are all too familiar themes that most of its audiences can relate to. Seeing them go through it, there is nothing more cruel than hoping that these characters could rise above their differences and magically live and heal as a happy family. That would be too good to be true given that Succession isn't just that kind of show.

So how do fictional characters escape the abusive cycle that became the very foundation of who they are? How do you conclude a show of billionaires who wish nothing but to succeed the company that their father loved most because being in it meant being in his light as well? Endings are often hard to pen most especially when there is so much more to explore, but the writers stayed true to their vision and clocked these questions with one of the most satisfying, most-deserving yet heart-crushing conclusions to their central characters: Kendall, left betrayed and despondent with his very purpose taken away from him; Roman, who shared a miniscule smile of triumph for his freedom but is pulled back again to the glaring reality of the unsalvageable mess that he and his siblings have become; and Shiv, taking whatever proximity of power she could get because that is all she has had and will always have: proximity but never the one having it --- if she couldn't, then so will her brothers, hence the betrayal and the choice to remain in a loveless marriage with Succession's real winner: Tom.

Masked in comedy, quick-wit, and sarcasm, Succession is a tragedy that depicts the lives of billionaires who fail to escape their orbits, all for the love and attention of an absent father. With the curtains closed, I could not not end this ode with a little alteration of Shiv's words: "Goodbye, my dear, dear world of a show."

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