The following article contains major spoilers for Succession S3E9, “All the Bells Say”, the finale of the third season. Proceed with caution.
Some shows just know how to do finales right. Lost and Mad Men come to mind as shows that always knew how to stick the landing in the final episode of a season. In recent years, Succession has gained that reputation as well. The first season saw Kendall’s first attempt to take the company from his father thwarted after he accidentally killed a waiter. The second season finale saw Kendall again try to take the company from his father, this time by refusing to be the fall guy and instead publicly taking his dad to task over crimes committed. I don’t think there was any doubt that Succession S3E9would feature another coup attempt but this time eyes were firmly planted on Roman and Shiv.
What we got instead was a masterclass in how to end a season. How to tie together the previous beats and plot points and move that story forward another year. Everything changed here in this finale. The power dynamics changed, the feuds look different and next year, the company as a whole will be different. And en route to all of this change, we had some incredibly powerful moments and top of the line acting. There’s been a public sentiment that this season started slow or it was somehow inferior to previous years, both ideas that I staunchly disagree with, and Succession S3E9showed that patience would in fact be rewarded. Let’s get into the episode.
Oh Kendall, Where Art Thou?
Last week’s episode ended with Kendall floating in a pool and we learned this week that he indeed fell off his raft and had to be taken to the hospital after nearly drowning. This year has been a slow and painful descent for the character, who took his shot but ultimately just couldn’t compete with his ruthless father and his vast resources. I’ve been vocal about needing to see Kendall fully deconstruct and how I didn’t want to see him as the hero here. I wasn’t disappointed.
Seeing the siblings try to give Kendall an intervention of sorts was so awkwardly hysterical. Being Succession, there was no way it was going to go smoothly or even be slightly productive. Having Connor be the one to melt down, reminding his siblings that he was the eldest and most neglected, was funny but also deeply sad. Connor is presented as comedically tragic and this episode was a prime example of that. Underneath his buffoonish persona and desire to be the President is a deeply hurt man who pretends to be OK. All he’s ever wanted was to be equals with his siblings but because Logan disliked his mother more, he’s the outcast. At least Willa (literally) said “f*ck it” and agreed to marry him in this episode.
As the news began to spread that Logan was going to sell to GoJo instead of an even merger after market fluctuations and a historic fine from the DOJ, Shiv and Roman went into panic mode, with Shiv finding a beaten down Kendall to bring him into their planning. Out of all of the many highlights in this episode, this scene with the three youngest siblings was what got to me the most. Kendall needed this. They needed this. They’ve been groomed their whole lives to compete with each other and this year, we’ve seen that rivalry escalate to the point where any kind of reconciliation seemed impossible. I’m glad it wasn’t.
Kendall telling Shiv and Roman about the waiter he killed was the moment he needed. He had to purge himself of this albatross he’s been carrying. He had to tell them how alone he’s been. How he tried to save them all from their dad and how he’s failed at everything. He had to bare his soul to them to break the ice between them. Roman and Shiv needed it just as much he did, as neither one of them are emotionally capable of that kind of vulnerability or humility. Kendall is the one most in touch with his humane side and his purging of guilt allowed for a powerful bonding moment that can lead to growth for all of them moving forward.
The Great Coup / Betrayal
It was a lot of fun to see the siblings band together to figure out how to take their father down in Succession S3E9. Shiv had the fighting spirit, Roman the inside track on current developments and Kendall the knowledge of how to take their dad down in a situation like this, where he planned to sell the company, their birthright, away. Their acknowledgment to work together and fight it out later was also fun to see. A more competitive spirit rather than the cutthroat culture we’ve been accustomed to with them.
The plan was simple: Logan needed a super majority vote from the kids to sell, something their mother had arranged for in the divorce. They stormed Logan’s headquarters he’d created with his key people, ready to stop the sale and tell their dad that they were seizing power. Roman, always the most afraid of their father, stood more confident than ever before. Shiv, more defiant than ever before. And Kendall, calm. As he said, he’d been preparing for this moment since he was four.
Then we were reminded that this is Succession and just like in real life, the most powerful men always win. Logan, who has personified evil better than ever before over the last several episodes, was Emmy worthy as he berated his children first for not trusting him, and when he realized that they weren’t backing down, for not being prepared enough. For not being ruthless enough. For being stupid enough to think that they could beat him.
As he put their mother on the phone, who couldn’t be bothered to talk to her own kids long about how she betrayed them, the core of this show really sunk in: The Roy siblings have been raised by parents who value money more than them. Who have neglected them. Who will always put their own interests first. Their mother had renegotiated the divorce settlement, meaning that Logan no longer needed the super majority. He was free to sell. But how did he know that the kids were on their way?
Enter Tom. All season long, he’s begged for love and affection from his wife Shiv. When facing prison, he was met with apathy. When he wanted romance and children, she wanted to hurt him with claims about not loving him, then hiding behind it being dirty bedroom talk. The closing moments of the season saw Roman crumpled on the ground, Kendall embracing him and Shiv realizing that not only had their mother betrayed them, her husband had too. As her face showed the horror of this realization, Tom came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders and asked if she was OK.
It was coming. It was inevitable. She’s cheated on Tom with multiple men. She’s abused his love and trust, not been there for him and belittled him. It was time for Tom to take matters into his own hands and secure his future, independent of his wife. In this new company, Tom will be in a position of power, no longer dependent on his wife. Succession S3E9 saw Tom finally make his stand.
We leave this season with the reunited Roy siblings devastated, Logan the ultimate winner and much richer and Tom, free of his wife and on his own two feet. The ultimate act of betrayal, sure, but we all saw it coming. And he’s bringing Greg with him.