Sunday, June 16, 2024

Succession. Why Four is the Perfect Number.

A Tristian

Warning : this article contains spoiler and hard truth.

The momentous Succession saga reached its conclusion during the final weekend of May, captivating viewers with its tenth and gripping episode of the season. Within this climactic instalment, the narrative delved into new depths of plot twists, treachery, and shifting power dynamics, encompassing the vast realm of familial corporate drama, where relentless struggles for supremacy often lead to bloodshed.

One of the show’s notable qualities is that it takes joy out of humiliating almost all its characters. From jest-filled one-liners to scathing verbal exchanges, failed coup attempts, and bedroom peeves, no individual is spared from the show’s merciless portrayal. However, given its niche appeal alongside mainstream exposure, Succession remains attuned to the prevailing climate, which fervently emphasises, ruthlessly exposing those with privileges who are merely born into them.

Consequently, loyal viewers and inquisitive minds alike have raised a crucial question: Are the Roy children truly lacking the inherent qualities required to claim the Succession throne, necessitating the arrival of a shape-shifting outsider to take the crown? Intriguingly, the family patriarch himself initiates the gate opening to the flood of outsiders as soon as he alters his stance upon meeting Matsson. What initially began as Waystar’s intent to acquire the rising Swedish tech company Gojo, as envisioned by Kendall and Roman, unexpectedly transforms into Waystar becoming the acquired party. In this dramatic twist, the hunter becomes the hunted. While Matsson possesses a brilliant and eccentric mind, it is revealed that Gojo had been manipulating its India subscriber acquisition numbers, thereby undermining its credibility and raising questions about its viability in the competitive tech startup world, where numbers are everything.

Throughout the seasons, we witness Logan’s consistently undermining his children, often pitting them against each other. However, his motive is more centred around trying to take at least one or two of them to his side, rather than employing a deliberate divide-and-conquer strategy. While Logan values family unity, as evidenced by the set of family gatherings e organises, but his children’s highly competitive nature, combined with the pressure to meet their father’s expectations, creates a challenging dynamic. Moreover, the show suggests that their upbringing was fraught with coldness and complexities, leaving each of them burdened with unresolved issues. This is a typical portrayal of children from dysfunctional families. When comparing such individuals with those from happier family backgrounds, the former tend to develop a tougher disposition, while the latter often lean towards conflict avoidance. For example, Tom with “open eyes” submits himself serving as a front and pain sponge, was made clear not as a partner but a puppet. A few years down the line he would’ve shredded his own skin – voluntarily add some spine and perhaps grey cells to throw into the bargain – for any master. Who can blame him. This can be attributed to his loving yet sheltered upbringing, with locally-reputable parents serving as his idols, shaping his belief that his purpose is here to serve. This contrasts sharply with Kendall, who, in the final of Season 2, stands up for himself and refuses to take one for the team. For the reason he wasn’t directly involved with the cruise case. Logan responds to this display of independence with a hidden, proud smile, as seen in the memorable “this is not for tears” end scene.

One aspect that the Roy siblings can argue they’re pretty much serious people is their choice of women. Kendall falls for Naomi Pierce, a sophisticated, intelligent, and artistic woman with whom he develops a relationship. His ex-wife Rava, though not a series regular, is portrayed as a responsible woman of substance. Roman’s previous girlfriend, Grace, appears as a likeable and independent woman who refuses to tolerate passive-aggressive behaviour or infidelity. His last girlfriend, Tabs, is a finance professional, showcasing both intelligence and sophistication, and she happens to be best friends with Naomi Pierce. Roman is also openly somewhat attracted to Gerri. Connor’s pride or sense of accomplishment resides in his relationship with Willa, a much younger, attractive, materialistic former high-class prostitute. Roman describes her as someone who wouldn’t look at you twice at a party. Connor encourages and financially supports Willa’s expensive passion for playwriting. Even the patriarch’s former and present partners are characterised as sophisticated and ambitious. These men are clearly drawn to women of power, whether beyond their social standing (Lady Caroline, Naomi Pierce) or those unafraid to speak their minds (Marcia, Rava, Tabs, and various other female characters). Kudos to the writers for selectively portraying ambitious, bold, and outspoken women (Shiv, Gerri, Karolina, Nan Pierce, Rhea Jarrell, Jess, Terri) within the cutthroat, backstabbing world of male-dominated business.

Regarding their inheritance, Kendall’s 2.5% share, valued at $192, amounts to almost $3 billion. Shiv and the other siblings have fortunes of similar worth. However ruthless the father may seem, he has left his children with a life of comfort, plenty of resources, and the freedom to find their own paths or callings. With the 50:50 cash and stock option in the Gojo deal, combined with their mother’s and Ewan’s stocks, the Roys would still retain at least a 10% ownership stake in the company.

From an average corporate guy to becoming the husband of the patriarch’s daughter and now the newly appointed face of Waystar’s top job, Tom has been molded to prioritise money and a lavish lifestyle. As he climbs higher, he would perhaps attract more of Willa type women. The actress Lupe recalls that Tom’s Macfadyens was her childhood crush. The more Tom-aspiring characters there are, somewhere in the world there are some who may have already thought of manufacturing higs kind of Willa’s factory. But then again, Willa is more drawn to the amount of wealth than power or position, and a long-distant relationship with her husband. These two as a pair could be the darling favourites, seing how they each were figuratively “pimped” by their own respective spouses in a few ocassions. Shiv encouraged Tom to flirt with Rhea Jarrell when she and Rhea were competing for Waystar CEO role. Connor uses Willa for his political manouvers to soften his opponents and prospective allies. Thankfully, the writers have transformed Tom the winner into an acceptably likable character with ambition, despite his shape-shifting role. In his wife’s, Shiv, own words, he is an interchangeable modular part. It’s truly an intriguing character development, reminiscent of his role as the dashingly idealistic Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy back in 2004.

It’s also worth noting what the actors have lined up next. Kendall (Strong) secures a prominent role in a Broadway play as an investigator driven by a strong conscience to do the right thing for the environment. Shiv (Snook) takes on a role in a horror movie as a mother to a psychic child possessed by her deceased aunt in a haunted house, and the actress subsequently gave birth in real life. Roman (Culkin) is shooting a project in Poland. Connor (Ruck) joins a horror-comedy film Crust. Hugo (Stevens), the morally flexible who were neither in Matsson’s nor Tom’s safe list, will be directing David Beckham’s upcoming documentary. Tom (Macfadyen) will join America’s sweetheart Ryan Reynolds in the next instalment of the Marvel Universe’s Deadpool. Logan (Cox) is set to portray a villain in the upcoming James Bond movie while also preparing to perform in the award-winning play “Long Day’s Journey into Night” on the West End playing a patriach with deep regrets facing the escalating pain of a struggling family.

Did Logan predict or intentionally toughen up his children in anticipation of their disobedient nature, knowing they couldn’t fully conform to the strict immoral-induced culture of the ever-changing toxic jungle world? Shiv and Connor have clearly shown to own a moral compass, as well as Kendall and Roman in several occassions. Or perhaps it’s in their blood. Despite having three interested heirs, Logan didn’t appoint a clear successor. He did tell them they are not “serious people,” implying they are not fit for the job. That’s simply the only way he knows how to communicate. Only at his most vulnerable moment does he acknowledge Tom with a shoulder-tap gesture and strangely add cousin Gregg’s name to “the” piece of paper. The Disgusting brothers, perhaps, are the ones he vaguely considers suitable of guiding the ship on another “profound” journey of another “cruise” to ensure Waystar’s survival and existing legacy. After all, these two were the ones who initially handled and disposed the cruise case evidence.

Gojo’s top CEO Matsson throughout the last two seasons are portrayed to be more and more eccentric and in a few instances, provocative with some perversion of his own. He sends his frozen blood to a colleague who happens to be an ex girlfriend. As left-leaning as Matsson may have let us to believe, viewers can finally see when he comes out of his skin, he too is a misogynist like the rest of the male characters in this series. So don’t hold your breath for much of a cultural change in the newly-formed Gojo / Waystar incorporation, as Karolina hopes for. The way his company’s success relies on one of the most populated countries in the world can only mean business tactics and operation will be more quantity-and-commodity oriented where only numbers will matter. With younger actors at play in the system.

Logan’s estranged brother, Ewan, though distant, brings back memories of their shared childhood, and his constant barrage of conscience-laden rants surely strikes a chromatic chord in Logan’s mind from time to time. All the drama and intricacies finally leads to the fourth child holds the deciding factor for the fate of the empire. The shocking betrayal at the culminating boardroom vote’s concluding scenes of the series finale season 4 episode 10, for whatever motives there are, is the right decision.

Hence, there are no losers. Tom achieves his desired position, but at a significant cost. Cousin Gregg may become Tom’s mini-me, but he still carries the Roy blood within. The loyal counselors receive golden parachutes. The so-called spoiled brats are left with fortunes that can sustain them for ten lifetimes. And once they comprehend the larger picture of their fall from grace, they discover the freedom and liberation to pursue whatever they desire or play any role they wish in the revolving world that means business. Either as a good force of change or as an over-privileged schemer, whichever the world needs. Well done, Jesse Armstrong, Georgina Pritchett, the writers, producers, cast, and crew. You have gracefully accepted and reaffirmed that four is a perfect number for a perfect ending. As for my favourite character in this greatest show ever made? It would have to be Logan Roy.

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