‘Succession’ Creator Reveals Why He Believes [SPOILER] Had to Win in the End, and Fates of the Rest of the Characters

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers from “With Open Eyes,” the series finale of HBO’s “Succession,” now streaming on Max.

“Succession” has ended, and the finale answered the central question of the show: Who will take over Waystar Royco?

Thanks to a last-minute change of heart from Shiv (Sarah Snook) during the tense boardroom vote, GoJo now owns the media company, and GoJo CEO Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) has anointed Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) as its American CEO.

While in practice the deal will likely involve, by Matsson’s own admissions, a lot of dirty work with very little input, Tom is thrilled to take the crown. According to series creator Jesse Armstrong, it was a natural choice.

“The idea of Tom being the eventual successor, that had been something that I thought was the right ending for quite a while now,” Armstrong said, on the “Controlling the Narrative” featurette on the Max streaming service. “Even though he’s not exactly the most powerful monarch you’ll ever meet — his power comes from Matsson. Those figures that drift upwards and make themselves amenable to powerful people are around.”

Earlier in the episode, Shiv accidentally sold Matsson on Tom in a memorable exchange in which she told the CEO that her husband is such a yes-man that he will “honestly suck the biggest dick in the room.”

Later in “Controlling the Narrative,” Armstrong discussed the futures of the central siblings.

“I thought about all their stories,” Armstrong said. “You know, they don’t end. They will carry on. But it’s sort of where this show loses interest in them because they’ve lost what they wanted, which was to succeed — which, you know, was this prize that their father held out.

“In a reductive, brutal way, Roman ends up exactly where he started,” he continued. “He is that guy still. And he maybe easily could have been a playboy jerk with some slightly nasty instincts, and some quite funny jokes. He could’ve stayed in a bar, being that guy. And this has been a bit of a detour in his life, I would say.”

“Shiv is still in play, I’d say, in a rather terrifying, frozen emotionally barren place,” Armstrong said. “But she has got this kind of non-victory, non-defeat. I mean, there’s gonna be some movement there. There’s still a lot of that game to play out, but that’s where we leave it. And it feels like it’s going to be hard to progress for them, emotionally, given the things they’ve said about each other.

“For Kendall, this will never stop being the central event of his life, the central days of his life, central couple of years of his life,” Armstrong continued. “Maybe he could go on and start a company, or do a thing. But the chances of him achieving the sort of corporate status that his dad achieved are very low. And I think that will mark his whole life.”

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