relevant doughnuts

All the Ways Succession Foreshadowed That Finale

Photo: HBO

In the season-three finale of Succession, the Roy kids finally realize their collective bargaining power: their mom’s divorce agreement with Logan (Brian Cox) gives them a supermajority of Waystar Royco shares in the event of a change of control, so they can veto Logan’s plan to sell the company out from under them. Shiv (Sarah Snook) informs her husband, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), of their plot to fuck Logan before he can fuck them. “Uh-huh. And where do I fit in, Shiv?” he asks her. It’s a question he has been asking all season, and Shiv responds with her trademark dismissiveness. The Roy siblings then roll up to the literal fortress where the GoJo-Royco deal is going through, only to find Logan has been tipped off to their plan and nixed the supermajority clause. “Who told him we were coming?” Shiv asks. Then we see it: Logan through the doorway giving Tom a warm slap on the shoulder. Betrayal! Subterfuge! Sabotage! Succession has been foreshadowing this moment since season one. Here’s how:

Before Season 3

Season 1, episode 7: “You’re marrying a man fathoms beneath you …”
“… because you don’t want to risk being betrayed.” Logan throws this barb at Shiv in front of Tom’s face in season one, just a few episodes before their wedding. The vibes here are more Oedipus Rex than 1,000 gross incest jokes from Roman (Kieran Culkin): The action Shiv takes to avoid her fate/fear is the very thing that will make it come to fruition.

Season 1, episode 8: “I don’t want him showing up dead at the bottom of some French fuck’s pool.”
Logan tells Greg (Nicholas Braun) to keep an eye on Kendall (Jeremy Strong) at Tom’s bachelor party, saying he doesn’t want him dead by way of drowning in some European pool. In Season 2, Kendall even calls himself “techno Gatsby.” The guy with a death drive is always surrounded by water-based imagery, but because Logan doesn’t want his son dead, we learn at the start of the season-three finale — from Logan — that Kendall didn’t, in fact, drown. As Greg would put it, “So it be. So it is.”

Season 3 marketing: that one poster
In September, HBO released a series of Succession posters riffing on the family rift: Kendall on one side of a hallway stare down, Logan on the other; behind them, different groupings of other members of the family. One of these variations showed the siblings falling in line behind Kendall with just Tom and Greg trailing Logan. It seemed unlikely at the time, but this is the poster that predicted where things would land by the end of the season: battle lines, action stations. Siblings united in daddy issues, trauma, and greed.

During Season 3

Episode 2: relevant doughnuts
Kendall invites the siblings to Kendall HQ (Rava’s apartment) to try to win them over to his side. When everyone’s there, Logan has a box of doughnuts delivered with a note telling them to have a nice “tea party” (a two-in-one dig calling them both traitors and little girls). The siblings are confused; who tipped him off to the secret meeting? They don’t know — and neither did we when the episode aired — but it had to be Tom. Shiv called him from Kendall’s, and Tom was with Logan at the time. Tom fronts like a wife guy and has privy access to Shiv’s thoughts and plans (Shiv disrespects him too much to keep up her guard with him), but he tipped off Logan about a sibling parley once before and ended up doing it again in the finale. Connor’s line in this episode “You think he would send poisoned doughnuts to the house of his grandchildren?” also foreshadows the scene between Logan, Iverson, and Kendall at the “Chiantishire” dinner.

Episode 3: Tom volunteers as tribute.
The outsiders (Tom, Greg, Gerri) have had something to prove since day one; succession isn’t their birthright. Tom has less to lose than the Roy kids, so he’s able to make the ballsiest play, offering himself up to be the fall guy if DOJ needs to imprison a Waystar suit. It’s a huge gesture for Logan, who values loyalty above all and who was betrayed by his No. 1 boy when he tried to set him up to go to prison in his place. It’s what prompted Kendall’s dramatic exit in the season-two finale: Kendall saw the hook and he wriggled. Tom tells Logan, “I won’t wriggle.” This earns Tom a pat on the back from Logan, foreshadowing their body language in the finale. Furthermore, Tom makes this play to Logan only after running it by Shiv, who couldn’t be more indifferent — encouraging, even — to Tom’s going to jail. Another reason for him to turn on her.

Episode 4: Nero and Sporus
Tom spirals after setting himself up for possible internment, and he takes out some of his anxiety on Greg. He tells him the story of Emperor Nero and his favorite slave, Sporus, IP that Greg’s not familiar with. “Nero pushed his wife down the stairs,” says Tom. “And then he had Sporus castrated and married him instead.” Tom castrates Greg all season by way of cockblocking, first with Comfrey (Dasha Nekrasova) and then with the duchess. He pushes his wife down the stairs … of betrayal. He even calls Greg “Sporus” before sealing their alliance with a hug in what is the most romantic moment of the finale, no offense to Connor (Alan Ruck) and Willa (Justine Lupe).

Episode 4: “How does this advance my personal position? You need to think about that 24/7.”
Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) gives Roman this advice when he brings her the photo of Kendall’s initials tattooed as a bribe on an unhoused man’s forehead. Gerri rephrases this line in the season finale, not as a piece of advice to help Roman but as she betrays him. Roman asks her to intervene in Logan selling the company out from under the family. Gerri answers, stone-cold, “It doesn’t serve my interests. How does it serve my interests?”

Episode 6: Tom’s hunch
“I don’t mean to be insulting, but having been around a bit, my hunch is that you’re going to get fucked. Because I’ve seen you get fucked a lot. And I’ve never seen Logan get fucked once,” Tom says to Kendall in a diner parking lot after Kendall tries to bring him over to his side. Tom may not know what’s coming, but he does know what’s coming.

Episode 7: “She’s gonna give birth to Dad’s baby while we chant a satanic mass.”
The Roy kids have a feeling their dad is screwing his personal assistant, Kerry (Zoe Winters), who’s some 50 years his junior. Logan’s got a UTI, and Roman tosses off a joke about Kerry delivering another Roy spawn. In the finale, Connor figures out that Logan’s trying to fortify his, uh, “gloop” (his word, not ours). Logan may very well be trying for a new heir whom he won’t live to see grow up and let him down. (You can tell he’s gearing up for a daddy do-over by the way the episode opens with him reading to his grandson.)

Episode 7: “I’ll remember.”
At the start of “Too Much Birthday,” the team gives a toast “to justice” after learning the DOJ is off their case and no one is going to jail. Logan squeezes Tom on the arm and whispers, “I’ll remember,” referring to Tom’s act of loyalty. Shiv, appearing to have a brain fart, toasts her dad before even thinking to cheers her own husband for the good news that he won’t be going to jail after all. If Tom had any sense, we would know with whom he’s aligning at this point. And after the “I don’t love you” moment in “Chiantishire,” how can you blame him?

Brian Cox’s McDonald’s commercials: “I’m Lovin’ It.”
These foreshadowed our loving this season of Succession. They also foreshadowed how, by the time this show ends, the Roy kids will probably be working at a drive-through while Tom rules as emperor.

All the Ways Succession Foreshadowed Last Night’s Finale