‘Succession’ Season 3 finale: A coup de grace with a phone call (spoilers)


SPOILERS for the Season 3 finale of Succession.

Before I got into Succession, I often wondered why an actor of Matthew Macfadyen’s caliber would even want to be, arguably, the fifth lead in an HBO ensemble. I had similar thoughts about why Alexander Skarsgard would join the cast for a one-season character arc. Like, what’s the deal? But then everything started to make sense. Macfadyen’s Tom Wambsgans secretly had main character syndrome this whole time. He did what he had to do. Earlier in Season 3, he summed up the show entirely, which he says to Kendall Roy: “I’ve seen you get f–ked a lot. I’ve never seen Logan get f–ked once.” Tom has chosen his side. He’s chosen loyalty not to his wife, but to his wife’s father. The coup de grace was delivered with a phone call and Logan’s hand on Tom’s shoulder. It was perfect.

Incidentally, I also felt like the finale showed why Skarsgard took the guest role – his scene with Brian Cox’s Logan Roy was also perfect. He showed respect and deference to the old gladiator as he delivered his own blow, that Logan would need to sell his company, that he couldn’t guarantee jacksh-t for the Roy children.

Anyway, I’m trying not to get massively spoiler-y but the finale really delivered. Logan picking on Roman as the weak link, Roman standing strong (ish) with his siblings. Kendall, Shiv and Roman all on the same side for the first time and they still end up getting screwed over. Tom’s speech to Greg and Greg happily agreeing to sell his soul. Perfecto.


succession tom

Photos courtesy of HBO.

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70 Responses to “‘Succession’ Season 3 finale: A coup de grace with a phone call (spoilers)”

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  1. Lightpurple says:

    The scenes between Brian Cox and Alexander Skarsgard were a masterclass.

    • souperkay says:

      I love the choice to make Lukaas Swedish & Alexander letting his accent out a little bit. Very charming. I can’t wait to see what happens next season.

      • Bettyrose says:

        “I’m a little bit Swedish. I believe in equality.” That was last week but I’m still shivering a little from it.

    • lucy2 says:

      It was pretty great. I’m sure Alex is happy to do a role on such a great show, but plus he got to hang in Italy for probably a few days work at most, and has a good relationship with HBO, so it’s kind of a no brainer for him to do the role.

    • superashes4 says:

      They really were. They were only topped by the Kendall scene where he came clean to his siblings, and the final scene where Logan finally said what we were all thinking. Brilliant.

  2. Magdalena says:

    I understand that they all want to be in Succession even only for a few scenes.
    The writing ! The actors – I feel they elevate eachother, the ability to play against such a skilled masters of this art, it probabky is pure pleasure for everybody.

  3. Driver8 says:

    Holy.F*cking.Sh*t. I did not see that coming!! I love this show so much, the whole cast BRINGS IT! As much as I appreciate Jeremy Strong, I hope Mathew Macfaydeyn gets the emmy this year.

    • TIFFANY says:

      I kinda did. After it happened, I sat back and thought about eps 1-9. It was kinda setting up that Shiv was gonna be involved in this going sideways ala Kendall in season one.

      She really thought she was not only better than her siblings, but her own husband. The difference is Tom gave nothing but chances for her to correct it.

      Jesse Armstrong delivered again this season. I think this is the episode that is gonna get him a Emmy for writing.

      • Driver8 says:

        That’s a good point, Tiffany. I was hoping that Tom would break away from Shiv, but wasn’t sure how it would play out. I was still left with my jaw on the floor a few minutes after the finale. My heart broke when Kendall confessed to his siblings about the waiter’s death. I think you may be right about Strong, but he’s won an emmy before. I would love to see Macfadyen or Culkin win. They’re all so good, I can’t choose.

      • superashes4 says:

        Tom totally hinted at where his mind was going with his first Greg discussion about Sporus mid-season. Watching the dissolution of Tom and Shiv’s marriage over seasons 2 and 3 was heartbreaking at times. Tom is not a good person, but you could see the moments when he was truly hurt by her, and where she open had a choice and elected to just degrade him. She realized on the beach in the Season 2 finale that her marriage was at risk, and did go to bat for him the first time on jail as a result, but every moment after was basically just one failure after another on the part of Shiv. It was clear she felt he was beneath her, but never clear why.

        Considering that, and that neither Roman (who actively put Tom and Greg on the chopping block in the Season 2 finale) nor Kendall ever did anything material to bring him in to the fold (Kendall did make a move, but then he punctuated the entire visit by photographing Tom as he got in his car as blackmail material) meant it was on Shiv to try to make that alliance work. Even in that moment, when she herself was facing down potential irrelevance in the sale, she STILL couldn’t even come equipped with a role for him and seemed annoyed he even asked.

  4. Lively says:

    This hurt me

  5. Lizzie says:

    I saw on Twitter, ‘and this is why you should be just a little bit nice to your husband when he is worried about going to jail’.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Or at least don’t tell him you don’t love him during pillow talk.

    • Pilar says:

      I don’t buy that Tom just wants to be loved and this is his revenge for shiv not treating him right:

      To me Tom was always playing the long game. He married into that family through ambition and is not some poor guy who just wants to be loved. In fact he might be the real “ killer” and certainly smarter than the siblings.
      Also shiv gets bullied by her father and brother and the misogynistic work culture and she in turn takes it out on her husband who takes it out on Greg so I don’t think anyone is that nice in this scenario.
      But McFayden has been amazing and more so than Jeremy strong he’s the real stand out this season imao.

      • Anne Call says:

        I also saw someone comment that who knows with Tom and Shiv, he may think that she will be impressed by his powergrab and tell her I did it for both of us to stay close to center of power in the new waystar configuration.

        Also thought it was odd that Kendall didn’t tell siblings that Logan knew about the accident and helped cover it up. Logan holding back for leverage over his dad next season? Or all the siblings use it to take down Logan?

      • superashes4 says:

        I think it was both for Tom. I think he wanted to have a happy marriage with Shiv, which was why he was upset when she proposed an open one on their wedding night and couldn’t really bring himself to see other women. When he had moments to advance himself over her throughout the season, he didn’t really take them, and consistently had her back. I think after the pillow talk, everything just added up and Tom realized he couldn’t have both, but at least had a shot for one, and went ahead and took it.

        Don’t really blame him to be honest. Not a damn one of those kids is actually equipped to run that company and they would have run it into the ground. The idea they would be good leaders as equals constantly battling one another…. shew. That ain’t it.

        He was doing everyone that worked at that company a service by that betrayal.

  6. Jenns says:

    I know there were some complaints this season about what was going on, but after that finale, everything came together perfectly. This reminded me of Game of Thrones at it’s best. Yes, sometimes there are episodes of people in a room talking, but the payoff is so worth it in the end.

  7. Harper says:

    Kendall sobbing in the dirt was stunning. Take that, New Yorker take-down piece. Anyone else think wardrobe didn’t do Shiv right last night? That white dress looks like the bathroom wallpaper in a Florida retirement home and it’s not great material that flatters or photographs well.

    I’m angry at Tom this morning. He could have used his words and had an adult conversation with Shiv about separating instead of ruining my hoped-for coup.

    • MaryContrary says:

      He was amazing. I think none of her clothes ever fit right or are the right colors-but I think that’s a deliberate choice by wardrobe. She isn’t really “pulled together” as a person-she’s always just kind of scrambling to fit a role.

      • Harper says:

        Shiv’s been wearing some beautifully tailored suits and layers this season that flattered her figure. I thought the white dress was a rare fail by wardrobe this season. I love that Sarah Snook said she wasn’t going to diet and exercise herself into a different body type.

      • lucy2 says:

        She has a fabulous figure, but occasionally Shiv’s wardrobe isn’t the best (the suits are killer though). I tend to think it’s on purpose too, in this episode she didn’t look comfortable and at ease in the dress, and it fit the situation.

      • Nic919 says:

        The suits always look great on her but the non work attire seems a little off. I suspect it’s done on purpose because when she shows up outside of the show she tends to have better outfits.

      • Anne Call says:

        And my feet hurt watching her in those high heeled sandals scrambling around in the dusty road with Kendall and Roman.

      • superashes4 says:

        @Harper, I agree. I think it was a deliberate choice to depict discomfort and to fully channel her as being slightly off-key. Same with Kendall.

    • Winnie says:

      Take down piece? That wasn’t a take-down piece at all, it was just a good profile about a guy who is way too intense at his job. The way people reacted to it was hysterical, and the reason there are basically no celebrity profiles anymore.

    • Queen Meghan’s Hand says:

      Justice for Shiv’s hips and booty. That dress didn’t fit???!!! How? Why? And the husband she doesn’t respect showed his cards. Tom ain’t here for you baby.

      • Winnie says:

        Yeah, Sarah Snook is way more curvy than most women on tv (with like actual hips) and people are not used to watching that.

      • Queen Meghan’s Hand says:

        @Winnie very true. But I meant to agree that the dress didn’t fit her properly or as well as it could have—especially a rich woman. I kept wanting to pull it down.

    • Lightpurple says:

      I think Tom realized a while ago that Shiv was never honest with him and didn’t pay attention to his concerns during his attempts at adult conversations.

  8. TIFFANY says:

    Once you get over the initial shock, it all starts to make sense.

    It is amazing that Roman never figured out why Lukas was so close to Italy for these meetings to begin with. Or why Logan agreed to attend Caroline’s wedding. Or why Caroline told Kendall not to attend the engagement dinner.

    Caroline checked out already. When last season she was willing to give up her seat for cash, the Hampton house and Christmas with her adult children was telling that she can be bought and also that she wanted the kills out as well. She knew Peter was marrying her for her money and connections, but Peter also showed that he would not starve her for affection, which she doesn’t even have from her own children. None of the Roy’s, except Connor, saw the writing on the wall.

    Man, this season was fantastic.

    • Bettyrose says:

      This season was a slow burn. There was so
      much “what is even the point of this scene “ and it all came crashing down in the final moment. I saw a meme comparing it to the red wedding and that’s so accurate it hurts. Power hungry rich people should just avoid weddings.

    • Lemons says:

      Connor’s monologue last night (“I am the eldest son!”) was very moving because at long last, you have someone in their circle telling all three siblings that they are depraved. Connor is as well but the way Kendall openly said he was the eldest son and had everything he had worked for taken away (while they are still sitting at a luxury restaurant in Italy AFTER he tried his passive suicide attempt), was just so cringe. Kendall, King of Cringe.

      • Bettyrose says:

        One forgets Connor is a human being. That scene was really moving. As super rich libertarians paying for love hiding out in remote New Mexico go, I felt a bit for Connor in that moment.

  9. Am says:

    She kicked him and he ran away. She’s more like her father than she’ll ever admit.

    As soon as Kendall said their mom got the protection on the divorce, I knew She’d betray them too.

    Also Gerri is stone cold

    • TIFFANY says:

      Naw, Gerri was always Gerri. She never lied about her plans.

      Roman thought he was different and could play her.

      He learned the hard way last night.

      • Bettyrose says:

        Gerri is the G-D OG. Shes n every scene, at every table , every power meeting, every bizarre hunting retreat. She sees and hears all. Logan has more confidence in Gerri than anyone else on earth, and the Roy kids never even think to factor her in. But she tried to educate Roman. She warned him to weigh every move against his own interests and he just sent her dick pics.

      • Indywom says:

        Unlike the spoiled entitled Roy kids, Gerri probably got where she is through hard work and ability. She is not flamboyant and is smart enough to know how to fade into the background and observe. While I think Logan is a monster, he is right about one thing and that is it is his company that he built on his own and he owes them nothing. As he told them make your own pile. I loved the look on their faces when they realized that Logan had out maneuvered them. Gerri is a killer and she is not going to let some spoiled brats or even Logan push her out. She is by far my favorite character.

      • bettyrose says:

        @Indyworm, I would love a backstory on Gerri. We know Logan is a typical sexist dbag who doesn’t trust women to excel in the corporate world, but he hired Gerri as his general counsel *thirty years ago* when it was even harder for a woman to get a foot in the door. I suspect Gerri and I don’t share similar politics, but she is an absolute badass, ceiling shatterer, and master of camouflage who disappears into the background while people spill their secrets. She may or may not have murdered a husband, but to paraphrase the Roy kids, “who hasn’t?”

    • Lightpurple says:

      Gerri has a job to do. Gerri has always been doing her job. Nothing more, nothing less. And all 3 kids lost sight of that.

      • superashes4 says:

        I’m not sure it was quite that planned. I think Lukas probably did have this idea in mind and was close for that reason, and I think Logan probably did realize his kids weren’t equipped to run the company and that he would need to deal with the divorce decree (hence showing up at the wedding). I don’t think Logan thought he would actually sell to Lukas until he sat down with him and it became obvious just how much each of his kids were lacking as a successor.

    • Sof says:

      Fanfiction made people believe she had feelings for Roman.

  10. manda says:

    I just started watching the show, season one, last week. I’m like five episodes in. I just keep hearing so much about the show! But maybe it’s because of this finale coming up and that thing in the New Yorker…. Anyway, here’s my question for long-time watchers, and I’m not trying to belittle or criticize, I’m just trying to get to the crux of it–is this just about unlikable people doing awful things, like breaking bad? Like, I sort of hate them all. And I guess that’s the point?

    • Lightpurple says:

      That is the point. It’s based loosely on the Murdochs.

      • ThatsNotOkay says:

        It’s not based on the Murdochs, it’s based on the Redstones.

      • Rosalee says:

        Watch the footage of the Murdock’s testimony at congressional hearings it was Logan and Kendall. I think it’s a cross between the Murdock and Redstone families but definitely the sons and father relationship is Murdock influenced along with the starter marriage of the Murdock daughter.

    • TIFFANY says:

      I see the show as a group of amoral douchbags who are awful and can sleep at night.

      They are basically people we wish we can sometimes be.

    • Ashton says:

      I just started watching and I felt the same way. I don’t know if I’ll keep watching or not because I don’t like any of the characters. They’re all horrible. There is no one to root for. I’m spoiled anyway now because I caught the finale last night when I was switching channels.

      • amilou says:

        This was my impression, too, but we only watched the first episode of the first season for the first time a few days ago. It was well-constructed, well-written, and well-acted, but, man, I’m not sure I want to spend this much time with these rotten people.

        But with all the buzz about the finale, I’m sure we will continue.

  11. damejudi says:

    Put Alan Ruck up for an Emmy, too. I’ve been waiting for it, and he delivered.

    “I’m the oldest son!” And pressing his forehead against Kendall. It was…so well done.

    • TIFFANY says:


      I tweeted yesterday about this. You don’t hire Alan Ruck without reason.

    • Lightpurple says:

      And then his three siblings all left him behind again as they plotted their coup attempt.

      And Willa was hilarious.

    • Lizzie says:

      And yet they left him out again. He might not have been part of Carolline’s protection but they still should have included him.
      Who is Connor’s mother?

      • Lightpurple says:

        They left him out again immediately! And he was right there. Can’t wait to see how that dynamic plays out next season.

      • Sof says:

        It was mentioned during Season 1 (or 2?) that Connor’s mother was sent to a mental facility of some sort. Don’t know if she is alive.

        Edit to say: RE them leaving him out again: He did ask Kendall to stop trying to kill their dad and that’s what the three of them were up to.

      • lucy2 says:

        They’re all awful, but Connor less so, so I’m kind of hoping he ends up better than they do.
        He should have just stayed out on his ranch.

  12. Sof says:

    Didn’t we all yell at our screens since at least mid season that Shiv should abandon the fathership and join Kendall? Girl, you earned a sit at a table where your opinion was ignored constantly!
    I suspected Tom intentions when he offered to take the Roy name before their wedding, it sounded golddigging at the time. Though I never imagined that ending!
    Glad that Connor confronted them, he is my fave sibling lol. Speaking of siblings, the three of them together, or the four of them at the intervention, best moments.
    That scene with Logan and Kendall’s son reading the book was…something. They always hint at that relationship, will something happen next season?
    And the mother, Shiv saying she walked on them once again. Ugh.
    In my time zone the episode ended at 00hs, could not go to sleep after those last 5 minutes.

    Everyone’s acting was amazing last night, right?

    • TIFFANY says:

      Iverson is autistic and that pisses Logan off to no end. He sees him, and not Sophie who is adopted, female, and also non white, as a heir apparent. The season one Thanksgiving episode where he just lost patience with him was telling. I also believe that Logan thinks that Kendall will not be around and he has another life he can destroy and call it love.

  13. Onemoretime says:

    I feel like this is the best episode of the series so far.
    I don’t care about the “potential “ sell Logan is not giving up control, ever! Unless Cox is leaving the show Lukas will be treated with loathing the same way that Logan treats his kids.
    The Roy siblings downfall was not sticking together and pushing their father out. For 3 seasons they saw how Logan treated Kendal and thought it couldn’t be me. How he played them against each other for sport, and they happily played along.
    Tom may have a small victory now but Logan was more than willing to let him go to jail as well.

    • Onemoretime says:

      If you go back and look at season 3 promo picture it shows Kendal with his siblings behind him and Logan with Tom and Greg behind him! Brilliant!

  14. JurisGal says:

    Roman was filling in Connor on the ride there but I agree, he should have been included immediately.
    Brilliant acting all around. Brian Cox is menacingly good. The way his Logan explosively mocked Shiv was both funny and upsetting. Just tremendous!

    • TIFFANY says:

      But Connor stated earlier in the series he ain’t all about that and will vote they way the other siblings will.

      So him not being in the car tracks as they know they would have his vote.

      • souperkay says:

        I feel like Connor is the only one who has not played the game because of what happened to his mother. He knows who Logan is and doesn’t want to tangle with him, he wants the money which Logan gives in an implicit agreement for Connor’s silence. So Connor would not be in the car because he has kept himself a little distance from the game.

        Logan’s move to sell will change the board for all the siblings and I can see Connor, with his impending marriage to Willa demanding more & forgiving less, Connor could be the Tom Wambsgans of season 4.

  15. Bettyrose says:

    Every second of that episode was pure brilliance, as was HBO’s weeklong ruse of dripping red herrings and getting us talking about all the wrong things.

  16. souperkay says:

    For me, the big three in the room with Logan at the end was just as tense as Rickon’s run in GoT’s Battle of the B*st*ds episode. Watching and hoping that all three of them would hold the line, for me from a toxic family where my siblings and I NEVER managed to unite against our horror show of a father was INTENSE. I’m glad they held as a unit even though they now go down as a unit. And Kendall not being afraid of Logan, and looking him right in the face when Shiv & Roman stood strong in keeping Kendall in the room, devastating. I do believe Connor is right that Logan might be trying to put a baby in Kerry because he has judged his children as lacking and he wants that successor. It complicates things with Marcia, who Logan had to pay but it would make sense.

  17. Pilar says:

    Matthew McFayden needs to win that Emmy.

  18. MellyMel says:

    The whole cast deserve Emmys honestly. Just such great acting and writing. I didn’t think they could top season two’s season finale, but they did. Just brilliant!

  19. Ashley says:

    MACA ROOT was a great flourish for Connor’s scene.