After nine episodes, season 3 of “Succession” has come to a dramatic close. And like last season’s explosive cliffhanger, the Emmy-winning HBO family drama has ended with another, unexpected game-changer. “It’s a lovely hook,” says Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Shiv’s husband, Tom Wambsgans, adding that the finale filmed in “the beautiful rolling hills of Tuscany and the lakes of Northern Italy” was a scenic, if not shocking finish to the season.
While speaking to ET, Macfadyen and the rest of the cast, including Alan Ruck (Connor Roy), Brian Cox (Logan Roy), J. Smith-Cameron (Gerri Kellman), Jeremy Strong (Kendall Roy), Sarah Snook (Shiv Roy), share their reactions to the episode and how it topped season 2’s ending.
“A lot of people thought at the end of season two, when that gauntlet was thrown down, ‘What’s going to happen now?’” Ruck says, noting how the finale has upped the ante or everyone involved. “It’s just ramped up.”
Sharing that sentiment is Snook, who adds, “Like, ‘How do you compete against the end of season two?’ You’ve got to come back with something great in season three and the finale. And I think we really do deliver.”
[Warning: Spoilers for the “Succession” season 3 finale, “All the Bells Say”, written by creator Jesse Armstrong and directed by Mark Mylod.]
In the exhilarating final hour, it’s revealed that Kendall nearly drowned in the pool at the end of the previous episode and it was Comfry (Dasha Nekrasova) who found and saved him from dying. The moment, however, brought the family together, including Logan, who all briefly gathered together to show support.
Later, the siblings hold an intervention for Kendall, who they suspect tried to kill himself. Not only that, they call out his past drug and alcohol abuse and ongoing drama within the family. While Kendall pushes back, he admits that they’re right to some extent — but that he’s also a victim of his father’s vindictive nature and was not given what he was promised.
The meeting quickly falls apart after Kendall refers to himself as the eldest son, sending Connor on a tirade over his position in the family and among his brothers and sister. He’s also upset that no one included him in on the plans for the merger, which would hurt his political platform, or congratulated him on his engagement to Willa Ferrerya (Justine Lupe), who eventually said yes to his proposal. (Well, she actually just said, “F**k it,” but it was considered a yes.)
Much later, as things within the family are starting to fall apart, Kendall breaks down and admits to Shiv and Roman that he let the waiter from Shiv’s wedding drown after his car ran off the bridge at the end of season 1. While his confession shocks them both, they rally behind him and try to convince him that he did not in fact kill the guy.
Meanwhile, Logan and Roman meet with Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) to hear out his plan for GoJo to buy out Waystar RoyCo with GoJo. And that includes Lukas taking over with Roman as a key figure in the company and Logan stepping back as CEO. While the patriarch seemingly shuts the deal down, he sends Roman away as he makes plans of his own during his ex-wife Caroline Collingwood’s (Harriet Walter) wedding to Peter Munion (Pip Torrens).
Back at the wedding, Shiv and Roman eventually figure out that their father is planning to move forward with the buy out and eventually unite the rest of their siblings in an effort to stop him from cashing out and leaving them high and dry — and more importantly, preventing any of them from ever taking over. And in the end, they decide to finally push him out. “Full coup,” as Kendall puts it.
By the end of the episode, Kendall, Roman and Shiv confront their father, who reveals that no matter how hard they try or what efforts they make, he’s moving forward with the deal. Not only that, Logan even renegotiated the terms of his divorce agreement with Caroline as an extra measure of security against his four kids. “I f**king win,” Logan says.
While Roman tries to plead with Gerri to stop the deal, she says that as interim CEO she must act on behalf of the shareholders and do what’s right by them. And she’s not the only one to betray the trust of one of the Roys. It’s seemingly revealed that Tom, who earlier convinced Greg (Nicholas Braun) to “make a deal with the devil,” was the one who tipped Logan off that his kids we’re attempting to push out their father once and for all, giving him time to secure the leverage he needed.
“Jesse’s unpredictable and nobody is safe. Nobody’s position is secure,” Ruck says. “And I think that’s one thing that we’ve learned about this world and these people, that they’re always skating on thin ice.” And if audiences didn’t think things could get any worse after the way season 2 ended, they are now “even more fraught with anxiety and stress and vindictiveness,” he adds.
“It’s pretty terrifying,” Cameron says of the family’s final showdown. “The gloves are off now. Like, this is full-on world war.”
When it comes to Gerri and Roman specifically, the actress is admittedly upset about them two being at odds. “They’re not so easy to get each other out of their systems,” she says. “I don’t know what the writers have in mind. I’m not sure whether that can be stifled or contained, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens. But it made me sad. I felt like they were breaking up.”
As for Kendall, his downfall has ultimately led him back to his family (well, at least his siblings) and put them all on the same side for once. But no matter what, he’s found himself dragged back in despite wanting out of the company after his efforts to take Waystar down from the outside failed to materialize.
“He had an out and he was almost free and clear and then he whirlpools back into despair that is deeper than even the despair that has been in the show before because it lacks hope,” Strong says of Kendall’s deteriorating emotional state that led to his confession. “And that the only way through that, in a sense, was for some act of connection with his brother and sister. And that is the rung on the ladder back out.”
Not only that, but they end up “in alliance with each other,” the actor continues. “The drawbridge that has been up for so long separating Kendall from everyone is lowered. Again, he’s able to at the depths of his loneliness and pain, in a way, come back to life.”
Strong, who considers this episode on par with his love and praise for episode 7 (“I read 9 and I thought that Jesse’s done it again somehow, in a different way,” he says), adds that it was an “incredibly profound way to end this season.”
“It is an astonishing ending,” Cox says, echoing his on-screen son’s admiration for the finale. “And it shows where the power lies in the family — and it’s not necessarily where you think it lies either. So, that’s the great thing about the ending.”
And with the Roy siblings on the outs while cousin Greg and Tom are seemingly in with Gerri and Logan, it’s going to be interesting to see where things head in season 4. “It’s an exciting shift,” Snook says.
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