Game Over. The final season of SUCCESSION is an absolute gem [SPOILER-FREE REVIEW]
As usual, when I say goodbye to a series that I spent years on, I am sad at heart. “Game of Thrones in the corporate world” after four seasons has finally come to a well-deserved end, and just as I am happy with the result, because we are dealing with a world championship here in terms of scriptwriting and acting, so this is a farewell to Ken, Rom, Shiv, Logan and others however, it seems like a bitter experience. Justifiable but bitter. It’s hard to talk about a feeling of relief when the characters don’t deserve good, and the screenwriters know it. It is difficult to say that the Succession restored faith in man when it so openly and honestly exposed all his sins.
It is an understatement to describe Succession as a series about a toxic family. This sounds painfully hackneyed and does not reflect the full truth about Jesse Armstrong’s creation. In my opinion, a more philosophical interpretation is due here, taking into account the fragility of human nature, especially in the face of increasing wealth and influence. The heroes of Succession cannot go further, because they even accept the president of the USA on their rug. They reached the very sky with a sense of power, but it did not elevate them in any way, it even encouraged them to step on those under them like ants. Succession, however, has a double overtone because, just as materialism tries to disgust the viewer, it also paradoxically makes it fascinating.
Jeremy Strong’s hero sums it up aptly when in one of the scenes of the penultimate episode he explains what his father’s strength was. Logan Roy, ruthlessly played by Brian Cox, is in Succession like a roller of blind force that is moving in the appointed direction. Stubbornly and consistently, doing – unfortunately – a lot of damage along the way. But in this figure, as Ken notes, there is a kind of allegory of life itself, which also takes no prisoners: if it gives, it also takes, it has something so intransigent about it that it is thanks to this that it is able to so permanently multiply, grow. So Logan Roy is the definition of strength, and it says that if you want to achieve something, you must be able to give, but you must also be able to take, you must be able to reward, but you must also be able to punish. There is no mercy.
In another scene of another episode of the fourth season of Succession, we are dealing with the essence of what all this competition is about, and what is still operating somewhere behind the scenes. Elections are underway, and the ruler becomes the one whom the TV presenter anoints with this name. The family is at the helm of the media corporation – Waystar. And the media, as you know, is a source of power. Succession shows that the most powerful person is not the one who has reached the top position, but the one who tells everyone else who deserves to be called the ruler. Because it is the latter who will be able to make the former a fascist if he decides that the headlines will be saturated with this message. Flying so high, like Icarus, you must eventually fall.
Logan Roy himself is referred to as such, due to his extremely unparliamentary working methods. But in this case, Succession is also a story about a change in mentality. About an attempt to break the old, ossified stereotyping of reality and move towards a new, much smoother, progressive trend, represented by the main character’s children. Logan’s biggest problem is not that he does not know who to allocate the throne to, but that he knows perfectly well that none of his descendants will be as ruthless as himself, and this, somewhat correct, view carries the risk of the company’s collapse. Each of the children tries unsuccessfully to copy their father’s methods, but this does not give them his favor or believable, so – even though we have three candidates for the throne – the crown seems to lie extremely heavy on the heads of each of them.
On a macro scale, Succession is a story about the ruthless influence of the media on our lives, about the corrupting nature of power and money, and other clichés. On a micro scale, it is a story about a man who was so deadly effective in the role he played as the creator of a media corporation that he completely botched the role of a father and did not raise his successors. The extremely difficult faces of male-female relations, the paradoxical glorification of patriarchy, are also smuggled somewhere here, despite the fact that the characters create messages in the media they have at their disposal in a completely different way, and function differently in a reality that (especially at the very top) seems to be completely free of political correctness. Oh, another meta-message from the creators.
After the massive slump that occurred in the third episode of the fourth season (the unforgettable Connor’s Wedding), it was very difficult to predict how this story would develop. One thing was for sure – the siblings had to start talking to each other again. It was surprising to me that even despite the fact that we already knew the gambles of the screenwriters – who, with the effectiveness appropriate to the cinematographers for the series, constantly changed the angle of view on this story, not allowing us to get used to its constant track for a moment – and so, finally, we got something that is difficult to sum up otherwise than with thunderous applause. So what if from the first episodes of this series we were somehow tamed with the idea that the observed heroes are in fact anti-heroes – the trick was to forget about it and choose a character to support, believing in its goodness.
I have no doubt that Succession will go down in television history, just like Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad did. Maybe the popularity of this production is not so high, but it is certainly one of the most qualitative things that have recently been created for the small screen. HBO once again confirms its high status as a screenwriter, courage in breaking patterns, reluctance to take shortcuts, choosing interesting directions for the development of characters and threads. For me, this is one of the most creative spaces in modern streaming, and Sukcesja is a prime example of this.
The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Game of Thrones. Enlarge the shelf and place Succession on it.