‘Succession’ Creator on Why Show Is Ending and Tom and Shiv’s Fate

3 min read

Jesse Armstrong saddened millions of fans in February when he announced that the upcoming season of “Succession” would be its last. According to the creator and showrunner of the HBO corporate drama, the ending of Season 4 felt “natural,” but he nonetheless secretly hoped someone would talk him out of wrapping up the series, which is seemingly at its peak.

“The word that comes to mind for me is ‘natural.’ I hope people, when they see this season, will feel that it has a natural shape to it,” Armstrong told Variety on the red carpet at the Season 4 premiere, which took place March 20 at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. “That’s how I pitched it to my writers’ room, kind of hoping I’d get argued out of it so we’d see a way to do more seasons, because I love working with these people. I think there’s a feeling of completeness and rightness to the shape of the show.”

When asked whether he wrote multiple endings to the 10-episode final season, Armstrong said, “I had the last scene pretty early. We talked about how the show would end a lot, and I never wavered from that. I wavered on what were the best lines, the best way to express it — but that ending from the first draft is the one you’ll see when the episode comes out.”

In terms of his favorite series finales, Armstrong said he “loves” the ending of “Six Feet Under” and the “controversial” farewell of “The Sopranos,” though he said he wasn’t directly inspired by the final episodes of his HBO predecessors.

“Each show is different. ‘Six Feet Under,’ ‘Sopranos,’ some of the shows I most admire have radically different ways of concluding,” he added. “It’s got to feel right for that story. I’m inspired by those shows, but the ending of ‘Succession’ had to be bespoke, obviously.”

At the end of Season 3, Logan (Brian Cox) threw an expletive-laden wrench in his kids’ plan to stop Waystar Royco’s merger with GoJo with the help of his ex-wife Caroline (Harriet Walter) and Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), who sold out his own wife, Shiv (Sarah Snook), in order to fortify his post in a new administration.

Hinting at where we find Tom and Shiv in Season 4, Macfadyen told Variety, “They’re in a dark place. They haven’t spoken about what happened in Season 3, the betrayal in Italy. They’re sort of having a trial separation.”

While, in the Season 3 finale, Tom cashes in on years of emotional and professional torment with a shocking ploy for power, Macfadyen believes Tom’s motives are (mostly) wholesome: “I think he just likes to be liked. He wants to be happy in his marriage. He wants his father-in-law to approve of him. He wants Greg [Nicholas Braun] close so he can bully him.”

At their fourth and final “Succession” premiere party, the cast and crew recalled their last days of shooting, with J. Smith Cameron reflecting, “It was terrible. It was a lot of people bawling our eyes out. I might start crying tonight.

“It’s very, very hard to say goodbye to ‘Succession.’”