Succession season 2 finale: How to build a gut-wrenching twist through multiple episodes

Manik Sharma

Oct 17, 2019 12:53:05 IST

When it comes to twists in mid-series season finales, there are not many shows that have had a leg up on the head-spinning reveal of the third season of LOST, or the stomach-crunching brutal transformation of Walter White at the end of fourth season of Breaking Bad. That order or precedence, however, might require reconsideration after HBO’s Succession. The show not only delivered, but may have schooled writers on how to build a season towards a finale that feels like a punch in the chest; not because it was shaped that way but because destiny, sometimes, manifests dramatically, leaping out of a corner you probably gave up on observing. So much so, it couldn’t have a more fitting title than ‘This is not for tears’.

It’ll be a little repetitive to say that this final episode went for the kill. Succession is, after all, a show about manic executives with knives in their pockets. Its music is abuse, its diction is somewhere between obscenity and offence. Everyone’s a straight-shooter, by which I mean they aren’t hesitant to shoot or kill (at least metaphorically) either. Season 2 has had its own pace as compared to season 1 where Logan’s son Kendal was trying to usurp his father to take the family throne. If the first season fed on conflict from the inside, the second season sees Logan and company deal with the furniture in the room, so to speak. The company is good, but it needs to add more meat. Because what else will the fat and rich build on other than a little perquisite hunger for inessentials.

As Logan puts on his boxing gloves, Kendal, shaken by the fatal accident and death he was party to in the last season glides into a coma of emotion. He is functional, but barely. In one scene he momentarily confides in his sister Shiv that if his dad didn’t need him, he might not even be around. Logan, for all his macho knowhow and wisecracking wisdom finds himself in a soup. A MeToo storm hits Waystar Royco, and by the end of things, it comes to a point where a log must be thrown out of the family fire to freeze in the hard cold rain. Not that there is any warmth in the fire itself, but there is at least money. For most, that works.

 Succession season 2 finale: How to build a gut-wrenching twist through multiple episodes

A still from Succession.

Before we get to the finale one must analyse how it has been arrived at so cleverly.

Logan has gone from strength to strength, depicting on the way a bestial core that allows him to cut across his own family. He repeatedly schools his children in familial loyalty, but he remains unencumbered by their needs and reservations. He expects them to bite the bullet so long as he keeps paying for other bits and bites. It is a dog-eat-dog world, only more eccentric and elite. In one scene Shiv and Roman try to buy a snack at a mart, all the while trying to remember the last time they entered one. ‘I’ll just eat a banana. At least it won’t give me food poisoning’, Shiv says before giving up and walking away. She is one of the more likeable ones in this family. But over the course of the second season, whatever veneer of genteel normalcy the likes of Shiv had worn through the first, disappears as well. There are no underdogs left to root for.

The finale of Succession season 2 is a lesson in writing finales itself.

It is set up like a circus tent, one which will have a certainly have a casualty by the end. Only here it is a yacht. Someone will be on the chopping board, a ‘blood sacrifice’ as Logan says in the penultimate episode. It’s no longer a question of how, but who. The audience has had time to make up their minds and through the episode itself, the show offers alternatives. In perhaps one of most deftly written roundtable chats to be filmed for TV, members of Waystar Royco call each other’s heads, some fumbling their reasons, others casually emitting them without sympathy. It’s a slaughterhouse, and most endearingly the pigs have voices, the pigs have saws.

It is one of the most tense, suspenseful and funny sequences in the show’s short history.

Now to that ending that one saw coming. All season Kendal has echoed Logan, licked the bone so to speak, and in one ludicrous instance even rapped the praises of his father. Easily the most competent of the four children, Kendal ably defends his father at the congressional hearing. Breathing all that dirt, however, lands Kendal the somewhat diabolical prize of being the sacrificial lamb, so valuable that it must hurt watching it being culled in public. ‘You’re not a killer’ Logan tells Kendal after he asks if Logan thought him worthy of ‘succeeding’ himself.

In one last conciliatory kiss, Kendal walks away, defeated, only to turn the tables at the last moment. Does he prove his father wrong? Has he finally, become, his father, a ‘killer’? The smirk on Logan’s face, the last image of the season, is a curious balance of bewilderment and awe. He is his father’s son after all, Kendal. And none of it is personal, even though it satisfyingly is, for Kendal and for everyone watching.

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

Updated Date: Oct 17, 2019 12:53:05 IST