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Could he? Will they? What if? What might happen next in Succession | Succession

For all its whizz-bang caper-gone-wrong energy, and for all its subsequent emotional troughs, this week’s Succession finale might have been the most important in its entire run. Because, unless I am very much wrong, Succession – a show about people trying to forcefully mount a succession – just had its succession. And now everything has to change.

The episode ended with Logan Roy defying his children by selling Waystar Royco to idiosyncratic Swedish tech bro Lukas Matsson. It’s an unexpected twist, like if King Lear contained a weird new beat where Lear hands the British crown to Jack Dorsey for a laugh, but it sets up a bold new future for the show. What will happen in season four? Here are some theories.

Everything stays the same

Roman Roy.
Photograph: Graeme Hunter

Season three of Succession picked up seconds after season two ended. It was a smart move, showing the immediate swirl of confusion that followed Kendall Roy’s decision to undo his father, and something similar could happen here. This week’s episode ended with three of the Roy siblings heartbroken and angry at their father’s grand betrayal. Perhaps season four could pick up at that precise moment, and show their efforts to reorganise their rebellion against him. This is something that Succession undoubtedly does very well – for the most part, its greatest moments have been those heart-thumping scenes where Kendall scraps for support to unseat his dad – and Jesse Armstrong has more than enough dramatic clout to centre the entire season around the battle to stop the Matsson deal dead in its tracks.

Logan sells up, part one

Logan and Roman talk with Mattson Kriti Fitts.
Photograph: Graeme Hunter

That said, we’ve seen that scenario, or versions like it, play out countless times before. Perhaps it would be more dramatically satisfying to start season four a little down the line. Logan has sold Waystar to Matsson and is now a (moderately) powerless figurehead. Matsson, meanwhile, has the reins and is set upon disruption. And then there are the Roy kids, all fighting to earn their spots in the company. There’s a contingent of Succession fans – I confess to being one of them, from time to time – that has long been desperate to see how the kids would cope without the entitlement that comes from having their dad as their boss. If all the excruciating psychodrama of being in the family business fell away, would they thrive? Would they sink? Would they spend their lives fruitlessly plotting to overthrow their new boss, just as they did with their dad?

Logan sells up, part two

Shiv Roy.
Photograph: HBO

The alternative, and one that runs the risk of alienating the audience, is to just pretend that Waystar Royco doesn’t exist. Matsson has breezed in and sacked everyone, and is now running it as his own little dictatorship without the participation of any of the Roy family. Suddenly the central theme is the total absence of the family company. Is Logan Roy capable of being a contented retiree, or would his hunger for professional violence send him mad? Would Shiv re-enter the world of politics? Kendall has experience of existing outside of Waystar, so could this new environment be his path to rebuilding his fractured self-esteem? What in the world would Roman do? All the all-time great shows have a season like this, where the lead characters find themselves ripped from the comfort of their surroundings – Mad Men broke Sterling Cooper, Tony Soprano divorced Carmela, Lost hit a nuclear bomb with a rock and everyone went back in time – and there has never been a better chance for Succession to follow the pattern.

The ascent of Wambsgans

Tom Wambsgans.
Photograph: Graeme Hunter

Really, though, I suspect that all anyone really wants to see from Succession is the continued dominance of Tom Wambsgans. For years, Tom has been a figure of ridicule – his wife doesn’t love him, and her family views him as nothing but a socially climbing freeloader – and so his late-stage betrayal in the season three finale was an air-punching moment of true elation. The nod from Logan in the dying moments appeared to signal a new period of triumph for Tom. Perhaps, with Logan out of the picture, Tom could be Succession’s primary antagonist; a figure who has taken everything the Roy kids felt entitled to, and is eager to rub it in their faces at every turn. Would Tom do well in the upper echelons of power? No, of course not, he’d be a disaster. But try telling me you wouldn’t want to watch that.

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