Succession may have just given away a big hint about who will be the ‘winner’

·3-min read
Kieran Culkin in ‘Succession’ (HBO)
Kieran Culkin in ‘Succession’ (HBO)

Has anyone else noticed how a certain Succession star seems to have a lot more to say this time around? In the absence of Logan Roy’s (Brian Cox) vicious soliloquies, it’s his youngest son, Roman (Kieran Culkin), who has delivered the best lines of the show’s fourth and final season. Lines like, “You inhuman f***ing dog-man,” which is aimed at Alexander Skarsgård’s toxic tech billionaire Lukas Matsson. Roman has always been foul-mouthed, but now, his words have consequences – Matsson ends up increasing his takeover bid for Waystar Royco after the outburst. Buoyed by this success, Roman goes on a sacking rampage in the most recent, sixth episode, firing the company’s film studio head and then his “mommy girlfriend” Gerri (J Smith-Cameron). It’s an Anakin Skywalker-esque character arc for a figure who appeared at one point to be the Roy clan’s most empathetic member. Roman’s progression from dick-joke guy to ruthless game player points to one thing – victory – and showrunner Jesse Armstrong might have just confirmed it.

Episode six, like the one that preceded it, was all about Roman. It started with his crucial meeting with Waystar Studios head Joy Palmer (Annabeth Gish) over their much-maligned superhero movie, Kalispitron. After realising Joy isn’t taking him seriously, Roman shows her just how powerful (and mad?) he is. “I could just fire you… Oh no, I said it and now I feel like I’ve got to commit,” he gabbles. Next in the crosshairs is Gerri, who calls him “a weak monarch in a dangerous interregnum”. She gets the axe too – he’s not her slime puppy any more.

Logan’s death has clearly sparked something in Roman, something cruel and bloodthirsty. In a post-credits interview, Armstrong appears to imply that this newfound callousness might in fact be an arrow in Roman’s quiver. “There’s different ways of looking at how violent he is with his firings: Is that a disaster? Or is it a great strength to be able to do horrible things? We’ll sort of have to wait and see.” With this unassuming line, Armstrong all but confirms that Roman now has the means to succeed his father. What’s more: episode six gave him the motive.

The episode’s ending was just as important for Roman as its beginning. Before the big Living+ presentation, Shiv (Sarah Snook) convinces Roman to back out at the last minute, leaving Kendall (Jeremy Strong) to soak up the acclaim when it all goes surprisingly swimmingly. Roman is left jealous of his brother and angry with his sister for pulling him out of the spotlight.

On his way home, Roman listens to Kendall’s crude pastiche of his father telling him he has “a microdick” and “always gets it wrong”. He smiles at first, but his expression turns more intense as he listens to the clip over and over again. Sure, Roman is grieving, but he’s also being reminded of his failings – via his dead dad! What could provide greater motivation to conquer than that?

Before season four aired, Armstrong affirmed in an interview with The New Yorker that “there’s a promise in the title of Succession”. And if these last couple of episodes are anything to go by, my money’s on Roman being the one to keep that promise.