Next week is the season two finale of HBO’s legendary series about knitwear, power blazers, and intensely symmetrical hairstyles, Succession—and after a chaotic-evil Congressional testimony, someone is going down. A “blood sacrifice,” as Roy patriarch Logan warns. WHO WILL IT BE??? Our best guesses below. Spoilers!
Back when my icon, Rhea Jarrell, was sussing out which of the demon Roy children was best positioned to take over the throne from their father, she had a useful bit of insight into Kendall: “It’s like you put him in a big diaper and now he can shit himself whenever he likes. He has all the shots but doesn’t know when to play them.” For all her conniving this season, you cannot say Rhea is not perceptive. And she’s right: Kendall’s been basically safeguarded all season by sticking close to his dad—kind of the only move you’ve got when you Chappaquiddick someone and he makes it all go away. But as he’s gotten more comfortable being his dad’s hatchet man, repressing his immense guilt with drugs and horniness, and putting on a star turn during their D.C. hearing, you realize how high Kendall has risen back up. Because again, Rhea’s right: In reality, Kendall is the most credible heir to his father’s empire, and when it comes down it, he’s also the most credible fall-guy for the nightmare engulfing Waystar. Tom is too easy, too bumbling, and not a big enough fish, I think; no one internally (except maybe Gerri) or externally believes Roman could pull anything off, much less a massive conspiracy; and Shiv is too far from all of it to be a plausible public offing (and she did just do her dad a huge solid). You pick Kendall as your blood sacrifice because he’ll bleed the most, enough to coverup the entire coverup scandal. Plus, he started it! We have to remember, the whole reason they’re even fighting tooth and nail to keep the company in the family is because Kendall staged a coup and royally fucked it up. His original sin. That’s why Kendall’s gotta go down for this.
Tom: I think it has to be Tom. Most of the show, so far, seems to have been building toward Shiv eventually sacrificing Tom to fuel her own rise in the company and in general: we’ve seen her time and time again choose herself over him. A huge running theme this season has been how low Shiv is willing to go, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice, to win the Game of Thrones (same show), which came to a real head in the witness scene this past episode. She was always going to betray Tom, and now I think the time has come. Plus, Tom being the sacrifice sets up a lot of other plot points that are going to come back, namely Greg’s whole plot line. My guess is that they try to kill Tom, Tom tries to pin on Greg, and Greg testifies as to how shitty Tom was as a boss (the water bottles, the footstools, etc.) and Tom goes down. Greg stays in the family because he helped kill Tom and perhaps uses the evidence he still has as leverage to stay in. Shiv divorces Tom to keep her hands clean and stay as the eventual successor.
I hate it, because he’s my best boy, but even before we decided to make this post, the first thing I said when last night’s episode ended was oh god it’s going to be Kendall. Tom is the more obvious choice, yes—he dusted up at cruises after good old, expendable Bill left, but it seems like those “Tomlette” emails to Greg are going to be an ongoing issue. He also came off the worst in his congressional testimony, a turn the Roys really should’ve seen coming. But Tom is the show’s most consistent sacrificial lamb, constantly jeered in private and public, and Succession is too smart to make the obvious choice here. Instead, the most recent episode ends with Logan and Shiv watching ATN rallying around Kendall Roy jumping to his faltering father’s defense in DC. Logan remarks that Kendall going on offense “won’t play” right before he starts talking about a blood sacrifice. If we’ve learned anything watching this show, it’s that no matter how thoroughly the Roy kids have been raked over the coals and contorted themselves to please daddy, they’re all “fungible.” Succession is a cruel enough show to figuratively kill Kendall yet again, especially when he seems to be on an upswing.
Logan noted that Kendall’s hard-charging congressional testimony wouldn’t play well with a lot of people, and the very pointed snippet of audio we heard just before the credits rolled was about him. Kendall’s role in life seems to be that of a constant, doomed punching bag for his family, and becoming the “blood sacrifice” would slot nicely into that. But that’s a theme Succession has already spent a great deal of time on over the past two seasons, which makes me think the sacrifice will be Tom.
Tom is stupid, expendable, not a “real” member of the family to Logan, and very publicly fucking up. But more importantly than that, culling him would be a nice test of just how low Shiv is prepared to go to keep her status. Logan is a psychological torturer at heart—witness his treatment of Kendall this season—and forcing Shiv into such a horrid position would probably appeal to him. If Kendall’s demons were the star of last season, Shiv’s descent into the darkness has been the star of this season. Making her knife her own husband would be an appropriate capper.