Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for the series finale of Succession.
They’re just not serious people. Logan Roy knew it, and the Roy child he was most disappointed in was Kendall. Jeremy Strong‘s man-boy, the CEO who was never chief of anything, lost. He was outplayed, and he was beaten, screaming about a deal he never had to begin with, despite thinking it was in the bag in the series finale of Succession. He was never able to win his father’s love or admiration in life, and even after his father’s death, he still couldn’t do it.
It was ultimately Matthew McFadyen‘s Tom Wambsgans outmaneuvered him with a via deference and ‘sigma’ behavior — submitting himself completely to Alexander Skarsgård‘s Lukas Matsson, the new owner of WaystarRoyco, in doing so, becoming the new chief executive officer of the entire company.
“I remember going to the writers’ room in Brixton six years ago or something, and seeing all the note cards on the wall. And at the very top was this question of: can you escape legacy? Does it define you? And by escaping it, are you still defined by it?”
Can You Escape Legacy?
For Strong, Kendall was trying to make a name for himself outside of Logan Roy’s shadow, but he never could escape the monolith that was his father. He continued, explaining:
“I think he is trying to attain a version of manhood or personhood. He’s trying to individuate, I think, in a certain way, but he has never been able to escape the tractor beam of his father. I wanted for him so badly to get on that boat with Naomi Pierce [Kendall’s girlfriend during his third season meltdown] and just leave it all. But he couldn’t do that.”
Despite trying to escape his father, after he was gone, Kendall found himself becoming a twisted version of the man he had once loved and despised. “The funeral oration about, ‘My God, I hope that it’s in me, his life force and his vigor and his terrible energy’—I was gonna say that Kendall doesn’t possess it, but I think by the end we see that he has become a version of his father.” Strong highlighted how similar Kendal is to Logan saying, “There is a ruthlessness in him. It is Michael Corleone after he’s, you know, lost every last vestige of his humanity.” He also pointed out their differences, “While Logan had a kind of reptilian brutality and a primitive energy, Kendall is more of a boy-man. He has a sensitivity and a self-awareness that I think his father didn’t have, but he also has a potential for tyranny and moral bankruptcy or amorality. I don’t know what’s more frightening, actually: a Logan Roy, or a Kendall Roy in power?”
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Ultimately, the poison of the Roy family spread far beyond Waystar Royco, as Strong explained. “The problem with this family is that our small corruptions and our failings and shortcomings are scaled up to affect the entire world,” he said, “and the ramifications of our bad choices or our self-interest has the ability to shape and misshape the world.”