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‘Succession’ Season 3 finale: The 5 most shocking moments from a much-anticipated episode

Kendall, Roman and Shiv face off against Logan in the Season 3 finale of "Succession." (Graeme Hunter/HBO)

This post contains many spoilers about Sunday’s episode of HBO’s “Succession.”

Betrayal. Lies. Confessions. Even more betrayals! Congratulations, “Succession” Season 3 finale — looks like you lived up to the hype.

Here were the five most shocking moments from one of the most highly anticipated TV episodes of the year:

1. Kendall’s continued downward spiral

Would Kendall (Jeremy Strong) live or die? The debate raged on social media all week, given that the final scene of the penultimate episode saw him on a pool float, slowly starting to drown — he looked like a shell of a human after the horrific conversation he had with his dad, Logan (Brian Cox), who essentially guaranteed to not buy him out of the family company, Waystar Royco, and keep making his life miserable. Plus, the fascinating (and, for celebrities, apparently quite polarizing) recent New Yorker profile of Strong and his intense acting process seemed like a piece that might run when a character doesn’t have long to live.

Anyway, we learned in the opening moments that Kendall survived after his crisis PR rep, Comfrey, found him in the pool. After spending a night in the hospital, Kendall returned to the Italian villa where the family was staying for his mother Caroline’s (Harriet Walter) wedding and seemed barely functional. Even though he nearly drowned, possibly intentionally, he didn’t want anyone to make it a whole “song and dance”: “One too many Limoncellos, no biggie,” he mumbled.

Kendall looked so miserable that his estranged siblings actually seemed concerned about him: Even Roman’s (Kieran Culkin) dark joke to Comfrey didn’t land. (“If you find him in the pool again, there’s a C-note in it for you to just let him sink.”) They went so far as to stage an intervention: “You’re an addict. You’re addicted to booze and drugs and relationships and sex and work and the family drama,” Shiv (Sarah Snook) told him.

But, of course, it all devolved into dysfunctional Roy family nonsense. “Do you have any idea how it feels as the eldest son to be promised something and then just have it taken?” Kendall asked, referring to his war with his father over the business, only to have his half brother, Connor (Alan Ruck), hijack the conversation by demanding that everyone remember he was the eldest son and storm off in a tantrum.

The Roy family from HBO's "Succession" has a unique way of interacting with each other — and the outside world. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post, Photo: Jackie Lay/The Washington Post)

2. Willa agreed to marry Connor

Somehow, Connor’s girlfriend Willa (Justine Lupe) agreed to marry him to make him feel better after the blowup, even though she clearly dislikes him most of the time and appeared to instantly regret her decision. Her exact words: “How bad could it be?”

3. Logan and Roman’s awkward business trip

Things have been, um, uncomfortable since last week, when Roman tried to send an explicit photo to Waystar Royco general counsel Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) but accidentally sent it to … his dad. In the finale, Logan decided to bring Roman along on a last-minute trip to visit tech CEO Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgard) to iron out details of a possible merger between Waystar Royco and Matsson’s company, GoJo, and it seemed like all had been forgotten.

So who was expecting Logan to give Roman a very overdue and very twisted sex talk? Certainly not Roman, who was startled but told his dad that the only reason he tried sending the photo to Gerri was that he was “just being horrible,” as usual. Logan was not reassured. “If you need to get straightened out, get straightened out,” Logan growled at him. “I don’t want to know.”

Things got worse when they arrived, and Matsson proposed that instead of a merger, he take over the entire company. At first, Logan flatly declined, but he agreed to think about other possible deals and asked Roman to leave and go back to the wedding — a bad sign of what was about to happen.

4. Kendall’s confession

The Emmy Awards should probably just save some time and immediately award the trophy for best drama actor to Strong after this scene. Shiv dragged her brothers into an alley in the middle of the wedding reception to discuss the family business crisis — it was clear something was brewing behind the scenes with Logan and Matsson, and the kids were left out of the loop — but Kendall wasn’t listening. Instead, he got distracted by two waiters throwing away trash, which triggered his darkest secret: that on the night of Shiv’s wedding in the Season 1 finale, he killed a waiter in a car accident.

Kendall sank into the dirt. “There’s something really wrong with me,” he said quietly. “I’m not a good person.” And although he had been fighting with his siblings the whole season — he did try to bring down the family company, after all — all of a sudden, he confessed: “I killed a kid. I was high and I was looking to score. And I was drunk … but I drove and he saw something and he snatched at the wheel and we went into the water, and I left him in there and ran.” With that, Kendall completely broke down. (But he didn’t tell them that Logan helped cover up the crime.)

Shiv and Roman tried to comfort him — in their own bizarre ways. They refused to let him call himself a killer, and Roman made some inappropriate jokes: “Who’s the real victim here? I waited three quarters of an hour for a gin and tonic,” he said dryly, which got the smallest of smiles out of Kendall, though he continued to weep.

Eventually, Shiv left to take a call. She confirmed that there was a deal in the works for GoJo to buy Waystar and for Logan to cash out and leave them all hanging. Suddenly, all three feuding siblings were on the same side again.

5. The final scene

In what could be the defining scene of the series, the episode culminated as the Roy siblings found Logan and demanded to know what was going on with a potential sale to Matsson and GoJo. On the car ride over, they officially formed an alliance to force Logan out of the company and realized that, thanks to a clause their mother had negotiated during the divorce settlements, the three kids had veto power should their father ever want a change in control at Waystar.

At first, Logan pretended to play nice, explaining that it was an “optimal moment to make a deal with a serious tech operation” and give Matsson control. “This is the best moment to sell. If I don’t do the best deal at any given point, what’s the point of anything? I don’t get out, I leave $5 billion on the table.”

“Come on, Dad,” Kendall said. “What are you gonna do with the five bil? Put it on the pile with all your other bil?”

“Probably, yeah,” Logan said. He had no hesitation when his children — whom he neglected and tormented for years, never actually teaching them any life lessons — asked where that left them at the company. “Make your own pile,” Logan told them. “This is an opportunity for you kids to get an education in real life.”

But once Shiv brought up that they had veto power, Logan dropped the fake niceties and lost it, screaming that they were morons and he had them beat. Because Logan Roy is always one step ahead of everyone else, he got Caroline on the phone. “Your mother and I have been reviewing the terms of the divorce agreement, and we’ve agreed that the arrangements were a little antiquated,” he said casually, as Kendall, Roman and Shiv realized (in exclamations peppered with expletives) that their veto power, and likely their positions at the company, were gone.

“Dad. Please,” begged Roman, the only offspring to hesitate turning against his father. He reminded his dad that his kids loved him, but that just made Logan explode again, because he knew their initial plan was to force him out.

As Logan left to relish in further destroying his children, Shiv tearfully wondered who warned him ahead of time that they were coming. In a gasp-worthy moment, the camera cut to Logan patting Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), Shiv’s husband, on the shoulder. Looks like Tom finally got his revenge for Shiv always being horribly condescending and basically admitting in the last episode that she doesn’t really love him and knows she’s too good for him.

“Hey, Shiv. You okay?” Tom asked innocently as Shiv was too stunned to say anything. And finally, Tom’s earlier conversation with Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) made sense, when he asked Greg to form an alliance.

“Do you want a deal with the devil?” Tom had asked.

Greg, in the quote of the episode that sums up all of “Succession,” happily agreed: “What am I gonna do with a soul anyways?” he said. “Souls are boring. Boo, souls.”

Read more:

Review | In ‘Succession’ Season 3, the Roys are more vulnerable than ever — to the public and one another

Best of TV 2021: ‘Succession,’ ‘You,’ Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview and more

Perspective | ‘Succession’ takes us behind the scenes of an anti-democratic conclave, and the sights are terrifying

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