Is what you think the same as what you want? Time to be serious people about it.
Drops of God>Succession.
So, I've never really loved Succession. I've watched it in streaks because friends have continued to tell me how great it is. But. I've. Never. Seen. Any. Evidence. Of. That.
On the other hand, another series ended on Friday, possibly the most consistently great series I've ever seen with characters you cared about, brilliant writing, directing and acting and high enough stakes to make it absolutely compelling (but in a very different way than Succession).
I'm talking about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Not only did it never have a weak season, it didn't just stick the landing, it jackhammered it into the tarmac.
Because there had been a long break between seasons 4 & 5 (the final season), I decided to start at the beginning and binge the entire series. I kept sort of waiting for a "meh" episode or three but that never came. And there were plenty of opportunities for the Palladinos to screw it up — but they never did.
Introducing Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) in season 1 was a fun way to set the story in a very specific time frame but when they kept bringing him back, I thought that it would go south But it never did. The offstage scenes between Lenny and Midge were great, added to Midge's character development and were consistent with who Lenny Bruce really was. They even made absolutely sure that every time he was performing, every word was real and from actual performances (and his heartbreaking final performance at Basin Street in SF was perfectly executed).
Then there was what could have been cheap stunt casting but wasn't. Casting Jane Lynch as the fictional Sophie Lennon who was an antagonist that became a tragic figure, gaining some level of professional redemption but never really became whole. Her relentless pursuit of Susie is a case in point.
In the final episode of season 3, Another historical character appeared, the legendary Moms Mabley (Wanda Sykes) not only provided historical context but lessons for Midge as well. Sykes was fantastic on stage with a routine that was lifted directly from a Mabley performance.
The Weisman and Maisel families were also perfect, especially the parents Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle as Midge's parents, the Weismans and Kevin Pollack and Caroline Aaron as the Maisel parents.
But the real gems were, of course Rachel Brosnahan as Midge and Alex Borstein as Susie. Their chemistry was off the charts and as the series went on, the two of them became more and more compelling both together on screen and separately. The final season was a gift for both actresses and they rose to the occasion.
I never got into the the Amy Sherman-Palladino & Daniel Palladino created earlier series, The Gillmour Girls (though I do love me some Lauren Graham) but The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is high on my list of all time great series.
I will just say I don’t think Succession is Game of Thrones which might be for the best. This show has never been definitive about anything (other than I suppose that all the Roy children are unfit to helm the company), so I think that will continue with the finale. As in partway through you might think you have your answer but then it goes ambiguous at the end.
I honestly don’t care who wins the succession bid. It will be hollow and fleeting, I suspect.
I do not speculate on how a show will end, for some reason I never have and I'm trying to figure out why. I think I want to be surprised and don't want to be disappointed! If it's a great show I've been watching, I trust the writers to find the best way to end it. Tim, I do however, appreciate the time and effort you put into your analysis, lots of food for thought, I eagerly wait the finale!
Excellent analysis as always, Tim. The Conner storyline works on so many levels. But I'm leaning toward Tom for the win for the following reasons:
--He may not be a killer, but he knows exactly where the knife should go. Every time.
--If he f**ks Shiv (metaphorically, politically, professionally), he would rise in esteem in her eyes.
--Neither Conner nor Roman have children. Kendall's son may be on the spectrum. Kendall's daughter appears to be adopted. Logan ignored them both.
--The succession - the heir apparent - just may be that baby in Shiv's belly.
Since every season finale’s title is based on a line from “Dream Song 29” by John Berryman, I tried to figure out the ending by understanding that poem, but I ended up empty-handed.
In the real world the lead role will be Gerri’s, I think. But this is too Shakespearean to go like that and I think it will go to Kendall. Connor is a good solution, Greg would be too silly.
Wow, Tim, a spellbinding analysis of plotline possibilities, garnering respect from me because you’re a bona fide scriptwriter. As I’ve said before, I won’t indulge in predictions, being content to absorb the genius-level plot skills I’ve loved up to this climactic point. What I will do is boldly (because I’m crap at this kind of thing, I wrote a couple of murder mysteries and now wince at their over-complex plot reveals) and say what I would do if I were charged with plotting the finale (this is different to what I WANT, which is biblical-level justice raining down on them all): Mencken okays the deal and Mattson gives Shiv the CEO-ship but she miscarries and she and Tom duck out of business to tackle their grief; Mattson immediately begins pruning Waystar towards its inevitable demise in the modern world, and its share price tanks; the board ousts both Ken and Roman; Ken is gutted, begs for custody, and ends up in a beach mansion trying to restore his fatherhood prospects while staring at a pile of drugs; Roman gets visited in hospital by Gerri who has landed a media startup, she offers him a job and he accepts; Connor doesn’t get his overseas posting and holds a lavish party at his father’s house, to which all the kids go for the final, ambivalent scene, I’d put a massive new, hitherto-hidden painting of Logan up on the wall behind them; nothing special for any of the others, including Greg. This is a hugely hectic hour and would need to get moving from the first minute, with a high sense of dramatisation and much imaginative theme music.
Now that was fun. Reading what I just wrote, I think there’s more chance of your predictions working out than my clumsy episode plotting attempt.
I must say, this Box Set has very much enriched my life just as I need all kinds of support.
I’ve been a strong Tom-on-top-at-end bet since mid-season, and I’m holding. Biggest hints from last week:
1) Tom not attending the funeral reminds me of the Kendall-birthday-party-attendance fiasco of the Pilot. Go back and look at Mattson’s face at the funeral when Greg comes to tell Shiv that Tom is staying at work- he clocks it as Logan would have, a positive.
2) I think Greg's attempt with Menkin to say "Tom and I called it for you" is only going to achieve inserting Tom into Menkin's brain. He is well aware Shiv hates him, so what is a more satisfying response to her lack of support than to give to "her" job to her enemy-of-an-ex-husband, especially if he’s the one who got him over the top?
3) "You have to be a killer" - Tom in the Season 3 finale is the most committed example
we have of that- "killed" Shiv to rise to power.
I'm into how clean Tim's Connor prediction works out- I could see it happening . I would LOVE it if Marcia somehow stirs things up big time. Since Ep 9 is seemingly leaving us to think, "ooohhh- is it Kendall or Shiv"? - it clearly can't be either. Everyone loves the Greg-on-top ending, but personally I think its too big of a swing- I think Greg'a gonna be running ATN when we are done, and I hope we see Ewan's reaction.
I really like your Connor prediction. Number 3 has a lot of appeal too. The only ending that would really ruin it for me would be Greg. Please no.
- Kendall kills himself either by drowning or accidental overdose
- Tom gets the CEO Position
- Until Greg turns on Tom with some evidence related to the cruise ship thing
- Gerri ends up as CEO (my dark horse pick)
- Matsson’s weirdo blood brick thing goes public
- Shiv loses the baby
- Connor lives happily ever after in Slovania
On an unrelated note, can we take a moment to remember Ray Stevenson? I first made his acquaintance in Rome. I loved your deconstructions; the "limbs akimbo" comment in reference to season 1, episode 8 stuck like whatever they used for glue in 49 BC. After Rome ended, I'd regularly check IMDB for his future roles. It makes me sad that I won't be doing that anymore.
I wish I had a better sense of just how financially set the Roy kids are. Deal or no deal, do they have enough money for their grandkids' grandkids to live Dickie Greenleaf lives? In one of the Tom/Shiv showdowns, Tom flippantly invites (dares?) Shiv to "Come and live with me in a trailer park". That sort of extreme riches to rags fall would surely strike a false note, but we know Kerry's not financially faring well in her little apartment now that Logan's gone.
I'm anticipating that the Roy kids don't suffer much with a major lifestyle change, but any notions of filling Logan's shoes are dashed. Connor may get a big title, but he'll never be in a position to wield any real power. And what about Greg? I've completely flipped on his fate. Maybe he was sincere when he told his grandpa "That was a good, hard take that you gave". Maybe he embraces his poor cousin status and joins the Peace Corps.
As much as I hate the Hollywood treatment of most American series - the over explaining, the pat dialogue, the tidy endings - I expect to be left wondering a lot about Kendall, Roman, Shiv and Tom when the final credits roll. Kendall's fierce ambition has left him bereft of any meaningful relationships. Roman seems to be teetering on a full-blown breakdown. Shiv and Tom might salvage some semblance of a relationship for the sake of their child, but I doubt it. That sort of thing happens in Hallmark movies.
My husband, who usually just sits here reading while I watch Succession and never seems to be paying any attention, looked up from his book after last week's episode and out of nowhere said "Mencken's going to lose and that will sink all of them." He then put his head down and went back to his book!
What I WANT to happen is for Greg to taken them down unintentionally, but that is pretty unlikely and I can't see him being put in charge of anything. As for what WILL happen, at this point, I feel like it is up for grabs. I hadn't even considered Connor until Tim brought it a couple of weeks ago, but it seems as likely as anything. I can't wait for the final episode.
Ohhh, great outline of possibilities!
What I think won’t happen.
--None of the 3 kids will prevail
--None of the older execs/lawyer will prevail
--Gregory won’t prevail
Leaves me with:
--Tom will prevail
--Deal will happen
--There could be another death - shock effect
--Room will be left for a reboot or another season or a movie. Wha??!
I agree --a flimsy washout would be so disappointing.