The 'Succession' Plot Point That Explained the Whole Series (2024)

This article contains spoilers through the Season 4 finale of Succession.

“The journey we went on with the amniocentesis after what the blood test showed us—everything looks healthy.” With these understated words uttered by a doctor over the phone, we learned in Episode 4 of Succession’s final season that Shiv Roy (played beautifully by Sarah Snook) was pregnant. But in the episodes that followed, the show hardly acknowledged her impending motherhood. When her husband, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), finally heard the news, sputtering, “Is that even true? Is that a new position or a tactic or what?,” his confusion mirrored my own. What was this pregnancy?

It’s a well-documented trope in television that female characters in late seasons become unexpectedly pregnant. Consider Hannah in Girls, or Rachel in Friends. Motherhood is the most dramatic endgame imaginable for a woman, these shows seem to say. Can a mother retain her sense of self? Will she grow out of her childishness? In Girls, Hannah is forced to surrender her flippancy about money and her promiscuity; she matures into someone who faces her problems head on. Yet Succession was never about the personal growth of its characters—if anything, it showcased the inevitable resurfacing of their worst qualities. I wondered whether Shiv’s development was a dramatic wrench to heighten the tension between her and Tom as their marriage faltered. Maybe it was just a simple way to accommodate Snook’s own pregnancy. But after the show’s finale aired on Sunday, I realized that it did so much more. Shiv’s imminent parenthood explained the series’ fundamental themes—and provided its final tragedy.

Toward the end of the last episode, the siblings Roman (Kieran Culkin), Kendall (Jeremy Strong), and Shiv argue one last time about who should lead Waystar Royco, the company their father founded. Kendall insists that he is the most qualified person to fulfill their father’s wish—which, according to Kendall, is that the family continues to own the firm. Roman responds by saying that Shiv is the true bearer of the family’s bloodline. He calls Kendall’s children—an adopted daughter and, Roman hints, a son possibly conceived via sperm donor—a “pair of randos.” Roman’s implication is that they aren’t real Roys. The only person who could keep the company in the family for the next generation is the recently pregnant Shiv.

In retrospect, it makes sense that the show would use Shiv to convey its final tragic note. Shiv’s experience as Logan’s daughter has always been different from that of Logan’s sons. When we are introduced to her in the first episode of Season 1, she hasn’t worked in the family firm: She knows she must find her career value elsewhere because the corporation’s misogyny means that no one inside it will see her as a potential heir. Because she’s a woman, she can never fully engage in her brothers’ shared delusions of being the next iteration of their father. But this same quality—her gender, her status as a mother-to-be who carries Logan’s grandchild—keeps her tethered to the company, even after her brothers have been cut out. In the finale, Tom is crowned the new CEO of Waystar Royco, and Shiv is carrying their baby.

Read: Succession ends how it began

This is the true function of Shiv’s pregnancy in Succession. Not to launch her into being a better version of herself—she is still hampered by her womanhood, ultimately discounted by Waystar Royco’s new owner Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) and her own brothers. Rather, her pregnancy signals that misery—the real birthright of the Roy children—will be inherited by the next generation.

You can see this in Shiv’s final scene, where she’s sitting next to Tom in a darkened car as he holds his hand out for hers. She stoically complies. Shiv might have facilitated Tom’s ascent, but she is—intentionally or not—repeating history, just as the child she’s carrying will. At its core, Succession is a tragedy. Each character ends their journey just as unhappy as they’ve always been. But the show is also about the legacy of tragedy. It is not enough for Logan’s kids to feel sorrow; they must also extend the family’s curse into the future.

Nina Li Coomes is a Japanese and American writer based in Chicago.

The 'Succession' Plot Point That Explained the Whole Series (2024)

FAQs

The 'Succession' Plot Point That Explained the Whole Series? ›

Maybe it was just a simple way to accommodate Snook's own pregnancy. But after the show's finale aired on Sunday, I realized that it did so much more. Shiv's imminent parenthood explained the series' fundamental themes—and provided its final tragedy.

What was the point of Succession? ›

More than capitalist gain and the question of who would inherit the company, Succession was concerned with the transition into life after a death, and if people this codependent can ever live without their loved one's guidance.

What is the plot of Succession? ›

The series centers on the Roy family, the owners of global media and entertainment conglomerate Waystar RoyCo, and their fight for control of the company amidst uncertainty about the health of the family's patriarch. Brian Cox portrays the family patriarch Logan Roy.

Why did Shiv vote against Kendall? ›

Succession's Sarah Snook explains the reason for Shiv's pivotal vote in series finale. Snook says Shiv did not appreciate seeing Kendall put his feet up on Logan Roy's desk. Feet. Oh sure, they're useful for walking around on, but they can also get you into a lot of trouble.

Whose baby is Shiv pregnant with? ›

Shiv as a single mom to a rando's child would not look attractive to the conservative Waystar board, and it especially wouldn't look good to Logan. (Plus, executive producer and writer Lucy Prebble confirmed on the official Succession podcast that Tom is the father.)

What was the big twist in Succession? ›

Logan's death, which happens off-screen, shook up the show in a big way, leaving his children scrambling to assume control of Waystar Royco. Cox has acknowleged that the twist occurred in “a pretty brilliant way”, but said he felt creator Jesse Armstrong “decided to make Logan die, I think ultimately too early”.

Why did Roman say Shiv was the bloodline? ›

Roman responds by saying that Shiv is the true bearer of the family's bloodline. He calls Kendall's children—an adopted daughter and, Roman hints, a son possibly conceived via sperm donor—a “pair of randos.” Roman's implication is that they aren't real Roys.

What is the end point of Succession? ›

This end point of succession is called climax.

Who are the family in Succession supposed to be? ›

But according to CNN, the Roys in “Succession” are most likely based on the Murdoch family, “the family of Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch.” Much like Logan, Murdoch has “always intended to pass down his company to one of his children,” but “has never named a successor” to his media conglomerate, News Corp.

Why does Shiv marry Tom in Succession? ›

To some degree, both partners understand that this marriage can benefit one another's careers. For Tom, he gets a prestigious job at the high-power Waystar Roy company. For Shiv, she gets the never-ending flow of love and support from Tom which fuels her self-esteem, allowing her to achieve milestones professionally.

Why did Siobhan betray Kendall? ›

Summary. Shiv's decision to not support Kendall in the Succession finale was not a calculated move, but rather an instinctual response rooted in her complicated relationship with her siblings.

Why did Shiv change her mind last minute? ›

Shiv's decision wasn't "calculated" and doesn't have "anything to do with helping Tom," Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Tom, told Variety. Instead, "it's just that she can't stomach her brother," and the moment of truth comes when she sees Kendall deliver his speech to the board right before the vote.

Why is Shiv betraying her brothers? ›

In a conclusion befitting an anti-fantasy, the “happy” ending comes when Shiv betrays her brothers, saving them from their own lust for power they are not equipped to handle, and agrees to sell the company. All three are robbed of the titular prize. Capitalism wins out over primogeniture.

Why did Shiv gain so much weight? ›

The reason behind Shiv Roy's weight gain

But in seasons 3 and 4 of the TV series Succession, she was so out of shape, which made viewers curious. So, what was the reason behind Sarah Snook's weight gain? Surprisingly, Sarah Snook was pregnant in parts of seasons 3 and 4 of Success, and this made her add weight.

What happens to Greg in Succession? ›

In the end, Tom keeps Greg around, despite the fact that he sold him out by telling Kendall about Matsson's plan to ditch Shiv. Tom tells Greg, “I got you,” and puts that purple sticker on his forehead. The same sticker that was being used to divide up Logan's things.

Is Shiv's baby Tom's? ›

Shiv is pregnant with Tom's baby, conceived just before their marriage collapsed, as Shiv softly cooed to him, "I don't love you." At the last possible minute, Shiv voted to let her family's company be sold to Swedish tech weirdo Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), who handed the CEO position to Tom.

What is the message of the show Succession? ›

On Succession, as in real life, rich people have easily, and often catastrophically, meddled in politics and society. It showed us how easily the wealthy misapprehend the magnitude of their power, using it to force obedience and invade the lives of others while never contemplating whether it came with obligation.

What is the goal of Succession? ›

A key function of human resource management, succession planning is the process of preparing employees to assume new roles in your organization when they become available. The goal of succession planning is to ensure a smooth transition after key employees go on sabbatical, resign, retire, or pass away.

What is the ultimate goal of Succession? ›

The ultimate goal of succession planning is to promote and hire superior people that have the passion, character, capability and track record for the job.

What is the goal of the line of succession? ›

The line of succession refers to the order of individuals who would become President if the current President (and, if applicable, those higher in the line of succession) dies, resigns, or is removed from office.

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