‘Succession’ Fans Brace for Series Finale of Emmy-Winning Hit Drama

This image released by HBO shows Justin Kirk as Jeryd Mencken in a scene from the series "Succession." (HBO via AP)
This image released by HBO shows Justin Kirk as Jeryd Mencken in a scene from the series "Succession." (HBO via AP)
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‘Succession’ Fans Brace for Series Finale of Emmy-Winning Hit Drama

This image released by HBO shows Justin Kirk as Jeryd Mencken in a scene from the series "Succession." (HBO via AP)
This image released by HBO shows Justin Kirk as Jeryd Mencken in a scene from the series "Succession." (HBO via AP)

Jennifer Gould, an Oregon-based trusts and estates lawyer, thinks the premise of “Succession” – HBO’s hit series chronicling a billionaire media mogul and his children’s struggles to take over the family company — is a little flawed.

“The idea that they wouldn’t have a firm succession plan in place is ridiculous,” Gould said.

Still, she has set aside Monday for “crying and grieving” after watching the hotly anticipated series finale airing Sunday evening.

With the critically acclaimed drama's fourth and final season ending, dedicated fans of “Succession” are locking in plans to watch the whopping 88-minute finale while turning online for emotional support, memes and endless theories about how the show could end and who will prevail.

“No one I know in real life watches the show,” Gould said, adding that the emotional toll of season four made her look for support online, which is how she landed on the social news website Reddit, where a chat dedicated to all things “Succession” has more than 456,000 members.

In preparation for Sunday, Gould also is rereading “King Lear,” among Shakespeare’s bleakest tragedies, about a declining monarch and his children’s battle for the crown. Gould thinks the play could offer clues to how the series will end.

“It’s fairly obvious that it’s a loose retelling of King Lear,” Gould said of “Succession.” “I watch it obsessively. I don’t think there’s another way to watch it.”

“Succession” always has been about the membership of its audience, not its size, and its popularity among the coastal media and agenda-setting groups that the show depicts and attracts means the finale should leave a cultural mark.

More recent prestige TV finales are a better analogue for “Succession” than those of the network behemoths of decades past. For example, “The Sopranos” suddenly cutting to black to the song “Don’t Stop Believin’” in 2007 set the standard for both talkability and inscrutability.

Pamela Soin, a management consultant in New York City, said the end of the monumental New Jersey mob saga was the only finale generating more excitement than “Succession” for her “because that was after seven years of investment.”

Soin and a group of friends have watched every “Succession” episode this season with a serious ritual.

“We turn off all the lights, cinema style, put on the surround sound and watch in complete silence,” Soin said. “Then we have a debrief.”

But Soin said she'll be alone for the final episode because of the Memorial Day holiday weekend in the US.

On social media platforms including Twitter, Reddit and the chatting app Discord, popular among gamers, “Succession” fans share countless memes and swirling theories about which of the Murdoch-esque Roy family members, corporate executives and hangers-on will prevail in the finale. Fans have searched for clues in past episodes, characters' names, the show's opening sequence and elsewhere.

Show creator Jesse Armstrong told The New Yorker earlier this year “there’s a promise in the title of ‘Succession,’” which some have taken as a sign that the show's central question will be answered.

Soin thinks the finale will leave many unresolved plot lines and questions open to interpretation.

“I love how they handle a lot of things off-camera,” Soin said of the show's writers, who throughout the series have peppered pivotal backstories of the main characters in later scenes and passing conversations.

“Just like in real life, you find out about things that happened when you weren’t there,” Soin said.

Conclusions to hit TV series can be hit-or-miss. The bloody 2013 ending of Walter White’s story on “Breaking Bad,” and Don Draper’s more zen ending on “Mad Men” in 2015, generally satisfied their finicky fans. The 2019 conclusion of “Game of Thrones” — the last big finish for an HBO show — generally did not. Endings are hard to pull off and disappointment tends to be the norm, to which the makers of “Seinfeld” and “Lost” can attest.

HBO has been able to ratchet up suspense ahead of Sunday's “Succession” finale in part by airing only one episode per week, a decision that fans who grew up in the streaming age may be too young to remember was once the norm for TV series.

Suraj Nandy, a 20-year-old college student from Bengaluru, India, said he was counting down the hours until Sunday's finale, which airs at 6:30 a.m. local time.

“I'm going to huddle, get a blanket and snacks and sit there in awe,” Nandy said.

An economics student at Canada's University of Western Ontario, Nandy said he was disappointed by the “Game of Thrones” conclusion and had watched all of “Breaking Bad,” too, but considers “Succession” “easily, by far, my favorite show of the bunch.”

As for his finale plans, Nandy said he'll join some friends online for a virtual watch party. But it won't end there.

“I’ll probably cry for a couple of days and then watch it again,” Nandy said. “I’d like to reexperience the whole thing in one sitting.”



A Grandmother Goes for High-Action Stunts in 'Thelma'

Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
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A Grandmother Goes for High-Action Stunts in 'Thelma'

Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

At 94 years old, actor June Squibb had to convince filmmakers that she could do a lot of her own stunts in the action-packed comedy film "Thelma," about a grandmother seeking revenge.
"It was great fun, and I came into it having read the script and deciding, 'Well, I think I could do that,'" Squibb said.
She did almost all of the motor scooter stunts and a physically demanding scene in an antique store, Reuters said.
The Magnolia Pictures film, directed by Josh Margolin, follows a grandmother named Thelma who goes on a stunt-filled rampage to seek revenge against telephone scammers who took $10,000 of her savings.
The film also stars Fred Hechinger, who portrays Thelma's grandson.
Margolin said Squibb channeled her "inner Tom Cruise" very effectively as she became more and more comfortable doing her own stunts as filming progressed.
"I got more crazy about it," Squibb said, noting that while she may be in her 90s, she feels 35.
"Thelma" arrives in theaters on Friday.
Squibb's level of energy was not surprising to Hechinger after seeing her work prior to filming "Thelma."
"We met before we started filming, we just developed a friendship and a kind of artistic kinship, so I was well aware of her magic," Hechinger said.
Coming from a career spanning from Broadway to film and television, Squibb has portrayed a diversity of roles throughout her decades-long career. She was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actress for the 2013 film "Nebraska."
While the film is a comedy, for Margolin, it sheds light on how many elderly people are targeted by scammers, including his own grandmother.
"My grandma got a call like that, my family got concerned like that, and then luckily in real-life we were able to step in before she sent the money," Margolin said.
"The things she's doing are fictionalized but the character is still very drawn from a lot of elements of my real grandma, and little moments and little details and little phrases are kind of woven throughout there," Margolin added.
The film currently has a 98% rating on the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics praising Squibb's performance.
For Squibb, it's especially important that women around her age can see the movie.
"We have been at screenings, and especially older women are seeing it and coming out just glowing. They just are enjoying it so much," Squibb said.
"One woman showed us what she would do if she had a scooter. She went through the whole thing of riding a scooter for us. I just think that's wonderful. I'm so proud of that, that someone can see it and it can give them such joy," Squibb added.