‘Succession’ finale: Kendall and Roman’s bizarre hug, defined

Shakespeare would have liked Succession‘s ending. 

The present’s ultimate episode was in all methods a tragedy, bidding a devastating farewell to the Roys and at last crowning a brand new, sudden CEO — Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen). However inside Succession‘s dramatic final hour had been a string of moments simmering with symbolism and painfully jarring perception into how a lot the Roys have undone one another. One explicit standout second that has the web at wit’s finish is Kendall (Jeremy Sturdy) and Roman’s (Kieran Culkin) extremely unsettling “hug” proper earlier than the conclusive board assembly inaugurating the brand new CEO

The scene is a painful watch that begins with Kendall hugging Roman to consolation him, after which spirals into Kendall forcefully pushing Roman’s head onto his shoulders to undo the stitches on his brow. On a second watch, it looks like Roman had wished Kendall to do this and was digging his head into Kendall’s shoulder purposefully. In both situation, the hug was a twisted, torturous look into the brothers’ relationship, demonstrating why Roman may by no means have been CEO as long as Kendall was his huge brother. Let’s dive in. 

What are some methods we will interpret Roman and Kendall’s hug? 

Credit score: Macall Polay / HBO

Everybody has a unique tackle what was actually occurring with that hug. We all know that Roman was abused as a baby, and we all know that’s led him to turning into a masochist, which Kendall is conscious of. It’s attainable that Roman wanted to really feel ache to be comforted as a result of that’s how he defines affection, and Kendall was keen to provide him what he wanted. 

However, there’s the chance that Kendall was utilizing the hug to overpower Roman and remind him what he’s able to. Roman’s been Kendall’s punching bag since they had been youngsters; he actually used to lock Roman in a canine cage as a part of a recreation. Roman spiraling about being CEO was a chance for Kendall to reassert his dominance and remind his youthful brother that he is aware of precisely learn how to undo him. 

There’s the third chance that Roman had wished to look more durable forward of the board assembly, and what higher solution to look cool and picked up than exhibiting as much as a gathering with a bleeding scar in your brow? The hug may have performed into all these situations on the similar time! Kendall was comforting his brother the one manner he knew how. He was overpowering him. And he was serving to him get emotionally prepared for the board assembly. However the true symbolism of the hug emerges after we keep in mind that Roman solely wanted one as a result of he noticed Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron). 

Why did Roman panic after seeing Gerri? 

A woman wearing a grey dress and hat, and a man wearing a suit, talk at an upscale function.

Credit score: Macall B. Polay / HBO

After seeing Gerri stroll round at Waystar, Roman begins panicking and begins asking why he isn’t CEO, how may it not be him when his stitches are therapeutic (we’ll get to the symbolism of that in a bit), and expressing his considerations about folks considering he “pussied out.” Why did seeing Gerri set off all of that? 

Properly, Gerri is a dwelling embodiment of all the pieces Roman’s been doing for the previous 4 seasons to get the CEO spot. Regardless of the dick pics and kink speak, Gerri was nonetheless Roman’s fundamental confederate, with the pair frequently scheming towards Kendall and Shiv (Sarah Snook). However Roman finally failed Gerri when he fired her this season and left her with no selection however to threaten him and remind him of all of the methods she may have helped him — lest I remind you of her unimaginable burn on the tailgate occasion.

By way of Gerri, Roman sees all of the errors he’s made this season — errors he thought can be validated as quickly as he was CEO. And regardless of his denial of it, Roman really cares what Gerri thinks of him and doesn’t wish to look weak or mistaken in entrance of her. When he sees her at Waystar proper earlier than the board assembly, it’s like he realized how a lot he failed this season, however extra importantly, how a lot he doesn’t need it to look like he’s failed — which will get us to the hug. 

What was actually occurring with Kendall and Roman’s hug? 

A man sits on a park bench during sunset.

Credit score: HBO

Earlier than the hug, Roman was hyper-fixating on his stitches, repeatedly mentioning that they “look fantastic.” The latter echoes one thing he’s been ceaselessly saying since his father’s passing — he’s fantastic and doing OK. However Roman isn’t OK. Out of all his siblings, Roman’s been hit with grief the toughest. 

I apologize for sounding like an English lit instructor, however the scar on Roman’s brow is a metaphor for all the injuries he’s been feeling this season. Though it’s stitched up, it could possibly simply be popped, as a result of it’s not achieved therapeutic. Roman isn’t achieved therapeutic. He’s arguably damaged past restore and isn’t doing something about it, which Kendall realizes. 


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Kendall opening up Roman’s stitches was as a lot a reminder of his dominance as an older brother as it’s a reminder of Roman’s psychological state. It’s like Kendall was acknowledging how fragile Roman is, how straightforward it’s for Kendall to interrupt him, and the way, due to his fragility, he can’t be CEO. Roman breaks and Kendall does the breaking. That’s been their dynamic since childhood. It continues to be their dynamic as adults, and the hug was a reminder of that. 

In an odd manner, Kendall was comforting Roman by reminding him that he may by no means be CEO, not solely out of his personal faults, however as a result of Kendall exists as an infinite impediment. In Kendall’s eyes, CEOs needs to be those untangling the stitches, not those being stitched up. The hug additionally noticed Roman accepting that his wounds haven’t healed, proudly carrying his scars (each bodily and metaphorical) to the board assembly. And by opening his stitches, Kendall was giving him a salve or an excuse — you aren’t CEO since you’ve received a number of emotional baggage that hasn’t healed but. And perhaps that’s a better tablet to swallow than accepting you had been by no means proper for the job to start with. 

Whether or not or not the hug was towards Roman’s will doesn’t actually matter on the finish of the day, as a result of it doesn’t take something away from its supposed symbolism. It was an assertion of energy. It was an embodiment of Roman’s fragility. It was a twisted saving grace for Roman to finally discover consolation in. He’s the newborn brother who wants a number of remedy, and also you biggest consider Kendall will at all times be there to remind him of that. 

All seasons of Succession are actually streaming on Max.(opens in a brand new tab)