Season 2 of Succession ended like a very warped prelude to Gilligan’s Island. Like Gilligan and his passengers, the Succession crew went out on a boat. Only instead of running aground on an uncharted desert isle, the yacht trip set the stage for a killing – a metaphorical one, anyway.
Brian Cox, who has played his share of killers, gave an interview to Variety in which he expressed admiration for the finale while being coy (of course) about how things might turn out. And who better to keep secrets than an actor playing a character who extols the virtues of killing?
What happened in the season finale?
The show tells the story of a powerfully rich and powerfully corrupt family that brings to mind the media empire of the Murdochs of Fox News fame.
Logan, played by Cox, has told his son Kendall, “You’re not a killer. You have to be a killer.”
He was referring, one presumes, to being ruthless in ambition, to climbing all over others to ensure total victory in the end. Only the way this show makes it sound, “killer” might have more than one meaning.
The finale opened with the Roys and their associates making their way to a yacht, with the Logan’s son Roman (Kieran Culkin) at the forefront of their minds. He managed to secure the funds to take Waystar private, although that deal has not been finalized. However. If the Roys don’t go private, someone’s getting tossed out of the balloon,” said Laird, played Danny Huston.
Kendall (Jeremy Strong) was selected to be the blood sacrifice – but then Kendall turned the tables and went public, holding a press conference to lay bare all his father’s misdeeds, which have been the main source of rot. Only instead of being aghast, Logan seems to have a subtle smile on his face.
What does Brian Cox say about the show?
Asked about that grin by Variety, Cox said Kendall has “obviously gone public, so he’s achieved his first steps towards killing. His father is both impressed and kind of got a frisson from it.” In other words, rather like the Emperor in Star Wars, he’s pleased to see his vision coming true — so far, at least.
Cox knows this ground well, having played many a foreboding figure. Though most people have Anthony Hopkins fixed in their minds as Hannibal Lecter, it was actually Cox who played that character first in the 1986 movie Manhunter, directed by Michael Mann.
Other villainous figures Cox has played include Stryker in the second X-Men movie and Ward Abbott in the Jason Bourne movies.
For Cox, Roman still remains the X-factor in Succession on whom the whole story could turn. Saying that Roman has come of age, the sly character seems to have a better sense than expected of who’s manipulating whom. As Cox puts it, “We’ve got Roman to look forward to next season.”
How has ‘Succession’ been received?
Succession did indeed get a third season, having officially been renewed last August, with the Hollywood Reporter going so far as to call the show “a post-Game of Thrones flagship for HBO.”
It might have to be, given that HBO pulled the plug on a Game of Thrones prequel even though a pilot starring Naomi Watts had been shot. Another GoT prequel is in the works, but for now, Succession might be the best the outlet has to offer.
The show received five Emmy nominations this year, winning an award for writing. In a statement, HBO said of the show, “In today’s world where the intersection of politics and media is increasingly prevalent, Succession presents an especially piercing look behind the curtain of this elite, influential, and cutthroat community.”