There’s no Iron Throne, but the stakes feel just as high.
“Succession,” the critically acclaimed drama of a Murdoch-esque feudal billionaire family, wraps up its four-season run on Sunday with the highly anticipated 88-minute finale.
And like another of HBO’s tentpole shows, “Game of Thrones,” there’s no shortage of theories on how the series will end and who will prevail. But instead of a throne, the Roy siblings are battling the vast Viastar Royco media empire.
The Shakespearean-level intrigue has prompted speculation among fans looking for clues in previous episodes, character names, and elsewhere. Even the title of the final episode, “With Open Eyes”, has been considered by critics to be an allusion to the John Berryman poem used to title each season finale.
Here are some questions that are nearing completion.
What is the situation with the Roy family?
“Succession” has been about who will ultimately run the media conglomerate founded by Logan Roy, patriarch of the combative and profane Roy family, played by Brian Cox.
For most of the series, three siblings are vying for the crown: Kendall, played by Jeremy Strong; Roman, played by Kieran Culkin; and Shiva, played by Sarah Snook. A fourth brother – Connor, played by Alan Ruck – made an ill-fated run for president instead.
By the end of season three, the siblings have buried their differences enough to attempt a corporate coup of their father – only to be betrayed by Tom Wambsgans, Shiva’s husband, played by Matthew Macfadyen.
One of the series’ most shocking twists came early in the season, when Logan was killed in order to make a deal with Gozo, a tech company.
Logan’s death and the power vacuum it creates have sparked renewed conflict between the siblings, with Kendall and Roman hoping to block the Gozo deal.
Who will prevail?
“‘Succession’ has a promise in its title,” show creator Jesse Armstrong told The New Yorker earlier this year, “a sign that there will be at least some certainty on this question.”
The season 3 finale may live up to Logan’s statement that life is a “knife fight in the mud.”
Kendall appeared in the final episode to follow in her father’s footsteps, giving an impromptu eulogy at Logan’s funeral after Roman was too sad to do so.
After aligning himself with far-right presidential candidate Jared Menken—whom Roy’s network suspiciously declared the winner—Roman’s fortunes appeared to decline and he was seen fighting protesters in the streets in the final scenes.
Shiva, meanwhile is still trying to operate the GoJo deal with a plan he has put in place that will install him as the company’s chief executive officer in the United States.
Connor, after losing every kingdom and instead supporting Menken, plans for his expected ambassadorship.
A few wild cards remain in and out of the Roy family. The eldest is Greg, played by cousin and fan favorite Nicholas Braun, who is known for his funny quotes and the verbal abuse he endures from Tom.
Who won the election?
All of this is happening against the backdrop of a volatile US election that may have been swung for Menken (Justin Kirk) with the help of Roy’s cable network and a seemingly not-so-accidental fire at a vote center in a swing state.
The scenario and the series’ Election Night episode echoed conversations between Fox News executives and talent during the defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems, which led to a nearly $800 million settlement with the network.
The fictional election results of “Succession” have both professional and personal implications for the Roy family, with Menken protesting throughout town. But even Shiva is willing to put his moral qualms aside at the prospect of making a deal with Menken.
What about Tom and Shiva?
Tom and Shiva’s marriage had become shaky before Logan cheated on her at the end of last season.
This season it’s even more so, with the two having a no-holds-barred argument at a pre-election party where both traded grievances and insults.
Shiva’s revelation to Tom on Election Night that she is pregnant leads Tom to ask her if she is telling the truth or just using a new tactic against him.
The show continues to offer some signs of affection between the two, with Shiva asking an exhausted Tom to sleep at his apartment after the funeral, but it remains to be seen whether their marriage is salvageable.
Is this really the end?
There are plenty of examples of shows that lived on after their finals. “Game of Thrones” spawned a popular prequel series, “House of the Dragon,” while “Seinfeld” got a second attempt at its much-hyped finale on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Even “The Sopranos,” known for having one of the craziest finales ever, came back with a movie seeing the debut of Tony Soprano.
Armstrong is left to revisit his character in another way, and the possibilities for doing so are endless. A Tom and Greg buddy comedy? Or maybe a Logan Roy origin story, just to reveal the first time he uttered his signature obscene phrase.