Let's Unpack the 'Succession' Season 3 Finale

Tom Wambsgans has entered the chat.

Succession season 3 ending
(Image credit: HBO)

Succession’s third season drew to a close on December 12 with a masterful episode that mirrored the season premiere, leaving Logan, as always, top dog in a game his kids just can't beat him at.

Here’s everything that went down in the season's ninth episode, “All the Bells Say,” written by show creator Jesse Armstrong. 

So, what happened in the season 3 finale of Succession?

The season 3 finale begins with Logan (Brian Cox) reading to his grandson as the rest of the Roy family partakes in a wholesome yet telling game of Monopoly at their Tuscan villa. (You’ll not be surprised to learn that Shiv (Sarah Snook) cheats a lot at this game. But take note of Tom’s “Get Out of Jail Free” cards that act as both a callback to earlier in the season and foreshadows his betrayal later in the episode.) We learn that Kendall (Jeremy Strong) was hospitalized for nearly drowning after falling off a pool float at the end of the episode 8. Kendall claims it was an accident, though the rest of his family are worried knowing it was more than likely an attempt at suicide. Shiv even attempts to stage an intervention for her brother that dissolves into a brutal screaming match.

Logan and Roman (Kieran Culkin) head to Lake Como to visit Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) to iron out a “merger of equals.” Matsson quickly gains the upper hand and offers Logan an intriguing deal: GoJo buys Waystar, Matsson takes control of the board, and Logan cashes out. Matsson even promises that Roman will have a place in the new company structure. On that note, Logan sends Roman back to Tuscany for his mom’s wedding.

Caroline (Harriet Walter) and Peter Munion’s (Pip Torrens) wedding continues. Shiv delivers a heartwarmingly passive aggressive toast at the reception but before the reception, she begins to realize something is amiss with the GoJo deal. Shiv corners Roman and Kendall, sharing her hunch that Logan plans to sell the company. Roman hides that he was aware of Matsson’s offer while Kendall has an emotional breakdown and reveals how he was involved in the death of the waiter at Shiv’s wedding. “Shiv, I’m not here,” he says. “I’m not feeling very connected to my children or my endeavors right now...I’m not a good person.” In a shockingly tender turn of events, Shiv and Roman rally around their brother and assuage his guilt.

Kendall’s dirt road revelations draw the siblings together; they collectively decide (well, Roman does require some hand holding) to take down their father—it’s the coup Kendall wanted since the season 2 finale. They know that Logan needs a supermajority to push the sale through, and thanks to a stipulation in Logan and Caroline’s divorce settlement, the siblings hold enough shares to block any sweeping changes. In the car ride to Logan’s hotel, Shiv calls Tom and shares their plan.

When the kids finally reach dear ol’ dad, they attempt to reason with him as he mocks their efforts and explains, in anger, that they deserve to be left flapping in the wind and will finally need to work to achieve something like he had to. Logan then reveals that he got to Caroline already and convinced her to give up the kids’ shares—though Shiv, Kendall, and Roman can’t figure out how he was one step ahead of them. (Logan is always one step ahead, kids.) Roman tries to appeal to Gerri who, after dealing with Roman’s dick pic disaster, has retreated to Logan’s corner. Logan leaves as Tom enters, and the kids are left inconsolable and in shock. 

Succession season 3

(Image credit: HBO)

What did Tom Wambsgans do in the Succession finale?

There’s a new number 1 boy in town! Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) makes the biggest power move of the season (and his life) by betraying Shiv and telling Logan his kids’ plan to shut down the sale of Waystar Royco. After Shiv tells Tom their idea to use their holding company’s shares to block the supermajority vote needed for Logan’s sale, Tom takes the information straight to the big guy, giving Logan the necessary time needed to call his ex-wife and renegotiate the divorce deal that gave the kids the shares in the first place. 

Tom’s double cross comes to light in the final moments of the episode as Tom joins the group and Logan gives his son-in-law a passing, thankful pat on the shoulder. Shiv sees the moment and bursts into tears coming to terms with her husband’s betrayal (and perhaps realizing that Tom has been a mole for Logan all season long—remember the donuts at Rava’s house?!). It’s not clear if Tom knows that Shiv has figured it all out (or if Kendall and Roman have) but it is clear how Tom came to this duplicitous decision. He quietly grew closer to Logan all season long, even offering to be the one who does jail time on behalf of the company. And as the season progressed, Tom stopped seeing Shiv and his relationship through rose-colored glasses, realizing that Shiv was rarely, if ever, concerned with Tom’s status at Waystar. Tom, though, does manage to stay loyal to his real partner-in-crime, Greg (Nicholas Braun). Tom offers Greg in on his plan and convinces him that if he chooses Team Logan he’ll end off much better than he could’ve imagined. (For his part, Greg spent most of his time in Italy preoccupied with landing a date with a Contessa from Luxembourg.) 

And, um, what about Connor Roy?

The eldest Roy child has a mini-breakdown at Kendall’s impromptu intervention after realizing his siblings don’t take him seriously (or ever remember that he is, in fact, Logan’s first-born son). But all’s well that ends well (kind of) because a very reluctant Willa finally agrees to Connor’s marriage proposal with a rousing, “How bad can it be?” If you think that relationship is going to end well, you might as well go on and fuck off now. 

What have the actors revealed about the finale? 

In speaking with GQ, Macfadyen revealed that they filmed several versions of the final scene. "There were a couple where I was away from Sarah, and some where I came up to her. It was quite loose, as [filming] often is," he said. The take which  made it into the final episode was the one when Shiv sees Tom and Logan exchange pleasantries but Kendall and Roman do not, setting up an interesting premise for the start of the next season. "It was brilliant to come into that room, with what’s hanging in the air following Logan shouting and screaming. It’s a powerful atmosphere to walk into," the actor added. Macfadyen also believes that while Tom's decision to betray his wife was building all season (recall his reaction to Shiv's "sexy talk" saying she doesn't love him), the phone call she makes from the car—where she isn't able to pinpoint Tom's role in their new company—sealed the deal. "Shiv might very well have put it a different way and he would’ve gone along with it," he said to the GQ.

And in a post-finale interview with EW, Sarah Snook confirmed that while Shiv did see the Tom-Logan exchange, Shiv was hiding from Tom that she was aware of his power move. "In that take, it felt natural, because Tom had closed in with physical proximity," Snook said. "I was like, 'Get away from me. I can't hide my hurt to your face convincingly. So I'll pretend the hurt is from something else.'"

The actress also gave insight into Shiv's inner monologue during those final moments of the season, saying to EW that Shiv likely won't blame herself for pushing Tom to Logan's side.

"I think in that moment, she's not like, 'Oh, wow, this is my fault. I've got a real come to Jesus moment.' It's probably more just like, 'I can't believe my husband did the dirty on me. I've got nowhere to turn now. My mom's abandoned me. My dad's been revealed to be the devil, and my husband has signed a pact with him. So I've got nowhere to turn. And really, will I run to my brothers?' That doesn't seem [likely]," Snook said.

She also shared how that emotional, dirt road scene between Kendall, Shiv, and Roman came together, revealing that the iconic shot of Kendall sitting on the ground with Shiv's hand placed on his head was improvised. "That was instinct to put my hand on his head," she said to EW. "She is obviously sympathetic and empathetic to what he is going through, what it is. But it's like, do we believe this immediately?" she said, adding, "She feels that she has to be more responsible on one of them, which is the business side of things, because her brothers are not capable at that moment. But then she's not a completely ice queen, cold-hearted bitch." 

Entertainment Director

Neha Prakash is Marie Claire's Entertainment Director, where she edits, writes, and ideates culture and current event features with a focus on elevating diverse voices and stories in film and television. She steers and books the brand's print and digital covers as well as oversees the talent and production on MC's video franchises like "How Well Do You Know Your Co-Star?" and flagship events, including the Power Play summit. Since joining the team in early 2020, she's produced entertainment packages about buzzy television shows and films, helped oversee culture SEO content, commissioned op-eds from notable writers, and penned widely-shared celebrity profiles and interviews. She also assists with social coverage around major red carpet events, having conducted celebrity interviews at the Met Gala, Oscars, and Golden Globes. Prior to Marie Claire, she held editor roles at Brides, Glamour, Mashable, and Condé Nast, where she launched the Social News Desk. Her pop culture, breaking news, and fashion coverage has appeared on Vanity Fair, GQ, Allure, Teen Vogue, and Architectural Digest. She earned a masters degree from the Columbia School of Journalism in 2012 and a Bachelor of Arts degree from The Pennsylvania State University in 2010. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and dog, Ghost; she loves matcha lattes, Bollywood movies, and has many hot takes about TV reboots. Follow her on Instagram @nehapk.