The end’s not near, it’s here. While Succession creator Jesse Armstrong and his cast have often expressed that they only see the HBO one-percenter drama running four or five seasons, Thursday night Armstrong revealed to The New Yorker that the conclusion to the Roy family saga is coming sooner than anyone expected: the upcoming fourth season set to begin on March 26 will also be the final.
In the interim since the series was renewed in 2021 to now, intentions to make season 4 the end were never explicitly expressed. But Armstrong tells The New Yorker that he’s been loosely strategizing the show’s endgame since as early as season 2.
“I got together with a few of my fellow-writers before we started the writing of Season 4, in about November, December, 2021, and I sort of said, ‘Look, I think this maybe should be it,’” Armstrong said. “And we played out various scenarios: We could do a couple of short seasons, or two more seasons. Or we could go on for ages and turn the show into something rather different, and be a more rangy, freewheeling kind of fun show, where there would be good weeks and bad weeks. Or we could do something a bit more muscular and complete, and go out sort of strong. And that was definitely always my preference.” Bittersweet though it may be, as Armstrong implies here, the series was inevitably always ill-suited to being a long-running one.
Still, from the way Armstrong describes the process, the decision wasn’t cemented immediately. “I went into the writing room for Season 4 sort of saying, ‘I think this is what we’re doing, but let’s also keep it open’…And the decision to end solidified through the writing and even when we started filming.” As for the bait-and-switch, Armstrong says he found the idea of announcing the end to the public as they were writing it “perverse,” and even toyed with fully not revealing their intentions even as the series aired.
“I quite like that idea, creatively, because then the audience is just able to enjoy everything as it comes, without trying to figure things out, or perceiving things in a certain way once they know it’s the final season. I feel a responsibility to the viewership, and I personally wouldn’t like the feeling of, ‘Oh, that’s it, guys. That was the end.’ I think I would like to know it is coming to an end.”
The series finale vibes were already lowkey in the air earlier this week by way of Jeremy Strong, who plays tortured middle son Kendall Roy. In his GQ cover story, Strong, who is committed to portraying Kendall’s anguish sometimes at his own emotional expense, hinted at this season being the last. “I feel a sense of really wanting to, now that we’re at the one-yard line, finish this season and possibly the show, in a way that delivers a real payload of what this journey has been,” he said, while admitting saying goodbye to Kendall will “feel like a death.”
Succession returns on March 26, with a season premiere that, in a somewhat full circle moment, opens on Logan Roy’s birthday, just as the pilot did.