'Succession' finale: What was actually occurring with Kendall and Roman's hug?

Shakespeare would have liked Succession‘s ending. 

The present’s last episode was in all methods a tragedy, bidding a devastating farewell to the Roys and at last crowning a brand new, surprising 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 Robust) 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 seems like Roman wished Kendall to try this and was digging his head into Kendall’s shoulder purposefully. In both state of affairs, the hug was a twisted, torturous look into the brothers’ relationship, demonstrating why Roman might by no means have been CEO as long as Kendall was his massive brother. Let’s dive in. 

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

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Credit score: Macall Polay / HBO

Everybody has a special tackle what was actually occurring with that hug. We all know that Roman was abused as a toddler, and we all know that is led him to changing into a masochist, which Kendall is conscious of. It is attainable that Roman wanted to really feel ache to be comforted as a result of that is how he defines affection, and Kendall was prepared to offer him what he wanted. 

Alternatively, there’s the likelihood that Kendall was utilizing the hug to overpower Roman and remind him what he is able to. Roman’s been Kendall’s punching bag since they had been children; he actually used to lock Roman in a canine cage as a part of a sport. 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 the best way to undo him. 

There’s the third risk that Roman wished to look more durable forward of the board assembly, and what higher method to look cool and picked up than exhibiting as much as a gathering with a bleeding scar in your brow? The hug might have performed into all these situations on the identical time! Kendall was comforting his brother the one means 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? 

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Credit score: Macall B. Polay / HBO

After seeing Gerri stroll round at Waystar, Roman begins panicking and begins asking why he is not CEO, how might 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 pondering he “pussied out.” Why did seeing Gerri set off all of that? 

Effectively, Gerri is a residing embodiment of every thing 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 predominant confederate, with the pair frequently scheming towards Kendall and Shiv (Sarah Snook). However Roman in the end 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 might have helped him — lest I remind you of her unimaginable burn on the tailgate social gathering.

Via Gerri, Roman sees all of the errors he is 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 would not wish to look weak or improper in entrance of her. When he sees her at Waystar proper earlier than the board assembly, it is like he realized how a lot he failed this season, however extra importantly, how a lot he would not need it to look like he is failed — which will get us to the hug. 

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

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Credit score: HBO

Earlier than the hug, Roman was hyper-fixating on his stitches, repeatedly mentioning that they “look high-quality.” The latter echoes one thing he is been ceaselessly saying since his father’s passing — he is high-quality and doing OK. However Roman is not 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 is been feeling this season. Though it is stitched up, it might simply be popped, as a result of it isn’t executed therapeutic. Roman is not executed therapeutic. He is arguably damaged past restore and is not 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 is like Kendall was acknowledging how fragile Roman is, how simple it’s for Kendall to interrupt him, and the way, due to his fragility, he cannot be CEO. Roman breaks and Kendall does the breaking. That is been their dynamic since childhood. It continues to be their dynamic as adults, and the hug was a reminder of that. 

In a wierd means, Kendall was comforting Roman by reminding him that he might 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 ought to be those untangling the stitches, not those being stitched up. The hug additionally noticed Roman accepting that his wounds have not 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 are not CEO since you’ve obtained numerous emotional baggage that hasn’t healed but. And perhaps that is a better capsule 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 would not actually matter on the finish of the day, as a result of it would not 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 in the end discover consolation in. He is the child brother who wants numerous remedy, and also you finest consider Kendall will all the time be there to remind him of that. 

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