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Clearing up the intended order of ‘Succession’

Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in "Succession."HBO via AP

Well, well, well. The debate that has rivaled “the chicken or the egg” finally has a resolution. In the fourth episode of the final season of “Succession,” after Logan Roy dies, Frank finds a piece of paper that seems to name his son Kendall as the successor. But then there is a line drawn either under or through Kendall’s typed name, which means Logan either meant to emphasize the rightness of his choice or cross it out due to a change of mind.

Was Kendall highlighted or deleted?: That was the big question. Ultimately, as fans well know, Tom Wambsgans wound up in charge in a surprising, ironic twist. But for a few weeks in the spring, we wondered whether Kendall might be ascendant.


Now there is an answer to the question — or at least now there is series creator Jesse Armstrong’s answer to the question, based on what he intended. At an event in London over the weekend, Armstrong said, “If you were going to cross out, you wouldn’t start underneath, would you?” he told the audience, which responded with laughter and applause. Kendall’s name was, after all the strife and betrayals he went through with his father, underlined.

At the event, Armstrong also explained that, while “Succession” was still on the air, he resisted answering these kinds of questions. “I hated pulling apart the show while we were still making it. I felt [they were] discussions we should have in the [writers’] room. Now it’s all over, I’m very happy to … spoil it by telling you what I think about everything.”

I like that approach. Let the show speak for itself, ambiguities and all.

Series creator Jesse Armstrong.Lia Toby/Getty Images/file

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.