Succession is about as far away from genre television as you can get. With ripped-from-the-headlines plots and clear parallels to Rupert Murdoch, the HBO series is a twisted mirror into the secret alliances and betrayals that shape life in America and around the world. But as Succession races towards its big finale, we’re starting to wonder how the show will end. And the most recent episode suggests the series could dip into a classic science fiction subgenre in its final chapters: the post-apocalypse.
Yes, really. Don’t believe me? Let’s dive in.
Warning! Huge spoilers ahead for Succession Season 4 Episode 8.
Succession and the future of America
Succession Season 4 Episode 8, “America Decides” follows the Roy siblings on the eve of an American presidential election between a far-right demagogue and what appears to be a generic center-left politician (the Democratic candidate barely gets any screentime, let alone a political message). Behind the scenes, Roman, Kendall, and Siobhan Roy all argue over how ATN, the cable network launched by their dead father, should cover the election — especially after a fire at a Milwaukee polling site burns up what were likely a few hundred thousand crucial votes that probably would have leaned Democrat.
Roman (who’s long allied himself with the Republican candidate, Jeryd Mencken) seizes the opportunity and pushes to declare Wisconsin for Mencken. This gives him the advantage he needs to eventually win the election, at least according to ATN. As the network airs his victory speech, it’s heavily implied that if Roman and his siblings hadn’t gotten involved, the results could have been very different.
This may sound like the opposite of science fiction, but Succession is quietly dropping hints that this election won’t be resolved this easily — or peacefully.
Will Succession end with an apocalypse?
It may sound ridiculous, but HBO’s prestige drama seems to be veering into a near-future hellscape. The election portrayed in Succession Episode 8 elevates the real-life tensions we’ve all experienced. Days earlier on the street, Kendall’s daughter is apparently pushed by a man who supports ATN’s most far-right talking head. And beyond the election-night fire (which everyone seems to think was carried out by extremists from the other side), we also hear about sketchy vans picking up would-be voters in Florida only to ditch them on the side of the highway.
The episode’s final scenes also make it clear that the election isn’t over. Disputes over the results in Wisconsin could play out in court for months, dragging out the results and fueling political tensions across the country. It’s not hard to imagine that the remaining episodes of Succession could depict or at least allude to further extremist attacks (perhaps a parallel to the real-life insurrection on January 6, 2021) or even the start of an all-out conflict between America’s two divided sides.
After all, what better way to end a show all about Rupert Murdoch and the damage he did to society (and his own family) than by imagining a scenario in which his network literally leads to the end of America as we know it? It might be a stretch, but Succession has to end somehow, and we doubt this finale is going to be a happy one.