Jeremy Strong’s “Succession” series finale performance as Kendall

THE ACTOR | Jeremy Strong

THE SHOW | successor

THE RESULT | “With Eyes Open” (May 28, 2023)

THE PERFORMANCE | This week’s series finale should be a crowning glory for Kendall Roy. Instead, it was the latest in a series of humiliating defeats and the ultimate, as Kendall failed in his bid to succeed his late father Logan as CEO of Waystar Royco. But at the same time it was a suitably great closing act for Strong, as he found exquisite pathos in Kendall’s downfall and put the finishing touches to one of the best TV performances of the last decade.

Kendall was in high gear early in the series finale and was extremely confident that he would become CEO. We’ve seen this boast from Kendall before, and it always ends badly for him, but Strong still gave Kendall an unsinkable zest that was so close to his life goal he could taste it. He even showed us a lighter side of the famous petrified-faced Roy scion, smiling (!) and fooling around with his siblings, Strong lending just a hint of childlike glee to Kendall’s infinitely complex personality. However, when it came time for the grand board vote, Kendall overdid his hand, and when Shiv hesitated to cast her deciding vote for him, he threw a rage, barking orders at her like Logan used to do to them. As Kendall felt his chances of becoming CEO dwindling, Strong’s expression softened and Kendall began to plead, “If I can’t do this…I could die.” He was like a kid who was denied his favorite toy, and he was lashed out at those closest to him, reaffirmed his original authority (“I’m the eldest boy!”), and physically attacked Roman for daring to bring up his children’s parentage. Strong masterfully played every emotional note along the way, while Kendall desperately clung to the one thing he’d always wanted… only to watch it float away.

When the vote was over and Kendall was denied the CEO post, he slipped into a catatonic state and Strong wore deep disappointment on his face. He didn’t say another word of the dialogue after that, and he didn’t have to, while Kendall’s tear-filled eyes and slumped shoulders said it all for him. He wandered outside in a daze, not knowing what to do with himself after his beloved crown was ripped out of his hands before he could even put it on. It was a tragic ending for a tragic character, and while Kendall was far from perfect, Strong’s unforgettable performance made his flaws intriguing to the last take.

Scroll down to see who received an honorable mention this week…

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