Succession series finale explained: why did Shiv vote yes?

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Succession has been one of the most followed TV series of the latest years, and it’s no surprise to see fans hungry for more content and discussion after its ending. The series finale landed on HBO on May 29, 2023, leaving everyone baffled about the plot twist at the end: what initially looked like an easy vote where the board would refuse the GoJo deal and name Kendall CEO for the future of Waystar became literally hell when Shiv stood up, changed his mind and voted yes. Shiv’s decision tells us much about her psychology: did she do it because she would be with Tom? What were her motives? Let’s have it carefully explained.

You can watch HBO’s “Inside the episode” video for Succession‘s finale here on Youtube.

Succession finale explained: why did Shiv change her mind and vote yes? What happens between her and Tom?

Let’s recap how we arrived at the key scene of Succession finale, where the board voted for the GoJo deal: just the night before, Matsson expressed doubts about his previous agreement with Shiv, revealing to several people that he would prefer another person as Waystar’s American CEO. He most likely fears Shiv as a woman with a strong character and wants someone more docile. That’s why he finally identifies Tom as the perfect candidate. But Greg leaks this information, triggering a complex confrontation among the Roy siblings. Surprisingly, they reach the first collective agreement ever: they will vote all together for Kendall as the new CEO, burning the GoJo deal. And based on the vote’s intention that morning, they have the numbers.

The vote starts. Kendall is pretty confident and wants to vote as quickly as possible. The voting round begins; six of them vote “yes” supporting the GoJo deal, and six (including Roman) vote no, supporting Kendall as the new CEO. Shiv is the last one to vote for the real Succession of the company. She never expressed doubts until that moment. Kendall feels he has won already. 

But Shiv stands up and leaves the room; she says she needs a minute. Kendall panics; he goes to the other room with Roman, and the tragedy explodes: she won’t vote for Kendall; she will vote “yes” to the GoJo deal. There is a fight between the siblings, then Shiv returns to the voting room to complete the betrayal. The GoJo deal passes, marking the end of the Roy dynasty as part of the Waystar’s board.

Why did Shiv change her mind and vote “yes” in Succession finale? The arguments she brings against Kendall are not really solid. She recalls the man Kendall killed in Season 1, but that has never been significant for her decisions so far. Shiv and Roman also bring in the “bloodline” concept, calling Ken’s kids “randos,” implying he’s not their biological father. None of this really matters, though, for Kendall to be Waystar’s CEO. Nevertheless, Shiv leaves the room while Roman and Kendall fight and votes yes, closing the GoJo deal and breaking her relationship with Kendall for the last time.

The truth is that Shiv didn’t plan all that. The way she acted was definitely impulsive. She didn’t have a safety net; she had no agreement in place with Matsson, and no certain harmony with Tom (who will be the CEO appointed by Matsson). She’s always been a cold, calculating mind for the whole series, but now, for the first time, she makes a huge decision without proper planning or assessment.

Shiv’s decision in the series finale is the symbol that explained to us how everything in the Succession world is volatile, based only on greed, unsupported by any fundamentals or any robust logic. People were supposed to vote for Kendall not because they genuinely believed in his vision but because everybody would benefit from it. When it was Shiv’s moment to vote, she just realized something pretty simple: “if I vote ‘no,’ if I support Kendall, he will be the CEO, and I won’t.” Following the simple instinct that drives every Roy in Succession: everything they do has always been oriented to gain something on a personal level. And although voting “yes” doesn’t guarantee anything specific to Shiv, she just couldn’t easily vote for Kendall, in a decision that won’t really bring anything more to the table for her.

It was the crucial moment of Succession, and it revealed what the Roy siblings really are: individuals avid for power and unable to step back personally, supporting a different perspective for the company’s benefit. From this point of view, Roman’s words for Kendall after the tragedy are pure truth: “it’s nothing. It’s f–ing nothing. We are bulls–t. You are bulls–t. I’m bulls–t. She’s bulls–t. It’s all f–ing nothing.” Expressing in strong words an awareness that now should have hit everybody: Roy’s siblings are unable to contribute professionally and rationally to Waystar Royco’s interest. They proved their incapacity to work for the company’s benefit. They are just “kids” who want to be in charge. Roman is totally right: from a business point of view, the Roy siblings are nothing.

So that’s how Succession has explained its finale: the GoJo deal is closed, Matsson signs, and Tom is presented as the new CEO. Roman reluctantly takes a pic with Matsson, and Kendall leaves the building in shock. Shiv has no place in all this. Still, somehow, not expecting it, Tom shows his intentions to get closer to her. The series ends with the image of Tom and Shiv in the car. Shiv’s hand is on Tom’s. She’s not holding it; she’s just passively laying her hand, allowing the contact. She’s not making that gesture because she believes in it, but only because it’s what she’s supposed to do. She has no other option at that point: no plan Bs, no further connections to use to her advantage. She’s resigned to a new reality that took form after her active decision, but it doesn’t feel like she consciously wanted it. It happened because that’s how it works in the Roy family now. Because, probably, Roman was right in his last words for Kendall.

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