Succession Series Finale Theory Points to an Unlikely Victor

With only one episode to go on Succession, the clues pointing to a dark horse CEO "winner" are beginning to mount.

Justine Lupe, Alan Ruck, Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook on Succession
Photo: Macall Polay | HBO

This article contains spoilers for Succession season 4 episode 9.

It’s one minute to midnight on the doomsday clock of HBO’s Succession, as Jesse Armstrong’s series heads into its finale after four seasons of watching the Roy family tear each other apart. Logan Roy (Brian Cox) might’ve bowed out early, and while we wait with bated breath to see who will be his true successor, an unlikely horse is coming up the outside of this race.

While most of “Church and State” was taken up by Logan’s funeral, the Roy kids couldn’t even bury their father without things turning to business. It’s Shiv (Sarah Snook) versus Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Kendall (Jeremy Strong) in the race to be CEO, but as ​​the Roys turn on each other, it might be a case of “the call is coming from inside the house,” meaning we should all be watching out for Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun).

Will Cousin Greg “Win” Succession?

We’ve already covered how Cousin Greg could be a secret mastermind who’s been climbing the slippery pole of Waystar Royco, and thanks to Succession’s penultimate outing, there’s a theory doing the rounds that Greg could be the company’s next CEO – that’s assuming Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) gets his acquisition across the line.

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In episode 9, Shiv tried to position herself as the ultimate winner, telling Matsson that he could get into bed with the future President of the United States by offering up Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk) an American CEO. Shiv claims she’s the ideal candidate as the suave Swede’s “puppet,” and just before the episode ends, Matsson phones her to seemingly agree to the idea. However, eagle-eyed fans have noticed that Matsson appears to be travelling with someone else. 

When Matsson says “I think I can make a US CEO work,” Twitterverse exploded with theories that there’s someone with him off-screen. It definitely looks like Matsson glanced to the side, and while it could simply be nothing, others are convinced Greg was sat opposite him. One fan wrote, “Anyone else thinking #greg was sitting across from #matsson in the limo when he said “I can make an American CEO work.” #Succession.” Another predicted, “Matsson gets the deal, betrays Shiv and puts Greg as CEO.”

It’s true that Greg is wildly underqualified for the job of Waystar Royco CEO, but it would be a twist for the ages if the downtrodden lapdog of Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) turned out to be the victor. It’s clear Matsson wants someone he can easily mold, and alongside having bonded with Gregory Peggory through a night of drinking things that shouldn’t be drunk, it’s likely the information Greg has been feeding the likes of Kendall and Tom has been going both ways back to Matsson.

Someone else noticed that in one of the Succession season 4 posters, Greg’s reflection is the only one we see face-on – suggesting that his role as CEO has been in front of our faces this entire time. We know the posters are packed with Easter eggs, just like the reflection of a plane foreshadowing Logan’s mile-high death. Short of Connor Roy (Alan Ruck) being announced out of nowhere, seeing Greg crowned CEO would arguably be the biggest shocker. 

Succession Has Been Laying Greg Clues for Awhile

It’s not just Shiv who needs to watch her back. Others have theorized how Greg can take down all his cousins in one fell swoop. The ghosts of the past could come back to haunt Kendall, with his cover-up of the waiter who died back in season 1 being a potential plot point for the finale. Although Andrew “Doddy” Dodds isn’t directly mentioned, we see Kendall trying to bring Colin the bodyguard back to his side.

Colin (Scott Nicholson) was Logan’s loyal confidante and helped the Roys (literally) bury the story. Kendall is concerned that Colin is talking to a shrink, offering him a job to presumably make sure he doesn’t blab. With Logan in the ground, that’s one less person who knows his dark secret, but as u/ares502 posits on Reddit, Greg spent the night before Shiv and Tom’s wedding with Doddy. The next day, Greg made a flippant comment about the waiter being on drugs (alluding that he knew Kendall shared drugs with Dodds), and if you jump ahead to season 3, Greg compared Kendall to OJ Simpson. This prompted Kendall’s now-iconic, “Who said I never killed anyone?”

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Greg being a ticking time bomb since season 1 fits the finale theory nearly, and while he might’ve used this explosive revelation earlier, the fact he’s been buddying up with Matsson means he’s likely been biding his time. Greg tried to weasel his way into meeting Mencken at Logan’s wake, proving that he knows who can get him places. There’s also no love lost between Matsson and Kendall, meaning a bombshell like the latter being responsible for manslaughter is more than enough to get the deal over the line or even see Ken rot in jail. Either way, the fact Greg has repeatedly been sidelined by the Roys but been privy to their sordid affairs makes him a dangerous enemy.

It’s true that having Greg betray the Roys would be a bit of a rehash of Tom doing the same in the season 3 finale, but with Greg being Wambsgans’ protege, it would be a fitting evolution of the character. Having been locked out of the Quad Squad throughout the entirety of Succession, there would be a sense of justice if the family outcast becomes the true successor of Logan Roy. Then again, much like Kendall’s secret could be buried alongside his dear ol’ dad, it’s just as likely Greg Hirsch will remain the blundering fool who once vomited inside a mascot head when the final credits roll on Succession.

The Succession series finale airs Sunday, May 28 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.