Since his father’s collapse and his failed coup, one could argue that Kendall has never had his head much above water. But once the car Kendall drove away from Shiv and Tom’s wedding went over the bridge, and he was the only one to walk away alive, he’s been drowning, figuratively of course. But in the penultimate episode of Succession Season 3, did he drown, literally? Is Kendall dead? Let’s look at the evidence.
Warning: Spoilers for Succession Season 3, Episode 8 follow. Ever since Kendall went rogue at the end of Season 2, starting a Roy family interwar, he’s painted himself as the side of right against the side of might. It’s a black-and-white view, one he made the mistake of throwing in his father’s face... even as he was asking for the $2 billion buyout Logan offered.
Logan didn’t play along. “How long was that kid alive before he started sucking in water?” he asked his son. “Couple of minutes? Three, four, five?” Bringing up the specter of the caterer Kendall left in his sinking car in Season 1 proved Logan wasn’t going to let Kendall believe he was the good guy, nor was he going to let his son be free from him.
After Logan left, Kendall disappeared until the episode’s final moments. Banned from attending most of his mother’s pre-wedding festivities and without either ex-wife Rava or ex-girlfriend Naomi to babysit him, he crawled into the bottom of a bottle and passed out lying on an inflatable pool floatie. After his kids wandered inside, bored, Kendall’s face ended up sliding off the float and into the pool, either accidentally or on purpose.
How long before he starts sucking in water? Couple of minutes? Three, four, five? And what will happen then? Here are some theories.
1. Kendall Will Be Pronounced Dead
The drowning imagery around Kendall has been there ever since that Season 1 finale. Season 2 opened with him half-submerged in a spa tub; it ended with him on a yacht floating motionless on his back in the pool. Season 3’s premiere saw him crawl into a bathtub fully clothed.
It seems unlikely the show would off Kendall, but there’s really no other way out for him. His first coup failed in Season 1, and this one collapsed. No one is going to jail; the media stopped calling him for appearances. His siblings, who he always believed would have his back if he stood up to Logan, instead betrayed him, one by one. Kendall’s 40th birthday slogan was from the Notorious B.I.G.’s famous first album. Maybe everything has been leading up to this moment.
2. It’s A Fake Out; Kendall Is Fine
Fans think another clue Kendall might be a goner is that neither the Season 3 finale synopsis nor the promo mention him. But this might actually be proof this is all a fake-out. After all, what is the show’s main driver without Kendall versus Logan? Watching Logan’s son go toe-to-toe with his old man, only to lose at every turn, is part of the show’s DNA.
Kendall may be intoxicated and sad, flirting with ideas of what it would be like to drown, inspired by his father’s question of how long it took for the caterer to stop breathing. But maybe he’ll pull out of it, come to the wedding, possibly even take up the podcast invite and tell hard truths, taking Logan down with him.
3. Kendall Will Be Hospitalized, But Live
There’s another scenario, an ultimate humiliation for Kendall: He lives, but it’s only because his son, Iverson, rescues him. He winds up in a coma in the hospital and misses his mother’s wedding, pissing off the family with his inconvenient hour of need.
For all Kendall feels alone, having ruined all his adult relationships, his kids are still there. Episode 8 took the time to single out Iverson, with Logan using the kid as his cupbearer. That suggests a more significant role for Kendall’s son. Succession is, after all, a story about generational pain passed from parent to child, Logan to Kendall, now perhaps Kendall to Iverson.
4. Kendall Will Head To Rehab
At the end of this season, the question is, “How does Kendall get out of this?” Here’s an answer fans might not have considered: rehab. The show has set up this option. Kendall has had substance use disorders since the show began. He’s gotten sober before, but never stayed that way. The incident in the Season 1 finale happened because Kendall was trying to score, and he abandoned the car, high and terrified of being caught. Shiv has publicly stated her brother’s behavior is a result of addiction; having him go to rehab would allow him to confess to his sins, breaking his father’s hold over him. It would let him back into the family fold, end the interfamily strife, and reset the stage for Season 4.
All that is hinted at by the Season 3 finale episode’s title, “All The Bells Say,” taken from Dream Song 29. The poem, written by John Berryman, is all about substance use. It describes the morning after the blackout when one has to rebuild the events they cannot remember and make amends for their behavior.
But then again, this is the second time the show has used this poem. Succession also took Season 1’s finale title from the final line: “Nobody is ever missing.” Plus, fans might look at the whole line from the poem: “All the bells say: too late.”
The Succession Season 3 finale premieres on Sunday, Dec. 12, at 9 p.m. ET, and streams on HBO Max.