Opinion |  Final 'Succession' Almost Arrived.  Will They Get It Right?

The end of “Succession” is upon us. So how to end this bitter work?

Did they shoot ahead in time, stealing a page from the legendary finale “Six Feet Under”? Maybe offer a glimpse into the future with the handsome sociopaths and the presidential candidates they've smothered? Or cut to black before someone killed Kendall? (I'm someone who really liked the ending of “The Sopranos.”)

Maybe but not likely. Neither of those options felt right.

That's the thing about a good ending: It has to be ineffable and organic. And sadly, the wrong end of a leg can ruin a brilliant work of art. The stunning prowess of “Game of Thrones” was sorely undercut by too many missteps in its final episode. Jaime returns to Cersei and a house falls on them? The great and beloved Daenerys went mad and burned King's Landing? Bran getting the throne? What we want from a finale is a glorious “amen,” like the one we got from “Breaking Bad.” But “Game of Thrones” is more like “huh?”

I thought a lot about the ending because I had to write it. Even though I usually have a vague idea of ​​the ending when I start writing a play, I don't want it all to set in stone. If you don't chart the story too violently, it will reveal itself to you in the writing – and often there's a secret subject, something surprising and inescapably held by your mind, that eventually reveals itself. Something perfect, like an angel crashing through the ceiling. Or “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Or the fact that there really is a satanic cult living in the Dakota on the Upper West Side. It was a great ending.

The ending must grow from everything that came before it, but also be different from everything that came before it. A great ending can be about transformation, where our main character runs away, or finds true love, or discovers a deep truth and attains inner wisdom (as in “Mad Men”, except for the deep truth about Coca-Cola). Or it could be about justice, raining down on those who deserve it and destroying those who don't. (See every superhero movie.) Or vice versa, the idea that justice has abandoned everyone. (See “The Godfather.”) Good endings can involve a tender and sad loss of hope. (See Chekhov.) It can celebrate the restored and renewed order that marriage can bring to a disorderly world. (See Shakespeare.) Or it could be resolved by assuming that actual marriage would solve nothing. (Again, see Shakespeare.)

At its best, a sublimely written ending elevates everything that came before it into the realm of timeless wisdom: “So we pressed on, boat against the current, brought endlessly back into the past,” as the narrator of “The Great Gatsby” concludes.

Television offered a different kind of challenge – and not just because viewers would sit and piss off for a week (or more) obsessing over how it would all end. Television is constructed differently from other types of drama, so of course it ends in a different way.

You start with a pilot episode, which may or may not air, and then you work your way through the first season. At that point, the ending was so far-fetched that it was difficult to take it seriously. After all, if no one's watching, you'll just get canceled anyway. So you're not trying to imagine the end — you're trying to avoid it.

It's why a truly great ending is so hard to come by on television. TV shows don't about end; they're about the middle. That's about how long you can keep the show on the air. When you get hit, there's generally no rush to get to the ending, which is why phrases like “jump the shark” have entered the lexicon. The middle is where television thrives.

For me, the end of Season 2 of “Succession,” when Kendall betrayed her father, Logan, to the world and threatened to bring the entire house of cards down on everyone's heads, was perhaps the series' most spectacular moment. The whisper of a smile from Logan as he watches the disaster is mysterious, noble and human. Does he secretly want Kendall to take control? Maybe so. No doubt it is a good television. Then Logan went ahead and crushed Kendall again in Season 3. And the show returned to its starting gate. There's a kind of circularity in TV attached to the shape. This is why so many shows end in what can only be called a “group hug.” “Mary Tyler Moore” did; “Office” does; “Seinfeld” did the imprisoned version.

I suspect we didn't get the group hugs from “Succession”.

In closing, “Succession” is a special case, and not only because creator Jesse Armstrong chose not only how to end the show, but also when. (He said it had been “present” in his mind from the start.) With “Succession,” the the ending is always built right into the title.

My bold prediction? I can tell you what won't happened: Logan would not come back to life. The kids aren't going to sell a company to someone who suddenly shows up from China with a better offer. That's not going to turn on the deus ex machina it came about because nobody knew how to land the damn plane so they brought something out of nowhere and that was the end of it.

As for what will happens, I feel confident to promise this: The ending of “Succession” will fulfill the story and not betray the spirit of what came before. The creators have proven over four seasons that they are better than that.

That's why I'll listen. I can't wait to see how it ends.

Theresa Rebeck is a playwright, television writer and novelist. His most recent play on Broadway is “Bernhardt/Hamlet”, and he is the creator of the TV show “Smash”.