The Tragedy of Hope “With Open Eyes” needed to feel like “a slow boil toward that final boardroom scene,” says Succession director Mark Mylod.

Jun 1, 2023
Dimitris Passas

NOTE: This article is a republication- Source: Vulture (by Matt Zoller Seitz).

For a series steeped in excess, Succession ended with modesty. No dream sequences, no art-cinema editing, no jumps forward or backward in time. Just people taking out their issues on other people, who all in turn have their own issues.

The saga comes to a head in the boardroom at Waystar Royco, as Lukas Mattson signs a deal to buy the company after an intense day of tactical maneuvering by the three central Roy siblings, Kendall, Shiv, and Roman. The aftermath is deliberately anticlimactic: just a bunch of guys signing a piece of paper and smiling for news photographers. But it’s preceded by wave after wave of distress and unease, occasional eruptions of emotional violence, and two physical fights. The contrast between the mercurial emotions of the siblings, who take everything personally, and the rest of the company, which finds such displays grotesque if they don’t come from the late Logan Roy, gives the final episode an odd mix of analytical coolness and detached empathy that has always been present but never displayed so outright.

Executive producer and filmmaker Mark Mylod, who has directed more episodes of Succession than anyone else, usually takes the chair for momentous chapters of the series; “With Open Eyes” was the most fraught of all because it would retrospectively frame the show, coloring how viewers remembered it. By focusing on intimate interactions between two, three, or perhaps four characters, putting everyone else in the background, and trying to make both the performances and the visual record of the performances seem as spontaneous as possible, Succession ends with a sense of resignation, though not futility: This is what happened, and here is where the main characters ended up. The audience is left with a shot of Kendall, humiliated and broken again, staring out at New York Harbor. He doesn’t know what to make of it all, and neither do we.

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