By Sammy Bovitz
This is my 28th and final solo article for The Beacon Beat, so naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot about endings. I am about to graduate high school and move on to college. College is a new place and/or another plane of existence, depending on who you ask.
The nature of this impending change has had me spinning out beyond comprehension. My to-do list is loaded, my brain is empty, and my soul is exhausted.
In times of great endings or transitions, many look to art as a means to lift up, an effort to answer the hard questions of life with a smile and a wink. But then I watched a show called Succession, which had other plans. And somehow, it taught me something prescient about what it means for things to end, especially since the show itself is about to end on May 28th.
Let’s dive into my twisted high-school-level entertainment analysis, one last time.
Succession is a show about deplorable ultra-rich people doing horrible things to each other, all the while making ruthless business decisions that make the world worse for everyone else. The show is about an aging media tyrant named Logan Roy, and the question of which of his children– Kendall, Roman, Siobhan or the oft-ignored Connor– will take over the company when he inevitably retires or dies. The show is bitingly satirical with a dash of cynicism and dark humor. It is not for everyone.
In essence, Succession has no sympathy for the viewer. The writers are going to tell the story they want to tell, and unapologetically so.
This lack of sympathy rears its head most during the series’ most pivotal episode, “Connor’s Wedding.” It is an incredibly tense hour of television, paying off over 30 hours of tense buildup in an incredibly chaotic release. It goes without saying that spoilers are to follow.
Series creator Jesse Armstrong acknowledged in an interview after the episode aired on April 9th that there was a “promise in the title” of Succession– we would, no matter what, see who succeeds Logan Roy as CEO. But every episode that went by, that promise felt hollower and hollower as his power over his peers and the world would only grow. From hostile takeovers to layoffs to scandals, the man and his company seemed unstoppable.
But Succession is still grounded in reality, and in reality, there are endings.
The beginning of “Connor’s Wedding” starts out like a normal episode. Middle child Roman is tasked with firing his mentor and Connor is concerned that the titular wedding will be a fiasco. Logan, meanwhile, boards a flight for Sweden to potentially close the sale of his company to tech bro Lukas Matsson. All in all, the episode starts like a typical week of corporate intrigue. But then Roman takes a call, and everything changes.
In a 30 minute semi-continuous take, we learn about the death of the most infallible man in America in real time as his four children scramble to pass on last words, which they’re not sure their father is hearing. Their grief and shock plays out in unrelentingly tragic fashion, the camera never pulling away from the characters as they try to process this life-changing event.
Almost every moment in Logan Roy’s career was carefully planned and choreographed, making his death remarkably uncharacteristic. It’s uncontrolled, drawn-out, bad for business, and comes at a bad time. These all run counter to the way we saw Logan go about his life and career for dozens of hours.
I watched these billionaires cry, and for the first time, I could see the reality that had been shoved in my face this entire senior year. You can’t plan the ending.
A couple weeks ago, I had the final fire drill of my childhood.
School fire drills feel like an event as reliable as death and taxes. Every few months, the loudspeaker comes on, a discussion is interrupted, and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. It was a very bizarre, seemingly indestructible tradition that I took for granted.
The loudspeaker crackled that May morning, and they announced “the final fire drill of the school year.” See you next year, I thought.
Then I froze.
The thing is, fire drills are not that impactful to my life! My high school studies, my tenure as co-editor-in-chief, and the time I have spent in my synagogue teen program are all much more emotional pursuits. Then, of course, there’s the fact that I will be living in a home without my parents and siblings all in it for the first time, and that this will become my reality for the rest of my life. That sentence is so uniquely incomprehensible that my hands were trembling as I wrote it. My childhood is ending– so why did a fire drill, of all things, break me?
Well, it was just far too anticlimactic. I talked with some friends for about 5 minutes, said “here” when Mr. Schillaci called for attendance, and walked back inside a little slower than normal to kill some class time. Then it was over, and worse, no one seemed to care all that much.
Endings come at you fast. Life does not roll credits over flowery music. It’s something I’ve had to learn the hard way, over and over again.
This is my final solo article for The Beacon Beat. It is not the article I had imagined, and certainly not the one I expected. But here we are, at the end.
So, thank you for reading. I hope to see you in the future.