"You're not a killer."
In the final shot of Succession's season 2 finale, Logan Roy realizes just how wrong that assessment was: Astonished, he watches closely from thousands of miles away as his unassuming son single-handedly dismantles his father's legacy. A killer, indeed, Kendall Roy can be — both literally and figuratively. And it's the guilt and shame of the former that leads him to embrace the latter.
First, some context. The Waystar Royco inner circle — and Kendall's plus-one, Naomi, who he continually invites to ultra-private company outings, even though she's literally a blood relative of the Roys' most rivalrous family — decides to decompress in international waters in the aftermath of the high-stress congressional hearings. Straw hats and Tom's pink linen blazer in tow, they board a whale of a yacht, unquestionably the best money can buy.
And just like the Titanic, this unsinkable ship is going down: Each "vacationer" (and also probably all the staffers; doesn't this feel like an unwise time to rely on NDAs?) knows that before this boat docks again, someone's gonna be thrown overboard. What they don't know is that, pre-island adventure, Logan Roy was on the receiving end of a "hard call to make": Top shareholders feel that Logan himself should be the one tossed off the ship. It wasn't so long ago that Logan was supposedly ready to step away from the company, but that exit would've been on his terms. Not so much now.
That brings us to a Last Supper in which everyone manages to be Judas: There's betrayal from all angles, but when Logan offers himself up as a sacrifice, Kendall is quick to yet again prove his loyalty, rejecting the idea on the spot. As it turns out, Logan's selflessness was mostly just for show. He conspicuously neglects to mention that the shareholders want him gone, and as soon as Kendall comes to his defense, he's content to let the others battle it out.
After weighing all the options, Logan makes his final decision: It's got to be Kendall, who's descended back into his haunting, glassy-eyed depression after the departure of his girlfriend (and her drug supply). Sober Kendall always appears blurry and defeated, which makes his sharp final turn all the more jarring.
Kendall remains blank-faced when his father says he could never really picture him as CEO: "You're not a killer. You have to be a killer."
In season 1, those words would've sparked a furor in Kendall. The determination to prove his father wrong is what drove Kendall to go behind his dad's back and attempt to oust him from Waystar Royco not so long ago. This time around, the words resonate in a completely different way. Why? Because Kendall is a killer. His actions caused an innocent person to die. And in this moment, he feels that his fall from grace will be an overdue dose of karma.
"I deserve it," he replies quietly. "It's good to pay. The boy."
He seemingly accepts his fate, even as his father objects: "Nah, nah nah nah, not that," Logan says. "An RPI. Don't beat yourself up. No real person involved."
Both we and Kendall realize at the same time that Logan feels no real guilt about the sexual abuse and even deaths at the center of the cruise investigation. To him, the victims are not real people. He has sympathy only for his friends and family and shareholders. (And even those people are dispensable.)
It's that realization, then, that allows Kendall to see clearly what he needs to do. And with the assistance of Greg, who's managed to maintain his preexisting morality — would anyone else have ever called out Tom's "human furniture" habit? — he's able to deliver a blow that even titan Logan Roy won't be able to survive.
This is officially a killer-vs.-killer matchup. Bring on season 3.