How That ‘Bojack Horseman’ Reference In ‘Succession’ Actually Foreshadows Kendall’s Fate
There are some big clues about *that* moment in the last episode.
This week’s Succession episode ended on a devastating cliffhanger, but, and hear me out, the answer lies in a Bojack Horseman reference.
— Warning: Major Spoilers for both Succession and Bojack Horseman ahead, as well as mention of suicide, parental abuse, and addiction. —
What Happened To Kendall Roy?
Succession‘s recent episode left viewers shocked when the final minutes saw everyone’s favourite chaotic-sad rich boy, Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) apparently drowning himself in a pool. Kendall’s fall from Waystar Royco’s golden boy graces has been punctuated with drug addiction relapse, suicidal ideation, and guilt over manslaughter covered up by his father. With his inner demons spurred along by callous and emotionally neglectful parents, and a social circle too monied and dysfunctional to truly care for his plight.
Even within this week’s episode, Kendall’s mother ostracises him from her wedding celebrations, citing his father Logan’s (Brian Cox) desire to steer clear of him as the reason. As they see him leave, his siblings offer him nothing but mockery.
Later when Logan does agree to meet with Ken for dinner after a series-long refusal to even be in the same room, Logan believes Ken has poisoned his food. Logan then invites Ken’s son, his own grandson, to taste the food first. It isn’t poisoned, but it’s clear the bad blood between them has extended to Ken’s own children. So, it’s hardly surprising the episode ends with Kendall seemingly attempting to end his life.
the whole roy family: *freaking out over the picture roman sent to logan by accident*
— kathleen (@kathleen_hanley) December 6, 2021
The Bojack Horseman Connection
But could Kendall’s story end so simply? Earlier in the season, when Kendall was still riding the high of exposing the corruption of his family company, he asks his team to hire someone to write his tweets to appear more sympathetic in the battle to come. “This could all get super earnest so I was thinking of hitting up some Bojack guys,” he says.
Here Kendall is referring to the writers of Bojack Horseman. The Netflix award-winning adult animation was created by Raphael Bob-Waksburg and chronicles the rise and fall of actor and alcoholic Bojack Horseman. Bojack is a middle-aged has-been trying to crawl back to the A-list and the glory he had in his days as the star of hit sitcom Horsing Around.
But it’s clear a childhood ruled by neglectful parents pushed him into alcoholism and a life obsessed with seeking validation of his inherent goodness from those incapable of giving it to him. If you’re thinking, a substance-abusing middle-aged man prone to self-destruction, and desperate for the approval of those around him sounds eerily similar to the plight of Kendall Roy? Get a load of this.
"I was thinking of hitting up some bojack guys" pic.twitter.com/4XF1JLJ7Og
— Alison Herman (@aherman2006) December 6, 2021
Bojack, Kendall, And Foreshadowing
In the final season of Bojack Horseman, Bojack has self-sabotaged his career. The sins of his past, including his drug-fueled assault of a colleague, have come to light and the consequences have robbed him of his career and cultural capital.
With no fans, no family and no friends who want anything to do with him, Bojack attempts to drown himself in what was once his swimming pool. Much like Kendall, Bojack’s attempted suicide was foreshadowed too, with Bojack often speaking of fantasies in which he’s drowning and imagery from throughout the series often showing Bojack staring up from the bottom of a pool.
In Succession, Ken has been shown in water many times. The first shot of Kendall this season showed him neck-deep in a relaxation pool in rehab. Also, who could forget the iconic shot from above of Ken floating Jesus like in the pool of his father’s yacht in the Season 2 finale? The waiter in Season 1 drowned after they drove the car into a river.
kendall roy + water pic.twitter.com/Ic8QyNW0EL
— meri lemon (@filmsexuals) December 6, 2021
Beyond The Swimming Pool
The parallels between Bojack and Kendall are crystal clear and Kendall’s mention of Bojack in hindsight is almost certainly a nod to the parallel between the two. But if you’ll indulge me a tinfoil hat, it’s what happens after Bojack’s attempted suicide in Bojack Horseman that makes me certain that Kendall Roy isn’t dead.
In the final episode of Bojack Horseman, it’s revealed that Bojack was rescued and is still serving time in prison 18 months later. Turns out, he plead guilty to drunk and disorderly charges, property damage, and breaking into the house he no longer owned. Despite his best efforts, he is still alive and finally atoning for his actions.
One of the central questions of Succession Season 3 has revolved around who, if anyone, will take the fall for the criminal assault and corruption charges against Waystar. Someone has to go to prison to keep the Department of Justice off the company’s back.
For much of the series, Tom Wambsgams (Matthew Macfadyen) was convinced it would be himself and/or Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) as it was the two of them who shredded records of the crimes back in the earlier seasons. But mid-season, the issue was apparently dropped due to too little evidence verifying the victims who had come forward. Evidence in the form of letters is currently in the possession of none other than Kendall Roy.
the bojack horsemanification of kendall roy
— :3 (@cinemahater) December 6, 2021
“This could all get super earnest so I was thinking of hitting up some Bojack guys,” were some of the earliest words spoken by Kendall Roy this season. If the reference and parallel to Bojack Horseman’s plight run true to course, Kendall won’t be dead. He will be rescued, but like his spiritual animated Horseman brother, he will confess to the crimes he was complicit in and offer himself up as the one to go to prison for Waystar’s crimes, proving once and for all he is better than his father. Super earnest indeed.
Why It Makes Sense?
Both Bojack Horseman and Succession are about how late capitalism affects culture and in turn, affects the individual. Both Bojack and Kendall are wealthy in worlds where debaucherous wealth is the aspirational goal under which no problem is unsolvable.
Despite their success and wealth, however, the two are haunted inescapably by the traumatic cruelty of those around them. Capitalism itself is an abusive parent, forging people into tools capable of little but hurting one another in their quest for more of everything.
Bojack and Kendall are cursed with painful self-awareness of this cycle, self-medicating in an effort to stave off the knowledge that they’re no better than the people that hurt them. But they can’t. So, instead, here they are drowning, drowning in fancy pools people would kill to have, and the irony of how little all that wealth is worth. They’re drowning until someone pulls them up for air to recognise their own accountability. And I’d be willing to bet that’s exactly what’s going to happen in Succession‘s season finale next week.
Bojack Horseman is streaming on Netflix. Succession airs Mondays on Foxtel and Binge.