“Nobody is ever missing”. So ends John Berryman’s Dream Song 29, an elegiac poem from over 50 years ago that has found new contemporary life with Jesse Armstrong’s brilliant Succession, its lyrics forming the titles of each season finale episode. But, of course, something is very much missing from our lives now – after four celebrated series, the best show on television about the worst people on television has finally come to an end.

It’s hard to think that just six years ago we’d never heard the haughty piano riffs and hip-hop stylings of Nicholas Britell’s iconic theme tune. Never seen Jeremy Strong’s Kendall wandering disconsolately through a labyrinth of New York skyscrapers. Never witnessed the majesty of Brian Cox’s Logan loudly barking “f*ck off!” at whomever he happens to be sharing the screen with. For fear of falling into a Kendall-esque stupor ourselves, we met for coffee to remember the show that has defined the decade in television so far. Unsuspecting readers, be warned – major spoilers lie ahead.

“The haughty piano riffs and hip-hop stylings of Nicholas Britell’s iconic theme tune”

If Dream Song 29 is a musing on grief and loss, it’s fitting that bereavement has formed the dramatic locus of Succession’s final season. It may be ordained by the very title of the show, but the premature killing-off of patriarch Logan Roy, rather unceremoniously in an aeroplane toilet, was still no less of a shock – at least for the few of us lucky enough to not have it spoiled for us on Twitter beforehand.

After an ensuing season of characteristically catty power struggles among the Roy clan, this time in the absence of their “dear, dear world of a father”, everything comes to a head in the season finale, With Open Eyes. But, in typical Jesse Armstrong fashion… nobody wins! Once again, Kendall almost achieves his dream to take over from his father as CEO – only to be stabbed in the back at the very last minute by his sister, Shiv (played to perfection by Sarah Snook, our unanimous choice for MVP of the season). Waystar is sold to Swedish tech-bro Matsson, and unapologetic yes-man Tom willingly dons the puppet strings as American CEO and professional “pain sponge”. Ken’s lost everything and Shiv remains trapped in an unhappy marriage (we’re still reeling from that devastating half-hand-hold). Perhaps the only one of Logan’s kids who can see a light at the end of the tunnel is maverick middle-child Roman, finally set free from the chains of his corporate destiny. But, let’s face it, that’s only once he’s had a lot of therapy first.

If some in Succession’s proudly vocal fan base felt underwhelmed by the show’s conclusion, crying out for a fifth season, we’re in agreement that Armstrong and director Mark Mylod absolutely stuck the landing. Yes, in some sense, it’s an unsatisfying ending, but one perfectly attuned to a show where, no matter the luxuries of power, wealth and status, no one ever really ends up satisfied. After all, the Roys can walk into the most opulent villa and it immediately becomes a prison, little more than a battleground where familial squabbles become reliably cast as calculated business transactions. But, in Logan’s typically uncompromising words, the kids are ‘playing f*cking tin soldiers’; they were always going to lose and, even if Succession moved away from being a straightforward black comedy soon after its first season, it’s true to the show’s satiric roots that the only real winner is Tom, an empty shirt whose one saving grace is the fact that he’s fully aware that that’s all he is.

“The Roys can walk into the most opulent villa and it immediately becomes a prison”

We had many contenders for our favourite moment in the final episode, from Shiv’s quietly heartbreaking phone call to Tom, asking in vain for true emotional reunification, to the ‘meal fit for a king’ sequence, one of those genuinely joyful times in the Roys’ lives, striking mainly because we know a downhill spiral is sure to follow. But the best moment lies in the episode’s very last minutes; Kendall, so often clad in suits ever so slightly too tight for him, in a performance of corporate professionalism, now dons a long black overcoat as he wanders through Battery Park, tailed by a bodyguard and staring defeatedly out across the Hudson river. It’s a neat mimicry of a scene we’re well used to seeing by this point with a different man, a crushing confirmation of generational cyclicity. After all, when the money and power is set aside, Kendall has become just another warped, frustrated old soul without a friend in the world. In the worst way possible, he’s actually gotten everything he ever wanted – he’s become his dad.

“A crushing confirmation of generational cyclicity”

What does our television landscape look like, then, with a Succession-shaped hole at its centre? With the show taking its curtain call on the same week as other fan favourites such as Barry and The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, we’ve all seen many a recent article claiming that the ‘Golden Age’ of prestige TV might finally be over. But, just as Tony Soprano gave birth to Don Draper and Walter White, we think the most likely outcome instead is a slew of Succession imitations and wannabes hitting our screens over the next few years. Consider it game on – but some heights are very, very hard to reach.