TV | December 6, 2021 11:30 am

Is Kendall Roy Dead?

A new New Yorker profile of actor Jeremy Strong suggests that on-set tensions could be a factor in Kendall's potential demise on "Succession"

Jeremy Strong attends the HBO's "Succession" Season 3 Premiere at American Museum of Natural History on October 12, 2021 in New York City.
Jeremy Strong attends the HBO's "Succession" Season 3 Premiere at American Museum of Natural History on October 12, 2021 in New York City.

Note: This post contains major spoilers from Season 3, Episode 8 of Succession.

Is Kendall Roy really dead? We’ll have to wait until next week’s highly anticipated season finale to find out for sure, but it’s not looking good for our number-one boy. The final scene from Season 3’s penultimate episode, “Chiantishire,” finds the middle Roy son floating drunk in a pool before seemingly passing out face-down in the water.

But could this really be the end? On the surface, it’d be a shocking decision for the show to get rid of its main character — a role that earned actor Jeremy Strong an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series — and it’s still somewhat unclear what exactly is going on with Kendall in the pool. Is he conscious and simply dunking his head underwater? (The beer bottle falling into the water would seem to point to him passing out, but Succession writers are sneaky.) Will someone see him and pull him out before he drowns?

We’ve got to wait a week to find out for sure, but it seems as though the massively popular HBO drama is gearing up to kill off one of its major characters. Kendall’s potential death has been foreshadowed since the show’s first season, when we saw him standing on the rooftop of the Waystar building ominously, looking as though he was contemplating jumping. (Before returning to the same rooftop later in the same episode only to find that a towering glass wall had been erected — presumably to safeguard against exactly that. Daddy sees all.)

Since then, he’s had a near-miss — surviving a watery car crash that led to the drowning death of a caterer at Shiv’s wedding — and Season 2 opens with him hiding out, fully clothed, in a bathtub. The show has also painted itself into a corner when it comes to Kendall: either he successfully overthrows his father and takes over the company, or he fails and is completely destroyed. As last night’s episode made clear, there is no universe in which Kendall lays down his sword and returns to an active role in Waystar Royco, and he and Logan can’t keep going back and forth indefinitely. Killing him off delivers a bombshell for the season finale and also solves the problem of what to do with his character.

It also solves another potential problem, which is that, if a new New Yorker profile that dropped hours before last night’s episode is to be believed, Strong isn’t exactly well-liked on set. The piece, which describes him as the show’s “dark prince,” goes in-depth on his Method techniques, his refusal to rehearse scenes beforehand and his insistence on ad-libbing — all things that, while clearly contributing to his pitch-perfect performance as Kendall, make him rather difficult to work with and annoying to be around.

“The way Jeremy put it to me is that, like, you get in the ring, you do the scene, and at the end each actor goes to their corner,” Kieran Culkin, who plays Roman Roy on the show, told the publication. “I’m, like, This isn’t a battle. This is a dance.” When asked about Strong’s self-imposed isolation and refusal to rehearse, Culkin responded, “That might be something that helps him. I can tell you that it doesn’t help me.”

Brian Cox, who plays patriarch Logan Roy, also expressed concern about the toll that playing Kendall has taken on Strong (and also hinted that he’s not exactly fun to be around).

“It’s the cost to himself that worries me,” Cox said. “I just feel that he just has to be kinder to himself, and therefore has to be a bit kinder to everybody else.”

If Cox and the New Yorker, which also ran through a list of the injuries Strong has sustained on set after improvising stunts, are right, it doesn’t seem sustainable for Strong to continue playing Kendall in the long-term. Couple that with the fact that he seems to be pissing off his coworkers with his unorthodox methods and general intensity, and it stands to reason that all parties came to some sort of mutual agreement that Season 3 would be Kendall’s (and Strong’s) last.

The Season 3 finale of Succession airs on HBO at 9 p.m. EST.