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The ending to Succession could be hidden in this John Berryman poem from 1964

Logan Roy's future hangs in the balance in Succession's final season. (HBO: David Russell)

Whether we like it or not, the final season of HBO's satirical black comedy Succession is coming to a close.

While there's no way of knowing who will come out on top, what we do know is there's a fascinating connection between every season's final episode.

And it might hold the key to how it all ends.

An Easter egg in Succession? Tell me more

Gather round, there's a weird coincidence that needs investigating. (HBO: Macall B Polay)

You know how every episode of Succession has a title?

It's usually a piece of dialogue from the script ("S*** Show at the F*** Factory" or "Retired Janitors of Idaho") or just one word capturing the general atmosphere of each episode ("Chiantishire" or "Lifeboats".)

But that regular naming convention gets thrown out the window come season finale time.

Instead, all three season finale episodes are named after a line from John Berryman's 1964 poem Dream Song 29.

You can read the complete poem below and tap on the highlighted lines to see which season's final episode it matches with.

When asked during a 2021 press tour if there are any plot clues in the main title sequence, Succession creator Jesse Armstrong said the show is not "a super Easter-eggy operation".

But the fact that the same poem has been used three times now definitely makes for an interesting choice.

To understand the poem, we need to know who Berryman was

John Berryman is considered a major figure in American poetry. (Getty: Pete Hohn/Star Tribune)

Berryman was a scholar, professor and poet.

He gained widespread recognition in 1965 when he won the Pulitzer Prize for his poetry collection 77 Dream Songs, which includes the aforementioned Dream Song 29.

Berryman's childhood was rocked when he lost his father to suicide, a recurring subject in his work, along with a figure called Henry.

In 1972, at 57, Berryman also ended his life.

During his career, Berryman's original 77 dream songs were later published with more than 300 other poems in a collection called The Dream Songs.

In 2014, the New York Times hailed the collection as "Berryman's masterpiece", describing it as "one of those books of American poetry that, like certain mountains, has its own weather".

Succession isn't the first time Berryman's work has influenced pop culture, with his poetry being the inspiration behind the title of Nick Cave's 1992 album Henry's Dream.

What does Dream Song 29 mean? Poetry is not my specialty

Nor mine. So I've called in an expert to provide some literary analysis.

Enter: Paul Mariani, an American poet and academic at Boston College who wrote the biography Dream Song: The Life of John Berryman in 1990.

Mr Mariani said Dream Song 29 was one of Berryman's most-quoted works, and though he doesn't name his first wife, Eileen, she is the muse behind the poem.

"He'd been unfaithful to her, had left her when she needed him because of illness, and finally, she looked into Berryman's eyes – he tells us – and he knew from that look that the marriage was over. And really because of him and his treatment of her," Mr Mariani said.

"The thing is, he could not shake what he knew he had done."

"And even if he closes his eyes and tries to blind himself to what he's done, there are still the bells, reminding him that it's too late."

What has Jesse Armstrong said about the poem?

Warning: We're entering spoiler territory from this point on.

Armstrong was asked about the connection after the season two finale aired back in 2019.

He told Vulture he's "a bit averse to doing too much analysis because I want people to have their own reaction to the show", but he did explain his reasoning for choosing the poem.

"It has a terrifying sense of that feeling Kendall has at the end of [season one], wondering if something could have happened," Armstrong said.

"In Berryman's poem's case, in the end, [a death] hasn't happened. But it has happened to Kendall.

"When I was looking at possibilities, that line struck me as pertinent to [season 2's finale] as well."

To recap, at the end of season one, Kendall accidentally drowned a waiter when his car plunged off a bridge during Shiv's wedding.

It marked the beginning of Kendall's downfall, and – believing he deserved the punishment – led him to take the blame for the cruise line scandal at the end of season two.

Kendall used a press conference to publically go against his father at the end of season two. (Supplied: Foxtel/HBO)

But as we know, Kendall defied Logan instead during an explosive press conference.

Still wracked with guilt over the waiter's death, season three's penultimate episode ended with a shot of Kendall on a pool raft, slowly drowning.

For a week until the season three finale dropped, the internet lit up over that ambiguous cliffhanger, debating whether Kendall would live or die.

In All The Bells Say, we learn Kendall survives, but his troubles are far from over.

Given what we know now, what might be in store for Succession's final season?

The team behind Succession are yet to reveal the name for the series finale, but if Berryman's poem is about being overcome with guilt, then we could argue it gives us some indication of Kendall's fate.

Despite finally revealing his secret to his siblings at the end of season three, the waiter's death will no doubt continue to haunt him and could ultimately be his undoing.

Meanwhile, we don't need a poem to tell us the bells are tolling for Logan – the hint is in the show's title.

Initially, the Succession writers' room toyed with the idea of killing Logan off much earlier.

"At one point, I did think [Logan] might expire at the end of the first season or even the first episode," Armstrong told the Radio Times in 2020.

"Once I saw Brian [Cox], I realised how big a weight he is at the centre of our solar system."

If we want to get quite literal and take inspiration from the poem, we could hazard a guess that Shiv and Tom's marriage could be blown to smithereens – if it hasn't already.

The season four trailer shows us the toxic pair is set to come to blows following Tom's betrayal at the end of the previous season.

Until the final season starts premiering tomorrow, nothing is certain except for the fact that someone will have to succeed at the expense of others.

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