Warning: This post contains spoilers for "Succession."
The endgame of "Succession" has always been clear — just look at the name of the show. After the May 28 finale of the hit HBO series, fans finally know who won the epic battle for the crown of Logan Roy's successor.
The identity of the winner may have been embedded into the character's name all along.
Tom Wambsgans, Logan Roy's cloying son-in-law played by Matthew Macfadyen, was named CEO of Waystar Royco during the series finale.
Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to a family of more humble origins than his billionaire partner Siobhan Roy's, Tom did what it took — from betraying his wife's plans for a sibling rebellion in Season Three to offering himself up as a blood sacrifice when the family was in legal trouble in Season Two — to ascend. He ultimately brokers a deal with Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), Waystar Royco's buyer, to become CEO, though Shiv was meant to have the role originally.
Kihm tells TODAY.com in an email that the research into what became the viral video began with a question into what Shiv and Tom might name their child.
"That got me thinking more about the character names, specifically Shiv and Tom’s. I was already aware of the dual meaning of Shiv (knife) and Roy (king), but I had never encountered the name Wambsgans before," she says.
Kihm, in the TikTok, said she always "pays attention" to unusual last names in movies and TV shows.
"In 'Succession,' that surname is Wambsgans ... a very rare German surname," she said, adding it translates to "goose with big belly" or "goose down coat."
The last name's meaning is less important than its pop culture significance, however.
The only "notable person" Kihm could find with a similar surname to Tom was the baseball player Bill Wambsganss, a second baseman for Cleveland (then called the Cleveland Americans) from 1914 to 1923.
In 1920, Wambsganss became the only baseball player to have completed an unassisted triple play at a world series. As the MLB explains, a triple play is a defensive maneuver in which a single player completes all three outs without the help of his teammates, in a single play.
What else would a viewer call what happens in the Waystar Royco boardroom but a triple play, as Tom knocks out his primary opponents, the three Roy siblings?
"The theory was interesting and definitely compelling, but I was not totally convinced it would come to pass. I was just as surprised as everyone else when Tom became CEO in those last few minutes of the show," Kihm says.
In another full-circle moment, fans also pointed out that the series started with a baseball game. At the end of the first episode, Roman offers $1 million dollars to a boy if he can hit a home run. (He couldn’t.)
Once the ending was clear, fans looked for other easter eggs indicating Tom would be the successor, reading into a gesture Logan Roy made as an "anointing." After Tom tells his father-in-law Shiv's plot, Logan looks Tom in the eye and pats him on the shoulder. Shiv looks on in horror.
During the “Inside the Episode” segment that aired after the finale, creator Jesse Armstrong confirmed the ending of "Succession" had been mapped out all along.
"Tom being the eventual successor, that had been something that I thought was the right ending for quite a while," Armstrong said. "Even though he’s not exactly the most powerful monarch you’ll ever meet, his power comes from Matsson. Those figures who drift upwards and make themselves amenable to powerful people are around."
With the finale's implication that his marriage to Shiv and his working relationship with Greg will continue, Tom got exactly that.
The show ended with all of the Roy siblings losing the company and their chance at their father's power. Fans like Kihm, who got to watch their theories unfold in real time, may have had the only true "happy" finale experiences.
“I had a stake in the finale, which made it all the more exciting to watch. After every twist I wondered if that was it, or if another surprise was in store. Even at the very end. I didn’t truly believe Tom became CEO till the credits rolled," she says.