HBO’s “Succession” is running on its fourth and possibly final season at the moment, and we love to hate the horrible characters that make up the cast of this show about a media mogul and his dysfunctional family. Logan Roy, the founder and CEO of Waystar Royco, had three children from his second marriage, namely Kendall, Siobhan, and Roman. The only daughter of the Roy family, Siobhan (Sarah Snook), got married to her boyfriend, Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), but it was far from a perfect marriage. Over the four seasons, we’ve seen their marriage suffer until it screeched to a halt in the “Succession” Season 3 finale. What remains is the couple fighting for the scraps as they discuss terms of divorce, as we lay bare their shambolic marriage and how it was doomed right from the start.
When Siobhan and Tom first got together, they were all set to be the next generation of a power couple in the Waystar family, although Shiv initially didn’t want to be a part of her dad’s empire. She was happy being the pastel-colored clothes-wearing, long-haired, dreamy-eyed, left-leaning democrat who wanted a career in politics. Tom, on the other hand, was happy being the lackey to his terrifying father-in-law, Logan Roy, in “Succession” Season 1 while occasionally bullying the Roy family cousin, Greg Hirsch. Pleased with his position in Waystar, he proposes marriage to his girlfriend Shiv, and things are going great in his mind until his bride drops a bomb on him on their wedding night. Shiv expresses her desire to have an open marriage with Tom where the partners are free to be polyamorous. Interestingly, Shiv spent the night with a previous paramour named Nate on the night of Tom’s bachelor party. Tom was taken aback upon being faced with this sudden demand, but he had to give in—because, let’s be honest, what other choice did he have? Tom was placed in a family where each member was scheming against the other, his own father-in-law insulted him horribly, and his in-laws were constantly mean to him while his wife barely made an effort in the marriage.
By the time “Succession” Season 2 rolled around, it seemed the relationship between Tom and Shiv might be improving because she was offered the position of CEO at Waystar Royco, and she promised to make her husband the director of ATN, the highest position in the global news brand. However, Shiv quickly lost interest in the constant questions and queries that Tom had about his new position and became wary of his excitement. Even if being insulted by his in-laws would still be acceptable for the man because he really lacked self-respect in the initial stages, it was horrible to be disrespected by his wife. Siobhan sent him with a task to the company retreat in Hungary to put in a good word on her behalf to Logan, while she herself spent the night with a random actor. When he learned how Shiv had spent her weekend in his absence, the poor guy was forced to swallow the bitter pill and accept that this was his life from now on, and he’d find no sympathy from his wife, whose father had mocked and ridiculed him in front of the rest of the family in Hungary.
Shiv is a narcissist who needs constant validation from people to reassure herself that she really is who she claims to be—the big-shot daughter of a media mogul. Tom formed a very insignificant portion in the vastness that was her life, and clearly, she had no respect for his emotions, about business or otherwise. After manipulating her husband into believing she loves him by giving him the bare minimum attention, she kept Tom firmly under her thumb, and the bumbling fool Tom forgot all his qualms and fell right back into her arms. It’s rather obvious that Tom was a distraction for Shiv after a long day of fighting with her siblings over who gets to run Waystar after her dinosaur of a dad steps down, while Tom kept trying to ingratiate himself within the family, even agreeing to change his name to Tom Roy. This is further proven by the fact that Shiv calls him a “meat puppet” and says he’s broken when he tries talking seriously. Shiv made it clear they were free to be with whomever they wanted while being married to each other, but ironically, the rule of having an open marriage only applied to her, while Tom strictly followed monogamy.
When Tom was chatting up a beautiful woman at a party, Shiv barged in and singled him out, later telling him that she didn’t like the fact that he was talking to another woman. She’d have warned the woman to back off because Tom was hers, and even though this was just yet another attempt to gaslight him into believing she loved him, his next lines made his hurt truly visible. Tom said he’d have loved for Shiv to make any effort to show the world that he mattered to her and she actually cared about him, but it was all for show, much like their marriage. By “Succession” Season 2 finale, Tom confronts his wife while sitting on a beach and says he’s not happy with her and how he still can’t get over his wife sleeping with different partners because she wanted this, not him. When Shiv learns that her manipulation tactics can’t hold her “meat puppet” back, she asks her father not to throw her husband under the bus as a sacrifice to save Waystar.
However, Shiv’s loyalty to her husband lasts only so far because she quickly tires of Tom’s panic that he’ll be jailed once further allegations about Waystar come to light. She tells him in no kind words that there’s no point talking about the inevitable if he’s heading to prison anyway. Tom has one wish before he’s to leave for prison for a year or so: he wants to have a kid with Shiv, and after a lot of argument, when she finally agrees to meet him halfway, they decide to talk dirty, but it quickly takes a dark turn. Shiv exposes her true feelings for Tom, revealing that she doesn’t love him, and calls out his pathetic nature for loving her even though he knows that she’s way out of his league. Bewildered, Tom tries talking to her about it the next day, but she pays no mind to his concerns—a very common theme in their marriage. Tom’s fears, concerns, and emotions never really mattered unless Shiv stood to gain something from them.
Hence, by the Season 3 finale, when Tom betrays Shiv and her siblings, it’s because he’s done being treated like dirt by his wife. He comes and hugs her while she’s in deep shock, and this is yet another power move he plays. He dashes his wife’s chance to refute her father’s decision and then comforts her while she reels from the damage he did. In “Succession” Season 4, the two are in the middle of discussing divorce, and in Episode 2, she’s once again screwed over by her soon-to-be ex-husband when she learns he has talked to all five major divorce lawyers in Manhattan, and now she can’t find anyone to represent her. After three seasons of tormenting her husband because of her whims and wishes, Shiv seems rather surprised that Tom is out with a vengeance to not make the process easy on her in the slightest. As the episodes roll in, this divorce might turn ugly between the two, but only time will tell.