A platter of sliders kept from acting out with little American flag toothpicks, tiny portions of fries peppered with flakey salt, and an embarrassingly unimpressive selection of reds—it’s the tailgate party at the monster house, and America itself is on the menu. It’s getting harder and harder to campaign for any one of the Roy kids when the passing of their cult leader has done nothing to stop their genetic toxicity from making marionettes out of them. While I’m not particularly concerned that the end of Succession may be approaching a Game Of Thrones fate, I’m not deluding myself with the expectation of a classic “good vs. bad” showdown. The sooner you come to terms with the fact that the show that you love unconditionally bears no note of morality, the better.
Where Do Shiv And Tom Stand?
Tom made the bed, and now he’s apparently thriving in it. For characters whose love is synonymous with their backstabbing, I don’t think it can fall under anyone’s wheelhouse to distinguish the signs of genuine feelings in Tom and Shiv’s dynamic. Because the fact is, “genuine” has a whole other meaning to them than it does to us. They’re well within their rights when their affection takes the form of a juvenile game of “bitey,” and there’s a mutually understood destruction at play at all times. Tom loves her when he backs her through the hailstorm that is her very existence in the Royco family business, and he also loves her when he acknowledges her venom with a glass-encased scorpion as a gift. As for Shiv, there’s ne’er a truer love language on her part than royally screwing over her husband. Feelings die a thousand deaths when you’re Tom, in charge of hosting a party where the ex your wife has cheated on you with is invited to be the regulatory advisor and pull a fast one on the Viking. The plan might be impeccable, but the odds are horrendous when you’re asking Gill’s Nate to join hands with your infamously right-wing network, as it’s the lesser evil when compared to the quietly unlawful business that goes down in Mattson’s code-den. A hundred days of slack Ken promises to cut Nate’s candidate hardly makes it a fair deal when just being present at the party is a major risk that Nate is taking. Quite impressively, Shiv is above prioritizing stolen glances with her ex and would rather cement her hush-hush relationship with the Swede by giving him a heads-up about what her brothers are up to. It’s fascinating to watch Ken and Rome move forward with their little schemes that go nowhere while being completely oblivious to the fact that their li’l sis is flimflamming them both.
The Rotten CE-bros
At least Naomi got out while she could. But can you imagine every waking moment of absolute dread that is Rava’s life, knowing that not only was she once naive enough to marry Ken but also that she helped him further the Roy blood? Surely doubting her parenting skills now that the bigot stripes have started showing up on their kid, Rava makes the grave mistake of coming to Ken for help. Maybe not all racists are simply dummies. Maybe some of them are just downright crazy. And Ken’s strikingly fallacious conviction that his supremely racist news conglomerate is “changing the world” proves that he’s a little bit of both. And Roman. Where’s Roman? Oh, he’s probably just busy blacking out names on a piece of Royco paper. I’m relieved to see the soothing sight that is Connor’s face, even though he’s back with the odd news of the multiple peekaboos he’s played with Logan’s corpse. The frightening feat that is the responsibility of giving the eulogy at the funeral instantly brings down the energy of the quaint little place of meeting. Logan haunts more in his death than he did as a living ghoul. Ken could have a fine career as a show host. Taking on the mantle for the first tailgate party with a Logan-shaped hole comes easy for Ken. That is until the Swede’s fashionably late Slender Man-esque figure walks through the door and throws him off his game completely. Even violent period pieces couldn’t hold a candle to the tension that fills a room when Ken and Lukas meet eyes. Mollycoddled by Shiv, Matsson sweeps the floor with Ken and even convinces Nate that he really shouldn’t get involved if he knows what’s best for him.
Is Greg Doomed?
It’s always too early to tell with Succession, but from the looks of it, Greg’s slimy underdog is probably not going to climb too far up the ladder. And if anything, this only establishes further that this HBO show doesn’t exist to help us live vicariously through its characters. Reduced to being the waste bin of Waystar Royco, Greg’s current position at the company is only of the hangman, who may soon be hanged himself. The terrifying lack of empathy on his face as he coldbloodedly boots countless employees on a wretched conference call only proves that there’s Roy blood running through his veins. If only he had played it a bit smarter. The problem with Greg is that the boat he climbed onto, namely Tom, is taking on water. Lapping up everything the Swede throws his way only further diminishes Tom’s image and possibly any scrap of a future he may have had at ATN. The man we’d put all our money on ever since he got out of the theme park costume is now a mere party jester handing out anecdotes for the Swedes’ table to point at and laugh. If Tom’s time is over, there’s no point holding out hope for Greg.
Can Matsson Be Trusted?
Has being the devil’s advocate ever backfired for the Swede? Not really. So there’s no point taking it to heart now that he’s showing just how incredibly awful a person he is. It’s hard not to feel for Ebba, who, after banking blood bricks (and hair too, apparently) from her boss, continues to be incessantly harassed for standing her ground. We know she means it when she says that it would be better if he would just give her the boot. And yet she doesn’t mean it at the same time as she swallows the unwarranted back-handed counsel from Matsson’s new friend, Shiv. Although, just how close and reliable the friendship has gotten between Matsson and Shiv remains an enigma. Ken and Rome may have only been rooting for him to turn out all bark no bite for their own agenda, but just how stable is this tweet-freak? Judging from the way he dodges Shiv’s plain-spoken question regarding what he may be ready to offer her in exchange for throwing her brothers under the bus, Matsson may have more skeletons in the closet than I’d previously thought. Lucky for me, I don’t have to spend much time wondering after all, as Ebba herself accidentally slips up and spills the beans about GoJo’s illegally inflated Indian subscriber numbers that the Swede can get in trouble for any day.
Is Kendall Going To Betray His Siblings?
Bullying, being the Roy kids’ hobby of choice, makes it all too easy for them to get things done. It’s only a tad challenging when they’re messing with one of their own, someone who knows them through and through. I, for one, am frankly ready to cheer for the way Connor has turned the elections around somewhat and has gotten himself from 1% to 6% without breaking a sweat. I’m even more impressed with him when he makes a peeved Roman chase him around at the party to convince him to drop out of the election for the sake of the candidate that ATN is backing. We may have made a laughingstock out of Con and Willa’s guileless transactional relationship from the start, but the only one who seems to be fanning the flames of Connor’s wild dreams is his wife. But Rome and Ken have bigger fish to fry.
Lukas’ very ironically socially anxious head of communications outing his sketchy business with the numbers from India has finally given Rome and Ken a legitimately terrifying missile to drop in Lukas’ territory. It’s time for Shiv to bite her fingers for choosing the wrong side yet again. She can’t very well make a whole other India out of thin air just to make Matsson’s real numbers even a tad close to the one he has been running with. It’s almost fascinating to see Shiv overestimate just how conniving she is when every single time, she appears to be taken for a fool. Matsson only wanted Royco to be a big enough distraction until his falsified numbers didn’t matter anymore. Now that she’s made to crawl back to her brother with the hope that they haven’t gotten a whiff of her betrayal, Shiv wants to get her rage satiated by screwing someone over yet again. And who do we ring when it is time for a punching bag? It’s Tom.
Tired Tom without a lap to rest his head on. He is standing outside, screaming his lungs out like he has never done before. And it’s Shiv, with pain pouring out of her at every stab. This may be the most straightforward fight that Tom and Shiv have ever had. But that’s not the only significance of this charmingly wild exchange. This happens to be the sincerest of the truths that have ever been spoken between the two. Sure, it’s a never-ending Ouroboros that is Tom and Shiv’s relationship. But even as individuals, they’ve caused each other quite a bit of pain. Tom did get down on his knee and took advantage of Shiv’s lowest point to get a “yes” out of her. And granted, it was an offer that came from Tom, but Shiv was a bit too nonchalant about him being the scapegoat and facing prison time.
The labyrinthine hell made of love and transactions of heartache that has been Tom and Shiv’s marriage has seen them both almost bring one another to the brink of demise. And now that it’s all out in the open, Tom lies in bed alone, and Shiv is thrown into the maw of the monster that is her terribly lonely existence. It is almost as though the siblings are fighting for the winning spot in the game of “Who is the most like dad?” Inheriting his dad’s knack for harassing employees but not his expertise at picking out the one who wouldn’t seek vengeance has left Roman a bed of hot coal—a device of his own design that he now has to walk. None of his mumbling apologies are going to leave a scratch on Gerri’s determination to crush the little boy that made the grave mistake of messing with her.
With the countless questionable private photographs sent by Roman as her weapon, Gerri is prepared to wage war against him. And I doubt it’s a war that Roman can win. Perhaps it’s the reflection of his bully of a father that he sees when he looks into the mirror that makes Roman take on the freaky job of giving the eulogy at the funeral. With the crowd gone, it’s once again the Roy siblings left behind at the end of the night—together in pain, after all. But would another hug make up for what Ken pulls in the ending scene? If anyone has paid with blood and sweat for the Waystar Royco throne, it’s Kendall. His entire existence has found its purpose in proving that he’s worthy of his dad’s legacy. He may have played along for lack of a better option, but Ken has no interest in sharing the CEO position with his brother. He has been on the lookout for anything that he can use to call a halt to the GoJo deal. And now that he can use Matsson’s fraudulent numbers to convince the board that the GoJo deal is too sketchy to go through with, there’s no stopping Ken from at least reaching out to Frank. The most consequential move yet goes down in the silence of the coat room. Ken is ready to play dirty and keep the kingdom for himself. One crown, one king.