‘Succession’ Season 4, Episode 8 Recap & Ending, Explained: What Does ATN’s Decision Mean For Its Future?

It’s all fun and games until it gets too real. And “real” is what the bone-chilling 8th episode of Succession has offered up on a poison-laced platter. The existential state of acknowledging one’s insignificance in the grand design of the world and the universe is, I guess, only reserved for the underprivileged and the working class. Because no amount of wrecked vans, incinerated polling stations, and lost ballot boxes are going to keep a bunch of spoilt, rotten, and riotously entitled fully grown children from deciding America’s fate as though the country were a lump of playdoh in their clammy hands. Succession isn’t fun tonight. Instead, it’s a triggering-ly true recollection of Fox News’ immoral confirmations of the inflammatory lies told by Trump in 2020. Replace the Murdochs with the Roys and Trump with Mencken, and you’ve got a horrifyingly close-to-home repurposing of a story you wish was a thing of the past.

Spoilers Ahead


Of Digestions And Constitutions

There’s a lot riding on every move that Tom makes tonight. Not that being the head of the openly Right Wing ATN doesn’t entail being a marionette to the ones that really call the shots. Knowing that his head is on the line does in no way soothe Tom’s manic state of scrutinizing the battleground and the Darwin-led decision desk. Because he knows that there’s only so much that he or Darwin can do. So, Greg’s assigned some more Gregging, which he begrudgingly accepts before faking a hit of the same cocaine that Tom is already on. Terrified at the prospect of having to wear adult diapers, the ATN head steers clear of the bodega sushi and sticks to espresso, which I doubt wouldn’t have the same effect. But Tom persists through the malfunctioning touch screens and the brass-infiltrated newsroom to emerge with a clear head. If only there was a modicum of original thought in there!


Roy News Makes Their Own Truth

The Darwin-assured toilet breaks are apparently only for ATN employees, as Shiv is clearly soiling herself at the peril of another one of her acts of treachery ending up not too fruitful for her. The entirety of ATN news has taken Logan’s last pow-wow to heart, and its calling seems to be manufacturing its own truth and hoisting the all-around authoritarian Mencken as the election front-runner. So what if his fascist apes have gone all pyro in Milwaukee and stolen ballots to turn the Wisconsin numbers around? No fear when ATN is here. An intentionally enkindled polling booth becomes the supposed victim of electrical malfunctions. Lost ballot boxes containing a deciding amount of votes going missing take a wild turn to hold the Democratic candidate Jimenez accountable. Anything is possible with Roman’s command. And why is Roman vehemently backing the fascist? It’s hardly entirely rooted in his support for the candidate his dad chose. Mencken has promised him complete ruination of the GoJo deal, something that Shiv’s trying to halt from going full steam ahead as she advises the Swede to come out with his funky numbers. 


It Really Is A Rat Race

Let’s get one thing out of the way: there’s a lot to read between the lines with the Roy kids. Not one of them functions without a myriad of agendas taking the wheel. And if anyone amongst the three is remotely worried about how mishandling the elections is going to affect the country, it’s Shiv. And sadly, her voice is ruthlessly drowned in the noise that is coming from the co-CEOS of Waystar Royco. Although, to be fair, Kendall is far from wanting Mencken’s nasty bottom to land on America’s throne. So he is actively trying to nudge Nate still, hoping that Jimenez will see the light and offer up what the Right Winger has already promised. But Jimenez is a decent guy who wants no part of the chaos that will ensue if he shakes hands with the Roys. On the other hand, Roman has already dropped by Mencken’s HQ to reassure him that even though Connor couldn’t be swayed into conceding, Rome certainly has enough tricks up his sleeve to secure the presidential seat for the white supremacist. Dismissing Shiv’s concerns for the kidnapped voters as though they were the ramblings of a madwoman, Roman quietly turns the waves around with discreet notes to newscaster Ravenhead. And you bet he’s more than happy to go monster mode against the Left. 


A Crestfallen Queen Too Weak To Take Anything On

I guess one of the more wicked hobbies of Succession is leaving you high and dry after leading you on. It can’t just be me who was looking forward to an explosive announcement of Shiv’s pregnancy. Now that the cat is out of the bag, all we’re left with is the bitter fall-out of last week’s episode, which Tom clearly hasn’t moved on from. There’s no high road, let alone a horse, for the couple consumed by a lose-lose tornado of giving and receiving pain. A tit-for-tat for Tom and Shiv takes the form of one calling the other a gold digger and the other weaponizing a sensitive insecurity shared in a vulnerable moment. Nate can’t save Shiv, and I doubt that he would even care. And from the looks of it, Matsson is in no position to hand out favors. Following her husband’s lead, Shiv stings the riled-up Greg into what she would like to believe is his submission. But alas, lizard-king Greg regenerates his tail faster than the dismembered one can be disposed of. He’s gotten an in with the Swede, and he’s paid dearly with awkward dances with old men and drinking drinks that weren’t meant to be drunk. Loading up on the ammo that is Shiv’s dirty little secret, Greg’s going full throttle against her, determined to stand tall (as if he could help it) against her threat of pulling his organs out. 


‘Pending’ Wins

Rome’s not paying any heed to Ken’s discomfort with ATN broadcasting Mencken as the winning candidate in Wisconsin. Making up the funniest, albeit cringy gag of this week’s Succession is Darwin’s work being halted when he sustains a minor eye injury caused by Greg’s wasabi. Although it’s quite disturbing how the consequential news of Mencken’s assumed win in Wisconsin gets announced as Greg unintentionally aggravates Darwin further by trying to wash his eyes with a fizzy lemon drink. It’s official. The news of the unlikely fascist win in a left-leaning state endangers the country, while the sure defeat draws a sigh out of Connor. Being an ambassador of a country with nukes doesn’t look so bad now, does it, Con? Ken’s not happy with the turn the election is taking. However bizarre it may seem, the fate of the country is being sealed by the generational trauma of a family. People will die, properties will be trashed, and a nation will burn because Roman didn’t get his way with the choice between steak and chicken when they were kids. It’s the saddest week in the history of Succession.


What Does ATN’s Decision Mean For Its Future?

Promises of FTC overtaking tech and serving up the Swede’s decapitated head for lunch may be keeping Roman afloat. But it’s not necessarily sweeping Ken off his feet. There’s a peculiar difference to be noted between the two brothers embroiled in a conflict that decides the fate of the presidential election. While neither of them would lose a night’s sleep over which candidate gets to steer the country, their reasons for backing who they back are strikingly unique for them both. The Roman we see today, and it really shouldn’t come as a surprise, is devoid of a smidgen of morality or goodness. He really doesn’t mind painting the Milwaukee fire incident red and calling it a possible act of terrorism by ANTIFA if it means that he gets to screw the Swede over. Why? Because he’s got to be the mirror image of who his dad would’ve been if he was around to see the elections through. His dad wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the indisputable consequences of his selfish actions if it meant that he got to share the White House with the fascist he’d sold it to. So why should Roman? And if it couldn’t get any more ironic, the fear that is making Ken fidget around wildly is the fear of walking the path his dad had carved out.

More than anything, he wants his name uttered in the same breath as that of Logan. So, a muffled conference room chat with panicky Shiv goes the way that Ken would expect. Both of them are against placing the crown on the fascist’s head. And yet Mencken is even closer to securing his spot on the throne as the broken and battered Connor concedes and shows his support for the ATN-backed front-runner with an odd and infuriating speech. Willa’s flinch comes a bit too late. She’s already traded in her righteousness for lavish meals in Vienna and Venice. With the polls coming close to a draw between Mencken and Jimenez, Roman’s making it increasingly difficult for Darwin to hold down the fort that is the Decision Desk. Sanity takes its dying gasp with Rome’s unswerving drive to make his Right-Wing news channel announce that Mencken has won Arizona when there’s no truth to that claim. To prove that the generational evil hasn’t bought his soul, Ken urges Shiv to get in touch with Nate and ask him to get through to his boss. Shiv is aware that it’s an impossible hurdle for her to overcome. So she fakes a call and hopes that she can fool her brothers into buying it. It’s fascinating to see just how terrible a liar Shiv is. Really makes you wonder if there’s not a ray of redemption alive in her yet. What would she have lost if she had told a straight-faced lie that she didn’t end up losing anyway? She should’ve known better than trying to convince her brothers with her half-baked mumbles and fumbles.

Ken detecting the very obvious lie in Shiv’s claim that Jimenez can be persuaded into killing the GoJo deal is ultimately what comes dangerously close to sealing America’s fate. Every look of absolute dread from Shiv to Ken as he calls Nate up himself to get to the bottom of the story, and she still tries to talk some sense into Rome, foretells the imminent downfall of the Roy queen. The consequential call taking place out of our earshot is maybe Succession‘s way of cutting us down to size and establishing the Roys’ blanket preeminence. And our reluctant support for Shiv is yet to see the worst disappointment. Although we don’t have to wait around for too long to have our hopes and dreams crushed. It is almost as if you’re locked in the suffocation of the room that Shiv’s in, and you’re helplessly watching Greg spill the beans to Ken and secure his future. Now Ken’s not only aware of the one lie that Shiv’s told to keep the fascist from winning, but he’s also come to know that his little sister has been in cahoots with Matsson. What did I tell you about Ken’s decision-making being primarily driven by his emotions? It’s one betrayal, and Ken’s ready to throw everything he believes in, everything he apparently stands for, down the dump. And there’s no talking her way out of it for Shiv anymore. It takes just one knife in his back for Ken to prioritize his ego over the future of an entire country.

In this moment of rage, I doubt that Ken even recalls the very recent incident of his daughter being harassed by the kind of racist degenerates that cheer for the likes of Mencken. Not every POC parent can assign a car full of armed guards to tail their kid and keep them safe, Ken. In a building full of people who get to decide the turn the election is going to take, there’s not one person who’s not being distressingly selfish. Even as he happily takes Ken and Rome’s green signal down to the warzone, Greg’s found the time to hit on Jess with his crocodile tears about having to communicate a nuclear attack-esque order to the data nerds. I can’t help but wonder if ATN’s frighteningly premature move of declaring Mencken as the future president of America wouldn’t come back to haunt them when the votes are counted. I wouldn’t even be shocked if Jimenez wins and Ken and Rome’s destructive impulses completely annihilate the Roys.

Ken hasn’t forgiven his father. And Logan must be cracking up in hell seeing as Ken’s proving to be an awful father himself. There’s a certain utterly confusing thing that Kendall says in the ending scene. And before you pull your hair out, wondering what he meant, allow me to explain it to you. It’s basically a prank that Succession has pulled on us all by making us look for an insignificant easter egg. Fikret is Kendall’s driver. And it was Fikret who was being addressed when Kendall was trying to justify supporting a fascist. The “deal” in this scenario is the deal that Kendall desperately wanted Jimenez to get on board with. And that is messing up the GoJo sale in exchange for the American throne. By not taking his deal, Jimenez, at least according to Ken, forced him to side with the devil on his shoulder. Closer and closer to becoming the next Logan, aren’t we, Ken? 


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Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjeehttps://muckrack.com/lopamudra-mukherjee
Lopamudra nerds out about baking whenever she’s not busy looking for new additions to the horror genre. Nothing makes her happier than finding a long-running show with characters that embrace her as their own. Writing has become the perfect mode of communicating all that she feels for the loving world of motion pictures.

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