While America’s political landscape has always served as one of the substantial foundations to Succession’s overarching narrative, the underbelly of the show has always seemed to focus on the dark side of business and all its nitty gritty workings to show audiences how the sausage is made. Episode 8 of Succession’s fourth and final season takes every element that has made the show so dastardly fascinating, and throws us into Hell on Earth – ATN headquarters on election night.
It’s Tom’s big night – leading ATN’s prestigious and coveted election coverage for the first time without Logan Roy at the helm. With governing bodies, media managers, and the Roy’s breathing down Tom’s neck, and despite Greg’s overwhelming (middling) confident (unsure) reassurance (string of positivity buzzwords), Tom is feeling the weight of the task he has before him. The disastrous mix of stress and lack of sleep causes Tom to rely on Greg for a very important piece of equipment that will bring life, energy and mental sharpness to him for his journey ahead… a lovely little bump of white gold.
In the hope of keeping Tom’s number one distraction, Shiv and her scheming brothers, away from the floor during the coverage, the Roy siblings are placed in an isolated boardroom to watch the night unfold, and all with their side agendas riding on completely differing outcomes of the election. Shiv and Matsson constantly rewrite their narrative about Matsson’s recent subscriber numbers controversy based on who is leading, while Roman is summoned to Mencken’s headquarters to discuss the possibility of what Roman and ATN can do for him if the election doesn’t go his way. Meanwhile, the silent and stoic Kendall has his eyes set on making sure the night goes perfectly to solidify his recent interest in taking over the entire empire, Matsson’s GoJo included.
Kendall’s attention is drawn away from the election results when Rava calls, concerned about a suspicious SUV following her around the city, only to discover that Kendall has had security following his family around after the increased threats made against them. His version of protection is perceived as paranoia by Rava, causing Kendall to become agitated by the misconstrued belief that every decision he makes is for the best of the family he is so disconnected with. His disconnect is only solidified even more when his call with Rava is completed, and without hesitation, his fingers begin dialling for Nate Sofrelli in order to wish Mencken’s opposition (and punching bag of ATN), Daniel Jiminez, the best of luck, but also to plant the seed of conversations about tech in his head, just in case Jiminez does in fact win.
The neck-and-neck race between Mencken and Jiminez creates absolute pandemonium by way of phone calls as everyone calls anyone to make sure allegiances and alliances are still withheld. But, Tom’s night takes a turn when the touch screens used by the ATN panel begin to malfunction, and despite back-up screens ready to go, it doesn’t take long for the Roy siblings to march down to the battleground, demanding answers as to why Tom’s broadcast is going to the dogs, causing Tom’s panic and anxiety to continually accumulate.
The intensity ramps up extensively when word of a fire in Milwaukee has destroyed an extensive number of ballots, but the count at the point leading up to the fire saw Mencken in front, despite Milwaukee being a democratic leaning city in a predominantly democratic state. With accusations of ‘red’ arsonists fire bombing the centre, or defensive arguments stating it could’ve been an electrical fire, the ATN brain trust must make a forgone conclusion as to whether any votes saved in the fire would be in enough favour of Jiminez, or whether Mencken will take the victory for Milwaukee.
With a small group of supporters and his wife around him, Connor eagerly anticipates election results coming in from what he believes is a sure first state to back him in Arizona. And despite a somewhat deluded optimism of “anything could happen”, a final ditch effort from Roman to have Connor drop out of the election in return for a government ambassador role in Eastern Europe results in his concedement when the Arizona numbers come through in support of Mencken, putting the final nail in the coffin of Connor’s presidential dreams. But, Connor couldn’t leave without one final word to the world, with a rousing, off-script and critical speech that surprisingly leans in the crowd’s favour, despite its cringy nature.
Cousin Greg continues his ‘big boy pants’ routine as he constantly tries to round up the Roy’s to take them back to the board room, but a private chat with Shiv allows Greg to divulge information that he learnt on his drunken night out with Matsson the night before. To her surprise, Shiv finds usefulness in Greg, but also understands that she may be on thin ice around him now that he is aware of her allegiance with Matsson, and can’t be 100% sure if Greg is trustworthy.
With Arizona in the bag for Mencken, and no word on whether the votes in Milwaukee have been recovered, Roman begins to push for ATN to call an incredibly premature results of Mencken winning the election, disguising his now cemented relationship with Mencken as a false desire for the network to be the forerunners of breaking the news to the entire country. Shiv and Kendall feel less comfortable, claiming that despite their late father’s brash nature, he wouldn’t have called an election this early based on a rumour. The tension between the Roy siblings comes to a boiling point as accusations are thrown around left and right about who is really aligning with who on desired outcomes. Despite the unity shown to each other during their toughest, most emotionally vulnerable times, it took only a few days and another sniff at the power they could hold to have the Roy siblings all become the one thing they contradictorily criticised – becoming their father.
Before plunging head first into the unknown consequences of calling the election, Kendall asks Shiv to call Nate for any final information about the ballots before making a call. With the Matsson deal on the forefront of her mind, and with Matsson’s reaction to the election so far being less than positive, Shiv fakes the phone call and struggles to create false information about the call when questioned by Roman and Kendall about it. Curiously, Kendall calls Nate, only to find out Shiv never contacted him, and the facade comes tumbling down.
Kendall returns to the boardrooms and confronts Shiv, finding out everything she has been hiding from him and Roman. The Matsson alliance is peppered with cries of wanting what’s right for the country and not letting Mencken screw the GoJo deal. But Kendall and Roman, with betrayal in their hearts, deception in their veins and millions on their minds, decide to pull the trigger, and allow Tom to break the news of Mencken’s unconfirmed victory. And while Mencken may have won the night, the Roy siblings may have lost the one thing keeping them together.
Succession is now streaming on BINGE.
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