Word: This text comprises spoilers for a number of Succession episodes, significantly season 4, episode seven, “Tailgate Occasion.”
In Tailgate Occasion, the seventh episode of the ultimate season of Succession, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) and Shiv (Sarah Snook), who’re in a greater place than ever of their relationship, are about to throw a pre-Election Day soiree at their residence — a continuation of an occasion Logan (Brian Cox) threw for a number of the nation’s most influential political movers and shakers.
We see loads of assist — cleaners, caterers, waiters, drivers, doormen — milling about within the background as Tom and Shiv giggle about their naughty machinations. Everybody on the occasion is engaged in a form of tactical bullshitting: Kendall (Jeremy Robust) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) are spreading rumors and innuendo to highly effective individuals in hopes of tanking GoJo’s acquisition. Shiv is mendacity to her brothers’ faces whereas working with GoJo chief Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), hoping to safe herself the position within the firm that Logan and her brothers have lengthy denied her. Matsson, it seems, is conjuring numbers out of skinny air. Connor (Alan Ruck) is attempting to barter his cratering presidential bid right into a prestigious diplomatic gig.
This episode is basic Succession: There’s a swanky occasion occurring, however the primary characters are scurrying round with ulterior motives, attempting to outwit their opponents. The election itself is a humorous little distraction: Partygoers are inspired to take part in a cutesy recreation guessing which candidate will win by how a lot, and there’s a pervasive sense of ideological nihilism within the room — individuals might need a most popular candidate, but it surely’s all the identical in the long run. Hedge your bets, and prepare to cozy as much as whoever finally ends up president.
The Roys are careless individuals, leaving others to wash up their mess, because the well-known line goes in The Nice Gatsby. However they’ll’t come away utterly unscathed. They’re filled with mundane needs and wounded emotions. And many of the bullshitting they interact in throughout this episode boomerangs and knocks them again right down to Earth.
Wheeling and dealing
Within the final episode, Kendall and Roman tried to drive up the Waystar inventory worth in order that Matsson, unable or unwilling to match it, would stroll away. Apparently, it wasn’t sufficient to snuff out the deal.
Now, they wish to take the regulatory tack. As in, tip off somebody excessive up in political circles to get the DOJ, FCC, FTC — doesn’t matter which scramble of letters — suspicious of the sale and examine it on antitrust grounds. They wish to invite Nate (Ashley Zukerman), Shiv’s ex-boyfriend and ex-affair companion, to the occasion: He’s a political operative who’s now working with the Democratic presidential candidate, Daniel Jimenez (who, in one other day or so, might be the following president of the US). Shiv acts prefer it’s an honest thought after which instantly calls Matsson to inform him what her brothers are cooking, insisting that he additionally must attend the occasion to get Nate and different bigwigs on his facet. That is Tom’s worst nightmare: two males that Shiv has some form of flirtation with at his occasion.
The CE-Bros are overlaying all their bases. They’ve already ordered the notorious Ratfucker, grasp of uncovering each bit of data on an individual, to dig up the filthiest Matsson filth doable.
Matsson rolls as much as the occasion together with his crew, interrupting a second of silence for Logan. He’s unfazed among the many occasion friends, chewing gum arrogantly and wearing a hideous brown velvet observe jacket. Shiv makes use of the chance to inform him she needs one thing from him: For a second, one would possibly anticipate her to plead the case for not eliminating Tom. As a substitute, Shiv seems to be out for herself as all the time, asking Matsson for a “very, very, very important position” on the new firm. Regardless of how keen he’s to flirt with Shiv, telling her how a lot he likes speaking to her, he demurs the second she asks for actual energy, which her father all the time denied her, too.
In the meantime, Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk) — the ultra-conservative Trump caricature and Republican presidential candidate backed by the Roys’ information community, ATN — needs Roman and Ken to persuade Connor to drop out. The newest ballot numbers are exhibiting a good race, and what Mencken needs is to “divert the Conhead stream to the Mencken river,” as Roman explains. It’s asking rather a lot — Connor proudly boasts that he’s getting 4, 5, even 6 p.c in Alaska — but it surely’s not a agency no, relying on the commerce. Like he’s providing a bit of gum, Roman suggests Connor take the ambassadorship to Somalia. Connor declines; he’d want one thing in Europe, or the UN. Connor even suggests North Korea as an thought. “I might open it up like Nixon did China,” he says, eyes glittering on the prospect of such fame. They commute with affords and counters, speaking about total nations like they’re simply buying and selling playing cards.
This form of vanity resonates significantly strongly in Tailgate Occasion, although it’s all the time true of the world these characters inhabit. The Roys are the 1 p.c. In fact they’re dismissive and careless in regards to the little, virtually invisible individuals round them. Tom straddles this divide, usually each perpetuating their cruelties and being a sufferer of them; he doesn’t come from cash, and late on this episode Shiv even outright calls him “striving and parochial” — the poor little boy from Minnesota.
But Tom has discovered rather a lot throughout his time within the higher crust, and there are many ants on the sidewalk for him to squish, too. The morning of the occasion, Tom declares layoffs at ATN by a bunch video name. Effectively, he doesn’t — he palms that disagreeable baton off to Greg (Nicholas Braun), who reads off a script that’s an echo of so many real-life company layoff memos: “This was a troublesome choice, however essential to guard the way forward for the corporate. It wasn’t taken evenly, however solely after exploring all accessible choices. It’s not a layoff, it’s a acutely aware uncoupling from an employment-based relationship.”
They don’t even have the humanity to inform everybody in individual, regardless of being within the ATN workplaces, nor the naked minimal decency to inform every individual individually. As a substitute, the assembly attendees are instructed that in the event that they’re on the decision, they not have a job.
Greater than 100 individuals have simply misplaced their livelihoods, and it’s not even an itch on Tom’s conscience. He goes about his day, worrying in regards to the wine and the way drained he’ll be after internet hosting such an impressive, vital occasion.
Regardless of their carelessness, these rich snobs are sometimes shocked and disillusioned to be taught there are typically penalties to their messing round. Tom axes a bunch of his staff however bristles on the reality that his head is on the chopping block, too. Matsson, on the occasion, is telling virtually everybody he meets that when Waystar is his, Tom can be out. Tom tries being a kiss-ass, however Matsson can inform and isn’t impressed by it. As Shiv joins the dialog, Matsson units up one other considered one of his merciless jokes by complimenting their residence. “Who’ll get to maintain it within the divorce?” It elicits uncomfortable laughter, however neither of them tells him that they’ve agreed to get again collectively.
Matsson is dropping observe of his Rube Goldberg machine too. The GoJo males harass Ebba (Eili Harboe) — his head of comms and typically lover to whom he sends half liters of his personal blood — prefer it’s all enjoyable and video games, however she’s had sufficient. Kendall, who hasn’t been having a lot luck together with his regulatory technique, catches on that one thing is off and approaches Ebba. She spills rapidly: Sexual harassment is the least of Matsson’s worries. The true mess is that he’s been mendacity about his subscriber numbers in India. It’s higher than something the Ratfucker might have instructed Kendall and Roman. It seems Matsson, just like the Roys, is a large bullshitter too.
Roman’s once-romantic rapport with Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) seems irrevocably over, too. Her look on the occasion provides Rome some hope — perhaps she’s not that upset anymore about him making an attempt to fireside her final episode. Frank (Peter Friedman) dispels that false impression: She’s “extremely offended,” he says. Roman tries to sidle as much as her later to clean issues over together with his common foolish, unhinged, inappropriate attraction. Gerri informs him coolly that she’s performed with Waystar, needs a nine-figure payout, and has employed “private repute administration.” If any of them undermine the narrative she tells in regards to the firm within the subsequent 5 years, she tells Roman, she’ll sue and launch the multitude of dick pics Roman has despatched her.
“I might’ve bought you there,” she tells him wistfully, suggesting she might have helped Roman grow to be an actual chief of his father’s empire — however he threw all of it away.
Even Kendall comes nose to nose with the repercussions of his involvement with Waystar. He finds out his daughter, who will not be white, was just lately harassed by a racist fan of the ATN anchor Mark Ravenhead, who’s mainly an alt-right Nazi. Kendall’s response isn’t to be crestfallen that their craven information protection is immediately impacting his youngsters — he’s not going to take some grand stance in opposition to ATN’s excessive bias. He asks his ex-wife why his daughter was “out on the road.” The Roys could also be extremely sheltered more often than not, ferried from non-public vehicles to personal jets, however not even the ultra-rich can all the time be cosseted from actuality. Rava (Natalie Gold) balks on the implication that her parenting is in charge, throwing it proper again at him — he barely even calls his daughter. Kendall protests that all the pieces he’s attempting to do with Waystar, together with ATN, is for his youngsters. Certain. Logan stated that, too.
Shiv’s little recreation of taking part in each side — pretending to be on her brothers’ crew however really feeding intel to Matsson — explodes in her face, too. Ken and Rome, suspecting nothing of her deception, inform her excitedly about Matsson’s made-up numbers. (Nevermind that Kendall was shot down onerous within the final episode for additionally pondering of inflating earnings projections.) Alone with Tom on their balcony, Shiv tears up on the concern that she has nailed herself to the “Matsson cross.” She’s so fast to lose religion and leap ship, so simply rattled by what or who she needs.
At first of the episode, Shiv and Tom are virtually sickeningly affectionate; he provides her a weird knick-knack of a scorpion as a present. They’re not going to divorce in spite of everything. Because the occasion dwindles, nevertheless, they’ve the largest combat of their relationship. Tom tries to reassure Shiv’s fears however has had sufficient of her woebegone act. He factors out that she feels responsible about betraying her brothers however doesn’t suppose twice about her confederate Matsson planning on firing him. They are saying ugly issues to one another — the sort you’ll be able to’t ever take again.
Shiv admits how offended she is about his present. He thinks of her as a stinging, venomous scorpion? She has some creature comparisons to make, too: Tom is a hyena, a “road rat.” She’s not solely calling him poor, she’s calling him a greedy vulture. He calls her egocentric and tells her that she ought to by no means have married him. She didn’t even need his child. “I feel you’re incapable of affection,” he says. “And I feel you’re perhaps not individual to have youngsters.”
It’s a stake by her coronary heart. It’s unclear if Shiv remains to be pregnant, however she was earlier within the season, and she or he clearly has but to inform Tom. She says the nastiest factor she will consider — that Tom betraying her to facet along with her father on the finish of season 3 is what drove her and Logan aside, preserving her away from him in the previous couple of months of his life. Tom doesn’t declare this blame. “It’s not my fault that you just didn’t get his approval,” he says. “I’ve given you countless approval, and it doesn’t fill you up since you’re damaged.”
Like that, the coy flirtations they’ve been taking part in with for the previous few episodes are snuffed out. Honesty can foster highly effective intimacy in a relationship, however that is the form of uncooked, harrowing reality that drives two individuals aside for good.
Shiv is a damaged individual, as is everybody else within the Roy household. Succession doesn’t ask its viewers to pity the billionaire, but it surely shows how corrosive energy and privilege may be even to the individuals benefiting from them. Wracked by paranoia, they give the impression of being down from their penthouses and see how far they should fall. In lots of respects, their riches defend them from hurt, wrapping them in a protecting layer that cushions them from the inequities and indignities that the much less lucky face each day. However that layer has additionally suffocated the a part of the mind that permits them to belief and love others as equals.
Matsson sums it up in a scene with Shiv, telling her, “I believed these individuals can be very difficult. However they’re not. It’s mainly simply cash and gossip.” That’s all they know, they usually’re impoverished by it.
Kendall, armed with the information of GoJo’s bullshit numbers, tells Frank his new plan. He needs to rewind all the pieces in regards to the deal. As a substitute of promoting to GoJo, “We pillage their village,” he says. “Waystar acquires GoJo.” And he reveals why he’s basically damaged, too. All through the season, Kendall has stored up the artifice that he and his siblings are on this collectively. They’re sharing energy. However like a moth, he’s drawn to the harmful, all-consuming gentle. He hasn’t consulted with Shiv or Rome about this concept as a result of he’s not excited by their opinions. He’s been bullshitting them — and perhaps himself — the entire time. “One head, one crown,” he says.
Earlier, searching the window from Shiv and Tom’s triplex on the midtown Manhattan view, Matsson observes at one level that it seems to be like Legoland to him. An amusement park, not an actual place the place actual individuals dwell. And from this peak, the skyline actually does seem like Lego blocks — plastic items organized in a placing show, with no people within the scene.