Succession Season 4, Episode 8 Recap: America Decides

Succession Season 4, Episode 8 Recap: America Decides

It’s Election Day! Episode 8 of the final season of “Succession” finds the Roys and crew navigating the momentous occasion, the first that American Television Network will be covering without its late founder Logan Roy at the helm.


Though titled “America Decides,” the nail-biting hour is really about network boss Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) figuring out how to spin the night’s news for ATN’s rabid conservative audience base, all the while fighting interference from the business and partisan considerations of Roy’s children Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin), Connor (Alan Ruck) and Siobhan (Sarah Snook), who also happens to be the wife Tom had an earth-scorching argument the night before.

May the best candidate win. SPOILER ALERT: They won’t.

No Leaks, No Adult Diapers

Tom, presumably not having slept after the big fight with Shiv, is gearing up for the 5 p.m. report. His human chew toy Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) sticks his head in the office, all excited.

“I’ve got to deliver the best election numbers ever,” Tom says of the night’s ratings, “because my bosses want to rip my heart out as a peace offering to all comers. So I’m a little bit tense.”

“Well, I’m feelin’ pretty good,” Greg announces, characteristically obtuse.

In an upper suite at ATN, Tom’s boss Kendall calls him to demand gangbusters. Tom assures good numbers from below and asks news manager Pam (Lori Wilner) how things are going. She mentions a news van in trouble in Portland, something going down in Milwaukee. He asks about a woman who claims to have voted 40 times for Democratic candidate Jimenez. He’s told she was checked out and judged crazy. Tom tells Pam she’s not a doctor and to get the nut on air. Pam makes fun of his dress shoes.

“I’m perfectly comfortable, Pam,” he replies. “I’ve got good arches, they’ve been remarked upon.”

Walking into a group meeting, Tom asks Darwin (Adam Godley) — who’s apparently the only actual journalist employed by ATN — if they wear adult diapers on these long, crucial nights. He’s told there’s always time for the bathroom.

Darwin issues the night’s instructions. Greg whispers to Tom about going out on the town with Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) and his GoJo Swedes, who are in position to buy ATN’s parent company Waystar.

“Pretty monstrous,” Greg trembles. “His crew knows some unseemly venues. I danced with an old man! I drank things that aren’t normally drinks. And I got the impression… Do you know about Matsson with Shiv, and their sort of, like, their business alliance agreement?”

Tom does now.

“Well, I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he feigns. “Information, Greg, it’s like a bottle of fine wine. You store it, you hoard it, you save it for a special occasion. And then you smash someone’s f—n’ face in one.”

Darwin says they’re hearing Republican candidate Jeryd Mencken may be overperforming in Georgia and Arizona. It’s privileged information; no leaks that could affect turnout allowed. Upstairs, Ken gets a call from Tom saying exit polls show the Democrat, Daniel Jimenez, leading. Shiv and Roman Roy argue over the emojis they’re getting from their favored campaigns, hers Jimenez and his Mencken’s.

“I’m feeling sick,” the still secretly pregnant Shiv says.

“Oh why? It’s fun,” Roman taunts. “My team’s playing your team. It’s only spicy because if my team wins they’re going to shoot your team.”

Shiv mentions Nazi vans. Rome calls them fun buses. In Florida they’re picking people up, lying that they’re taking them to polling places and leaving them by the highway. Shiv calls it kidnapping. Roman snaps “false flag.”

Shiv sneaks off and calls Matsson. Jimenez should be good for his buyout deal, but he doesn’t want to announce GoJo’s hinky India numbers as soon as she thinks he should. She’s surprised to hear he discussed it with Greg last night. He calls her cousin a “normalist.”

Former lover and Jimenez operative Nate (Ashley Zukerman) calls Shiv with all of his election worries, including “disturbance in Wisconsin.”

Roman and Kendall discuss what a Jimenez win will mean for the GoJo deal that they don’t want. Today’s the moment of maximum leverage. Mencken’s people call Roman; they want to see him. He leaves and Ken’s ex-wife Rava (Natalie Gold) calls him. An SUV is following her car; she’s with their adopted, South Asian daughter Sophie, who was kinda maybe assaulted by a Mencken follower earlier. Ken sent the pursuing vehicle to guard them. Rava’s pissed he’s surveilling them.

“It’s an extra layer of bubble wrap,” he rationalizes. “She OK?”

“She’s scared, Ken. I’m scared. There is shit burning, there is intimidation…”

“Relax,” Ken says, emphatically and ineffectively. “Tell Sophie I love her and that is why I do everything I do. Hey Soph? I love you, sweetie. Are you OK? Nothing’s going to happen. Exit polls say Jimenez, OK? I won’t let the world push you.”

Ken hangs up and calls Nate. The Democrat mentions Victory Vans and s—theads in Milwaukee, does ATN want to cover? Ken says he’ll talk, but has to let the network do its thing. He wants to talk to Jimenez (Elliot Villar). The candidate takes his call. Ken tries to put an anti-tech bug in his reluctant ear, promises to make sure tonight’s coverage will be “fair as f—k.”

Elliot Villar in a still from “Succession.” (HBO)

Roman goes to Mencken’s hotel suite. The Republican (Justin Kirk) busts him for not getting his brother, independent libertarian candidate Connor Roy, to drop out of the presidential race; and asks ATN to run fraudulent coverage of his opponent. Rome says he keeps his hands out. They go off to a side room.

“We still think we can win,” the not-so-crypto-fascist tells the media heir. “But I am very focused on losing. Winning’s easy, winning will take care of itself. But if I lose, I need to work on what assholes would call the narrative. If I lose, I want it correctly characterized as a huge victory. Overperformed. I wanna be a president. I want you to be a partner in that. And if it isn’t tonight, it will be next time.”

“Even if you’re not going to be THE president, you’re going to be our president,” Roman understands.

“Exactly. You and me, we’ll go far.”

“Over the road and into the bar.”

Mencken gives Roman a hearty shoulder pat.

Ashley Zukerman in a still from “Succession.” (HBO)

Touchscreen Trauma

Greg wants to talk about how he should play Matsson. Tom wants his coffee.

“Tom, I don’t do coffee anymore.”

“No Greg!” Tom rants. “I have to be clear. I have to! If I get drowsy and I miscall Colorado, instability, right? Then the U.S. loses credibility, China spots an opportunity, invades Taiwan, tactical nukes, s—t goes kablooey and we’re back to amoeba. It’s a long way back from pond life because you failed to get me a double shot.”

And this is before Greg talks him into a couple of cocaine bumps. Greg’s reluctant to snort with Tom, though, having railed it up with the Swedes the night before.

“Don’t be Mom, c’mon! It’s medically good for your brain. It is! What’re you saying, all Aztecs are stupid?

Don’t be a racist little bitch about it,” Tom wheedles, mislabeling Incas.

Greg snorts. Returning to his desk, Tom’s appalled to see containers of bodega sushi stacked up for dinner. Greg tries to blame it on someone named Sampson.

“Not Sampson! Not! I want you Greging for me! You’re busted back down to Greg tonight.”

“Nooo,” Greg squeals.

“Yes! Tonight, my digestive system is basically part of the Constitution, OK?”

Connor calls Tom. He complains there’s an ATN camera crew in his hotel suite but no footage of him on air.

“I expected to be frozen out by all those other mooks,” the one-percent polling candidate says. “But you guys? C’mon! Gimme some sugar, Man. I mean, maybe everyone voted for me, we don’t know.”

Connor’s playwright/ex-call girl wife Willa (Justine Lupe) whispers “Schrödinger’s cat” in his ear. He babbles about boxes and presidencies into the phone.

After Tom hangs up, CoWilla happily agree that anything can happen.

“I’m so glad I didn’t drop out,” Connor tells the air. “It makes an election so much more interesting when you’re in it.”

ATN anchors announce 7 p.m. ET poll closings. Mencken beats Jimenez in Kentucky, the one state where Connor imagined he had a chance. Willa pats his back.

“F—k Kentucky, Con.”

“No,” he mewls. “I shan’t become that. Alas Kentucky, Willa. Alas vanity.”

Alan Ruck and Justine Lupe in a still from “Succession.” (David M. Russell/HBO)

Pam asks Tom how much airtime he wants to give to reports of intimidation. A fire in Milwaukee could be nasty. Could be electrical. Tom shakes his head no. The on-air touch screen showing Pennsylvania county votes suddenly malfunctions. F—k Milwaukee, this is a real disaster. Tom explodes, runs into a control booth. Upstairs, Ken and the Waystar execs see it too. Ken makes the wtf call to Tom, who says he’s on it. Ken says he’s not. Tom hands his phone to Greg. It’s 9 p.m. ET and a batch of new numbers are about to come in. If it’s not fixed Ken threatens to put someone’s head through that touchscreen.

Pam tells a panicking Tom they have three touchscreens lined up and no one will notice anyway. He says he noticed. “Do I look like no one? Do I?”

Ken notices that ATN is behind social media on the Wisconsin fire. Shiv calls Tom about it, Ken wonders aloud why they aren’t covering it.

“Well, because we always have to choose what to focus on,” Tom says. “Just because something is on fire, it doesn’t make it news.”

Nate’s on another phone on Shiv’s other hand. He says Jimenez’s camp is hearing it’s not an electrical fire. Ken says they need to be all over this.

“I just think it’s important to keep our unique perspective because we are getting conflicting reporting,” Tom equivocates.

“What about the actual photos I can see of it happening on my f—g phone?” Shiv asks.

“Look, there are many many things happening in this nation right now,” reports Tom, accurately but beside the point. “There are a million data points and we have to select the ones that are consequential.”

“If these nut jobs are going paramilitary, we can say that?” Ken proposes.

“Yes. We just need to respect our viewership,” Tom says, mimicking a Fox News lawsuit deposition.

“By not telling them anything they don’t want to hear?” Shiv, saying the quiet part out loud.

“You guys get this about the Antifa firebombing in Milwaukee?” Rome, walking in, asks his siblings.
Nate says they’re hearing it was Mencken’s people. Shiv mentions that the fire is at a vote-counting center. Ken tells Tom it’s a story. Tom asks not to be micromanaged. Tom hands off his phone to Greg again. Ken says “We’re not talking to Greg! Amateur Hour down there.”

An ATN report on the fire appears. Shiv and Roman hear from each of their favored campaigns that ballots have been lost in the flames. Rome marches onto the newsroom floor, closely followed by Shiv. Tom tells him no brass on the battlefield, that was one of Logan’s “Geneva conventions.” Ken’s now there too. Tom asks Greg to help the Roys back upstairs. While Greg tries to wrangle his male cousins, Shiv leads Tom down a hallway for “a word.”

“I just wanted to apologize for some of the things I said last night,” she tells him while he shuffles multiple phones. He doesn’t take the opportunity to reciprocate and asks if his wife is scared he’s going to blab about her and Matsson. She wants a little consideration, her father having just died and all.

“Sure,” the husband says. “It means you hated him, Siobhan.”

She says no, the opposite.

“Well, it was complicated,” Tom concedes, “but sometimes you certainly hated him. And you also sorta killed him.”

“Oh. Yeah. ‘Sort of.’ That’s the part I’m going to remember,” Shiv says, shocked and pissed. “Thank you. You know what, actually? Also, I’m pregnant. By you. And there’s never a good time to say, but you need to know so, OK! Now ya know.”

“That even true?”

Shiv fights becoming a tear puddle, walks away biting her hand. She joins her brothers, who Greg’s still trying to move upstairs. She tells them things are tough with Tom. Rome offers to have him killed.

“Maybe,” she says half-heartedly. “He’s just a piece of filth and there’s stuff I’d like to tell you, but…”
Tom walks between them as Greg follows, saying, “I’ve been trying to get them to move. Not in an aggressive way, but…”

ATN reports all workers escaped the burning Milwaukee building safely.

“Who’s responsible is the story, right?” Ken asks a roomful of ATN senior staff. “Who burnt this place down?”

Jeremy Strong in a still from “Succession.” (HBO)

“To me it always comes down to a couple of old favorites,” Roman says. “The Blacks or the Jews?”
Everyone shoots him appalled looks. Tom asks Greg to please get the Roys out of there. Connor calls Rome as they’re walked through the newsroom again. He wants to know if Mencken’s earlier offer of an ambassadorship if he dropped out of the race was still valid.

“That was kind of a yesterday offer, Connor,” Rome explains. “You know if he doesn’t make this you’re gonna be partially f—g responsible.”

Connor pleads that he spent $100 million on his stupid campaign.

“Couldn’t I get a sniff of even a little guy?” the eldest Roy cajoles. “Organize a coup down in old Peru? Put me in a van to Tajikistan? Couldn’t I just be our fun guy in Uruguay?”

“Your rhymes are compelling but what’s in it for him, Con?”

“Oh, maybe just one of the finest political operators of his generation sorting s—t out.”

“I’ll get back to you.”

11 p.m. on the East Coast. Shiv’s told that under Wisconsin state law, the vote can’t be certified until the absentee ballots are counted. 100,000 of those are missing in Milwaukee. Mencken leads in the state without them. Shiv insists every vote must be counted. Roman makes a dismissive “Eh” face. He argues with her about whose “f—ks” burned the ballots.

“If Mencken wins it’s the end of the world!” Shiv genuinely feels.

“Jimenez won’t block the GoJo deal,” Roman counters. “So f—k the guy, right?”

“That’s not the thing,” Shiv asserts. “Right Ken?”

Awkward silence until her older brother finally says “I don’t know.”

Tom comes into the room to announce that lesser right-wing networks are calling Wisconsin for Mencken.

“Great, the maniacs,” Shiv characterizes them.

“Can’t get outflanked,” Roman insists. “We need to be fast. I think we should call it.”

Shiv says no. Ken asks for Decision Desk input.

Jimenez, on TV, says a decision in Wisconsin will have no legitimacy if it does not account for all the ballots cast.

Sarah Snook in a still from “Succession.”

Just a Hint

Darwin is brought into the Roys’ room and tells them Mencken has an unbeatable lead with existing Wisconsin votes, not counting the ones destroyed. A revote would be incredibly rare and not covered by state laws. Roman says that means Mencken. Shiv holds out. The term “do know,” related to how the heavily Democratic district’s burned ballots probably went, gets bandied about and redefined with each mention.

Shiv starts repeating “bulls—t.” Tom says she sounds unhinged. Ken tells his brother-in-law to watch it. Roman leaves. Ken remains noncommittal. An ATN pundit broadcasts right wing rhetoric. It quickly degenerates into talk of guns being confiscated and sons turning into daughters. The Roys are back in the newsroom. Greg calls security. On a stairway Rome marches past Ken, who says he doesn’t feel good about the “powerful commentary” his little brother rushed on air. “Shucks,” Roman says, not slowing his upward stride.


Matsson calls Shiv. “Feels like it’s getting hairy in there,” he says. “Don’t let ‘em break my toy Shiv, OK?” She says she can handle it.

The pundit is making fun of the idea that the fire only burned Democratic votes as Shiv takes Greg into a storage room. She wants to know about his night out with the Swedes, then provocatively asks, “Do you find me attractive, Gregory?”

“I don’t, uh, think of things such as that,” he stammers back.

“Oh. I thought you were a Disgusting Brother. Is that too disgusting for you?”

“This is not appropriate.”

“I’m just letting you know that if you try to f—k me, I’ll kill you.”

Greg nods, asks how golden silence is. “Is there an offer?”

“Yeah,” Shiv purrs. “How about I offer for you to keep all of your internal organs on your insides rather than I pull them out your asshole?”

Kendall’s alone in a conference room when Roman walks in and tells him if Mencken wins, he’ll straight up block the GoJo deal — in exchange for their support tonight. Roman goes into Tom’s office, says to call Wisconsin for Mencken. Darwin is there. Greg is eating the bodega sushi.

“On what authority?” Tom wants to know.

“By the power of me,” Rome orders. “The CEO of Waystar, telling you what to put on the telebox mouth people.”

“I don’t think we can do that, guys,” Darwin says.

Rome thinks they can. Darwin enumerates all of the political and legal implications of the incomplete Wisconsin vote.

“That’s great,” Roman appreciates/doesn’t. “But I’m just gonna say we’re good and that’s on me. The votes that exist have been tallied and that gives Mencken the state.”

There’s a three-way argument between Rome, Tom and Darwin about who gets to make the call. The term “call it” gets bandied about, redefined with each mention. A “pending” call could be done, with a camera on Darwin to explain it to the audience.

“Could there be a graphic that makes it clear the call isn’t a call call?” the closest thing to a real journalist in the room asks. Assured, Darwin sits down, opens his laptop, accidentally touches Greg’s nearby sushi tray and rubs his eyes. Wasabi blindness ensues, as does panic. Shiv walks in, asks “What did you do to him?” Greg opens a can of water, pours some in Darwin’s eyes, makes it worse.

“That’s lemon!” Tom screams.

“It’s clear. It’s LaCroix,” Greg says in his defense. “It’s lemon-y. It’s natural. It’s medical.” Greg takes a sip. “It’s not that lemony. It’s just a hint of lemon.”

Rome asks if Darwin is good to call it. Shiv says he can’t. Tom says they just did. As he and Roman walk out, Tom tells Greg “Do not put any more lemon water or wasabi in his eyes, OK?”

Kieran Culkin as Roman Roy in "Succession"
Kieran Culkin as Roman Roy in “Succession” (HBO)

A Good Guy

Connor and Willa enter ATN as Tom and Roman come down the stairs. Tom tells him he shouldn’t be there. Roman greets him with “Hey, El Presidente.”

“How about I concede in his direction?” Connor asks Rome. “I scratch his balls, he scratches mine.”

“That’s interesting,” Roman replies, half meaning it. He’ll check with Mencken.

A teleblonde announces that “ATN is projecting that Jeryd Mencken has won the state of Wisconsin.”

Nothing “pending” is mentioned. The three brothers watch on monitors in a conference room. Roman tells Connor Mencken will make his deal, he wants to keep the momentum going. Connor’s immediately in hair and makeup, telling Willa “Slovenia.”

“I am torn, he’s very right wing,” Willa pouts. “But, Vienna for lunch, Venice for dinner…”
“…. And Dubrovnik for breakfast,” Connor completes.

Waystar execs watch Connor make his concession speech in a viewing room. “Connor was running for president?” COO Frank (Peter Friedman) cracks in perfect deadpan.

Ashley Zukerman in a still from “Succession.” (HBO)

ATN projects Jimenez wins Michigan. That leaves both candidates with 262 electoral votes. Alaska and Arizona, which has the kingmaking 11 electors, are the only states that remain to be called. Tom and Darwin tell Ken and Rome that their data nerds say Arizona is gonna go red. Darwin doesn’t feel comfortable calling the election for Mencken because of the Wisconsin situation. Roman, of course, is eagerly all-in. Ken asks for a minute with his brother.

“I dunno, maybe we revisit Wisconsin,” he haltingly tells Rome.

“I get it, you’re gonna, like, big brother it right now,” Roman responds. “Like when you wanted roast chicken and I wanted steak, we’d always have chicken.”

Chicken and steak are further debated as if they were Democrats and Republicans. Roman finally makes the argument that if they don’t call it and Mencken wins anyway, the lesser right wing networks will leave them dickless eunuchs. Plus, Mencken will block Matsson if ATN gives it to him.

“I dunno, Dude,” Ken shakes his head. “My kids. The whole thing…”

“Ooh, America,” Rome parodies concern.

“It is kind of a nice idea, y’know? All of the different people, together.”

Rome looks at the upside for them of wrecking the country. Ken tells him one of Mencken’s nativists pushed his daughter. Rome makes vulgar sexual references to the historic moment and why they have to take advantage of it.

Ken enters another conference room where Shiv is watching. She says they called, so they’re f—d. She hopes ATN can recant. Ken tells her Mencken was very direct about squelching Matsson’s deal.

“We call it for him, that gives him legitimacy to declare,” Ken explains. “I mean, we’re in bed with him.”
Ken wants to be totally honest, about his ambitions, their family connections, Mencken’s relationship with Roman threatening that – which is why he may want to pull away from that.

“Also, you’re a good guy,” Shiv adds.

Ken’s not so sure. But we all want to stop Matsson, right? Shiv nods.

“Mencken’s the nightmare,” she pleads. “Plausible in a decadent era. He says the bad s—t, he believes the bad s—t.”

“We wouldn’t actually be making him president.”

“Sure, we might not be able to crown him, but we can stop him. He has momentum tonight, it makes it possible. He needs our call.”

“I don’t think I’m a very good father,” Ken deflects after a thoughtful pause. Shiv tells him he’s OK, he tried, that’s all we can do.

“Maybe the poison drips through,” he muses.

“No. No! You know what? I don’t think Dad would even back him tonight.”

“He basically picked him.”

“Sure. But we throw the whole thing in for him and then in a month, a week from now the courts go the other way, we’re essentially done as a news organization.”

“It’s just hard to think we’d give it all away to Matsson. Could you try, once, direct to Nate, to get something from them to block the deal?”

Shiv gives an unconvincing “yeah.” They hug, she tells her brother he’s a good guy, goes into a side room dialing her phone. Ken can barely hear her end of a conversation with “Nate,” but not an out-of-service recording playing into Shiv’s ear.

Deals for Crap

Shiv follows Ken into another conference room where Tom and Roman wait. Tom leaves. She tells her brothers Jimenez is willing to think.

“That sounds like horses—t,” Rome accurately notes. It’s too “probably” for him, while Mencken is rock solid. She says even Dad would’ve respected the process in this situation.

“No!” Roman insists. “Dad did whatever the f—k he wanted. Want facts?” He took out a government.”
Shiv argues Logan liked stability. Ken wants to know what Nate actually said. Shiv tells more vague lies.

Ken walks out onto a catwalk, dialing Nate. Roman’s telling Shiv they can’t have uncertainty b/c China, while she nervously watches Ken through the room’s windows. Ken hangs up, glares at Shiv as he walks over to Greg, asks him if there’s something going on. There’s discussion, Ken re-enters the room.

“Really?” he says to Shiv. “’I think you’re a good guy?’”

She dissembles.

“Smart. Really good, Shiv. But you lied.”

She scratches behind her ear. Ken tells Roman she didn’t speak to Nate and she’s in with Matsson.
Shiv says no three times, she got close to him as they agreed. Ken says she’s f—g him and Rome. More nos and a bunch of “I’s” from her. Ken repeats the latter.

“I f—n’ asked you some real questions, Shiv! I wondered why you looked like a goose trying to s—t a house brick, you piece of dirt!”

“You got yourself a little f—g side deal here?” Roman asks.

“I have some options…” Shiv says.

“We-elll, Mencken!” Rome cuts her off. Ken echoes “Mencken.” Rome shouts for Tom. More recrimination between Ken and Shiv. Rome makes fun of her concerns for the state of the republic and pluralism. She threatens to go to the papers.

“Well, if you’re going to be hysterical, we’ll have to ask you to leave,” Roman sneers. “We’re trying to do some serious work in here.”

“F—k you! This is about the future of the country.”

“No, I think it’s because you broke up with your boyfriend,” Roman demeans his sister.

Tom comes in. Roman and Ken tell him to call Arizona and the election. Shiv says no.

“Hey guys, it’s not my call,” Tom lifts two hands washed in phones. “It’s your call.”

Shiv makes the required Pontius Pilate accusation.

Tom calls Greg, says to tell him he’s coming down to call it for Mencken. The brothers praise his work as he walks out. Shiv has never looked so devastated. Tom joins Greg in the booth, calls it for Mencken. Darwin looks appalled, defeated.

The ATN Decision Desk announces Jeryd Mencken will be the next President of the United States.

Grinning like a gargoyle, the candidate makes his fascist-friendly victory speech. ATN staff and management watch with uniformly unhappy faces. Mencken says the election’s been called for him “by an authority of known integrity.”

As Darwin turns his back and walks out of the control room, Tom says to Greg: “Maybe we should get, like, a history guy? Y’know, like a real brainiac to say why this sort of thing has happened in the past and that it’ll all be fine?”

Ken says, “He’s a guy we can do business with.” Roman agrees, adding “He’ll play ball.”

“We just made a night of good TV,” Roman continues. “That’s what we’ve done. Nothing happens.”

“Things do happen, Rome,” Shiv gravely pronounces from a doorway and walks away. Roman takes out his cellphone, flashes the screen at Ken.

“President calling,” he says.

“You and me, Man! We’ll go far,” we hear Mencken say to Roman.

“Over the road and to the bar,” Rome says back.

In the control booth, Pam tells Tom the legal process could go on for months. Greg tells him his phone is red hot, “A lot of very important people want to scream at you.” Monitors show other networks are blasting Tom for premature projectulating.

“Darwin wants to know when to do his caveats,” Greg tells Tom. “Is there time for him to do it?”

Tom wags a finger and shakes his head no.

Matsson calls Shiv with a JFC as she exits through the ATN building’s revolving doors. “Crazy” is pronounced several different ways.

“Yeah, well, we’re gonna do a number on them,” Shiv assures him once outside. “We’re gonna f—k them so hard! We’re gonna fix this, yeah?”

In his rain-spattered limousine, Ken calls Rava, asks to come see his kids. They’re asleep. He says he’ll see them at Logan’s funeral tomorrow. He hangs up, sighs and to himself says, “Some people just can’t cut a deal for crap.”

Best One-Liners:

For such a presidential special, we think the historical record demands both Connor Roy’s self-pitying Libertarian concession and Jeryd Mencken’s Goebbels-inspired victory speeches should be recorded in full.

Connor Roy:

“My fellow Americans, it’s becoming clear tonight that as far as we can tell, Mr. Jeryd Mencken will likely be the next President of the United States, and I for one wish him well.Although I set a clear and compelling path the divine wisdom has chosen to take another. Well… good luck. And I’d like to say to my first running mate, who I will not dignify with a name check, but had that woman not dropped out, and then had I not had to replace her with another figure who turned out not to be able to bear the weight of public scrutiny… Had I not been betrayed by those two jackrabbits, who knows? Politics of envy. Ugly game. I happen to be a billionaire. Sorry. But honestly America, you flunked it. I guess you’re gonna have to find some other poor mug’s paps to suckle on. The bipartisan zombie marches on. And so I call out to my friends tonight, to my people, I say Conheads I salute you and America be afraid. Be warned. For the Conheads are coming.”

Jeryd Mencken:

“To my critics: I am not a demagogue. I am a defender of democracy. But democracy, it has this tendency, that we have to beware to become mere transaction. I give you this, you give me that. I come begging for your vote, welfare checkbook out. Crowning the welfare kings and queens ‘til everyone’s become a little tyrant crowned by the state. The model that I follow isn’t from the scorched marketplace where cunning men haggle for the best price. That’s not me. The democracy I believe in is where a leader emerged from the people, willed almost into being, brought forth by the great sweetness of the virtue of the combined wisdom of the good people of this republic. Don’t we long sometimes for something clean, once, in this polluted land? That’s what I hope to bring, not something grubby with compromise. Something clean and true and refreshing. Something proud and pure. Thank you very much, and God bless the United States of America.”

Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin in a still from “Succession.”

Stray Observations:

It’s classically tragic how Shiv’s secrets and schemes come around to destroy the thing she may care most about, American democracy.

Seems like quite a coincidence that this episode awash in self-serving media cynicism comes within a week of CNN’s much-criticized Trump Town Hall. Could cross-promoting their corporate cousin HBO’s show have been part of the news network’s rationalization?

The wordplay in this one is stellar even by the “Succession” writers room’s high, natural-sounding yet fiercely intelligent standards. The way words and phrases are repeated to mean different things in the same arguments is a tribute to both their writers and the actors speaking them. WGA solidarity at its best.


After ending the last several episodes depressed and uncertain, Roman is the undisputed winning Roy sibling this time around. The most despicable, too, but we already knew that.

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