Pop Culture

Succession Season 4, Episode 7 Recap: Shiv and Tom’s Great War

Spoilers below.

There was always something putrid coating the arteries of Shiv and Tom’s unorthodox marriage, but it always seemed possible—if not probable—that the poison might be flushed out. Now, with the airing of episode 7 of Succession’s stupendous fourth and final season, the damage is officially irreversible. Turns out “Bitey” was just a precursor to the real carnage.

As with so many of Succession’s best and most heart-rending scenes, the inelegant fight between Shiv and Tom near the end of “Tailgate Party” does not seem like a foregone conclusion at the episode’s beginning. It should. Given everything we already know about how this couple operates (or, perhaps, fails to operate), we should be expecting them to snap at any moment. But there’s a curious, if suspicious, tenor of hope that soars above the opening scenes, in which Tom delivers his bride breakfast and gifts her with a scorpion encased in resin. They’re having near-constant sex as they prepare to co-host the evening’s election party, and Democratic nominee Jimenez is polling ahead of ATN’s candidate of choice, the bluntly fascist Mencken. All is not well, but it’s not objectively terrible either, right? They could be happy. They could make this work.

Brilliantly, the camera then cuts to the fallout of a different marriage, one we’ve spent much less overall time observing. Kendall meets with his ex-wife Rava outside a coffee shop, where he’s completely incapable of accepting the brief, condoling touch she offers him. She tries, anyway, and then warns him of an incident with their daughter, Sophie, who doesn’t want to go to school because she’s “freaked out” about the election. Kendall strips off his sunglasses, and it’s difficult to parse how much of his instant, almost comical concern is authentic and how much is artifice. A guy wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the ATN Nazi news anchor Ravenhead pushed his daughter on the street, and, Rava continues, “she felt it was racially tinged, and she’s been upset.”

Kendall fully explodes, not so much out of outrage on behalf of Sophie but because he blames Rava for not being with her. Also, by the way, he is working across “six continents,” thank you very much, “breaking my back, and it’s all for them.” Rava, bless her, knows this song and dance, and all she can do is laugh. She walks away, her only directive seeming to echo into the opening credits: call your daughter, Kendall.

kendall and rava face off outside a coffee shop in a scene from the production of episode 407 of “succession”

David M. Russell

Instead, Kendall meets with his siblings over Logan’s funeral arrangements and the plan of attack for Lukas Matsson, who hasn’t taken the Living+ stock bump bait and is still hanging around to execute the GoJo deal. Waystar Jesus, as Shiv calls her brother, uses the breakfast meeting to ask a favor: He and Roman want Shiv to invite Nate Sofrelli to the election party, where they hope to corner the young political operative (who also happens to be Shiv’s former lover) and use him to stir up regulatory roadblocks for Matsson. Shiv agrees, knowing it won’t go over well with Tom, but at least she has some juicy intel to give her new best pal, Lukas. If he wants to ward off this regulatory business, he’ll need to stop by her party.

He does, of course, in spectacular Matsson fashion: He bulldozes into Tom and Shiv’s penthouse right in the midst of Kendall’s moment of silence for Logan. The siblings stir up a plan to occupy his time, which, of course, Shiv thwarts by placing him directly in Nate’s path. And so the schmoozing games begin, with Tom clawing to keep his sky-high spot on ATN’s VIP list while Matsson curries favor amongst the political power players capable of flushing his deal down the drain. To Nate, he offers Tom’s head on a spike, and Shiv gives no objection apart from a shrug. She’s playing what she thinks is a long game, pulling Matsson aside to ask what she gets in exchange for her betrayal amongst the Roy brethren. The Swede plays it coy, refusing to offer anything concrete but willing to keep her dangling with that tried-and-true corporate buzz phrase: “Why don’t we circle back in a bit?”

In that time, his repeated berating of GoJo communications head Ebba—with whom we know he’s had an, uh, unique romantic entanglement—starts to alarm not just Shiv, but her brothers. They catch on that Ebba has a treasure trove of secrets to spill, and they cozy up to her just long enough to slip away with a nugget: Matsson’s GoJo numbers in India are inflated. In other words, they’re inaccurate—so inaccurate they could end his company altogether. That’s encouraging news for the Roy CEOs, who haven’t had much success swaying Nate re: regulation. (“Ken, I don’t know what you think this is,” the latter tells Kendall. “I’m not Gil. You’re not Logan. That’s a good thing.”)

Roman’s not having much more luck on his side of things, having been tasked by Mencken’s team to boost polling numbers by convincing Connor to drop out of the presidential race. After Connor’s initial refusal, Roman “is authorized” to offer his big brother ambassadorial appointments, first in Somalia, then Slovenia, Slovakia, and Oman. (“Well, that’s insulting. I don’t think I want to go anywhere that doesn’t have nukes.”) Willa persuades Connor not to take what’s obviously a consolation prize, and Roman makes a show of berating his big brother in front of the entire party. Kendall pulls him off the dogpile, but it’s still a nasty, desperate display.

Roman strikes out again when he tries to sew up gaping wounds with Gerri, by which I mean he offers to “stand in a cupboard and jerk off while you explain to me what the SEC is.” Gerri, ever the professional, falls for none of it, and tells him she wants “eye-watering sums” of money and that, if the company attempts to fight her, she will sue. And she will win, given the sheer volume of dick pics Roman has sent her over the course of their unconventional relationship.

roman talks to gerri during a scene from the production of episode 407 of “succession”

David M. Russell

But at least he and his brother have India. They tell Shiv about Matsson’s inflated numbers, with Kendall tacking on the smug observation, “I fucking knew he was a bullshitter. I’m telling you, new money. You gotta hold those fresh bills to the light.” Shiv, spinning out, immediately runs to Matsson, who at least doesn’t deny the accusation. A “metrics error” has indeed “overstated” the subscription numbers in India. “Like if there were two Indias, it would make sense,” Matsson says, almost chuckling, as if the whole thing were just an in-joke. And anyway, he has a plan: if the Waystar deal goes through fast, “by next quarter, the numbers will be real, probably.” Shiv doesn’t like the sound of all this hedging, and she starts to panic. Once again, she’s picked the wrong side.

This time, Tom won’t be there to scoop her up. He’s furious with his wife for the way she’s insulted him throughout the evening, poking fun at his all-but-guaranteed firing once ATN is swallowed up by GoJo. Their subsequent fight out on the penthouse balcony is mythic, even catastrophic, as they lay out the full force of their honest feelings about each other. Shiv shares her fears about Matsson, and Tom doesn’t have the endurance to feign concern. “You will be okay,” he tells her, “because you are a tough fucking bitch who will always survive because you do what you need.”

The barbs only escalate from there. “You sure you’re not projecting?” Shiv replies. “Because that is actually you.”

Their argument is explosive, perhaps because it is the most honest they have ever been with each other throughout the entirety of their relationship. Shiv’s sense of herself is “that fucking thin.” Tom is a “masochist,” someone “striving and parochial.” The scorpion was an insult. He did offer to go to jail, and she did not fight it. She is, perhaps, “not a good person to have children.” These are words that neither of them can take back, but that doesn’t make them wrong. Neither Shiv nor Tom can fully deny their validity. They ravage because they’re true.

The episode ends with one last delusion: Kendall, now on the offensive, wants not only to kill the GoJo deal but to reverse it. He will swallow up GoJo. “Bigger than Dad ever was,” he tells Frank. In the process, he plans to throw his siblings out with the rest of the garbage. “One head, one crown.” Shiv and Tom’s great battle is the sickly undercurrent to all of the Roy misfortunes. And there will be no winner.

Headshot of Lauren Puckett-Pope

Culture Writer

Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture writer at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television and books. She was previously an associate editor at ELLE. 

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Judge ‘surprised’ after Prince Harry a no-show in court on 1st day of U.K. tabloid case
Amanda Seyfried Reacts to Elizabeth Holmes Starting 11 Years in Prison
Jill Duggar: I Was Pressured to Defend My Brother… After He Molested Me!
All the Controversy Surrounding HBO’s “The Idol,” Explained
India’s Golden Triangle offers magical sights and places to stay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *