Last night’s Succession felt darker than any other episode this year, which is saying something considering this season chronicles the death of its anti-hero and the slow crawl to his burial. (We say it every week, but we gotta lay this guy to rest already.) Episode 8 documents the events of election day as the votes are being tallied. It’s a big night at ATN, and it was a pointed choice by the writers to call the episode “America Decides” when that’s the furthest thing from what went down. But what do you expect from a show that chose “Connor’s Wedding” as the title of the episode about Logan’s death?
Roman steamrolls a delightful new character known as Decision Desk Darwin, convincing him to call the race for Mencken after 100,000 absentee ballots are destroyed in a fire that was likely started by Mencken supporters. No one at ATN seems to feel comfortable making a call on the winner (aside from the three siblings who are using the US election as a proxy fight for their own interests and political views… sort of), nor is anyone at ATN inclined to stop the call. These unsettling scenes showed us a very realistic-feeling election night, but from a new angle: one that suggests our collective future could easily be in the hands of a few idiots with only their petty resentments, visions of golden parachutes, and untreated attachment issues sitting at the decision desk, molding the data to retrofit their egos.
Throughout the past few seasons, there have been sporadic moments when the siblings’ political affiliations were relevant. It’s always seemed like Shiv is the Democrat (and wants everyone to know it), Kendall would probably call himself “socially liberal and fiscally conservative,” and Roman’s feelings could be described as right-wing apathy. I don’t really think the siblings have actual political views as much as they have political hats they wear like this season’s Loro Piana baseball cap. One of last night’s final scenes summed up their political philosophies better than their registered party affiliations ever could. Did anyone on this show even vote? Because there was not a single “I Voted” sticker in sight.
Kendall: “He’s a guy we can do business with… the market’s holding the leash” – It’ll all be okay, because someone will come along to save me.
Roman: “We just made a night of good TV. That’s what we’ve done. Nothing happens.” – Pure nihilism.
Shiv: “Things do happen, Rome.” – True, but empty and nonspecific.
Anyway, onto the fuck-off ranking this week.
(-2) Mencken doesn’t want Kendall in the convos with Roman. Kendall knows this lack of access is a threat to his power as CEO, but when it comes to the Democratic nominee, he’s also extremely un-savvy in his brief conversation with Jimenez. He is so bad at having these quid pro quo conversations that should be subtle and comes in with a wrecking ball every time. Stay hydrated!
(-1) “It’s probably mine, I didn’t want Sophie to freak, so I just actioned it” – As a non-billionaire, I can’t fathom the logic of making his daughter so secure that it actually terrifies her. Just some covert surveillance to show he cares. An extra layer of bubble wrap for her and Ivey. Though it doesn’t sound like Kendall has actually *called* his daughter or spoken to her directly since Rava’s sidewalk ambush yesterday, not even when she’s literally sitting next to her mom who’s on the phone with him.
(-1) Kendall also tells Rava and Sophie that exit polls say Jimenez will win, just minutes after he told everyone not to leak that precise information.
(+1) Kendall really hates Tom, even more than was previously clear. The way he screamed, “You fucking watch it, Tom!” after he said Shiv sounded unhinged was full of rage beyond the already-tense tone of the room. Does the hatred go back to the diner scene in season 3 when he tried to recruit Tom and he was rebuffed?
(-3) Throwing the election to a fascist because you’re momentarily angry at your sister for betraying you? It’s no better than needing to like the fascist because you had so much chicken as a kid.
(-1) “Well, I mean, it is kind of a nice idea, all the different people together…” – Good sentiment, but loss of a point because he discards it. So much for doing everything for his kids!
(-1) He says it’s hard to believe Logan would give it all away to Matsson, but Logan was the one who made the deal with Matsson! Do you not remember when he killed himself trying to make it happen just five short days ago?
(+1) “I tried to ask you some fucking questions. I wondered why you looked like a goose trying to shit a house brick, you piece of dirt.” – Ironic, because he was also trying to push Shiv and Roman out behind their backs at the same time.
(-1) Oh, so now Kendall wants to see the kids in the middle of the night. They were already afraid about the election, and now you want to alarm them by coming home for the first time in weeks? Way to signal that it’s going to be okay.
(+1) “Well, two eggplants is not as much as four smileys, obviously… eggplant, eggplant, flag reeks of the misogynistic bravado that has so repelled the median voter.” – We knew Shiv’s political experience would make her asset to this episode.
(-2) It’s very fitting for Shiv to use her pregnancy announcement as a one-up in a marital argument. “Is that even true, like, is that a new position or a tactic or what?” is a deeply insulting response from Tom, but it’s especially insulting because of the implication that she would use a pregnancy as a tactic. But also, she would, would she not? Not that he’s above trying to tether her to him with a pregnancy while he’s in jail. No heroes in this fam.
(-2) Shiv is extremely foolish to underestimate Greg and to overestimate herself. She should have easily clocked that he was now in with Matsson and that he will play ball if she can make it even slightly advantageous for him.
Shiv: “Do you find me attractive, Gregory? … ‘cause I’m just letting you know, that if you try to fuck me, I’ll kill you.”
Greg: I guess my only question would be if anything did come to pass in terms of you and he… you know, silence is golden. Like, how golden? Is there an offer?
Shiv: Yeah. Uh, yeah, how about I offer for you to keep all your internal organs on your insides, rather than I pull them out of your asshole? Go on, you’re lumber.
(-1) Actively faking the call to Nate was overly devious, but also stupid… she should have at least sent a text or maybe been more vague about it. Or maybe actually call him?
(-1) Tom is stressed out about his first post-Logan election. He’s experiencing the blowback from everyone he has fucked lately (Cyd, his brothers-in-law, Shiv…), plus the shifting media landscape and pressure to get the highest ratings ever for election night.
(-1) For his quick willingness to peddle lies on the network, which is not only bad for democracy, but also a very expensive legal liability, as recent history has taught us.
Tom: Did you see the viral thing about the woman who voted like 40 times for Jimenez under her dead mom’s name?
Pam: We tracked her down. Not super reliable. She’s not a well person.
Tom: Well, you’re not a doctor, Pam. Until you qualify, why don’t you get her on the air.
Pam: ..Oof! Long night in dress shoes. Cyd used to go for these sort of slip-ons with a padded sock.
Tom: Yeah, probably because she couldn’t get her cloven hooves into her regular shoes. I’m perfectly comfortable, Pam. I’ve got good arches. They’ve been remarked upon.
– Another (-1) because it’s the second strike against Tom’s shoes this season.
(+2) “Greg, I have to be clear. If I get drowsy, and I miscall Colorado… instability, right? Then the US loses credibility, China spots an opportunity, invades Taiwan, tactical nukes, fucking shit goes kablooey and we’re back to amoeba. It’s a long way back from pond life, ‘cause you failed to get me a double shot, okay?”
(+1) “Greg, it’s medically good for your brain. It is. Are you saying all Aztecs are stupid? Don’t be a racist little bitch about it, come on.” – Don’t let your bosses hear you woke-ing, Tom.
(+1) “Bodega sushi, are you insane? No, not Samson Greg! Not Samson, NOT! I want you Gregging for me, you’re busted back down to Greg tonight. Yeah, tonight, my digestive system is basically part of the Constitution. Microwaved milk and ginger shots. American bottled water. Spaghetti and olive oil. Okay???” – Points for the correct priorities.
(+1) For staying on top of the tech. TOUCHSCREEN’S MALFUNCTIONING! It’s hard to tell how much of this reaction was cocaine and how much was genuine Tom.
(-3) “You hated him, Siobhan. Well, it was complicated, but sometimes you certainly hated him, and you also sorta killed him. Sort of. Sort of.” – Fucking ouch.
(+1) For another stroke of genius we haven’t seen since the likes of We Hear For You: “We could call it PENDING.”
(-1) “Maybe we should get like a history guy, you know, like a brain – like a real brainiac – to say why this sort of thing has happened in the past and that it’ll all be fine?” – No, Tom, you need to Lisa Rinna own this.
(-1) A lot of very important people want to scream at him, and he’s about to become a household name (at least among PGN households).
(-1) All these “false flags” make me think that Roman is probably in some sketchy Facebook groups with insurrectionists or, like, moms who swear by essential oils and do their own research.
(-1) “We’ll go far… over the road and into the bar.“ – Okay, elephant in the room time: Why do these two have a verbal secret handshake? More broadly, why is Roman so obsessed with Mencken? Is it really just because of the money, or because he feels extra invested because Logan picked him at Roman’s suggestion?
(+1) “Because you’re so plugged in, you know how all the little peasants vote, you know what’s in their hearts, ‘cause you don’t know. There’s no way to say in here how people would have voted. You wanna just run your model and not bother with all the people?” – He definitely has a point here, and this is part of the weird nature of news organizations calling election results… but that’s a conversation for another channel.
(-1) “Historically, people used to burn witches. Are you saying we should do that? ‘Fire Favors GOP’ claims Mad Witch.” – He “won” this one in the room but not in this recap because that’s obviously a false equivalence.
(+1) “I am going to the bathroom to shit. Would you like me to livestream it?”
(+1) “No! Dad did whatever the fuck he wanted. With one fax, he took out a government. He did the ‘fuck Lyle!’ SEND. And that was it. That’s all it took. Fucking Canada here, he didn’t give a shit.” — I simply need to know who Lyle is.
(-1) On the election call: “It’s not like the fucking, final final, anyway. Okay, there’s the court shit. And it all kind of just fuzzes along, you know. It’s all just a fucking waste of time that we don’t have, by the way.” – True, but you can’t put the Nazis back in the bunker.
(+1) “Anything can happen. So glad I didn’t drop out. It just makes an election so much more interesting when you’re in it.” – Why did we feel a weird twinge of sadness for Connor when he lost?
(+1) For getting right back into negotiations for a sordid backseat fuck job (Oh? Tell me more…): “Rome, I spent like a hundred mil here. Couldn’t I get a sniff of even a little guy? Organize a little coup, down in old Peru. Put me in a van down to Tajikistan. Couldn’t I just be our fun guy down in Uruguay?”
(+1) He ends up settling for one of the Slos after all. Slovenia might not have the marquee name but it does mean you can do Vienna for lunch, Venice for dinner, and Dubrovnik for breakfast.
(-1) “Connor was running for president?” – Frank
We have no idea how to give points to this acceptance speech so we’re gonna say it balances out at zero: “I would like to say to my first running mate, who I will not dignify with a namecheck, 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 America, you flunked it. I guess you’re gonna have to find some other poor mook’s paps to suckle on. The corrupt bipartisan system zombie marches on. And so I say good night to my people. I say Conheads, I salute you. And America, be afraid. Be warned, for the Conheads are coming.”
(+1) The siblings watch Connor’s concession speech like he’s a joke but at no point do they consider, wait, maybe I am as big a joke as he is? At least he is getting diplomatic plates.
(+2) He has quickly ingratiated himself with Matsson’s crew, while maintaining innocence because it was at Kendall’s instruction: “Pretty monstrous. His crew knows some unseemly venues. I danced with an old man, he didn’t want to dance, but they made us dance. He was so confused. I drank things that aren’t normally drinks.”
(-1) “So, listen, at some point tonight, could we do a chat on like, the me of things and like, how to play it? Because Matsson, he treated me quite abominably, but it felt like trusting…” – Abuse, Greg.
(+1) Greg also has the trust of Tom, who asks him to get cocaine for election night. “Yeah, hit me, but this is not a thing, okay? This is not going in a book.” Based on Tom’s reaction, Greg has officially graduated from buying park coke. “I need a clear head, and I don’t want to get addicted from two nights in a row.”
(+2) He dangles the tea on Matsson and Shiv’s business alliance agreement in front of Tom, proving how good he is at maneuvering as a fly on the wall with the right great-uncle. Asking Tom if he wanted to use that information to “fry her ass up” foreshadowed him using that information to help Kendall later on.
(+1) Because he doesn’t do coffee anymore.
(+2) For how he handled Shiv’s threats: “I don’t think of things such as that.” And then he knifes her after she threatens him and refuses to buy his silence.
(+1) At least he tried to be the sibling wrangler in accordance with Logan’s “Geneva conventions” of not having execs involved in election night calls.
(-1) He really needs to be more careful with his wasabi. This was like a Curb scenario. “Fucking slow me this smarts!”
(-1) “It’s lemon! It’s clear, it’s LaCroix! It’s natural, like, medical. It’s not that lemony, it’s just a hint of lemon.” – Even if the LaCroix didn’t have any lemon, who the hell uses a carbonated beverage to soothe someone’s burning eye?
(-1) Greg seems pretty anxious about having anything to do with calling the election for Mencken based on his conversation with Jess, but he was actually the precise catalyst for it. “It’s not really my choice, right? I’m just pressing the button, or I’m not even pressing the button, I’m asking them to prepare to press the button.” You already pressed the button. Take some accountability, Katie!
HONORABLE MENTION: PRESIDENT-ELECT (?) MENCKEN
(-1) For some reason, I can only think about Justin Kirk in Weeds.
(-1) “The election has been called for me by an authority of known integrity” – …because Kendall Roy got mad at his sister.
(-1) His whole vibe is very American carnage, the speech doesn’t even make any sense, and he kept doing the Donald Trump small mouth thing. All I know is that we’re supposed to note his whole “leader emerging from the people” spiel is bullshit given that we watched him receive the Republican nomination as a proxy for Logan Roy’s fatherly love.
In conclusion, almost everyone is in the red tonight (appropriate!) with the exception of Greg and Connor. The outer circle family members may have had their own little parts in maybe (?) killing democracy, but at least they all made a night of good TV.
If you can’t get enough Succession convo from Betches, check out our weekly bonus recaps on the @BETCHES Podcast, which will be out every Monday afternoon of season 4 and can be found on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Images courtesy of HBO.