Election of Defeat in Succession

It’s hard to root for any of Logan Roy’s kids. That’s three bad people. By choice. And it’s even harder to pick who’s the worst of them, but I’m really between Shiv and Roman. Kendall is one of the most tragic figures on TV in recent years, always with one foot in morals and the other in ego. He just makes the wrong choices, whether it’s trusting the wrong people or following the worst.

On the night of the presidential election, there were only losers. Only one person stayed focused and apparently did well: Roman. But we’ll get there because outside the newsroom things were simple.

It’s election night and it’s freaking tight. Although everyone wants to keep themselves exempt, they are either terrified or compromised in some way. As always, it seems the biggest challenge for everyone is figuring out the ‘right time’ to talk, be honest, or play games. In the end, everyone loses.

Kendall really is Succession‘s anti-hero. He acted behind his brothers’ backs, or at least planned to act alone, but when he saw the consequences of business choices (supporting the far right, in this case) in ‘real life’, he hesitated again. Kendall’s hesitations come from the right place, but his timing sucks. Whenever he is open about what drives him, be it ego, be it insecurity, or be it jealousy, the one thing he doesn’t do is manipulate his siblings. When he wants something, he asks for it, explains it, and justifies himself. Here is where he and Shiv are opposites. Kendall wants power, adulation, and love, even if he confuses the order of things. But he is transparent and she is the very least, dubious about wanting the same.

After a ‘great personal victory’ a couple of episodes back, Ken quickly feels threatened by Roman’s confidence on election night because it is the youngest who bridges the political gap and is where Ken never does well. Nobody takes him seriously or helps him, or empathizes with him as they do with his brother and sister. And, leading a communication company demands this connection and Ken knows he doesn’t have it. That’s why he opens his heart to his sister, and he’s 100% honest with her: he wants to be the boss, but he doesn’t want to lose his family, so he needs her to help him. Shiv misses this best chance to come clean herself and chooses to manipulate him instead. Once again she underestimates Kendall. By not being honest, she loses her one chance to turn things in her favor and loses, as she is easily exposed when Ken realizes what she’s done. This forces his hand against his heart and he supports Roman, thus putting the country on a dangerous path. He claims it’s a business decision, but we see it isn’t and his heart is broken. Once again Ken is isolated and alone.

Roman is just getting started. He sees himself as Logan and effectively has much more of his father than Shiv or Kendall because for him everything is simple when he has only one goal. He doesn’t go behind anyone’s back anymore (he did, with Logan alive): he wants to stay where he is, he agrees with Ken that ATN can’t be with Lukas Matsson, but, as he warns Kendall, he decides the menu now. Their beef and chicken conversation is hilarious, intimate, and perfect. Roman had tantrums as a child because he felt that the decision of things was determined by his brothers and now he doesn’t want that anymore. He doesn’t play psychology with Ken either, but the recklessness of his decisions will have a high price.

Tom is another complex figure. His relationship with the Roy family is in the slipper. He no longer trusts Shiv and knows that the brothers are only with him because he is the brother-in-law. He’s going all-out against the wall and has no alternative. His night without the command of the newsroom or the company’s owners has made it even clearer that he is in a position far beyond his abilities. But I don’t feel for him, he planted and is reaping.

Greg on the other hand is confirming many fan theories as an astute player. He is already in Lukas Matsson’s circle, is close to Kendall, and knew perfectly how to negotiate with Shiv. She underestimates him and she paid for it.

Shiv should be a character I would root for, but I can’t. Her falsehood, her meanness, and her arrogance always come before any expression of empathy. She thinks she’s better in everything: morals, intelligence, and connections, and believes that her defeats only come from sexism, but she never manages to create a distance to think before acting.

YES, Shiv is a victim of sexism. Her brothers put her behind the scenes and excluded her from decisions in less than a fraction of a second, without really feeling it. They think they’re letting her in, but she wants to lead. The shortcut to what she’s always wanted is betrayal.

For Shiv, more than being the CEO alone instead of Roman and Ken, it’s being able to be the CEO alone humiliating them both. When they open the game that they no longer want to sell the company and she disagrees, it’s because in both sales plans she will be the boss, but she never mentions her motivation to her brothers. And worse, with Lukas she is so blind that she acted before securing her position, which shows a dangerous impetuosity. She “assumes” that Lukas agreed to her demand, but he has already revealed that he lies about numbers, that he is a harasser, and that he is using her. But Shiv still thinks she’s smarter than everyone else. Instead of confronting Lukas about opening the game with Greg, she threatens her cousin, without offering anything. Shiv is the worst negotiator in Succession. With her there is no draw, only thrashing. She is going home with a 7-1 defeat, by the looks of it.

And a lonely house. Shiv used Tom as a doormat and didn’t pay attention when she crossed the line. When given a second chance, her husband was honest about what and how she wanted their union to be, but, once again, she ‘pretends’ to accept it and believes that she deceives him. Tom was very hard on her, even questioning the truth of the pregnancy, but Shiv let it happen. At the height of a work dispute, taking him out of the room to “apologize” and communicating that she is pregnant could not have any other response. It could be that Shiv’s plan was to feign distance so she could save him without discrediting him, but at this point, she’s just exposing Tom. He doesn’t want any more crumbs. And with that, she urges her brothers to destroy their ex. Will she do it herself if she manages to sell ATN? Here Shiv is like Kendall, she never decides.

The next episode is finally the wake and burial of Logan, who has been frozen somewhere for a week until his children can stop to bury him. I’m not sorry, I still think it’s great that they pay any homage.

America Decides was yet another perfect episode of a series that is ending on time. Impossible to anticipate what will happen. The only certainty is that the next two weeks will be intense.


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