Succession Season 4 Episode 7 Recap
“I have given you endless approval, and it doesn’t fill you up because you’re broken.”
Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) opens this episode for us with breakfast prep for Shiv (Sarah Snook). He pays extra attention to the presentation of the meal and walks in with the food to Shiv. They are back in their comfort zone: him waiting on her and her acting unaffected. But Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) interrupts their little cozy morning with a text. Matsson doesn’t want to go to the election party, lucky for Tom. In the spirit of getting back together, Tom gives Shiv a gift: a scorpion, as a joke. (She’s the scorpion.) She loves it so much.
Not everyone is in a good mood this morning though. Kendall (Jeremy Strong) meets with ex-wife Rava (Natalie Gold) and it turns out their daughter is freaked out about the election because someone pushed by her while she was walking in the street and they said something racist to her. The kids at school have started an anti-ATN movement in solidarity for her which is awkward because of her dad. Rava simply wants him to call their daughter and check in, but all Kendall hears is: you’re a bad dad. So, he gets angry and starts indirectly shifting blame to her to make himself feel better about how his actions might be affecting his kids. “I’m breaking my back, and it’s all for them,” he tells her. You can tell that even he doesn’t believe his words.
Also, on this morning, Roman (Kieran Culkin) is asking someone on his phone to dig dirt on Matsson as he heads into breakfast to meet with Shiv and Connor (Alan Ruck) and Kendall. (Connor is the only one who seems to visit their dead dad.) The breakfast is for the siblings to discuss their dad funeral and really, the meeting is about deciding who will speak on behalf of the family at the funeral, which will be in front of the world’s most powerful people. Kendall immediately offers himself, and Roman undercuts his offer. Still, the floor is left open for any takers. After Connor leaves, Kendall asks Shiv to invite Nate (Ashley Zukerman), Shiv’s ex-boyfriend and Tom’s nemesis, to the election party. He will be their plan-B in case they can’t stop the deal with Matsson, so still playing both sides, Shiv promises Nate. As soon as Roman and Kendall leave, Shiv calls Matsson to report the news and demand his presence, followed by some sexting to Tom.
At the ATN office, Tom responds to Shiv dirty texts, just before joining a virtual meeting with ATN employees. He offers his heartfelt appreciation and then hands things over to Greg (Nicholas Braun), to inform everyone that they have been laid off. In a robot-like manner, Greg reads off a document and fires everyone. He doesn’t even give people the chance to ask questions before ending the call.
Skipping forward to the evening before the elections, Tom is being fastidious about how his hired staff will talk about the wine served for the night. He is very stressed out about the party and apparently, it’s because he’s so tired. He’s had no sleep because him and Shiv have been busy getting it in. Shiv informs Tom that Matsson will be at the event, and also, yeah, Nate too. No biggie.
Just as the night really begins, the Roy siblings huddle to get a scene of the people at the party for breaking apart. Roman receives a call, Shiv walks around to schmooze while Tom is having a breakdown and taking it on Greg. Tom tells Greg that he will align with Matsson and Greg says he’s team Kendall.
Roman informs Kendall that Mencken (Justin Kirk) called to ask for Connor to drop out of the presidential race to help Mencken campaign. Tom spots Nate and gives him an awkward welcome. A random person interrupts their conversation to rib at Tom and through that interaction, we learn that one: people take Tom for a joke; and two: Tom has several people he doesn’t like at the party. That random guy was one of them.
Roman finds the courage to tell Connor the news about Mencken’s wish, but Connor doesn’t take it so well, so Roman offers an “important” role in Mencken’s soon-to-be administration. Shortly after, Frank (Peter Friedman) and Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) walk into the party. Gerri is there, but she’s still pissed out Roman. They are just in time for Kendall to give a welcome speech to everyone in which he references his dad and does a weak-charismatic impersonation of what I assume Logan (Brian Cox) would have done. At the tail end of his speech, Kendall requests a moment of silence, but as the room quiets down, Matsson walks in loudly with his troupe. They see that everyone is quiet, but they don’t care. Their interruption curtails the respectful moment for Logan, and Kendall offers an uncomfortable hello to Matsson that causes even Shiv to whine in discomfort.
Shiv is so good at acting as if she doesn’t know what’s going on, Kendall and Roman buy her shocked act. Kendall looks shaken, but everyone there is “their asshole” he says. The plan remains, go after regulatory and Shiv is still in the loop. They are meant to keep Matsson away from high-value targets and refill his glass, run him in circles, and speak poorly of him behind his back, and of course Shiv plans to do the exact opposite.
Probably insecure about not knowing anyone at the party, Matsson heads to Tom, and asks what kind of a leader he is. He wants to know if Tom is hands on or an overview guy. Tom is trying to dance for Matsson so he turns the question back to him and then says he can do both. He is kissing Matsson’s ass and Matsson knows it and is unsatisfied. Matsson is also not shy about letting him and Shiv know. When Shiv joins the conversation, Matsson openly mocks Tom as Shiv quietly smiles. Greg is there to witness this humiliation too. The entire conversation gets worse and worse every time Matsson opens his mouth. Tom is only saved when Matsson decides to talk shop with Shiv and excuses himself from the huddle.
Shiv tells Matsson all the important people that Matsson should meet with and then fills him in on her brother’s plans. Shiv tells Matsson what to do and somehow Matsson is able to rope in Ebba (Eili Harboe) for a little side bullying. Shiv tells Ebba to fire their lobbyist, but Ebba’s response isn’t adequate enough for Matsson, so he decides to patronize her in front of everyone.
Roman is busy negotiating with Connor still. Connor wants to review his options before dropping out of the race. He wants Europe since, his Ego won’t allow him to take over any role that doesn’t have Nukes. Roman looks like he’s suffering listening to this. Just as well, everyone important at the party has to suffer through Matsson’s speech about being a regular self-made guy, particularly Nate. Daniel Jiménez (Elliot Villar), the Democratic candidate for presidency, (and his boss) has some concerns regarding leadership and regulatory concerns and Matsson’s response is, well I’m better than the Minnie-me stupider versions of Logan. Also, he promises to make a leadership change at ATN which means, Tom is on the chopping block. At this news, Shiv looks briefly concerned, then unbothered. Far away, Tom is watching all this go down and he is nervous, but somehow Greg is more concerned. To feel better, Tom tries busying himself with event management.
Tonight, everyone wants a piece of Nate, including Kendall. They find each other in a hall way and Kendall promises that if they work together, it would be really good for the democratic team, his only ask it that they speak on their regulation position and ATN will give them favorable coverage in the first hundred days of office. (This is illegal.)
Matsson seems to be doing well among the crowd of rich conservative Americans, we learn. Shiv has him in the coat closet and she reports that everyone likes Nate. Since Shiv is laying the groundwork for him, he is under the illusion that he is a talented people-person, but she’s quick to remind him that all his success is a result of her doing and she wants something in return she wants to be CEO. Matsson obviously doesn’t want to give her this position, but he’s not done using her yet.
Talking about using people, Kendall corners Greg and demands that he shadows Matsson. Greg is not able to save Tom for the trainwreck that is his conversations with Shiv and the people at the party. Shiv is all too happy to join the ribbing at Tom and through one of these encounters, Tom learns that there is talk that he will be fired soon.
Roman reports to Kendall that Matsson has been creepy with Ebba and he tries to fill in Nate, but Nate decides to excuse himself from the party. Kendall is no Logan, so he has no sway.
The reality of Connor’s delusion starts to become very real for Willa (Justine Lupe) when Connor tells her about her plans to concede his one-percent polling to Mencken. Greg joins the Swedes and witnesses another bullying session and gets bullied too. When Ebba walks away, Kendall recognizes an opportunity, so he tries to console her and squeeze information out of her. Shiv and Tom do their rounds and, trying to be one of the boys, Shiv humiliates Tom further. Apparently, Kendall didn’t really need to try very hard (lucky for him because he sucks at being human), because Ebba offers a big leak with very little massaging: Matsson made up his Indian subscription numbers. Unfortunately for Kendall, he joins Roman to tell Shiv. Shiv interrupts Greg’s bonding with Matsson to deliver the news. She tells him to handle it before it gets out and loses control over the narrative.
Roman tries to chat with Gerri, but she has self-respect so she doesn’t budge. She makes it clear it’s not ok to treat her like trash like Logan did and she will fight for her money and demands or else. (Turns out respecting your elders is important.) Anyways, Roman gets really messed up by that encounter and decides he needs a win. Connor needs to give up to help Mencken, but of course Matsson already got to him. On a roll, Matsson engages in a public disagreement with Kendall that they quickly quash to maintain appearances, but it becomes clear to everyone at the party that things are not going so well with the two teams.
At this point, we’ve all had enough of this and so has Tom. He tries to go to bed, but Shiv tells him not to, so they head out to their balcony to talk. Shiv is worried about himself and Matsson and Tom is annoyed because Shiv is always fine. He tells her that all evening Shiv has been telling every important person in the room that he will be fired. He’s mad, but Shiv argues that Matsson said it and it needed to be said. A conversation about Matsson and how tired Tom is turns into unravelling the skeletons in their relationship and they say painful things to each other. Tom calls her selfish, Shiv calls him a snake, but the one that cuts her most is when he tells her that she is not a good person to have children. They are so harsh towards each other that by the end, it feels like they will never be able to come back from this moment.
While Tom and Shiv destroy any goodwill and warmth in their relationship, Kendall draws Frank away to pitch his new idea: a hostile take over of GoJo. Roman and Shiv are not part of the plan though. Frank seems intrigued?
Still digesting the fight with Shiv, Tom stands out at the balcony, looking hella suicidal. But, he turns back to the party and in his “I’m trying not to be offensive voice,” tells everyone to fuck off and leave his home. At first, they think he’s joking, until they realize he isn’t.
The Roy siblings bond over saying “Fuck Tom.” At this moment, Roman decides to ask for the right to speak at his dad’s funeral and he gets the gig. The night ends with Shiv back to a lonely bed, troubled as Tom lies awake in another room, consumed by his thoughts.