Yes, we say this every week about “Succession,” but whew, Sunday night’s episode was spectacular television.
The acting! That big knock-down, drag-out fight! The writing! All incredible. (TV and film writers, including those who worked on “Succession,” are currently on strike over pay and working conditions.)
We are getting closer and closer to the series finale of the HBO series, and the plot is only getting thicker. Candice Frederick, Marina Fang, Ruth Etiesit Samuel and Erin E. Evans recap Sunday’s episode, “Tailgate Party.”
What’s Going On With The GoJo-Waystar Deal?
And what’s wild is that I really thought all Shiv’s moves were going to end up helping her win. But Sunday’s episode put quite the wrench in those plans. I don’t know why I didn’t suspect that Matsson might be a fraud??? Like, all his dick-swinging should have tipped me off, but wow, this caught me off guard. Also, I was trying to keep up with the Nate and regulatory stuff but it just made my mind melt. Who is Nate? I was so confused and just gave up on that plotline! — Erin
Nate is Shiv’s ex, who works for Gil, the Bernie Sanders-esque senator who hates Logan and ATN. (Remember those disastrous hearings in Season 2?) You bring up a good point about the confusion. This was a rare moment on this show where I actually wondered about the accuracy. It definitely seems like a no-no to invite the chief adviser of one of your family’s political opponents to your election party! The best I can piece together is that he has some political capital, and if the Democrats win the election, the Roy boys can try to gain some leverage over the regulation of the deal. Most likely, with a big business deal like this, they’re probably going to face issues with, like, trade and antitrust regulations.
On the deal more broadly: As always, I feel like this is all going to blow up in their faces. I get why Shiv is secretly negotiating with Matsson behind her brothers’ backs because she knows they’ll try to exclude her. But it seems hugely risky. And of course, Ken and Rome are just bumbling through this. Everyone on this show thinks they’re playing 4D chess. But really, they’re just a bunch of idiots! — Marina
I also had zero recollection of Nate. I know the actor (Ashley Zukerman) from other things, but I didn’t know who this man was in the “Succession” universe. So, thanks for the refresher, Marina! All I cared about was that he was reading Kendall for filth. Like, don’t come over here begging for a hit FROM ME. You are not worthy. You are pathetic. And everyone knows it. — Candice
We Definitely Almost Forgot About Connor In This Episode
In politics, there is the very brazen pattern of political donors with no foreign policy experience getting cushy ambassador positions, so dangling that in front of Connor felt very realistic.
There was something weirdly romantic about Connor telling Roman about Willa: “There’s one person here who doesn’t think I’m a joke, and I’m gonna listen to her.” In the post-show commentary, Alan Ruck points out that they’re the only “successful” couple on the show, and it’s true! It says a lot about all the relationships of this show. — Marina
Wait, when Connor said that Willa is the one person there who doesn’t think he’s a joke, I was like, BUT IS THAT TRUE???? I just don’t believe it. I know she doesn’t think his money is a joke, so there’s that. Like, can we PLEASE be honest here? Willa is an actress. She’s acting. That said, it also made me think that, actually, there isn’t anyone here that doesn’t think Connor is a joke. But if he needs to believe otherwise to get him through the day, and Willa is cool playing along, cool cool cool. — Candice
No, literally, I was like, “What will him dropping out do for y’all?” Moreover, I think it’s actually so sad that Connor and Willa are the only couple who aren’t on the rocks because their relationship isn’t one rooted in love, per se. Cheesy, I know, but I don’t see any sort of mutual respect here. Yes, marriage is objectively a contract in the legal sense. (Like Drake said, “Make sure you hit him with the prenup!”) But there are no endearing undertones to be found here; so, is it really a marriage? Or is it a commercial exchange harking back to the 1700s? To keep it a buck, Connor is Willa’s sugar daddy. That man is deluding himself into thinking that she’ll grow to actually love him, though she explicitly said before the wedding why she’s there. All the Roy kids suck at relationships, I’ll just say it. — Ruth
Roman calling Willa Connor’s “wife” in air quotes was funny, but also, so, so mean. Ruth, I think that’s maybe what makes their relationship (and now, marriage) work. They both know what this relationship is for, and there’s a real honesty there. — Marina
LOL the air quotes KILLED me. Dead on my couch.
I don’t have the same confidence that they are both in this marriage for the same reasons. Hence, Connor asking Willa in a previous episode whether she was in it for the money. Connor, please. People are dying. — Candice
Rava Is Back And Kendall Acts Like He’s A Good Dad
I definitely had to take a second to Google her because I could not remember her name once she popped up on the screen. Even though I knew she was going to make a return, albeit briefly, this season. Kendall blowing up on Rava truly enraged me even though it was exactly the kind of game he always plays. Like, sir, you do not parent them kids. Stop it. — Erin
Oh, I was very excited about her return! A small but perfect little detail: I love the way she very, very lightly pats his shoulder when greeting him, as if to say: “I care about you, but the absolute minimal amount of care I am obligated to put toward the deadbeat dad of my kids.” — Marina
How much is she getting paid in child support? — Candice
How can you be a rich kid who sucks at running his daddy’s empire and also a deadbeat dad? Please pick a struggle, Kendall! Like, was I surprised that this privileged white man couldn’t grasp that his child had been racially targeted? No. But I was appalled that he directed the vitriol at his ex-wife, who is the only caretaker and lifeline he has to them kids… — Ruth
Gerri Puts Roman In His Place, Once Again
OMG, twerp! That’s the perfect word to describe him. I feel like we need to bring back calling people “twerps.” It’s so ’90s to me. And I love that. Anyway, Gerri deserves so much money and respect, and I want her to get every cent of the “hundreds of millions of dollars” that she’s demanding. I also love that she just straight up tells Roman about himself. “I could have got you there. But no, nope!” I want her to remind him every single time they interact. — Erin
LOL, twerp just seemed so perfect for him. It gave me pause when Gerri said that she could have gotten Roman there. I mean, I think she certainly has the talent to turn water into wine (because this is the kind of talent you’d need to pull something like that off), but why would she want to? Because that was expected of her? Because that’s the position she plays? Or because she knew that would especially hurt him? I want to believe the latter. Because that makes me respect her even more. — Candice
That line in particular also reminded me of what Gerri said last week. “Do you want me to say it or believe it?” Something to that effect about Roman telling her to believe he’s as good as his dad. I think (and definitely hope!) that she was just saying it. Oh, also, speaking of Roman. Him volunteering to speak at the funeral? Pops popcorn. This might be another Emmy-worthy scene from Kieran Culkin. Can’t wait. — Erin
Truly the worst choice among the siblings to give this speech. I cannot wait. — Marina
I totally forgot he even said that. OMG he’s going to be a train wreck. — Candice
Gerri is not playing with that little boy Romulus, and I hope she gets her lick back. We’re gradually starting to see things unravel for Roman and Shiv, i.e., Gerri may go public with Roman’s illicit dick pics and Shiv boarded Matsson’s sinking ship. From a plot standpoint, I find it fascinating how the skeletons in their closets are gradually being revealed, but Kendall basically has remained unscathed this season. I’m really waiting to see who will weaponize the vehicular homicide charge against him, and in what ways. Like Candice said, this is going to be a train wreck. — Ruth
This 'Succession' Scene Felt A Little Too Much Like Real Life
And of course, there was that Zoom layoffs scene, which was just too spot-on. As soon as I saw the faces of ATN staffers popping up on that conference room screen, I knew what was about to happen. Everything about it was chillingly accurate: Tom not having the guts to do it himself and offloading it to Cousin Greg, Cousin Greg awkwardly reading from a script and couching the news in a bunch of euphemisms, "I'm seeing some confusion in the chat," “obviously, I can’t take questions.” I chuckled (but in a grim way) when he said “goodbye!” like a robot and then shut off his screen. Oof, just too accurate. The only thing that was missing was an ill-advised cheery password. — Marina
Yeah, I thought of this too. As with a lot on this show, the writers borrow a lot of the story’s shittiness from real life. Greg laying people off while very obviously reading a script is ... LOL. It’s painfully funny because it’s painfully true. — Candice
I immediately thought of your piece, Marina! Tom just straight up walked out of the room like he could be doing literally anything else! Whew, and then Greg bragging about it at the party later. I just kept thinking, damn, I can’t even escape layoff news on my TV shows! But it was so well done … and too accurate. — Erin
The Perfect Chaos Of The Party
This party really showed a lot of their true colors. Beyond the whole Shiv and Tom thing was Kendall and Roman designating Shiv to be Matsson’s babysitter. Not only do they not know how to run a company, they also don’t know how to delegate. Plus, the extremely gendered tasks they hand off to Shiv haven’t been lost on me either.
But wait, back to Shiv and Tom’s meltdown. Were those windows soundproof or something? They were SCREAMING and barely anyone at the party even noticed. — Candice
The guests were all drunk off that bad wine. — Erin
One thing I always love about “Succession”: the staging and blocking of every episode centered on a big event. There’s just so much going on, and every character is just doing the most. The perfect amount of chaos.
A great question, Candice. My only thought is that maybe people were distracted by all the other chaotic things happening at the party. Or maybe they did notice off-camera.
Also, I must point out that Matsson being bored at the party (and Tom, to a certain extent) reminded me of that iconic Kristen Johnston moment on “Sex and the City.”— Marina
LOL I think about that “SATC” moment EVERY time I watch a “Succession” party scene. Everyone looks so miserable and bored while they’re badly conniving. So pathetic. Where’s the window? — Candice
“God, I’m so bored I could die!” I legit can see that scene play out (and immediately knew the line!) Can we also talk about Matsson’s jacket? I kept being like: Is it leopard print? Is it a velour track jacket? Like, what is going on here? — Erin
Matsson always comes across as the too-cool-for-school guy to me, with an attire to match. It never really makes sense, but because he’s wearing it, it does make sense. Does that make sense? I think it’s his confidence, even as everything burns around him. — Candice
Speaking of Matsson, y’all, the Lukas-Ebba situation is an absolute powder keg. From the jump, I knew that would pose problems for Shiv, which would ultimately lead to problems during the sale. The tension between him and his chief communications officer was ... palpable. Then, Greg’s dumbass was like, “I’m actually quite good at firing people.” Boy, shut UP! — Ruth
Greg is not good at anything, and he knows it. Be for real. — Candice
Shiv And Tom's Big Fight On ‘Succession’ Was Spectacular Television
But also, what Shiv said about Tom being a hanger-on or whatever is also true. But Tom kinda owns that. Shiv doesn’t own her whole thing. And it’s a whole lot. — Candice
That was television, baby!
Two things I kept thinking during that showdown:
1. Wow, this is finally happening! This is the first time they’ve actually said these brutally honest things to each other, instead of couching their feelings in vague, meaningless or cryptic terms, or saying them in the context of a transaction. As you said, Candice, they are correct about each other. They’re the same in a lot of ways: They’re looking out for themselves and have been in this marriage solely because it benefits themselves — until it doesn’t.
2. Sarah Snook and Matthew Macfadyen are just too good. Emmys! — Marina
I need them to get a divorce, ASAP — no Rocky! That argument was so telling, so horrific, but such good television. When Tom called Shiv “broken,” then said that she is “incapable of love” and wasn’t fit to have a child? I gasped. Also, I’m curious as to why he said, “And you won’t have my baby!” during the argument. Did she get an abortion? Is the child Nate’s? Is he telling her to terminate the pregnancy? — Ruth
Ruth, I don’t think he knows she’s pregnant, right? As far as we know, the last time the two of them have discussed this issue was way back in Season 3, when Tom was practically begging her to get pregnant before he was perhaps going to prison (which, lol).
I think we, the viewers, are still the only people other than Shiv herself who know she’s pregnant.
"It's not my fault you didn't get his approval. I have given you endless approval, and it doesn't fill you up because you're broken." Just a perfect line. — Marina
After every jab, I kept screaming, “Drag him!!!” “Drag her!!” That was some epic fighting. I would like to shake the hand of the writer(s) who wrote that exchange. I also need to watch that scene about 10 more times. I wish I could think of comebacks that quickly in real life — instead of several hours later when I’m at home by myself. — Erin
I kept thinking about the “Mortal Kombat” line “Finish Him!” when they were at each other’s throats. Like Ruth said, get divorced already. Your relationship is just theater. — Candice