Succession Season 4 Episode 7 review: Nasty & brilliant
Succession’s BPM hits the roof with Season 4 Episode 7, a lightning-fast of dose of harsh dialogue and characters at their snakiest – and even this close to the end, the plates are still shifting.
Succession is a miraculous juggling act. One ball represents the splutter-worthy, incendiary quips that break new boundaries in the art of the insult. Another is the jargonaut storytelling that rarely loses your grip, even in a sea of nonsense business speak. There’s also the need to make the characters bearable; not likable, nor loathsome, but real, even when they’re inhumane.
Season 4 added another spiked sphere to the handful: somehow tying it all together in an emotionally satisfying, complete way that maintains suspense and laughs even more so than its past chapters.
So far, we’ve yet to drop a ball, and Episode 7 emphasizes the absolute worst in these flip-flopping, self-aggrandizing turncoats; they really are the worst family in America. Spoilers to follow…
Shiv and Tom are at it again
After Shiv’s grief turned into a snog, which led to a bizarre game of “bitey” and a shag at a party, Shiv and Tom have catapulted themselves into a rebooted honeymoon phase. The episode opens with Tom, calling himself “Father Sexmas”, bringing Shiv breakfast alongside some “fresh hot polling” ahead of the election the next day. Daniel Jimenez is up, Jeryd Mencken is down, they’re sexually nourished – all is well.
Shiv is still fielding calls from Lukas Matsson, and has since stepped up her brief collusion to full-on treachery. They’re gearing up to host their Tailgate Party, a Waystar tradition where a number of “thought-leaders”, op-ed writers and other insufferable elites gather together on the eve of the election. Matsson isn’t attending, because he doesn’t want to swim in Logan’s “AOL-era fuckfest.”
Before heading off to oversee the “great toxification” at ATN, Tom gives Shiv a heartwarming gift: a scorpion inside a glass block. He says it’s a silly joke. “I love you, but you kill me, and I kill you,” he laughs, and Shiv awkwardly giggles along. They may seem happy, but that resentment that caused a rift between them is dormant, not dead.
Meanwhile, Kendall meets Rava – remember, his wife we’ve not seen in yonks, who’s also the mother of his children he never mentions – on the street. He’s kitted out in the classic Marvel disguise: bomber jacket, sunglasses, and a baseball cap, as he doesn’t want to be caught up in any gossip (as Shiv says, gossip and money are all there is).
His daughter Sophie was pushed by someone and now she’s afraid to go to school, and Kendall immediately goes on the offensive at Rava. “I’m trying to get all the information before taking a course of action,” he says with a dispassionate, cold tone that doesn’t translate from the business world to real life. Rava snaps back. “I was raising our children while you were running a racist news organization… maybe call your f*cking daughter,” she says, and his messiah complex rears its head, saying everything he does “is for them, and make the world safe.” It’s total bullsh*t: he doesn’t care about anyone but himself, just like everyone else in his corrosive orbit.
Kendall, Roman, Shiv, and Connor plan the “grief-athon”
We cut to Roman in the car, asking his “deputy rat f*cker” to dig for deep background on Matsson. He wants “undue diligence” as any “insignificant details” may be helpful. He then sits down with his siblings to plan their dad’s funeral, though they still manage some bickering about the election (Roman is a Mencken supporter and thinks Jimenez will turn “police stations into cuddle puddles”).
When Kendall arrives, he doesn’t engage in the chit-chat, spending most of the time on his phone – it’s almost reminiscent of having their father at the table: present, but not really. His faith in Roman is clearly down after the Living+ “wibble-wobble”, and he doesn’t really care about who speaks or what happens at the funeral.
As soon as Connor leaves, he asks Shiv if she’d mind inviting Nate to the party… the same Nate she cheated on Tom with in Season 1. Not only is he a powerful agent to have on side (he’s a political strategist for Jimenez, who’s likely going to win the election), but Kendall and Roman want to have a plan B if they can’t chase Matsson out on just the numbers. By their thinking, they can bog the sale down in regulatory matters – threat equals risk, and risk equals “f*ck off.”
She agrees, hesitantly, and phones Matsson as her brothers walk out the door to tell him to come to New York. We then catch a glimpse of her explicit texts with Tom, talking about their very own “orgasm Olympics” the night before. Their psycho-sexual dynamic is in full bloom; they forget how terrible they are as people and a couple when they’re horny.
Greg gets his Waystar scalps
At the ATN office, Tom has tasked Greg with laying off hundreds of employees as part of cost-saving measures on the lead-up to the GoJo acquisition. Oh, and it’s over Zoom, in a scathing nod to the stories of rather pr*ckish CEOs over the course of the pandemic. He calls Tom “sir” in a hilarious show of formality, before reading the news of their termination from a piece of paper.
Tom exits the room after a lot of crude, mean-spirited gestures from the side of the camera, and amid all the anger being directed at him in the chat, Greg confirms: “If that was too wordy, yes, we are letting all of you go… thank you for your service to Waystar Royco.” He’s not fazed even slightly – he’s like a drone-piloted downsizer, like Ryan Bingham without the decency.
While previous episodes in Season 4 have allowed us to soak up the tension and sadness of any given event, like Logan’s death or the discovery of Kendall’s succession in the safe, Episode 7 moves at a rapid pace. Before we know it, we’re at the Tailgate Party, at Tom and Shiv are strategizing to appease Matsson and keep “Dumb and Dumber” from spooking the deal before the “Roypocalypse.” Tom tells Greg he should consider getting on Matsson’s side, and while he’d “love to feather that bed”, Matsson seems to hate Greg (at one point, he calls him Gary).
Let the games begin
The party starts just as Roman gets a concerning call from Mencken: his internals are even worse than the polls, so needs him to convince Connor to drop out of the election. He may have a tiny piece of pie, but that 1% is causing him to lose in some states. Kendall’s first reaction is “f*ck him”, but Roman thinks they should keep him sweet if they end up taking control of the company permanently, so they both head off to cozy up to the “libtards and Nazis.”
Tom has a gloriously uncomfortable encounter with Nate (if you don’t remember him kicking Nate out of the wedding, revisit that moment here), and Roman tries to wear Connor down for the “good of the republic”, something his older brother chortles at. As per Mencken, he then offers Connor an ambassadorial position in Somalia. “Bit car-bomby,” he responds, and asks for a post on the UN.
As more people pile in, Kendall stands above them all and welcomes them formally, delivering a gregarious, slightly out-of-body speech (he’s not a natural at it, but it still works). “We watch history, we make history, and then one day we become it,” he says, asking for a moment of silence in memory of Logan. As they stand in quiet reverence, Matsson and his GoJo cronies barge in, but Kendall doesn’t let his surprise arrival bother him. “VIP in the house!” he shouts.
Kendall, Roman, and Shiv gather privately outside, where she pretends to be shocked about Matsson turning up. The brothers think there’s too much “peanut butter” between them, so they ask Shiv to stay close to him – just as she planned. She’s taking their brothers for fools – but let’s not forget, they’ve been doing the same to her. Nicholas Britell’s score aches over their huddle, a somewhat mournful cello – I miss when they worked together.
For the rest of the night, Shiv sticks to Matsson like a PR-savvy limpet, even when Tom is trying to sweet-talk him into letting him stay around. “I’m about to take a shit in your husband’s mouth and I’m pretty sure he’s gonna tell me it tastes like coq au vin,” he jokes, in another stonker of a Matsson line. They also have a frosty encounter with Ebba, his blood-receiving head of comms whom he hates, and Oskar, his callous, “moon-beaned” number two.
Ebba admits she’s not great at parties on account of her social anxiety, which Matsson ridicules. In Norway, he was far cagier around Ebba, but he clearly feels some sense of liberation around Shiv – she packaged his issues in a way that seemed surmountable, so now he doesn’t feel the need to be so delicate.
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Connor wants nukes, Kendall wants Nate
Roman keeps pushing Connor, but his brother’s aspirations are too high. He pitches Slovakia and Slovenia to him, but no dice. Connor suggests South Korea, but Roman thinks one of the most prosperous economic and political players on the planet may be a tough sell. Then he asks for North Korea – which gets a scene-stealing response from Maxim Pierce, his vice president, who says, “Easy, my liege” – but Roman doesn’t think Mencken will put him in anywhere with nukes. “Well that’s insulting, I don’t think I want to go anywhere that doesn’t have nukes,” he says in the funniest line of the episode.
Elsewhere, Nate is yanked from CEO to CEO. He chats to Matsson, relaying Jimenez’s fears about being “data-mined to death” by tech companies, but Matsson promises to shake things up at ATN – including the sacking of Tom, something Shiv spinelessly accepts. Kendall then grabs Nate and pitches him another future: a close relationship with ATN, where the next president will get an easy ride for the first 100 days in exchange for regulatory pressure on the Swede. “I forgot how eager you were to get laid at a party,” Nate tells him, before going away to “check in” with the candidate.
Matsson sees Greg’s true colours
Matsson and Shiv take a break from sucking up to everyone at the party, which gives Shiv an opportunity to ask: “What have you done for me lately?” Matsson says she can have anything she wants, so she wants a “very, very, very significant role” – the three very’s speak for themselves: she wants a position that starts with Chief. “I’m hot shit and I’m ready to go,” she tells him, and they head back to the party.
There is a lot going on in the last stretch, so here’s a briefer rundown: Nate eventually leaves, having been told by his people that they’re unhappy with him “rubbing shoulders” with Kendall and Roman so close to election day. “I don’t feel comfortable with the tenor of this conversation,” he says, something Kendall snidely laughs off. “I’m not Gil, you’re not Logan… and that’s a good thing,” Nate says, shining a light on just how much Kendall is trying to replicate his dad’s political formula – but the world’s changing, and he may have the mind of a relic in a young man’s body.
Downstairs, Greg tries to insert himself into Matsson and Oskar’s conversation. Matsson is polite, but Oskar is horrible, telling him to f*ck off and calling him a dingleberry, but he’s not the focal point for long: Matsson switches his attention to Ebba and asks her to fire Oskar for his rudeness. “I’ve seen him cut your balls 100 times,” she says, but Matsson doesn’t let it lie, saying how he begrudges the fact she basically has tenure after they “mingled.”
Greg then sits forward and puts his sh*ttiness on full display: he offers to fire Ebba in front of everyone, and she storms off. Matsson and Oskar seem impressed, even more so when Greg brags about all of his “scalps” from the recent firings. “You underestimated me… I look like I care, when I don’t,” he says, and Matsson says – with a cheeky smile on his face, the look of a man who’s just found a footsoldier – that he’s “not a good person.” Oskar slides closer to Greg, dubbing him the “butcher with a smile.”
Shiv backed the wrong horse
Roman finds out about all the stuff between Matsson and Ebba, but when she goes outside for a cigarette, he finds out some serious dirt that could destroy the deal: his subscription numbers in India are off. Way off. “If there were two Indias, it would make sense,” he then tells Shiv when she confronts him about it. He’s blasé about it all, seeming to think Shiv will be capable of fixing it when she joins the team, but Shiv’s whole plan has just started crumbling beneath her feet: what if she betrays her family, and it’s all for nothing?
We get a brief scene with Roman and Gerri, but they’re far from reconciliation. Like the feeble-willed child he is, he tries to move past him firing her – which has since been undone by Frank – but she’s not over it. She’ll never be over it. She says she’s done with Waystar, but wants an “eye-watering” payout and threatens to sue and go public with photos of Roman’s penis if her narrative is damaged at all.
Roman goes into a frenzy, and Connor bears the brunt of his anger. He shuffles over and tries to force Connor into accepting an ambassador position in Oman, but he’s decided against it: he wants to let democracy run its course and see what happens… and Roman loses it. “Eat the f*cking carrot, everyone here thinks you’re a f*cking joke, so tell your wife to sh*t the f*ck up,” he screams bitterly, but Connor and Willa don’t lower themselves. “There’s one person here who doesn’t think I’m a joke, so I’m going to listen to her,” he says – once again, Connor Roy almost walks away with the episode with a pitch-perfect line delivery.
Lingering in the background of Roman’s embarrassing outburst is Matsson, despairing over having to spend a night in New York City. “Nothing happens here that doesn’t happen everywhere,” he tells Kendall, which kicks off a mighty cringy dick-swinging contest between the two bosses. “Let the wave hit you,” Matsson says, but Kendall responds: “I think I am the wave, though.” Matsson also calls his Living+ numbers “gay” in a totally random line, but they end up hugging it out in front of everyone. It’s a real head-in-your-hands scene; Succession can be excruciating when it wants to be.
Shiv and Tom duke it out in the scene of the season
Tom once offered to do a “full accounting in the pain of their marriage”, and in Episode 7, we finally see it happen in all its agonizing, ruthless glory. When Tom tries to go to bed, Shiv forces him to stay up and continue socializing. They go out onto the balcony, and things explode: Shiv is worried about Matsson, but Tom says she’ll be fine because she’s a “tough f*cking bitch” who’ll do anything she needs to stay alive. Shiv thinks he’s projecting – which he is, but he’s still right – and calls him “servile”, which is true.
Everything they say is completely correct, and it’s why they’re such horrible people. Yes, Tom betrayed her, but only because she was happy to let him go to prison and never considered him first. Yes, Tom was “f*cking her for her DNA”, and he’s a “masochist who can’t even take it.”
Both actors have never been this good, and that’s a huge compliment considering their seemingly boundless talent. It’s an extraordinary argument, laced with horrid truths that build to a tell-all crescendo: Tom says Shiv shouldn’t be a mother, but he still doesn’t know about the pregnancy. “You don’t deserve me, you never did… everything else just came out of that,” she tells him.
Tom walks back in and tells everyone to leave, but Kendall sneaks a quick word with Frank. He proposes a “reverse Viking… pillage their village” after learning about GoJo’s wonky figures: he wants to buy them, rather than be bought. He’s also uninterested in having Roman or Shiv by his side, instead leaning on Frank as his go-to number two. “One head, one crown… I love them, but I’m not in love with them,” he says.
As the episode draws to its breathless end, the lights come down in Tom and Shiv’s apartment, with both of them alone in different beds. Neither can sleep, but their faces tell different stories: the gravity of the whole evening slowly sinks into Shiv, while Tom is wide awake – will he be the one to burn the Waystar empire down?
Succession Season 4 Episode 7 review score: 5/5
Succession’s latest episode is quick, thrillingly nasty, and the schadenfreude would be oh-so-delicious if we didn’t feel for these characters this deeply. B*stards.
Succession Season 4 Episodes 1-7 are streaming on HBO and Sky now. Episode 8 will be available to watch on May 14 in the US and May 15 in the UK. Check out our other coverage below:
Season 4 cast | Season 4 release schedule | Season 4 runtimes | Is Succession based on a real family? | Who will succeed Logan Roy? | What time does Succession drop?