Succession Season 4 Episode 8: Who is Pontius Pilate?

Shiv in Succession Season 4 Episode 8HBO

In Succession Season 4 Episode 8, Shiv angrily calls Tom “Pontius Pilate” – here’s who that is and why it’s such a cutting line.

In our review, we wrote: “Episode 3 may be the best episode of Succession Season 4, but this is our favorite. The political back-and-forth is scintillating, the sweary, verbose put-downs are especially cutting, and the momentum never dips; think of it as The Anti-Newsroom.”

This week, it all goes very, very wrong for Shiv. She’s been playing a dangerous game ever since her first meeting with Matsson. First, it was some informal advice about his blood-brick problem, and then the phone calls became more frequent. Before she knew it, she was the ultimate duplicitous sibling, working against her brothers at every moment without them ever realizing it.

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It was never going to last. As Election Night progresses and her brothers try to cozy up with either potential POTUS as the polls close across the country, Kendall discovers her betrayal and cuts her out of any and all decision-making. In the heat of the moment, she calls Tom “Pontius Pilate”, so here’s what that means. Spoilers to follow…

Succession: Who is Pontius Pilate?

Pontius Pilate was the fifth governor of the Roman province of Judaea, best known for being the procurator who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus in AD 36.

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The trial of Jesus can be found across several verses – Matthew 26:57–27:31, Mark 14:53–15:20, Luke 22:54–23:26, and John 18:13–19:16 – but the long and short of it is this: Jesus had been charged with perverting the nation, forbidding the payment of tribute, and sedition against the Roman Empire, but Pilate didn’t think he was guilty.

After the hearing, he declared that Jesus couldn’t be charged, but the crowd demanded his death and the release of Barabbas. He feared he would be overthrown, and despite his best efforts to distance himself from the order, he was ultimately responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion.

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In Episode 8, Shiv calls Tom a “f*cking Pontius Pilate” after Kendall and Roman decide to call the election for Jeryd Mencken. They ask Tom to relay their decision to the studio, and despite Shiv begging him and saying it’s a big mistake, he accepts his orders with almost no pushback.

Even taking away the political subtext – remember, Jeryd Mencken is a fascist whose followers are openly racist and known to be violent – it’s understandable why Shiv would invoke Pilate’s name: by paving the way for Mencken’s presidency, he’s essentially setting fire to the cross. Also, it’s another stab in the back from Tom, especially after their showdown in the previous episode and Shiv revealing her pregnancy in the newsroom.

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Succession Season 4 Episodes 1-8 are streaming on HBO and Sky now. Episode 9 will be available to watch on May 21 in the US and May 22 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?

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