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Succession season 4, episode 8 recap: electoral chaos as the sibs pick sides

Greg (Nicholas Braun) and Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) watch ATN’s presidential election coverage in America Decides (HBO)
Greg (Nicholas Braun) and Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) watch ATN’s presidential election coverage in America Decides (HBO)

Spoilers Succession season 1-4 below

Week eight, titled America Decides, is the episode we’ve all been waiting for: the day of the presidential election, where months’ worth of winding storylines collide over the course of one explosive hour of TV.

There are all the usual components to enjoy: viperous power plays, barbed conversations, and hilarious insults. But it gets even better for those who follow the American presidential race every four years, and who have always wondered just what it might be like in a major news organisation reporting on the unfolding drama.

In America Decides we get a blow-by-blow of all the chaos, and by the end of the episode – partly thanks to the Roy siblings – it’s chaos that threatens to engulf the country.

Here’s everything that happens in the electrifying, chaotic, brilliant, eighth episode of Succession.

Tom is... stressed

It’s Democratic candidate Daniel Jiménez against Republican candidate Jeryd Mencken, and it’s the day of the presidential election. ATN’s coverage of the election is underway, and Tom is up to his eyeballs.

It’s the first election without Logan, and so the eyes of the nation will be on how ATN handles itself. It’s important that viewing numbers are great, and Tom is seriously feeling the pressure. Cyd, he says, is running around outside, “spitting poison like a f***ing king cobra with an iPhone”.

He yells at Greg the second that the episode opens, and talks to political analyst Darwin about adult nappies. There’s always time to go to the toilet, says Darwin. Kendall calls Tom, saying that he wants to see brilliant numbers. Tom is under the cosh, to put it lightly.

Greg is back in business

Some Greg fans have been feeling rather bereft at the lack of their favourite dopey giraffe lately: most Greg scenes have been fleeting, to say the least, and in those where he did feature, he is relegated to saying profoundly dumb things.

But in America Decides he not only has real screen time, but he’s one of the episodes’ key characters. And there’s plenty of Greg and Tom, one of the internet’s favourite TV duos.

While Darwin is giving a speech about what to expect as the results come in, Greg is whispering to Tom about what happened when he partied with Matsson. He says that, unsurprisingly, the Swede’s crew know about some “unseemly venues”.

Matsson revealed his secret deal with Shiv during the partying; when Greg asks Tom if he knew, the ATN chief says he has no idea about it. “Information, Greg, it’s like a bottle of fine wine. You store it, your hoard it, you keep it for a special occasion and then you smash someone’s face with it.”

Shiv and Matsson are still in cahoots

Roman discusses the presidential election with Greg and Tom (©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)
Roman discusses the presidential election with Greg and Tom (©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)

Upstairs, Shiv, Roman and Kendall are watching the coverage. They’re staying out of the way of getting directly involved in the evening’s proceedings – it was, apparently, one of Logan’s “Geneva Conventions”.

They get the exit polls, and it looks like Jiménez has just clinched it. Gil Eavis, who is also on Jiménez’s ticket as his VP, texts Shiv four smiley faces. Menken texts Roman, with whom he is close, two eggplants and an American flag: “Eggplant eggplant flag reeks of the misogynistic bravado that has so repelled the median voter,” says Shiv, eye-rolling.

They start calling their people. Shiv slips out and talks to Matsson – “Don’t let them break my toy,” he says, while stirring what looks like a G&T with his finger. He says that he told Greg about their deal and Shiv is alarmed, but manages not to give anything away.

He also briefly touches on the whole India subscriber numbers looming fiasco, saying that he reckons they should “keep my terrible secret a secret”. Shiv had planned to share it over the next couple of days, to control the narrative.

A lot of time is spent on the phone

Democrats would be more likely to leave the GoJo deal alone, whereas Republicans (says Menken to Roman) would refer the deal to the regulators to essentially ensure it’s blocked, if Roman wanted.

Shiv also calls political advisor Nate who works for Jiménez and Eavis, asking him to keep channels open over the course of the night. Kendall calls Jiménez, who absolutely does not want to be speaking to the eldest sib, but who does take his call. It’s awkward, and it’s clear that if Jiménez does take office, Waystar will not be his first priority. Things would be different with Menken. Roman leaves to go and see him.

Everyone is hedging their bets, frantically trying to speak to anyone and everyone to bolster what will become crucial relationships in the coming days, months and years.

Connor is feeling left out

Meanwhile, Connor is in another room with Willa and his team. Tension is high as they’re waiting for the results to come in.

Connor says he’s glad he stayed in the race, because you never know what will happen. Plus, elections are so much more exciting when you’re in them. He calls Kendall because he’s not getting any coverage on ATN, and Kendall tries to appease him.

And Rava is worried

Kendall and Frank on election day (©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)
Kendall and Frank on election day (©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)

Rava calls Kendall, she thinks someone is tailing her car in an SUV. Kendall calms her down: it’s actually his team. In last week’s episode Kendall and Rava had a very brief chat on the street where she told him that their daughter Sophie, who has Indian heritage, was pushed by a Menken-loving racist while she was on the street.

On the phone now, Kendall says that since hearing that he’s had security following Sophie as a precautionary measure. He didn’t mention it to Rava or Sophie as he didn’t want them to get worried or upset. “I won’t let the world push you, ok?” he says to Sophie.

Over at Menken’s camp

“Losing it like a massive f***ing loser,” says Roman as he greets Menken. Menken says he partly blames Roman for the predicted loss because he couldn’t deliver Connor last night.

Now, Menken is not focused on winning, but losing: “If I lose… I need to work on what assholes would call the narrative... If I lose I want it correctly characterised as a huge victory,” he says. Roman understands.

Greg and Tom

Greg and Tom watch ATN’s election coverage (©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)
Greg and Tom watch ATN’s election coverage (©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)

Back at ATN, Tom is still freaking out about all the responsibility on his shoulders, and so is taking this out on Greg who has failed to bring him a coffee, and who has brought him sushi from a bodega. Tom wants ginger shots, spaghetti and olive oil and American bottled water. NOT that crap. “Tonight my digestive system is basically part of the constitution,” he yells.

“Do you want some of what you asked for?” Greg asks. It turns out, what Tom asked for is cocaine. After a second pondering, Tom says yes. And so the disgusting brothers shimmy over to a whiteboard, pretending to be wiping it, and Tom has a bump.

Greg says he doesn’t want any, he’s only just feeling normal after last night. But Tom bullies him into it: “It’s medically good for your brain. What are you saying, all Aztecs are stupid? Don’t be racist little b***h about it.” And with that, Greg snorts away, or at least pretends to.

Later, while watching the coverage, the touchscreen that’s being used by the ATN presenter stops working and Tom runs downstairs in a panic. It turns out the presenter is clicking on the screen too hard, and manages to destroy two subsequent screens, to Tom’s major distress.

Electoral votes and battleground states

The battleground states are Georgia with 16 electoral votes and Virginia with 13. Kentucky is the only place where Connor has a slim chance of winning, but it’s called for Menken. At this point, Connor says, “Alas Kentucky Willa, Alas vanity.” He starts to think that maybe an ambassadorship in Oman wouldn’t be so bad after all, and gets on the phone to Roman.

A fire in Milwaukee

There’s a fire in a Milwaukee vote counting centre and everyone is freaking out about it. Should it be covered on the programme or not? Is it an accident, or was it Menken’s people, Jiménez’s people, or Antifa? Everyone is calling everyone else again. Kendall gets on the phone with Tom and asks him why they aren’t covering it.

“Just because something’s on fire, doesn’t make it news,” says Tom. “I think it’s important to keep our unique perspective... we just need to respect our viewership.”

But quickly it becomes clear that this is the story of the election. Many of the ballots have been lost in the fire, and so it’s going to be impossible to call Milwaukee. Pam, who looks like she’s Tom’s number two, says that ATN now has a chopper “up” and a local reporter is on the way.

“It’s amateur hour down there,” says Kendall. And the sibs leave their holding pen and all go down to the ATN floor.

The sibs take control, or try to

Analyst Darwin explains the Wisconsin situation to Tom (©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)
Analyst Darwin explains the Wisconsin situation to Tom (©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)

Breaking their dad’s golden rule, the young Roys are now, very visibly, getting involved in election night. Greg is attempting, but failing, to usher them back upstairs, as they scatter in all directions.

Once downstairs, and it’s difficult to understand why she chooses this moment, Shiv tries to talk to Tom, who looks quite deranged. “I just wanted to apologise for some of the things that I said last night…” but she stops herself, commenting on his strange face.

“How should I frame my face? Are you scared that I’m going to blab about you and Matsson?” says Tom.

He then adds then Shiv “sort of” killed her father. Blown away by this incredibly cruel comment, Shiv blurts out that she’s pregnant, by him.

In a very sad turn, Tom reacts by saying, “Is that like a new position or a tactic, or what?” showing the truly dire state of their relationship. Shiv storms off.

To call Wisconsin or not to call Wisconsin?

Now back off the ATN floor, the discussion turns to whether or not to call Wisconsin. Shiv says absolutely not. Without the 100,000 lost Milwaukee ballots, it is highly undemocratic, plus the votes were going to be in favour of the Dems. Political analyst Darwin agrees.

However Roman thinks that the lost ballots are forever lost. A re-vote wouldn’t be possible. So they have to press on, and as it stands the state has gone Menken. Kendall is umming and ahhing.

“Jiménez won’t block the GoJo deal, so f*** the guy, right?” says Roman. Shiv is shocked: “That’s not the thing, right, Ken…?” she says. In the end, after a lot of pushing from Roman, hesitation from Kendall, shoulder shrugging from Tom and disbelief from Shiv, ATN calls Wisconsin for Menken. “I don’t feel good about this necessarily Tom,” says Kendall. Menken is now 24 electoral votes away from winning the presidency.

Shiv and Greg have a quick chat

Shiv pulls Greg for a quick chat. “Do you find me attractive, Gregory?” asks Shiv. Greg is squirming like a maggot hooked on a fishing rod. “I don’t think of things such as that,” he manages to say. “I’m just letting you know, that if you try to f*** me, I’ll kill you,” she says.

But Greg knows that he has a strong hand after hanging out with Matsson last night. He says that silence is golden, but “like how golden? Is there an offer?” Shiv says the offer is that he can keep his innards inside his body.

Connor concedes

Karl watches Connor’s speech (©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)
Karl watches Connor’s speech (©2023 HBO. All Rights Reserved)

Menken agrees that if Connor concedes he’ll give Connor a nice diplomatic role, and Connor agrees. His concession speech is interesting, and spins quickly out of control. “I happen to be a billionaire… sorry!” he says. “But honestly America you f***ed it. The corrupt bipartisan system zombie marches on…”

Arizona goes red

It looks like Arizona is about to go red, but because ATN has called Wisconsin, if they call Arizona for Menken they will also have to announce him as president. What should they do? Roman says call it. Who cares, is his argument? “Dad’s dead and the country’s just a big p***y waiting to get f***ed,” he says.

Kendall is unsure. “It is kind of a nice idea, all the different people, together,” he says. Shiv is, obviously, against calling the race for Menken. “We might not be able to crown him, but we can stop him. He needs our call,” says Shiv.

Roman leaves to take a call and Kendall and Shiv are alone together. He says to her that he really doesn’t want to “give it all away to Matsson” and that he has sometimes felt like “I could do it, like I should do it, me. Just me.”

Shiv thanks him for being honest. They briefly talk about their worries about the future of America, and Kendall tells her that one of Menken’s people pushed Sophie. He says he’s a bad dad, that the poison drips through. Shiv, clearly thinking about her own baby, says “nah” very quickly, with wide eyes. Kendall says he’s worried about just how close Roman and Menken are, and how he feels threatened by that blooming relationship. He asks Shiv to call Nate to see if there’s leeway on the Dems also blocking the deal.

Shiv agrees leaving the room to make the call, but in the end only pretends to. When she returns, Roman has also reappeared. Kendall explains that before they agree to call Arizona, Shiv is talking to the Dems.

Roman rolls his eyes, and argues that the Dems won’t give them anything. Kendall calls Nate to find out what’s going on, and as he does this he comes to learn that Shiv only pretended to call Nate.

Greg makes his choice

Kendall looks at Shiv through the glass of the office. Shiv swallows. She then watches as her big brother walks towards Greg and asks him something. Greg looks over at Shiv and says something to Kendall. The jig is up.

ATN decides

Kendall comes back into the room and explains to Roman that Shiv has been working with Matsson.

“I f***ing asked you some real questions Shiv, I wondered why you looked like a goose trying to shit a house brick, you piece of dirt,” he says. Shiv can’t really get her words out as she tries to defend herself. The revelation spurs the CE-Bros into making a decision.

Although Kendall is still not sure – the sibs try and guess what their father would do but it doesn’t bring them any clarity – they choose to call Arizona and back Menken.

“We just made a night of good TV, nothing happens,” says Roman as they watch Menken’s victory speech.

As the episode closes Shiv is walking to her car outside on the phone to Matsson. “We’re going to f*** them so hard, we’re going to fix this,” she says.

Final thoughts

This was Succession at its finest, with everyone and everything frantically spinning in every direction. The high drama was executed perfectly as Shiv was exposed, Greg and Tom provided much comedic relief and Kendall spent the episode thinking about doing the right thing, but eventually choosing the wrong thing.

With just two episodes left to go everything is left to play for. Even the election is far from being over as the fight over Milwaukee has only just begun.

Succession is currently streaming on Sky and NOW