A requiem for Shiv and Tom, who would like to make love one last time (but can’t).
Major spoilers follow for the first episode of Succession’s fourth season.
Her eyes flared. His voice wobbled. “Do you want to… talk?” said Tom Wambsgans, the corporate ladder-climbing schmuck who could see his career, his wealth, his access to power and therefore his entire being, evaporating in front of his eyes. His marriage of convenience was on the rocks, and he could sense his ship was about to be sent to the bottom of the ocean. “I’ve got some things I’d like to say.”
Siobhan “Shiv” Roy’s eyes pierced right through him. When she spoke, it was in the kind of semi-formal boardroom speak that had come to dominate their relationship. “I don’t want to rake up a whole bunch of bullshit for no profit, Tom,” she said, impervious to her soon-to-be-ex husband’s pleading puppy dog eyes. “I wonder if we might have run out of road.” She may as well have pointed her finger and said: “You’re fired.”
Finally, after three seasons of cat-and-terrified-mouse games, of affairs, betrayals and heartbreak (courtesy of her), of political corruption, dirty corporate deals and financial manipulations (him), and of the immortal line (from Tom), “I just wonder if the sad I’d be without you is less than the sad I get from being with you,” it came down to this. Two people, lying on a bed, too exhausted from the pretence of keeping up the charade to go on.
There was time for one last gasp. Tom, grasping for a lifeboat, couldn’t help himself. “I could see if I can make love to you,” he said, his raised eyebrows punctuating his desperation. “Would you like to?” replied Shiv. She sounded hopeful, but she was mocking him. It was simply a chance to sink the blade even further into her meat puppet. “I don’t think so, Tom.”
Bruising? You bet. In the ultra-rich world of Succession, where characters wonder aloud if they’re worth “two or three bill[ion],” when news networks are told to manipulate and cajole viewers’ choice of president based on behind-the-scenes handshakes, when buyouts of rival media companies are decided on how annoying it will be to another family member, and when, “Go on, fuck off,” is a compliment, divorce proved to be the darkest, dirtiest most depressing deal of them all.
“If you’re good,” said Shiv, “we can just walk away with our heads held high and say, ‘Good luck.’”
This moment came at the end of Succession’s big return, a blockbuster episode that teased a tantalising final smorgasbord of skulduggery. It didn’t really need Tom and Shiv to re-sheath their swords. It had already done so much across the previous 50 minutes that this episode, titled “The Munsters”, could have quite happily ended without a divorce. Other shows would have saved the romantic downfall of two key characters for its own special event, stretching it out, savouring it, milking it for all it’s worth.
But Succession isn’t like other shows. This, as showrunner Jesse Armstrong has admitted, is it. After season four, it’s all over. So this felt like a gift bag packed full of Succession’s biggest hits. We had media mogul lifer Logan Roy stomping around his own birthday party, glaring at guests, grumping about why his kids won’t call him, then leaving early to take his security guard Colin (“My best pal”) out for dinner to share theories about the demise of empires.
We had Cousin Greg causing a scandal for bringing a new, unscreened girlfriend to Logan’s high net worth party, who asked the birthday boy for a selfie – imagine it! – then dragged Greg into a guest bedroom. “We had a bit of a rummage,” Greg admitted to Tom. “Did you rummage to fruition?” Tom queried, before informing him Logan had cameras in all the bedrooms.
We had Shiv and her brothers-in-crime Kendall and Roman trying to find backers for their new “indispensable, bespoke info hub” The Hundred before ditching it unceremoniously and pooling their billions to bid against their dad for another ageing media empire PGM. The money theme continued with Connor wondering if he should spend $100 million to retain his 1% position in the polls. “If you spent it you’d still be, you know, like, rich?” asked his fiancee, Willa, who’s on his payroll. “Oh yeah, sure. Nevertheless, minus $100 million,” he replied.
And we had Logan, bored, waiting for news of his perilous PGM acquisition, requesting a birthday roast. It was, almost certainly, the worst roast of all time. After gentle taunts from his terrified staff, Greg finally took things to where Logan wanted them to go. “Where are all your kids, Uncle Logan, on your big birthday?” The retort came immediately. “Where’s your old man? Still sucking cock at the county fair?” Even in its crudest moments, Succession can be Shakespearean.
That brings us to The Disgusting Brothers. That’s the name singles Tom and Greg have given their pathetic band of two. They’re on the prowl yet seemingly incapable of having a brief grope at a party without coming unstuck. “Did you get buff for the models, Tom?” Shiv asked, clearing the way for divorce talk. “Do you do all the positions with the models now, Tom?”
Brutal. Across its first three seasons, Succession has delivered plenty of heartbreaking blows. Kendall ripping through a pile of birthday presents to find the single one from his kids remains firmly lodged in my memory banks. So too do his sobs at his mother’s Tuscan wedding, crying in the dirt and admitting his misdeeds while Roman awkwardly patted his head. Shiv hugging her clearly broken big brother in season two for the same reason still gets me every time.
Season three ended with one of those moments too, when Shiv’s fierce eyes caught her big bad dad patting Tom on the back like a good soldier. It was the moment she realised her partner had cheated her on in a different way, cashing in his chips with her to get into bed with Logan. Love wasn’t at the heart of their relationship, but there needed to be a hint of it, some kind of pretence, to underpin all the ladder-climbing, their corporate takeover plans. Their agreement was clear: Shiv could do what she wanted while Tom stayed firmly in his cage. That, right there, was the real end.
That didn’t make tonight’s final moments any less devastating. To me, Shiv and Tom’s low has become Succession’s high point. Their dog Mondale asleep in a cage, a custody fight looming. A pile of wealthy corporate clothes in her hands, him sleepy and still in his pyjamas. A couple, surrounded by their expensive art and expansive views of the city, all worthless when forced to confront something that can’t be fixed with money. “So this is it, huh?” he said. “Yeah, I guess. Gave it a go,” she said. “Yeah. We gave it a go.”
Credit: Source link
For more News go to ovanewsblast.com