By Nicusor Ciumacencu — On a simplistic note, as a man, watching Succession from beginning to end, the feeling I had was “We will always rule this world!” This world of men, dominating over their equal, in all rights: women.

We will always rule. Because we can assemble the idea: She can’t run this thing – company, project, class, mission – because we want to keep her for a fuck.

In Succession, MEN are running everything, good or bad. Bad for the most part but when a man runs something bad it still isn’t that BAD, there is still a sense of protection sitting behind his failures; it’s a man mistaking, one doesn’t feel totally unsafe, the failure cannot be that awful. Maybe because of the nonchalance a man often has about his failure; he doesn’t care as much as a woman would, which makes the failure feel less disastrous.

To many, it’s enough to look at it as a man failing and not a woman. Because a man’s failure is the result of a mistake. A woman’s failure is the result of catastrophic choice, her failure is a collapse. After a woman’s failure, we need a man to come take over. After a man’s failure, we need another man.

I just watched the other day Italy’s prime minister on a visit to India. It’s a “SHE” running Italy these days. And she’s so wonderful and in control, you feel safe with her, you feel she knows the next step and you can trust her rule. That’s not common but mostly it’s that way because far too few women have run things, so you’ve never had the occasion to know how it feels under a woman’s rule.

In Succession, unlike Italy’s Prime Minister, Shiv is a loser in every season and every episode. The most important, of those losses, is in the end when she’s not offered the CEO position because Matsson simply wants to fuck her. And that’s just that.

Back at Succession as a show, on the whole, one must not pretend it didn’t notice how “Let’s look at the numbers” is the most used sentence throughout the series. In a single episode you hear that dozens of times, it’s all about the secret numbers. I doubt that behind the scene of real corporations this sentence “Let’s look at the numbers” even makes sense.

There was another feeling I had about the show, about its unfolding: the time warp feeling. This “time warp” feeling comes from the fact that throughout the series the length of life unfolding, the time that passes from one episode to another is actually very short, merely days and sometimes hours. Normally an episode encases quite a bit of time in its unfolding, months generally but sometimes years. In Succession, an entire series represents just a few weeks, a couple of months, maybe.

Done with the “feelings” let’s focus on the center action — the communication between subjects. In Succession, the way they talk to each other is one of the worst it could ever be. There was the least amount of trust between people one can imagine. Because no one could really speak the truth, their words and sentences were interrupted, unfinished, in an endless effort to hide the reality of feelings and dealings and look in control. Vulgarity plays a huge role in such types of verbal expression. The curses hide many other intentions and stop the partner of chat from continuing with their revelation.

The end of Season Four is a culmination, a showdown of all the terrible things that could happen in communication between people. Mistrust, hate, indecency, double-dealing, betrayal, and perhaps murder if they could do it. It’s certain that everybody hated somebody with more than enough power to suffice for murder.

Roy Siblings at Logan’s Funeral / Succession S4 (HBO)

Team Ken is built on the usual bootlicking that some members of the board had for Logan for all those years, and with Logan dead they had to find a new Roy, and to them, it could only be Kendall — oldest of the Roy brats. They appear to be enough to thwart the deal with GoJo and everyone enters the final board meeting with confidence and assurance. In this team, Roman seems at peace, resigned. Matsson never offered anything to Roman; his dad Logan mentioned once, out of courtesy, and obligation, that he’ll leave the throne of Waystar to him. Kendall and Shiv treat him with the same respect kids at school treat the shortest in class — not so much respect, lots of fun on the guy’s height; kids associating height with intelligence and all success.

Shiv is somewhat resigned, too. She will not be CEO but, voting to keep the company for themselves, there is a fragile sense of winning, although she cannot forget the brothers, Kendall and Roman, and how they constantly tried to push her aside. That’s why she plotted with Matsson, but even Matsson proved to be… another man.
The throne will go to a non-Roy.

Tom accepts the CEO position, in a brief interview with Matsson, as Matsson reveals to him that he can’t name Shiv the CEO because he would like to fuck Shiv—still Tom’s wife—and Tom has no reaction at the hearing of that. It’s true that their marriage has long been a travesty at that moment of conversation, but they are still married. Matsson explains his decision to choose Tom instead of his (still) wife because “Why don’t I get the guy who put the baby inside her, instead of the baby lady?”

To Tom, this might be hard to swallow, but he can do nothing; he wants the position and Masson has it. Maybe in his mind, he remotely plans an act of future revenge on Matsson for those nasty words and belittling thoughts, but that would have to be at a later date; after Tom gets the job and begins controlling the new company resulting from the merger of Waystar and GoJo— after he is known enough as the supreme boss and a plot to undermine Matsson’s authority will have chances of succeeding.

Personally, I always felt Tom continued harboring feelings for Shiv even with all the bad blood flowing from each of them towards each other. Like women falling for bad guys, guys fall for bad women — I couldn’t find another reason why Tom would still feel love for Shiv. It’s got to be the child also, Shiv is pregnant like a cello (according to Matsson), and we know from previous episodes that Tom badly wanted a child.

But in the end, feminism is decimated, patriarchy wins on all fronts.

In a twist that’s not that easy to find in reality, Shiv changes her mind last minute, proving we’re in a TV show and there cannot be ten minutes without a little twist. This is the last, final twist. Shiv is no longer that sure about voting for team Ken. She says Kendall is incompetent — he is, but that didn’t matter — and, also, that Ken cannot be CEO because he killed a man, which Kendall quickly tries to deny. And so Matsson becomes Logan times two.

Shiv, the only woman with power throughout the show, returns to being just the bearer of a child — pregnant cello — while every man is a winner of some type. Perhaps even Kendall and Roman win — freedom that is, from a job burden that was always a bit too much for them, from fighting with each other and physical harm, and from the painful looks of compassion from their employees and real professionals at Waystar that always saw them unfit, immature, megalomaniac, irrelevant and inconsiderate… “a fuck brother bandwagon.”

But maybe Shiv has her win, too, being the one who decided the fate. A superpower that lasted a minute or two, the minutes of deciding who to vote for. In either team, Ken or Matsson, she would have no power, so whom to fuck up? Let’s go with the incompetents, and so the small team forms a country half the size of New York City, will run the world of media while the Roys will just stay rich.


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