Succession S4E7 Breakdown: Reverse Viking Mode

“Tailgate Party”

Shiv, Roman and Kendall huddle at the tail gate party
A photo from the production of episode 407 of Succession. Photo: David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO. All Rights Reserved.

I really don’t want Succession to go. I totally admire Jesse Armstrong’s desire to go out on top, tell the story he wants to tell and be done, but I already want more. “Tailgate Party,” the seventh episode in the series’ final season, was both an indicator that the story is concluding as well as a reminder that these characters are so rich that they could navigate to new stories and be equally as compelling. We’re about to get into spoiler territory here so if you haven’t seen Succession S4E7, proceed with caution.

Real World Problems

Succession has always ripped from real world problems and headlines. It’s always played upon our fears of what the richest and most powerful people in the country (and world) do behind closed doors. How much control do these people really have? Do the ones who pretend to fight actually get along? Do they actually believe their own disinformation?

Succession S4E7 revolved around the family’s traditional “tailgate party,” a party they hold every election eve with major players from the news world, as well as political figures from both parties. This would be the first time the event was held without Logan, and the kids, despite each having a world of problems upon each of their shoulders, had to show up and try to fill their dead dad’s shoes.

Prior to the party, Kendall met up with his ex-wife to discuss the children he hasn’t seen since late last season. Kendall listened as the mother of his children explained how his daughter is afraid to go to school and how it’s all stemming from the fact that the cable news network Kendall’s family owns puts out far right propaganda.

Kendall meets his ex wife on the NYC streets to talk about their kids
A photo from the production of episode 407 of Succession. Photo: David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO. All Rights Reserved.

One of the things I find most fascinating about the character of Kendall is that he wants to do good. He has something within him that wants to evolve, to be better, to make the world around him better, but he’s so broken himself as a result of the bad parenting he received that he can’t face his own children. We as an audience want to root for him. We want to believe in him. But we see his flaws. Later in the episode, I believed Kendall when he said that if the liberals won the election he would make ATN more safe for them for the first 100 days of the administration. I believed him when he said radical change could come to the network. That all stemmed from the pain his daughter is suffering as a result of the news network her family controls, but Kendall can’t face her. He can’t call her or comfort her. He can only try to fix things from afar.

Each of the Roy siblings suffers certain emotional damage from their parents and Succession S4E7 once again put it all out there. My hope for the end of the series is that no matter what happens with the business, that Kendall tries to be a dad. That he tries to move past his fears and insecurities and be there for his kids.

Connor seems to be the only one of the four that is moving past his issues. I loved that at the tailgate party, the story began circulating that Connor still being in the Presidential race was actually making a difference. There are a few states where he’s polling at 5% and that’s enough to shift the election to the Democratic candidate. Of course, at the party hosted by his family, nobody is acknowledging that he’s a candidate, except on back room deals designed to give him an ambassador position in exchange for dropping out and endorsing his GOP foe.

Connor and Willa debate their future while at a party
A photo from the production of episode 407 of Succession. Photo: David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO. All Rights Reserved.

Roman was ruthless with his older brother. We could truly see how much Roman was unraveling in this episode. He tried to smooth things over with Gerri, only for her to tell him that she wants “hundreds of millions of dollars” and to control the narrative of her exit, or she will show the world the nude photos Roman has sent her over the years. Then, when Connor wouldn’t comply and drop out of the race, Roman responded with a level of cruelty we haven’t seen from him… perhaps ever.

The scene was double-edged in the sense that sure, it was showing how much Roman is slipping, but also, it was a triumphant moment for Connor. He’s finally moving past his need to be loved or accepted. He’s comfortable in his own skin. His wife loves him, he trusts her opinions and they do make a really good team. He doesn’t need his family to treat him like an equal anymore. He’s finally healing and OK in his own skin.

Showdown Time

Although “Tailgate Party” will be remembered for many things, including some of the best insults and one liners of the year, Tom and Shiv finally having it out had to be the highlight of the episode. They started the episode awkwardly together but it didn’t feel right. Tom was trying too hard. Shiv could barely be bothered to fake her disinterest.

Shiv went all-in on Matsson in Succession S4E7, effectively becoming his double agent, feeding him information to undermine her brother’s agenda. They wanted the party to be where they used liberal political brokers to take objection to the merger with Matsson. They wanted to kill the deal through bureaucratic means. Shiv gave Matsson that scoop and told him to not only come to the party, but how to win over those same people her brothers wanted to weaponize.

Shiv and Matsson negotiating at the tail gate party
A photo from the production of episode 407 of Succession. Photo: David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO. All Rights Reserved.

Shiv knew that Matsson didn’t like Tom, yet she paraded around the party with Matsson, essentially confirming that Tom would be removed as the head of ATN post merger. Tom was justifiably hurt. The same patterns were repeating here and once again, he was the laughing stock at his wife’s hands, despite their attempts at reconciliation. Tom lost it, but who can blame him?

This was the fight we’ve been waiting for. Nothing held back. Nothing left unsaid. Tom was right for the most part, calling Shiv broken. Shiv was also right with many of her points. Tom did betray her, was power hungry and overly submissive. They’re both hurting. They haven’t had the easiest of relationships. In some ways, they’ve tried. Other times, they hurt each other. I believe Tom when he said he wanted a baby. I believe he crushed Shiv when he said she shouldn’t be a mother, with the audience knowing that she is indeed pregnant. It was less a vicious fight and more two hurt people saying all the things they were hurt over. It was the most honest conversation they’ve ever had.

Reverse Viking

Kendall saw the play a mile away. The party revealed key details on Matsson. His numbers are massively inflated. He’s not as rich as he’s convinced the market he is. He wants to buy the company so he can have the numbers he’s claimed to have, as result of massive data errors they’ve reported on.

Kendall also read the room. Shiv’s head isn’t in the game. He doesn’t realize that she’s been playing both sides of the fence and is going to be a part of the fallout, but he does see that she’s not focused on the big picture. He also sees that Roman is melting down. Kendall knows that if he wants to go “Reverse Viking” as he calls it, he’s going to need a different partner. He chose his oldest ally on the board, Frank.

Roman tries to talk Connor into dropping out of the race
A photo from the production of episode 407 of Succession. Photo: David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO. All Rights Reserved.

The play? To call out Matsson on his overblown wealth and buy Matsson’s company. The original move, for Waystar to be the buyer, not the one being bought out. But as Kendall tells Frank, there’s only one crown. He’s making his move, a move to not only keep his dad’s company, but also to buy Pierce and Matsson. A move that would see him as the King over a much bigger kingdom than his dad ever was. The plot has seriously thickened.

Written by Andrew Grevas

Andrew is the Founder / Editor in Chief of 25YL. He’s engaged with 2 sons, a staunch defender of the series finales for both Lost & The Sopranos and watched Twin Peaks at the age of 5 during its original run, which explains a lot about his personality.

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