It is election night. On the surface, the eighth episode of the final season of SUCCESSION focuses on the Roy siblings’ division over the Presidential candidates. Roman supports a far-right candidate, for he will block the GoJo deal. Kendall wants the deal blocked as well, but not at the expense of allowing extreme politics to hit close to home. Shiv’s political preference is no longer based on the morals or the good of the republic; she desires to remain Mattson’s ace-in-the-hole to solidify the GoJo deal. All alone is disillusioned Connor, who thinks he has enough “Con-Heads” (equally disillusioned voters) to make the argument that America is not a two-party system. Below the surface, “America Decides” reveals that none of the Roy children are any better at parenting than their parents. Although not as outwardly abrasive as his old man, Kendall allows the estrangement from his wife to be an excuse to not be present in his children’s lives. Viewers may forget (I needed a reminder) that Roman has a child, but the youngest Roy heir is too unstable to address his own emotions, much less be a parent. Connor is childless, but his self-obsession is a key indicator he would be no father of the year. Certainly, Logan is the catalyst for this learned bad parenting. However, there is another consideration and heavy factor. The Roy children’s mother is largely absent from their lives, only showing up to sever inheritances and any chance of rekindling relationship with her children. All of these dynamics create the guide to what not to do as a parent.
Although the offspring of the world’s most abrasive father, it may be unfair to categorize Shiv as a potentially bad mother. Shiv wants to have the baby. Shiv informs Tom she is pregnant with their child, but Tom is highly skeptical. The distrust between the troubled couple hits an apex when Tom bluntly states he believes that Shiv’s announcement is merely another distraction scheme. The look on Shiv’s face when Tom feigns doubt is haunting.
The core of this episode covers the chaotic election between the Republican and Democratic candidates Jeryd Mencken and Daniel Jiménez. The former candidate is a late blooming far-right politician that Logan Roy supported up until his death. Mencken’s followers have such an overarching fascist presence, that Kendall Roy’s mixed raced child Sophie has been subjected to stalking. In a scene that is poignant and unsettling, Ken’s estranged wife realizes that Waystar security covertly follows her and Sophie.
As the series goes on Greg becomes more confident and assured of himself, and Tom is increasingly becoming unhinged. Tom is in charge of overseeing the election coverage and the stress is so great that he asks Greg to join him in snorting cocaine. In one of the series most hilarious scenes, an important Waystar staff member gets wasabi in his eyes, and Greg attempts to correct the issue with lemon juice. The lemon juice and wasabi mix only intensifies the burning sensation. Irritated eyes are not the only effects on fire on election night. Waystar and other networks break the news of a voting center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin being firebombed. Thousands of mail-in ballots are destroyed, with many political analysts believing the incinerated ballots were in the favor of Daniel Jimenez. Roman pressures Tom into calling Wisconsin for Jimenez’s opponent. Connor concedes to Mencken as well. Kendall is on the fence of whether to continue to support Mencken or to reach out to the Jimenez campaign. After faking a call to candidate Jimenez, Shiv states that the democrats do not have interest in getting involved with business affairs. Noticing Shiv’s erratic behavior and shady phone calls, Kendall obtains information from Greg about his sister’s secretive alliance with Mattson. Enraged by the betrayal, Ken fully backs Roman’s decision. The co-CEO’s order Tom to call the election, even though ballots were burned in Wisconsin and over 100,000 votes are yet to be counted in Arizona.
After his acceptance speech, Mencken reassures the co-CEOs he is ready to do business; meaning he will block the GoJo deal. Shiv and Mattson plot their next move.
The penultimate episode will have the funeral of Logan Roy transpire. With an election that still has thousands of votes to be counted, and the burial of one of the world’s biggest business magnates happening, S4E9 will certainly be another memorable block of Home Box Office programming. SUCCESSION returns at 9pm on May 21, 2023 on HBO.