[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Succession, Season 4 Episode 7, “Tailgate Party.”]
followingThe continuous flow finally shows all kinds of developments in the “Tailgate Party,” with undetermined ramifications for the still-living acquisition of Waystar Royco, now that the antipathy of Kendall and Matsson is especially public, while other secrets – such as Roman’s history of sending Gerri dick picks – seem closer to the boiling surface.
In addition to claiming the Roman “great strength” slot at his father’s funeral (an epic event that is still waiting in the wings) and Connor considered, then passed, a chance of an ambassadorship to continue his camp, the unique story line is Shiv and Tom , Tom and Shiv, trapped forever in a two-step forward, three-step dance that can finally end, with the slinging of some hard truths.
Truths would be the wrong word to use – rather, the balcony fight between Shiv and Tom defines the difference between truth and honesty. Is Shiv “perhaps not a good person to have children with”? That remains to be seen; the point is, tom bELIEVE this, in the same way that Shiv did not hesitate to say “only you are with me to get power.” It’s the reason for their relationship over the years, the mismatch between them that a happier, better-adjusted couple wouldn’t hold – but following has never been a show about happy or well-adjusted people.
The underlying part of this particular outburst is that Shiv already feels out of touch for a number of reasons (did you hear that his father just died?), but things hit a snag. -th level of the “Tailgate Party” thanks to the knowledge that his attempted alliance with Matsson could blow up in his face, due to his own bad business practices. “I love my family because of it,” she tells Tom, and the knowledge of how lonely she’ll be in the not-too-distant future makes her all the more sensitive to his, ahem, loving gift of a scorpion paperweight . .
There’s a funny truth about how you can never understand your own family until you see it through your partner’s perspective; the dysfunctions of the family unit you grew up with always felt natural until exposed to a new perspective. But Shiv and Tom’s problem is that whatever outward appearance Tom can do to offer her love is not possible, because he is so desperate to join the Roy echelon; he took a hard bite of the poisonous apple himself.
The two Sarah Snook and Matthew Macfadyen broken in their climactic balcony scene with raw power that comes from years of sublimated emotion; it’s a master class of emotional breakdown, as expressed by two characters who don’t trust the fundamental existence of emotions. Yet the most interesting part of “Tailgate Party” is that as searing and brutal as Shiv and Tom’s final argument is… it’s hard to believe that this is really the last throwdown between them. Especially Given the fact that Shiv is still pregnant (as far as we know), and Tom still doesn’t know, and the odds remain good that it’s his child (again, as we know).
Even ahead of the looming big reveal, this is a couple where “bitey” is an established part of their love language; It doesn’t seem like the first time we’ve said “oh, this is really for Shiv and Tom,” and it also feels like it won’t be the last. At some point, though, you bite hard enough, and you actually draw blood. And, sooner or later, you’re bleeding to death.
If we are trained to following to expect anything at this point, this is the unexpected. So even though it feels like the end of TV’s most tumultuous marriage (at least among this year’s Emmy contenders), there are still three seasons of the show left — and plenty of chaos to follow as a consequence.
At least there was good news for at least one person at the tailgate party: Willa didn’t have to move to Oman. Well played, Willa.
New episodes of following premieres Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.