Succession S4 Ep8: Election Night

Listen to this episode

Speaker A: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership.

Speaker A: Hello.

Speaker A: Welcome to Slate Money Succession.

Speaker A: I’m Felix salmon of Axios.

Speaker A: I’m here with Emily Peck of Axios.

Speaker B: Hello.

Speaker A: I’m here with Elizabeth Byres of the New York Times and all manner of other fabulous places.

Speaker C: Hello.

Speaker A: And we have a very special guest this week, mr.

Speaker A: Ewan Raleigh.


Speaker A: Welcome.

Speaker D: Hello.

Speaker D: Thank you for having me.

Speaker A: Ewan, introduce yourself.

Speaker A: Who are you beyond being one of the world’s great Murdochologists?

Speaker D: I am an investment banker.

Speaker D: I set up an investment banking firm 27 years ago, which causes me to travel around the world, and in my spare time, I watch Succession.

Speaker A: So this was kind of outlier episode.

Speaker A: I’m going to come out and say I always say that the first time you watch it, it’s tragedy.

Speaker A: The second time you watch it, it’s comedy.

Speaker A: I can say that this time.

Speaker A: The first time you watch it, it’s tragedy.


Speaker A: The second time you watch it, it’s tragedy.

Speaker A: It was written by Jesse Armstrong himself, which is rare.

Speaker A: And Elizabeth, tell me if you think I’m off base on this, but this really came across to me as Jesse Armstrong taking the opportunity of writing a hit TV show to basically do a sort of 60 Minutes warning of what might happen on the 2024 election.


Speaker C: I mean, sort of I felt like the Minkin character was a little bit Trumpian, a smarter version of Trump.

Speaker C: I thought it was a little bit rehashing what happened in the last election, and particularly with the whole issue of whether ATN was going to call the election early.


Speaker C: And the opposite thing happened at Fox.

Speaker C: Fox called Arizona for biden at a reasonable time.

Speaker C: But internally in the newsroom, there was a lot of controversy about that because there was some thought on the part of the executives that the actual newsroom staff had jumped the gun and there was a lot of drama around it.

Speaker C: In succession, ATN does exactly the opposite thing.

Speaker C: They call everything early, and then Tom gets blamed for doing that, and you can tell that they’re setting it up to be a kind of election integrity scandal in the next episode or two.

Speaker A: Well, yeah, but that’s exactly why I took it more as a warning about 2024 than as a kind of rehash of 2020.


Speaker A: And I think it’s fair to blame Tom.

Speaker A: He was the guy making all of the decisions.

Speaker A: I mean, one of the interesting things about the Tom Wamscan’s character arc is that he has really wound up with power in this show.

Speaker A: He really does control ATN, which is an incredibly important job.

Speaker A: At some point over the course of this season, in the middle of all of those layoffs that he was doing with Greg, he clearly fired Sid.

Speaker A: So he is now unambiguously in charge of ATN.

Speaker A: He is making the decisions, he is deciding when to make the calls, and he is taking his orders from the co CEOs.


Speaker A: Kendall and Roman, especially.

Speaker A: Roman, seems to be really in control this episode in a way that we haven’t seen before.

Speaker A: And also the way that US.

Speaker A: Elections work almost uniquely is that they are decided by the media that the point at which a candidate is considered to have won the election is it just is the point at which the networks declare that candidate to have won.

Speaker A: And sometimes that can take days, but it’s when the media says it has happened, that’s when the consensus is that the president has won.

Speaker A: So it really does underscore the power of the media.

Speaker A: And then in the world of succession, ATN has like 50% of the election night viewership.


Speaker A: Obviously, Kendall is telling Tom to juice the ratings at the beginning of the show, and he’s done that.

Speaker A: He creates this incredibly compelling television while also destroying the principles of democracy.

Speaker A: And what I guess my question for you and is, come 2024, when Luckland Murdoch is the undisputed CEO of Fox News, and Fox News is in a very similar position, is this something that could happen in reality?

Speaker D: Sure, it could happen.

Speaker D: And I think really the magic of this episode was Kendall Roy having a little momentary bout of kind of liberal guilt or emotional concern that he might be sending the country in the wrong direction.


Speaker D: And at the same time, Roman is rather sarcastically saying, oh, it’s all about the kids.

Speaker D: It’s all about the kids.

Speaker D: Kendall is saying he is actually concerned for once about his daughter.


Speaker D: And so I think that reflected, I think rather accurately, maybe the concerns that people who are in the Fox orbit have.

Speaker D: They have to balance the business, and presumably they have some human consciences as well.

Speaker A: Do you think Laxin has a human conscience?

Speaker D: Yes, for sure he does.

Speaker D: And I think his friends are again, I think this is something that succession gets right, which is their friends are all liberal coastal elite sophisticates and so.


Speaker D: Anytime that they make a hard nosed business decision that’s potentially jeopardizing their social lives and their human interactions outside of the Fox arena.

Speaker A: The received opinion among Murdoch watches is that Lachlan is significantly to the right of Rupert.

Speaker A: Would you agree with that?

Speaker D: I’m not sure that’s completely right.

Speaker D: I think the younger generation all have some sense of the environment, which nobody in the older generation has.

Speaker D: I think Loughlin may be the Roman character in this episode, although in many ways he’s more like Kendall, I suspect.

Speaker A: Emily, what’s your big picture take here?

Speaker B: Well, I mean, first, just to respond to what you said earlier, tom WAMS Gans has no real power here.


Speaker B: He’s not taking command of anything.

Speaker B: He’s taking orders, just like you said, from these brothers.

Speaker B: It’s clearly the brothers calling the shots.

Speaker B: And the striking thing is, of course, that these two comically inept CEO bros and we can talk about debate if they’re inept or not are deciding who wins the US presidential election with really no care at all.


Speaker B: And no sense of responsibility or sense of journalistic responsibility and that this is like they’re running a news outlet where no one has a spine at all.

Speaker B: Like, at first you think this Darwin fellow that they introduced in the episode who clearly knows all the standards and kind of has been running election nights for a long time, you think, oh, he’ll stand up, maybe resign or something, but he quickly comes around.


Speaker B: Maybe it was the wasabi in his eyes to the brothers, to doing what essentially Roman wants and what manken wants.

Speaker B: Roman’s sort of a manken puppet a little bit in this episode.

Speaker B: So, I mean, yeah, no one in the newsroom has a spine.

Speaker B: It just seems like it’s all out the window.

Speaker B: You think maybe if Sid hadn’t been fired, it could have gone another way, but I’m not so sure.

Speaker B: And if I was doing power rankings on this episode, I would say Roman one.

Speaker A: Totally.

Speaker B: Kendall came across to me as weak.

Speaker B: Like, I guess he cares about his daughter, or he did for, like, a microsecond, but he was more concerned with Roman having a relationship with this potential president than he was really with his daughter’s.

Speaker B: Anything.

Speaker B: Shiv, I mean, she really cocked it up by the end.

Speaker B: She’s crying and swearing revenge, but she comes across just at the bottom of the heap here.

Speaker B: She finally tells Tom she’s pregnant, and that goes over not well at all.

Speaker B: It’s just like a total failure of information is a bottle of fine wine.


Speaker B: And Shiv kind of screwed up her poor with that one, I think.

Speaker A: Definitely.

Speaker A: I mean, you might disagree with me about the power of Tom, but I think it’s clear that he has more power than Shiv does in this episode.

Speaker C: Yes, he has a baseline of kind of medium competency all the way through it.

Speaker C: He’s trying to adhere to Logan’s standard about keeping the kids out of the bullpen so that there’s some separation between the owners and what’s happening there.

Speaker C: When Khan comes in, he says, Khan, you can’t be in here.

Speaker C: And he’s trying to manage all this while he’s managing the family infighting.

Speaker C: And in the middle of the chaos, shiv pulls him aside and says, I’m pregnant.

Speaker C: As somebody who’s done election night coverage, I had a moment of sympathy for Tom when that happened.

Speaker C: Like, why do you have to do this now?

Speaker A: And he’s juggling, like, three phones as well, which is just such a great little thing.

Speaker A: He’s like, Shiv, I have three phones all blowing up in my hand.

Speaker A: This is not the time to tell me that you’re pregnant.

Speaker B: But none of these people have any kind of core ethics or standard or any core principle to act on.

Speaker B: So they’re just, like, bouncing all over the place, and it just came across quite clearly.

Speaker B: And I think Tom is completely incompetent leader of this newsroom on election night.

Speaker B: I think we can say that pretty clearly despite his having three phones.


Speaker D: Emily the reason I think it’s compelling is because each of those characters probably believes himself or herself to have a moral core.

Speaker D: But it’s pretty clear that they’re just looking out for themselves.

Speaker D: And the question of whether Tom has any power, I think he’s constantly juggling who’s going to win this.

Speaker D: Should I be in the Matson camp?

Speaker D: Should I be in the Shiv camp?

Speaker D: Do I have a chance of really getting powerful and rich and staying with Shiv?

Speaker D: Do I have to align myself with the Ken Roy camp?

Speaker A: He’s particularly self interested, not juggling that he has thrown in his lot with Roman.

Speaker A: I mean, that I think is pretty clear.

Speaker A: The way after Shiv tells him that she’s pregnant, he kind of walks past her without saying a word and gives her a glance and it’s just like, I don’t even have any time for you.

Speaker A: And he clearly with the three siblings sitting there, standing there in the room, two of them, the two co CEOs, telling him, okay, we’re going to call it ship saying, don’t do it.

Speaker A: He barely even listens to her.

Speaker A: He ignores her.

Speaker A: He’s like, I am 100% part of this company.

Speaker A: I am taking my instructions from the CEO.

Speaker A: I’m going to call Greg and tell him to make the call.

Speaker A: And he’s in the chain of command and he’s playing an executive as best he can and not completely incompetently.

Speaker A: And one of the jobs of an executive is to take orders from the CEO and communicate it down the chain, and that’s what he does.


Speaker A: And that is him becoming the high ranking corporate executive who ultimately makes the decisions at least one step down from the CEO making the decisions in the chain of command.

Speaker A: So I’m not sure that I agree with Emily on his sort of incompetency.

Speaker A: Obviously, when the touchscreen goes on the blink and he runs around in a coke fueled sort of hyperactive, useless circle shouting at people, he’s not really being very constructive or helpful.

Speaker A: But by the same token, I think he does take responsibility for making these decisions.

Speaker A: And when the rival TV stations start putting up stories about how Tom wamskand schooled the election too early, they were right.

Speaker A: On some level, he does have that responsibility.

Speaker C: He knows he has to take it.

Speaker C: And then prior season he was saying, okay, fine, I’ll go to jail for all these mistakes the family have made.

Speaker C: He sort of knows that’s the price that he pays for actually being on the inside and keeping what power he does have.

Speaker D: I think I’m expecting some twists and turns.

Speaker D: I suspect the Kenroy, it looks like Roman is the king of the heap this week, but I suspect Tom and Shiv may hatch a comeback.

Speaker D: And I’m expecting it’s congenital optimist.

Speaker D: I’m expecting a little bit of a recovery in the Tom and Shiv relationship.

Speaker B: One question I had, maybe Elizabeth or you, and you can answer this.

Speaker B: When Fox on election night is doing election coverage, murdochs aren’t involved in making the call.

Speaker B: That’s just a creation of Jesse Armstrong’s creativity that Tom Wamskans looks to the CEOs to make the call on whether he should call the election.


Speaker C: Right.

Speaker B: I would think it’s more like, yeah.

Speaker C: I don’t think so.

Speaker C: I mean, they would want a heads up and if it was heads up, yeah, going to be a surprise.

Speaker C: I think they would want some input.

Speaker C: But for the most part, especially for stuff like that, because there are actually norms that if you violate, you sort of get kicked out of the pool of people are taken seriously and given information as the returns are coming in.

Speaker A: So you don’t want to yeah, but those norms are like, don’t let the exit polls leak.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker A: And also, I think we do need to remember that Rupert is a journalist.

Speaker A: He is a newsman by trade.

Speaker A: He cares about the news on some level.

Speaker A: And you’re absolutely right, Emily, that Rupert’s Fox has a relatively strong, not enormously strong, but it exists sort of Chinese wall between the news corps or Fox News corporate headquarters and the newsroom.

Speaker A: But is it fair to assume that Lychlin, who’s much less of a journalist, much less of a news guy, doesn’t have newsprint running to his veins, would think the same way?

Speaker A: Not necessarily.

Speaker A: And also, even Rupert was perfectly happy to effectively step in as the Editor in chief of the New York Post and tell it what to cover and how to cover and when.

Speaker A: That famous thing about, like, D*** Geppart becoming the vice presidential nominee was just a story from Rupert that he decided to put on the front page of the New York Post, maybe he treats Fox News differently from how he treats the New York Post, but in principle, yeah.


Speaker A: The Murdoch’s medal.

Speaker A: Of course they medal.

Speaker D: Rupert turned behind Tony Blair, which helped him very significantly in his first election.

Speaker D: I think there’s a great line in this episode when Tom says no brass on the battlefield.

Speaker D: That’s one of Logan’s Geneva Conventions.

Speaker D: Obviously completely butchering.

Speaker D: What the Geneva Convention is.

Speaker D: But anyway, I like the idea that there are three principles coming down each to try and influence, and I suspect that does reflect the way the Murdochs behave.

Speaker D: As best I can tell, or the way I’ve seen it from a distance, is I think Rupert tried not to get involved micromanaged, but would come in with a big call every now and then.

Speaker D: I don’t think they’re on the fringes of the newsroom in a conference room deciding how to call it.

Speaker D: Quite.

Speaker D: But that may be a bit of.

Speaker A: Poetic license, dramatic license, but the classic Roman Roy power move, which is literally the most cunning piece of power politics that Roman Roy has ever played in four seasons of succession is when he leaves the room and tells his siblings that he’s going to take a s***.

Speaker A: And instead, he goes down to the newsroom floor and basically tells Mark Ravenhead to start saying that Wisconsin has been won and he just freelances this.

Speaker A: And Mark Ravenhead obviously jumps at the opportunity to be able to do this.

Speaker A: And that was Roman just absolutely crushing the wavering, lily Livid liberal sensibilities of his siblings right there.

Speaker C: Well, I think that’s also the Roman’s arc in this season in particular, he increasingly becomes more aggressive, less charming, more impulsive.


Speaker C: And there was that exchange that he had with Kendall in one of the conference rooms where they’re talking about steak and chicken, and Roman says, you never let me win.

Speaker C: I always wanted steak, and you guys wanted chicken when we were little.

Speaker C: And Kendall says, So all this is that you’re mad that we had so much chicken when we were a kid?

Speaker C: And he explains that the reason why they never let him win.

Speaker C: He’s like, you were always throwing these tantrums, and we were afraid that if we let you have this steak that you would think that the tantrums were sort of an effective tactic.

Speaker C: But Roman’s been throwing tantrums for the last three episodes.

Speaker C: He fired Jerry impulsively, and he’s just asserting power in this kind of, like, steamrolling way.

Speaker C: And so I think that leaving to go just tell Ravenset to start to go ahead and call it is in keeping with his development, where that kind of tantrum aspect of his personality, it really drives the way that he behaves as a manager.

Speaker D: He’s definitely being reckless, but he’s also correctly, in a machiavellian way, calling the power move when he has the chance.

Speaker D: He becomes quite graphic.

Speaker D: He says, if we don’t call it now, we’re going to be the most dickless eunuchs in Cocktown.

Speaker D: He says, he’s going full he’s going.

Speaker A: Full breitbart on his brother in his decision.

Speaker A: And he actually quite explicitly says to his siblings what his decision is, which is, quote, let’s just jam our heads in the bosom of history.


Speaker A: And, yeah, he’s diving in.

Speaker A: He’s like he’s seizing the moment in a way that makes 100% business and commercial sense, given his strategic aim of preventing the Gojo takeover of Wastar Roiko right, because he has a cast, what he thinks is a cast iron promise from Menken that the merger will be blocked.

Speaker A: Obviously, given the timeline of this show, menken is not going to get sworn in to block the merger by the time season ten comes around.

Speaker A: So I suspect that’s a moot promise and that the Gojo acquisition will blow up as the India numbers get revealed at some point, possibly in the next episode.

Speaker B: If I were madsen and I watched that all play out, I would not want ATN or anything to do with this company anymore.

Speaker B: I feel like manipulating the results of a presidential election is a good reason to get out of a deal.

Speaker B: Or perhaps I’m naive.

Speaker A: I don’t think Matson is buying ATN I don’t think he really cares.

Speaker A: He would like to buy ATN.

Speaker A: He obviously wanted to pay a premium to get ATN, but what he really cares about is the ratings, right?

Speaker A: It’s just like the number of people who watch it, the number of cable distributors in America who pay $3 per subscriber per month to wastar Royco to be able to carry ATN, and he wants to turn ATN into a gray Bloomberg thing, right?

Speaker A: So if ATN is terrible right now, I don’t think that’s reason for him to stop wanting it.

Speaker B: I was going to ask if we could please talk about the new Greg in this episode.


Speaker B: He has a new relationship with Madsen as a normalist and has seemed to really cultivate that new relationship.

Speaker B: And I feel like, again, with power rankings Roman’s on top, but Greg is shifting slowly upward.

Speaker B: Although Tom does try to rank him back down to Gregging, he still seems to have a little more power than he used to.

Speaker D: They’re all insulting Greg all the time, and they’ve got harsher when they’re busy on election night.

Speaker D: They’re all particularly insulting to Greg.

Speaker D: I think there’s some foreshadowing here.

Speaker D: And when I’m predicting the future arc of the show, I like Shiv and Greg to come into power.

Speaker D: And I think from the liberal viewpoint, maybe Shiv’s going to win in the end.

Speaker D: But like Greg, who says at the beginning of the show, he says, I’m feeling pretty good, when Tom’s like, no, of course I’m tense.

Speaker D: This is a tough situation.

Speaker D: And there’s a moment where Greg takes a beat, he steps back and he says, I’m feeling pretty good.

Speaker A: And what is the shortest pre credit sequence of the show?

Speaker A: It’s just like, boom.

Speaker D: Greg feels like he has some information, maybe even Tom’s teaching him how to guard that information.

Speaker D: Or I think rumors of Greg’s demise may be overblown.

Speaker D: I like him for a comeback.

Speaker C: He keeps hilariously overplaying his hand.

Speaker C: And so when Chiv corners him in the closet and he admits that he knows about her in Matson, he tries to extort her and he says, silence is golden.


Speaker C: But how golden?

Speaker C: And Shiv completely just ether deal she.

Speaker D: Offers is not very appealing.

Speaker C: He says, how about I offer to let you keep all of your internal organs on your inside instead of pulling them out of your a******?

Speaker C: And then he backs off.

Speaker B: I love that scene because she’s so much shorter than him.

Speaker B: She’s really looking up at him and it’s such a weird, like, the power dynamic of having to look up at someone where you’re trying to ream them out is a little dodgy.

Speaker C: It’s also great when she asks him, gregory, are you attracted to me?

Speaker C: And then there’s this very uncomfortable pause for a minute, and then she just lets him have it.

Speaker C: She goes, because if you try to f*** me, I’ll kill you.

Speaker A: Ewan, I need to ask you what happened last night in that sort of weird, coked up, debauched evening with Matson and Greg where Matson forced Greg to dance with an old man.

Speaker A: He didn’t want to dance, but they made us dance.

Speaker A: That’s a real Logan move that Matson pulled back there.

Speaker D: He also had to drink some drinks that aren’t normally considered to be drinks.

Speaker D: It was a hit of bodily fluid.

Speaker D: Yes, exactly.

Speaker D: I think one of the magic things of this TV show is the script writing is so dense.

Speaker D: And I know in your last episode they talked about playing it straight, that they never want to play.

Speaker D: The humor too heavy.

Speaker D: But you can tell there are writers just throwing Zingers in all the time.


Speaker D: I love the line also about, I don’t want to get addicted from two nights in a row.

Speaker D: He says Tom tries to make him take coke, too so that he can’t subsequently blackmail Tom.

Speaker D: Presumably, if you’d like me to project my own vile fantasies.

Speaker D: I think they went out pretty late around New York downtown.

Speaker D: They went to some probably inappropriate bars and probably a couple of gay bars, too.

Speaker D: I think Matson is pansexual.

Speaker D: And, Emily, you were being naive, I’m afraid.

Speaker D: I think, when you said Matson doesn’t want to own this somehow compromised asset.

Speaker D: I think Matson is the most cynical player of the whole lot.

Speaker D: I think he’s half Daniel Eck from Spotify and half the CEO of Tesla.

Speaker D: I think he’s really just out there for s**** and giggles.

Speaker D: And I think he’s kind of playing a game with his head of communications and with everybody else.

Speaker D: I think he did detest Greg.

Speaker D: Again, there’s a certain lurking cunning to Greg.

Speaker D: Greg is almost I hope I’m not becoming too pretentious now.

Speaker D: It’s a Shakespearean character.

Speaker D: He’s the fool who actually has the wisdom.

Speaker D: And I think Greg knew very well what he was doing and somehow, against his better interests went out with Matson and the crew who despise him and condescend to him and won them over by playing the game.

Speaker D: And again, I’m going full in on this prediction.

Speaker D: I think Greg’s got a pretty good future in the last couple of episodes of this TV show.


Speaker B: I was thinking it parallels Greg’s arc with the Royce, too, because he comes in as a fool.

Speaker B: They see him as a fool.

Speaker B: But he still managed to ingratiate himself into the chain of command and be Tom’s right hand guy.

Speaker B: Tom treats Greg exactly as far as I could tell as he was describing madsen treating Greg.

Speaker C: That’s what Greg is for.

Speaker A: Treats Greg.

Speaker A: And as Kendall Creek treats Greg But there is definitely a dynamic in this family where you demonstrate your ability to rise up the ranks by just taking a bunch of s*** from a bunch of people.

Speaker A: And the more s*** you take, the more you survive.

Speaker D: Did Greg tell us he didn’t when he was firing 100 people in two days?

Speaker D: Did he tell us?

Speaker D: He didn’t really feel anything?

Speaker D: He was fine with it?

Speaker D: I think Greg’s learning quickly.

Speaker C: There’s that great piece of writing where in the beginning, Tom gives Greg the speech about information in the wine bottle and blah, blah, blah, information is key, and you store it and you heard it, and then you smash somebody in the face with it.

Speaker C: And he talks about going out with Matson and you think, oh, they just made fun of him the whole night.

Speaker C: But then later it reveals that he found out about the Shiv Matson alliance while he was out drunk with Oscar and Matson and all those people.

Speaker C: So he has that wine bottle of information and then he uses it to kind of smash the potential alliances between the three siblings later.


Speaker A: Yeah, he uses it against Shiv.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker A: Kendall.

Speaker A: And the Kendall Greg relationship is really interesting because remember that it was Greg who gave Kendall the notes that he saved from the fire to try and bring down Logan at the end of season two.

Speaker A: I think I can’t even remember my seasons anymore.

Speaker A: But that Kendall Greg relationship.

Speaker A: There’s still something there, and Kendall’s still the CEO.

Speaker A: And when Kendall comes up to Greg and just asks him, is Shiv working with Madsen?

Speaker A: Greg says yes.

Speaker A: He immediately coughs up the information.

Speaker A: It is unclear to me whether he does so with some sort of cunning motivation because he wants to harm Shiv or whether he just does so because he’s congenitally incapable of keeping a secret.

Speaker A: And if someone asks him for a secret, he will just tell them.

Speaker D: I think their lives are so transactional, they have to make judgment calls on the fly.

Speaker D: And Greg is kind of bumbling his way through, but he seems to keep his head above the water quite well, and he does whatever he has to do to keep his head above the water.

Speaker D: Yeah, I’m not sure that was super cunning, but I think he like all of them, right?

Speaker D: That’s the premise of the show.

Speaker D: They’re all keeping their options open.

Speaker D: You talked about it in the last podcast.

Speaker D: There are constant flows backwards and forwards.

Speaker D: There are no real friends.

Speaker D: There are just useful contacts at any point.

Speaker D: So I don’t think Greg’s decided exactly which team he wants to be on yet.


Speaker A: Let’s talk about the biggest f*** up in the episode by far, which is when Kendall asks Shiv to call Nate.

Speaker A: She doesn’t.

Speaker A: She just pretends to call him.

Speaker A: And it’s like, Just f****** call him.

Speaker A: Even if you can lie about what he tells you, you can make something up, but at least call him.

Speaker A: That was just Shiv just on self destruct mode.

Speaker B: Yeah, she could have just called him.

Speaker B: She could have even said, Listen, my brothers want me to ask you this how I would have played it.

Speaker B: And then, yeah, fudge the answer a little bit, but it was so obvious that she was lying.

Speaker B: It was almost like self sabotage.

Speaker B: Her whole trajectory in this episode felt like self sabotage.

Speaker A: And so she starts off low and gets lower over the course of the episode.

Speaker A: She achieves nothing.

Speaker A: She just loses.

Speaker D: Give her a break.

Speaker D: She’s got a lot going on.

Speaker B: Her father just died.

Speaker C: Felix she’s concerned about she loves the pregnancy thing.

Speaker D: Loved him.

Speaker B: And she went to Tom to apologize.

Speaker B: Remember, that is also in succession.

Speaker B: I don’t think you’re supposed to do that.

Speaker D: That’s part of their f***** up dynamic, right?

Speaker D: They’re constantly either humiliating or showing hints of frailty.

Speaker D: They’re going to get back together.

Speaker D: They’re probably going to win, and maybe Greg’s going to be part of it.

Speaker B: And she even screwed up because she had gone to Kendall and Roman and said, Tom can’t be trusted anymore.


Speaker B: And they immediately had her back.

Speaker B: And in maybe like the following scene, tom said something to Shiv like, you’re getting hysterical, which they say to her on multiple occasions in this episode, which was sort of interesting.

Speaker B: Kendall immediately says something like, watch it, buddy is on her side, which is good for her.

Speaker B: It feels like, oh, she’s got backup.

Speaker B: But by the end, she’s destroyed it.

Speaker B: She’s sabotaged it.

Speaker D: Isn’t the showrunners playing with our emotions?

Speaker D: Because at the end, the closing stages, she’s walking away from Fox News or whatever it is from ATN, and she’s on the phone to Matson, and she swears revenge, right?

Speaker A: The fascinating thing is there was a brief minute, right?

Speaker A: So Kendall and Roman gave her an offer on the private jet, like, do you want us to fire Tom?

Speaker A: And she demurs.

Speaker A: She’s like, yeah.

Speaker A: Then she has that big fight in the previous episode with Tom.

Speaker A: She has a really bad interaction with Tom in the hallway, and she’s really angry at her soon to be ex husband.

Speaker A: And they make the same offer a second time.

Speaker A: They’re like, do you want us to fire him?

Speaker A: And this time she’s like, yeah, I think I do want you to fire him.

Speaker A: And they seem perfectly okay with that and wanting to fire Tom.

Speaker A: But she can’t keep that alliance with her brothers for long enough for that to happen.

Speaker A: The weird thing is that Tom was one breath away from getting fired.


Speaker A: And it’s only because Shiv f***** up on that phone call to Nate thing that he didn’t get fired.

Speaker D: But she’s Elizabeth Murdoch.

Speaker D: She’s disparaged as a woman.

Speaker D: There’s a heavy laden hint of sexism through all of this.

Speaker D: The two brothers said that they were going to take care of her and include her in every decision.

Speaker D: They’ve completely blown through all of that.

Speaker D: She’s absolutely morally right to be plotting against them.

Speaker A: Okay, so you and since you know these guys personally, tell us about the parallels between.

Speaker A: Shiv tom and Elizabeth.

Speaker A: And her Matthew Freud, her ex husband.

Speaker D: Well, the Matthew Freud thing is pretty dysfunctional.

Speaker D: I don’t know what kind of lawyers you have review these before they go out, but Matthew Freud fathered a baby by Elizabeth’s best friend, and Elizabeth the best friend, didn’t say who the father was.

Speaker D: And Elizabeth held the baby and was very supportive of her best friend single mum and quite quickly discovered that Matthew Freud was the dad.

Speaker D: I think Matthew Freud’s a lot more slick than Tom.

Speaker D: Tom is sort of clunky right in this show.

Speaker D: And although he has a certain cunning, matthew Freud has more cunning and maybe even less scruples.

Speaker D: But the interesting thing is for Elizabeth, I think she’s always been on the fringes and she had some success in the TV arena, but I think there was always a suggestion that she probably wouldn’t take over because she was a girl and it should probably be a boy.


Speaker D: I think we’re seeing a lot of echo of that.

Speaker D: And I think I’m looking forward to finding out just how woke the showrunner is, because if he’s woke, the woman’s going to win.

Speaker D: And the conventional modern TV book movie arc in the United States today as the female character has to come out on top.

Speaker D: So now I’m being a little cynical, but I think there’s a really good parallel there.

Speaker D: I don’t know if you’ve talked about this in the podcast, but one of my favorite news stories of the last year is the idea that in Rupert Murdoch’s latest divorce settlement from Jerry Hall was as one of the clauses of the settlement.

Speaker D: Jerry hall purportedly had to agree not to discuss any biographical ideas or any show ideas with the writers of succession that was part of her divorce settlement, which I think goes to show how closely this does mirror the psychodrama that’s the Murdochs and I think Shiv is Elizabeth for sure.

Speaker B: There was definitely a lot of misogyny running through this episode with the way Shiv was treated in those boardroom meetings, calling her hysterical, telling her to calm down, portraying her as crazy.

Speaker B: And she acted it too, in a way where she was getting like, choked up a lot.

Speaker B: And that was intentional, I think intentionally, kind of like playing up her weakness in this world, at least according to these people in this world.

Speaker D: There was also a rumor some time ago that Loughlin had accused his brother James of leaking stories about the family to the writers of the show.


Speaker D: I’ve met them all a few times.

Speaker D: I’m not close to any of them, but people who know them better tell me.

Speaker D: The parallels are uncanny all the way through.

Speaker D: And I think when real life is so juicy, it’s a rich mind of information for the showrunners here in terms.

Speaker A: Of the gender relations here, the other thing that gets dropped in is Kendall creating what he calls an extra layer of bubble wrap around his daughter, which completely freaks out rather because he didn’t bother to inform her mother that he was going to be like sending dark SUVs to follow them around the city.

Speaker A: Which is just like he then has this conversation with Shiv about whether or not he’s a good dad, and he realizes on some level that this is just not what a good dad does.

Speaker A: But there is a feeling or undercurrent there that he’s trying to do the man thing and protect his women folk from whatever dangers might be lurking around the next corner.

Speaker B: I think he says in this episode, like, everything I do is for you.

Speaker B: And it’s just so nakedly false.

Speaker B: It rings so hollow.

Speaker C: It echoes the kind of thing that Logan would say.

Speaker C: His only model for fatherhood is Logan.

Speaker C: And so he’s, of course, concerned that maybe he’s f****** it up too, which.

Speaker A: Is he’s conscious about.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker A: He has that line to Shiv about like the poison dripping through or something.

Speaker D: Yes, good line.

Speaker D: I don’t think we should simplify it too much because I think both things can be true.


Speaker D: Again, I believe these characters really think they’re doing the right thing and they get caught up in their venal self interest and their appalling, amoral behavior.

Speaker D: But at the same time, Shiv tells her brother, kendall, you’re a good person.

Speaker D: Right.

Speaker D: And so they’re trying to live human lives throughout all of this.

Speaker D: The other misogyny, which you haven’t talked about in this week at least, is Matson and Eber, which is like, really quite extreme.

Speaker D: And there are some definite Elon Musk echoes, I’m afraid, in this bizarre behavior towards Eber, which is incredibly dehumanizing for her and that’s left her as a kind of empty shell.

Speaker D: I suspect there’s some scope for her to bring some revenge before we’re done.

Speaker A: Yeah, she can sink Gojo anytime she wants just by leaking the numbers about India.

Speaker A: Meanwhile, of course, Shiv, this reminded me, do you remember that woman?

Speaker A: I can’t even remember who it was.

Speaker A: I think it was in the UK.

Speaker A: Ewan, who immediately after the planes hit the World Trade Center on 911 sent out an email saying this would be a good time to bury bad news.

Speaker A: And this is Shiv.

Speaker A: She was like, immediately on the phone to Matson saying like, oh, s*** is going down with the election right now.

Speaker A: This would be a great time to bury the bad news that you actually have two Indias.

Speaker D: It wasn’t Rebecca Wade subsequently, Rebecca Brooks, was it?

Speaker D: But I think, again, there was a yeah, Rupert had a very bizarre relationship with with his head of news in the UK, basically.


Speaker D: And I think it’s a slightly more complicated sexism because sometimes the female characters, most notably Shiv shiv can be like the truth teller at certain times and has a certain power that comes from that.

Speaker D: But when certainly her brothers try to.

Speaker A: Assert sexism over in this episode.

Speaker A: I think it’s clearly Roman who’s the truth teller.

Speaker A: He’s the one who’s just calling bullshit on all of the wishywashy concerns about democracy and just saying, like, look, I have a plan here, which makes perfect sense.

Speaker A: Also, it helps that he is a Menken supporter.

Speaker A: Although the relationship between Menkin and Roman, that amazing scene where he walks into Menken’s war room and they’re on opposite sides of the room, and they do this kind of ritualistic exchange of insults in front of everyone before they then go into the corner and have a real conversation.

Speaker B: It’s like, what what’s unusual about that?

Speaker A: I feel like that’s not normal among the way that CEOs talk to presidential candidates, but I could be wrong.

Speaker D: Yes, a little unusual.

Speaker D: I think maybe Roman is being a little bit naive, thinking that Menken will abide by his bargain.

Speaker D: I think Menken is happy to take it from Roman on election night when Roman can be helpful.

Speaker D: I suspect we may discover that Domencan isn’t quite as good a friend to Roman as Roman thinks.

Speaker B: How do we feel about Connor in this episode?

Speaker A: My friend Connor with his weird concession speech about what was it, jack rabbits just rambling all over the place.


Speaker B: But he’s going to get his ambassadorship, it seems like.

Speaker B: They seem resigned ambassadorship.

Speaker B: I don’t know.

Speaker B: Will is on board now.

Speaker D: Put me in a van to Tajikistan.

Speaker B: Your rhymes are compelling.

Speaker D: Yeah.

Speaker D: His potential ambassadorships are becoming steadily less attractive.

Speaker D: He tried for the UN early on.

Speaker D: That was always a reach.

Speaker D: But Tajikistan?

Speaker D: There aren’t many you’d want less than Tajikistan.

Speaker A: Couldn’t I just be our fun guy in Uruguay?

Speaker D: Well done.

Speaker B: They seem that Connor is winding up, if not on top, and then if not in such a bad place, not where Shiv is by any means.

Speaker B: He sort of did his own thing, and now he swoops in at the end and he gets his little ambassadorship.

Speaker B: Well played.

Speaker D: Mogadishu was a little too carbony for him.

Speaker D: I can’t remember when.

Speaker D: He is an appealing character, and it’s almost too good.

Speaker D: Right?

Speaker D: Because he’s so separate from it.

Speaker D: He’s not playing the succession game, so he can be, in a funny way, the most morally upstanding of all of the siblings, and definitely the only one who’s got a functioning personal relationship.

Speaker D: And this rather improbable relationship with Willow, which has turned out to be a very healthy, mutually supportive, happy Willow’s coming through for him.

Speaker B: It’s like, wow, Connor comes out so upstanding because when he loses Kentucky and Willa says, F*** Kentucky, he’s like, no, alas, Kentucky Willa.

Speaker B: He does the grown up thing, which is increasingly unusual in our times.


Speaker A: Okay, so favorite lines.

Speaker A: Elizabeth, any standouts in this one?

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker C: Mine was when Tom asked Greg to get him coffee, and Greg says, I don’t get coffee anymore.

Speaker C: And then Tom goes through this escalation of what’s going to happen if he doesn’t get coffee?

Speaker C: And he says, if I get drowsy and I miss call Colorado instability.

Speaker C: Then the US loses Colorado, china spots an opportunity, invades Taiwan, tactical newts, f****** s*** goes kablui, and we’re all back to Amoeba.

Speaker C: It’s a long way back from pond life because you failed to get me a double shot.

Speaker D: I like Bodega sushi.

Speaker D: Are you insane?

Speaker A: That bodega sushi.

Speaker A: That turned out to be the Czech hobby and gun that caused the wasabi and became a central character.

Speaker D: I wasn’t expecting the Sushi to play such a central role.

Speaker B: That scene was wonderful.

Speaker B: When he pours the La Croix.

Speaker B: It’s la Croix.

Speaker A: It’s natural.

Speaker A: It’s medical.

Speaker A: It’s not that lemony.

Speaker A: It’s just a hint of lemon.

Speaker B: Emily favorite line again, I really like Connor this episode, so from his concession speech, I happen to be a billionaire.

Speaker B: Sorry.

Speaker B: But honestly, America, you flunked it.

Speaker B: I guess you’re going to have to find some other poor MOOCs paps to suck on the corrupt bipartisan system.

Speaker B: Zombie marches on.

Speaker A: Yeah, maybe there were some.

Speaker A: I mean, I really did feel like Jesse Armstrong was in full on tragic mode here.


Speaker A: And weirdly, my favorite line, I think, was the no line at all, where ATN calls the election for Menken, and you just see these shocked expressions on the faces of bunch of right wing or presumptively right wing people in the ATN headquarters, whether it’s Shiv or the producers in the room.

Speaker A: And then eventually we have Rava crying on the phone when she’s talking to Kendall.

Speaker A: The enormity of what ATN just did is sinking in.

Speaker A: And ATN is presumably winning the ratings war by making this incredibly huge announcement.

Speaker A: And no one is happy about this.

Speaker A: Everyone in the room is seeing Menken being proclaimed the president elect, and they’re like, Holy s***.

Speaker A: What the f*** have we just done?

Speaker A: And then he winds up, and then we move on to his crazy dog whistle racist acceptance.

Speaker B: It’s a decision made by a guy on coke, and then an impulse decision made by a guy on cocaine, and then the end of the episode is just coming off the cocaine, basically for everyone.

Speaker D: There’s a nice irony when Menken is saying, what is he, a clean broom?

Speaker D: He’s bringing back a clean, non transactional, no compromises.

Speaker D: And you see them looking aware that they’ve just tried to do a deal with him.

Speaker D: They think they’ve done a deal with him.

Speaker D: We’ll find out.

Speaker A: Yeah.

Speaker A: And then when he makes that line about the marketplace where cunning Men haggle for the best price, that’s not me.

Speaker A: And you’re like, oh, great.

Speaker A: We’re just going to do the whole sort of anti Semitic thing right in our acceptance speech.


Speaker A: Yeah, great.

Speaker A: Awesome.

Speaker A: And everyone’s, like, looking at this horrified, because this was ATN.

Speaker A: Without ATN, he wouldn’t be out there.

Speaker A: He wouldn’t be saying this.

Speaker A: And they’re like, we have created this.

Speaker D: And absent the anti Semitism, of course, he absolutely did just haggle precisely what he just said.

Speaker B: Wait, so the saying he won’t haggle is anti Semitic?

Speaker D: I thought it was a hint of anti Semitism in there.

Speaker D: It was a little bit of Merchant of Venice.

Speaker D: Not quite the money lender, but something like that.

Speaker C: He also talks about he uses the word purity and just sort of nods to white supremacist.

Speaker A: Yeah, he says proud and pure, which is clearly like a proud boys thing.

Speaker B: Yeah, very white supremacist.

Speaker B: Clean and xenophobic.

Speaker B: Got it.

Speaker B: Cool.

Speaker B: Good job.

Speaker B: Because if they hadn’t called the election for him, presumably what would have happened is no one it would have been called for.

Speaker B: No one.

Speaker B: And sort of that fight over Wisconsin would have taken place over weeks and weeks, whatever.

Speaker B: Something we’ve gotten used to, I think, in the post Bush vigor.

Speaker B: America.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker D: The politics rings quite true, but as a banker, I just want to say the business also rings really true.

Speaker D: I love the way that Matson Capriciously added whatever number of billions it was to his offer.

Speaker D: The kind of the cadence of the proposed M and A deal.

Speaker D: The merger of Matson’s business and ATN is exciting.


Speaker D: And we’ll see whether the reverse Viking thing ever comes off, whether maybe the Roy’s take over Matson.

Speaker A: Oh, my God.

Speaker B: Only two episodes left.

Speaker A: Two episodes left.

Speaker A: Next one is the funeral.

Speaker A: Is Kendall going to attempt his reverse Viking run in the middle of his dad’s funeral?

Speaker A: This is a very succession move to have two huge things happening at the same time.

Speaker D: Yeah.

Speaker D: Who was it earlier in the season who said, I’m pre Grieving.

Speaker D: I’m pre Grieving the end of this show, because I’ve really, absolutely loved it.

Speaker D: And as I say, the dense script with all the little one liners that you could miss.

Speaker D: I probably have to go back and watch the whole d*** thing again for it to be the comedy which Felix promises us.

Speaker A: It’s a very dark comedy.

Speaker A: This is about as dark comedy gets.

Speaker A: I mean, Jesse Armstrong came up through the ranks of British TV with Armando Ianucci, who did The Death of Stalin, which is the only other thing I can think of which is quite as dark comedy as this.

Speaker A: But they are really it reminds me.

Speaker C: A little bit of yes, Minister.

Speaker C: Because the writing is so deadpan and it’s so character and one liner driven.

Speaker C: It doesn’t have the overt.

Speaker A: This is obviously it’s the veepened.

Speaker A: And yes, Minister, comedies.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker A: And The Death of Stalin and succession are much darker than that and they aren’t as laugh out loud funny.


Speaker D: I’m going to lose the potential to be friends with Emily now for the rest of my life.

Speaker D: But it reminds me of American Psycho.

Speaker D: And the reason it reminds me of that is because the characters are so totally abject and horrific, but I kind of want to be them.

Speaker D: And there’s a little bit of I keep thinking, I think I want to be Kendall, but, yeah, I do.

Speaker D: I think I kind of want to be Kendall.

Speaker D: And then sometimes I think, oh, s***, I’m a bit more like Roman.

Speaker D: Anyway, there’s some part of me that finds them all quite appealing.

Speaker D: Not Tom, but Greg, kendall and Roman.

Speaker A: Definitely, but this is absolutely right.

Speaker A: And this is the running conversation that we’ve been having with Taffy Brodas Agnew over three seasons now.

Speaker A: It’s the degree to which the Roy is aspirational.

Speaker A: They are terrible people, but there is this hint of aspirational wealth and power around them, and it’s undeniable.

Speaker D: I do investment banking in the fashion industry and this notion of it’s become a cliche.

Speaker D: Now, the quiet luxury of their clothes has permeated the discussion of investment activity going into the luxury goods business and the apparel business.

Speaker D: And succession is having quite a significant impact on the way investors think.

Speaker D: I mean, it’s crazy to say that, but on some level, they’re absolutely aspirational guilty as charged.

Speaker B: Wait, the quiet luxury thing.

Speaker B: We’ll talk like, a brief few more minutes about that.

Speaker B: So that’s basically like wearing very expensive clothes, but they’re not flashy or have logos or anything like that.


Speaker B: And that succession has basically made that a thing.

Speaker B: Now you’re saying yes, brunello cuccinelli.

Speaker D: Famously, Kendall cares that Jeremy Strong cares a lot about what he wears, and he’s very particular.

Speaker D: It’s this Brunello cuccinelli thing, which is the kind of if you’re rich enough, you want to wear clothes that nobody will understand.

Speaker D: It could look like a basic sweater, but only an insider would know it’s Laura Piano or Brunello cuccinelli.

Speaker D: So it looks like a regular zip up mock turtleneck or something, but it costs $8,000.

Speaker D: And people is becoming considered the right way to think about luxury.

Speaker D: A more subtle, refined, restrained luxury personified by Jeremy Strong’s character in succession.

Speaker B: That’s so American that you have this show about the worst people ever, and then people aspire to look just like them, and a whole industry is pivoting to be like them.

Speaker D: More American dream to behave so badly as the Royce.

Speaker A: I had my book party this week and a financier turned up wearing a very lovely sort of sport coat, which turned out to be made of boiled Kashmir, which is apparently a thing.

Speaker A: And when I complimented on him and said that it was the thing I was most jealous of on the whole like at the whole party, he said, yeah, the thing is, it’s the second most expensive material object I own after my car.

Speaker A: That is how expensive these things get.

Speaker D: Isaiah in Naples has really run with the boiled cashmere thing.

Speaker D: Yeah, it’s a very exciting trend in menswear.

Speaker B: They boil the cashmere.

Speaker D: I don’t why it gives it a little extra texture.

Speaker B: Interesting.

Speaker D: You wouldn’t notice unless you notice.

Speaker B: You don’t know unless you know.

Speaker A: If you know, you know.

Speaker C: Ewan.

Speaker A: Thank you so much for coming on this show.

Speaker A: This was absolutely mind expandingly.

Speaker A: Awesome.

Speaker C: What?

Speaker D: What a pleasure to be on on the podcast.

Speaker D: You’re doing God’s work and this is such a wonderful show.

Speaker D: Thanks for letting me chitchat about it.

Speaker A: We will be back on Saturday with regular Slate money.

Speaker A: We will be back next Monday with episode nine which looks like it’s going to be Romans.

Speaker A: I mean not Romans funeral.

Speaker A: Logan’s funeral soonly.

Speaker A: There’s only one Roy dying in this season.

Speaker A: And yeah, many thanks to you and Raleigh for coming on and many thanks to Jasmine Molly of Seaplane Armada for producing and we’ll be back on Saturday.