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The Poison Drips Through: “Succession” Season 4, Episode 8 recap

Throughout this week’s action-packed, nerve-shredding episode of “Succession,” Logan’s kids argue a lot about what the old man would want them to do, as the presidential race between the Republican Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk) and the Democrat Daniel Jimenez (Elliot Villar) comes down to a couple of battleground states. The big sticking point is Milwaukee, where a fire at a vote-counting facility has destroyed enough ballots to tilt Wisconsin from blue to red.

Because this episode, just two away from the finale, doesn’t have a winner and a loser by the end. It’s election night—a night where someone usually emerges triumphant—but not even that occurs. The competition is between the Democratic frontrunner Daniel Jiménez and the far-right conservative challenger, Jeryd Mencken. Of course, ATN is pushing Mencken. Still, I’m sure that we at home all want Connor Roy (Alan Ruck) to be the dark-horse winner. “Maybe everyone voted for me. We don’t know!” he tells Tom early in the night. “If I do it, that’s the story of all time.”

Kendall (Jeremy Strong), meanwhile, is pushing his family to the brink. He’s having his wife and daughter tailed by extra security to “keep them safe,” even though the surveillance is only scaring them more. “I won’t let the world push you, OK sweetie?” he says over the phone. He then calls Jiménez, trying to play both sides while the big U.S. map board over at ATN is prepping to push Mencken’s numbers. Roman (Kieran Culkin) even pays Mencken a personal visit to ensure him that the network won’t drag his character through the mud if he loses. He wants a narrative along the lines of: Still, he over-performed past expectations.

Then… chaos strikes. ATN’s big board—the golden calf of the televised election cycle—starts glitching. “Apparently he’s just touching too hard,” Greg (Nicholas Braun) tells Tom (Matthew Macfayden). Somewhere, Steve Kornacki is screaming. The network is down to its last available touchscreen when a big story strikes. A voting center in Wisconsin is burned to the ground, and ATN has yet to report about it. It’s almost as if this is everyone’s first day having to actually do their jobs. Overwhelmed, Tom goes demon mode on Shiv (Sarah Snook) after she apologizes for their fight the prior night. Tom not only tells Shiv that her actions partly led to her father’s death, but that he questions if her baby is even his. Ouch! Shiv tells her brothers that it’s time to finally get rid of him for good. Tom is surely tanking on Succession brackets worldwide.

While everyone argues about how to handle the votes lost in the Wisconsin fire, Roman slinks away and tells the ATN anchor to start just espousing far-right poison live on-air. “I don’t feel right,” Kendall tells his brother, later adding, “It’s a nice idea—all the different people together.” Oh Ken, loose allyship has never been communicated so eloquently. Roman reveals that he’s been supporting Mencken not just for the network, but because the Republican nominee promised that he would be hard on the tech industry and use the Foreign Trade Commission to block the GoJo deal should he become President. No good looks for Roman this week! He’ll help elect a far-right candidate to the presidency just for a selfish business deal. Even worse, he’s going to have ATN call the election in Mencken’s favor way too early. “Nothing matters,” Roman tells Kendall. “Dad’s dead, and the country is just a big pussy waiting to get fucked.”

In the middle of all this, Connor arrives to concede the election to Mencken on-air. His says goodbye to his supporters with a simple, “Conn-heads, I salute you.” But it’s no quick sign-off. “America be warned. Be afraid,” he continues. “The Conn-heads are coming.” It feels like the end for anyone who picked Connor to finish on top at the end of Succession. Hell, it may even be Connor’s last scene.

Oh, you thought shit already hit the fan? Nope. Kendall is starting to feel like choosing the “nightmare” candidate is better for their business as well, but he questions if that makes him a bad person and a crappy father. (Yes, Kendall, it does.) But the little angel on his shoulder asks Shiv to try calling Jiménez in hopes of working out a deal with the Democrats as well. Shiv, who has secretly been working both sides of the GoJo deal this season, pretends to make that call. When Kendall finds out, he’s shocked. Although, as we all knew at home, Shiv’s double-crossings never work out. Kendall and Roman confront Shiv—and she breaks. She threatens to go public, but the boys don’t care. It would doom her as well.

ATN calls for Mencken early, and it’s another sad, depressing night in Succession world. Mencken then appears on television to speak, celebrating his “victory” and denouncing compromises. It almost goes without saying, but I can imagine that Donald Trump doing the same thing back during the 2020 election—which he ended up losing—was clear inspiration here. ATN could lose all credibility as a news organization if it flips to Jiménez once all the votes are counted—mirroring a very real FOX News that just lost $787 million in a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems. Succession is, after all, partly based on the Murdoch family.

So, we’ll likely see more doom and gloom in next week’s penultimate episode, as Kendall mentions that the next day is their father’s funeral. A normal family would probably put aside all business problems and personal grudges to mourn together just for one day. I can’t imagine anyone doing that here. Greg, maybe—but that’s it. What I can say is that the feeling of things ramping up to a fever pitch certainly escalated even more. Watching Succession’s final season did not get any easier this week. My heart hurts and my stomach is in knots! The Roys essentially just tried to help elect Donald Trump in the Succession universe. Redemption for this family? Out the window tonight.