WARNING: Spoilers for Succession Season 4 Episode 8 below.
After putting Succession viewers through a stressful evening of television that brought back way too memories of 2020 election, Sarah Snook opened up about Shiv’s actions during the fraught episode that saw the Roy family’s ATN news empire call a presidential election for Justin Kirk’s ultra-right candidate Jeryd Mencken.
While the episode initially started with Mencken looking at a loss, the situation drastically turned when a polling center was firebombed in Wisconsin, which provided an opening for some election night chaos that Kieran Culkin’s Roman Roy was all too eager to capitalize on. Not only does he have a close relationship with Mencken, which could pay dividends if it makes it to the White House, but Roman is also waving around the fact that Mencken will stop Alexander Skarsård’s Lukas Matsson from gobbling up the family empire in a multi-billion dollar purchase.
However, Shiv is reluctant to aid Mencken’s rise to power, and on the surface, it looks like her justifications come from an ethical and moral place. It is wrong (and a legal nightmare) to tilt a presidential election because of a situation that Mencken’s own supporters may have caused. It’s bad news all around. But as Snook highlights during the official Succession podcast, Shiv’s actions aren’t entirely for the good of the nation.
In her after-the-episode interview, Snook said not so fast to any viewers praising Shiv for standing up for the good of the country. “That’s convenient that it’s an altruistic side for her. Let’s remember, she’s not an altruist. But she does believe in Democracy and, like, dictators not being president,” she said, with a laugh.
Of course, Shiv’s true motivations are revealed with devastating results later in the episode. Unbeknownst to her brothers, she’s been secretly working with Matsson to keep the sale going and land herself a powerful position in the resulting media conglomerate. If Mencken wins, the deal goes away. It’s learning that his sister isn’t as benevolent as he believed that hurts Jeremy Strong’s Kendall the most, according to series creator Jesse Armstrong.
“Why do you do the good thing, because you want to be seen to be good? Because it serves your interests better? And that’s what particularly pisses Kendall off,” Armstrong said. “When he starts to feel that her professed liberalism is merely preening, that’s what blows his gasket.”
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)