A frantic episode runs the gamut from slapstick comedy to complete familial collapse.
This Succession Season 4 Episode 8 Recap contains spoilers for “America Decides”.
Early on in “America Decides”, Tom and Greg take a bump of cocaine while hiding behind a whiteboard. It doesn’t seem to affect either of them very much, but it’s mainlined directly into the bloodstream of the most frantic episode in Succession’s history.
The entire hour takes place in and around the ATN newsroom on election night, where either Democratic frontrunner Daniel Jiménez will preserve the fragile state of the American Republic for another four years, or far-right conservative challenger Jeryd Mencken will bring about a new age of fascistic anything-goes demagoguery.
Succession Season 4 Episode 8 Recap
Of course, ATN are siding with Mencken. That means the Roy siblings are too – or at least most of them. “America Decides” has an essential quandary, which is this: Do the Roy clan value their own financial self-interest over and above the most essential tenets of democracy and decency on which the Western world has been built?
We already know the answer, of course. But it is tremendous fun watching them arrive at it on their own.
Why are ATN supporting Jared Mencken?
Of course, there are various personal subplots and private motivations to consider here too. In Episode 7 of this season, we learned Kendall was planning to exclude his siblings from a potential takeover of GoJo, so whatever happens, he needs ATN to not completely lose credibility as a news organization.
Roman, meanwhile, has made himself useful by cozying up to Mencken, assuring him of favorable coverage if he loses in exchange for a complete blocking of the GoJo deal if he wins.
How does Tom find out about Shiv and Matsson?
Since Shiv is – figuratively, for now – in bed with Lukas Matsson, she needs Jimenez to win the presidency, and she’s also, albeit secondarily, concerned about the fate of the Republic. Her latest problem in a long list of them is that Cousin Greg has been spending some social time with Lukas and knows about his arrangement with Shiv, which Lukas shared without realizing how loyal Greg was to Tom.
Shiv tries to get ahead of this potential calamity by apologizing to Tom for the argument they had, which occurred last week for us but last night for them, so is still very fresh. But Greg has already offhandedly mentioned Shiv’s arrangement with Lukas, so Tom isn’t buying it for a second. Still evidently extremely bitter, he tells Shiv that she’s at least partially responsible for Logan’s death, and, when she pulls out the big guns by revealing she’s pregnant with his baby, questions if that’s even true at all.
What happens in Wisconsin?
It’s amazing that ATN has any kind of cultural cache at all, since nothing there works – two of three touchscreens start glitching, much to Tom’s hysterical annoyance – and nobody knows what they’re doing. They’re especially thrown for a loop when a voting centre in Wisconsin is burned to the ground before the votes can be counted.
Perhaps the problem at ATN is that nobody knows who’s in charge. It’s ostensibly Tom, who is trying to be something resembling a responsible newsman by not reporting on the fire until they have all the facts, but Roman sees it as an opportunity to just declare the state for Mencken by some kind of vague mathematical logic – Adam Godley’s beleaguered statistician Darwin is a scene-stealer in this episode, especially on this matter – and thus make him the new President of the United States.
Mencken’s candidacy gathers even more momentum when Connor, of all people, turns up to concede the election to him in a live broadcast that turns quite quickly into a bizarre national threat. Nevertheless, though, Connor’s out of the race, which he was never really in to begin with, at least not in any meaningful sense, and his endorsement sways public perception towards Mencken.
Succession Season 4 Episode 8 Ending Explained
Who becomes the new president?
As is often the case, it’s Kendall who ends up having the deciding vote, in a roundabout way.
And Kendall is worried, particularly about his wife and daughter. He’s developing something of a conscience. If he’s responsible for a fascistic far-right candidate being made leader of the free world, what does that say about him and his legacy? What kind of knock-on effect does it have for his family?
This is why, even at the eleventh hour, Kendall still pushes Shiv to try and secure a Democratic guarantee against the GoJo deal instead. Since that’s Roman’s primary negotiating ploy, a counteroffer from Jiminez means they get the best of both worlds – no GoJo deal, and no tyrant in the White House. Shiv is happy to oblige.
But she lies about making the call. When she can’t give a firm answer about its outcome, Kendall calls himself and is obviously told that Shiv never reached out. Suspicious, he asks Greg if he knows anything worth sharing, and of course, he does – Shiv’s deal with Matsson.
Kendall is so furious at Shiv’s efforts to double-cross him that he gives the go-ahead for ATN to call the election for Mencken, which will likely cause all kinds of problems for everyone involved – and right on the eve of Logan’s funeral.
You can steam Succession Season 4 Episode 8, “America Decides”, exclusively on HBO and HBO Max.