This article contains spoilers for Episode 8 of the final season of “Succession.”
Election night has arrived at ATN. The fate of a fictional democracy is on the line, and Tom is charged with captaining the newsroom’s chaotic ship. He responds by doing cocaine behind a whiteboard, wearing hard shoes, briefly considering adult diapers and attempting to maintain optimal blood sugar levels so he can deliver the big numbers demanded of him by the powers that be. Behind the scenes, Roman, Kendall and Shiv play political puppet masters.
Roman pushes for the Republican candidate, getting cozy with the “fascist” who promises to kill the Matsson deal. Shiv tries to fight Roman for the sake of America, she says (and also to aid her alliance with Matsson). Kendall weighs the costs of being a bad father with the benefits of doing business. Off in Connorland, Willa wears a high-neck red dress — fit for a first lady, should the impossible happen.
Jessica Testa: I wonder if one of the prompts for the costume design for this episode was, So, what do you wear to bear witness to — or help bring about — the end of the world?
Stella Bugbee: In Tom’s case, hard shoes.
Vanessa Friedman: “I’m perfectly comfortable. I’ve got good arches.” He would insist he was comfortable even if his feet were falling off.
SB: For a split second it seemed like he wouldn’t do the cocaine, but of course none of these characters ever make the right choices. And then, as the night goes on, one after another they make wrong call after wrong call.
Guy Trebay: Doing bumps behind an erasable whiteboard is … special.
VF: It made for a nice contrast with Lukas in his creature-feature PJ bottoms. Someone is having fun with his clothes.
SB: Lukas never sleeps.
GT: Again, coke.
JT: I say this almost every week, but Lukas is such a style scene-stealer. And when he said, “Don’t let them break my toy, Shiv,” nursing a drink in those pajama pants, I got chills. It was very next-gen mobster.
GT: Oddly, I thought it was a throwback, as so much in the series is. Those PJ’s could have been in “Goodfellas.” Here the gangster is Swedish, though.
VF: Poor Shiv. Even barricaded behind jackets (jackets that are tied at the waist, for an extra layer of security and to hold everything in, even emotions) and turtlenecks, she seems increasingly fragile.
SB: I’ve never hated every single character as much as I did in this episode. Absolutely no good guys.
JT: What about Willa?
Anna Grace Lee: Everyone was particularly slimy this episode. Except Willa! She was the star in her red, aspirational first lady-to-be dress.
VF: I did love the Republican red dress. Nicely color-coordinated with Con’s tie. On a side note, I appreciated that they put the ATN election night quant in the sort of khakis that Steve Kornacki made famous on MSNBC. It was a nice touch.
GT: Did the writers know Sarah Snook was pregnant, do you think, and script accordingly?
SB: It felt a little much for her to tell Tom on election night, no?
GT: Yes, and despite the drugs, the tension and the stakes, that bit of domestic drama made for the one scene that was not devitalized.
GT: I’m also curious to know why on this one night Roman and Kendall wore jackets. Fashion memo: When you decide to trash democracy, wear a blazer.
VF: Respect for the moment, as far as that goes? To pretend they can take their father’s place? I think Con’s words in his (non) concession speech could be the epitaph for the episode — and maybe the whole season: “Alas, vanity.”
AGL: Not fashion-related, but I loved Roman and Shiv’s back and forth about the emoji. “Well, two eggplants is not as much as four smileys, obviously.” Politics and emoji!
GT: Also loved “bodega sushi,” which I feel certain must have been someone’s name on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
JT: The nation is Dar’s eyeballs, the politicians are the wasabi, and ATN is the lemon La Croix that makes everything worse.
Guy Trebay, Vanessa Friedman, Jessica Testa, Anna Grace Lee and Stella Bugbee contributed reporting.