Succession (Season 4), Episode 8 Recap and Ending Explained: Election night was tense and a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Betrayal, deceit, and manipulation were strongly grounded in passionate emotions from Roman and Shiv. Ken was caught in the middle of things a little bit and still “cannot cut a deal with fate.” We once again saw riveting storytelling underlining plot progression. Things will move quicker, and expect no singling love and consideration to come in the way of ruthlessness. The HBO show has remained true to the brand of cinema promised to us from season 1. We break down the entire episode for you in this recap and ending explainer for Succession’s episode 8, titled “America Decides” 

Succession (Season 4), Episode 8 Recap:

America Decides

This episode of Succession is the final showdown between our Presidential candidates – Jeryd Mencken (Republican) and Daniel Jiménez (Democratic). It is a huge night for Tom and ATN in general. As such, election nights are the fodder of broadcast media. The siblings are breathing down his neck, especially Shiv, after their “truth-telling” in the previous episode. Pam and Darwin are the experienced underlings Tom has to rely on. Their experience will be critical in navigating the night. From the looks of it, the exit polls do not favor Mencken.

How are the siblings split in the middle on election night?

It was suggested in the last episode that the siblings pivot and reposition themselves as neutral. ATN has been Mencken’s agenda platform in the buildup. But he is of no use to them if he does not win. Greg’s wild night with Matsson and his mates also revealed Shiv’s “business alliance program,” which Tom professes to use at the “right time.” She is supporting Jimenez in the race, while Roman and Ken squarely for Mencken. As opposed to their conversation at the Tailgate party, Matsson is inclined not to release his botched-up numbers in public. Shiv is a little surprised, but the election is more important right now.

She has also opened a communication channel with Nate, her ex and Jimenez’s trade advisor, to exchange regular updates about voter turnouts in different states and the results of the exit polls. Imitating the real-life American election night, street violence is gathering momentum. It has put everyone on the edge, including Ken’s ex-wife Rava and daughter Sophie. Ken has put some of his security to follow them and make sure nothing happens to them because Jimenez has the lead in the polls.

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He calls Nate, who connects Ken to Jimenez. Ken expresses his wish that he wins the election, and they have a chat after. Roman goes to meet Mencken at his hotel at his insistence. Mencken requests him to correctly characterize the narrative if Mencken loses the election.   

What is cooking at ATN?

Tom is quite vexed about the night, as insinuated above. He does a quick dose of cocaine with Greg, surreptitiously, to be on the clicks. Connor calls him, asking why his crew’s footage isn’t playing on ATN. He is still in the race for the elections, and Willa encourages the notion that even Connor could win. Kentucky goes to Mencken, which greatly disappoints Connor. But why? A touchscreen malfunction on air gets everyone riled up, including Tom and Ken, who is watching from his office. He immediately gives Tom the shoe over viewership numbers, but Pam, who is actually pulling the strings on the ground, calms Tom down. 

Shiv gets in on the action and pulls up Tom for not covering the violence in Wisconsin, which seems to have been perpetrated by Mencken’s supporters. A serious incident unfolds in Milwaukee as one of the polling booths catches on fire. The ballots are lost, and Mencken loses further ground. All the siblings get on the ground in the ATN office to get at Tom once again. He doesn’t seem interested in their shenanigans. Shiv apologizes to him in private, and when Tom once again starts going off about how she “killed Logan,” Shiv tells him that she is pregnant.

Tom gets defensive and asserts it might be a tactic on her part. Shiv is disgusted and walks away teary-eyed. Connor is now scampering to ensure he does not walk away empty-handed. He calls Roman about the Ambassadorship favors he offered him in the previous episode to get Connor to exit the race and boost Mencken’s numbers. 

Where does Wisconsin sway?

Adam Godley, Kieran Culkin in Succession Season 4, Episode 8 (Photograph by Macall Polay/HBO)

Roman and Shiv have a nibbling argument about Wisconsin’s result, but ultimately they project their insecurities about the GoJo deal. Shiv says ATN does not call the State for Mencken unless the absentee ballots are counted and the ones they lost in the fire. Roman believes otherwise, saying Mencken’s lead is significant. Darwin and his team have tallied the numbers and side with Roman on the issue, saying that even if the absentee votes and lost votes were included, Mencken would handsomely win. 

The nastiness is quite far-reaching. Ken has a foot in either side’s door, but Roman’s next move greatly upsets Shiv. He asks a reporter on air to spitefully call out the woke left and their “cry-baby antics” over the Winsoncin fire, angering Shiv since there is no opposing view to this, as there rightly should be. Shiv threatens Greg to keep silent over anything said by Matsson about their deal. It seems increasingly possible that Mencken might win due to these shenanigans, as the fight was quite close. 

Why is it important to “call the election” for Mencken?

If the Democrats lose their strongholds, things might get tricky for them. Roman confirms from Mencken that he will cancel the GoJo deal by referring it to FDC once he comes to power. But he needs ATN to be on his side for the night. Ken is conflicted and doesn’t say anything as Roman fetches Tom to enact their plan. Darwin, who is in the room with Tom, opposes the move and says that the legal complexities do not allow them to call the election for Mencken yet. The primary reason for the same is that some States in America still haven’t voted. If they learn that the election result will not be affected by their voting, they might not turn out to cast their votes, which might further strengthen the contrary notion.

Calling the election for Mencken at this stage would affect voter turnout and the election directly. Roman suggests a comprise by getting Darwin on the air and explaining the situation. He agrees but gets Wasabi in his eyes, which makes them burn. It is quite a hilarious, bizarre situation that underlines the core conceit in the situation. 

Succession (Season 4), Episode 8 Ending Explained:

Why does Kendall want Jimenez to win?

Connor shows up at the office and talks to Roman about their previous discussion. The decision has been made, and ATN officially calls the State of Winsoncin in Mencken’s favor. Ken watches the news and is almost reduced to tears, but the reason isn’t obvious yet. Connor gets on the air and supports Mencken for a lucrative position. He also goes crazy and says stuff that makes him look “unconventional.” Michigan has been called for Jimene, which ties the two candidates on equal votes. Alaska and Arizona are the only ones that have not been called yet. 

Roman insists they call Arizona and hence the election for Mencken. But Ken finally speaks out and talks privately with Roman. They discuss the repercussions of what they do next. Ken is worried about the “fascists” taking over, but Roman is only concerned about the deal. Roman doesn’t know about Sophie’s incident but wants to go with Mencken, not worried about what happens to America. PGN, meanwhile, has called Arizona for Mencken. Ken and Shiv talk about the election. The real reason Ken wants Jimenez to win is because he feels threatened by Roman and Mencken’s closeness. 

He openly admits he wants to be the CEO alone and not have Roman with him at the top. The concerns about America are sidestepped by personal ambition. Shiv patiently listens to him and thinks it is a viable idea. Ken mentions stopping Matsson, and Shiv agrees, saying anything to convince Ken to call the bluff on Mencken. That feeds into Ken’s insecurities about fatherhood and how “the poison has seeped through the generations.” Shiv agrees to help Ken block the deal from Jimenez’s camp.

What will Shiv do: will she side with Matsson or Kendall?

Shiv plays a bluff on Kendall, pretending to call Nate and nudging him about the GoJo deal. Ken is convinced and goes back into the room. It is quite a heartbreaking moment as Shiv is clearly using Ken and also turning Roman against him. Shiv lies to Roman in the room as well, but he is not convinced. Kendall calls Nate to follow up on Shiv’s idea. When he learns the truth, it is almost like life is sucked out of him. He keeps looking at Shiv and walks toward Greg, asking about Matsson. Greg tells him the truth, and Ken walks in to confront Shiv.

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He calls her out and tells Roman the truth about Shiv’s alliance with Matsson. Shiv is defenseless as the brothers unite together to support Mencken. Shiv makes a last try to sway Ken, but Roman is now emboldened to go harder against Shiv. Tom is called in, and they tell him to call the election. Greg is tasked with making the call, which makes him sweaty and nervous. He does it, and ATN calls the election for Mencken. He gives a stirring speech that is condescending, laced with a dash of hope. 

Shiv walks away with a defeated look on her face. Roman is Mencken’s “kingmaker,” essentially, and Ken is left thinking about his decision. Pam says the legal process in Wisconsin can go on for three months. Shiv calls Matsson and tells him they need to get the botched numbers out soon. She is decisively against the brothers and Mencken. Ken tries to talk to Sophie when it is all over, but Rava says she has already gone to bed. “Some people just can’t cut a deal, Fikret,” Kendall mutters.

Who is Fikret? What does this ending mean for Shiv, Kendall, Tom, and Roman?

So, firstly, Fikret is Kendall’s driver who has appeared just twice in the history of Succession. He is not important here, but what lies next for Ken is. The sense of irony isn’t lost on the writers of Succession, who have Ken question his fatherhood and literally do the opposite of what a good father would do in the same scene. One can understand his impulsiveness after being backstabbed by his own sister. But Kendall cannot shrug off the feeling that he has lost as much as he won by choosing to do what he did.

Mencken’s election is good news for Roman, who now has the POTUS on speed dial. The GoJo deal is imperiously at risk of being dumped with FDC regulations. It will be difficult for Mattson and Shiv to make a comeback from this. The question about her pregnancy still lingers. Tom might have called her bluff earlier in the episode. If she can manipulate her own brother like this, what is stopping her from doing it to her bitter ex-husband? We can’t say much about that as of now. Tom will land in deep trouble if the Wisconsin complexities go against him.

A news flash after the election shows Tom’s face and his personal involvement in calling the elections. The family dysfunction has further intensified with personal setbacks for our central characters. Season 4 of Succession is living up to the hype; perhaps outdoing it and creating new horizons.

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Succession (Season 4) Episode 8 Cast: Nicholas Braun, Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin
Where to watch Succession

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