A lot happened in Succession’s tense finale this weekend: In a shocking twist ending, Kendall betrayed his father at the press conference for the cruise scandal, placing all the blame on Logan with Greg’s manila folder of evidence to prove it. Other events transpired, too: Connor needs money (“a little 100 mil”), Roman escaped the sovereign money deal, Greg has a benign fungus. Most importantly of all? Tom stood up for himself.
In “This Is Not For Tears,” Tom exhibits one rare moment of vulnerability for a show on which everyone is an emotionless asshole. He and Shiv are lying on a Mediterranean beach away from the rest of the Roys and their outlandish mega-yacht. He looks dejected, and finally, everything comes pouring out. “I think a lot of the time I’m pretty unhappy,” he confesses. “I wonder if the sad I’d be without you would be less than the sad I get from being with you.” Shiv is appalled. No wonder—he’s been taken advantage of without complaints since the beginning.
It has to be said that Tom and Shiv have a parasitic relationship. Shiv can throw Tom under the bus whenever she wants, and until now, he’s taken it with nothing more than a stunned smile. Tom isn’t exactly in the marriage for virtuous reasons either. He loves her, sure, but he’s using Shiv’s bloodline to maybe take the CEO position one day. The problem is that Shiv will always have the upper hand, but Shiv’s small betrayals have been adding up: not consulting with Tom on the CEO offer, opening the relationship on their wedding night. Heroffering Tom as the “blood sacrifice” was the tipping point. The conversation on the beach not only represents a major shift for Tom—it’s a significant moment for Shiv, too. As he dangles the prospect of divorce, Shiv realizes she needs Tom as much as he needs her.
So far, Tom’s purpose has been to be a punching bag for the Roys. He’s the butt of every joke (that isn’t about Greg) and isn’t taken seriously by anyone. He hasn’t given them any reason to. He practically cowers in front of his in-laws, desperately craving their approval, and he hasn’t exactly done a spectacular job as the head of cruises, then as head of Waystar’s Fox News stand-in, ATN, as evidenced by his performance at the congressional hearings. (I still haven’t watched all of his testimony because the cringe was too much to bear.) The only way he could exercise his authority was to mistreat Greg, but Tom has also lost that after their “break-up” in the safe room. He succumbed too quickly to the petty ruthlessness of the Roys, but there’s a limit to his depravity.
Everyone has been talking about Jeremy Strong’s phenomenal performance (and rightly so) as Kendall Roy, who has been an empty shell of a man for the entire season until he, in the words of his father, becomes a killer. But Matthew Macfadyen has been equally stellar as a man who is repulsive, yet still slowly earns your empathy. In a season when Strong breaks hearts every time he’s on screen, Macfadyen is devastating at the culmination of Tom’s tragic arc. Every word exchanged in Succession is laced with ulterior motives and cruel intentions, so it’s mesmerizing to see Tom at full transparency. Tom is the guy everyone loves to hate—especially as one half of the Dumb and Dumber duo with Greg—but as Succession gears up for its third season, Jesse Armstrong is adding layers and complexities to characters that we never knew we needed. Succession lives on the principle that everyone—even Greg “It’s just not my favorite” Hirsch—is unlikeable, but the strength of the cast and writing continues to complicate that.
Source : Iana Murray Link