“You have hurt me more than you can imagine“, shouts Tom, in the finale of 4×07 of Succession. He yells it with one desperate rage that makes you shiver, with an authentic and terrible transport. She has tears in her eyes, leans forward, almost seems to want to fill that unsurpassed distance which now separates him from Shiv. He’s throwing everything at her, he’s throwing all the pain at her, there frustration, faults and offenses. Love will tear us apart, Joy Division sang.
But it is another love that destroyed Shiv and Tom.
It’s easy to think that they never loved each other, that it was always a marriage of conveniencethat Tom married her “to have power“, as a crying Shiv reproaches him. And that Shiv married Tom to have an easily controlled husband. But take a good look this scene from Succession, take a good look at both of you in this wonderful 4×07 and let yourself be carried away by their pain, by the frustration that they have kept inside for too long, by the unsaid, by the resentment which finally explodes as devastating as a hurricane on the terrace of a twilight New York.
“You were with me for power, well, now you have it, Tom, now you have it“ attacks Shiv. “I’m with you because I love you“, counters screaming, fidgeting, stretching as much as he can with Tom’s voice and spirit. “I’m with you because I love you“. It’s not your usual power playlook him in the eye. Empathize in his desperate resignation, in the cry of one who for once has dropped the mask and shown his true face. Both are showing their nature, they are face to face, each with their beliefs about the other, with their torments. Each animated by a genuine resentment.
Why such despair over a marriage of convenience? Why so much anger, so many quarrels, so much pain? No, think about your life. Think of that relationship that left its mark on you, think of that wound. To the infernal quarrels, to the desperation with which you lashed out against each other, with which you threw all your grudges against them.
There was love before all this and beyond all this, or at least there was a longing for love.
Well, Tom and Shiv lived in this desire for love, in the real hope that it could work, that one could be happy, that everything would go the right way. But that didn’t happen. Love tore them apart. But which love? The fault lies with both, the fault lies in theto have loved something else more and more intensely. And having doubted true love. And then love tore them apart.
Shiv since the first moment, since season 1 has heard the weight of doubt. The agonizing uncertainty sinking into a family dysfunctionalin unsuccessful models of love that have fueled in her the shrewd idea that everyone acts out of interest. She saw him with her father, in the endless relationships, in the wives that followed, in the fatal attraction of each one. for power and money. And then Shiv could not help doubting. He couldn’t help but constantly question love. So he did.
He’s been doing it with Tom ever since that request for one open relationship just married, in the moment of greatest joy. Shiv with that proposition puts Tom to the test, he wants to test his reactionwants to understand if it’s really just a marriage of convenience or if her spouse really cares about her, if he really loves her. Because she, Shiv, even though she will never admit it, with Tom she feels vulnerable, she feels able to really feel a feeling of love. But Logan didn’t teach her weakness, she taught her to hide, repress, defeat that weakness of hers. He taught her to fight vulnerabilityeven if it was love.
And then Shiv looks at Tom and tests him.
And in contrast Tom is wounded, just as vulnerable and surprised. Resentful for that request but unable to say no, unable to show himself too fragile in fear of being a “conservative countryman“, as Shiv will hold against him. And it all starts from there. From that moment the illusions shattered, the idea that had flashed secretly in Siobhan’s heart, that idea of a quiet, reserved, even boring life, that idea of a simplicity of affection vanishes. It’s love it starts to fray, begins to tear them both apart, overwhelmed by their inabilities to be honest with each other. Overwhelmed by the inability to appear fragile in front of the other and open up to love.
Shiv and Tom will try several times to get closer, to re-weave love together, to leave behind the pain they have caused each other. But we know, when the resentment, when the hurt done is too much, love fails and it tears us apart. And then Tom can’t accept with joy Shiv’s revelation that she is expecting a child from him because he remembers the past, he remembers birth control pills taken without his knowledge. He remembers the now incurable wound and he can’t, he can’t be happy. Love tore them apart.
He tore Siobhan to pieces, felt tradition by Tom in a deeper sense than she did. Because Tom didn’t betray her physically but morally, siding with Logan, putting her first servility (“You are servile, you are servile!“, repeats Shiv), putting in first place the power. So did she too, passively accepting the possibility that Tom would go to jail, putting him in a bad light with the others in that 4×07, presenting him as one ‘yes man‘ that he would be fired.
There’s a reason all this happened, there’s a reason love, fragile sprout, was suffocated.
Another love has won, another love overwhelmed him. “The fact is that when I met you, in my entire life I had thought only a little about money, how to make money, how to keep my money“. AND sincere Tom in saying it, you can see it in his face. The same raw and terrible honesty with which she admits, a little later, always in the 4 × 06 of Succession That:
I really really really love my career and my money and my clothes and my watches and… yeah, sure, that’s it: I like beautiful things, a lot. And if you find it superficial why don’t you throw away your things for love? Toss your necklaces and jewels for a date at a little Italian restaurant, yes? Come live with me in a caravan park, yes? You come?
It’s terribly serious but also ironica clown sad who pretends that everything is still possible, that giving up everything is still a contemplable possibility. But they both know it’s not like that, that elopement is an absurdity. The question becomes sadly rhetorical. To this Shiv replies with false emphasis: “Look, I’d follow you anywhere for love, Tom Wambsgans“, interpreting the part he can’t play, that of the girl mad in love who leaves everything for her prince charming. But the theatrical fiction ends and both are left with nothing but laughs, laugh bitterly of this unfeasible skit, of a part they can’t really play in real life.
They laugh with heavy hearts because they know that love has torn them apart.
Not each other’s love but another love, a jealous loveexclusive and destructive: that for the candiesfor the moneyfor the prestige. They love that power, they love to feel important, they love the good life, worldliness, intrigues, climbs. Shiv has always been used to loving these things, Tom he learned with her and once he tasted that sweet nectar he couldn’t do without it.
In the name of power you are prostitute, sold out, cheated. He served and revered the power, like Logan in his time, a long time ago, when he didn’t yet have the strength to exercise that power. Tom and Shiv are both two faces of Logan, two faces of careerism and the desire for command that surpasses everything. The love of power tore them apart. He tore sentimental love apart and returned them inhuman and brutal, united in one last embrace, in one last handshake.
It is no longer the pact of love between the two in the finale of Succession.
No, there is no more love. It is a new pact, a bond devilisha blood pact to share power. Both hypocrisy will live of a relationship that decides to ignore the death of love to feed the love of power. The new union that closes Succession And the overturning of the conjugal bond, he is the antichrist of love. Shiv becomes her mother, a woman incapable of loving and that she should never have had children, she becomes the one Tom had held against her (“I think you are incapable of love and I think maybe you are not fit to have children“).
Tom is the new Logan, Shiv the first wifea woman who for a shred of power is ready to sell her love and her soul by descending into a facade relationship and re-actualizing for her son all the dysfunctions she had to experience as a young man with her mother. The circle closesextraordinarily, perfectly, giving fullness to one of the most heartbreaking relationships of Succession. Love is torn apart, power has won over him too. He won on the relationship between brothers, on morals, on justice, on honesty, on values. And he bloody triumphs like an antichrist about romantic love destroying the last hope, destroying the man. By destroying the humanity of Shiv and Tom, torn apart by the love of power. Love will tear us apart, Joy Division sang. The love of power will unite us again, sing Succession. He will, but in the most false and sickest way possible. This is hell. It’s all extraordinarily, tragically here.