Succession season 1, episode 9 recap: ‘Pre-Nuptial’


In episode 9 of HBO’s Succession, Tom and Shiv are on the verge of marriage, while also on the verge of collapse. What could go wrong?

Being a rich guy, Tom Wamsgans (Matthew Macfayden) wants an especially fancy wedding. In fact, as we first see him in “Pre-Nuptial,” he is distressed over carrying his own bag on his “wedding eve.”

This is an early sign of trouble for this episode of Succession, wherein people either expect perfection or a colossal failure.

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Still, much bigger scandals are afoot than burdensome luggage. For example, there’s the bride, Siobhan “Shiv” Roy (Sarah Snook), and her employer named Gil Eavis (Eric Bogosian). It seems that some newsman — probably someone at ATN News — implied that Gil murdered his wife.

The major complication, of course, is that the bride’s family owns ATN. The implied murder allegation was retaliation, in classic blood-for-blood fashion. Gil supposedly wants to “destroy” ATN, and has stated so very publicly in his bid for the Presidency. Even worse, Gil is at the wedding ceremony.

Hostile Takeovers and Other Assorted Scandals

Not to be outdone by the Gil Eavis scandals, Shiv’s brother Kendall (Jeremy Strong ) is plotting with his pal Stewy (Arian Moayed) against the family business, Waystar Royco — the corporate entity that owns ATN.

Stewy, notes at one point: “We are putting together a hostile takeover of one of the largest media corporations in the world. I think we can brave some non-vintage champagne.”

Harriet Walter and Sarah Snook, photo credit: Colin Hutton/HBO

On top of this, Shiv basks for more knowledge of her fiancé Tom’s cruise-ship scandal, to offer as a gift to Gil Eavis. The cruise line is, of course, owned by Waystar Royco.

None of this makes Shiv particularly loved by her father, Logan Roy (Brian Cox), the head honcho of Waystar, who increasingly sees his family as a bunch of backstabbers. We also get to meet Shiv’s mom, Caroline (Harriet Walter). Regarding her, Shiv says, “My travel agent specializes in guilt trips.”

Also present: Tabitha (Caitlin FitzGerald), the girl from Tom’s bachelor party, who is now going out with Shiv’s brother, Roman (Kieran Culkin).

Then there’s Shiv’s brother Connor (Alan Ruck) and his partner Willa (Justine Lupe), who makes the mistake of saying Connor doesn’t really do anything career-wise (he corrects her angrily, saying he’s “safeguarding 30,000 acres of wilderness” and is “on the verge of setting up a podcast on Napoleanic history”).

Last but not least: Logan himself decides to attend his daughter’s wedding, to avoid a PR backlash that could damage his company. This is despite previously threatening her!

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Shiv’s Infidelity

At one point, Tom sees something he certainly wasn’t supposed to: The hand of Shiv’s fellow political strategist, Nate Sofrelli (Ashley Zukerman), very close to her backside.

It’s clearly a sex thing, as opposed to just a political maneuver. While others dismiss Gil Eavis as the “sword of the dispossessed and lover of vintage champagne,” or simply “Senator Beavis,” this is obviously more of a personal affront to Tom than any political intrigue.

In the process, Tom becomes a more complicated character in Succession as he seems to genuinely care about their relationship (and little about anyone else).

Tom confronts Shiv about Nate, asking her flat out if they’ve done anything. She outright lies and says she didn’t cheat on him.

As a demonstration of honesty, Tom opens up to her regarding the cruise ship scandal (although it’s “not very wedding-y”). He mentions the sex scandal, the payoffs, shredded paperwork conducted by someone expendable — who we know as Logan’s great-nephew, Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun).

Logan Arrives in Style

To make the wedding rehearsal more complex, Logan shows up in a helicopter, and things threaten to spin out of control faster than the machine’s propellers. In little time at all, we see that Logan plans to go after Gil Eavis in some way.

Then, to save his company some trouble, he actually offers his son a TV network (to defeat a corporate coup). Of course, Ken calls the position “Head of Being Continually Thwarted” and declines the offer.

Perhaps due to her own marriage history, Caroline goes around asking people how long they give her daughter’s marriage to last. For obvious reasons, this disgusts Shiv. Still, it produces some humorous answers.

For example, Stewy says, “Forever, or until Shiv goes away for a week… whichever comes first.” Another answer: “It will be forever, or it’ll feel like forever.”

Showdowns (Logan and Gil, Marcia and Shiv)

There are a few meetings of the minds here. As if in political debate, Logan says to Gil that “The interest of each is the good of all.” He also states, “Don’t tell me about people. I’d go flat broke in a week if I didn’t.”

Oddly enough, this is more civil than Shiv’s encounter with her stepmother Marcia (Hiam Abbass), wherein Marcia calls Shiv a “spoiled slut.” Obviously, that’s not proper etiquette toward a bride-to-be!

Not daunted, Shiv takes time to negotiate with the wedding guest and Waystar person, Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron). Specifically, Shiv expresses knowledge of the cruise ship scandal, to use as leverage for Gil (or, in fancy lingo, Shiv engages in blackmail).

When Gerri says, “You’re very pushy, missy,” Shiv answers: “Thank you, fairy godmother.” The two almost seem respectful in this process, which makes it one of many unusual moments in Succession.

Even More Scandals and a Rare, Genuinely Peaceful Moment

Before the episode ends, a few things ramp up. For one thing, Sandy Furness (Larry Pine) creeps back into the episode. Sandy is collaborating with Ken for the hostile takeover and wants to go ahead with a take over the next day, as opposed to some later date.

Meanwhile, Greg decides to tell Tom that he knows Shiv has been sleeping around. Rather than getting mad at Shiv, Tom slaps Greg around a little…well, it borders on being a lot, actually.

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Still, there is one moment in the episode where some actual love is apparent. At one point, Ken, Roman and Shiv hug in a boat, reminiscing about their youth. Frankly, the boat scene’s one of the few moments in Succession where the family has no agenda.

Also, Roman actually proposes to Tabitha, the lady who performed sex acts with Tom at Tom’s bachelor party. Also, the episode seems to have some political peace-making. Gil appears to strike a deal with Logan, at least for the time being. Is it love in the air, or just another series of compromises?

What are your thoughts on this Succession episode? Let us know in the comments!