Season 4 of Succession has long been building towards the upcoming presidential election, and at last, it’s finally here.
In “America Decides,” the eighth episode of Succession‘s final (and arguably most dramatic) season, the Roys are camping out at ATN’s headquarters while watching the country’s votes pile in. The frontrunners are Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk), the Republican candidate, and Daniel Jiménez (Elliot Villar), the Democratic candidate, with the siblings split between who to support.
While episode 8 is filled with the usual family drama and some hilarious moments — shoutout to cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) for that incredible wasabi scene — there’s a lot of pressure on the Roys throughout because they’ve got a big decision to make: which candidate they’re going to publicly vouch for on ATN. American politics sit at the epicenter of this episode, but if you’re a Roy, presidential elections are also grounds for your own personal moves. The siblings aren’t only deciding who they want as the next president, they’re betting on who’s going to help see their own self-interests through.
But who are Mencken and Jiménez? And why are the Roy kids divided between them? Let’s dive into Succession‘s election, its candidates, and why the Roys are all vouching for different outcomes.
Who are Mencken and Jiménez?
Credit: Screenshot HBO
Mencken and Jiménez are both running for president, but their political parties aren’t the only thing that set them apart. We first met Mencken all the way back in Season 3, episode 6, “What It Takes.” Here, we learned that Succession‘s former president of the United States, unnamed but good friends with Logan (Brian Cox), wasn’t running for reelection. So Logan and the kids travel to Virginia for a secret conference with big Republican players to decide on a nominee. Roman (Kieran Culkin), and eventually Logan, take a liking to Mencken and decide to back him.
Mencken is an incredibly worrisome pick however because he’s a far-right conservative with his beliefs basically bordering on fascism. But despite Shiv’s (Sarah Snook) objections, Logan and Roman both believe they needed someone extreme to get voter attention, and they’re unfortunately right. In a short couple of months, Mencken manages to become the Republican nominee with a lot of support. Mencken’s also managed the added bonus of paying for ads to run on ATN and a “direct line” to editorial meetings, meaning Roman and Mencken basically have a “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” agreement going on — much to Shiv’s horror when she finds out later in Season 4, episode 5.
On the other hand, Jiménez is a completely new character. We don’t really know much about him besides the fact that he’s the Democratic candidate, which is something we only learned earlier in Season 4. We also know that Nate (Ashley Zukerman), Shiv’s (Sarah Snook) ex-fling, is working on Jiménez’s team, not to mention Shiv is siding with Jiménez. Besides that, another important crumb of information to remember is that Mencken and Jiménez’s election predictions are pretty close. In episode 7, “Tailgate Party,” we learned that Jiménez is ahead of Mencken by only four points — and where this small gap eventually gets closed is something the Roys have a strong playing card in.
Who do the Roys support and why?
Credit: David Russell/HBO
Which candidate does Roman support?
Roman is a big fan of Mencken. Apart from the fact that Romulus regularly does questionable things over the four seasons, he has an actual agreement with Mencken to tank the GoJo deal. We know Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman have been eyeing to derail Waystar Royco’s acquisition since episode 5, making them both co-CEOs until further notice and seeing their own aspirations through. In episode 8, Roman mentions that Mencken can pull some strings, like discrepancies in foreign policy, to render the GoJo deal a no-go. Mencken is someone that Roman can do great business with, and vice versa, which explains why he was going as hard as he was this episode to support him.
Which candidate does Shiv support?
Shiv is pro-Jiménez. In part because she’s terrified of what Mencken would do as president, which goes against her own political ideologies and morals. In another, perhaps, larger part, it’s because she’s pro-GoJo. Jiménez would back the GoJo deal and let it go through. Shiv’s also pulling all the strings to get Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) and Jiménez on buddy terms, essentially passing on the Waystar torch to them both while maintaining a high-powered position for herself. In Shiv’s plan, Roman and Kendall would be bumped out of their CEO positions, but she’d still be a key player as agreed with Matsson. Jiménez being elected, would help her get there.
Which candidate does Kendall support?
Kendall was swaying between both candidates throughout the episode, eventually arriving at pro-Mencken like Roman. On the one hand, like Shiv, Kendall was equally apprehensive about what Mencken would do as president and thought Jiménez would be better for the country. There’s also the fact that one of Mencken’s supporters harassed his daughter on the street, so it’s pretty bad emboldening the guy who’s the reason that happened. On the other hand, Kendall wants to be CEO and Mencken’s the president that’ll help see that through.
Throughout the episode, Kendall’s caught between wanting the best for his family, wanting the best for America, but perhaps more importantly, wanting the best situation for his own self-interests. When he finally realizes that Shiv’s been lying to him and conspiring with Matsson, Kendall drops all his moral quandaries and decides to back Mencken with Roman — solidifying his role as CEO and stabbing Shiv right back after that painful betrayal.
So what’s going to happen next?
A lot more backstabbing I’m afraid.
The presidential election was yet another playing field for the Roys to explore their own ulterior motives, and it’s not over. By the end of episode 8, ATN’s publicly vouched for Mencken and predicted that he’d be winning the presidential election, despite 100,000 votes being “lost” in Milwaukee, a fact Roman chooses to ignore. Roman’s called the election in favor of Mencken, Kendall is no longer disagreeing with him, and they’ve both found out that Shiv was conspiring against them. The presidential verdict still hasn’t been decided, and by the looks of Shiv’s explosive phone call with Matsson at the episode’s end, more ferocious games are to be played.
Season 4 of Succession is now streaming on HBO Max(opens in a new tab), with new episodes airing weekly on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.