Succession Has Unleashed Shiv Roy, And God Have Mercy On Everyone Else’s Souls

It's been a rough couple of seasons for Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook). The only daughter of a powerful right-wing media mogul in a family of failsons has suffered a lot of losses over the course of "Succession." Her life was already in free fall with a dissolving marriage and a baby on the way when her father suddenly died, throwing the future of the company and its impending sale up into the air and into the hands of her two brothers. Simply put, Shiv really needed a win, and she finally gets one — of all places — on the GoJo Company retreat.

Shiv gets a lot of credit for her tactical skills and quick wit. She is often considered the smartest of her four siblings, but she also has a strong compulsive nature that overrides and wipes out her most carefully architectured plans. Her more impulsive, unbuttoned side only shows its head every once and a while, like her season 2 meltdown when her loose lips blow her shot at the company, or at Kendall's birthday party when she lets loose on the dance floor.

"There is a quality to Shiv where she has this ability to strategize long term, but she also acts before she thinks, and the dancing was definitely a moment of that," Snook explained her character's ecstatic movement to Collider. "She had a desperate need for catharsis."

The death of her father brings more need for catharsis, but this time Shiv's not dancing. Between doing bumps with the GoJo CEO and scuffing up her husband's sneakers, the corporate princess is more reckless than ever in Norway, yet she pulls out her biggest win since the season 2 premiere. Are her two competing sides finally working in harmony?

Shiv Control To Major Tom

It seems like Shiv Roy has it all together when we meet her in season 1, but "Succession" is littered with vague references to a dramatic mental breakdown in Shiv's past, during which time she met a reliable boy from St. Paul, Tom Wombsgams (Matthew Macfadyen). Her relationship with Tom may seem strange on the surface since Shiv seems so commitment-averse, but he found her at a vulnerable moment and proved to her that she needed a safety net. Ultimately her marriage was a rational choice, but her will for power and passion won over her commitment to him.

On the official HBO "Succession" podcast, Brian Cox admitted that his character Logan Roy's daughter is "clearly smart, probably the smartest of all of them, but at the same time [has] this urge to reveal everything, to tell everything — to want to play these sexual games with her husband — who doesn't really want to do any of that."

Even though it was Shiv's reckless side that destroyed their relationship, it also helped to form the foundation of their romance. As a hard-boiled Roy, Shiv can only be vulnerable in times of crisis. But Tom showed Shiv that he has the ability to hurt her at the end of season 3, so she has to find a way to regain the power in her relationship — which is where the business comes in.

Tom is in a vulnerable position after Logan's death, with the state of the company in the air and no one batting for him. Even with grief and pregnancy on her mind, Shiv sways the deal with Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), then reclaims her husband and his submission by handing him the keys to ATN and booting his competitor Cyd Peach (Jeannie Berlin).

With Logan Gone, Shiv Is Finally Stepping Up To The Plate

During her father's reign, Shiv's unhinged side had worked against her. Her crude outburst at dinner with the Pierces revealed a crude naked ambition and spoiled impatience that cost her the company in her father's eyes. Brian Cox admitted to Mint that Shiv was definitely Logan's favorite child, but a higher standard may have set her up for failure.

"[H]e's ultimately disappointed because she's too impetuous, and her character is not quite formed enough. He finds her impetuosity — especially her behavior at the Pierce dinner — as really unacceptable, and I think it's a source of great disappointment to him that she hasn't worked out as a possible successor [...] She's not as mature as we think she is."

But of course, it's this impulsiveness that runs the thickest in the family bloodline. All of Shiv's brothers have it, and her father has it more than anyone. He lashes out at his son Roman, his employees, and the cater waiters — Logan primed his own legacy to self-destruct.

"I think you can't really grow up in a family like that without coming out with an enormous amount of complexity and demons that will haunt you in different ways," Sarah Snook shed some light on her character's psyche on the "Succession" podcast. "[...] There's no way of going through that family, and growing up in that family, and coming out unscathed."

Logan did manage to use his aggression to wield power and fear, something Shiv couldn't really manage to do successfully until after her father died. The patriarchal pirate may have been wary of Shiv's sharper edges, but Matsson is a very different beast — and Shiv knows it.

Matsson Appreciates Shiv's Dark Side

When Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) were named co-CEOs, it seemed like Shiv was out of options, but the Norway retreat opened new doors. Shiv reverts back to her old means of gaining influence with her father — she sits back and lets Matsson come to her. But to truly gain the GoJo CEO's trust, she has to appeal to his more eccentric side, to roll up her colloquial sleeves and do some drugs with him after hours.

Okay, eccentric might be a delicate word to describe Matsson, considering he admitted to sending frozen bricks of his own blood to an employee, but Shiv knows that she has to let her hair down if she wants to gain any control over the deal (or at least pretend to). Upon close examination, Shiv never really takes a bump of ketamine or a sip of a drink — she pretends to, fiddling with them in her hands.

Adding ATN to the deal and helping Matsson win the fight against her brothers isn't just Shiv's only remaining chess move, it's a genius redesign of the board game. If Matsson has control of ATN but he keeps Tom at its helm, then ATN is effectively still under Shiv's thumb. She also ghost-wrote the kill list that fired all the men (besides Tom) and retained all the women (besides Cyd).

Shiv was at her most unhinged in Norway, but she pulls off one of the craziest power moves of the whole series. Shiv's impulsive side is finally helping her win the game of "coronation demolition derby," and she's more powerful than ever. The Waystar RoyCo princess made some smart moves, but if she exposes herself — as she is wont to do — she could put herself at odds with a lot of people. Only time will tell if Shiv's power trip is built to last.

Read this next: 10 Worst Things The Roys Have Done In Succession

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