By Becca Holland
A second chance might be on the cards for one of TV's most complicated marriages.
Editor's note: The below contains spoilers for Succession Season 4, Episode 3.Sunday’s episode of Succession delivered a shocking twist that nobody saw coming — at least not this early in the season. Roy family patriarch and Waystar CEO Logan Roy (Brian Cox) died suddenly on a plane from a cardiac episode, leaving his children dumbfounded and the trajectory of the series forever changed. Nothing will be the same going forwards, and it’s safe to say we have questions — like where this leaves Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) and Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook), who are currently going through divorce proceedings following the breakdown of their marriage. Up until now, the split has felt like a long time coming; Tom and Shiv’s relationship has never been quite right, and the cracks have shown themselves more with every episode. But when Tom acted against Shiv and her brothers in order to gain Logan’s favor at the climax of Season 3, it seemed like the ultimate betrayal they’d never come back from.
Despite this, the interactions between Tom and Shiv in the last episode prove that there’s still care and affection between the two of them. Tom calls Shiv’s phone first when Logan’s health fails, presumably in an attempt to give her as good a chance as possible at saying goodbye to her father; when she later makes heat-of-the-moment digs at him, he's understanding and doesn't rise to the bait. Overall, Tom treats Shiv with tenderness and sensitivity as he keeps her updated over the phone, and the two are eventually able to comfort each other with hugs. Crucially, Logan has always influenced Tom and Shiv’s dynamic, and so this is bound to be altered now that he’s gone. But can their relationship ever be rekindled — and would this actually be a positive thing?
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With Logan Dying, Tom Has Lost His Biggest Cheerleader
In recent episodes, Logan had fashioned himself into something of a mentor to Tom. He was impressed by his willingness to accept legal repercussions for the cruise scandal, and this faith was later solidified when Tom told Logan of Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin), and Shiv’s plans to thwart his Waystar sale. As a result, Tom has been pretty secure in his senior position at ATN, with hopes of progression as a result of his loyalty, if not his competence. But without Logan to back him, Tom’s career looks a lot less certain.
Before he weaseled his way onto Logan’s good side, Tom’s job had been protected by his marriage to Shiv. Now that Logan’s out of the picture — and he’s burnt some pretty big bridges with Shiv — he’s completely vulnerable. Even worse, Shiv and her brothers will likely be throwing their hats into the ring in the upcoming battle to be Logan’s successor, and no matter who comes out on top, each of them has the motivation to ensure Tom is completely shut out from the company. We can certainly envision a scenario in which Tom tries to get back with Shiv, if only in an attempt to maintain his ATN career, but whether Shiv accepts this is an entirely different matter.
A Reunion May Be Mutually Beneficial for Tom and Shiv
On the other hand, Shiv could try to instigate a reunion, probably out of an understanding that their partnership would be a mutually beneficial one. Being married to a key ATN figure could give Shiv her own security if they used their individual authority to boost each other. There’s always the possibility that Tom ends up with that highly coveted CEO spot; he clearly had Logan’s approval, whereas Shiv and her brothers were notably estranged from their father as of late, regardless of what Kendall says. This might lead some people to take Tom’s side if he decides to set his sights on a leadership role. Could the pair re-brand themselves as the indestructible power couple that the company needs at a time like this?
We have our doubts, though, that Tom has zero lingering feelings for Shiv, and so he may be unwilling to go along with a reconciliation that’s merely PR. Sure, Shiv could always fake some feelings if necessary, but Tom has always lacked confidence in her love for him, and likely wouldn’t buy her doing such a 180. Besides, Logan’s death is unlikely to have dissipated all feelings of bitterness between the duo, and they may want to go it alone as they pursue more power. We can see them clashing over their separate ambitions to control Waystar, united only by a desire to prove that they don’t need each other. When Tom booked out all the best divorce attorneys in the vicinity, Shiv hit back by trying to delay the deal with Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), so we can see them continuing to fight over who has the upper hand.
Looking beyond business, both Shiv and Tom have significant grief over Logan’s death — though throughout the episode, it's Tom's responsibility to keep it together for Shiv's sake, he's also momentarily seen tearing up over the major loss. It’s possible that their grief not only results in some questionable decision-making but amplifies any remaining romantic feelings between the two. They might call off the divorce as a way to enact some stability in their lives, and even if it's the case that hostilities have simply been put on pause for the time being, it doesn’t seem to be all bad blood between Tom and Shiv either.
The backstory behind Tom and Shiv’s initial coupling is largely unknown, but it’s been mentioned that he supported her through a very low point in her life. Could history repeat itself as Shiv navigates Logan’s demise? Going off the new mid-season trailer, things certainly still seem tense between the pair, so we’re not holding our breaths. Soon after her embrace with Tom, she brushed him off and left in a way that seemed to indicate rejection. And we can’t say we blame her: just because there’s still a degree of care there doesn’t mean Tom and Shiv are in any position to reconcile romantically.
TomShiv 2.0: Is It a Good Idea?
Tom and Shiv already have a messy situation going on, and if they get back together, things are bound to get even messier. We’re not sold on the idea of a fake marriage that’s based purely on professional prospects: with all the residual feelings and tumultuous history, someone’s bound to get hurt. A genuinely romantic rekindling would also have train wreck potential; there’s a lot of broken trust between Tom and Shiv alongside some pretty shaky foundations that made their marriage a downright disaster. If they want to work out long-term, they’ll have to put some serious effort into fixing their issues, and we’re not sure that the stress of Logan’s death and the succession contest will be an ideal environment for a healthy relationship to flourish.
Is there even enough love there to rebuild a relationship? It’s debatable whether Shiv was ever truly in love with or attracted to Tom, and many fans have proposed that he’s little more than a safety net for her. When they were together, she was arguably emotionally abusive toward him and even cheated. Tom isn’t innocent, either; proximity to Waystar has always seemed like a condition to their partnership. Perhaps Shiv loves Tom in her own unconventional way, and due to the decades of trauma and abuse she’s suffered, this is as much as she's able to offer. If there is a happy ending in store for them, we imagine it’ll be at least somewhat dysfunctional. It’s unrealistic to expect them to fix all of their drama before the series ends, but maybe Logan dying will give Shiv an opportunity to begin a sort of healing process. Whether we get a conclusive answer on these two is still up in the air, but for now, at least, there’s hope for fans on both sides of the TomShiv debate.
New episodes of Succession Season 4 premiere every Sunday on HBO and HBO Max.