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Succession: Season 4 Has Fans Calling Tom & Shiv The Heartbeat Of The Show

Contains spoilers for "Succession" Season 4 Episode 6 — "Living+"

For most "Succession" fans, it seems, at face value, like it might be impossible to deem any one character as "the heart of the show." For that, one would think, any of the people depicted in "Succession" would have to have hearts in the first place. Sure, this seems harsh, but don't forget that, even as the Roy siblings Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin) grieve their powerful father Logan (Brian Cox), they're all despicable people who have done absolutely awful things.

That said, fans think that Shiv and her husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) — who were firmly separated at the beginning of Season 4 — have suddenly become the emotional center of the show. The bar for this feels very low, considering that, during "Living+," the non-couple plays a game called "Bitey" where they, well, bite each other on the forearms to see who will cave first. Fans are loving the Shiv-Tom reunion, though, according to Reddit.

"Tom and Shiv somehow feel like the heartbeat of the show, even though they're constantly awful to each other," u/TeddyAlderson wrote on a thread discussing the episode. "I weirdly felt quite warm watching them seem to actually enjoy each other's company for once lol." u/Amarimclovin agreed, responding, "Tom saw that she liked this newer version of him and just fully leaned into his savage side this episode and she loved every second of it."

Fans are loving this bond between Tom and Shiv

Elsewhere on the Reddit thread, u/BBQ_HaX0r compared the two to Willa (Justine Lupe) and Connor (Alan Ruck), another of the series' dysfunctional couples, albeit one who just started getting honest with each other. "They, like Connor and Willa during the wedding, had a bout of honesty together tonight about their relationship," the user wrote. "It bodes well. Most of the people on this show don't have that relationship and I think Tom and Shiv can be a force even if it is a somewhat political marriage."

Meanwhile, u/eleanorlikesvodka had a bleak but astute view of the dynamic between Tom and Shiv: "I think this season is hammering home the point that they flourish when they're awful to each other. Tom's mistake was bringing Logan into that dynamic, and I doubt Shiv will ever forgive him for that, even if she does love him (in her own f**ked up way)." They're referring, of course, to the series' Season 3 finale, where Tom allies himself with Logan and betrays Shiv, Connor, and Roman in the process. 

Some fans cheered the reunion not just because of the characters, but because, in its final season, "Succession" is taking bold storytelling risks, utilitizing their insanely talented writer's room to craft the pitch-perfect scripts they've always written. As u/ralphiecifaretto said, "The reinvigorated Tom/Shiv dynamic is absolutely off the charts. Some of the most inspired writing of the entire series run."

What happens between Shiv and Tom in Living+?

In an hour long episode that splits its focus between Shiv, Kendall, and Roman's Los Angeles exploits, it's notable just how much happens between Shiv and Tom. After the latter catches his estranged wife crying in a conference room, where she tells him she books rooms just to cry it out sometimes — "You're scheduling your grief?" is a top-notch line reading from Macfadyen — they kiss, and things only intensify from there. They flirt at the welcome fête for the investors by outright insulting one another. They play "Bitey." One thing leads to another, and they're back in bed with each other.

This leads to the most honest discussion Shiv and Tom have ever had. Tom wants to get back together; Shiv brings up his betrayal. For the first time since we've met him, Tom lays everything bare. He loves his career and being rich and his suits and watches, and he doesn't think Shiv is any different, telling her that if she's so serious, she should give up all of her material goods and run away to a trailer park with him. After deadpanning "I'd follow you anywhere for love, Tom Wamsbgans," the two break into manic, weird laughter, probably just relieved that they were able to have their first real discussion about where they stand.

What is Shiv's endgame — and what is Tom's?

It's pretty clear that, by the time the episode ends, these two are allies again — they're headed to talk "strategy" about the upcoming election party (and as Tom says, it's not his fault that he finds strategy very, uh, titillating). But are they really? Is anyone ever actually allied on "Succession?"

For starters, Shiv is pregnant, and she's going to start showing really soon; the baby is definitely Tom's, so that'll throw some sort of wrench into everything. Shiv is also working against her brothers, quietly, by staying in touch with GoJo blowhard Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skärsgard) and feeding him information as Roman and Kendall keep trying to tank the deal for him to buy Waystar Royco. Things get even more interesting when Shiv does a video call with Matsson with Tom in the room... but pointedly out of view of the camera. 

As for Tom, he's been clear: he loves money and power, and he wants to keep climbing so he can get more of both. With Logan gone, he's free to admit that he still does care about Shiv, particularly as her manic brothers seem like they're crashing and burning by promising eternal life to investors and firing people at random. Kendall ends up triumphing over Shiv (and Tom as well) after a solid presentation for Living+, but power shifts constantly on this show. Whether or not Tom and Shiv get what they want remains to be seen, but they might be working together to achieve their goals for real.