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Succession Season 4: Kendall And Nate's Relationship, Explained

Contains spoilers for Succession Season 4, Episode 7 — "Tailgate Party"

Another Sunday, another episode of "Succession," and another hair-brained scheme from the Roy children to hang on to their waning power. Their pawn of choice this week is none other than Nate Sofrelli (played by "The Lost Symbol's" Ashley Zuckerman), the political scientist who was first brought into the world of the series to dig up dirt on Logan Roy's (Brian Cox) newest wife, Marcia (Hiam Abbass) way back in Season 1. Of course, he was subsequently chewed up and spat out by his ex-girlfriend, Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook), who briefly, yet indelibly, hijacked the political campaign of his boss, Senator (and now presumptive Vice President) Gil Eavis (Eric Bogosian).

However, while he has long played the role of supporting player and antagonist in Shiv's storylines, tonight's "Tailgate Party" sees him in rare contact with another Roy family member — Jeremy Strong's delusional Co-CEO, Kendall. Though Shiv invited him for the sole purpose of political and professional maneuvering with Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), Nate takes great care to offer his condolences to Kendall early in the evening and the two share a charged moment toward the night's end.

As some fans may have understandably forgotten, Nate and Kendall were actually friends before he began dating Shiv. In the penultimate Season 1 episode "Pre-Nuptial," Shiv casually states that the two once worked closely together in Shanghai, China when they were young men, a relationship further evidenced by how Nate eagerly sought out Kendall at the rehearsal dinner so that he could meet Gil. Though they don't share much screen time, Nate is probably one of Kendall's oldest and closest friends outside of Stewy (Arian Moayed), which only makes Nate's rejection all the more uncomfortable.

Nate protected himself from the Roys one last time

After his attendance at the titular "Tailgate Party" is revealed to both Gil and the presumptive president-elect Daniel Jimenez (a suspiciously absent Elliot Villar), Nate makes a hasty exit — but not before rebuffing one last attempt from Kendall to secure his bosses' loyalty. In shutting him down, Nate attempts to ease the tension by reminding Kendall that he (Nate) is not Gil and Kendall is not Logan. Though this line primarily serves to deliver yet another blow to Kendall's already shattered ego, it also subtly ends Nate's character arc on a poetic note.

At the end of Season 1, Nate's relationship with Shiv ends in large part because she brokers a shady deal between her father and Gil, with the latter receiving favorable coverage from ATN in exchange for relaxing his crusade against Waystar Royco — not dissimilar to the deal Kendall hoped to reach with Nate in "Tailgate Party." Perhaps, throughout the evening, Nate found himself at the peak of conflict between his somewhat disingenuous moral ideals and the gritty world of Washington politics, a conflict that has been stirring in the background as the man he put his faith in continues to corrupt himself in small ways. Though Nate's eventual exit is at Gil's request, his insistence that he and Kendall are not Gil and Logan could be seen as him drawing one last moral line for himself to prevent his soul from ever being entangled with the Roys ever again. 

And hey, he even got to drink Tom's wine this time.