wambsgans watch

What’s Tom’s Deal in This Week’s Succession?

Photo: David M. Russell/HBO

In “Wambsgans Watch,” we weigh in on the state of Tom Wambsgans’s relationships in each of the remaining episodes of Succession. Spoilers follow for episode three of season four, “Connor’s Wedding.”

Before we begin this week’s “Wambsgans Watch,” let’s have a moment of silence, please, for the late Logan Roy, a titan of industry and a man who spent his final days manipulating his children and getting irked by the amount of pizza in the ATN newsroom. Logan ultimately died as he lived: having his priorities in the totally wrong place.

Is Tom Wambsgans any better, though? That’s a question to be actively wrestled with throughout this week’s exceptional episode. At times during “Connor’s Wedding,” Tom seems genuinely distraught and saddened by Logan’s passing. He also shows genuine kindness to Shiv and her siblings, holding the phone next to Logan so they can say some final words he probably did not hear. (How darkly heartbreaking that the only time they truly get their father’s ear, it’s attached to his corpse.) But is Tom upset because his boss and father-in-law — a friend, even, to the extent that Logan could be anyone’s friend — has just suddenly died? Or is he upset because his position at ATN becomes much more vulnerable without Logan as his ally? “I lost my protector,” Tom says, teary-eyed, during his phone call with Greg. There’s definitely some, if not a lot, of that vulnerability at play here.

Who is Tom Wambsgans fucking with this week?
In the beginning of this episode, Tom seems perfectly at ease with fucking over just about anyone. Logan says he’s going to “push” Cyd — meaning Tom will have oversight of the ATN newsroom all to himself — and also informs Tom that Roman is going to fire Gerri. Tom takes this news completely in stride and doesn’t even question Logan’s rationale for any of this. “You push Cyd, Roman knifes Gerri: All in a day’s work,” Tom says guiltlessly.

After Logan’s collapse, Tom maintains total composure. He’s the one who keeps the Roy kids in the loop, and he remains calm and steady, at least in front of the others. His ability to keep it together on the surface explains why he’s so disgusted by Kerry’s freakish, smiley response to Logan’s death, a reaction that mirrors the way she delivered bad news during her anchor audition.

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“Judging by her grin it looks like she caught a foul ball at Yankee Stadium,” Tom says derisively. Turns out that Kerry isn’t just bad at being on-camera, she’s bad at being a normal person. Or maybe not? Maybe it’s more normal to go into shock and not know how to act in this situation than it is to immediately shift into self-preservation mode. But Tom has learned how to operate like a true Roy, which is why he instantly and instinctively buttresses his status after losing his “protector.”

Notably, Shiv is the first person Tom calls after Logan’s heart attack, though she declines his call. He’s also gentle and comforting with her over the phone — when she asks, panic-stricken, whether her father is alive, he says, “I don’t know, honey” in a way that sounds genuinely loving. Certainly Tom may feel real sympathy toward the woman who is still his wife, but this behavior is also shrewd. Even as Logan’s chest is being pumped, Tom has the foresight to know that he’d better reinforce his alliance with Shiv because if Logan dies, she’s the only Roy who might support him.

By the end of the episode, that effort seems to be paying off… maybe. After the press conference confirming Logan’s death, Shiv walks straight into Tom’s arms, though the hug they give each other seems a bit awkward. In one of the episode’s final moments, Shiv beckons him over to her car and they leave the airport together. It’s possible that with Logan gone, perhaps they can mend fences, if only for professional reasons. It’s also just as possible that Shiv won’t have any interest in forgiving Mr. I’ve Booked Every Attorney in Town and that Tom will be left twisting in the wind.

Who is fucking with Tom Wambsgans?
I mean, one could argue that the universe is messing with him by taking Logan out of this world right as he’s about to give Tom even more power at ATN. As I wrote last week, Tom has been following the Logan playbook in terms of his professional conduct, and it’s served him well. But, per the scene where he mourns the loss of his “protector,” Tom seems to know he might be screwed. And when Tom Wambsgans is backed into a corner, he often makes stupid decisions. Stupid decisions like, for example, turning to Greg for help.

How fucked up are things between Tom and Greg?
The pattern in this relationship continues to involve Tom belittling Greg — “He just finds you visually aggravating right now,” he explains when Greg asks why Logan doesn’t want him joining the trip to Sweden — but also continuing to seek his assistance. Despite his insistence that he has three or four people “Gregging for him,” Tom actually has only one Greg, and that’s the person he calls when he needs someone to clean up any potential messes. In addition to telling Greg that they need to make sure “people know” Tom was with Logan when he died, he also asks Greg to delete some files on his computer that, presumably, outlined the next steps Tom would take after Cyd got booted.

Why is Tom asking Greg, of all people, to destroy documentation for him? This has not gone well in the past! Tom’s need to “choreograph something” that makes him look essential to the business even with Logan no longer with us speaks loudly to the unstable ground on which he’s now treading.

At the end of this episode, how fucked is Tom?
With Shiv by his side, perhaps Tom can save himself. But that’s by no means a sure thing. It’s just as possible that the death of Logan Roy will mean the death of Tom Wambsgans’s career at ATN. If Tom plans to choreograph his way out of this, he needs to prove he’s a much more skilled dancer than he’s been in the past.

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What’s Tom’s Deal in This Week’s Succession?