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 ten of season four, “With Open Eyes,” which is also the series finale.
Let’s start the final “Wambsgans Watch” by calmly saying OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!!!!
Tom Wambsgans won Succession. Like, the whole damn thing! He’s now the CEO of Waystar. Not Kendall Roy, who’s been promised the job since he was old enough to eat a sundae at Candy Kitchen while his father fed him lies about his future. Not Roman Roy, who was most recently told by Daddy Logan that he could take over the company, a comment Roman should’ve probably gotten in writing. Not Shiv Roy, who had seemingly maneuvered her way into the top slot until it was snatched away by Matsson and who also, by the way, is Tom’s wife, the mother of his future child, and the reason he even has a job at this company in the freaking first place.
Quick question: Have you ever said something ill-advised to someone in a position of authority and later regretted how it might affect your career and livelihood? You know, something like, “You are fucking me for my DNA and for a ladder because your whole family is striving and parochial,” or “I don’t like you. I don’t even care about you,” or “You don’t deserve me and you never did”? No bigs, just asking for a friend who has red hair.
Seriously, though: Tommy Wambsgans rose to the top of the company and he did it by having no vision, no discernible skills, and no capacity to take responsibility for anything, which, as we all know, are the three qualities practically every overpaid CEO possesses. It’s inspirational, really. I mean, look at what he was able to do — and by do, I mean have dropped in his lap like an encased scorpion from the heavens — just by finally getting a legitimate night’s sleep. Get your eight hours of rest, guys, and maybe you too can run an international media conglomerate!
One of the many funny things about Tom getting to wear the crown is that Shiv may have, inadvertently, been the one who talked Lukas into putting it on his head. When she described him as “a highly interchangeable modular part” — so weird, that’s also my nickname for my husband — she thought she was trying to make Tom sound just useful enough to avoid being fired. What she didn’t know is that a modular part is exactly what a guy like Matsson wants. He needs someone in charge that he can mold and control in any context. And that’s Tom “What Would You Value More Highly” Wambsgans to a tee. The fact that Tom will also — Shiv’s words — “suck the biggest dick in the room” is music to the Swede’s ears. It’s a scenario much more preferable than being Shiv’s puppet, as a cartoon in a magazine implies Matsson has already become.
It’s embarrassing but completely predictable that Tom is so eager to pounce on the opportunity — even after Matsson tells him he’d have sex with Shiv if they worked together, which is why he thought for the CEO job, “Why don’t I get the guy who put the baby inside her instead of the baby lady?” He also says he’s looking for “a front man” and “a pain sponge,” to which Tom basically says, “Yes, I will happily absorb every droplet of your agony.”
That’s when Lukas Matsson anoints him, and when, in retrospect, we all should’ve realized it was game over for the sibs. “Logan Mark II,” Matsson calls Tom, “only this time he’s fucking sexy.” (You know what, I kinda hope that threesome Tom and Shiv never had winds up working out with Lukas as their third.)
If Tom weren’t such an upward-failing worm, I’d honestly be happy for him. I actually am happy for Matthew Macfadyen, who made Tom’s obsequiousness so rich and delightfully cringey to witness in every single episode. I will forever hear the sound of your voice yelling, “It’s LEM-on, Greg!” And that will bring me comfort. Now let’s get down to business.
Who is Tom Wambsgans fucking with this week?
The person he’s fucking with most is Shiv. When she asks whether he wants to have a real relationship with her, Tom says he doesn’t know, which may be true but also feels like an attempt to keep his options open depending on what happens with his job. He also could’ve told Shiv about the conversation he had with Matsson, but he doesn’t, because Tom does not want to blow his chance at the top prize. Which is a shitty thing to do to the woman you allegedly love.
Tom also doesn’t show any remorse or guilt when he tells Shiv that, actually, he, Tom Wambsgans, is the name that will fill in the blank in the press announcement that currently lists Wayco’s new Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Operations as “[XXXX].” “Like you wouldn’t if it was the other way around,” he says in response to her accusations that he’s been deceitful and sneaky. He’s totally correct. Shiv would’ve done the exact same thing, and she damn well knows it.
By the end of the episode, after Shiv has voted yes to GoJo, the two seem to have reached some form of a detente. They leave, as they did from the airport after Logan died, in the same car. Tom lays out an open hand on the armrest between them, and Shiv places her hand on top of his. Notably, though, she does not take it, and their fingers never intertwine. It is a formal gesture, befitting of a king and his queen.
Who is fucking with Tom Wambsgans?
Initially, Lukas Matsson seems to be fucking with Tom. But by the end of the episode, not a single soul will dare to fuck with Tom. When he arrives in the boardroom after the merger is voted through, the Master of Sycophancy reaps the rewards of so many years of sucking up to whomever came near his lips. Stewy wants to chat about the future. Hugo’s suddenly Team Tom. (He’s so fired.) Imagine if some of the nervous energy Tom expends trying to impress others is actually counterbalanced by the energy people will expend trying to impress him. This could change the entire Tom Wambsgans dynamic. I mean, it probably won’t, but there’s always hope!
How fucked up are things between Tom and Greg?
These two are an absolute mess. Tom repeatedly tells Greg in the finale that he needs to be careful because he could easily lose his job, and that even if he keeps his job, he’s in for a massive salary cut. (Greg’s pulling $200,000? In this economy??) Later, they get into the dorkiest fistfight of all time in the powder room at Logan’s apartment after Tom realizes Greg leaked Tom’s CEO appointment to Shiv and her brothers. (Greg got in the hardest slap, and you know Tom will think about that shit for the rest of his days on Earth.)
But instead of firing Greg after Tom becomes CEO, he decides to do the thing that will give him the greatest chance to fuck with Greg for the rest of their lives: He keeps Greg on the pay roll. “I got you,” Tom tells his buddy. Then he puts a sticker on Greg’s forehead that he got from the Logan inheritance gathering, as if to say he’s calling dibs on an item inherited from previous roles at the company. Despite the fact that this implies Greg must serve as Tom’s slave in perpetuity, it is weirdly touching.
At the end of this episode, how fucked is Tom?
TOM. IS. NOT. FUCKED. AT. ALL. Remember back in episode four of this season when Karl told Tom he was, “fair and squarely fucked.” Boy, is Tom going to relish the hell out of firing Karl.
Tom Wambsgans absolutely triumphed. The man who thought “We here for you” was a viable ATN slogan, who once acted like a boar in a demeaning game of Boar on the Floor, who did extensive research on how to make toilet wine in the event of his own imprisonment, is now running a major corporate entity. As nakedly immoral and ambitious as Tom can be, there is something vaguely satisfying about having the kid from the Midwest with few connections steal the keys to the company from the nepo babies. If Succession were an ’80s movie, Tom would absolutely be the hero.