Succession Theories: The Meaning Behind Shiv and Tom’s Holding Hands Scene

successor has reached its dramatic conclusion as Waystar Royco’s new CEO was finally decided.

The acclaimed black comedy series, which follows the Roy siblings’ battle for control of their late father’s media company, aired its fourth and final season finale on Sunday (May 28) on HBO and Sky Atlantic.

The trio’s affiliation changed as the episode progressed, leading to a suspenseful and shocking ending that was praised by fans.

*Spoilers to follow – you have been warned*

After Kendall (Jeremy Strong) finds out that tech brother Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) plans to stab Shiv (Sarah Snook) in the back by hiring an alternate US CEO for the GoJo deal, he manages to secure his Convincing Sister and Roman (Kieran Culkin) The only way to thwart his plans is to vote against the deal and make Kendall captain. Both agree.

Shiv’s estranged husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) is the CEO Matsson has in mind, and he reluctantly tells Shiv about the plan. After Shiv angrily breaks the news to her brothers, they head to the board meeting, where they all intend to vote against the deal and in favor of retaining control of their father’s media empire.

Everything is going according to plan until Shiv falters on the vote and Kendall is stunned that his sister has suddenly broken her vows. After a thrilling showdown that turns Kendall violent, Shiv votes for the GoJo deal and Tom is named CEO of Waystar Royco.

In Shiv’s final scene of the show, she sits next to Tom in the car. She wishes him congratulations, which he rejects with “No, no”. Instead, he places his open hand on the armrest in between. Shiv reluctantly puts her hand on his.

Tom and Shiv in the finale of “Succession”.


Shiv’s scenes are being analyzed by fans, who are speculating heavily about the exact moment she decided to turn her back on Kendall, which has now been confirmed by the episode’s director, Mark Mylod.

Some believe it happened as Kendall sat down in her father’s chair, with camera footage showing Shiv visibly affected by the image, while many believe it happened during Kendall’s arrogant pre-vote speech.

Others believe that Shiv may have decided to dial through to GoJo when she realized she had the casting vote and saw one last chance to usurp her brother once and for all. After all, it’s likely that Tom, the father of Shiv’s unborn child, will recruit her somehow, meaning she’ll be the only Roy with some control over her father’s legacy. In that way, it’s a win of sorts for Shiv, who would no doubt have fallen by the wayside under Kendall.

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However, the passive way she puts her hand on Tom’s hand prompts deep sorrow from fans for the character trying so hard to overcome the misogyny she struggled with so often on the show. In order for Shiv to win, she had to cede the lead role to her husband. In Matsson’s own words, the pregnant Shiv is “the baby lady,” while Tom got the job because he was “the guy who put the baby in her.”

However, if you look at the scene more literally, says Shiv does Having the upper hand, which could be a hint that Tom will be more of a puppet played by those around him.

The scene shows comparisons to Jan van Eyck’s ‘Arnolfini portrait painting’, which depicts a couple with hands positioned alike. It is noted that in ancient Roman belief this gesture is a sign of union. However, in the analysis of the painting by historian Margaret Koster, the hand positions are interpreted as a signal of the husband clinging to his pregnant wife’s hand while her life slips away. Translate this into successorIn this case, life could mirror the couple’s career.

Could this painting be an inspiration for the finale of “Succession”?

(National Gallery)

Viewers also believe there was an off-screen phone conversation between the two prior to the board vote. The theory goes that Tom Shiv may have pledged a role on Waystar Royco should she turn against Kendall.

Others believe Tom’s firing of Hugo (Fisher Stevens) in favor of Karolina may be a clue. Shortly before the vote, Waystar’s PR employee Karolina campaigns for Hugo’s dismissal. Immediately afterwards, Shiv sees Kendall sitting in her father’s chair, leaving Kendall and Roman together. Could she have called Tom at this point? It’s very likely that if she did, she pitched for Karolina (Dagmara Dominczyk) and Gerri (J Smith Cameron), both of whom Tom wants on board.

The successor The finale aired days after a fan shared his wild (and ultimately accurate) theory about how she knew Tom would come out on top.

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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