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[This story contains major spoilers from the third episode of Succession season three.]
Is Shiv Roy really “Team Logan” or “Team Kendall” in the battle for Waystar Royco’s future? By the end of the latest episode of Succession, Shiv decidedly appears to be heading in the former direction but not committing, even after taking a ruthless stand against her brother Kendall.
Nearly always hedging her bets, Shiv (played by Sarah Snook) takes revenge on Jeremy Strong’s Kendall after he disrupts the Waystar Royco town hall meeting that is introducing her as the family-run company’s new president of domestic operations. But it still seems like the upshot of a personal vendetta rather than a vote of confidence in her father when Shiv subsequently calls out Kendall’s “multiple addictions” and “misogynistic rants” in a press release aimed at kneecapping Kendall’s credibility. After all, Shiv still won’t publicly support her father via a softball interview or staged paparazzi photographs, apparently protective of her somewhat intact reputation as the most progressive of the Roy family amid the company’s ongoing #MeToo scandal.
“I think Shiv is only really ever going to align herself where the truest amount of power is,” Snook tells The Hollywood Reporter of the latest episode of the corporate black comedy. “And for her she’s going to sit on the sidelines until she can really decide where that is.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter focused on season 3’s third episode, Snook discusses Shiv’s “trajectory for self-identity” this season, the state of her potentially crumbling relationship with husband Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) and whether her relationship with Kendall can ever recover from her savage press release.
Between the pressure Kendall is putting on her to join his “revolution” and Logan (Brian Cox)’s pleas to support him publicly, Shiv seems, more than ever, to be confronting the perception that she’s the token woman and semi-progressive in the Roy family this season. In your opinion, what’s the approach Shiv has taken to navigating that situation?
It’s a tricky one because she’s sort of realizing that she may have drunk the poisoned chalice in the way that she’s been outside the family and outside of the family business with her own career and now she’s being thrust back into it. And she thought that she was being thrust back into it being given the top job (laughs), which is maybe one of [her] flaws that she could say she even believed in that being a potential, coming from her dad. But I think that’s part of the journey of this season, is her navigating that and, in Shiv fashion, not really choosing one side or the other until it’s safe to do so.
At one point in this episode, at the Committee for the Protection and Welfare of Journalists gala, Kendall tells Shiv, “It’s you now. I feel sorry for you.” Can you explain what, in your view, Kendall meant by that?
I feel like, in dramatizing the script, Kendall is probably saying, “It’s you, you’re the puppet now. I’m free of that. I’ve gone to another side, the greater side, the lighter side. I’m the vanguard of good now.” And I think Shiv thinks it’s bullshit as well, because she probably thinks that she’s smarter than that, that she’s never going to be used as a puppet and even if she is being used as a puppet by her dad, she’s going to find a way to make it work for her in the long term.
What’s your read on where Shiv and Tom’s relationship is at this point — their words suggest they might be about to reconcile while their actions are saying something different. What’s your take?
I mean, it’s such a tricky relationship, huh? It’s also one of the ones that is more enjoyable to see in the grey rather than in the black and white [of] yes, Shiv and Tom are united, they’re going to do this. I think it’s more fun as an actor to play, for sure, not really knowing where they stand with each other. And, with Matthew, when we’re saying these things, he’s sort of going, “Oh God, we couldn’t possibly be saying that to each other.” But they are. Those [exchanges] are the funnier ones, even though they aren’t punch lines or insults, necessarily. Because they’re just not being honest with each other, really. I think it’s difficult for them: They’re planners, and they’ve had their 10-year plan corrupted by Shiv being offered the CEO-ship. Tom was meant to be, in their plan, maybe heading in that direction and they were going to be supporting him to do that, or at least he was the one inside the business. So now she’s got both her husband and her career totally on top of each other in the same trajectory, so it’s trying to navigate those two things together, I think.
Do you think Tom’s offer to go to jail in order to secure Waystar Royco’s future is real or a play? Especially because he calls an outside law firm after he makes the offer to Logan?
I think the offer is real. Without a spoiler, I can just allude to [that] there’s maybe more to that conversation with the lawyer than prison, necessarily, but I think [that] is something Tom is honest in the offering of. I think he presumes that Shiv would jump in front of the train and say “No, no, couldn’t possibly, not my husband” and she doesn’t respond in the way that he wants her to. And they both end up hurting each other by accident, in a way.
After Kendall’s disruption of the Waystar Royco town hall meeting and Shiv’s revenge via press release, is Shiv firmly back in Logan’s camp or is there still some doubt there?
I think there’s doubt. I think Shiv is only really ever going to align herself where the truest amount of power is. And for her she’s going to sit on the sidelines until she can really decide where that is and, yeah, definitely there’s some oscillating between what is the best move for the company and for her within the company and what that looks like in the future.
Do you have thoughts on whether Shiv and Kendall’s relationship is ever going to recover from this?
I don’t know. I mean, that’s a pretty brutal thing to do. Yeah, I would hope so. There’s obviously the foundation of sibling love there, but then I think that would be up to Kendall more than Shiv in the end, reconciliation.
Were there any plot developments for Shiv that really surprised you this season?
Certainly the doubling down that Kendall ends up taking and what that means for Shiv as a result. I think that was a surprise for sure. But with Jesse and the writers, you kind of want that: You always want the surprises, you always want the new discoveries and hope they’re going to take you into spaces that you didn’t expect.
Did you have a favorite scene to film this season?
The bedroom scene with the siblings [in Episode 2], that was great. I think there’s something really infantilizing about putting them into a child’s bedroom, and yet they’re talking about such huge themes and issues. That was my favorite because we just get to play with the sibling dynamic and be little shits to each other.
What can we expect to see from Shiv this season?
She’s on a trajectory for self-identity, I think. She’s looking for who she is amongst the mess of family and work and [her] relationship and maybe she’s not liking what she already is, so she’s got to muddle through it.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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