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‘Succession’ Precap: One Burning Question Ahead of Episode 8

Every Friday, Ringer staffers gather to answer one key question ahead of Sunday’s ‘Succession’ episode. This week’s topic: Matsson’s erratic behavior.

HBO/Ringer illustration

It’s Friday, which means Succession’s newest installment is around the corner. What can we expect from Episode 8? Read along as we examine one burning question heading into the next chapter of Succession’s final season.

The burning question heading into Episode 8: Is Lukas Matsson playing a game, or is he just erratic?

Katie Baker: After much waffling, I’ve decided to become a truther about this being some sort of setup from the Svenska Tre. It just seems like too much information is falling into the Roy family laps: Matsson offering up the blood brick kompromat to Shiv in the first place? Ebba being so quick to spill the intel about India? Matsson seeming impressed by Shiv but then also being very cagey about her working for GoJoRoycoNewCo but then also mentioning India within seconds of being questioned? What I’m not certain about is whether Matsson was trying to find leaks or weaknesses in the Roysphere, whether he is just trolling everyone for the lulz, or whether he genuinely thinks he can somehow get a better deal by sending the Roys down the garden path. But I have thought for a while now that perhaps Succession will end with the company being disassembled for parts. Maybe this is how that begins.

Julianna Ress: Matsson’s greatest asset is his mystique, and as that mystique chips away and doesn’t reveal much business savvy underneath, he gets weaker. His hesitation to offer any concrete position to Shiv last episode made her aware that he’s probably playing her, but he still gave her extremely damning information that she can easily use against him, so it’s hard to tell what his motivations really are. Or maybe he’s just incompetent! Each episode shows more and more that Matsson is exactly what he appears to be: a rich weirdo whose decision-making is based purely on vibes. Imagine if a tech billionaire spent tens of billions of dollars to acquire a social media site only to implement features that everyone hates—that’s the extent of Matsson’s “genius.” The thing is, those guys usually have a knack for never facing any consequences.

Ben Lindbergh: Matsson is a great white shark who has to keep swimming lest he suffocate from boredom. He’s a hunter who stalks and plays with his prey. He’s impetuous and perceptive, overconfident and cunning, churlish and charming. Notwithstanding his self-destructive tendencies, he seems to be more than a match for the failsons, whom he towers over despite his habitual slouch.

Ultimately, though, Matsson doesn’t matter.

Sure, he’s ostensibly the final boss of Succession, the Big Bad Euro Bro who built (or finagled) a fortune and figuratively and literally looks down on the Nepo Babies. This is a battle between old money and new money, old media and new media, old blood and new blood bricks. But whether the Swede wins this showdown has less to do with his own manipulations and missteps than with whether the sibs can finally, for once, get out of their own way. Can Ken and Rome truly trust each other? Can Shiv stop plotting against the CEbros? Can they all—gasp—communicate and collaborate? The Roys aren’t going to be a big, happy family, but to triumph in this clash of falsified finances, they have to become a slightly less dysfunctional family. And they have to start seeking one another’s approval instead of their dead dad’s.

Austin Gayle: Ask Matsson, and of course he’s playing a game. How many homophobic tweets and frozen blood bricks can you send out to the world before passing Go again? Maybe he’ll even overpay for Boardwalk by $5 a share and hide a second India’s worth of fake subscribers somewhere between Free Parking and Go to Jail. He firmly believes he’s playing a game that he can’t lose, and everyone else is too panicked by his erratic behavior to make even one good move. He’s a step ahead of Team Ken-Ro at every turn, and Shiv is screaming at the only person who loves her because she can’t decide who else to get in bed with. Matsson is buying all of the properties on the board with fake money while his opponents waffle over who gets to be the silver car.

Aric Jenkins: Unfortunately for Matsson, I can’t see the revelations regarding Ebba and India being part of some long con. Matsson had Waystar right within his sights—it took a desperate Hail Mary from Kendall to stave him off. What does Matsson have to gain from revealing that he sexually harassed his top comms officer and inflated GoJo’s subscriber count? Mostly, I think, just embarrassment, which ain’t really something people want more of, unless they’re a certain type. We also have to keep in mind Succession’s dwindling episode count. I’m not convinced three episodes is enough time to execute this sort of bait and switch while also resolving the outcomes of the show’s ensemble cast. With three total installments left, we still have a presidential election and funeral to come, which seemingly will take up an episode each.

Ultimately, Matsson’s volatile behavior appears to be more of a springboard for Kendall—or Shiv, or Roman, or perhaps someone else—to seize their destiny and finally be crowned successor. It wasn’t enough for any of the Roy children to simply waltz into the role after Logan’s death; they had to earn it and confront a final challenge. Matsson is that, and with cracks starting to show, it feels like Episode 8 will mark the official start of the endgame.