As months have passed since Succession’s conclusion, many of us are still debating Shiv Roy’s last-second betrayal, which cleared the way for her estranged husband Tom to take the top job as Waystar Royco’s CEO. While cast members like Jeremy Strong and Matthew Macfadyen made the rounds with post-mortem interviews expressing their take on the show’s final twist, Shiv herself, Sarah Snook, has remained silent until now.
Specifically, fans have been arguing about at which moment, and why, Shiv decided to side against Kendall and break the pact the Roy siblings made to back him earlier in the episode. For Snook, it was a key moment, right before the board vote, when Shiv, Roman, and Kendall are in their dad’s old office—and Kendall props his feet up on the desk, already basking in his ascension. “There’s something in her that goes, ‘Ahhhhh, motherfucker!’” Snook said in a new cover story with Variety. “I don’t think she’s decided in that moment when they’re in Dad’s office to say no. But once it gets down to it in the room, she just can’t physically bear to say yes.”
Snook also rebuked the idea that a win for Tom is also a win for Shiv, who’s carrying his child. “I never really considered that Tom becoming CEO is Shiv, by proxy, winning,” Snook told Variety. “For Shiv, that is so not a win! That is ‘I’m once again power adjacent. I’m not the winner.’” She went on to predict an immediate future of probable “postpartum depression” for Shiv, but added that she and Roman would probably make up with him being the “weird but great uncle” to her child with Tom.
Several key members of the Succession cast and crew have spoken about their surprise when Armstrong revealed he would be ending the show during the table read for what would become its final episode. Snook took it especially hard. “It was devastating,” she said. Snook also spoke about the experience of watching the fourth season unfold, and the aching she felt for Shiv, who came so close to achieving her goals, all while juggling a pregnancy that she kept secret from the other characters.
“I was sad for Shiv. She just tried so fucking hard, and ended up where she is–in this kind of gilded cage, next to the thing that she wants,” she said. “And the journey’s not over for her. It’s not over for any of them, but still, she’s in the orbit of the CEO, and that will be really painful for her.”
Elsewhere in the story ,Snook offered insight into the tense conversation between Shiv and Tom that happens in “Tailgate Party.” During the argument Matthew Macfadyen blurted out a line about Shiv potentially being a bad mother, despite the character of Tom not knowing about Shiv’s pregnancy at that point in the narrative.
Snook explained that no one in the production was actually aware she was pregnant in real life when they filmed that scene, but she was able to use it as emotional fuel. “Inevitably something dulls, and you get used to a scene and you are not finding the sort of same spontaneity or inspiration in it,” Snook told Variety. “So when I hear that line, ‘Maybe you’re not going to be a good mom’—maybe that’s me hearing it, just as much as it is Shiv. Because that’s a pretty horrible thing to say to somebody!”
She later told Armstrong about her pregnancy, and he made the decision to write it into the series. The scene in episode 4 when Shiv—and the audience—gets the news was filmed and added later on.