[Succession Spoilers] What comes after nine?
A brief examination of the Nan Pierce scene in Season 4, episode 1.
This scene was masterfully written and acted, and I can’t stop thinking about it. The way Nan Pierce feigned agony over the billion-dollar bidding war in her sunroom. She wants everyone to know just how morally conflicting the sale of her company is for her. Moreover, she wants to keep the wall intact, separating her from the evil Roy family.
Nan Pierce: Oh, I don’t like this. It makes me feel like I’m in the middle of a bidding war. Horrible. Different people saying different numbers. Eight, nine. What’s next?
Roman Roy: I know. It’s so confusing. What comes after nine? Nine B?
But she feels no internal conflicts. Nan Pierce decided to sell her liberal empire to the highest right-wing bidder before the Roy kids landed on her helipad. Not to save democracy or to preserve journalism's integrity but to further enrich herself; to close the deal before her company lost any more value than it already had. So she puts on a show— for her daughter, the adversaries in the room that she desperately needs to feel morally superior to, and for herself.
The Pierce scene in season 4, episode 1, is contrasted by Logan Roy at the diner. Logan sits quietly, peering at the menu, before he makes an awkward gesture of intimacy to his head of security, Colin. Logan is, dare I say, sad. Everyone in his life has left him, and he's starting to suspect, even if for a moment, that it's his fault. "You're my best pal," he says before ranting about how people are just markets to be manipulated. Logan then grapples with his mortality, asking Collin about an afterlife. Logan cuts Collin off in the middle of a sentence about Collin's father. Logan doesn't want to bond with his best pal. He wants to be absolved of his original sin of excess wealth and greed. And only a member of the working class, a group Logan once belonged to, can free him.
Both Logan and Nan share this sin. The difference is Logan believes he won't have to face what he's done to the world once he's dead. And Nan still thinks the history books will be kind to her. Nan understands how morally bankrupt the sale of her company truly is, so she pretends to be in agony over it. Nan wants so badly to be for the people and on the right side of history. But deep down, she knows that the thin wall of morality separating the Roys from the Pierces has crumbled under the weight of ten billion dollars. And as for the peasants she so shamelessly cosplays, the people who may still view her newspapers as a last beacon of truth, well, let them eat cake.