Succession’s Big Mencken Moment Deserves Closer Examination – /Film


Roman (Kieran Culkin) has bet on Mencken ever since they met at the “Future Freedom Summit” on “What It Takes.” As a wealthy, white, edgelord with a sadistic streak, Roman is the target demographic for Mencken’s flavor of far-right politics. However, there is another, more cynical reason for Roman’s support: if he is elected, Mencken has promised Roman that he will block GoJo’s acquisition of Waystar Royco.

Early in the episode, when Jimenez seems to have everything under control, Roman visits Mencken’s campaign. He himself talks to the man and prepares to cover up losing him, i.e. using ATN to allege voter fraud. “Even if you’re not going to be the president, you will be our president,” Rom├ín promises.

Once the attack in Milwaukee occurs, Roman emerges as Mencken’s voice within ATN. He relentlessly pushes for ATN to call Wisconsin for Mencken and obfuscate who was to blame for the Milwaukee attack. Once Arizona is also called, Roman pushes for the network to declare Mencken the winner. In all respects, he is successful.

Mencken only “wins” because Milwaukee’s destroyed votes cannot be counted, and those votes would almost certainly have pushed Jimenez over the edge. As a result, there is no true winner, as the results will have to go through the court system. The fairest thing for a news organization to do would be to end the night with the winner unreported. Roman instead subverts democracy to further his agenda, cynically saying that he is only counting “the votes we have.” By having ATN announce Mencken as the winner, Roman creates a narrative that will buoy his supporters and likely lead to more violence. This naturally upsets people, especially the token liberal of the Roy family, Shiv (Sarah Snook).

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