The twisted undercurrent of Tom and Greg's relationship is on full display in the 'Succession' season 4 premiere
Ever since the pilot episode of "Succession," Tom and Greg have made an odd couple.
What was once plausibly just a funny "bromance" is now a nuanced — if twisted — portrait of male intimacy.
The first episode of the season establishes a new level of tension between the two floundering men.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for season four, episode one of "Succession."
"Succession" is back with its fourth and final season, and the sexual-but-sexless tension has never been spicier. The season kicks off with Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) and Shiv (Sarah Snook) separated and weighing whether to stay married — and that leaves the door open for Tom to test the bounds of intimacy ( and decency) with Greg (Nicholas Braun).
The season four premiere takes what was once a plausibly funny "bromance" between the pair and ratchets up the tension. Now real chaos can unfold between the shame-filled Tomlette and his "Greg Sprinkles" as we barrel towards the end of HBO's critically acclaimed drama.
There are Daddy Issues™ flying every which way on 'Succession.' It just depends on which duo or trio of characters we're following
The Roy children — Kendall, Shiv, Roman, and the extremely delusional Connor — desire approval and validation from their father.
But Tom and Greg's desires have always been muddied by their outsider status.
Shiv has subtly always wielded that outsider-ness against Tom, and in this latest episode, jabs him with it directly. "The kid from St. Paul really made it," she says snidely, referring to his Rust Belt origins.
Greg, too, has a bruising run-in with his own tenuous position, finding himself fighting to be respected as "an honorary" Roy child at Logan Roy's (Brian Cox) birthday party.
Both are reminded of their place in the periphery of the real "next gen Roys." The first time we see the pair together is right after Tom's fight with Shiv at Logan's birthday party. None of the Roy children are there, except for Connor (Alan Ruck), but Greg has brought a date, Bridget (Francesca Root-Dodson). Tom's hackles are raised and he verbally berates Greg. Greg, oblivious as usual, brings up the duo's burgeoning nickname within the Roy circle: The "Disgusting Brothers." Tom positively shrivels.
But then Greg reveals that he and Bridget just had sex in Logan's guest bedroom. It's not long until Tom leans into Greg's chest and insists he describe exactly how the new lovers touched each other.
Tom, incensed — and maybe turned on? — sends Greg to Logan, hoping to humiliate the younger man further and stay a rung above him on the ladder.
Tom and Greg's toxic masculinity have never been on more transparent display
The build up to the series finale of "Succession" is structured around razor-thin margins of error in the duos and trios of the show. Greg and Tom are the most recent addition to the inner circle Roy alliances, which means they're the most likely to get pushed out first, and that tenuousness binds them together.
After Greg confesses his transgressions to Logan, security handles Bridget while Greg retreats to being Tom's lackey again. As Tom, Greg, and the rest of the Waystar executives cower from Logan's anger, "Succession" drops some new backstory about Cousin Greg.
Before now, Greg's dad was rarely referenced. We only ever saw his mother, Marianne Roy (Mary Birdsong). But in Sunday's episode, Logan winds up snapping at Greg about how in dad isn't around anymore.
"Is he still sucking cock at the county fair?" Logan says to Greg, homophobia on clear display as we learn the reason Mr. Hirsch isn't mentioned much at Roy family gatherings.
These new revelations, along with their shared single status, are teeing up a new level of intimacy between Tom and Greg. Whether it's a real connection or the twisted effects of toxic masculinity (embodied so powerfully by Logan Roy as the patriarch in this episode), the Tom-Greg relationship arc in "Succession" remains one of its most compelling.
In a recent New York Times profile of actor Matthew Macfadyen "Succession" creator Jesse Armstrong described the relationship between Greg and Tom as a "homoerotic power play."
If Armstrong is already being upfront about the sexual undertones of Tom and Greg's relationship, it's not stretch to assume things will only get spicier from here.
But how far will the show go? Are we talking full tender queer love between allies, or more of the tormented abusive that has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with power and subjugation? Does Tom see Greg as an easily manipulated plaything, or some earlier, more innocent iteration of himself? Will some Gregs need to be broken for one final Tomlette? Or will the kid from St. Paul find a happy ending with some Greg Sprinkles on top?
We'll have to wait for the rest of season four to unfold to see just how chaotic things can get.
"Succession" season four continues airing Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET.
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