Shiv’s Big Reveal on ‘Succession’ Was Brilliantly Foreshadowed, Looking Back

The oversized blazers, the pure and unadulterated hatred of the "Disgusting Brothers" and their antics—hints about her news were there all along.

Shiv’s Big Reveal on ‘Succession’ Was Brilliantly Foreshadowed, Looking Back
Photo:Claudette Barius/HBO

Within two minutes of this week’s Succession, we were hit with what might otherwise have been the biggest shock of the season (had Logan Roy not just died last week in the most Shakespearean manner possible): Shiv Roy is pregnant! And given the timing, it seems likely she conceived during the most cringe sexual encounter in the history of television, while telling Tom she doesn’t actually love him and then, not 24 hours later, being betrayed by him at her mother’s wedding in Tuscany.

Shiv’s pregnancy continues to loom throughout this week’s episode—an elephant in the womb that only she and viewers are aware of—as the men around her vie for power in the aftermath of Logan’s death and her brothers show little remorse about ultimately screwing her over. Her nasty fall down some stairs toward the end of the episode is especially dramatized by the little secret between her and audiences. But with the gift of hindsight, or rather, just rewatching the first three episodes of the season, you’ll find pretty significant hints of her pregnancy foreshadowed earlier on.

The first that stuck out to me were her fashion choices this season, which have consisted exclusively of large blazers, or the odd, loose-fitting cardigan, at the end of the season premiere. Historically, Shiv has hardly been a stranger to blazers, as the face of Girlboss Nation. But she typically mixes it up with a dress or two or a fitted blouse and skirt, whereas, over the last several weeks, she’s been married to earth-toned, relatively loose-fitting pant suits. And it all suddenly makes sense! It makes sense, even, that she’d wear a pant suit to her own brother’s wedding last week, where her character had previously found any reason to slip into a ball gown or cocktail dress for such an occasion. It makes sense that she’d have to return to her shared apartment with Tom in Season 4 Episode 1 to get more clothes as her pregnancy advances. And I simply love that through it all, her brothers have been unable to consider anything beyond their own daddy issues to register a change in Shiv.

Photo:Claudette Barius/HBO

Beyond Shiv’s fashion choices, the other hints of her pregnancy prior to this episode lie in her fairly understandable reactions to the season’s most raw and emotional moments. For instance, her open disdain for Tom and Greg’s little “Disgusting Brothers” bit makes a lot more sense; her feelings toward Tom are clearly complicated, but I can’t imagine it feels great to hear about the father of your unborn child presumably frolicking about with supermodels during your separation. Tom’s adoption of her father’s divorce lawyer strategy to screw over her mom years ago probably stung even more in the context of her pregnancy—likely a searing reminder of how hard her parents’ divorce was on her, prompting her to imagine what her own child’s life will be like.

Eagle-eyed fans have also speculated about Shiv’s recent references to her mother, including telling Tom this week seemingly out of nowhere that “my mom is a fucking disaster.” Shiv’s persistent mommy issues have been a defining feature of her character for years, but really came to a head last season when Shiv confronted Caroline about clearly not even wanting to have kids in the penultimate episode of Season 3. By the end of the finale, Caroline betrayed all three of her children. In last week’s episode, Shiv conceded to her brothers that she’d subconsciously hoped Caroline had died instead of Logan. I can’t imagine that someone like Shiv-fucking-Roy has uncomplicated feelings about motherhood—especially navigating motherhood in secrecy, unable to trust her baby’s father. Of course she’s thinking about her mom and all the inevitably fucked up lessons in motherhood she’s internalized from Caroline.

Then there are the more emotionally devastating nods to Shiv’s pregnancy, like her insistence on the phone with her corpse of a father last week that he not die, that she “can’t have that,” or her utterly gutting plea, “Don’t go, please, not now.” Through it all, she has notably not indulged herself one drink, a single cigarette—pregnancy really is the only explanation.

Shiv’s pregnancy comes as such a visceral shock because of her determined aversion to motherhood over the last several seasons, at least beyond being a dog mom to Mondale. (And even that seems like something Tom roped her into.) We know excruciatingly little about her pregnancy and her feelings about it right now, but the fact that she doesn’t seem overly enthused certainly reminds of her own mother’s reluctant motherhood. This development almost feels parallel to Kendall—or, should I say, Kendall Logan Roy—this week stepping into their father’s legacy as a killer who would knife anyone to hold power: Shiv is becoming their mom by becoming a mom, herself.

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