In the latest episode of Succession Season 4 titled “America Decides”, viewers are exposed to the inner workings of a national election and how a few influential individuals can wield their wealth and power to sway its outcome. The episode unveils Jeryd Mencken, a slippery Republican presidential candidate played by Justin Kirk, who flirts with fascism and strikes a deal with Roman.
The plot thickens when a suspicious fire breaks out at a vote-counting center, raising doubts about the validity of 100,000 ballots. Mencken promises Roman that he will sabotage the GoJo merger in exchange for ATN’s support, leading to premature election results in favor of Mencken. The intense and questionable race culminates in Mencken’s victory speech, filled with sinister undertones.
The Portrayal of Jeryd Mencken
A Unique Political Figure
Mencken’s character in Succession Season 4 stands out as a unique figure in the political landscape. Although not explicitly aligned with any real-life politicians, Mencken represents a hard-right ideology, viewing himself as an intellectual with genuine beliefs about what America should be. His calm and measured demeanor, as portrayed by Justin Kirk, adds an intriguing layer to the character. The writers of the show deserve credit for developing such an enigmatic figure that reflects the potential realities of the political landscape.
The Victory Speech
One of the pivotal moments in the episode is Mencken’s victory speech. While not overtly fascist, the speech contains subtle white supremacist dog whistles, such as the phrase “proud and pure.” The editing of the scene cleverly juxtaposes Kendall’s positive remarks about Mencken with the troubling conclusion of the speech, leaving the audience with a sense of unease. The eerie parallel between Mencken’s speech and real-life events, such as the Donald Trump town hall on CNN, adds a haunting quality to the viewing experience.
Mencken’s Political Backstory
Mencken’s character bears resemblances to real-life politicians known for their hard-line, conservative stances. His calculated, yet charismatic, demeanor evokes the political style associated with figures like Donald Trump. Mencken presents himself as an intellectual with genuine beliefs about reshaping America, much like how Trump positioned himself during his presidential campaign.
Though not explicitly explored in the show, Mencken’s character can be inferred to represent a politician from a red district in a predominantly blue state, potentially resembling states like Minnesota or Wisconsin. This backdrop further adds to the complexity of his character and the intricate political dynamics within the series.
Embracing Nationalist Sentiments
Mencken’s victory speech in Succession Season 4 Episode 8 hints at nationalist sentiments and skillfully employs subtle dog whistles, drawing striking parallels to the rhetoric employed by real-life conservative politicians such as Donald Trump and other notable figures. Through phrases like “proud and pure,” Mencken taps into the vein of nationalism that these politicians have adeptly utilized to resonate with their base.
The character’s portrayal serves as a reflection of the political landscape, shedding light on the strategies and messaging employed by certain real-life politicians who have drawn inspiration from nationalist ideologies.
The Dynamics of Power and Trust
Mencken’s Relationship with Kendall
Mencken’s relationship with Kendall is fraught with tension. Mencken perceives Kendall as a threat due to his close ties to Roman. Kendall, grappling with personal issues and recent family turmoil, finds himself uncertain about his next move. While the future of their relationship remains uncertain, it is evident that Mencken’s political prowess and Kendall’s vulnerability contribute to an intricate power struggle.
The Deal with Roman
The episode unveils a deal between Mencken and Roman that involves sabotaging the GoJo merger. However, the true extent of Mencken’s commitment to this agreement remains unclear. As Roman conveys the promise to Kendall, viewers are left to question whether Mencken will genuinely follow through on his end of the bargain. The complexities of the characters’ conversations and the deliberate omission of certain details leave room for ambiguity and speculation. Something even more amplified after the shocking turn that is Logan’s death in Succession Season 4 Episode 3.
Reflections on Real-Life Politics
More Parallels with the Trump Era
While Mencken’s character in Succession Season 4 is not an exact replica of any real-life figure, the episode’s airing alongside the CNN Trump town hall draws intriguing parallels. In a Variety interview talking about the latest Succesion Season 4 episodeSuc, Justin Kirk himself acknowledges the eerie similarities, emphasizing that although Mencken is a terrifying character to portray, the events in the town hall serve as a stark reminder of the consequences of political power in the wrong hands. The juxtaposition prompts viewers to reflect on the potential future trajectory of politics.
Unlike some real-life politicians who have denied election results, Mencken does not align himself with such rhetoric. In a conversation with Roman, he expresses his focus on losing gracefully, intending to spin any loss as a significant victory. Mencken’s nuanced approach to accepting defeat while positioning himself for future success demonstrates his strategic thinking and political acumen.
Controlling the Narrative
In the episode, Mencken’s team manipulates the media narrative to shape public perception, reminiscent of real-life conservative politicians who have mastered the art of controlling the news cycle. The portrayal of Mencken’s media strategy serves as a commentary on the influence and manipulation of information in modern politics.
Furthermore, Mencken’s character capitalizes on divisive issues and controversies to rally his base, mirroring the tactics employed by real-life conservative politicians who have used polarizing topics to gain support. This depiction highlights the notion that political success can be achieved by exploiting societal divisions rather than seeking genuine solutions.
Succession Season 4: Looking Ahead
As the Succession Season 4 progresses, the future of Mencken’s presidency and the ensuing consequences remain uncertain. The secrecy and intricacy of the plot keep viewers on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting the next episode. Justin Kirk, who plays Mencken, admits that even he is more of a viewer than a participant at this stage, adding to the excitement of discovering the twists and turns in store.
Succession Season 4 continues to captivate audiences with its intricate portrayal of power dynamics, political maneuvering, and complex characters. The amplification of Jeryd Mencken adds another layer of intensity to the Succession Season 4, with Justin Kirk’s remarkable performance bringing the character to life. The parallels drawn between Mencken and real-life political events offer viewers a thought-provoking lens through which to examine the potential consequences of power and manipulation. As the season progresses, audiences eagerly anticipate the unveiling of Mencken’s true intentions and the ensuing impact on the characters they have grown to love or loathe.