Why Fikret In Succession Is Massively Important to Kendall Roy
The following story contains spoilers for Season 4, Episode 8 of Succession, titled “America Decides.”
ONE THING we can say with certainty about Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong), through 37 episodes and nearly four complete seasons of Succession, is that he’s a man of many feelings, many opinions, and many emotions. And so when it came time for “America Decides,” the show’s episode finally depicting the much-discussed and deeply-important Succession-verse presidential election, we didn’t quote know where, exactly, Kendall stood.
It was well-established in Season 3 that Kendall’s brother and co-CEO Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) was tight with Jerryd Mencken (Justin Kirk), the neo-fascist Republican candidate. And while her morals and beliefs are wonky at best, Kendall’s sister, Shiv (Sarah Snook), has always leaned Democrat, and has strong ties to Gil Eavis, the Succession version of Bernie Sanders who’s the running mate of Daniel Jimenez, the Democratic candidate.
So where does Kendall lean? Kendall Roy’s politics, it turns out, are whoever will help him kill the GoJo deal and never have to deal with Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) ever again. Kendall Roy’s politics are, even from beyond the grave, whoever will let him be Daddy’s #1 boy.
And so the episode goes on, filled with all the ratfucking, controversy, and erratic drama that we would expect in a Succession episode that’s been teased since the very beginning of the show and largely takes place in the newsroom of the show’s fictional version of Fox News.
But, ultimately, at the end of the day, with one sibling leaning one direction and the other leaning the opposite, it comes down to Kendall—now, somehow, seen as the level-headed one—to make a call. And since he can only with certainty get what he wants from one candidate, he leans to the side of neo-fascism.
And as Roman takes in his biggest (and most evil) victory of the season so far, and Shiv begins to further gameplan with Matsson, Kendall talks with his wife about the aftermath of what he’s done.
All he can do afterwards is talk to his driver: “Some people just can’t cut a deal, Fikret,” hea says.
Who is Fikret in Succession?
Fikret has actually been in Succession since the very beginning. He figures into the cold open of Season 1, Episode 1, “Celebration,” driving Kendall to the Waystar offices; he tells Kendall that they’ve arrived, and also “You’re the man, Mr. Roy,” as Kendall listens to Beastie Boys and gets himself hyped up.
Kendall, at this point, is going to a meeting to close a deal to acquire Vaulter (the Vice/BuzzFeed-esque media brand that he eventually shuttered in Season 2), but also thinks he’s just on the cusp of officially becoming Waystar-Royco’s new CEO following Logan’s retirement—that we all now know would never actually come. Fikret’s only other on-screen appearance came in Season 1, Episode 2 “Sh*t Show at the Fu*k Factory,” as he drove Kendall to the hospital following Logan’s brain aneurysm.
Fikret is mentioned continually throughout the show, including as one of the core employees that Kendall wants to take with him (along with Jess) if Logan were to buy him out of Waystar once and for all in the Season 3 episode “Chiantishire.”
The fact that Fikret (played by Greg Harvey, who has been a stunt driver and stunt coordinator on major movies like The Dark Knight Rises and The Irishman) has been around and with Kendall from the very start of the series illustrates a couple different things. First and foremost, unlike the people who work for, say, Roman, and the non-Greg people who work for Tom, it’s clear that Kendall treats the people who are his closest and most loyal employees with an immense amount of respect. He cares about them, he confides in them, and he wants to make sure they’re taken care of.
Not to give Kendall too much credit, because we don’t exactly learn anything about Jess or Fikret’s personal lives via his interactions with them, but the rest of the Roy inner circle sets the bar very low, and Kendall leaps over it in this regard. It’s not totally different from the way that we saw Logan confiding in Colin, his ever-loyal security guard.
But in showing Kendall confiding, venting, being honest with Fikret—particularly at the end of an episode where he potentially altered the state of the country—it shows that the only people he’s looking to for feedback are people in his employ. Fikret is paid by Kendall; if Kendall says something to him, he’s just going to nod his head and tell him what he told him in the very first episode: “You’re the man, Mr. Roy.”
What did it mean when Kendall said “Some people just can’t cut a deal, Fikret”?
“America Decides” largely followed the back and forth between Kendall, Roman, Shiv, Tom, Greg, Darwin the electoral numbers expert, as they reacted to election results and surrounding news while also covertly touching base with Connor and both the Mencken and Jimenez camps. At the end of the day, Kendall ultimately sided with Roman to call the highly-contested election in Mencken’s favor essentially out of spite after Shiv’s deception and alliance with Matsson was exposed.
We don’t know if this really will ultimately make Mencken president—in real life, if Fox News were the only ones calling an election in its preferred candidate’s favor after prematurely calling a contested state’s results, it’s hard to know how much real impact that would have—but it does give Mencken a platform on which he can declare victory and at least get the ball of momentum going. And Kendall allowing that call to be made puts a lot of impact on his decision.
And that’s a decision he made, yes, out of spite, and yes, out of a selfish desire to stop the sale of Waystar to Lukas Matsson and GoJo—something he wants in order to preserve and take control of his father’s legacy, and something that Mencken (and not Jimenez, his Democratic opponent) promised he could make happen.
But after leaving the office, Kendall was on the phone with his estranged wife, Rava, both with somber tones in their voice. Rava told Kendall in the previous episode that Sophie, his adapted daughter, was pushed in the street by a racist Mencken supporter who was wearing a Ravenhead (the Tucker Carlson-esque ATN anchor) shirt. Kendall had the chance to push things toward Jimenez (and, more importantly, away from Mencken and his fascist tendencies), but opted against it. He hangs up with Rava and is clearly troubled… but only for a moment.
“Some people just can’t cut a deal, Fikret,” he says as the episode ends. What he means by this is, essentially, absolving himself of any agency in what he ultimately did on election night. Kendall went his whole life seeing his father make deals, whether that was something like bringing Karl onboard in the ’90s or something like the deal with Gil that we saw him make in previous seasons of the show. Kendall, then, sees his GoJo situation not as something he wants to get done, but as something that must be done. Mencken gives him what he needs, while Jimenez makes no promises. So there was only one way for Kendall to go. He didn’t make any decision—his decision was pre-made.
Kendall tells his driver—who works for him and who is never going to challenge him—this because he knows he needs to say it out loud for himself to believe it. This is how he’s always treated Fikret—as someone who he can say things to who will not push back. “This is the day we make it happen, Fikret,” he said in the very first episode, with obviously no objection.
In Kendall’s mind, Kendall cannot be someone who did something that actively works against his family. He needs to say it, and he needs to tell someone, because he needs to believe it himself.
Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.
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