It’s common for episodic shows to have characters return years later after they make their debut, but if you’re struggling to keep track, you’ll appreciate this refresher on Nate in Succession, because it’s been years since we saw him last.
For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Succession, which premiered in June 2018, follows the moneyed Roy family, who own a global entertainment and media conglomerate known as Waystar RoyCo. When Succession begins, the future of their company is up in the air after family patriarch and aging founder, Logan Roy, experiences some health issues that leave shareholders questioning his fitness to lead. His four adult children—Kendall, Roman, Shiv and Connor—waste no time when it comes to sharing their opinions on who should helm the company in their father’s place. Some of the Roy siblings will do just about anything to poach on their father’s empire (and, of course, Logan isn’t all too happy about this). The result? A series full of greed, backstabbing, and some very dark laughs. The satirical drama has landed multiple award wins and nominations and is by far one of the most-talked-about series’ since Game of Thrones.
As a presidential election within the show looms in season four, episode seven, Nate makes his return after a whole season hiatus.
Who is Nate in Succession? Nate is a left-leaning political strategist who was romantically linked to Shiv Roy, Logan’s daughter, in season one, when they worked on Bernie Sanders-esque Senator Gil Eavis’ (Eric Bogosian) presidential campaign. While Shiv and Nate slept together while she was still engaged to Tom, they’d each agreed to somewhat of an open relationship.
We know Kendall and Nate have a history together, too, by “running around Shanghai together”. We assume Nate is no longer working with Gil but with the Democratic candidate for president, Daniel Jimenez. In season four, Kendall’s mission is to convince Nate to get Daniel to raise the issue of GoJo takeover publicly by offering him positive coverage across Waystar Royco media, specifically ATN. “We could be really good for you, but that only happens if this deal goes away,” Kendall tells Nate in a private conversation. But the conversation makes Nate feel uncomfortable and he makes that known; that there’s no need to play dirty like their predecessors. “I’m not Gil,” he tells Kendall, “And you’re not Logan. And that’s a good thing.”
The actor that portrays Nate, Ashley Zukerman, explained to Variety that he was caught a little by surprise when he was invited back into the show after seasons one and two, but not appearing at all in season three. “I found out only a few weeks before shooting the episode. From what I gathered, there were a few permutations of the episode, and that’s the version they landed on,” he said. “It’s pretty remarkable that after such a long development process they have a lot of options in their head, and they wait for the right one to congeal at the right time. But it’s funny — I’ve gotten similar calls over the last few years about potentially returning in other episodes, so I think they were constantly looking for ways to pull Nate in.”
Despite their prior open relationship agreement from season one, Tom is still jealous and/or threatened by Nate. As Zuckerman explained to Variety: “One of the beautiful things about the show is that we’re all not really in the family. Even the family sometimes feels like they’re not in the family, that they’re not connected to Logan. I think Nate and Tom vie for place. It’s all about who’s closer to the center of this black hole.”
Nate’s motivations, and whether he’s a good guy among a sea of terrible people, is hotly debated among Succession viewers. “There does seem to be a lot of hate targeted at Nate, and he appears high on lists of the most unlikable Succession characters,” he told Variety. “He says he stands for something else, while the other characters at least don’t say that. That doesn’t really measure up to his actions versus theirs, so it’s funny what audiences react to. Someone who is seemingly honest about how terrible they are is somehow more acceptable to someone who is in conflict. Tom refers to Nate as one of “our libs” or one of the ‘good libs,’ and that raises an interesting question: Who are the amenable libs to these people?”
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