Cruelly deprived of Roy time for two miserable years, tonight we were reunited with our richest fictional family to find that they had all resolved their differences and were happy to sit down by the fireplace and share a few mugs of hot chocolate before heading off for an early bedtime. OK, that’s not true. It was all-out war as usual.
A brief reminder: Succession‘s second season, arguably one of the finest seasons of any television show in history, ended with a Senate hearing into the handling by Waystar Royco of a scandal that looked poised to blow the company apart: were senior members of the company aware that women employed on the company’s cruises were forced to perform sexual favours in order to keep their jobs? Were they aware that murders had been covered up? Who was in charge? Who was accountable?
Well, said Logan Roy (Brian Cox), my son Kendall (Jeremy Strong) was in charge the whole time. Logan, having decided that Kendall is to be the “blood sacrifice” the company needs, expects him to fall on his sword. Kendall agrees. On live television, however, the mistreated son tells the world’s media that his nasty old father was aware of every single crime. End credits.
Season three picks up pretty much immediately where we left off, plunged into the aftermath of the press conference. Team Logan – all the main players bar Kendall and Greg (Nicholas Braun) – aren’t sure where to go, as Logan essentially flies around in circles away from New York, scared of being extradited. An animated Kendall begins to formulate a plan, putting Greg in charge of “media monitoring” (which Greg interprets as scrolling through Twitter) and hiring the fearsome Lisa Arthur (Sanaa Lathun) to be his legal counsel.
As Team Logan ponder strategy, Shiv (Sarah Snook) wonders if her father is “toast”. Not long after, Logan asks his children where his phone is – the first sign that perhaps all is not well upstairs – and calls Kendall. This could be the first time they have spoken since the bombshell. Instead, Kendall has assistant Jess (Juliana Canfield) take the call. Through her, Logan tells Kendall that if he doesn’t retract his statement he will grind his bones to make his bread. A cute touch in the writing of this first episode is that both Logan and Kendall use the phrase “action stations” as they are rallying their troops for battle.
Dolling out the worst advice in the room as ever, Roman (Kieran Culkin) tells his father they ought to “destroy” Kendall. Essentially agreeing despite protestations from Shiv and Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron), Logan requests a call with the President (whom he calls “the Raisin”). He speaks instead to a spokeswoman who indicates that the President is in Logan’s corner. As the team is divided up, Logan tells Frank (Peter Friedman), Carl (David Rasche), and Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) that he will temporarily step down as CEO. They need to appoint someone in the interim. Meanwhile, unwelcome at company HQ, Kendall bases himself and his team at his ex-wife Rava’s (Natalie Gold) place.
Hoping it might bag her the top seat, Shiv tries to recruit Lisa Arthur to Team Logan but learns that she is representing Kendall. This failure prompts Logan to appoint Gerri as temporary CEO. When Logan learns that his son has nabbed the lawyer on whom he was relying to keep himself out of his danger, he is incensed. “We’ll go fucking beast!” he yells as the episode ends, just as it is reaching boiling point.
Season three’s first chapter is an archetypal episode in many ways: none of the characters are happy for longer than about two minutes and the jostling for power relentlessly continues. An even more fascinating dynamic is developing between Logan and Kendall, as the latter tries to bring down his father while secretly hoping not to make him too angry. There’s all to play for.
Roy Oh Roy
- There is a delicious mini-scene between Connor (Alan Ruck) and Willa (Justin Lupe), in which Connor asks his girlfriend if she wants to market her disastrous play as a “hate-watch” for the “hipsters and the dipshits” by highlighting the negative reviews – one of which, he reminds her, was: “Kill yourself if you got a ticket.”
- Does any line epitomise Succession more perfectly than Logan shouting “IT’S WAR! Fuck off!” while on a private plane?
- One of many beautiful Greg lines to Kendall in episode one is: “The Pope followed you… OK, this is not the real… is this the real.. .no, I don’t think this is the Pope… no, it’s a pope, it’s not the Pope.”
- As soon as Logan floats the idea that there should be a new CEO, Carl says “I like me.” Logan, who knows that Carl’s history with the company will mean that he is damaged goods, says: “If your hands are clean it’s only because your whorehouse also does manicures” – by far the best line in an episode written by Jesse Armstrong.