Season 3 of “Succession” Delivers the Roy Family War We Were Promised

Season 3 picks up right where we left off, with Kendall trying to end Logan

October 14, 2021 8:27 am
Logan and Shiv Roy (Brian Cox and Sarah Snook) in season 3 of "Succession."
Hunter Graeme/HBO

Succession fans have been waiting far too long for this. It’s been two full years since the popular HBO series delivered one of the best season finales of any show in recent memory, leaving us hanging after Kendall Roy refused to take the fall for his father and instead held a press conference airing all of Waystar Royco’s dirty laundry, calling him “a malignant presence, a bully and a liar” and sternly announcing that “this is the day his reign ends.” Since that fateful day, thanks to a delay in filming caused by the pandemic, we’ve had to endure 730 additional days of not knowing what would happen next, left only to speculate which Roy family members would side with him while watching and rewatching Logan roar “We’ll go full! FUCKING! BEAST!” in the Season 3 trailer.

Thankfully, he does, in fact, go full fucking beast in the seven episodes (of the third season’s nine total) provided to critics — and so does the show as a whole. The new season picks up right where we left off, with Kendall rushing through a horde of reporters (while a flustered Greg shouts “no comment” behind him) and into a car to immediately begin checking social media for reactions to his press conference. From there, the pieces fall into place quickly: Logan hops on a jet — to a country without an extradition treaty with the United States, just in case — to plot his next move, while the remaining Roy siblings and the company’s other top executives scramble to decide which side it’s more beneficial to align with. (We won’t give away who winds up where, but this being Succession, allegiances shift several times, and Kendall reaches out to all three of his siblings at various points to try and sway them into teaming up to take down their father.)

There’s a whole lot of plot to get through while everyone’s busy jockeying for position, including a power struggle over who will be interim CEO after Logan agrees it’s best to step down (purely for optics, as he plans on choosing someone who will act as his loyal puppet), a looming Department of Justice investigation into the wrongdoing at Waystar and the threat of possible jail time for Tom and Greg, an important shareholders’ meeting in which the very future of the company stands in jeopardy and a storyline about Logan’s fractured relationship with the show’s fictional conservative president — whom the family refers to as “the Raisin” — after the investigation heats up and publicly supporting the Roy family becomes politically toxic. But through it all, the show never feels convoluted or bogged down by exposition, and at the heart of it all are the excellent performances by the cast (Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox especially, though Kieran Culkin also has some meaty storylines as Roman this year, and Nicholas Braun continues to steal every scene he’s in as Greg) and the incredible writing.

In many ways, Succession continues to get better with every season. The dialogue is sharper and quicker, and despite being a drama, it remains one of the funniest shows on TV. (It’s impossible to rattle off most of the best lines from the new season here without spoiling some key plot details, but Greg admitting that he’s nervous about the possibility of going to prison due to the fact that “because of my physical length, I could be a target for all kinds of misadventure” is certainly one of them.) But for all the vicious insults — and trust me, they get even more vicious once the civil war breaks out — and meme-worthy comic moments, there’s also a surprising amount of emotional weight here. Traumatic childhood incidents are referenced, Kendall’s relationship with his ex-wife and children is strained as he sets up a war room in their home to avoid being detected by the press surrounding his apartment, and the Roy siblings continue to pretend like it’s all just business while they repeatedly stab each other in the backs to curry favor with their cold, distant father.

Everything you loved about the first two seasons is back in full force in Season 3. There’s more Roman and Gerri flirtation; more comic relief from Tom and Greg’s bizarre, often-abusive friendship; more of Logan bellowing “Fuck off!” to just about everyone he encounters. And, of course, there’s more of Kendall spiraling and humiliating himself as the former number-one boy/current family pariah struggles to navigate the aftermath of the bombshell he dropped. (If you thought “L to the OG” was embarrassing, wait till you see the performance he has planned for his own 40th birthday party.)

Succession has never been shy about reminding us that its characters are inherently bad people motivated by their own self-interest and thirst for power who’ll gladly feed a blood relative to the wolves if it means getting what they want. Kendall may technically be on the side of righteousness this season, but the writers make it clear from the get-go that he’s chosen this path simply because it’s the best way for him to overthrow his dad; he’s not actually interested in implementing any sort of systemic change or advocating for the women who were victimized under his father’s watch. He’s more concerned with yelling “fuck the patriarchy!” in front of the press and then immediately checking the social media engagement on it to make sure he’s staying “in the conversation.” And yet, remarkably, we still feel for him and all the Roys. We know they’re awful and actively harming the country — be it politically or environmentally (think of the carbon footprint of all those private jets!) — and yet, we root for them to succeed (no pun intended). We want the big deals to go through, we want the outside investors to keep writing checks, and we want the company to stay family-controlled, if only so that we can continue to watch these dirtbags step all over each other for a while longer, at least until they all get what’s coming to them. That’s a testament to the show’s excellent writing; the characters are all unlikeable, irredeemable monsters, and yet they’re all fleshed out so expertly that we like watching them in spite of ourselves. We can’t empathize with them — that’d be insane — but we can understand the neuroses and dysfunction fueling them and sit on the edge of our seats as we wait to see how it’ll impact their next chess moves. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait for two whole years to find out this time.

Season 3 of Succession premieres on Sunday, Oct. 17 on HBO at 9 p.m. EST.

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