Beast is back: ‘Succession’ returns with season 3
“Succession” poses the question: How far will people go on their quest for power?
HBO’s satirical series follows a conservative international media conglomerate ruled by the ruthless Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and the conflict surrounding who will take over when and if Logan ever steps down.
To say I love “Succession” is a massive understatement. When the intro music began to play, I audibly squealed with joy — apologies to my roommates.
The show is back in all its glory: The writing is tight; the score is epic and the characters are pure evil.
Season one posits Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong), the Roy’s poster child, for the role, but through a series of missteps, he falls out of grace with the family. Everyone circles Logan like a vulture. The wide variety of cast members play sides and act selfishly.
One thing looms above them: A scandal in the cruises department threatens to destroy Waystar RoyCo and send Logan to jail.
In the season two finale, Kendall holds a press conference that exposes his father for knowing about the cover up in cruises. Season three picks up here.
For two years, “Succession” fans have rewatched, re-binged and anxiously awaitied the third season. While it remained one of the most anticipated returns to television, it did not disappoint.
The first episode came swinging with full force. The opening shot shows helicopters flying in tandem across a blue sky in Europe, an immediate introduction to the lavish and extravagant wealth of the Roys’ world.
Since money is limitless in the world of the Roys, every scene looks like a playground of fantasy. Flying effortlessly from country to country in private jets and helicopters showcases an unattainable amount of wealth that forces a particular perspective on the family.
One of the most brilliant things about “Succession” is its expansive world building. It’s best navigated through Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) who is not used to the extravagant wealth and often sticks out like a sore thumb. He’s the relatable character that grounds the family and guides the audience.
For the Roys — Shiv (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck) — luxury is a normality. They are so nonchalant about money it verges on sickening.
Next we transition to Kendall in New York taking deep guttural breaths, attempting to control just one aspect of his life, now that he’s denounced his father for the world to see.
Following the slow and careful re-introduction of all the characters, the fast paced environment of the show steps in to dominate the remainder of the episode.
The direction of the show is masterful. Each character is heavily satirized through specific, over-the-top mannerisms.
Jeremy Strong delivered a skilled performance of Kendall’s anxiety. The show always digs at Kendall’s difficult relationship with his father. The excellent characterization of Kendall is an unparalleled masterclass in writing, directing and acting. Each twitch of Kendall’s lip and stutter is telling of how fantastic Strong’s performance of the character is.
One of the show’s strongest aspects is the dehumanizing brilliant one-liners. My personal favorite from Sunday’s episode was an exchange from Logan to Kendall via phone.
“Then I’m going to grind his fucking bones to make my bread,” Logan said.
Each quip is a Shakespearean masterpiece of eloquence and profanity.
The art of “Succession” is its ability to create empathy for characters who, at their core, are rotten, selfish people.
Comedy-wise, the show is dryer than a perfect martini. I find myself laughing out loud at each of the characters’ quips. While it’s an American comedy, the show isn’t a sitcom or “American” by any standards.
The writing on the show often gives me secondhand anxiety. You begin to feel like you are in the conference room while someone talks out of their ass. My stomach will be in knots until I remember I’m not really there. The writing is that good.
In an era where misinformation remains a great threat, a show about the perils of running a media-conglomerate is not only ripe with drama, but also relevant to everyday life.
I’m not sure if it’s particularly important to me as a journalist, but “Succession” peels away the wall between the CEO and everyday Joe to promise its audience that it’s all about self-interest. Every single move is selfish. Every single play is rehearsed.
Kendall revealing his father’s personal hand in the cruise scandal was not something he did for the victims but, instead, a selfish choice to boost his reputation. At its core, “Succession” is a character study on power.
The remainder of the season is positioned, in the words of Logan, to be “full fucking beast.”
Episode one sets up a rich minefield of family versus family drama and promises to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
“Succession” airs on HBO every Sunday at 6 p.m.