Succession Season 3: Kendall Roy is Back On Top, But for How Long?
The Kendall and Cousin Greg alliance looks surprisingly strong as Succession season 3 opens, but Logan Roy can't stay a loser for long.
Despite how many times Logan Roy demands it, we at Den of Geek cannot just “fuck off” and stop watching the gloriously dysfunctional Roy family scramble and squabble for power on HBO’s megahit Succession. Full of clever and profane burns, two-faced tête-à-têtes, and obnoxious opulence, Succession manages to make the most contemptible qualities of the real-world megarich quippy and irresistible. It’s the guiltiest of TV pleasures, like bingeing on ortolan every Sunday night.
After heir apparent Kendall Roy was treated like a kicked dog and forced into subservience, season 2 ended with Kendall throwing his father under the bus for Waystar Royco’s cruise line scandals. Now the family is splintered, jockeying for control of their empire while the Senate, FBI, SEC, class action lawsuits, and equity vultures Stewy Hosseini and Sandy Furness threaten to take the Roy family out of the picture for good. It’s Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors of Fucked, and for the audience, it’s never tasted sweeter. Follow along with Den of Geek this season as we chart who’s leading the line of succession, and who’s doomed to go down with the (cruise) ship.
After being a dead-eyed shell of a human for the majority of season 2, prone to delivering embarrassing raps about his emotionally abusive father and soullessly laying off employees because his daddy told him to, Kendall looks like he’s got that “rapping Beastie Boys in the back of a limo” swagger back. Whether that is a good thing remains to be seen, but so far, Kendall’s attempted coup is going swimmingly.
He’s hired highly coveted lawyer Lisa Arthur as his representation to protect him from both the government and his fiduciary duties as a member of Waystar’s board, plus he’s landed a powerful media monitoring firm to continue rehabilitating his image. He’s got Greg on his team, but most importantly, the documents that will serve as evidence in the cruise ship scandal that Greg swiped as a matter of self-preservation. The relationship with Naomi Pierce seems like it’s still doing well, and Kendall is even at a place where he can joke about his Chappaquiddick-esque incident. Is that morally reprehensible? Sure, but relatively speaking, this is good for Ken.
Still, even though Kendall seems like top dog now, a fall looks imminent. This guy cannot have one modicum of success before he lapses back into his Techno Gatsby bullshit. Spoken with insane coke-head confidence, Kendall word vomits to the PR folks about his ideas for a tech manifesto like some sort of Silicon Valley Jerry Maguire then suggests that they hire some “Bojack guys and Lampoon kids” to punch up his Twitter account. Namoi and the media may think he’s the Best Man in the World, but cannot get his ex-wife Rava to even pretend to care. Kendall may be getting “good memeage” and the juice may be loose, but he better check himself if he doesn’t want to lose.
You Machiavellian little fuck! Our special boy Cousin Greg has defected to Team Kendall and brought some insurance in the form of secret evidence with him. Greg made a lot of sly moves in season 2, but jumping up the ladder by siding with Kendall is his biggest play to date, one that will either pay off spectacularly or blow up in his face like Roman’s rocket launch. Greg’s first order of business is to do some media monitoring for Kendall, but it turns out that the internet is, in fact, big.
When Kendall hires some actual professionals, Greg goes on to bore them with stories about his mom and her nervous shopping spree. Later, Greg continues to highlight just how new this wealth and extravagance is to him by opening up one of Rava’s prized wine bottles. Really, Greg isn’t much help to Kendall at all beyond the information that he knows, and he classically bumbles his way through this premiere, but for the moment, he’s on the side with the upper hand, and sometimes that’s enough.
Gerri is the closest thing that we have to competence on Team Logan. Shiv continues to squander every opportunity she has to rise to the top job, Roman is all bluster and no business acumen, Frank cannot be trusted, and Carl needs a sandwich. But Gerri is a mover and a shaker who consistently gets things done. When Logan needs assurance that the Department of Justice isn’t going to clap him, Gerri gets White House aide Michelle-Anne Vanderhoven on the phone to take the President’s temperature. The call isn’t as comforting as Logan would like, but Gerri does well regardless.
When Logan wises up and realizes he needs to step down and name a new CEO, he contemplates Shiv and Roman. When both children manage to take themselves out of contention for the job, Gerri is the only obvious choice. She tries to downplay the moment by saying it’s purely symbolic, but it’s easy to tell she’s somewhat elated by the thought of finally taking on the top job. The ship may be sinking, but it’s better to go down as the captain than some lowly cog in the machine.
Ol’ highfalutin Frank may be the least trusted member of Team Logan (Logan literally tells him that he doesn’t trust him multiple times), but he seems like the man most likely to land on his feet should either Logan or Kendall take the reins of the company and stave off all of the outsider attacks. He may be routinely mocked and admonished, but he still has Logan’s ear, and furthermore, Ken trusts him too. Frank is one of the first people that Kendall calls after his game-changing press conference, and Frank is promised a role on Kendall’s team should he defect. Playing both sides will likely end poorly for Frank, but a man with options has power.
This sweet simpleton. Look at how happy Connor is when he’s given the order to “hold down the fort.” That’s something you say to children to make them feel involved when there’s nothing valuable for them to do, yet Connor embraces the order with gusto, even dropping one of his patented unnecessary history references. At least Connor’s irrelevance means he’ll likely be unscathed if all of the outside forces prevail over Waystar Royco.
Ever since Shiv went all in on her dreams of becoming Waystar’s CEO, she’s been taking more L’s than a Brooklynite commuting to Manhattan. You know things are dire when Shiv is telling Tom that she loves him and is getting a “Thanks” in return. We knew there would be issues in the Wambsgans-Roy union after Tom’s devastating little speech on the beach in season 2’s finale, but we didn’t think that Shiv would be on the receiving end like this. Anyway, Shiv is on Team Logan for now, but seems to be weighing her options even while desperately trying to be named Waystar CEO. She doesn’t respond to Kendall’s call, but you can see the gears turning when she hears her brother so gleefully trying to poach her.
Basically, if Shiv wants to land the open CEO position, she needs to convince her “friend” lawyer Lisa Arthur to represent Logan. She heads to Lisa’s office and grovels, acting way too desperate before Lisa gently alludes to the fact that she’s already working for Kendall. It was the one task that Shiv was given, and she blew it. It prompts Roman to ask, “Doesn’t your friend like you?” Once again, Shiv drops the ball at the one yard line. Maybe things would be easier on Team Kendall?
I guess worse than losing the CEO job would be having to step down in disgrace in the first place, right? As Karl eloquently states, Logan is 31 flavors of fucked right now. He’s got enemies coming after him from all sides and is forced to “eat dick” with his board members just to not lose control of the company that he built. While there’s undeniably a part of Logan that respects his son for making such an audacious play, the episode’s closing shot, of Logan going outside for air and realizing that he may be in way over his head, shows that the man is two “fuck offs” away from full-blown panic mode.
He cannot get the lawyer he wants, he’s forced to settle on Gerri as his replacement, and the kids left on his side keep disappointing him. Things are so bad that Logan is starting to look at Tom favorably. His war room consists of Tom, Frank, whom Logan has repeatedly said he cannot trust, and Karl, who seems more interested in getting a sandwich than saving the company. Things are so bad that Logan is heading to Sarajevo only because they won’t extradite him should the DOJ come calling. L to the O-S-E-R this week, I’m afraid. If he gets the shits, he’s fucked, but he might be fucked even without them.
Every time it seems like Roman is going to bullshit his way into something good, the little insecure boy that he’s always been peaks his head out to squander the opportunity. Somewhere along the line, Roman has figured out how to use his charms to resemble something like a savvy strategist. Sure “Call the AG and yell at him” isn’t the brightest idea, but his delivery and confidence, plus the way he can seemingly read others, makes him an asset that Logan can use.
It might even make him CEO material, but when Roman calls to advocate for himself getting the big seat, it only takes a few moments of daddy’s silence to have Roman completely doubting himself and suggesting Gerri in his place. It’s the most cringe-worthy moment of the episode, just a stunning bit of self-sabotage. While Roman’s, let’s call it “comfortable,” relationship with Gerri bodes well for the future, Roman proved once again why he’s not ready for primetime.
Lisa Arthur seems like a powerful, well-respected lawyer that both sides of the warring Roy clan want to work with. Someone should have warned Lisa to run for the hills and stay far away from his circus. Welcome to the Fuck Factory, Lisa! We sure hope all the money is worth whatever working for the Roy family does to your soul and sanity. We also hope you’re ready to listen to more of Kendall’s incoherent Wall Street-bro jargon in the weeks to come.
The current strategy for Willa’s disastrous debut as a playwright, Sands, is to lean into the bad press, according to Connor. Yes, the marketing team wants to play up the hate-watch angle, making Sands out to be the fictional version of the real-life movie adaptation of Cats. Connor suggests that their only hope at salvaging their investment is to take the irono-cycle approach and market Sands to hipsters and dipshits. Just what every serious artist wants to hear!
On paper, things look decent for Tom! Sure, he’s missing his partner-in-crime Greg, but he’s in the war room with Logan and surprisingly not making a complete fool of himself or catching any strays from the mean old bastard. For a moment, Logan even suggests that Tom could be the perfect choice for CEO, but poor Tom can’t see that turning out well for himself. It’s a sucker move, but at least Tom is self-aware enough to know he cannot handle that job.
Imagine having your ex come over and commandeer your home for 3-4 hours. You have to host his insanely rich new girlfriend too and pretend that you care about the familial strife that could potentially threaten your alimony payments. Then some gangly goon drinks the prized wine you’ve been saving just to remind you that we cannot have nice things. What an absolute nightmare scenario. Rava is ignored until Kendall needs something. At least she doesn’t let Kendall off the hook when he ridiculously suggests that he blew up his dad’s empire for her and the kids. Uh-huh, buddy. Sure.