REVIEW: Season 3 of Succession ends with its best episode to date.

by | Dec 14, 2021 | All, Reviews

“Because they realized if all the slaves dressed the same, they would see how many of them there were, and they’d rise up and kill their masters.”

 

If we know one thing about Logan Roy, it’s that he always wins.

We’ve heard this repeated idea countless times throughout the season. Tom told Kendall, “My hunch…is that you’re going to get f**ked because I’ve seen you get f**ked a lot. And I’ve never seen Logan get f**ked once.” When Shiv told Roman that Logan wasn’t infallible, he responded, “No. Sure. I just don’t think he ever fails or ever will.”

Death, taxes, and Logan Roy.

Of course, one thing that will defeat Logan sooner or later is time. He can’t be in charge of Waystar forever, unless they’ve been perfecting that head-in-a-jar technology from Futurama that has allowed Richard Nixon to be president for a millennia.

I’ve started to think of Logan Roy as Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker (but, like, not awful). In the movie, Palpatine faces off with Rey and tells her that if she strikes him down in malice and hate, she will become him. The metaphor begins and ends there, don’t worry. Logan has been trying to bully his children into becoming the same kind of killer he is—a kind of immortality. In his mind, once he dies, his legacy will be preserved if he can turn one of his kids into a clone of his own ruthlessness.

Each season of Succession has zeroed in on a different potential candidate. The first was Kendall, the second season saw Shiv’s shot, and this season has largely focused on Roman’s case.

Each proved themselves unworthy through public humiliation. Kendall was late to the vote of no confidence and was yelled at by his father until he cowered in the corner like a young boy. Shiv embarrassed herself at the Pierce dinner, declaring herself to be next in line, only to be rebuffed in front of everyone. Roman got caught with his pants down, in a way that Logan truly could not understand. Were any of them ever in serious consideration? No of course not, but it seems that it’s finally dawned on Logan that none of them are capable of becoming strong enough to defeat him.

Instead, here comes Lukas Matsson. He’s successful and ruthless, having lured in Waystar to buy him, graduating to a merger of equals, and now angling to buy the company himself (something that Kendall floated to him back at his birthday party).

Lukas is the kind of businessman that Logan can respect, someone who combines the audacity to pull off a hostile takeover with an ability to build an empire of his own. As he and Logan talk at his villa, Lukas confronts him about the future. Logan and Waystar are a declining empire inside another declining empire, and Logan starts to ramble about America and how he no longer recognizes it.

“They could do anything. Now look at them. Fat as f**k, scrawny on meth or yoga. They pissed it all away,” he says, but he’s not really talking about a country is he? He’s talking about his children. As Kendall so astutely noted back in season 1, he’s jealous of his children, of the silver spoon he’s handed them, and here comes Matsson, another immigrant entrepreneur who has made something of himself.

Normally the kind of flattery that Matsson pulls out doesn’t woo Logan, but what other options does he have? His last hope, his youngest son, is totally alien to him, telling Roman on the boat, “If you need to get straightened out, get straightened out. Okay? I don’t wanna know.”

The political intrigue that Logan has put his children through has been in the spirit of competition, meant to create one dominant successor, but instead, it has just left them all fighting amongst themselves, unable to rise up to truly challenge him. He’s kept them disconnected from each other, sewing distrust and making sure that none can communicate their feelings with each other. Until they finally do.

Once Kendall can finally come clean about the boy, his siblings are shockingly supportive. They actually care for him, holding him and even cheering him up with some dark humor. And it’s in that moment that they finally are able to join forces, to see that they are stronger than Logan together—or at least they would have been if Shiv had been able to extend that same relationship to her husband.

The foreshadowing of Tom’s betrayal of Shiv was foreshadowed several times in the episode. Roman worries that Peter will throw his mother Caroline down the stairs to get his hands on the flat he wants, which is exactly how Nero killed his wife before marrying Sporus. Shiv’s toast to Caroline’s obviously doomed marriage includes the line, “I hope that your marriage is as rich and happy, rewarding, and fulfilling as mine.”

The foreshadowing extends even further back through the season in retrospect. Tom flew with Logan to Sarajevo and was by his side during his piss-mad urinary tract infection. Tom’s offer to Logan to take the fall for cruises was the first step in moving away from Shiv and towards him, a token of goodwill that Logan made note not to forget. 

Logan has many enemies, but his genius is his ability to make them focus on fighting each other to prove themselves to him, rather than joining forces to kill him like the slaves of ancient Greece. When he’s confronted by his children, he’s quick to try to divide them again, asking Roman to take Kendall out of the room while he talks to Shiv, but as soon as it becomes clear that they’re going to stick together, his cheery demeanor flips. 

“You’re playing toy f**king soldiers! Go on! F**k off! I have you beat you f**king morons!” He expects his kids to trust him unconditionally, but he also expects them to come with something to barter if they want anything from him.

What is Logan’s thought process? Does he actually see this as a way to motivate his children to “build their own pile”—to forge killers in the fires of adversity? Or has he given up on them the way he so clearly gave up on his first eldest son, Connor?

Of course, he does have one son who is a killer. But ironically, Kendall hasn’t been empowered by the act of actually taking a life, but instead is haunted by it. Killing has turned him into a puddle. It’s actually solidarity and support for each other that brings the kids close to victory, if only they’d extended that compassion just a bit further.

STRAY NUGGETS

  • Some great Shiv lines in this episode

    • “Look I’m only stealing so I can win”

    • “Man, you f**ked my wedding in so many ways.”

  • “Greg, you marry her, you’re a plane crash away from becoming Europe’s weirdest king!”

  • Kieran Culkin is absolutely on fire in this episode, going to an even higher level than he’s been at all season. I don’t know how he did it, but the little vein popping out of his temple as he looks to Gerri to save him is some of the most visual desperation I’ve ever seen. And the way he delivers “Okay. F**k. Okay.” when they decide on killing Logan feels anxious.

POWER RANKINGS

Each recap, we’ll countdown where each character stands. This list is based on who is in the best position to accomplish their goals, whatever those may be, and just my general and totally objective view of who had the best episode.

14. The Next Generation (Last week: N/A) – Take this anyway you want, but we’re f**ked. Logan is hanging his kids out to dry and seems pretty overly pessimistic about the state of America. Plus now ATN’s “bigot spigot” is going to turn into a full fledged firehose with GoJo’s technology. The only thing that can stop the unbridled march of capitalism is climate change, you know when the entire house is burned and/or flooded with us inside.

13. Roman (Last week: 5) – Like the baby of any family, Roman seemed to be the last to realize that Logan cannot, under any circumstances, be trusted. Perhaps he blew his chance at staying onboard with Matsson, but Lukas is clearly not someone who can be trusted either. He’s already played Roman, flipping the buyout arrangement. But the biggest kick in the pee-pee for Roman has to be asking his dad for love and being yelled at mercilessly. That and being abandoned by another Oedipal mommy.

12. Willa (Last week: 9) – F**k it! Look, on paper, I’m not sure Willa is really going to do much better than Connor. He’s rich and as she notes, he’s “a nice man.” But on the other hand, there’s regret plastered across her face and she’s trying to drown herself in champagne. I half-expected a “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

11. Caroline (Last week: 11) – Caroline remains an awful mother, despised by her children after having destroyed their standing in the company. But Shiv didn’t give her as awful of a toast as Caroline did at Shiv’s wedding. Plus she got the flat that Peter loves!

10. Shiv (Last week: 1) – It really felt like Shiv was going to be able to turn the dick pic scandal into a win for herself, but by the beginning of this episode, everything has long since blown over. Instead, she’s even further out of the loop than Roman and has now been betrayed by her husband. How’s it feel at the bottom of those stairs Shiv? Lol Shiv’s the worst.

9. Kendall (Last week: 13) – Did Kendall try to kill himself? Maybe. Is he such a trainwreck that even his mess of a family was like “yo let’s have an intervention”? Yes. Did he fail again to bring down his dad? Yes, for like the fifth time. But he did get to finally get some big shit off his chest and he and his siblings have never seemed closer, and that is no small thing. The real successor was the friends we made along the way.

8. Gerri (Last week: 12) – Rumors of Gerri’s demise might have been a little early last week. Things still aren’t looking great for Gerri since her fate is going to be in Matsson’s hands, but she wasn’t brought down by her alliance with Roman, and she still has a decent amount of control in the situation.

7. Kerry (Last week: N/A) – It took me a while to warm up to Kerry, but I have to say I really enjoyed her this week. She clearly is making things hum behind the scenes, sacrificing goats to get good Wi-Fi and will probably be the mother of Logan’s final child as soon as that Maca root smoothie kicks in. I don’t know where she fits into the new GoJoStarRoyNonesense company, but she’s definitely got options.

6. Connor (Last week: 10) – Connor got a hard “f**k it” from Willa on his marriage proposal and he got to really tell off his younger siblings. He’s been the show’s punching bag for so long that it feels kind of nice to see him stand up for himself. Plus, if the show’s formula is any indication, season 4 is going to be the season of THE ELDEST SON.

5. Greg (Last week: 6) – “What am I gonna do with a soul anyways? Souls are boring.” Greg is heading away from the endless middle and towards the bottom of the top, which is just about the most Greg thing I’ve ever heard. Plus, he’s “a plane crash away from becoming Europe’s weirdest king” if he can pull off this Comfry/Contessa switcheroo. In all seriousness though, it’s honestly touching to see the Greg and Tom bromance hold firm through everything. “The verdict is love, Your Honor.”

4. Tom (Last week: 7) – Terminal Tom is no more! Long live Traitor Tom! Everything I said about Connor standing up for himself goes triple for Tom. He’s seen the writing on the wall and waited for the perfect opportunity, all while maintaining plausible deniability. We know and Shiv knows that he snitched, but nobody can prove it, which can come in handy. It’s such a feel good episode for Tom that you almost forget that he is in charge of ATN, which he has turned into a cash cow by playing up the far right.

3. Logan (Last week: 2) – Papa is getting another 5 bil to sit on his pile of billions, and Kerry and Marcia seem to be getting along swimmingly, which is a lot better than Rhea last season. I mean, hard to see a downside for Logan here other than the fact that he essentially cut off his kids for good. Wait, actually, I’m sure he sees that as an absolute win.

2. Lukas Matsson (Last week: 3) – Matsson is getting everything he wanted, control of a content library that can vault his app into the stratosphere. He maintains control of himself, buys out Logan and is going to have the ability to cut all the Waystar loose ends he wants to. Now if he can just get his mattress delivered so he doesn’t have to sleep on a floor mat.

1. Us (Last week: N/A) – We’re the real winners here guys. What an excellent season of television! Thank you so much for reading these recaps, I’ve had a blast writing them even though this stressful show has given me at least 3 heart attacks and taken 5 years off of my life. What was I going to do with 5 years? Put it on my pile with all my other years? Probably. Yeah. 

Anyway. F**k off.

 

Jackson Maher

Jackson Maher

14/12/2021

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