Season 3 of Succession came back as good as ever and even delivered what could be the best season finale that the show has offered so far. The HBO show’s second season ended with Kendall playing off Jeremy Strong refuses to take the plunge for the company’s cruise scandals, so season 3 has the Roy family more divided than ever before.
It is Team Logan versus Team Kendall who must start, but quickly and predictably, Kendall’s potential grip on power disappears into the background. He’s just not enough to take the Logan game off Brian Cox, and the show knows it. Early in the season, siblings come together and realize that only the three of them have the power to take the business from their father, but since they have come together to do so, he is one step ahead.
Aside from all the drama, season 3 also came through with the show’s signature comedy that has marked its tone from the beginning. Great character moments are often balanced with comedy with a painful edge; just as awful as these people are (thanks Twitter, we know) the pain is real. We have put together a list of some of the best moments in season 3 that feature hilarity, drama or (most often) both.
Connor Speaks Up – Episode 9, “All the Bells Say”
After Kendall’s near-death experience, the rest of Roy’s siblings arrange a pseudo-intervention for their brother. Kendall is initially blasé about it all, but eventually begins to open up about how hard he has had it. Connor (Alan Ruck) is, as always, quietly supportive, but speaks out when Kendall refers to himself as their father’s eldest son.
In a rare temperament, Connor gets up and reminds them quite strongly that he is their eldest brother. Kendall responds with, “I thought you loved me?” and Connor falls: “Asshole! I love you. I love you all three girls, but what do I get from you girls, but humble change. Fucking chump change.”
Siblings Confront Logan – Episode 9, “All the Bells Say
After the meeting with Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), Logan does the unthinkable and actually begins to consider concluding a settlement and resigning from the company. Things are starting to look pretty shady for Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv (Sarah Snook), which are deliberately kept out of the loop so that they do not sabotage the trade. They bring Kendall in on what’s going on, and the three set off to use their veto power to stop the sale of Waystar.
However, Shiv makes the mistake of letting Tom (Matthew Macfayden) into what is about to go down and he reaches Logan before siblings. Logan speaks to Caroline (Harriet Walter) to renegotiate the clause that gave their children the right to veto and shut down their power play before it can go beyond a series of emotional prayers. After three seasons in which Logan has successfully pitched his kids against each other, the Roy siblings manage to team up too late in the game.
Kendall Leaves Party – Episode 7, “Too Much Birthday”
Kendall is a complicated character. On the one hand, he is a privileged asshole with extremely narcissistic qualities. On the other hand, he is a baby. This is largely due to Strong’s performance, which shows the pain and insecurity during all that bravado, and really every single Roy sibling has a wealth of emotional baggage just from being brought up in such a toxic environment.
Although Kendall decides to take on his entire family in season 3, he still wants to be loved. They were all ready to throw him to the wolves, but he is desperate for their approval (and the approval of pretty much everyone he meets). So when Connor, Roman and Shiv show up to his birthday party, you can see how happy he is.
Of course, Roman and Shiv have an agenda: Matsson wants to be present and they want to talk to him on behalf of Waystar (another step that will help them get their father’s approval; this family is seriously messed up). Connor will not take off his damn coat either. Kendall really should have known better, but naively believed that his siblings would just see him. When he realizes how alone he is for his big birthday party, he leaves his own party early.
On the way out, he gets aggressively bullied by Roman, who can be a real cock when he lays down for it. Of course, Roman’s outburst stems from his own problems, but that’s for another post.
Logan loses it – Episode 5, “Retired Janitors of Idaho”
In an eye-catching mid-season episode, Team Logan tries to figure out a way to work out with Sandi and Stewy to prevent things from going to the polls, which they are likely to lose. Sandi and Shiv pass on different terms between their fathers while trying to reach an agreement before it is too late, but Logan himself begins to show signs of mental incapacity, which calls into question the agreement as a whole.
Shiv sees this as an opportunity to take care of it, and Tom gets closer to Logan by patiently taking care of him while he is out of it. When Logan gets his medication, he’s back to normal, and Shiv lingers by his side, waiting to be congratulated for largely saving the deal (and the family’s share in the business) on his own. But Shiv should now know that Logan is not big on positive reinforcement, and he complains about how she could have done a better job.
Roman’s Cock Picture – Episode 8, “Chiantishire”
After making Dad proud, Roman Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) a festive cock picture. But his subconscious takes over and he sends the said image to his father, making him less proud. Culkin’s facial expression when he realizes what he has done is perhaps the best visual image of the year.
Logan takes Roman into another room to ask him why he sends cock pictures to Gerri of all people, but since Roman does not really want to touch his sexual psyche, he releases it as something people do to giggle. It’s not like he can say that his cat walked across his keyboard with all those witnesses.
Shiv’s dancing – Episode 7, “Too Much Birthday”
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Logan also exposes Shiv a lot. In season 2, he kept promising her that she was being cared for to take over when it was time for him to step down, but everyone knew it would not happen.
Season 3 has Shiv still trying to be Dad’s favorite, but she continues to fall behind for her brothers. This time, it’s Roman who pulls Shiv out of the limelight, and Shiv starts breaking up when Kendall’s birthday party rolls around. When Roman refuses to let her help Matsson, Shiv gets a little drunk and lets loose on the dance floor, which is something you just have to see for yourself to understand why it’s on this list.
Tom and Greg Make a Deal – Episode 9, “All the Bells Say”
Tom may be some kind of pathetic guy, but he’s not stupid. He is not helpless either. This season, he really started earning his father-in-law’s trust by his willingness to go to jail for him and help him go to the bathroom. Kendall turns to Tom and thinks that the likelihood of jail time will make him vulnerable to switch sides. Tom’s response shows how much he has learned from his time with their family: “I do not mean to be offensive, but after being around a bit … my guess is that you will be fucked because I’ve seen you become “I’ve never seen Logan get fucked once.”
This comment warns of Tom’s betrayal of Shiv in the season finale, but it’s not the only move Tom makes. Before making his move, he asks Greg (Nicholas Braun) if he wants to join. Earlier in the season, a desperate Tom Greg tells the story of Nero who betrayed his wife before castrating and marrying Sporus, a slave. This story becomes a reality for Tom and Greg as Tom toots Shiv and joins Greg, who happily declares, “Souls are boring. Boo souls!”
“Fuck it forever” – Episode 9, “All the Bells Say”
Early in season 1 we meet Willa (Justine Lupe), an escort and aspiring playwright who is often paid to accompany Connor to family events. Connor is in love with her and manages to bribe her to make their arrangement full time. As Connor’s political ambitions grow in season 3, he proposes Willa to protect them from the press finding out about her former profession. In fact, he loves her too.
Willa waits a bit before making her decision, which hurts Connor’s ego. Eventually, when he blames her again, she says “fuck it”, which is Willa for “yes”. This acceptance is basically a belly-punch, so of course the eldest son of Logan Roy loves it, which makes him shout “Fuck it forever!” with a huge ironic smile on his face.
Kendall and Logan Sit Down – Episode 8, “Chiantishire”
After an entire season of barely speaking, Kendall asks Logan to sit down with him to discuss the sale of his shares and leave the company forever. After a full season of parading around as the king of feminism, Kendall cuts back on bs, accepts defeat and takes what could have been the best move for him. The thing is, Logan has no intention of letting Kendall go.
Logan refuses to buy Kendall’s shares, and instead continues to mock him over the child he killed in season 1. When Kendall realizes he’s lost, he shows that he’s his father’s son by throwing a small tantrum. Logan’s tantrums make him a bigger bully, but Kendall’s defense is to play the victim as much as he can. Logan just does not let him. It’s an amazing scene between two amazing actors.
Kendall Confesses – Episode 9, “All the Bells Say”
In the season’s most emotional scene, Kendall breaks down and tells Roman and Shiv about the child he killed at Shiv’s wedding. There’s a reason this is the clip that all the awards go to for his nominations. Strong delivers a heartbreaking confession that brings Kendall and siblings closer than we’ve seen them in a long time (possibly ever).
Roman and Shiv are not natural comforter; affection is not really something that comes naturally to the Roy family. But they show their brother that they love him in their own ways. Shiv with an awkward nod and Roman with a tireless quest to do what he knows he can, which is to make Kendall laugh.
The grim reality that underlies ‘Succession’ is that no matter which Roy wins, we all lose.
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