Having ambushed his father, Logan (Brian Cox), by exposing the family company’s serial wrongdoing, Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) is now ostracised and trying to form new alliances with anyone who’ll listen. Logan, meanwhile, embarks on a bitter fight to keep the business afloat while the rest of his offspring vie for power and influence
Showing on: Sky Atlantic/NOW
You know when Logan Roy (Brian Cox) is really furious — not just percolating with bubbling anger, which is his default mood, but working his way up to a volcanic molten eruption of blind rage — because he starts calling everyone a “cunt”. This happens very early on in Season 3 of Succession, when Logan calls his son Kendall (Jeremy Strong) to give him a chance to recant his spectacular act of betrayal at the end of Season 2 when he told the world his father is “a malignant presence, a bully and a liar”. But Kendall sticks to his guns, thinking that he’s finally outmanoeuvred the old man and is now some kind of righteous rebel hero. “Don’t act like a cunt to me!” is Logan’s response.
This confrontation sets the tone for Season 3, which revolves around the already extreme tensions between the key players in the Roy family business exploding into all-out civil war. The episodes are built around a series of astonishingly thrilling clashes, as everyone involved scrambles to take sides and work out what’s best for them, in a constantly shifting landscape. Every time Kendall thinks he’s getting the upper hand, for example, along comes a massive sideswipe to knock him back down. Kendall’s birthday party episode is particularly stunning in this regard – a series of self-aggrandising adrenaline highs and reality-biting lows, perfectly handled by the extraordinary Strong. His siblings, Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv (Sarah Snook), meanwhile, aren’t sure whether they should be destroying each other, or their dad, or Kendall, which all plays out in an enthralling escalation of internecine warfare. The stakes this season feel significantly higher, the pace even faster, the tone even more madly hectic.
The third series is miraculously funny yet mind-blowingly intense.
The show also avoids re-treading old ground by bringing in a smattering of new characters, including Adrien Brody as a key shareholder who doesn’t know the way back from the beach to his own modernist coastal mansion, Sanaa Lathan as a formidable lawyer everyone wants representing them, and Alexander Skarsgård as a socially weird tech billionaire, who are all as instantly entertaining yet entirely authentic as the show itself. There’s also an intriguing new emphasis on politics, as the embattled Logan exerts his will over the President — never seen, barely heard on the other end of a phone, and referred to throughout as ‘The Raisin’, without explanation — in blithely chilling style. The spectre of Trump hovers tantalisingly in the background of these scenes, but not how you might expect.
If Season 2 was a significant step up from the first, this third series is so miraculously funny yet mind-blowingly intense, Succession feels like it’s now well on its way to reaching Sopranos, The West Wing, Mad Men-levels of excellence. We’re watching a TV show turn into pop-cultural artifact that future generations will study for myriad reasons, not least to understand how a family of super-wealthy cunts still manages to end up running things while tearing each other apart at the same time.
After a two-year break, the new escapades of the über-rich, ultra-entitled but brilliantly funny bellends at Waystar Royco make for even more extraordinarily entertaining and incisive TV drama than ever.