Review: New season of 'Succession' is back and bigger than ever
Courtesy of HBO
“Succession,” the Emmy award winning drama, makes its triumphant return after a two year hiatus, where audiences are still reeling from the bombshell Kendall Roy dropped at the end of season two, teeing up an internal war at Waystar Royco for control of the company. Hard to imagine the best show currently airing on television could actually get better, but the new (and arguably) superior season doesn’t hold back. It rivals some of HBO’s finest works and makes appointment television relevant again. The entire cast, namely Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong as father/son duo pitted against each other Logan and Kendall Roy, create television magic. Season three, Shakespearean and socially relevant as it is, doesn’t have a wild “Boar on the floor” episode, but over the seven episodes provided for reviewing critics, you can be sure it’s not needed.
“Succession” season three picks up in the immediate aftermath where Kendall (Strong - kicking all kinds of ass) revealed to a grand jury all the shady and illegal practices his father, multimedia titan Logan Roy (Cox) let happen at Waystar Co. It sets the stage for several brawls and pleadings as many have to choose a side and pick alliances. The twisted family dynamics that have defined the series are ramped up considerably as showrunner Jesse Armstrong continues to expertly pick apart and satarizie corporate culture and, well, politics. There are many parallels between the Roy and Trump clan with a few nods to the Rupert Murdoch empire.
Kendall remains strong-willed at dismantling his father’s legacy, bouncing around Twitter looking for validation and accepting bids on late night talk shows that roast him constantly. Meanwhile, Logan mulls over several possibilities of who could run the company during the legal battle. Of course, as is the case with the last two seasons, everyone puts their name in the ring, setting up new tests for the Roy's and their constantly evolving egos. Logan’s smart and complex daughter, Shiv (Sarah Snook) along with her testy and immature brother, Roman (Kieran Culkin) inject their wisdom (if that’s what you can call it) into the situation despite Kendall trying to coax them to his side. Even by the high standards “Succession” has already set for itself, these moving cogs are captivating. You never know who might flip or who might get chosen by Logan, creating tense and shifting allegiances. The writing is an absolute doozy.
“Succession” also increases its value by adding Adrien Brody, Hope Davis and Alexander Skarsgard into the mix as major financial backers in subsequent episodes as Logan is forced to explore all options at saving the company. Though their time on the series (at least for now) is brief, it continues to raise the stakes for those involved. Each episode grows more narcissistic and vulgar, pulling back the curtain on how the super-rich live and exploit others in their quests for monetary gain. There’s nothing the Roy clan won’t do in order to get ahead (or acquitted), even if that means flirting with the idea of Connor (Alan Ruck) running for president.
Other major players, including Tom (Matthew Macfayden - who left me in stitches) and his bumbling henchmen Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun - hilarious) are mulling over their place in the blood war; the latter obsessing over going to jail and the former determining his best exit strategy (spoiler alert: he really doesn’t know).
Through it all, “Succession” boils down to loyalty and respect. The constant shifting focus of who will betray the other in order to get their seat at the table. It’s messy, deranged, and bonkers, but “Succession” remains the gold standard of Sunday night television. It might not have massive special effects or dragons, but it does have some of the best character actors embodying memorable personalities that will transcend generations. The good news is, we’re only just getting started.
SUCCESSION airs on HBO and HBO MAX Sunday, October 17th with episodes dropping weekly.