Succession is all about power—who has the most, who can wield it the best, and who is disastrously blinded by it. So every week during Season 3, The Ringer will check in on how the hierarchy at Waystar Royco shifts with each passing episode. It’s safe to say everything is in disarray—and to steal a line from another HBO series, chaos can be a ladder.
1. The FBI
As “The Disruption” comes to a close, the FBI swarms the Waystar Royco headquarters looking for documents related to the cruise line scandal. It’s unclear what’s actually on the premises—remember, presumably the only papers that survived Tom’s purge were the few Greg saved from the bonfire—but the optics are terrible. For the first time, it looks like Logan may be losing his grip on power, and no amount of threats of blackmail may change that. As Gerri informs him as about 20 federal agents wait downstairs with search warrants: These are the people who won’t fuck off.
2. Stewy and the Sandies
This is the Succession equivalent of when an NFL team has a bye week while the rest of its division gets blown out. The other side of the Waystar proxy battle doesn’t appear in “The Disruption,” but it needn’t show face to bolster its position. With the Department of Justice finally making its move on the company and Kendall giving interviews about his headspace over shaved fennel salads, it’s easy for the viewer to forget there’s an important shareholder meeting looming. But Stewy, Sandy, and Sandy’s daughter most certainly haven’t. I’d imagine they’re feeling a lot like the Cowboys looking at the rest of the NFC East right now.
3. Tom Wambsgans
Consider Tom’s dog, Mondale (named after another great Minnesotan). In “The Disruption,” Mondale eats Shiv’s pantyhose, which she couldn’t be bothered to put away. Tom has to literally rip them out of the poor pup’s ass. It’s a bit of a heavy-handed metaphor, but it’s apt: Like Mondale, Tom has been swallowing what people have openly flaunted, and he’s never quite been able to digest it.
But the last eunuch in the forbidden city has figured out how to get some power, in his own Wambsgansian way. Knowing that someone will have to be the fall person for the cover-up—and realizing that person will face only minimal, if any, prison time—Tom volunteers his services to Logan. (“Just clunk the trout on the head and put it in your pouch,” he says.) And with that, for the first time in two-plus seasons, Logan and Shiv both appear to respect and appreciate Tom. Add in his calmness in telling the ATN advertisers about the FBI raid—and that secretive phone call to outside counsel—and it looks like Tom may finally be fit for the leadership roles he’s so openly coveted. At the very least, he may not have to swallow his wife’s underwear in perpetuity.
4. Sophie Iwobi
Last May, in the midst of a cringe-filled run for New York mayor, Andrew Yang appeared on the Showtime series Ziwe, a show best described as “Ali G for the Instagram activism generation.” It was the perfect vehicle for what the Times called Yang’s “post-embarrassment media campaign” as he fielded tongue-in-cheek questions about billionaires and racial stereotypes. The idea was for Yang to be in on the joke, or at least add fuel to the meme fire. He accomplished at least the latter when he named “Numb/Encore” his favorite Jay-Z song.
So it’s fitting that Succession enlists the real-life Ziwe to play Sophie Iwobi, the late-night host Kendall wants to appeal to as he hones his public image. What is Kendall if not an Andrew Yang type, with his techtopia worldview and rap-appropriating rich-guy persona? Ken agrees to come on her show, The Disruption (which gives this episode its title), after hearing her deliver a few burns of him during a monologue, which he so desperately wants to laugh along with. (He’s particularly tickled by “Oedipussy.”) Only he drops out at the last moment after Shiv unleashes a nasty public statement about her brother moments before his appearance. But Sophie’s undeterred, laying into Ken after he ghosts her and calling him “Wokestar Royco” among a half-dozen other insults. In a post-Trump, streaming-first era that’s seen late-night TV’s influence erode, Sophie is trending in the opposite direction, and she has all the makings of a rising star whether Ken sits down with her or not.
(It’s also worth noting that Ken offers to track down none other than Jay-Z as his potential replacement on The Disruption. At least we can assume Kendall’s favorite Jigga song is better than Andrew Yang’s.)
We ended Episode 2 with Shiv finally accepting an official role within Waystar. Her first days as El Presidente don’t go exactly as planned—her speech at the town hall is interrupted by Kendall blasting Nirvana over a few high-powered JBLs—but she basically has everything Logan promised her at the summer palace way back at the beginning of Season 2, plus an acting CEO in Gerri to use as a human shield. And sure, she fails to get Connor and Roman to sign the statement she puts out against Kendall, but her words were powerful enough to blow up his planned interview. Not bad for the fucking nice one.
Does anything sum up Kendall’s life quite like the game of Good Tweet/Bad Tweet he plays in the limo? He’s still basking in the glow of the attention he received from his public shanking of his father, and he’s perfectly fine with being the worst person you know making a great point. (To cite another popular meme, his cries of “Fuck the patriarchy” run the risk of going full hot-dog-costume man. Just look at this ratio.) Ken wants nothing more than to be perceived as a corporate white knight, but his vision of what planting his flag within Waystar actually means isn’t any clearer today than it was when he tried to articulate it to his siblings in Sophie’s bedroom last episode. He’s not the fixer he claims to be—he’s a chaos agent disrupting corporate town halls and running the risk of taking down his entire family before the shareholder meeting. He also wants you to know he’s in on the joke—the type of guy who can show up on Sophie Iwobi’s show for some ribbing—but in the end, he’s still the fail bro who ironically threw up gang signs outside of Jean-Georges. To put it bluntly: Kendall Roy is not a hero, fam.
Whatever wave he was riding on comes crashing down with Shiv’s press release, which paints him as a conniving, disloyal son and brother wrestling with drug addiction and mental health issues. (These aren’t exactly false assertions, but the fact that Roman and Connor both refuse to sign off on them should tell you how brutal they are.) When news of her statement reaches him, he reverts to the Kendall we’ve seen so many times before: sulking, despondent, lost. He skips his planned appearance on Sophie’s show, opting to hide in a control room and watch the host decimate him. But just when it seems like he’s nearly back at rock bottom, he gets news that the FBI is raiding the Waystar offices. Suddenly, he seems really happy in his headspace.
But speaking of Kendall’s failed foray into late night, our heart goes out to his publicist, Comfry, who has to work to clean up shit like this:
Comfry may be no Karolina, but there’s only so much you can do to stop a jar of mayonnaise in a Prada suit from making a mess of itself.
How many harpoons can Moby Dick take before he can no longer fight back? It may be unwise to ever count Logan out, but by the end of “The Disruption,” he’s at his weakest point yet: welcoming the FBI into his office, losing a pissing match to the president, preparing for a proxy-battle slugfest, waging a public relations war against his son, and acquiescing to Marcia. (“I feel another million drained with every cluck from that hen house,” he says as Marcia negotiates her return to his side.) Still, as Shiv points out, “Everyone is doing fucking somersaults for him right now.” Even at his lowest point, Roman still shills for Logan and Tom offers to catch a case on his behalf. The sun may be dying a slow death, but it remains the center of our solar system. And until Waystar Royco goes supernova, everything in Succession orbits around Logan.
Sure, his employee town hall idea may have been a disaster, but “The Disruption” marks a rare win for Hugo, typically the least competent of all of Logan’s corporate lackeys, when Shiv utters the phrase he pitched as a response to the scandal: “We get it.” It may not be a perfect tagline, and it may immediately invoke images of the cruise line victims, but it’s still a step up from “We here for you.” And the look on Hugo’s face when Shiv says it lets you know he hasn’t had a single good moment at work in a long time.
It’s not that Roman is given the unenviable task of being “the cutest cheerleader in high school” by being forced to tell some heartwarming stories about Logan to help the company save face. It’s not even that Roman doesn’t even have any heartwarming stories about his dad and is forced to repurpose one about Connor as a one-size-fits-all childhood memory. It’s that after he does it, his father mocks him for it. Over the course of the series, Roman has evolved from a sniveling brat into one of the more quietly competent and emotionally astute players in the Waystar universe. But no matter how many deals he closes or puff-piece interviews he gives, it seems like Logan will never fully acknowledge that.
The Egg is down so bad at the beginning of “The Disruption” that he believes for a moment that Tom is offering him a cyanide pill and not a breath mint. He also gets an office downgrade and ends up on the hook for a $40,000 watch that may or may not work (and leaves him looking like he’s jerking off a ghost). None of this is particularly great. However, Greg does have one thing going for him: a budding romance with Comfry. At the very least, she’s helping him not feel self-conscious about his wrists. And that’s about as good as love gets on Succession.
In a different world, one in which she were given the power to make decisions without Logan undercutting her every word, Gerri could be a great CEO. She has plans for Waystar’s future—I’m not exactly sure what the Israeli machine-learning thing is, but it sounds more promising than buying local news affiliates—and she understands that the federal government does not function like a Pez dispenser. But Logan is not looking for a real CEO at the moment—he’s looking for a hazmat suit. As he says early in the episode, “I just hope our acting CEO isn’t getting too fucking acting.” Gerri is too smart and capable to simply be an empty pencil skirt for the duration of her reign—but right now, she has to follow the chain of command, just like everyone else.
13. The Security Guy Who Knows Where the Bodies Are Buried
That would be Colin, who appears to be the only person outside of Kendall and Logan who knows exactly what happened to Andrew Dodds at the end of Season 1. Keeping dossiers on all the shitty Roy children has to be exhausting work, but it sure beats what it’s like to be further down the security pole, which brings us to our next entrant …
14. The Security Guy Who Has to Tell Kendall to Take the Dumbwaiter Upstairs Like a Fucking Hamburger
This dude has probably had to jump in front of multiple bottles of piss being hurled at Logan, and those probably qualify as better days at the office than the one when Kendall tries to jump the turnstile. This is the look of someone who needs a vacation.
“PGN pulls up that photo of me with the ponytail anytime they want to make me look untrustworthy.” He understands that his signature is valuable real estate, but nothing is worth more to us Conheads than the visual that sentence conjures.
16. The Ghost of Kurt Cobain
This is exactly how Kurt intended “Rape Me” to be used, I presume. Let’s just be thankful that Sophie Iwobi didn’t get a chance to ask Kendall what his favorite Nirvana song is.