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.
The big old gorilla had only about two minutes of screen time this week, but that was more than enough to emphasize the (seeming) culmination of the Worst Comeback Story You’ve Ever Heard. Logan Roy has held on to his company; picked the likely next president of the United States; gotten a new, much younger girlfriend; is about to broker a deal with the streaming company GoJo; and has just found out that Waystar will probably face only a fine for its cruise line scandal. Not bad for a guy who looked destined for prison just five episodes ago.
Two episodes still remain in Succession’s third season, and as always, Logan’s manipulation of his children could backfire on him. (Season 2 ended with Kendall putting a knife in his back; would it be all that shocking if Season 3 ended with Shiv doing the same?) But for now, the “great” Logan Roy did it again. Let’s just hope, as Shiv puts it, he doesn’t actually do it again.
Viewed a certain way, Season 3 of Succession has been a character study of Roman Roy. The first two seasons dealt with his maturation, and we’re now seeing what he’s grown into. Beneath all of the psychological damage and intimacy issues—“due to … we don’t know what reason”—is perhaps the only Roy sibling who loves his family unconditionally. Look at the way he refused to put his name on Shiv’s letter against Kendall, or the genuine, forget-about-work reaction he had to his dad’s UTI-related meltdown at the shareholder meeting; or even his mild insistence on going to Ken’s birthday party. There is a deep familial instinct within him.
Unfortunately, Logan turned familial love into a contest decades ago and Roman has been twistedly chasing it ever since. (The “he” in the above image refers to HIS DAD.) On top of that misguided aim is a heaping dose of cynicism—and maybe sociopathy? That enables him to play the game impeccably well; as we’ve seen this season, he may be the only one of Logan Roy’s children who is capable of maneuvering in the amoral, cutthroat corporate world. He can tell low-key neo-Nazis what they want to hear; he’ll happily throw his phone into a urinal and let a tech genius piss on it. He’s giving in to his more heartless instincts, and he’s absolutely killing it.
But these two sides of Roman can’t be disentangled. The part that genuinely loves his dad and siblings will eventually bump up against the part that gives his brother a birthday card that says “Cash out and fuck off.” And when it does, it’s going to be ugly: Roman’s been abused by Logan before, but he’s yet to be truly decimated by him like Kendall and Shiv. What will happen when his dad doesn’t want to, uh, fuck him anymore?
3. Lukas Matsson
The belle of Kendall’s fucked-up ball, Lukas Matsson (played perfectly Scandinavian by Alexander Skarsgard) is the owner of GoJo, and thus Waystar’s ticket into the 21st century. He’s the “Odin of codin’”; he’s the only one asking the right questions, like when the hell is Logan going to die; even his facial expressions are commercially sensitive; he has a set of priorities that no one could ever argue with:
So, yeah, this dude’s crushing it. But I think Roman might wanna chill out on high-fiving himself for a minute. A piss-soaked cellphone might not be the best launching pad for an amicable, easy business relationship. No good can come from a tech guy who insists on being called a genius, and who says media “isn’t his world” despite owning a streaming service.
4. Kerry the Assistant
Well, good. I’m so glad we have Kerry’s opinion on the matter.
Connor Roy is polling at almost 1 percent. That’s 4 million people, which, in Connor’s estimation, is enough to have Angela Merkel begging him to save democracy or George Soros “serenading [him] from the trees.”
But Connor’s stock is up for more than one reason: Those polling numbers seem to have Willa thinking about life in the White House, because she’s suddenly backing Con up and defending him as if she likes him. After she snaps at Comfry for trying to make Connor take his jacket off at Ken’s birthday party, Connor looks happier than we’ve ever seen him on the show:
I’m happy for the guy. I’m almost hoping that story about him shitting himself on a camping trip with Kendall and Roman doesn’t get out. (He had bad fish! Give him a break!)
6. Cousin Greg
In “Too Much Birthday,” it’s made official: Cousin Greg is the only character on this show capable of achieving true happiness.
The “9-foot Cro-Magnon man” is giddy because Comfry has agreed to go on a date with him. Sure, she’s mostly doing it to spite Kendall, who’s ruining her life with over-the-top demands such as “get Springsteen to save the vibes” and “find me a jetpack I can use to fly out from the retractable roof.” And sure, Comfry is preparing to brief the press for when Kendall burns Greg. But that’s all just semantics. Cousin Greg has a date with a “very evenhanded maiden” and he feels actual, genuine joy over it. That’s a hell of a lot more than most of these people can say.
On the one hand, Tom might not be going to prison. (Side note: The scene when he breaks the news to Greg—and breaks Greg’s office in the process—should be Matthew Macfadyen’s Emmy reel. He’s been unreal this season.)
On the other hand, unlike Greg, Tom is incapable of finding happiness despite a renewed lease on life.
Cocaine et al. definitely have something to do with Tom’s utter lack of merriment, but it goes deeper than that. Some part of him surely notices his wife’s lackluster response to his newfound freedom—instead of celebrating with him, she spends the episode stewing over her dwindling influence in the family. And beyond that, prison had at least given Tom a purpose; something to make his own. Now that his one-to-two-year bid no longer hangs in the balance—although, all of the “We’re not going to prison!” exclamations in this episode made me think that someone is definitely going to prison—what is he left with? He’s just a guy who had too many meals at a bunch of shitty diners.
I mean, an immersive experience? Kendall could’ve at least consulted the future first lady of the United States ...
I’m sure Comf is making well into the six figures working for Kendall—no one is putting together a multimillion-dollar event and shoveling that much arrested development shit for less than $300,000 a year. But holy cow, does she have the worst job in New York City? Imagine having a boss who demands to be crucified at his own party and then scolds you because “it feels like an asshole’s birthday party.”
But hey, at least she’s got a hot date coming up?
This … does not look like someone who’s doing well:
Relatedly, we still don’t know enough about Shiv’s college years.
The only way Kendall’s 40th birthday party—titled, obviously, “The Notorious Ken Ready to Die”—was ever going to end was with him ominously staring down from a balcony in Hudson Yards, a new development site in New York City that is already godforsaken.
The party is ground zero for every single facet of Kendall’s dysfunction: his overinflated ego, his equally debilitating insecurity, his delusions of grandeur, his absurd insistence on live performances, his broken relationships with his family, his even more broken relationship with his own children, his inability to get his oldest brother to take his coat off. (Kendall’s no-coat policy is wildly similar to Kim Jong-un’s leather coat ban in North Korea; that’s a rough comp.) After easily dropping more than a million dollars on his own party, it’s no surprise that it ends with him alone, rolling around in a heap of presents from people he doesn’t know, looking for the one present that actually means something to him.
(Note the children’s comforter. Kendall might’ve just turned 40, but he’s never actually grown up.)
This has to be (another) rock bottom for Ken, right? After a season of trying to convince himself that he’s a righteous savior of all that is holy and good, is he now finally ready to look at himself in a mirror? Will he stop hanging out with the guy who tells him that all his terrible ideas “slap”? Will he never again liken himself to Jesus Christ and/or Billy Joel? The truth might be difficult to swallow, but further denying it no longer seems to be an option.
12. Naomi Pierce
Look, at times, it seems like Naomi Pierce is good for Kendall. For example, the photo above. But every other time, she’s standing on the sidelines giving him a thumbs-up while he wears a mock turtleneck from Dan Flashes and sings “Honesty.”
It’s probably also worth examining the first question she asks when Kendall tells her that Logan’s offered to buy him out of the firm:
What is Naomi Pierce’s deal?!
13. Tiny Wu-Tang
It is a travesty that Tiny Wu-Tang didn’t get to perform. According to Kendall, it was way better than it sounds.