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The ‘Succession’ Season 3 Exit Survey

Discussing the result of Kendall’s arc, whether Greg might actually become Luxembourgian royalty, and that heart-stopping shoulder touch from Logan to Tom

HBO/Getty Images/Ringer illustration

On Sunday night, the third season of Succession came to an end. One potentially major development didn’t come to fruition, but that just left the door open for even more devastating events. Here is how the Ringer staff is processing things after yet another disastrous Roy family wedding.

1. What is your tweet-length review of the Succession finale?

David Lara: “You come at the king, you best not miss.” —Omar Little —Logan Roy

Alan Siegel: I’ve still never seen Logan get fucked once.

Jomi Adeniran:

Alyssa Bereznak:

Katie Baker: Justice for Jeremy Strong!

Aric Jenkins: Forget all the Slacks and group chat messages I sent saying, “Is anybody else a little bored this season?All is forgiven.

Alison Herman: Jesse Armstrong fucking wins.

Ben Lindbergh: Maybe the real succession was the siblings we stopped backstabbing along the way.

2. What was the best moment of the season?

Adeniran: That final scene when Shiv and Roman realize what Kendall has been saying for three seasons: that Logan will discard them as soon as they are useless. Kendall consoles Roman as Shiv stands there in shell-shocked disbelief.

Siegel: Recency bias tells me it’s Logan putting his hand on Tom’s shoulder in the climactic scene of the finale. But I think it’s the act of and fallout from Roman accidentally sending Logan a pic of his Doric column.

Lara:

Bereznak: I will always cherish the look of withering shame on Roman’s face as he realizes he accidentally sent daddy a dick pic.

Lindbergh: The Kendall-Shiv-Roman conference in the finale, followed by their belated alliance and strategy session in the car. Watching three lonely, lost souls have a heart-to-heart—or as close as these heartless, stunted corporate climbers could come to one—was alternately touching and tragic. Gaining the support of his siblings was the culmination of Kendall’s season-long search for connection, but the Roys’ rapprochement left me wondering whether Kendall’s confession and the former rivals’ hypothetical splitting of spoils had created a cathartic meeting of minds or a short-term marriage of convenience. How much genuine feeling hid behind Roman’s joking deflections? Was this rebound the beginning of Kendall’s redemption or the rekindling of one of his dormant addictions? Will the siblings learn from the realization that they could have usurped dad if they’d just joined forces sooner? I don’t know whether this moment marked a turning point or a brief detour on the path to permanent anomie, but Jeremy Strong’s decision to sit on the gravel was worth every wasted take.

Baker: All scenes involving my soulless, solicitous distant cousin, Hugo Baker.

Jenkins: Even though it ultimately didn’t lead to anything, the FBI raid at the end of Episode 3 was tantalizing to watch. For so long we watched Logan swat away adversary after adversary; it reached a point where it felt naive to believe he was genuinely in danger. But when Gerri firmly says, “Logan, they are coming up, and if you don’t open the door they will kick it in,” something changed. Nicholas Britell’s score paired with the image of a dozen FBI agents pouring into Waystar’s lobby is drama at its peak.

Herman: Logan and Kendall’s dinner—specifically, the moment when Kendall calls Logan’s bluff and says he’ll take the buyout, only for Logan to snatch the escape route away. Logan wins, almost always, a constantly underlined status quo that’s always threatening to freeze the show in stasis. But the reason it works is that Succession makes him human and fallible despite all his savvy. He may have the upper hand, a killer instinct, and a better understanding of how to work people, but at the end of the day, Logan’s just as driven by irrational emotion as anyone else. He won’t take a decisive victory if it costs him a punching bag, just as his kids won’t take a lucrative buyout if it costs them a sense of control. The rotten apples don’t fall far from the tree.

3. What was your least favorite development?

Jenkins: The Jeremy Strong profile discourse. We didn’t need all of that, Jessica Chastain.

Lindbergh: Does the coronavirus count? Not only did COVID postpone the production and debut of Season 3, but the constraints it seemed to impose on the settings sapped some of the spark from a few early episodes. Succession is still fun when it’s limited to the core characters trading insults in their offices and apartments, but it’s better when all the world is its stage.

Siegel: Caroline selling out her kids felt horrible, even if it was painfully believable.

Adeniran: Willa agreeing to marry Connor. Connor doesn’t deserve her, and while Willa realizing that she should leave Connor at the altar will make for great television, we already have Shiv and Tom as our resident unhappy couple. We don’t need another.

Herman: Introducing Chekhov’s Dick Pics the very hour they started driving the plot was unusually clunky writing from a show that’s typically far more graceful than its profanity implies. That’s obviously a nitpick, but what else do we have to complain about?

Baker: After spending so much time with Josh, we just sort of never heard from or about him again. Come on, take off ONE layer and stay awhile!

Bereznak: Greg’s graduation from bumbling Waystar Royco mascot to Rolex-wearing Greenpeace agitator with a thing for Insta-contessas. I know it’s the natural progression of things but his subplots were funnier when he was a little more dumb and a lot poorer.

4. Shall we talk about Tom?!

Baker: You know what they say about Christmas trees!!!

Jenkins: The best writing feels like a natural result of the action, while still being a surprise. Episode after episode, Shiv treated Tom with utter contempt, gradually building his motivation to do something drastic. Yet when the final scenes reveal Logan’s hand on Tom’s shoulder, everyone watching in my apartment cried out in shock. Teach Succession in every screenwriting class in the country.

Adeniran: What a performance from Tom Wambsgans this season. Between maybe going to prison and his wife hating his guts, it was looking tough for our guy. But Tom came back from down 3-1 and took his life back. We should have seen it coming 100 miles away too.

Bereznak: In my mind, Tom grew up memorizing issues of Vanity Fair cover to cover. Once upon a time, he had a romantic Jackie-O fanboy notion that dignity and elegance are inherent to wealth. But his marriage to Shiv has slowly but surely dulled every bit of shine from the life he’d imagined for himself. This season, he’d so fully embraced his role as sacrificial Roy family lamb that he was slinging back diner food to prepare his palate for jail. When his wife looked him straight in the eye and said, “I don’t love you,” it was that final push he needed to go rogue. When he asked Greg: “Who has ever looked after you in this fucking family, huh?” it felt like he was finally asking himself the same exact thing.

Siegel: He deserved to be angry at how he was being treated, particularly by Shiv. But he clearly learned from the family he married into, choosing the most self-interested, cynical, diabolical way to get back at her.

Lara: Shiv pushed him too far, but he’s always known it’s a dog-eat-dog world.

Herman: A wise man once said he’d seen Kendall get fucked many times, but had never seen Logan get fucked once. Tom could’ve said the same of Roman or Shiv, and nothing has changed since he made that observation besides the further decay of his marriage. What other side was he going to take? No one has a finer-tuned sense of power than the grasping outsider, which may make Tom a more worthy heir to Logan than any of his biological children.

Lindbergh: It becomes clearer by the season that Tom is the true protagonist of Succession. He’s the most sympathetic snake in the den of vipers, yet he’s also the one most capable of playing Logan’s ugly game. While most of his in-laws flounder in classic sitcom fashion, repeating mistakes they’ve made many times before, Tom gets savvier, sees through their self-serving plans, and hatches his own to keep climbing the ladder. And in Greg, he has the sidekick and confidant that most of Succession’s alienated loners lack. If there’s any real affection in the family, it’s between those two. Shiv should hitch her wagon to Tom’s double-crossing star if she wants to return to her dad’s good graces and help guide GoJo Waystar Wambsgansco. Maybe Tom’s power play will weirdly make their marriage work. Or maybe he’ll decide that he’s out of Shiv’s league, not the other way around.

5. Where does Succession go now, if there is no succession?

Siegel: I get the feeling Logan cashing out won’t mean that he stops being a power-hungry media mogul. My question is: Which of the cast-out Roy children will be the first to come crawling back to daddy?

Jenkins: The Roy children will find some sort of loophole in the paperwork and team up in earnest for the first time. In Season 4, we’ll see Greg’s continued evolution from baggy parka-wearer to bespoke-fitted powerbroker. And I think there’s a decent chance Tom and Shiv don’t immediately get divorced, if at all.

Lindbergh: There’s still the question of who’ll succeed the grand duke of Luxembourg. But it’s probably premature to close the book on the Waystar Royco succession saga. Plus, there’s still an estate to carve up, a president to elect, countless scores to settle, and a possible almond-and-maca-enhanced future Roy floating in Logan’s epididymis.

Herman: To therapy? Just kidding! I imagine next season will trace the beat-by-beat fallout of the acquisition, assuming it doesn’t fall through. But if this season finale proved anything, it’s that the intimate relationships at the core of Succession are what we truly watch for—the business disputes are just a way to draw them out. The Roys’ circumstances may change, but their emotional wounds (and the potential to make good TV from them) are forever.

Baker: I know it might be anathema to the nature of the show, but I’d love to see more glimpses of the Roy family interacting with other species in the wild. The Season 2 arc where Roman befriends the guy at Waystar Royco employee bootcamp was one of my favorites.

Bereznak: Logan and Kerry’s unborn child doesn’t understand the question and won’t respond to it.

6. After a week of speculation surrounding Kendall, how do you feel about the result, and where things went with the character in the finale?

Herman: I never thought I’d be so deeply touched by one terrible person assuring another that actually, negligent manslaughter isn’t that bad.

I was initially disappointed the show didn’t do something as wildly gutsy as kill off its main character, but upon reflection, I love the bittersweet feeling of Kendall getting at once exactly what he needs (showing another human being, or two, the darkest part of himself and getting true acceptance of who he is) and exactly what he doesn’t (an excuse not to look deeper into himself or how the family business is fundamentally toxic to him and everyone else involved). It’d be too easy to give Kendall the closure of either a full epiphany or death. He’ll always be dancing on the edge of true enlightenment.

Adeniran: I’m glad our Number One (Sad) Boy didn’t bite the big one. I don’t know how you do this show without Jeremy Strong.

Lara: I thought he was doomed based on the timing with the New Yorker profile. But the show needs him as much as Shiv and Roman need him.

Siegel: A lesser show might’ve fully staged Kendall’s possible self-harm and hospitalization. The choice to treat it matter-of-factly was crushing and also fitting; he’s an addict who’s been hurting for years; this was just another low point in a series of many. I also liked that his siblings, despite being deeply emotionally stunted themselves, actually gave him the support that he needed for once. (That being said, Roman joking about his big brother mistakenly killing a waiter and running from the scene was yet another reminder of how profoundly fucked up the Roys are.)

Jenkins: Given that Kendall is revealed to be completely fine in the first two minutes of the finale, I don’t know that we needed that ultra-dramatic cliff-hanger. But I get the intention, all things considered. Kendall needed a near-death experience to allow himself to be vulnerable in front of Shiv and Rome. His big confession doesn’t happen without it—and the trio’s united confrontation of Logan is the result of that domino effect. Ultimately, I’m glad we got to see Kendall have that conversation with his siblings and not just get written off of the show.

Bereznak: Twitter thinking that Kendall is at the bottom of some pool when in reality he just drank too many limoncellos is … classic Twitter. That he instead reaches a metaphorical rock bottom mid-wedding and confesses to manslaughter to his siblings (who are kinda sorta there for him) is probably a sign of growth. Functionally, at the very least, it could offer us a badly-needed plot ladder out of the weepy techno-Gatsby purgatory Kendall has been in all season. Especially given that all four of the Roy children are now officially on equally shitty footing with their father. I’m hoping Season 4 gives us a Kendall that’s 20 percent less depressed, if only for Method Actor and Recent New Yorker Profile Subject Jeremy Strong’s sake.

Lindbergh:

Making a mountain out of a cliff-hanger and killing Kendall offscreen never struck me as Succession’s style. I understand the case for killing the character, and the series’ stacked cast has pantheon performances to spare. But Jeremy Strong’s pathos makes Kendall more interesting alive than he could ever be floating facedown.

Baker: There was a Twitter thread by New Yorker writer Michael Schulman that kinda said it all:

It describes Strong’s process in working on that climactic confession scene, a process that was maybe A Lot yet also yielded brilliance. Seeing Kendall walk away with dirt on his seat was one of my favorite details of the episode, and it wouldn’t have happened without Strong being the kind of eccentric creative beast that he is.

7. Who was Season 3’s MVP?

Adeniran: Logan Roy is the MVP and it shouldn’t even be close. He’s ’90s Michael Jordan, he’s ’08 Michael Phelps, he’s current Tom Brady. Even when his children finally work together and stack the deck, he comes out on top. He don’t miss.

Siegel: Touchdown Tom.

Lara: It has to be Tom. He beat a case and has now positioned himself in Logan’s inner inner circle while standing up to a wife who’s disrespected him for years.

Bereznak: I think Tom answered this question best when he told Kendall a few episodes ago that he’d “never seen Logan get fucked once.” So yes, it’s Logan. Always Logan. But in close second is Tom, for knowing it’s always Logan. The Midwestern legend dodged jail and secured himself a first-class helicopter ride to the C-suite, no loveless fatherhood required.

Jenkins: Every single member of the cast acted their ass off; you gotta admire the rise and fall of Rome this season, Logan was excellently sinister as always, and Tom’s arc was incredible to watch unfold. But I’m gonna go with Alexander Skarsgård’s Lukas Matsson—a perfect casting decision, and I’m excited to see more of him in Season 4.

Baker: Lukas Matsson. He rates you!!!

Lindbergh: Kendall, if only for enabling the delicious celebrity backlash to the Jeremy Strong New Yorker profile. Beyond that, though, Logan’s not-actually-eldest son supplied the season’s emotional underpinning and fueled the plot-driven drama at Waystar Royco, despite ostensibly being barred from the building. I know Kendall doesn’t deserve a happy ending, but in spite of his boardroom blunders, off-putting personality, and failures as a father, husband, and brother, I’m still hoping he finds peace, or at least a cool tweet or two.

Herman: ​​Jeremy Strong provided as much entertainment off camera as he did pathos in his soon-to-be-two-time-Emmy-winning performance. New Yorker-gate may have been the final nail in the celebrity profile’s coffin, but at least it went out on a high note?

8. Pick a wedding: Season 1 in England or Season 3 in Tuscany?

Bereznak: Season 1 in England! Better speeches, and—based on the few glimpses we got of the Tuscany dance floor—a far superior DJ.

Jenkins: I mean, IRL, definitely Tuscany—is that a real question? But in terms of Succession, I don’t think anything can get more dramatic and compelling than Kendall killing someone.

Siegel: Tuscany, by far. I, too, want to take a ride on Matsson’s wood-paneled boat and play Monopoly in a villa-side courtyard.

Baker: Definitely Tuscany. Caroline would be a pretty perfect friend to have so long as you aren’t actually attempting to get emotionally close to her. And I’d be less hungover the next day than after a night taking shots with those corn-fed Fly Guys.

Adeniran: Season 3 in Tuscany: Warmer weather, better food, and best of all, nobody drowned.

Lara: Pasta > fish and chips.

Lindbergh: Tuscany. Better scenery, happier newlyweds, and fewer deaths (aside from the Roy siblings’ spirits). But Tuscany will probably pale in comparison to the Season 4 finale’s Connor-Willa White House wedding or the Season 5 finale at Greg and the Luxembourg Contessa’s bash.

Herman: Trick question! As the name of Episode 8 implies, Tuscany is so riddled with rich Brits it’s basically a province of England anyway.

9. What loose threads are you hoping will be resolved next season?

Jenkins: So ... is Logan’s attempt at conception post-70 going to work or what?

Herman: Does that white nationalist actually become president? I hope we haven’t seen the last of Jeryd Mencken, even if it’d be best for this alternate America if we had. He and Roman have flirty glances to exchange!

Baker: I guess it’s lost a little bit of its dramatic luster now that Kendall seems more open about admitting what happened, but: I continue to be driven crazy by why Marcia’s son was one of the handful of people to know about what Kendall did and then it was never mentioned again. Also, bring it on, Greenpeace!

Lindbergh: Sorry, I can’t focus on Succession Season 4 because I’ve already mentally and emotionally moved on to The Gilded Age.

Siegel: Kendall may have made a breakthrough in the season finale, but I assume that his clarity will be short-lived. Feeling guilty enough to confess to his siblings was a big step, but is that moment enough for him to get his life together? Also: I hope we get to see Connor reacting to the fact that he didn’t even get to be in the room when his father snubbed his kids.

Bereznak: My questions are: What does this podcast have on Kendall? How will Shiv handle being less powerful than Tom? At what point will Willa walk into the ocean and never return? And just how effective is maca root at improving male fertility?

Adeniran: All the business stuff aside … who does Greg end up with? He wasn’t really feeling Comfry, but can our guy Greg the Egg actually land a contessa? That’s what we should really be thinking about headed into Season 4.