Succession Season 3 Review: Another ballistic season with the Roys

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Succession Season 3 Review: Another ballistic season with the Roys

Illustration: Arati Gujar

Succession season 3 ended exactly how season 2 ended; with an unmistakable sense of WTFness that we have come to expect from the House of Roys.  The Roys are Shakespeare’s understanding of a family; one where the twisted knife is the most predictable tool in this incredibly wealthy debacle that considers itself family, but maybe only by name and entitlement, and little else. Patriarch Logan Roy helms a family so dysfunctional and yet normal that it could be any of ours. Without the private jets. And the levels of deep-seated distrust, I suppose.

Season 3’s finale episode started with Logan uncharacteristically reading out a dark story to his grandchildren – whom he didn’t think twice to try and poison in the previous episode by the way – and his grown children playing and cheating in a game of Monopoly. The irony is as rich as the characters themselves.

The Roy family has been a fascinating collection of people so far removed from their own reality let alone the reality of the world, that the delusion is both hereditary and circumstantial. Logan Roy presides over the company he built and the children he spawned in the most everyday diabolical manner; it is a lethal combination of playing to their desperation for approval and their worthlessness in the absence of their surname, deftly and coldly manipulated in a style only someone close to you can. Every time you think he has some redeeming qualities, he finds yet another card up his sleeve.

Even in Season 3, the idea of intimacy continues to shift as shaky alliances are formed and betrayed, dynamics are realigned and manipulated, and “love” is that four-letter word that is more shocking than F***.

The season opened with Kendall riding a personal and career high, having returned to his prodigal son image decisively. But with everything Kendall, there is the real him and there is the version of him he wants to be but fails. His bipolarised character rides major highs and plummets to unfathomable lows within the span of a season. There is something to be said about a person who is willing to be vulnerable because only then can one truly rise like the proverbial Phoenix. We’ve seen Kendall do that a lot, but does he have it in him one more time? Who else but Tom has the right words to describe this: “I’ve seen you get f***** many times. But I’ve never seen Logan get f*****. Not once.”

Tom, the man with some of the funniest lines thanks to his camaraderie with cousin Greg, has blossomed in Season 3 to be the closest to emotional maturity that the Roy family can associate with (who would’ve thought). For even in his most hilarious lines, there’s wisdom and poignancy. You want him desperately to not be corrupted by the insidious Roys even though he’s learning to work with what he has.  Shiv needs him more than she realises and certainly not in the way she thinks he wants to be there for her. From showing signs of gaining importance in the company earlier this season, she has also constantly been put her under someone else (be it Gerri or Roman) to reiterate that Logan loves his Pinky when he needs her. Which is not most of the time.

Roman’s arc in this season has been the most interesting to watch because he is the guy who constantly vocalises “talking about feelings” (and he does this repeatedly to Kendall, to Logan and to Shiv) and then immediately balks at the idea even though he seems most likely to get onboard with it. He’s happier being the weirdo with an Oedipus complex he is typecast as, one who is more comfortable sending d*** pics instead. The way he diffidently stood up to Logan’s devious mechanisations in the season finale after episodes of letting Logan have his way is a triumph of character’s evolution.

The bickering and the scheming and the deal-making has been at the forefront of Succession across three seasons. Why the show is such a hit is not because of its exciting boardroom storylines. The characters and their predicaments resonate with us, because even without all that obscene amount of wealth, we are all networking within our families to seek approval, comfort and a sense of belonging. The Succession title video perfectly encapsulates that struggle, updated that it was with footage for Season 3.

We’re all rooting for the children to get one-up over their father and their distant, callous mother.

Yes, the show is following a pattern of predictable unpredictability…leaving each season with a major twist, much like we’ve gotten accustomed to Grey’s Anatomy bumping off a lead character in every mid-season and season finale. There is growing fatigue that Logan seems to be winning every time, even when he’s not. We’re all rooting for the children to get one-up over their father and their distant, callous mother.

But this season, Logan has freed them of their entitlement, forcing them to grow in a way he has never groomed them to be so far because he’s always been threatened by them. It’s like he showed up and stole even their Free Parking money after buying half the board and discarding the Chance and Community Chest cards. But Tom got the Get-Out-Of-Jail card. Only Season 4 will tell us if this was a prophecy or yet another irony.