How desperate has the very uncivil war of the Roys become? As we rejoin the family for the third season of “Succession” after Kendall (Jeremy Strong) launched his surprise attack against his father (Brian Cox) in the Season 2 finale, #TeamKendall and #TeamLogan are fighting over who’s going to get Cousin Greg’s loyalty.
Those are the stakes as the Roys battle for control of the family media empire, and “Succession” has never weighed more deliciously on the comedy side of its dramedy categorization than now, when the future of the multibillion-dollar corporation lies partly in the hands of bumbling doofus Greg (Nicholas Braun), who can’t even decide what to ask for when he’s finally offered … something.
Kendall’s siblings Shiv (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin), and Connor (Alan Ruck) have no such problem, as they each immediately recognize this opportunity their brother’s revolt has dropped at their feet. They rally around Logan – for whatever lasting bit of power that show of allegiance will earn them – and begin to plot side alliances and power moves, while it’s clear to each other, and certainly the viewers, that each is capable of switching sides at the drop of a hint that the other side might win.
Whatever winning actually means in this saga of family dysfunction that mostly boils down to a show of sibling rivalry for the approval of a father who has used sibling competition for sport, and now relies on it to boost his precarious power position.
Kendall, who’s lawyered up and established a base from which to try to oust Logan from Waystar RoyCo, continues to be the Roy you most hate to love, especially during a moment when he’s feeling at his most rebellious, disruptive best and – no specific spoilers here! – gets crushed by a cruel, particularly personal attack from someone who knows all (well, most) of his secrets.
And his siblings have their little redemptive moments, too, be it Roman’s creepy but fascinating mommy/sexual fantasy vibe with Waystar general counsel Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) – perhaps his most sincere relationship – or Shiv’s shock and hurt each time she’s reminded anew that Logan doesn’t really envision her as his successor.
Speaking of Shiv, her marriage, or at least her concern about its survival, has dropped further down on the list of her priorities, and that’s just one of the things bumming out her hubby, Tom (the great Matthew Macfadyen, who should once again be competing against Culkin and Braun for the supporting drama actor Emmy). His marriage is lame, his less experienced wife is ordering him to do things he knows are going to make him look the fool, and he’s panicked about the quality of the toilet wine he’ll have to drink if he’s sent to prison as the presumptive scapegoat for those Waystar cruise crimes. All he can do to console himself is torment Greg, which he continues to do in new ways that unnerve the jumpy distant family relation.
But isn’t that what life is all about, after all: finding new ways to amuse and comfort yourself at the expense of those closest to you? It continues to be in the Roy family, anyway, and this new season of “Succession” is so much the tragic, sure, but also the better and funnier for it.
“Succession” Season 3 premieres October 17 on HBO.