WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) returns to New York with cousin Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) and refuses to accept responsibility for the improprieties at the Waystar/Royco Parks/Cruises division, leaving his father Logan Roy (Brian Cox) with some difficult choices. The obvious one: hop from country to country on a private jet in search of a country with which the US does not have an extradition treaty. The old man is asked how he is. “I’m looking forward to seeing more of the Balkans,” he says.Meanwhile, the scramble has begun, and panic has set in.
Who will band together with Ken? Who is accompanying Dad? Daughter Shiv (Sarah Snook) and son Roman (Kieran Culkin) support their father for the time being, as does son-in-law Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), who doesn’t have much choice but has a good read on the situation: “This is a 12-foot sub of poisonous tree frogs.”Connor Roy (Alan Ruck), the oldest son, is preoccupied with (who else?) Connor. Even in this mess, he longs for the White House. MY OPINION HBO provided seven of nine episodes for review, so here’s the lowdown on those that came before the “Bottom Line”: Starts strong, wobbles a little, and then reaches cruising altitude around the fifth episode (entitled, provocatively enough, “Retired Janitors of Idaho”).
This isn’t to say you’ll be dozing off while waiting for 35,000 feet; the first few episodes are excellent. It’s just that those late-November episodes are a perfect distillation of everything and everyone that makes “Succession” so great, and continues to be so great. Watching these three is to experience the unadulterated (and unaccustomed) joy of post-pandemic television, with their writing, pace, and sheer tragicomic lunacy.
The best that the medium has to offer is back, and witnessing it feels like witnessing a TV miracle.What caused the early wobble? The production of “Succession” began in November, hampered by COVID protocols and a Manhattan setting that was part-ghost town, part-Dubuque.
The city appeared to be the same, but it clearly wasn’t. Despite this, showrunner Jesse Armstrong chose to ignore the pandemic, which meant ignoring that setting to some extent.Instead, large swaths of these early episodes take place high above the streets, in rarefied — sanitised — offices where high-stakes poker is played. (Who’s on Ken’s side? (How about Logan?) The fourth episode (November 7) takes Ken and Logan to the Hamptons, where they become literally lost in the weeds. To some extent, it’s lonely, wind-swept, and desolate; metaphorically, it’s similar to the first half of the season.
For this show to really take off, these lab rats need to break free from their gilded cage every now and then, which is why the second season finale was so thrilling. Aboard Logan’s yacht, on the azure Adriatic, where great civilizations have vanished without a trace, all the Logans can think about is who will take the fall for the cruises division’s hanky-panky.This season takes place in a biodome, or alternate reality space, where the previous 17 months have never occurred and the daily concerns of the super rich still seem almost consequential. The pandemic would have killed the buzz, or, in Shiv’s words, “roughed the mellow.
” Whoever will one day occupy the Iron Throne at Waystar/Royco must remain the focus of these lab rats, because shifting the focus elsewhere would have transformed “Succession” into something else, or undeniably something less. The reason for this is self-evident. Armstrong believes that when given a set of options, people — specifically these people — will always choose the door of self-preservation, especially when their defences are as thoroughly scrambled as they are in the third season.
Each Roy is so narrowly focused on the door of their choice that they forget there are better doors, better options.
That single-mindedness, that uncluttered focus, is what makes the second half of this season so amusing. Meanwhile, the tragic element is embedded in the Roys’ and the series’ pervasive cynicism. This bottomless or rather cosmic cynicism has now leached into the body politic, becoming a poison and a blight on the Republic. There is no moral centre because there is no centre, and there is no line that cannot be crossed because — in Logan’s indelible interpretation — “Nothing is a straight line.
Everything and everyone is in motion. Become accustomed to it.”Logan is still the “Succession” cat’s paw, deciding fates and fortunes. Waystar’s own Nietzsche, with his own set of end-of-the-world aphorisms, is the true nihilist here. Shiv informs him that he must “He corrects her: “‘Climate’ said I was going down, ‘climate’ said I should just step aside.” [Long pause.] I guess I’m a climate sceptic. “Cox’s performance is impressive, but so is everyone else’s. Prepare to be dazed.
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