still the best show on tv
Wwhy are we looking Succession? The experience is unlike any other TV show. It doesn’t look like relaxation or a form of escape. Most of the time, let’s be honest, you wouldn’t even call that fun. Watching Succession you have the impression of being dragged underwater by a shark who calls you an idiot.
Yet we still love it – and after a long, tortuous hiatus, the Roys, television’s most irredeemably horrible family, are back. When we left them – spoiler alert – Kendall had suddenly slipped the knife behind her father’s back on live television, refusing to be the sacrificial lamb for Logan’s complicity in bribery – and in so doing, putting not only a cat but a whole Bengal tiger among the pigeons. As with the previous season, this was a finale that left you making unhealthy noises on your screen and hitting the furniture with pleasure. You wanted more.
The third season of Jesse Armstrong’s widely praised, gong-laden drama makes no changes to its core lineup or modus operandi. It continues, in dense hour-long episodes, to be exactly as before: funny, ugly, irritating, cold, brilliant.
Sitting pretty as the headline, Kendall – poor, broken, dead-eyed Kendall – can only be enough for so long before having to deal with the seismic implications of her stunt. Much of the third season (the seven episodes that critics had access to) is about how and with whom Kendall will take on the mighty Logan. This battle, between father and firstborn (if you don’t count Connor, which is not the case), has always been Successionthe true essence of; he’s been the bookend every season. The scenes that tease a meeting with the two, and the ones in which an inevitable meeting takes place, are the ones we want to see. The pair continue to be so well written and performed by Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox so well that you can almost feel your mouth watering with every line of dialogue.
A debate could take place on the authenticity of this dialogue – as The thickness of it, which Armstrong also had a big impact on, he can sometimes feel way too satisfied with himself – but he serves lines like no other. “I’ll be castering you and marrying you in the blink of an eye,” Tom tells Greg at one point, as the fear that he is serving time in prison begins to drive him mad. In another scene, Greg, flirting with Kendall’s assistant Comfrey, uses the phrase “a very unbiased young girl” about him while adopting a deranged and half-hearted Texan accent. Logan’s brother Ewan, a character who could always afford more screen time, describes the members of Logan’s camp as “villainous shills.” For fans who like screenshots, there are plenty of retweets here.
There may unfortunately be fewer landmark scenes – although previous seasons have set the bar very high – and a little more verbal fights than every hour can realistically contain. But it’s a bit like criticizing the elevators of the Eiffel Tower – we’re already spoiled. One criticism that seems fair is that we see too much of Roman, who starts to become more irritating to the viewer than he even is to the characters around him. “You’re not a real person,” Kendall tells her as her younger brother laughs at him. There is a danger of this manifesting in the script as well, as Roman spits out lines that probably made the writers scream with joy but take the drama further and further away from plausibility.
What Succession has always managed to do terribly well, is to make each of its main characters so believable and so dense that each scene is as layered as a palace of lasagna. There is so much to bite into and the stakes are so obscurely high that the viewer is likely to abuse it. Is season three still as rich? Yes. Does he pack more? Probably not. This dilemma was partly induced by COVID (taking characters to other places was complex) but partly woven into the fabric of the series – how long can the scramble for The Big Seat remain compelling?
Ultimately, Succession may risk feeling like a drama too visibly directed by comedy writers, with its characters sitting in a circle shooting zingers. There’s a reason it’s particularly popular in the media landscape. Where he took to the skies, in his 37 sublime episodes, was when he let the masks of his characters slip off and a dramatic change was actually happening. In this new season, we might have wanted a little less “optics” and “temperature” and a little more mask slipping. But whether it can be classified as fun or not, SuccessionThe grip of continues to pull us as strongly as ever, into the troubled depths.
Season 3 of “Succession” premieres October 18 in the UK via Sky Atlantic and the NOW streaming service. He returns on October 17 in the United States