M.and the crowd to watch is worse than my crowd to read, but at least all the prestigious shows I need to watch are over. I’ll get to them, but there’s no urgency. Not so with Succession, another award-winning entity, to which I have been invited by critics and friends. Two series have passed me by, and now we have the third season of the epic story about media baron Logan Roy and his clan. It’s time to go inside.
First season, first episode
It barely started and I’m already terrified. I need time to realize that music scares me. What I call the “sinister gas-gas” —but my more musical and educated friend advises to better label himself as a “meandering chromatism of melody” —is the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever heard.
It makes it difficult to concentrate, but I think I’ve sorted out the main figures and events. Logan, an 80-year-old paterfamilias (Brian Cock), refuses to withdraw from his Vaistar Roico empire and hands over the CEO’s ship to his presumed heiress Kendall (Jeremy Strong). When he suffers a stroke, everyone starts running for the position, including his youngest son Roman (Kieran Culkin) and only daughter Shiv (Sarah Snook). She is supposedly a liberal, but I doubt she loves Dad at heart the most.
Hovering around are the oldest child, Connor (Alan Ruck) and Greg (Nicholas Brown), a nervous, unsophisticated distant cousin who appears hoping to get a job from his grandfather.
Dynamics, moves, counterweights, overt and covert motivations … everything is dizzying, and the script is dazzling. These are the characters that everyone remotely connects with the show they know clearly from the inside. I thought I was going to be heavier, but I got hooked.
First season, second episode
The second episode is called Shit Show in Fuck Factor and it seems as good a point as any other in which it can be noticed that, although I absorbed the basics of setting up Succession through cultural osmosis, I had no clue that it was a comedy. I mean, it’s not – even at this early stage, you can practically feel the growing swelling of the tragedy – but it’s so, so funny. I don’t know why I’m amazed that the series created by Jesse Armstrong from Peep Show is as witty, as smart and convincing, structurally healthy and all those good things.
Main event: Logan-kraken wakes up and everyone is once again scared and frightened, including me.
Season one, episode three
Kendall is securing $ 4 billion from student friend-cum-private-equity-investor Stevie to prevent a catastrophe after learning that the company quietly owes $ 3 billion. Dad is not happy with his decision. And when Dad is not happy, no one is happy.
Roman ejaculated to the window of his office. I don’t know if it’s inherent in him or something that all rich people do. If I find him, I’ll ask.
I haven’t mentioned one of the main characters yet because my hatred of the walking bundle of mevlings, vomiting of neuroses, needs and moral shortcomings, which is Shiv’s fiancé, Tom Vambsgans (Matthew Macfadien), weakens me so much that I can’t knock. Greg is now his assistant and a metaphorical (so far) punching bag.
Season One, episodes four through six
Crike! The game is fine. Wamblefool — all of a weak instinct and a troubled childhood — dragged Greg into covering up a long-running sex and death scandal in his ward. Greg made copies of several documents he sought to destroy. Kendall plans to vote no confidence in her father and I fall to my knees begging him not to do so.
I guess we’re not destined to pity Kendal like me. But so far, it seems that the special genius of the show is that it keeps all these people – members of 0.00001% – recognizable and defiant of people, and that seemed too good to me. Kendall is every emotionally damaged little boy you have ever met. The problems between father and son are played around the conference, not at the dinner table, but they are the same as in any other family and are eternal. Kendall wants to be CEO because he was never anything to his father. It kills me. The entire cast is superlative, but Jeremy Strong’s haunted intensity is something else.
Oh. He did it. Or rather – he did not do it. Voting failed. Kendall shot the king and missed. Nothing good can come of this.
Grega made Tom eat ortholan. I have not seen this sentence come.
Season One, Episode 7
The swarms gather for a family therapy session at Connor’s ranch. Everything is going as you expected, and Kendall is taking drugs again. Fair.
Season One, Eighth and Ninth Episodes
After the pathetic bachelor party of the pathetic Vambsgans, a trip to England follows for his wedding to Shiva. Harriet Walter plays Shiv, Kendall and Roman’s famously icy and selfish mother Caroline, explaining all the poisonous parts of Roy’s offspring that Logan doesn’t know.
Kendall – oh God, Kendall, why, why? – is now compiling an enemy takeover. I’m hiding behind the sofa like I’m eight again, and this is Doctor Co.
Season One, Episode 10
Kendall serves documents about taking Logan to the wedding, then gets drunk with the waiter and finishes him off by chappaquidicking him in the local river. Logan offers to take care of that – about him – if he cancels the download. Kendall agrees and Logan takes his broken son in his arms as he cries. Maybe that’s all each of them ever wanted, these strange, corrupt souls.
Upside down, Tom’s face as Shiv forces him to agree to an open marriage on his first wedding night.
It’s too good – like satire, commentary on inequality, family drama, Shakespeare’s tragedy and corporate sitcom. Roll on…
Season two, episode one
Kendall – my Kendall – was pulled out of rehab to publicly give up the takeover attempt. He is now Logan’s beaten dog and is doing what he is told. Meanwhile, Logan secretly tells Shiv that she will be his successor. You can see how the gaping ambition of ambition opens up in her. And Tom was promoted, damn it.
Plans are being made to turn the family empire into an inherited media giant – so big that it can’t help but become the last to survive.
Second season, second episode
Kendall’s humiliation continues, as does drug use. Shiv resigns / is fired by her boss Bernie Sanders, Gil. Connor begins to think about the presidential candidacy, the simple way it reminds us of what money does to meritocracy, and just one of many, many ways in which the legacy revives contemporary issues in the Trump / Fock era without slowing down or turning to pedagogy. Perfect.
Season two, episode three
Nothing good has ever gathered in a Hungarian castle, so it is proven. At a corporate retreat to discuss the purchase of a rival media conglomerate owned by the Pierce family, Logan unleashes the clearest demonstration of his personal and professional commitment to governing through fear by rooting Tom, Greg and Karl down the hall like pigs in a game called Boar on the Floor.
Power corrupts, and absolute power over employees trapped in Eastern Europe with you absolutely corrupts.
Season two, episode four
The shooting in the building sends Rois to a corporate panic room with Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter), who is the mediator of the Pierce family, but seems to want to intrude on Logan’s kindness. Wambsgani (the stupidity and perfection of this name will never leave me) and Greg are sent to another place, which makes me angry even before Greg discovers that he copied confidential documents and blackmailed Tom for promotion.
Rhea agrees to make Logan’s offer to Pierces if Roico fires their Nazi-sympathetic news anchor, Mark Ravenhead. Now that Logan can put the dollar on moral integrity, that’s pa-pa Mark.
And hello for Roman’s erection, which is not present in front of his girlfriends, but stands proud of CEO Gerry as she humiliates him over the phone. These people could pay for therapy, but wouldn’t that be boring?
Season two, episodes five to eight
A bunch of comebacks and strongholds between Pierce (families so pretentious and awful that you find yourself unequivocally cheering for the unpretentiously awful Swarms) and Vaistar; the growing danger of exposure around cruise cover-ups; possible suicide (by that shooting) of an abused employee; Rhea’s disturbing presence and upcoming Senate investigation make this episode a wild switch.
Through it all, Kendall’s murderous guilt and misery remain constant, exacerbated by Logan’s forced visit to meet the family of the man who died in the river. In desperation, he tries to confess his sins to his mother, but she did not allow him to do so, but rather talked about eggs. I don’t know how Strong manages to find 87 ways to play this ordinary human shell, but he succeeds.
Season two, episode nine
And the walls are falling down …
The cruiser scandal goes public, Wambsgans shit his bed to testify in the Senate, Kendall rejects Dad’s soil, and Shiv dissuades a witness who would drive the last nail into Roico’s coffin if he didn’t show up. In the midst of all this, there is a scene in which two older siblings tease Roman (about his PTSD after being held hostage in the Middle East), which explains why we don’t just want bad things for this crazy, monstrous family – they are, on some fundamental level, they like. Money and fear stand in the way, but deep at the core of the whole thing is a tiny core of tenderness. That, of course, is what makes my heart filled with fear as the company’s private relationships are planned, but a “blood sacrifice” is needed to appease shareholders.
Season Two, Episode 10
It’s Kendall. Of course it’s Kendall. He will be publicly blamed for all of Rojko’s sins and fired. He kisses his father when he hears his fate and steps in front of the cameras to perform his duty and his penance and save the kingdom.
But. But. Never in the history of family drama-corporate satire-Shakespearean tragedy have so many people owed such a tiny relationship.
But, says Kendall – his father knew everything, he supervised everything, he signed everything. The empire was destroyed. Kendall gets to his feet and so do I.
On his yacht, watching, Logan smiles. Some see this as a sign that he orchestrated things to instill in Kendall the murderous instinct he has lacked so far, which will make him a capable CEO. I think he just pampered himself for a new fight. Let the games of the third season begin. That meandering chromatism of the melody didn’t say even half of that.