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Succession season 3 episode 1 recap: Beast mode engaged - it’s Kendall versus Logan

·8-min read
Succession season 3 episode 1 recap: Beast mode engaged - it’s Kendall versus Logan

All aboard the “righteous vehicle!” Succession is back for round three, and the first episode begins in the chaotic aftermath of Kendall Roy’s bombshell press conference — the one where Kendall (Jeremy Strong) stabbed his father Logan (Brian Cox) in the back on national TV, implicating him in Waystar Royco’s decades-long cruise ship sex scandal. Absolutely normal family stuff.

The righteous vehicle is the limo that is whisking Waystar splinter cell Kendall, Greg (Nicholas Braun) and long-suffering head of PR Karolina (Dagmara Dominczyk) away from the conference and towards… well, no one quite knows yet, because Kendall has had his swipe card privileges revoked and can no longer access the family offices (a petty move, presumably from Logan, but a powerful one). Karolina is promptly ejected from the car in the middle of Manhattan when her revolutionary fervour is deemed insufficient (she dares to point out that the limo is in fact company property) leaving Greg in charge of taking “the cultural temperature,” which boils down to reassuring his new boss that there are “nice memes” doing the rounds on Twitter and the Pope (or a pope) may or may not be following him.

Kendall has assembled a crack team including... Greg on media monitoring (HBO)
Kendall has assembled a crack team including... Greg on media monitoring (HBO)

Over in Croatia, Roys and Roy-adjacent cronies assemble in a depressing airport room to discuss Kendall’s betrayal, whether to cooperate with a potential Department of Justice inquiry and, in whispers at least, whether Logan might finally be… “toast,” reputationally speaking. Shiv (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) dispatched to New York, while the rest jet to Sarajevo (why Sarajevo? No extradition treaty with the US, conveniently, just in case the DoJ do push criminal charges). All apart from Connor (Alan Ruck) and Willa (Justine Lupe), that is, who are left standing sadly on the tarmac, forgotten. A great time for Connor to bring up the fact that Willa’s off-Broadway play is getting such a critical panning, they’ve been advised to re-brand it as a “hate watch.”

On Jet Number One, Logan finally concedes it’s time for him to step back as CEO - even if the new hire will probably be little more than a puppet (“I don’t give a f**k who, it’s name plates”). Proving he’s still a loyal lap dog even after their S2 crisis talks, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) wobbles off to the bathroom to break the news over the phone to Shiv, who primes him to fight her corner with a trademark Succession sweary, rambling simile (“I don’t want to be buried like Miss Havisham with a f**king bonnet full of clever stratagems”).

L to the OG plotting his next move (HBO)
L to the OG plotting his next move (HBO)

She hasn’t counted on team Rockstar and Mole Woman, though, as when she returns, Gerri has already briefed Roman, who puts in a call to big daddy Logan, ostensibly to make his own case for the top job — although he seems to end up selling Gerri instead.

Back in Manhattan, Kendall has found the perfect office space for his rag-tag band of upper middle class zealots. “Welcome to my ex-wife’s living room!” he yelps at the group of incoming PR advisors he has invited in to do a pitch, powered on a heady cocktail of Divorced Man Energy and (most likely) illegal drugs. Thoughts and prayers for Rava (formerly) Roy (Natalie Gold) — change the access codes to your lovely Upper East Side apartment now!

The PR team’s arrival means that Greg is now relieved of his spin doctor duties and can get on the phone to cancel his mum’s credit card (seeing that Waystar shares are tanking, she has been “panic-buying Nutribullets” on the AmEx Gold that Greg guarantees).

Just when you thought there was nothing more teeth-clenchingly embarrassing than Ken mansplaining social media to a bunch of women (“I’d like my Twitter to be off the hook”), his new girlfriend Naomi (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), she of rival media clan the Pierces, arrives at Chez Rava, and proceeds to crack open a priceless bottle of vintage red. “It’s like when someone breaks something beautiful and it reminds you that nothing lasts,” Rava sighs, after emitting an ear-piercing shriek.

It’s hard to think of a worse fate than being abandoned on some tarmac with only Connor for company (Graeme Hunter)
It’s hard to think of a worse fate than being abandoned on some tarmac with only Connor for company (Graeme Hunter)

Shiv is dispatched to meet with her friend Lisa Arthur (Sanaa Lathan), the sort of high-profile lawyer with feminist credentials that would be useful for Logan and co to have fighting their corner. When Lisa politely refuses to join Team Waystar, Shiv steps up with another offer: could Lisa act as her adviser, helping her navigate the “f**k pie” she finds herself in (vying for the top job, while also trying to keep her nose clean in case Waystar implodes)? It’s another no… because Lisa is the latest sign-up for Team Kendall.

Meanwhile Gerri and Roman are in a hotel room, talking tactics and, in the latter’s case, making half-hearted come-ons once more, to which Gerri responds with what is possibly the most Gerri of lines to date: “I am quite a successful person, Roman, and I remain so by avoiding mess.” Almost immediately after comes a case in point, when a phone call from Logan reveals that she is the new acting CEO of Waystar Royco. A poisoned chalice, surely, but a chalice nonetheless, and you can’t dispute the fact that the Roys would doubtless be fielding an even bigger shitstorm were it not for Gerri’s (years of) careful, cool-headed strategies.

Logan is starting to look like a man out of his depth (HBO)
Logan is starting to look like a man out of his depth (HBO)

Finally, we cut back to Logan. Now ensconced in a suite in a Sarajevo hotel, he lays out his plans to his hangers-on, yelling that he’s about to go “full f**king beast.” Yet for all his usual sweary bluster, he’s starting to look like a man out of his depth, not least when he rushes outside for fresh air in the episode’s last moments.

The Roy Index

GOING UP: Kendall Roy

After spending most of series two weighed down by almost Shakespearean guilt, the number one boy is finally back at his chaotic best, cruising around Manhattan high on his own hype, making big promises about “changing the cultural climate.” It probably won’t last long, but we’ll enjoy it while it does. Time for a celebratory rap?

GOING DOWN: Logan Roy

He may well be “the comeback kid,” as one of his aides puts it, but for the first time Logan seems truly shaken by the one-two punch of Kendall’s betrayal and the threat of a potential criminal investigation. All his shouting and swearing can’t cover up the fact that his luck is running out - in finally naming a new CEO, even Logan Roy, it seems, has realised that the Logan Roy brand is pretty toxic.

GOING UP: Gerri Kellman

Gerri, centre, is finally getting some recognition (Graeme Hunter)
Gerri, centre, is finally getting some recognition (Graeme Hunter)

Becoming the face of a company at the centre of a massive #MeToo scandal is hardly ideal timing, but Gerri is certainly the best woman for the job, and her promotion is long overdue. It’s also a big win for the Rockstar and Mole Woman alliance, and in sort-of conceding to his dad that Gerri only has the requisite experience to become CEO right now, Roman showed some rare insight, albeit with a dash of self-interest.

GOING DOWN: Shiv Roy

After her series two ascendancy, Shiv’s influence seems to be on the wane, first failing to secure Lisa then missing out on the top job and taking it pretty badly - although Roman’s gloating sing-song (“your friend doesn’t like you, boo hoo boo hoo, and Dad wants to fire you, woo hoo woo hoo”) added insult to injury. It’d be silly to underestimate a Shiv scorned though. Is a defection on the cards?

HONESTLY, WHO KNOWS: Greg Hirsch

This guy. Freed from the shackles of his toxic bromance with Tom, Greg still manages to be the human embodiment of mild discomfort (has anyone ever looked less at ease in the back of a limo than six-foot-seven Greg, knees up to his chin?) Relieved of his media monitoring duties, it’s not yet clear what role he will play on Team Kendall, and his biggest contribution so far has been writing down some tweets.

LONGEST-SUFFERING: Rava Roy

All I have to say to Rava is: change your hi-tech lock system, get a better lawyer on retainer, delete Kendall’s phone number and pour yourself a massive glass of that vintage wine.

Quote of the week

He might be floundering a little in Roy vs. Roy, but Logan can still deliver a put-down like no one else. For a perfect example, see when CFO Karl tried to make a play for the top job, claiming his past is squeaky clean. “If your hands are clean, it’s only because your whorehouse also does manicures” was Logan’s scathing response.

What channel is Succession on in the UK?

Succession is on Sky Atlantic on Mondays at 9pm and is streaming on Now.

Read More

Alastair Campbell on Succession: Logan swears much more than Murdoch

The Roys are back in town - here’s your Succession cheat sheet

Matthew Macfadyen: ‘I love playing Tom so much — I don’t even have to learn the lines

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