Words wounded like bullets in HBO’s family battlefield and media fishbowl Emmy-winner Succession, which is worth every minute of the two years of excruciating wait between seasons 2 and 3. This is how long we’ve been reeling from alleged heir Kendall Roy (Jeremy Fort) turned whistleblower, the damaged sacrificial lamb biting to denounce the scandalous financial and sexual misdeeds of Roy society.
“It’s the war!” Logan Roy bellows (Brian cox), power-wooing patriarch and CEO, who smokes as the offspring remaining under his thumb squirm with uncivil ambition, losing no opportunity to attack and undermine their siblings and other rivals.
Here’s Logan dashing the hopes of an underling who suggests he could take over if the old man temporarily steps down: “If your hands are clean, it’s only because your brothel also does manicures.” Did i mention Succession is as funny as it is brutal? It’s tough corporate theater performed on a Shakespearean level, King Lear with a thunderclap of debauchery farce.
As Kendall ruminates and struts like a cross between Hamlet and Macbeth, never more pathetically than at an over-the-top 40th birthday party he’s throwing himself on, the series revel in the chaos he left behind. Is it possible that he succeeded in setting fire to the Maison Roy that he claimed to be trying to save?
It’s hard to imagine one of those vipers guiding conglomerate Waystar Royco into an ever-changing digital media future: the insane eldest son Connor (Alain ruck), feeding political delusions of presidential power; bratty, sexually inappropriate – and hilarious – roman (Kieran culkin); and Shiv (Sarah snook), the youngest and only girl, who is desperate to break into this boys’ club.
Family strangers provide excellent comedic relief: Shiv’s insecure husband Tom (Matthieu Macfadyen), nervously browsing prison websites as he glimpses a future in a different kind of stripes; and naive cousin Greg (stammering Nicolas braun), a gangly guppy in the middle of a sea of sharks. In a classic moment of Succession Self-interest, the easily panicked pawn, Greg questions aloud about his shifting loyalties: “What’s that worth in terms of me?” “
Wouldn’t they all like to know?
As the season prepares for a tense shareholders meeting in the November 14 episode, you feel like there might be no winners in this lightning-fast game of chess.
Succession, Season 3 Premiere, Sunday October 17, 9 / 8c, HBO