Last week on Succession, all the siblings got together for donuts and a little quality time. This week, Shiv wrote an open letter, Tom made Logan an offer, and Kendall learned he wasn't in on the joke. Succession is a show all about how people jockey for power (and process trauma) — after the video below, check out our spoiler-filled season three, episode three Succession Power Rankings.
1. The FBI: It turns out you can't tell the FBI to "fuck off," no matter how many times you forcefully repeat it to your underlings.
2. Success-ion: HBO announced the happy news this week that Succession has been renewed for a fourth season. “With each season of Succession, Jesse Armstrong has continued to surpass our wildest expectations, pulling us deeper into the Roy family’s inner sanctum with indelible wit, humanity, and precision,” said Francesca Orsi, Executive Vice President, HBO Programming. “This season is undoubtedly no exception, and we couldn’t be more excited for all that’s in store in this next season ahead.”
Brian Cox revealed a little more info on the show's future in a recent interview with GQ, noting that season four is likely going to be filmed starting in June 2022. But as for future seasons beyond that, it sounds iffy: "I would say possibly two more series and then I think we're done," Cox said. "But it just depends and may just be only one more series. It depends what the writers feel. I know they've got an endgame. They haven't told us what the ending is, but there is an endgame."
Showrunner Jesse Armstrong also commented on ephemerality of all stories to Variety: “All I know is there’s a promise in the ‘Succession’ title, and it can’t go on forever," he said. But as Cox mentioned, he does have an idea for the ending: "It’s not immutable. That’s up for discussion. But I do have a pitch for how I think it goes.”
3. Logan Roy: Logan starts off the episode adamantly refusing to play ball with the feds ("Maybe I don't do that dance"). He seems particularly irritable all episode, exasperated when people offer him sensible advice (as Gerri does regarding the FBI) or try to reach out to him (as Shiv does on several occasions). Why anyone would be looking to Gerri when he's in the room is baffling to him.
Kendall later asks Shiv whether she's acting like an "angry hog at the state fair, rolling in shit, snapping at kids," and it's an eerily precise description.
There are two key scenes for Logan this week: first, there is his late night meeting with Shiv, where she presses her dad to be honest and forthright about how bad things are with the company culture. He admits there were some "salty moves" done, but continues to downplay his involvement or knowledge. He instead emotionally presses her to be on his side: "Do you trust me on all this hullabaloo?"
Shiv just wants to be taken seriously and be at the table with dad, but Logan gets self-righteous, claiming he wanted to keep her clean: "I put Gerri in, but I can't trust her, she's optics. But I need you. Listen, I didn't know about any of this shit." When Shiv points out he was on the emails, he snaps, "Do you know how many emails I get a day? I don't read my emails, I get the action points." He gets angry—why is he wasting time explaining himself to his child, let alone the government or president or anyone else—and justifies all the rotten behavior by saying he did it for his kids, it was a long time ago, and "you will not find a piece of paper that makes you ashamed of me."
This is the most important thing to understand about Logan: he is an abuser, as has been shown or mentioned countless times throughout the series, and when he can't emotionally manipulate his family into doing his bidding, he physically lashes out, as when he's struck Roman in the past or forced underlings to play a game of "Boar On The Floor."
Ultimately, Logan thinks he's above all these institutions, all these meddling outsiders, because he is smarter and richer than everyone around him. That includes the FBI: "Yeah the law. The law is people, and people is politics, and I can handle the people."
The second pivotal scene comes when he later meets with Michelle-Anne Vanderhoven (see below) and seeks to prove his people-handling skills remain adept. But in his agitated current state, they aren't, and he makes the situation much worse (he literally screams that this is a "witch hunt"). As Shiv noted earlier this season, this isn't the same dominant Logan of 20 years ago, or even the same one as season one.
Gerri sums it up as the FBI prepares to enter the building: "I guess the government isn't a fucking Pez dispenser, you don't push a button and something comes out the other end."
One addendum: actor Brian Cox can sometimes be just as ruthless as Logan Roy in real life.
4. Michelle-Anne Vanderhoven: Midway through the episode, Logan meets with this senior White House aide—whom Gerri spoke to on the phone in the premiere—for a little back-channel negotiating. She's played by the great Linda Emond, who has been nominated for multiple Tony Awards, has played no less than six different characters on various Law & Order shows, and starred in the vastly underrated gem Lodge 49. Anyway, Michelle-Anne doesn't flinch in the face of Logan's charm offensive, which comes off as less-than-charming and more on the desperate/angry spectrum.
The president—previously referred to as "The Raisin"—has mostly been an absentee figure, but she explains that he is most focused on poll numbers, and his association with Logan isn't necessarily helping right now: "Someone shits in Wisconsin, he's worried it'll float down the Mississippi and hurt his numbers in Iowa." Logan snaps at her and threatens the president ("If that Raisin hangs me out to dry, I'm quite willing to do the same with him"). The temperature is not lowered, and this is what leads to the FBI raid.
5. Shiv Roy, She's The Fucking Nice One: Shiv Roy, it turns out, is not the nice Roy, despite Sophie Iwobi claiming it at one point. It's understandable she might think so: Shiv has spent much of her career as a liberal political consultant who has distanced herself from her family. She's someone who attends events for groups like "The Committee For The Protection And Welfare Of Journalists." From the outside, she looks far more clean than her siblings.
But Shiv, who is Waystar's new president of domestic operations, is affected by the same familial toxicity as her brothers; she's just as desperate to prove she's worthy of inheriting her father's crown, and she isn't afraid to lash out when she feels attacked. Early in the episode, she plays nice with Ken, imploring him to wait a week before coming in to the office as to not interfere with the upcoming shareholder vote; she pushes for fixing things from the inside, "which is the only place that anything ever gets done anyway," and Kendall smugly calls her out for becoming the new him.
Their rivalry hits a new low when Kendall humiliates her during the big town hall, blasting Nirvana's "Rape Me" while she tries to push the companies "we get it" line. This leads to an even deeper low, when Shiv releases a vicious, scorched earth open letter calling her brother a deadbeat drug addict. And once again: she's the fucking nice one!
6. Acting CEO Gerri Killman Can't Get No Respect: Last episode, Logan referred to Gerri as "a full chemical and biological suit" to be used as protection for the family. In this episode, Kendall calls her a "time-server way out of her depth;" Frank refers to her as "Pinocchio, a puppet who comes to life;" and Logan once again calls her "optics."
Gerri is being continually undermined and underrated by everyone around her (except Roman, of course), and yet she is by far the most steady person in the room. She is rational and cool-headed, even when Logan is snapping at her or ignoring her advice. She does everything she can to get him to avoid firing Kendall ("You would be handing DOJ a gas can and it would be a PR disaster"), and her read on the DOJ situation is ultimately completely correct. She deserves the role she's in, even if Logan seems like he's one "fuck off" away from firing her completely.
7. Roman Roy: Roman had a relatively lowkey storyline this episode, mostly cracking jokes about Kendall's latest interview ("Hey dad, how's your headspace?"), imagining ways to discourage Ken from coming to the office ("A taser shot directly to his penii or scrummage sacking") and getting tapped to play the role of "cutest cheerleader in high school" and, as he puts it, tickle his dad's balls on television because Shiv doesn't want to do it: "I've just been on TV waxing lyrical about me and dad murdering trout and singing sea shanties around the old marshmallow hole."
Watching him squirm as the ATN Business guy preps him for the interview is pretty good, but the reveal that Roman had to recycle a "single multi-use happy childhood memory" about Connor taking him fly fishing in Montana and make it about his dad is the cherry. Of course Logan hasn't spent any quality time with his kids, particularly the one he has physically abused the most. And the worst part of it all: Logan doesn't even appreciate the gesture. He just immediately verbally abuses him.
But hey, no one put out any press releases about his most intimate psychological issues, so overall, this was a solid episode for Roman.
8. Tom Wambsgams Makes Logan An Offer He Can't Refuse: For the first two episodes of the season, Tom has seemed pretty tertiary to all the real action happening among the biological Roys. But that all changes here as Tom slowly comes to realize that there is a very good chance he will be facing jail time. But he pretty quickly seems to accept this outcome, and comes up with a genuinely clever play: offer himself up to Logan "as the beating post."
Shiv immediately sees the upside: it's a win from a no-win. She even calls it "kinda genius," saying it will bank gold with her father. This may be the first time Tom has ever truly impressed his wife, even if she seems way too okay with the idea of him going to prison.
"I want you to know, if you need to strategize, I can be that guy," Tom later whispers to Logan. "I'll step up and go down." He wants nothing in return, he just is offering it. For Logan, who is constantly beseeched by people angling for things from him, this warrants a raised eyebrow.
So Tom has thrown his lot in with Waystar and made a grand gesture that may buy him some real juice with his father-in-law. But as Kendall puts it late in the episode, "it's no fun being the last fucking eunuch in the Forbidden City," which is an extremely Kendall way of saying, "you're probably fucked dude."
9. The Disruption With Sophie Iwobi: Ziwe makes a guest appearance this week as a lightly-fictionalized version of herself hosting a lightly-fictionalized version of her Showtime show. She has apparently devoted at least three segments to the man she has nicknamed Oedipussy—a.k.a. Snitchy Rich, a.k.a. A Jar Of Mayonnaise In A Prada Suit, a.k.a. Wokestar Royco, a.k.a. Benedickhead Arnold (my personal favorite)—and the segments look funny, in a very mid-2010's Daily Show way.
Kendall spends most of the episode in an emotional free fall obsessing about his image, looking to be punished and mocked, but even he seems to realize he's not in on the joke when he hears her describe him as having "a severe case of what doctors call caucasian rich brain. What happens is genetically inherited wealth and whiteness can cause natural pathways in the brain to constrict and make the patient believe he is woke when he's just a total fucking jackass." Who am I kidding, Ken still probably thinks the writers are geniuses. Clickity clack, clickity clack.
One fun thing: in real life, Ziwe was a total Successionhead before joining the cast. She got Succession composer Nicholas Britell to write the theme song for her Showtime series. She also once said of his Succession score, "Truly, it’s going to be my wedding music. It’s going to be me Austrian waltzing to Nicholas Britell’s Succession score."
10 Connor Roy's Signature: Connor makes his only appearance this episode when Shiv gathers him and Roman together to try to pressure them into signing her open letter (while eating some truly depressing looking salad). But Con sympathizes with Kendall: "PGN pulls up that photo of me with a ponytail anytime they want to make him look untrustworthy."
Connor takes his brother's side and refuses to sign, and he gets one of the funniest lines of the entire episode: "Well I don't want to be a bitch, but my signature is valuable real estate, and I'm not giving it away for free," he tells Shiv. "I would like some consideration. I would like some suck-suck on my dicky dick."
11 The Greeting Card From Hell: On the one hand, at least Shiv's poison pen letter about Kendall doesn't seem to include the sentence saying he's a "drug addict, serial liar, absentee father, history of his own problematic relations with women." At least that part isn't read aloud on television by Sophie Iwobi.
But the part of the statement that is read is still absolutely brutal: "I am deeply concerned for the well-being of my brother. Our entire family has supported him through his many attempts at rehabilitation for his multiple addictions. But the events of the last days have made it clear that our hopes for his recovery were misplaced. I've now been direct witness to his misogynistic rants and comparisons to world historical figures, that were suggestive of grandiose and disordered thinking. I would ask that people give my brother privacy and consideration during this difficult time."
As Shiv says, it's all basically verified...but when Roman is the one saying "it makes me feel unwell, he taught me how to aim my pee-pee in the toilet," then you know something has gone too far.
12 Bootleg Ross With A Daddy Complex: Last episode, Kendall told his siblings he felt "cleansed" after coming forward against his father and the company. But what this episode shows is that Kendall, the ultimate failson who flashes gang signs outside of Jean-Georges, is spiraling out, and it is really hard to watch.
This episode is essentially one giant manic episode for Ken: at the start, he is at his smoothest, trying to charm a reporter and waxing poetic about his headspace. He sounds like if an alien came to Earth, joined an Ivy frat, and spent his free time memorizing every Silicon Valley buzzword. And this is him at his best moment.
Kendall is obsessed with his image, but even more obsessed with seeking out punishment in the media, playing games of "good tweet/bad tweet" with his entourage in the back of a limo that seem almost like Succession fanfic. "He clearly has mental health issues and crazy guilt coupled with addiction, that's all this is and it's sad," reads one "bad" tweet, and there is a long, agonizing pause that is only broken by the chat, "That one sucked."
Later, Kendall literally interrupts his own party to make everyone watch him get mocked by Sophie Iwobi: "It's okay, you can laugh," he says with deflated conviction. After that, we see him sitting in bed with a demented smile on his face watching the clips on repeat.
At one point, he tells Shiv, "I'm not a suicide bomber," assuring her he doesn't want to see the company ruined in the midst of his battle with his father. But his "betrayal" of his father, and the abusive up-and-down that is their relationship, has twisted him inside; he doesn't want the company ruined, but he wants to be ruined. "Hurt me, fucking hurt me," he later says to the writers of The Disruption.
There are two moments in the episode in particular where he looks like he gets it: when the Waystar goon stares him down inside his office and whispers "I know you," he goes completely pale. And then backstage at The Disruption, when he sees his sister's statement and realizes it's public, he looks like he's in shock. He shifts into comedown mode: he's sunken, hollow, and he eventually quietly collapses in a back room. All props to Jeremy Strong here, because that long quiet walk is among the best acting he's done on the show.
All is lost, except it's not: the episode ends with him getting the Waystar raid he had previously hoped for, and Bootleg Ross is back on the board for now.
13 Any Profile That Starts With The Sentence, "Kendall Roy Ordered A Shaved Fennel Salad And Picked At It Inquisitively": Kendall Roy may be spiraling out in spectacular fashion, but at least he isn't a writer.
14 The Face Naomi Pierce Makes As She Listens To Kendall Trying To Come Up With Original Jokes:
15. Greg's Mona Lisa Watch: We get some classic Tom/Greg action early in the episode—Nicholas Braun is always particularly good at physical comedy, like his reaction to Tom swaggering in saying "FBI, hands up!" or the look on his face when Tom offers him cyanide pills ("It's a mint, you doofus"). But Greg's real odyssey this episode involves the watch that Greg thinks Ken is buying him as a gift for staying loyal. Hey, Greg has always been self-conscious about his wrists, so this could really address that!
Alas, to Greg's horror, Ken is not in fact buying him a watch—"I'm not your fucking sugar daddy, cheapskate"—he is just hooking him up with his watch dealer. He ends up getting pressured into buying one for around $40K. The cherry on top: it doesn't work. "Oh what time is it? It's the 18th century or something, when watches didn't work," Greg notes. He is but a humble custodian now.
16. "We Get It.": The tagline for Waystar Royco's response to the company's recent scandals and Kendall's PR push is not quite on the level of "We Here For You," but it's still pretty...funky. "We get it, a bit like those ladies on the cruise ship got it," Roman quips. "It's a little, ah ah, we get it already, stop moaning about the rapes," Shiv adds. But hey, Gerri liked it. And ultimately, Shiv used the line at the town hall, and we all know how that went.
17. Mondale! The Very Real Dog Who Eats Panty Hose! He's Real! I thought I had dreamt a scene in season one in which we learned Tom and Shiv had a puppy, but no, that really happened. They do have a dog, he is named Mondale (after the Minnesota Democratic senator and former Vice President for Jimmy Carter), he loves the taste of Shiv's panty hose, and he is unsettled. Is he unsettled because his parents largely don't remember he exists? Is he unsettled because his emotions are just an outlet for Tom to discuss his fears about going to jail? Or is he unsettled because he has made more on-screen appearances over the last two seasons than Kendall's kids, and even he thinks that's kinda fucked up?
18. Lackeys Incorporated: This week, I'm just going to group the whole motley crew of Logan's terrified immediate advisors and staff—Karl, Frank, Hugo, Karolina—into one ranking. Just a real who's who of useless idiots who contribute almost nothing of value. Karl wins MUP (Most Useless Player) for his deer-in-headlights look as he tries to figure out if he should be listening to Logan or Gerri early in the episode.
19. The Random Attendees Of Tom's ATN Advertising Meeting: It has got to suck to be at a fancy soiree, noshing on caviar and champagne, only to have some big lumbering idiot come out to assure you that the intra-family fight over the future of your company—which is the headline on every channel except yours—won't affect the company. And then, in the middle of "weathering the storm" over dinner, he suddenly says, "Um guys, a little head's up. And this is not something I want us to get out of proportion or spoil the evening, but it would seem some agents of federal law enforcement are raiding the premises right now. So if you see them, that's what that is." Business as usual down here in the lower decks of ATN!
20. "Blur Face and Who Cares": Kendall's poor kids Sophie and Iverson, who are given new nicknames by Roman this episode, still haven't been seen in the flesh this season, nor has there been any indication that Kendall has been spending quality time with them off-screen (how can he find the time in between watching repeats of himself being made fun of on TV). But now they're going to have to explain to their friends why their absentee dad keeps getting made fun of by Ziwe.
Creepiest Sexual Innuendo Of The Week: For the second week in a row, Tom wins this one thanks to the horrifying image he plants in Greg's head during their talk in Greg's new office: "There are a million knives being sharpened right now. DOJ is gonna be like a combine harvester in a wheat field of dicks."
Family Members In Absentia: No sign of Willa Ferreyra, Connor's better half. And Marcia Roy only appears for a few brief seconds in the background: "Love and marriage. I feel another million drained with another cluck from that henhouse," Logan notes, so clearly things are going swell between them. Still, no Lady Caroline Collingwood, no Rava Roy, and Lisa Arthur has a voice-only appearance on the phone with Kendall. Big Gramps Ewan Roy wasn't in this episode, nor was his intransigent lawyer Pugh.
Did Anyone Get A Kiss From Daddy This Week? No literal kisses were exchanged, but Logan did bring Shiv closer into his domain, strategizing with her late at night and entrusting her with calming the company down and dealing with Kendall. He also made fun of Roman for saying nice things about him on TV, which is maybe the opposite of that, but still notable.
Next week on Succession, Logan and Kendall are forced to play nice as guest star Adrien Brody makes his first appearance. Until then, here's what Succession would be like if it were a rom-com about Tom & Greg (which it basically is).