Monday, May 20, 2024

Review: Kendall Roy Burns It All Down in Nightmarish Opening of “Succession” Season 3


Here’s a warning: don’t watch “Succession” Season 3 before you go to bed. You will definitely have nightmares.

I watched three in a row, in ‘succession’, last night and boy was I anxious.

The HBO hit is the family version of Showtime’s “Billions,” but with less fun and more angst. Where “Billions” is juicy and delicious, “Succession” is bitter and dry. It’s “Veep” written by Ibsen.

The Roy family is very much a reflection of Rupert Murdoch and his lovely adult children. Instead of News Corp they won Waystar, the largest family owned media conglomerate in the world. Logan Roy (Brian Cox) is Murdoch, or in this case, also King Lear. The four adult children are vying to succeed him. They are Kendall Roy, played by Emmy winner Jeremy Strong; Siobhan, whose nickname is, LOL, Shiv, the wonderful Sarah Snook; Kieran Culkin as Roman Roy; and Alan Ruck as the eldest, Conner Roy.

We also have cousin Greg, who takes a larger role this season in the person of Nicholas Braun; Shiv’s husband, Tom (Matthew MacFadyen); and the company’s lawyer, Gerri, the only person of reason, played by the impeccable J. Smith-Cameron.

At the end of Season 2, Logan’s misdeeds — which are many including lots of MeToo stuff — are revealed, secret papers are leaked to the SEC and FBI, Logan throws Kendall under the bus, and Kendall turns against the family.

And here are. The first three episodes are a psychological chess game that should be called Kill or Be Killed as everyone jockeys for position. These people are brutal. JR Ewing would not last a day with them. No one is happy, no one even smiles. They are calculating, ironic, avaricious, snarky, downright mean. The constant second guessing, positioning, re-positioning will leave you exhausted. If this is what goes on in the real Murdoch family, I feel sorry for them.

But then you have the acting, which is so strong it’s frightening. Strong just won an Emmy, and he will win again. Kendall is haunted, destroyed, a shell of a human being. He’s committing corporate and familial suicide. Or is he? Because what the writers telegraph constantly is that even when Kendall reaches his lowest point, he will always be welcomed back. And by the end of episode 3, season 3 his situation looks pretty bleak.

Everyone loves Sarah Snook as Shiv, and Kieran Culkin as Roman, the Lannister-esque siblings who are shiny and young and as vulnerable as they are destructive. But the key to Season 3 looks like it will be cousin Greg, who is not as stupid as he seems. And I’m crazy about Sanaa Lathan joining as Kendall’s wily Lisa Allred-Bloom type lawyer. In fact, many of Logan’s so called crimes, etc seem more like Harvey Weinstein’s than Rupert Murdoch’s. The writers have laid it on thick.

So off we go. After a nap and a drink I’ll ingest the next three episodes and report back. But we’re in for one hell of a ride this season. And Adrien Brody — who I reported first had joined the cast– hasn’t even shown up yet!


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News