The following contains spoilers to Succession S3E1, “Secession”—the Season 3 premiere
After a wait that felt cruelly long, Succession returned for its third season on HBO, picking up exactly where it’s blockbuster second season ended. The third season premiere was one of the most intense hours of the series to date and one in which the table was set for what should be another exciting year, full of drama and high stakes. If you haven’t seen Succession S3E1 (“Secession”) yet, stop reading now and come back after you have. We’re getting in deep here.
Like Father, Like Son
Perhaps the biggest takeaway I had from the premiere was exactly how much Kendall and his father have in common. We all could see that Logan, if only for the briefest of moments, was proud of his son at the end of last year for staging a coup against him. Sure, he was now on the defensive and he was going to fight like hell to keep his company and power but he saw that killer instinct in Kendall that he felt all of his children lacked. This is what he’s wanted all along, to know that one of his children possesses the quality of his he’s most proud of.
In the early moments of “Secession”, we learn that Logan spent the plane ride we didn’t see talking about his mother. Kendall, back in NYC, heads to his ex-wife’s house as a place to regroup and prepare for what’s to come in this war with his father. Both father and son, in the middle of this high stress and high stakes moment, mentally gravitated to the women who have had the biggest impact on them. The women they associate with home and a sense of inner peace.
Strategy wise, both Logan and Kendall regrouped in similar ways, often even using the same terminology. They both wanted to recruit the same lawyer—Kendall because he knew her value, and Logan after learning of her background and what hiring her would do for him. They both began working the phones, trying to get people in their orbit to take sides. One could argue that Kendall has observed his father, perhaps closer than any of his siblings, and was repeating what he had learned over the years, but it felt more instinctual than that, more natural. Kendall was in his element this whole episode preparing for war with his father, and Logan reacted like he was in the fight for his life. The show has hinted at Kendall being the most like his father before and the way Logan previously tried to control Kendall indicated that he knew that his second child was the most like him. “Secession” showed us exactly how much they do have in common and how much Logan fears his son, now free of his control.
Meet the New Kendall
Season 2 showed us a Kendall Roy who was emotionally destroyed. Suffering from drug addiction and accidentally killing a man in a car wreck can have that effect on a person. Kendall spent large parts of last year as a shell of himself, often unable to do anything but exist and bend to his father’s will.
Heading into Season 3, my biggest question was how Kendall would cope with the pressure after publicly declaring war on his father in an attempt to wrestle the company away from him. Would Kendall be a ball of nerves? Would he be on the verge of self destruction? Could he keep this up? If “Secession” is anything to go by, then Kendall is not only fine, he’s doing better than ever and is ready for the challenge of his lifetime.
Perhaps no moment was more telling of Kendall’s mental state than when Greg (the Egg) awkwardly compared Kendall to O.J. Simpson and then said “without killing someone”. Kendall, with the biggest smile we’ve seen on his face since, maybe ever, says “Who said I never killed anyone?” Kendall last season would’ve melted down with guilt. Kendall here did not, indicating that he’s put those feelings on the back burner, but could it also be seen as a sign of overconfidence? An indication that Kendall now feels untouchable after literally getting away with murder? Kendall’s past has shown us that overconfidence with him typically leads back to his substance abuse issues and I can’t help but wonder if a seed was being planted there. Or perhaps the takeaway here could be that Kendall in putting his feelings aside over the life lost, is becoming more like his cold father.
The Heir To The Throne
Logan, as part of his plan to take the public heat off himself from the sexual abuse accusations within the company and pressure from the federal government, decided that he should step down as CEO, and instead pull strings from behind the scenes. Along with Frank, Carl and Tom, who was his usual awkward self, the conversation moved towards determining who should be on the short list of candidates to be the next SEO. The youngest two children, Shiv and Roman, made the list, as well as Geri.
Succession S3E1 saw Logan quickly disqualify both of his children from the list for the slightest mistake (Shiv) or sign of weakness (Roman), leading to Geri becoming the chosen one. This to me read as Logan more than anything being upset with his children that they weren’t more like their brother, who despite betraying Logan, showed him exactly who was most like him. But what long term impact will Logan’s dismissal of his children have? Will it contribute to his downfall?
Shiv and Roman are arguably both more cutthroat than Kendall and “Secession” showed us that they’re both angry at how their father treated them. Shiv reacted by joining Kendall’s war room he had assembled at his ex-wife’s house, and Roman lashed out at Geri, his closest confidant in the world. Shiv came across as being more calculated, Roman more of a loose cannon. Both hurt, both dangerous to their father and brother in their own way. Who strikes first?
Where Do We Go From Here?
A lot of wheels were set in motion in Succession S3E1. Of course all eyes will remain on Kendall vs Logan but scorned siblings Shiv, Roman and even Connor, who was verbally abused at the hands of his father more than once in this episode, are stories to watch. Same with Frank: Kendall’s sales pitch for Frank to join him was not dismissed and Frank, in his position as Logan’s current whipping boy, is going to find a moment to defect and truly harm Logan in the process.
Will this be the year that Logan is finally metaphorically decapitated and his children are left to duke it out? The season premiere did make me double down on a previous prediction of mine that Roman will be the one to ultimately “end” their father’s reign but Shiv will be the one who ultimately takes the keys to the kingdom. Roman is the most hot tempered of the siblings and the one, besides Connor of course, who feels like he’s been deprived of all connection to his father. There would be an almost Shakespearean quality to the youngest Roy being the one to take out their father and this episode showed Roman being in a place capable of doing such a thing.
The title of this series has always told us what the show is all about. The questions have always been who, how and how long will this succession take? It’s hard to imagine Logan Roy ever going quietly into the night, but at some point, he has to be taken down for good and the battle for sibling supremacy will ensue. I’m going to go one step further with the prediction I mentioned above and say that this will be the year it happens. This season will see Logan fight like hell to hold off Kendall’s quest for power and neither of them will see Roman coming. Season 3 will end with Logan defeated and Kendall and Shiv in disbelief that their baby brother took down the empire and is standing tall.