Review: Succession – Season 3
George Ward lauds the most recent installment of the Roy family’s saga and the depth it lends to its most peripheral characters.
Succession tells the story of the Roys, a billionaire family in charge of a huge media conglomerate (think the Murdochs), their struggles and their disgustingly shallow worldviews. With patriarch Logan reaching old age, his children desperately struggle to become his successor, at every ruthlessly undercutting and turning on one another. After filming was delayed due to the pandemic, this third season of the show finally aired in October – and the wait was absolutely worth it.
For anybody who watched the cliff-hanger finale of the second season as it premiered and was subsequently forced to wait two years for it to be resolved, I too felt your fears and anxieties. What if the writers couldn’t live up to their incredible first two seasons? What if they wasted the immense potential of the conflicts that they’d set up? But don’t fret: Jesse Armstrong exceeds our expectations, giving many of the answers we’ve been waiting for, while still managing to take the show in completely unexpected directions.
To give an example, Roman, a comedic character known for his quick wit, disgusting sense of humour and questionable sexual appetites, is explored more deeply than ever before. Culkin has always been brilliant in the role but is often outshone dramatically by the incredible Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong. In season 3, though, he comes into his own: his performance is both hilarious and heartbreaking and you can really tell that, underneath his layers of cynicism, his Roman may well be the most caring Roy. It’s this mix of black comedy and tragedy that makes the performances so unique. Even Matthew Macfayden and Nicholas Braun (fan favourites Tom and Greg) deliver emotional performances that keep them from fading into the background as comic relief. As ever, though, it’s Jeremy Strong and his heroically sad portrayal of the tragic Kendall that will linger in my mind. Somehow, Strong’s performance just keeps getting better and better and, just as you think he’s peaked, his next episode is even more impressive. It says a lot about Strong’s performance that he can make me want such a spoiled and out-of-touch character to succeed more than any other.
Assisted in no small part by the beautiful landscapes of Italy, the final episode has some of the most memorable shots of recent television…
The writing, as always, is fantastic. Every scene is filled with hilarious comebacks and brutal put-downs but never so excessively that it all feels forced. The pacing is breakneck and scenes full of nothing but extended office chatter have never been more exciting. Complimenting this, this season’s cinematography is simply excellent. Assisted in no small part by the beautiful landscapes of Italy, the final episode has some of the most memorable shots of recent television; each frame really does feel like a painting. Finally, though, it would be an injustice to ignore the role of Nicholas Britell’s score. It’s always incredible, yet he is at his very best here. He molds each piece to fit each scene perfectly – each revolving around a similar chord progression to that of the main theme – really, the show would not be the same without him. Recently, my friends and I have found that whacking the soundtrack on whilst studying really helps put you in that businessperson headspace (I know, it’s sad).
Succession season 3 is just as exciting, ruthless and hilarious as the first two, and the fact that its finale lives up to those of its predecessors is as big of a compliment as any I could give. This really is the best show around right now and I can’t recommend it highly enough.