In Succession Season Three, the Sharks Circle. And Circle. And Circle. – Vanity Fair

Posted: October 15, 2021 at 9:20 pm

Successions third season, premiering on HBOMax October 17, contends with the fallout of Kendall (Jeremy Strong), the treacherous son, having sold out his evil daddy Logan Roy (Brian Cox) to regulators for all kinds of abuses, systemic and personal. After the explosive press conference that ended season two, everyone jets off, whether literally to a far-off country, or psychically in a Mercedes SUV. The slogan Waystar Roycos head honchos eventually come up with to reassure wary employees and appease shareholders in the face of allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct? We get it.

Prodigal daughter Shiv (Sarah Snook) rightly thinks the phrase is dismissive. But she glibly repeats it anyway at a company town hall at which all genuine employee questions have been replaced with ones written by the Royco comms team. As the shows third season wears on, the smug slogan may begin to live not only in the world of the Roy familys corrupt corporation, but perhaps in the minds of even Successions most admiring viewers.

By now, the premise is well-established: These kids will stop at nothing to please or get back at their terrifying and powerful father. Theyre all shitty people, but maybe Kendalls shitty behavior is the most honest. Maybe. Theres scheming, jockeying, puppet successors, emotional breakdowns, reluctant PR strategy, exasperated lawyers, and casual cruelty.

Sanaa Lathan plays one such lawyer, Lisa Arthur, whos trying to position Kendall for success when taking his claims to the DOJ. It wouldve been nice to see more of her in the seasons first seven episodesshes doing something strange and compelling with a thick pair of reading glasses, yet we seem doomed to never know exactly what. Adrien Brody also appears as a billionaire investor decked in variations of technical gear that he doesnt actually need in his servant-attended seaside mansion. And nice-guy character actor Justin Kirk (Weeds) makes a startling turn as a contrarian conservative YouTube sensation, a la Jordan Peterson.

Succession is often very funny, and always extremely bleak. But the shows window-dressing doesnt deliver the same vicarious thrill anymore. In seasons one and two, it was still fun to see how the uber-wealthy livedonning impeccable threads, surrounded by the finest amenities, and situated in enviable locales. The shows vicious familial discord struck a fruitful contrast with its almost ruthlessly tasteful aesthetics. By season three, the banality of luxury has sufficiently sunk in. These people want for nothing materially, and yet so desperately want more of what they have. Its not impressive; its sad. The show knows this; we know it; even Roman (Kieran Culkin, playing the youngest Roy with as odious a sneer as ever) knows it. So, yeah, you could say we get it.

Showrunner Jesse Armstrong and writer-producer Georgia Pritchett have told journalists that Succession wasnt designed to go on endlessly. Yet even here, in season three, the showrunners have slowed the pace. This season stalls in the same storylines that the series began with, relying on a top-tier castfrom Matthew Macfadyen as Shivs husband to Strong as Logan Roys bitchto make it work. J. Smith Cameron has fun as Gerri, a delusionally game henchwoman who may yet get her chance; even Hiam Abbass all-too-briefly reappears as the icy and unpredictable Marcia. Still, these flashes of brilliance arent enough to sustain interest in the shows ideas, which now feel rehashed and not renewed.

Some of the problem is inherent to the TV form itself, of course. With the exception of limited series, the medium often pushes stories well beyond their viability. Still, its not hard to imagine the curveballs the show could have thrown to an audience already primed to accept anything that came under the title Succession.

Season three doesnt feel safe as much as it feels conservativea bit fearful, lacking guts. In this way, the show mirrors the relative ambivalence of the Roy children, who cant decide who to be except in high-octane, impulsive moments. Like a host of other television shows, Succession has come to provide perfectly decent background activity. Hopefully, a fourth and potentially final season will risk standing out.

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In Succession Season Three, the Sharks Circle. And Circle. And Circle. - Vanity Fair

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