No show on TV looks like HBO’s Succession. With its explosive mix of comedy and drama, the series has swept award shows and critics’ lists for the past few years. The series follows the trials and tribulations of the Roy family, as each tries to vie for power in their media conglomerate, Waystar RoyCo.
The cast members all shine in their own way, and Nicholas BritelThe soundtrack of sets the emotional tone, but it’s the show’s writing that really elevates Succession.
“Hunting” (Season 2, Episode 3)
Logan (Brian Cox) subjects Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), Carl (David Rasche) and Greg (Nicholas Brown) to a humiliating game of “boar down”, supposedly to test their loyalty. At Logan’s request, the three crawl and growl while fighting over pieces of sausage. It’s one of the most shocking examples of Logan’s occasional cruelty — and his worldview, too. When Greg protests that the rules of the game don’t make sense, Logan replies, “There are no fucking rules.”
Part of what makes the scene work so well is that the show gives the viewer so little information about the “boar on the ground.” Is it a real game? Has Logan ever inflicted it on his subordinates? Is this a joke or something deadly serious? Tom speaks for the audience when he says, “How would I know, Greg? Do you think I have a rational explanation for this?
“Idaho’s Retired Janitors” (Season 3, Episode 5)
It might be the funniest Succession episode, and that says a lot. It revolves around Waystar’s shareholders’ meeting, where the fate of the company hangs in the balance. Moments before Logan is supposed to reassure shareholders that all is well, he becomes feverish and delirious. As Logan rants about dead cats and yells at people who aren’t there, Tom, Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) try to avoid disaster.
The episode succeeds because it brings all the characters together in one place, where their personalities collide and insults fly. As they race against time, the show becomes almost as tense as a thriller, which only adds to the hilarity.
“The Disturbance” (Season 3, Episode 3)
“The Disruption” is one of Successionthe most brutal episodes. Kendal (Jeremy Strong) sets up speakers playing Nirvana’s “Rape Me” while Shiv tries to deliver a speech about the sexual assault allegations against Waystar. In response, Shiv posts a letter criticizing Kendall for her mental health and addiction issues.
We often say Succession makes wealth miserable, and this episode does that more than any other. At the end of the hour, each of the Roy siblings are injured and alone. Kendall and Shiv’s relationship seems particularly irreparable, which makes their reconciliation in the season finale all the more touching.
“Which side are you on?” (Season 1, Episode 6)
This Season 1 episode offers a first look at the backstabbing and power moves that are a hallmark of the series. In the episode, Kendall attempts to oust Logan from her own company via a vote of no confidence. However, anything that could go wrong for Kendall does. His helicopter is on the ground, so he has to take a car to get to the meeting. But then he also gets stuck in traffic and has to run on foot. Finally, at the last minute, Roman sides with Logan, dooming the vote — and Kendall.
It’s a fascinating episode because it shows Kendall temporarily stripped of her wealth and all the power that comes with it. Kendall has never been the closest character, but as he sprints through the crowded streets, urgently trying to salvage his plan, he almost looks like a normal person.
“DC” (Season 2, Episode 9)
This is the episode where the skeletons in Waystar’s closet start knocking their way out. The Roys are called to testify before Congress regarding the sexual assault allegations first brought to light at the start of Season 1.
As expected, the Roys find unique ways to embarrass themselves during the deposition. In particular, audiences are introduced to the iconic line “You can’t make a Tomlette without breaking a few Gregs,” which could be a thesis for the Tom/Greg relationship. But this episode is also notable because of how it lays bare the rot at the heart of Roy’s empire. Morality means little to the show’s main characters. Even a government hearing cannot get them to take their actions seriously.
“Nobody Ever Misses” (Season 1, Episode 10)
In this one-episode roller coaster, Kendall hits rock bottom in more ways than one. He outwits Logan, only to drunkenly crash a car into a lake and end up crying in his father’s arms.
The episode perfectly encapsulates the series’ themes around power and its corrosive effects. While the Roys are preoccupied with their power struggles, their actions ripple outward and devastate the lives of everyday people, from the victims of sexual assault on the cruises to the waiter in Kendall’s car. As Logan says, “No real people are involved.”
“Chiantishire” (season 3, episode 8)
The penultimate episode of season 3 is difficult for all the Roy children. Connor’s (Alan Ruck) marriage proposal to Willa (Justine Lupe) remains unanswered. Shiv has a murderous conversation with their mother. Kendall sits face to face with Logan only to realize that he really has been beaten. And Roman accidentally sends his dad a dick pic in what might be the most Roman scene ever.
“Chiantishire” demonstrates Successionto go from comedy to tragedy and vice versa. Audiences poke fun at the misadventures of the Roy siblings, but somehow the show also encourages the viewer to empathize with them. They may be spoiled and heartless children, but they are children nonetheless, and the hold their abusive upbringing has on them is evident.
“Tern Haven” (Season 2, Episode 5)
This episode revolves around Logan’s attempt to buy PGM, the company owned by the Pierce family. Although politically opposed, the Roys and Pierces are equally dysfunctional (and have a shared love of obscene wealth, of course). Shiv is humiliated when Logan denies she will become CEO, while Kendall and Naomi Pierce (Annabelle Dexter Jones) bond over their similar backgrounds — and shared dependencies.
This episode is so impactful because it reveals all of the characters’ idiosyncrasies. It explores Shiv’s ambition, Roman’s sexual eccentricities,and Kendall’s need for connection. That it all takes place over a tense and hilarious dinner party makes it all the more impressive.
“It’s Not for Tears” (Season 2, Episode 10)
“What could you kill, that you love so much, that would make the sun rise again?” Allegations of sexual assault have hit the headlines and shareholders are crying out for blood. In this episode, the Roy clan debates who they will offer as a blood sacrifice. Logan decides that Kendall will be the scapegoat. But in a shocking twist, Kendall holds a press conference and announces that her father knew about Waystar’s crimes all along.
What makes this episode work so well is that Logan intended to exploit Kendall’s guilt for the server’s death in Season 1. Instead, at the last moment, Kendall sees the undeniable truth. on his father: Logan is cruel and greedy and doesn’t care about hurting his cause of actions. Far from being the end for Kendall, this episode marks the beginning of her rebirth.
“All the Bells Say” (Season 3, Episode 9)
Season 3 gave fans another incendiary finale. It starts with Kendall telling Shiv and Roman about the car accident. In what is perhaps the most heartfelt scene in the series, the Roy siblings try to support each other. They even momentarily put aside their differences to confront their father. However, their plan fails as Tom told Logan what they intended to do.
Tom’s betrayal is talked about all season. During their dinner, Tom tells Kendall that he has never seen Logan “get screwed” once. And who could forget that he told Greg about the Roman Emperor Nero, who murdered his wife and married his slave? As a result, the episode ends with a complete reversal of power dynamics. The kids are out and Tom is on top. In this way, he demonstrates another of the show’s key themes: not only does power corrupt, but it is also fickle. The place in the hierarchy is never guaranteed. All of this sets the stage for an engrossing Season 4.
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