Succession (Season 3)
Being one of the most well-written dramas airing today Succession keeps delivering top-notch television with its third cycle that picks up the story from the shocking finale of the previous season where Kendall publicly exposed his father as a deeply corrupt predator and made his move to dethrone Logan from the leadership of the media conglomerate Waystar Royco. Brian Cox's imperceptible smirk in the last scene of season 2 declared that it is perhaps the first time that Logan sees his son as his equal and as a force to be reckoned with. After such an unforeseen denouement, the many fans of the series were eagerly waiting for the beginning of the new season in order to see the aftereffects of Kendall's bold statement and the potential changes in the Roy family dynamics that seem to be everchanging and totally unpredictable. Logan's children, Kendall, Shiv, Roman, and Connor each bearing their own personality and unique set of characteristics have a common goal: to succeed their father as head of the family business. This is the main narrative vehicle that fuels the story and the audience follows their attempts to gain leverage over one another in order to achieve their objective.
What makes Succession such a brilliant piece of television is the impeccable script which creates some of the most compelling characters that I've ever encountered in a show. Balancing perfectly between soap opera and family drama, the series focus on the labyrinthine relationships between the four siblings and the even more turbulent bonds with their father. Logan is portrayed as an oldschool businessman who likes to exercises his authority often in a brusque manner and his behavior toward his offsprings sometimes seem to be tyrannical. What's more, the elderly patriarch is a master manipulator and he repeatedly turns his children against one another using dirty tricks with the sole purpose of remaining in charge. Brian Cox gives a performance worthy of an Emmy Award and he is commanding the screen with his sturdy voice and volatile attitude that often leads to bursts of anger directed to anyone near him. Logan likes winning and this is the first thing that we get to know about him even from the first episode of the first season. He is not willing to let anyone play him and his vindictive inclination is evident in many instances.
The third season begins with the emphasis being given to Kendall and Logan as they are now in a collision course and no one knows how things are gonna play out for any of them. Kendall attempts to make a wider alliance including his siblings, though Shiv, Roman, and Connor don't seem willing to go against their father. Kendall's insecurity and weakness that caused him severe problems of drug addiction in the past is apparent in the third episode where he gathers his brothers and sister in order to convince them to change sides. His failure to persuade them make him angry and in the end he throws everyone out of his house using a wide array of swear words. Kendall bears many burning marks from his past, let's not forget the death of the waiter in the final episode of season 1, and his temperament make him all the more unpredictable as well as unreliable. It seems improbable that he can ignite a fight against his father who is more experienced and also smarter than him. Jeremy Strong's portrayal of the character is heartbreaking as it encapsulates all the pain and sorrow of a man who seems doomed to lose.
Shiv and Roman try to work their way up the family enterprise and they frequently butt heads as their interests are rarely aligned. Their interactions are hilarious and the impossible ways they find to insult one another offer many moments of genuine, hearty laughter. Shiv's husband, Tom, is also one of the major players in the story, even though his arc is more of a sub-story within the general story, especially in this season. The couple's relationship is one of the greatest enigmas in the show as the audience can never be sure about the authenticity of the feelings they claim to have for one another. Sarah Snook plays Shiv with a class and she is equally alluring and irritating as the role demands. Matthew Macfadyen is Tom and his presence on screen is delightful as well as amusing especially when he is having an interaction with the dumb cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun). This duo delivers some of the most humorous scenes of the show that often act as an equilibrium to the heavier, dramatic element of the series.
The dialogue is so good that the viewer can lose himself in the words uttered by the brilliant characters who feel so human and three-dimensional. They are real people with their gifts and flaws and even though there are plenty of times when we want to castigate the behaviour of one of them, we are not allowed to completely reject them because of the screenwriter's masterful handling of characterization that doesn't permit the audience to love or hate them. Every time I was tempted to dismiss one of the main characters due to an irrational or otherwise disturbing action, I was forced to hold on as in the course of the show, I kept discovering more, hidden sides of their persona. Succession is far from your typical soap opera and you should be braced for a singular viewing experience as apart from the great script there are the extraordinary optics of the show that dazzle the viewer with their sharpness and clarity. The final episode of this season, titled "All the Bells Say", gives a valuable lesson on how to shoot a scene using the natural light and colors. There are plenty of fan videos on Youtube breaking down the various aspects of the show and some of them are worth watching in order to enrich your own viewing experience.
I am not one to wait a whole week to watch a new episode and I generally prefer the series that I can binge-watch as my memory and attention span is rather limited. Nevertheless, with Succession I was glued on my seat every Sunday to watch the latest episode and I was severely frustrated when it ended. This season features nine episodes instead of ten and this is another plus for the creators who decided that the story needed to be told could be narrated not in a fixed course but according to the story's internal dynamic. The music is another great feature of the series and the opening score is one of those tunes that you can't get out of your mind. Moreover, the use of morose music in the right time adds to the dramatic effect of the show. In this season there is a brief appearance by Adrien Brody and Alexander Skarsgard who plays a tech founder and CEO of a massive enterprise that aspires to even buy Logan out. You should know that this is not a show that you can watch out of order and if you want to be fully aware about what's happening, you should begin from the first season and gradually move forward. Be sure that it is worth your while.
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