So there it is. The Roy family has just put it all out. After three seasons of maneuvering, lying and planning, Sunday’s heartbreaking Succession season 3 finale revealed all of their biggest secrets and truest loyalties. Logan Roy finally managed to unite his children and tell them what he cares about most. And it’s devastating all around.
Season 3 Episode 9, titled All The Bells Say, is now streaming. Spoilers ahead!
The section opens with a tender moment: Logan (Brian Cox) reads a children’s book. Could this be a flashback to a happier time, maybe Logan is actually Kendall’s parents? Nix. It turns out that he reads to Kendall’s son Iverson, the kid he hit in the face with a jar of cranberry sauce in a previous season, the same kid he showed he would happily poison last week. Logan reads a real book: Goodbye Mog by Judith Kerr, in which a much-loved cat dies. Of course, Logan can hardly hide his contempt for Iverson’s taste for such simple stories, and inevitably gives up the sore moment of a phone call.
It turns out that Kendall drowned … almost. The ambiguous cliffhanger in episode 8 saw Kendall (Jeremy Strong) dead drunk and face down in a swimming pool. Luckily, his vulnerable PR representative Comfrey came by and pulled him out of the pool.
Kendall, possibly coming to a watery end, has symmetry with the worst moment of his life: the time when he was responsible for the death of a young servant at Shiv’s wedding in season 1. Shattered by his inability to change anything about his family corrupt world, Kendall finally breaks. down and reveals the truth to Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin). Sunken and sobbing in the dust next to some trash cans, Kendall opens his heart to his siblings. Of course, this is the worst possible moment. Shiv is about to stop a palace coup, and Roman comforts Kendall in the only way he knows how, with horribly inappropriate jokes.
The children’s table
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Like many others, Shiv looks at the white men in charge and thinks it’s someone else’s turn. But only to be ready if it’s her turn. She’s not afraid to manipulate Sandi or step on Gerri, but her betrayal of the sisterhood has actually not gotten anywhere. This week, Logan would rather take Tumbledown Roman and his cock pics in battle than give her a moment of his time. Once again, the world hits Shiv in the face with the harsh reality that men are still in charge.
She and the other Roy heirs shake at the wedding, almost literally at the children’s table, as the real item takes it all out of their hands in a busy situation room miles away. She’s on the phone to Laird (the corporate banker, played by Danny Huston in a season 2 episode where Roman thinks he’s been kidnapped by terrorists), but no one else takes their call. It tunes out after all the years of scheduling the various candidates for the top job are being scooped up by a new candidate. While they have quarreled over the throne and done unspeakable things against themselves and each other, Lucas Mattson (Alexander Skarsgård) just goes in and buys it.
Logan has finally followed up on the betrayal he has promised right from the start of the very first episode. He would rather piss it off than give it to his kids.
Mattson asks a simple but very telling question. As Logan despairs that he is excited about the future, Mattson replies, “Are you?”
Logan admits that it is only a phrase that he sees very little to be excited about. Logan mourns modern America, fragile by meth or yoga. But he fails to mention his role in setting in motion the 21st century sewer, making money on the black bile of hatred and division, and overthrowing presidents for his own venal purposes. Meanwhile, his own children and even his grandchildren confuse him, even as he chops maca root to (possibly) conjure up another Roy heir to torture.
But this moment of honesty is nothing compared to his last revealing relief. Shiv, Roman and Kendall sniff out the deal that will surely take the family out of the family business but still keep an ace up its sleeve: WayStar’s holding company is controlled by the family and ensures the family’s control over the biggest decisions. Amidst lots of references to various bloody revolutions (Russian Romanovs, Mussolini from Italy) the children gather against Logan. But when they face him, finally united, it turns out that he has been tipped off about their game.
In the scene where Tom is recruiting his Greg-weiller, Tom’s words from a previous episode resonate in our ears and no doubt in his. He has never seen Logan get fucked, and that instinct even overrides his marriage. I was going to say “his love for his wife”, but after last week’s marriage show, it seems that Shiv’s random cruelty has been paid back in savings. Did Tom tell Logan? Who knows, but it seems pretty clear that toilet wine is a distant memory for Nero and Sporus.
Logan buys out of his ex-wife, Lady Caroline, mother of Shiv, Kendall and Roman. Their counter-coup is dead before it begins. Logan inherits his children for a few extra billion on his pile.
And what does he say to his children, the fruit of his loins, the people who should be the light of his life? “I win!” There it is. The honest and unvarnished truth about what he cares about.
- The extended visit to Italy is reminiscent of The Godfather. An aging patriarch and a dynasty of the weary are doing ugly business in the Italian sunshine.
- I’m surprised we’ve not seen the family play Monopoly before. Who would have thought it was a good idea (for everyone except the viewers)? I could really see them doing it all day.
- It must be interesting to be someone on the periphery of these Roy family events. This is a family that has never been to a social event that could not be overshadowed by any horrible bullshit. You just wanted to see the family members running around, and then try to gather it from the news reports the next day. I wanted to do a contest.
- Connor first shows genuine fraternal concern for Kendall, but ends up derailing the intervention in annoyance over Kendall’s careless remark about being the “eldest son.” Connor has always seemed comically ignorant, but seemed really dangerous for the first time when his pent-up frustration threatened to contaminate.
- Logan’s visit to Mattson’s luxurious lakeside villa repeats Romans, but Logan does everything differently. He explicitly refuses to compliment the house, as Roman did, and wins Mattson’s respect (which Roman did not). The youngest Roy boy just as well can not be there, hovering with his teacup, while Hans Christian Anderfuck and the legendary bulletproof tanker eradicate the real thing.
- “We do not love Mark …”
- Look at Greg now. He is a plane crash away from being Europe’s strangest king.
- “Lackey Slack.”
- Logan spends his life telling people to fuck. Now he has finally said that to his children. With no company left to fight over, what new torture will season 4 bring?
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