You know how your mind’s Pavlovian conditioning has been to immediately hum the intro theme of “Game of Thrones” or “House of the Dragon” when the HBO Max intro hits you? While I can’t deny that the same magnificent sound comes to my mind sometimes when I’m about to start an episode of an HBO show, another intro theme, just as spectacular if not more, if I dare say, has left a more bewitching impact on me. And that intro theme belongs to the HBO satire-drama masterpiece “Succession,” or as I call it, ‘the show that I compulsively recommend to every new friend I make.’
Well, just the fact that none of them has come back without being just as obsessed with the show as I am says more in favor of how crucial it is for you to experience it than any amount of superlative adjectives ever could. For a show pivoting around some of the most horrendous characters ever to have darkened the good ol’ TV, it’s striking just how firmly hooked “Succession” keeps you to its hellish journey. The HBO original knocks it out of the park with a grisly chain of events so bewildering that you’ll be left with a gaping mouth, helplessly hankering for just one character to root for. And while you’re not given the comfort of having a character that you can like without questioning your own moral standings, you get a wicked kick out of collectively hoping for the long-overdue downfall of the central bad guy. Now, before the fourth season of my favorite show (and it will be yours too if you just give it a shot) hits the screens, let me jog your memory and walk you through the important events that took place in the three previous seasons of “Succession.”
‘Succession’ Season 1: Recap
Does being a part of a family that has the global media in the palm of its hand sound fun? What if I add that the media conglomerate, namely Waystar Royco, has its web spread through production companies, theme parks, cruises, and practically every other stream of business you could name? Well, “fun” isn’t exactly what Logan Roy’s four supremely unfortunate kids feel, and I doubt they felt it even when they were little. I know, I know. It isn’t easy to feel pity for the filthy rich, who can wipe their tears with handkerchiefs spun from gold. Although how comfortable that would be is questionable.
Logan Roy looks like death has been knocking on his door for quite a while now. You’re expected to get busy thinking up who would be taking up the mantle when Logan lies in the hospital bed, just about ready to have his soul make a trip down under after a massive stroke. But the big Roy is someone even the grim reaper is reluctant to go anywhere near. Kendall’s long-suffering dream of sitting in the CEO’s chair hits the hard ground when Logan pulls the rug from under him and decides that he’s the only one fit to run the company. I would have said that Kendall has seen better days if only I didn’t know just how miserable the poor guy has been growing up with an extremely abusive father who’s basically the human embodiment of evil. And maybe he would have had an easier time and wouldn’t have given in to substance abuse had he not been a sucker for daddy’s approval while simultaneously fighting a losing battle against the very man. There’s no way a person would look at Logan soaking the floor with urine, pouring coffee all over himself, and planning to buy up a bunch of Indonesian television channels and think that the man was fit to run a behemoth media company worth a king’s ransom. But no one has the gall to stand up against Satan Roy.
Other than poor Ken, of course, who chalks up a plan to overthrow the tyrannical old guy and devises a vote of no confidence with the help of the board members and the supposed support of his li’l brother Roman. The board has more than enough reasons to wish for a shifting air, especially after Logan fires his longtime friend, philosopher, and employee Frank. But when a dude is unlucky enough to be born to Logan Roy, do you really think his luck would just turn 180 degrees? Obviously, Kendall gets stuck in the universe’s conniving design on the day of the vote, but even reaching in time wouldn’t have made much of a difference when he has a sissy for a brother. A good way to describe Roman would be to say that he’s a man in need of some serious help. And I say that with the most sincerity considering he got the worst end of Logan’s abusive baton as a child. Wisecracking Roman may try to kid his way through life to mask his engulfing insecurities, but he’s the most transparent of all the Roy kids. He can’t perform well in life or in bed, for that matter. Although the glass wall to the side of the Waystar building would say otherwise.
Needless to say, getting the COO position in the grand family business isn’t the kind of pressure that someone as tactless as Roman can handle. And I bet that seeing the rocket launch that he is supposed to oversee end in a fiery dumpster of a mess that mirrors Roman’s life isn’t a comforting sight for the youngest scion of the Roy family. Speaking of dumpsters, now here’s a conniving woman who proves my previous resolve of always standing for morally gray powerful women characters to be not much of a resolve after all. Siobhan Roy is the very definition of someone who can lean toward just about any side of the debate as long as it benefits her. Her brand of being a feminist political consultant is soon trashed when her old flame introduces her to Gil Eavis, a Bernie Sanders-esque presidential candidate willing to stick it to the Donald Trump-type Logan Roy by hiring his daughter to work for him. Siobhan is good at her job. The only problem is that the manipulation skills that make her such a fantastic person to have by your side in a political scenario are also what make her a terrible fiancée to Tom.
Well, to be fair, Tom is practically a caricature who walks through life as though it were a field of lilies. And that would’ve been fine if he was still Darcy in ‘Pride And Prejudice,’ but to be that naive amongst a bunch of snakes is what makes Tom the perfect scapegoat in any given situation. He’s thrilled to be named the leader of the parks and cruises section, only to find himself drowning in icy waters when he’s handed the documents that delineate the sexual assaults and possible murders committed on Royco cruises. Puppeteered by Siobhan, Tom would do just about anything she asked him to, even if it meant giving Siobhan a free pass to have relationships outside of their marriage. Even a pushover needs a pushover. And the person Tom takes it all out on is the family cousin Greg, who’s just in time to climb the corporate ladder at Waystar. Making up what is the most amusing and fascinating part of the show is Tom and Greg’s peculiar, sexually tension-filled (from Tom’s side) relationship.
Making use of his non-threatening social and financial status and his ruse of being a yes man, Greg fools basically everyone, including Tom, into giving him access to everything that he can not only use for his own benefit but also hoard as dirt he can use against the family if the need were to arise. Make no mistake, Tom’s pretend bestie, and my favorite character in the show, wants nothing more than to secure his advancement, and there’s hardly anything Greg wouldn’t do to get what he wants. He has even managed to shrewdly bag all the documents that incriminate Waystar Royco for the horrors they tried to bury using Tom. The complete antithesis of Greg is Connor, Logan’s oldest son from his first marriage. The seriously pathetic pseudo-intellectual heir to the Roy fortune has kept himself away from the toxic game of chess everyone is playing to get a significant seat at the Waystar Royco table. Blabbering on insufferably about politics, philosophy, and even cryogenics, none of which he has any substantial understanding of, Connor makes a complete buffoon of himself more often than he realizes. But what is perhaps the most embarrassing thing about him—and not one member of his family wastes a chance to mess with him about it—is having a “girlfriend” he needs to pay to even be around.
In a desperate attempt to prove that he isn’t the hopeless idiot that everyone believes him to be, Connor decides to run for the presidential seat. Well, we all know how that would end. By the time the season’s end approaches, Kendall has established himself as a difficult bug for Logan to squash. He’s gotten himself mixed up with his old friend Stewy and Logan’s business nemesis Sandy to plan a coup. But it’s Kendall we’re talking about. The man’s damning weakness is that he truly loves his father, and everything he does to hurt Logan is practically an attention-seeking tantrum on his part. So when Daddy gives him a proper verbal roughing up, Kendall is once again seen to be seeking a comforting hug from the drugs. Man, it breaks my heart to see this poor guy keel over every time he tries to get back up. What devastated me, and I’m sure a lot of the fans out there, was how Kendall ended up accidentally killing a waiter at Siobhan’s wedding, giving Logan all the ammo and a looming threat to hold over his son.
‘Succession’ Season 2: Recap
If the sleeping dogs were left to lie, we wouldn’t have to hop on the rollercoaster of emotions that is the very existence of the Roy family. But where’s the fun in that? I guess by now, you’ve caught on to the real demon that makes every waking moment of Kendall’s life practically a VIP stay in hotel purgatory. Lounging around in the burning attached pool that is his father’s expectations of him, Kendall can’t so much take a nap without having the indomitable urge to dethrone Logan Roy flow through his very veins. And if you were expecting a steady stream of stable actions and emotions from the Roy kids, you’re watching the wrong show. Stability of thoughts and feelings isn’t something Kendall, Siobhan, and Roman were brought up to have. And the only one you’re doomed to feel awful for is the one you’re made to see suffering the most. The battle for the Royco throne is something Kendall has been tethered to ever since he made it his life’s mission to make his father love and respect him. And unfortunately for him, Siobhan has turned her back on Gil to make her case as a worthy successor who deserves to be in charge of the faux Fox News.
Manipulating every move his kids make, the current pawn at Logan’s disposal is Siobhan. Truth has a way of floating to the surface, even when someone as cunning as Logan has been giving it his all to keep it quiet. The Royco cruise crimes have now become the talk of the town, and the shareholders are understandably squirmish. The allure of the CEO position really shows just how venomous Siobhan can be when it’s asked of her. Using her trademark void of morals and manipulative sweet talk, Siobhan muffles a primary witness who has enough fuel at her fingertips to burn the entire Roy empire to the ground. If there’s anything that Siobhan has learned in the process, it’s that Tom is the only one likely to be wagging his tail by her side when everything else falls apart. So instead of throwing him under the bus to take the fall for the dirty cruise business like Logan suggested, Siobhan gets Tom to grab a position open in the ATN news division. Tom may be completely out of his depth at the ATN, but having Greg around to be his trusted punching bag does help him keep his cool. It’s bewildering just to see the kind of abusive hold Logan has over Kendall. The man who was ready to give his nefarious dad a push from the edge of a cliff has now created an entire song and a performance in Logan’s honor.
Siobhan and Roman may be trying to find a spot in the ground to bury themselves out of sheer second-hand embarrassment, but Kendall giving his heart and soul into ‘L To The OG’ will be echoed through history as the most bomb “fake” song ever created for an episode on TV. Selling the now faltering business is as much not an option for Logan as it is impossible for Roman to acquire the kind of support that would ensure Waystar Royco’s privatization. And as it turns out, from the sleazy development of Roman and Gerri’s work relationship, little Roy has a bit of a humiliation kink. Even when the threat of complete destruction of everything he has built with blood, sweat, and crimes breathes down his neck, there’s no stopping Logan Roy from furthering his ulterior agenda. His latest obsession with merging the right-wing ATN with Waystar’s media rival and left-leaning news organization, PGM, lands him on the path of Nan Pierce, the matriarch of the Pierce family and the owner of PGM. Backing the merger with only her own interests in mind is PGM’s CEO, Rhea. It’s not just the Roy kids and Tom that completely screwed the pooch at the dinner with the Pierce family.
Logan himself allows his ego to get the best of him when Nan proposes the only condition that would ensure good faith between the Pierces and the Roys. Logan would need to name Siobhan the CEO of Waystar Royco, if he wants Nan’s company to come aboard. And, of course, Logan Roy isn’t one to give in to demands and doesn’t mind turning his back on a deal, even at the cost of a massive loss. The only one who does get something out of the two families’ meeting is Kendall, who instantly recognizes the kindred flame in former addict Naomi Pierce and goes on to form a dysfunctional relationship with her. Rhea’s sneaky plans haven’t evaded Nan’s watchful eyes. But there’s no way to go but up when you haplessly support and even maybe (also, ew) date Logan Roy, something that Logan’s wife Marcia isn’t all that happy about. But is it ever that simple with Logan?
As Rhea comes to know right after winning the game of thrones and being crowned as the CEO of Waystar Royco, Logan only wanted her to be the face of the humiliation heading his empire’s way in light of all the discrepancies rising from the grave. Rhea backs out, leaving Logan no other choice but to look for another scapegoat to sacrifice and appease the crowd. The grim family trip to the yacht (ironic, isn’t it?) is for Logan to find the very person who wouldn’t be that big of a loss to suffer. And, of course, it is again time for Kendall to offer up his head for his lord and savior, Logan Roy. Sitting in New York, about to take the blame for all the skeletons in the Waystar Royco closet, Kendall takes a swift turn and declares war against Logan Roy. The world and the rest of the family may not have seen it coming from someone as docile as Kendall, but the cryptic smirk on Logan’s face may just be his “way to go” for the son who, for the first time, had cornered him when he least expected it.
‘Succession’ Season 3: Recap
The ashy fallout of Kendall’s missile blurs the path his siblings find themselves on. Convincing his otherwise dutiful son to back down seems to be a no-go for Logan. The castle that Siobhan has forged in the air dissipates in synchronicity, with Logan handing her another mission to accomplish if she wishes to strengthen her claim to the throne. Not only does she fail to obtain the lawyer that would’ve been a reliable and impressive front to put up for Waystar Royco, but as it turns out, the lawyer, Lisa, is brought in to back Kendall in the war. Siobhan sees her dream slip through her fingers as her miserable attempts at convincing everyone around her that dad won’t leave her high and dry make her image crumble even further. She’s again leaning toward giving up Tom if it at all can be considered a sacrifice big enough to impress Logan. Meanwhile, Connor has managed to manipulate Willa into giving him her hand in marriage. Well, if it’s not going to be the presidential seat that he gets, the least he can do to save his face is to make his paid relationship official (go figure). At the end of the day, the two sets of siblings are all playing a game they never really had a chance at winning.
Despite being dealt a bad hand every step of the way, Kendall at least has enough fight left in him to ride the wave of his superbly ambitious intentions. What dooms him, and Logan has time and again eviscerated him about the same, are the fickle emotions that betray him every time he is attacked by the people he only wishes to be loved by. Reaching the president, who used to be at his beck and call, is turning out to be impossible for Logan. Taking Gerri’s sage advice, he bandaged up the gaping wound by complying with the DOJ and even with the FBI. That hurts Kendall’s case, but what hurts it even more is that he has erected the bulk of his war castle on an unimpressive foundation. Siobhan has no choice left but to play the part she’s sadly been assigned, and this time her job is to be the soft, feminine mouthpiece for the trainwreck that is Waystar Royco. Despite it orchestrating one of the funniest scenes in the show, considering how she gets back at him, I really wish Kendall wouldn’t have wrecked Siobhan’s town hall meeting with a Nirvana song blasting through the speakers. Hell hath no fury like a Siobhan scorned.
Going guns ablaze against Kendall, Siobhan writes up a letter that humiliates his image out in the open. As he breaks down in the sound room and butchers the interview he was supposed to give, Kendall has already admitted defeat, and the rest of his chance at winning goes with Lisa leaving his side. There’s a lot to lose for Logan Roy if the shareholders are given the chance to vote. Sucking up to Sandy only lands them in a convoluted maze of losses that make no sense. Lucky for the big Roy, it doesn’t come to a vote. And instead, he gets to hand a “take your money and leave” card to Kendall. Now that there’s nothing left in him but the dying cries of the war he has been waging against Logan and probably a constant “ding dong. The monster has won” tune, Kendall ends up in a puddle of misery once again.
But wait, there’s a flicker of hope yet. At their mother’s wedding, Kendall’s emotional unraveling is followed by a morose confession of the accidental murder to his siblings, who, for what it’s worth, try to comfort him in their own bizarre ways. And that’s not all. The Roy kids have finally come to their senses and fashioned a proverbial union of good against bad. But there’s just one little mistake that Siobhan makes. She calls Tom and lets him in on their plan to use their mother’s share of the company to outweigh their dad’s position of power. By the time the three even reach Logan, he seems to have gotten to his ex-wife. The evil wins again, and providing the most consequential weapon for him is someone you would never have expected to be so cunning. Tom has, for once, outsmarted Siobhan. And even though she is putting on a gracious loser face now, she is not one who will take this defeat lying down. Is it the end of the road for Kendall’s dream of reshaping his life and the empire that should’ve been his? When it’s ‘Succession,’ you really can’t tell what your eyes are about to feast on next.