Filthy plus rich: ‘Succession’ season 3 premiere puts a woman on top

Scene from Succession Season 3
Gary Sanchez Productions/Courtesy

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Quote of the week: “Who said I never killed anyone?”

The second season of HBO’s “Succession” left off with a cliffhanger that can only be described as biblical. After being chosen as his father’s sacrifice to save the family-owned megacorporation, Waystar Royco, from allegations of widespread sexual abuse and organized cover-ups, Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) abruptly flips the script, declaring to the press that his father Logan (Brian Cox) was complicit in company crimes and needs to be removed from power as CEO. The lamb refuses to be sacrificed in this story; instead, he declares war.  

Fast-paced and brutal, war is exactly what we get in season three. Viewers are quickly reintroduced to the Waystar ensemble as father and son rally their respective troops, as Kendall leaves for New York with his assistant Jess (Juliana Canfield) and cousin Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun). Meanwhile, Logan controls just about everyone else, sending Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin), Kendall’s siblings, back to the Waystar headquarters along with general counsel Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron). 

With such a large cast, it’s hard to focus on any one person. Still, that doesn’t mean fan favorites, such as Greg and Roman, can’t squeeze in a few killer lines right off the bat. Braun is funny as ever with his fish-out-of-water routine: “No comment! No comment!” Greg shouts as he and Kendall push through a sea of paparazzi, prompting Waystar Royco’s head of PR to remind him, “You don’t have to say that, Greg, just don’t comment!”

The momentum builds when Logan, along with chronic screw-up Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) and a few of his close advisers, leaves for Sarajevo in an apparent ploy to avoid extradition if criminal charges are brought against him. En route, Logan announces his decision to temporarily step down as CEO and names Roman, Gerri and Shiv as potential successors. 

It’s an oddly terrifying moment. The question at the heart of the show threatens to be resolved in a matter of minutes, unraveling some of the earlier seasons’ work while aptly reminding viewers to never get too comfortable with the established order. Roman soon takes his hat out of the ring in typical Roman fashion — “Let the stone-cold bitch do it,” he says, pushing for Gerri instead — while Shiv taunts the other two by claiming that her father called and offered her the position. 

Over at Camp Kendall, the mood is dangerously buoyant. Icarus’s wings are bent and broken, but he still manages to fly too high: In the span of 30 minutes, Kendall brazenly takes over his ex-wife’s house to conduct his business, invites his new girlfriend over and interrupts two women to suggest that they should get “BoJack Horseman” writers to start ghost-tweeting for him. And yes, you read that right. It’s just as douchey as it sounds. 

Kendall may think himself righteous here, but it’s clear from the beginning that the lines between revolutionary and tyrant are blurred. Kendall and Logan mirror each other throughout the episode; both seek the help of the lawyer Lisa Arthur (Sanaa Lathan) and frantically call for everyone to get to their “Action Stations!” 

Perhaps more interesting are the loose cannons in this fight. Shiv ends the episode spurned and humiliated, her husband Tom growing distant and her friend Lisa ultimately choosing to represent Kendall over her father. Her next moves are pivotal if she wants a future at the company, which makes her a character to look out for in the coming episodes.

As for the new CEO, the soon-to-be face of Waystar Royco in the midst of its greatest scandal? It’s none other than Gerri — stone-cold Gerri. 

So rejoice, Gerri fans and Logan haters, but stay on your guard. The episode ends with a long shot of Logan breaking away from the temporary shelter of his hotel, walking out onto the street like a man unmoored. On his face is a look of quiet vulnerability that warns of chaos to come: If you thought he was ruthless before, it says, wait until he gets desperate.  

Contact Lauren Sheehan-Clark at [email protected].