Kendall brought the big yacht holiday to an abrupt end in the Succession Season 2 finale, and now in the Succession Season 3 opener, everyone other than him and Greg has been helicoptered out to an airport somewhere in Croatia. While they wait for their private jet to arrive (and we all know how tiresome that can be), there’s not much to do but monitor the news, ponder their short- and medium-term allegiances, and watch Logan for portents. Shiv and Roman agree to support Logan for now, but also suspect he may be “toast.” Once the president of the United States has dodged Logan’s call — palming Gerri off on an underling, who will not promise the administration will prevent a Department of Justice investigation — Logan decides he will be going to Sarajevo, a destination chosen from a list of places that don’t have extradition treaties with the U.S. Tom, Frank, Karl, and Hugo will accompany Logan; Gerri, Shiv, and Roman are dispatched back to New York. Willa and Connor are to stay in Croatia to defend that front, or…something; the instruction is vague, but in Logan’s defense, he had evidently forgotten Connor exists until Willa reminded him.
On the plane, Logan announces a plan to “step back,” which will require naming an interim CEO he can puppet. Karl and Frank are both quickly rejected as options — the former because “if [his] hands are clean it’s only because [his] whorehouse also does manicures,” the latter because he’s “not trusted”: “I’d like a kid, obviously, so Shiv or Roman. But we’d love a woman, so Shiv or Gerri. But I’d like experience, so Roman or Gerri.” Got it? Though Tom and Shiv didn’t part on the best terms, given the season finale conversation about their relationship (on the tarmac, he had answered her “I love you” with “Thanks”; no kiss occurred), Tom immediately calls Shiv to update her and make sure she wants the job before he’s asked his opinion. She then tries to keep this conversation from Gerri and Roman, but Frank already texted Gerri to say who’s in contention, and Gerri told Roman. (“I’m just a very straightforward person, Shiv,” Gerri shrugs.)
Meanwhile, back in New York, Kendall is on a roller coaster of emotion. Immediately after the announcement, he returns to his hotel room bathroom to quietly collect himself — an echo of the series premiere scene in which a bathroom fell victim to his tantrum about being denied his expected CEO promotion, after which Kendall bitterly tidied up after himself. It may also be true Kendall used this bathroom to do a lot of coke offscreen, because he comes out wired as hell and remains so for the rest of the episode. Maybe he’s just high on attention, or adrenaline. What is certain is that Kendall did not think through what would happen after he dropped a bomb on his family’s company: Karolina has to explain that he may not have access to a company car after he, you know, gets fired, and that he’ll almost certainly get sued as well. Panicking, Kendall essentially tries to make Karolina take a loyalty oath, and when she doesn’t get on board fast enough, he kicks her out of the car (generating another headline in the process). This leaves him with a top team of Greg and Jess. Greg is deputized to monitor social media for him; and when Logan calls Kendall, Jess has to take it, the two men using her as a go-between as they sling profane insults back and forth.
Once Kendall learns he isn’t going to be permitted to run his anti-Waystar campaign from inside the Waystar offices — this also comes as a shock — and figures that there are reporters outside his place, he decides against just returning to the hotel we saw him in, OR CHECKING INTO ANY OF MANHATTAN’S OTHER HOTELS (is he actually so helpless he doesn’t know how to book a room himself, or just inconsiderate?) and instead goes to Rava’s. She has heard about the day’s drama, and is supportive but guarded; one gets the sense she and Kendall probably had a lot of disagreements about Logan, and that she doesn’t necessarily expect this schism to be permanent. It also seems like Kendall was expecting her to give him a hero’s welcome and is disappointed not to find her more effusive. Rava lets Kendall set up a war room in her beautiful apartment — a decision she will soon regret!
Shiv seems to be the frontrunner for interim CEO (particularly after Roman strategically torpedoes himself, telling Logan if it’s not Roman it should be Gerri) when Logan calls Shiv just as they arrive in New York. We only hear her half of the conversation — “I can do that,” a private smile…
…and when she hangs up, she explains that she’s been deputized to approach Lisa Arthur, a Gloria Allred-type celebrity lawyer whom Shiv vaguely knows, about representing Logan. When Roman asks if he said anything about the CEO gig, Shiv replies, “Oh yeah, he did. It’s me.” We don’t know he didn’t…! But when Shiv gets to the office, Lisa (Sanaa Lathan) very carefully says she can’t represent Logan — which Shiv seems to have expected — nor can she advise Shiv as a consigliere. Shiv figures out what Lisa is definitely not saying — that she’s representing Kendall — and leaves in a spray of fury. Gerri gets the news while she’s parrying a pass from Roman (“I’d lay you badly, but I’d lay you gladly!”): since Shiv failed to land Lisa, Gerri is CEO. Roman gleefully calls Shiv to give her the news.
Over to Rava’s, where night has fallen as Kendall informs her that more people are coming and that it’ll “just” be four or five more hours. (My dad’s move when he was done visiting with us in his home was to put on his basketball shorts to signal that he was on his way to bed; maybe Rava should have tried that.) Kendall adds that one of his guests is Naomi, and that the two of them are seeing each other. It’s not clear whether Kendall is hoping Rava will congratulate him, or if he only decided to add Naomi to this party after he saw men’s razors in Rava’s private bathroom and concluded that she’s seeing someone too. She neither confirms nor denies this, saying men’s razors are cheaper (which is true), and no, that’s not a hint that he needs to pay her more alimony. Rava’s determined smile remains in place through Kendall’s introduction of Naomi, but partway through Kendall’s exploratory meeting with Lisa and her associate, there’s a scream: Naomi picked out a bottle of wine for Greg to open, which was a gift from Rava’s godfather. Greg apologizes about a dozen times — Kendall and Naomi apologize zero times — and Rava gives up: “It’s like when someone breaks something beautiful and it reminds you that nothing lasts.” After she’s stalked out, Kendall crows: “All these brilliant fucking women, Greg….I must be doing something right.” Exactly the lesson any healthy person would have to that interaction!
In Sarajevo, Hugo reports the bad news that Kendall landed Lisa. Logan’s ready to move on to Leo Upton, the lawyer everyone had agreed was probably too aggressive for the situation: “We’ll fucking beast ’em. We’ll go full! Fucking!! Beast!!!”
But it’s hard to be an indomitable titan of industry when you’re hiding in the Balkans in fear of a warrant.
A few stray notes about the episode!
- Willa’s Play: Alas, poor Sands. It seems like even more bad reviews have rolled in since the S02 finale — so many, in fact, that Connor wonders if it might be worth marketing the show on a “hate-watch” angle. Willa isn’t thrilled about her work being thrown on the “ironi-cycle,” but she knows how much of Connor’s money she’s already lost, so she doesn’t really have standing to fight about it.
- Greg’s Mom: While one of Kendall’s “brilliant women” waits, Greg tries to chat her up by explaining that he’s trying to cancel his mother’s credit card: Ewan cut her off financially, and she’s worried that the card Greg guaranteed for her will soon be unusable, so she’s been panic-buying NutriBullets. “And she never even drinks the smoothies!” Good line, but is Cousin Greg becoming the Ralph Wiggum of Succession?
- The Berry Schneider Meeting: One of Kendall’s many meetings is with publicist Berry Schneider (Jihae) about shaping the media narrative in Kendall’s favor as the scandal unfolds. As soon as she starts proposing strategy, he bulldozes her with his stupid bullshit: “You go, BUT I THINK THE HEADLINE NEEDS TO BE ‘Fuck the weather, we’re changing the cultural climate.’”
- Kendall later expresses a wish to hire “some BoJack guys, you know, some of the Lampoon kids, to smash that shit, make my [Twitter] feed a powder keg people need to check in with.” Nothing Kendall ever does will be as embarrassing as “L to the OG,” but I did watch this scene through my fingers, too.
Television Without Pity, Fametracker, and Previously.TV co-founder Tara Ariano has had bylines in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Vulture, Slate, Salon, Mel Magazine, Collider, and The Awl, among others. She co-hosts the podcasts Extra Hot Great, Again With This (a compulsively detailed episode-by-episode breakdown of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place), Listen To Sassy, and The Sweet Smell Of Succession. She’s also the co-author, with Sarah D. Bunting, of A Very Special 90210 Book: 93 Absolutely Essential Episodes From TV’s Most Notorious Zip Code (Abrams 2020). She lives in Austin.