Throughout Succession, we’ve seen the inner workings of a multinational media company at play. What happens when the media zooms in on the Roys themselves, however, is a question the show only began to answer in season two – and that episode three of season three zooms right in on.
Everyone behaves exactly as we expect – Roman reluctant, Kendall yearning for approval, Shiv calculating – while the Doomsday Clock on the siblings’ war seems to inch closer to midnight.
Just as you’d hope from a Succession episode where Kendall is enthusiastically roasted by a TV comedian more than once, the personal affronts fly here quicker than Logan’s private plane. As such, let’s once again fire up the Succession Insult Index for episode three – a collection of the ten meanest things people said in a bumper week, where Logan calling his own child a “rat” sadly didn’t even make the cut.
Honourable mention: Kendall playing “Rape Me” by Nirvana on huge speakers as Shiv gives her first address as Waystar president
I would say that this was the first genuinely jaw-dropping moment of this season, and also the first of two just this episode. What unfolds in episode three is what we suspected might happen: Kendall and Shiv – the two big players of the Roy family – are both after personal power at any cost, though they conceptualise that power differently. The show engages with outside perception of the family more than ever in this episode, and for Kendall it’s become his lifeblood – we see him being interviewed by a journalist, playing Good Tweet, Bad Tweet and (almost) appearing on a late-night TV show. So, this – a reference to the historic crimes Waystar are accused of – is his attempt to prove himself to the online Greek chorus and go viral.
Other honourable mention: Logan Roy doing a wanking hand gesture as his execs discuss holding a town hall meeting with their employees
Perfect, no notes.
10) “Tell them to fuck off”
Logan Roy RE: the FBI
Confirming the assumption that there is literally nobody Logan Roy will not roar at to fuck off.
9) “A loving marriage. I feel another million drain with every cluck from that henhouse.”
Logan Roy RE: Marcia Roy
A reminder that while Logan’s paternal psychodrama continues, at home waiting for him is his wife, who has sagely chosen to punish him for his infidelities via the medium of milking him like a cash cow. A bit of a “me sowing/me reaping” moment here for him.
8) “It’s a mint, you doofus.”
Tom Wambsgans to Greg Hirsch
Even as Tom is about to reveal a vulnerability to Greg – that he’s going to meet with a lawyer about his own precarious legal prospects – he still finds time to get in a deeply stupid jab. My CEO.
7) “Kendall Roy is not a hero, fam. He’s bootleg Ross with a daddy complex.”
Anonymous tweeter RE: Kendall Roy
It makes total sense that someone with a sense of self as fragile as Kendall’s would become absolutely obsessed with his place in the discourse, and you can only imagine the fun the writers of this show had thinking about the sort of tweets people might send about him if he was real. As it stands, “bootleg Ross with a daddy complex” actually feels pretty accurate!
6) “Clunk the trout on the head and put it in your pouch”
Tom Wambsgans to Logan Roy RE: himself
If Tom has to go to jail, he’d like it to have maximum utility, and will happily be the trout in Logan’s pouch if it gets him closer to earning the kiss from Daddy. This wasn’t really an insult to anyone but Tom himself, but isn’t it interesting that he’s gone from snatching Logan’s chicken to offering himself up as his dinner in mere episodes?
5) “Look at you. The cutest cheerleader in high school. Is it true you let the track team fingerbang you for lunch money?”
Shiv Roy to Roman Roy
This regarding Roman’s willingness to appear on television to support their father. Sisterly love!
4) “Did they write these questions in crayon?”
Roman Roy RE: the employees of Waystar Royco
One of the best things about Succession is that while the characters endear themselves to us because they’re funny or hot or vulnerable (delete as appropriate), the writers are never bending over backwards to make viewers like any of them. The show knows that they are bosses – fundamentally the worst thing a person can be – and it pulls no punches portraying them as such, or regarding the contempt our corporate overlords have for us. This is very refreshing within a media culture that is constantly producing origin stories and justifications for Why People Are The Way They Are. Sometimes they’re just rich and horrible!
3) “You know PGN pulls up that photo of me with a ponytail anytime they wanna make me look untrustworthy.”
Connor Roy RE: himself
A truly wonderful self-own by the king of the form.
2) “Wokestar Royco, Benedickhead Arnold, Paranoid Kendroid”
Sophie Iwobi RE: Kendall Roy
I laughed aloud when I realised that Ziwé was playing Sophie Iwobi – she was a very fun, meta choice as a late-night, Samantha Bee or John Oliver-style TV host, considering she herself does something similar. Ziwé’s real world persona informed the character helpfully, because she’s the exact type of person Kendall would be hopelessly desperate to impress: young, culturally relevant and using Radiohead album titles to insult him.
1) “I am deeply concerned for the wellbeing of my brother. Our entire family has supported him through his many attempts at rehabilitation for his multiple addictions. But the events of the last days have made it clear that our hopes for his recovery were misplaced. I’ve now been a direct witness to his misogynistic rants, and comparisons to world historical figures, that were suggestive of grandiose and disordered thinking, and I would ask that people give my brother privacy and consideration during this difficult time.”
Shiv Roy RE: Kendall Roy via Sophie Iwobi
The second of the jaw-dropping moments I mentioned earlier was this. Cementing her place in the canon of girlbosses from hell, Shiv plays a clever game by framing her extremely public takedown of her brother – provoked not by his double crossing of their father, but by the embarrassment he caused to her personally during her address at the office – through a lens of womanly concern and pity rather than rage.
The blow is made worse by the fact that it ruins Kendall’s TV appearance: instead of showing himself to be a game, good-time guy, he’s curled in a ball – alone, again – listening to someone he was desperate to impress reading out the worst things he thinks about himself, to an audience of millions. Ouch.