July 20, 2024

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Succession “All The Bells Say”

Season Three Finale

So, are the Roys people that we, as an audience, can or should feel bad for?

Episodes like this may challenge any assumptions we might have in that direction.

Because, honestly, it really shouldn’t be an issue.  The Roys are, to a person, awful.  Every single last one of them.  Even Cousin Greg is turning out to be awful.  I mean, I would have been perfectly fine with the cute PR woman, but he wants to “upgrade” to minor European royalty, though having him sitting between the two of them at Caroline’s wedding was a nice touch.  Not that I had much hope for Cousin Greg, but he was the closest to an outsider in the family, someone with nothing who somehow got a little lucky and could maybe someday be something decent.  Theoretically, I could say the same about Tom, but Tom has been characterized as awful almost from the beginning while occasionally making it clear he would really like it if his wife loved and respected him and his feelings.

As I said before, I was well aware of what Tom did before I watched this episode.  Quite frankly, when this sort of thing happens, I like to see how the story went the way it did.  So, yes, I knew Tom had been Logan’s source amongst his children for quite some time, and I could see why it might have been the way it was.  Shiv outright said she didn’t love him, and going back to the first time the show introduced Lady Caroline, when Shiv’s mother told her Tom seemed “pliable” and perhaps as a result disposable, how Shiv had long since run roughshod over Tom’s feelings and wishes, when all he really wanted was at least a little comfort and to be a father.

So, really, why not reach out to Logan?  Tom, at least, learned what Greg didn’t from Boar on the Floor:  Logan makes the rules, so Logan always wins.  Appease Logan at all times, and you have a chance to keep your head above water if not thrive.  Kendall tried to defy Logan.  He failed.  Shiv tried to bull her way into the company.  She was disregarded.  Roman thought he had his daddy’s ear.  He was wrong.  Logan makes things up as he goes along.  He changes the rules to suit his purposes.  He will renegotiate the divorce settlement with Lady Caroline to cut the kids out.  And “love,” as a heartbroken Roman learns, is never a reason to do anything in Logan’s realm.

It almost suggests that the reason life turns out as well as it does for Connor, where the worst that happens to him is the others seem to forget he’s the oldest brother, is because he just doesn’t even try that hard.  He just does his own thing and even gets a “yes” from Willa in a manner that suggests, hey, she doesn’t have anything else to do that weekend so why not marry the older rich guy with delusions of presidential hopes?

So, really, watching Tom approach Greg and ask him, pointedly, what has this family ever done for either of them, works as Greg pauses and seems to agree.  What has the family done for either Tom or Greg?  In Greg’s case, that can even include Grampa Ewan.  The Roys are all a self-centered mess of people, so if you have to associate with them, attach yourself to the one who always wins because he keeps changing the rules.  Nothing will ever be good enough for Logan Roy as far as his kids are concerned, and the faster the kids realize that, the better off they’ll be.  Especially since, well, even if they lose the company, they’re all still going to be stinkin’ rich, aren’t they?  Tom may be awful, but it’s not like there aren’t any people hanging around that aren’t.

And yet…

The high point for the episode, for me, is easily when Kendall finally confesses to his role in the death of the waiter to Shiv and Roman.  They had gotten wind of Logan’s selling of Waystar and realized they had to rope Kendall in, but Kendall is a mess, and he finally tells them why.  Like I said previously, Kendall is the most sympathetic, but mostly because he’s the most self-aware.  He knows he’s human garbage.  His kids are distant.  His family doesn’t care for him.  And he killed a young man.  Sure, he said he dived down more than once, but it’s been a while since I saw that episode, so I don’t recall if he did or not.  The point is, he’s been beating himself up ever since, and he’s finally telling Shiv and Roman why.  And, in a nice turn, the other two actually opt to support him.  Shiv offers a shoulder to cry on, more or less, and Roman does what Roman does best by making inappropriate jokes of all kinds.  With the three of them finally on the same page, it would appear that maybe they can finally do something about Logan.

Only Tom told all, and Logan already knows and neutralized the threat before they can make it, showing Logan telling Kendall to leave since he’s a traitor, openly mocking Shiv’s tone, and sneering at the heartbroken Roman’s plea for love.  And then in walks Tom, doing the same simple tone he uses whenever he’s trying to comfort Shiv.  She knows what he did.  She knows what she herself did.  And I was surprised she didn’t haul off and smack him one.

Where does a show like this go from here?  I mean, I somehow doubt Tom’s time at the top will last.  No one else’s has, and he’s only family by marriage who knows how to suck up to people in power.  That’s hardly leadership material, but maybe all he wanted was a little love and respect.  If he can’t get the former from his wife or her siblings, he can get a bro-tastic version from Greg and at least some respect from Logan, enough to stay high in the company without actually running it.

But that’s a mystery, of sorts, for another day as I have no idea when season four will land anywhere.  COVID and all kept season three from coming out for a while, but now that the third season’s coverage is over, I do need something for Thursdays.  I do have a plan for something, but for now, Netflix dropped the first half of the final season of Ozark, so that should hold for a couple weeks at least.

I wasn’t sure whether I should wait for Netflix to drop the second half or not, but I do have something in mind to hopefully cover the gap between now and the eventual return of Succession.  Until then, well, I guess I go from evil parents who seem to only hurt their kids to criminal parents who, well, are mostly trying to keep themselves and their kids alive.