The following contains spoilers for Succession S3E8, “Chiantishire,” the penultimate episode of the third season (written by Jesse Armstrong and directed by Mark Mylod)
Is there any more difficult episode than the episode before a season finale? It’s really an unenviable spot to be in. By nature, it’s purpose is to set the stage for the finale, which is designed to hook viewers in to return for the next season. Succession S3E8 in some ways felt uneven to me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the episode. Was it my favorite of the season? Far from it. Did it get my mind racing as to where the season finale is going to take us? Absolutely, which makes it a successful penultimate episode. We’re about to get into heavy spoiler territory here so if you haven’t seen Succession S3E8 yet, check out last week’s article and revisit this one once you have.
Mom’s Getting Married
Succession finds a reason every season to hop on a plane and film an episode overseas, which makes sense considering how much of the cast and crew are actually European in real life. Last week the seeds were planted for the Roy siblings’ mother to re-enter the picture, as briefly as always, this time for her wedding.
So here we are, in Succession S3E8, with all of our major players in Italy. Of course, we can’t be in Europe and not be reminded of the Season 1 finale, when an intoxicated Kendall wrecked a car in water, ending the life of a waiter who helped him score some blow. This guilt was obviously heavily on the mind of the already emotionally devastated Kendall, who just last week could barely string a sentence together he was so beaten down.
This season has been cruel to Kendall, debatably the most likable of the Roy siblings, also debatably the most qualified of the kids to take over the business, but not debatably, the most fragile of them all. He’s hanging on by a thread and now he’s returning (kind of) to the scene of his greatest crime.
Seeing their mother pull Kendall aside to tell him that her soon to be husband wants to accommodate Logan’s request to keep Logan and Kendall separate, meaning that Kendall is uninvited to certain pre-wedding activities, was a gut punch to him. Here’s his own mother, who really hasn’t been much of a mother to him, casting him aside to accommodate the wishes of her ex-husband.
Kendall to his credit didn’t let this get him down. It motivated him to request a sit down with his father. This father and son sit down was far and away the highlight of the episode. It felt like a sit down of mafia bosses in a sense, perhaps highlighted by being in Italy. Kendall wanted a conversation with his dad to speak his mind and accept the buyout offer. Logan was a shark, smelling blood in the water, sensing exactly how beaten down his own son is. He showed zero mercy. He was cruel. He belittled his son, bringing up the dead waiter and Kendall’s drug problems. He said his offer to buy him out last week was just a way to f*ck with him. He doesn’t want to let his son out. He wants his son to suffer.
There’s a lot to unpack here. Kendall pointed out that he’s not his father. He called his father evil and said he wants no part in the dark side of business. He doesn’t want to operate in the realms that rich men like his father do. Which dating back to the start of the show, has always been true of Kendall. While his siblings want the business, Kendall is the only one to have ideas on how to bring the business forward, both from a morality perspective as well as modernizing the business. Kendall is the one who wants to be different. Logan resents that. He tells his son that he has no idea what it’s like to have this kind of power and what comes with that. Kendall acknowledged that he had lost this war with his father and his father responded by provoking, belittling and taunting his own child.
I’ve been writing all season long about how I felt that this should be the season where Logan was finally toppled. That the story had to progress this year. Seeing Logan at his most evil here felt like a tipping of the hand, that his time is coming. This was his moment as a character where he went too far and comeuppance has to follow. But it won’t be Kendall who topples him.
Following the meeting with his father, Kendall melted down again. He was last seen laying in the pool, unable to speak. He’s right back to where he was at the end of last season, but unlike last year, this season can’t end with Kendall pulling himself together at the 11th hour to take it to his dad. It simply doesn’t feel realistic. Kendall’s journey needs to be about healing himself and hopefully, getting out of this world.
Then there’s Shiv
Shiv as a character has felt almost as adrift as Kendall lately. The sudden ascension of Roman to the “chosen one” status has thrown her for a loop. Having an awkward conversation with her mother did seem to be motivating for her though.
Shiv seemed to re-find her will to stay in the fight. She attempted to capitalize on Roman’s mistakes (which we’ll get more into next) and I think as viewers that we’re supposed to be left with the feeling that she’s once again back to being the “chosen one”, although we know that won’t last.
Aside from that though, Shiv and Tom’s awkward night together really leaves us wondering how much longer they can stay together. I personally hoped that their reconciliation at the end of last year would put an end to their rocky relationship storyline but that would not be the case. While “talking dirty” to each other (after telling Tom they should have a baby, just to spite her mother), Shiv was downright cruel to Tom. She said she didn’t love him. That he wasn’t good enough for her. That he knew these things and loved her anyway. The exact type thoughts Tom has been struggling with all year. Both we the viewers and Tom are left wondering how much truth was involved in the things she was saying to him.
After everything we’ve seen from Tom this season, we’re at a make or break moment. Tom has to stand up for himself in some way, shape or form next week in the finale or as a character, all of the good will he’s built up this year is in danger of being gone. He’s been kicked around long enough. Now it’s time for action from him.
The Roman Show
I remember writing in my article on the season premiere that Roman would be the one to take Logan down. I might have been wrong about the path to get there but I firmly believe that I was correct about the end result. My biggest prediction for the Season 3 finale? Roman sticks a proverbial dagger in his father’s heart and takes the reins.
In Succession S3E8, we saw Roman try to salvage the deal with Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) only to realize that Matsson wants a merger, not to be bought out. Everyone besides Shiv seems to see value in this idea, as it would be what takes this traditional media empire and makes them not only relevant in the modern landscape but also dominant in the modern landscape. This deal seems to be hinged upon Roman’s involvement, as he’s the only one Matsson relates to.
This deal and Roman’s selection of the GOP candidate for President (Justin Kirk), who has no interest in Logan or Shiv, makes him the sole owner of a lot of negotiation power. I would not be surprised at all to see Justin Kirk next week as Roman consolidates power.
Succession S3E8 shoehorned in a plot about Roman sending Gerri unwanted explicit photos, which lead to Logan accidentally getting one of the photos and berating Roman, considering firing Gerri and turning to Shiv once again. Now it was nice to see the Roman and Gerri storyline come to a head, even if the photos elements felt out of left field. We are supposed to be thinking that Roman is now on the outside looking in, heading into the finale. But he’s not. He’s still very much in the driver’s seat.
I can’t envision a scenario where Roman doesn’t play his hand to take out his father and sister. This has been his path this whole season. Only unlike when Kendall tried to take Logan out, Roman really will. Until next week my friends.