With season three of Succession Now in the books, Vulture returns to where it all started with weekly recaps of the first season. Check back with us and come back every Sunday night for the next pair of episodes.
“Are we ready to fuck or what?”
This is how Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) opens a meeting in “Celebration”, the first episode of Succession. Before we get to this reunion, we see him relaxing in the back seat of a chauffeured sedan, listening to the Beasties Boys’ ‘An Open Letter to NYC’ as he hits the passenger side headrest like a sack. of speed. When he gets out of the car, he takes a puff on a cigarette before throwing it away and walking around the headquarters of Waystar Royco, a family business with immense global reach. His confidence is visible and eerily artificial, as if he is impressing invisible cameras following him – or, perhaps more accurately, trying to suppress the insecurity that rumbles just below the surface.
Kendall can open a meeting with “Are we ready to fuck or what?” for two reasons: First, he’s the # 1 son of the company’s CEO, Logan Roy (Brian Cox), and no one is going to say ‘no’ to him. Second, he imagines himself as a cool executive, not the crusty old boss of a heavy media company, but a hip dude who can see the future and speak in the brash jargon of the younger, more desirable demographic. Today, he feels that he is going to need this language to speak to Lawrence (Rob Yang), the Actually cool head of a Vice– or a Buzzfeed-type digital entity called Vaulter, which has opened up to support from businesses. “I think Vaulter is the shizz,” Kendall says, unaware that time has passed on “shizz” as a popular slang term and, more damning yet, unaware of how good a word like this would sound. squeaking out of his mouth. After all, his driver just called him “the man” downstairs.
Kendall is also a kind of human who has always existed but who took center stage during the Trump administration: failson. Later, we’ll meet Logan’s other two duds, Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck), and his failed daughter, Shiv (Sarah Snook), most of whom will be vying for Waystar CEO, but none of them would be qualified for an entry level position in any other company. Lawrence knows it well, and he’s the only one in the room who has the freedom to speak his mind, which he does so deliciously. He tells Kendall that he won’t let “you Neanderthals” raid the business, and reminds her that he’s built an exciting new media brand from scratch while Kendall carved traces on his. arm. It’s not often that strangers have access to obnoxious billionaires to tell them what they really think, and Lawrence takes advantage.
The lesson of âCelebrationâ is that it doesn’t matter: when you have so much money and power, anything is possible – at least, on matters where your soul is not at stake. Another lesson from “Celebration” is that money doesn’t buy happiness, especially in a family like the Roys, where greed is corrosive and business rivalries plague every relationship. This is one of the reasons they are immediately so fun to watch, especially in an extremely confident first episode where series creator Jesse Armstrong gives them so many colorful and mean things to say.
In the episode’s opening scene, King Lear of this screenplay, Logan, stumbles out of bed and, in a state of exhaustion and disorientation, urinates in the closet. It’s a sign that Waystar’s Golden Lion may finally have to retire, and we meet his successor children soon after: Kendall at his Vaulter reunion, desperate to make a deal, no matter how terrible- he, to impress his father; Roman, a talker who failed in his management tutelage under 30-year business veteran Frank (Peter Friedman) in Los Angeles, but who can still step in at any time; Shiv, who goes into political counseling while her fiancÃ© Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) tries to make himself look good to his future father-in-law; and Connor, who is the firstborn but seemingly content with his life as a rich and eccentric lazy. Not exactly a list of sterling candidates.
Logan’s ‘surprise’ birthday party also gives a potential wild card: Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), a lanky and lovable doofus who loses his last job at Waystar after vomiting through the eyes of a mascot costume. one of the corporate amusements parks. At the encouragement of his mother, Greg cleans up and makes his way through the party, in the hopes that his great-uncle Logan, a man estranged from Greg’s grandfather, will make a call and get him back on track. management. It doesn’t matter to Greg that Logan calls him “Cousin Craig” – he goes by both names.
The distance between the Roys and the lives of ordinary human beings becomes clearer in a family-friendly game of softball that looks like something the Kennedys could have done on the field – on modest terrain accessible by helicopter, complete with catering and an array of custom edge. When the Vaulter deal takes Kendall out of the game, Roman summons a boy of clearly humble origins to pick up a bat and raise the stakes by offering him a million dollars if he hits a home run. The boy is hit at third base, and Roman, in a display of such blatant monstrosity that even his father is embarrassed, tears the million dollar check in front of him. He gives the boy a piece as a joke: “Take this back into your life.” It’s a quarter of a million.
What happens next is part of a subtle running theme of the episode. A companion quietly approaches the boy’s parents with a nondisclosure agreement and surely an offer of money to keep Roman’s behavior from being disclosed to the press. He cleans up after them. Earlier in the hour, director Adam McKay makes sure viewers see a cleaning lady rubbing the spot on the carpet where Logan urinated, and we suspect Kendall’s violent temper tantrum in a bathroom will be part of the job later. The Roys always have someone to clean up their mess. And they’ll never know who that person is.
â¢ Nicholas Britell’s score is instantly one of the best scores on television, so beautifully preceded here by the preparation for Kendall’s big date. It is music suited to contemporary American royalty, but with appropriate ominous notes.
â¢ Waystar’s corporate slogan could use a polish. Block out any metaphor that is supposed to be, “Working together to provide a net that can contain the world or catapult it to the next adventure.” “
â¢ Tom’s description of what he wants a birthday present for Logan to say is perhaps the most effective (and certainly funniest) character introduction of all: like you, but I need you to love me before I can love you. (Shiv’s response: âAnything you get him will mean an equal amount of nothing, so make sure it’s worth $ 10 or $ 15,000 and you’ll be fine.â) Tom gives him a watch, which Logan deals with the amount. precise indifference as Shiv had warned.
â¢ Connor giving his father a sourdough starter – or âgoo breadâ – is also a character revealing gift, as well as an indicator of where a life of unappreciated gifts might lead.
â¢ Three years is clearly not long enough to shake Kendall’s reputation as a drug demon. His ex-wife Rava (Natalie Gold), speaking of the new guy she’s dating, says she “just hopes this one doesn’t leave coke smeared on the kids’ iPads.”
â¢ The other important plot of this episode is the trust that Logan places in his children, who among other things gives two votes to his wife Marcia (Hiam Abbass), who is not close to those adult children who are not his . The fact that the kids sign it anyway, despite their vocal objections to the terms, suggests that Dad is usually going to get what he wants.
â¢ Kendall ultimately prevents Lawrence from refusing Waystar’s offer, but the large sums of money do not soften Lawrence’s contempt for him. Immediately after being the first to tell Kendall that her father had a brain hemorrhage, Lawrence said coldly, “You just invited me into the henhouse and without daddy I’m going to eat you all, one by one.”