Has Succession Already Done Had Herses?
On Succession's alleged third season slump
Seven episodes into season three has had many people (mostly in my group text threads), myself included, if Succession is giving what it's supposed to have gave. My answer would be no, based alone on having Alexander Skarsgård pissing in a urinal without a SINGLE glimpse of Tarzan's rope, but I digress. The real question is about whether or not the series is still the best fucking show on television as it has been the past two seasons. My answer is yes, duh, and if you don't agree then fuck off — but also, there's a few caveats.
The second season busted open the dramatic stakes of the series; which was as much about how absolute power corrupts absolutely within the Roy family, as it was about the King Lear battle for control of Waystar. Kendall turning on his father and opening up the company to criminal investigation had me salivating for the power struggles that season three would have in store. It was giving Dynasty without the camp. A dizzying soap opera with real humanity at its core. Then came season three after a long COVID-induced hiatus and it… fizzled.
It's still my favorite show on television, but its dramatic stakes are non-existent. Kendall's takeover has been dragged on at a glacial pace, either purposefully or in fear of pushing its characters into unfamiliar territory for the audience. Everyone is sniping at each other, but in the same ways we've seen before and without any actual personal growth. They've mostly devolved — Shiv is taking photos with Nazis — but the tension in those moments usually gives way to what the series is best at. Being the best comedy on television. It's like watching an hour long episode of Veep . I'm fine watching a screwball comedy every week, but I do miss the stakes (Not that Veep didn’t have those, but I digress). It's even more apparent the dramatic stakes are gone now that Succession is airing on the same night as The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, which can't stall the drama because Jen Shah IS being charged with a federal crime and her court date is in March 2022.
In turning the series into a comedy that merely shows how awful these people are with nary a plot development (maybe Connor will run for office!), it actually has turned into Dynasty but not the '80s version, the current CW reboot. The latter of which realized that burning through plot like Dynasty did is a detriment to a primetime drama that wants to last several years, so now it's a comedy that returns to the status quo every other week when someone does some maneuvering for "control" of a "company" (it's a different damn company on Dynasty each week, I have a headache).
Last season harkened back to one of HBO's greatest shows, The Sopranos, and other dramas like Mad Men because each episode felt like a one act play that let our main characters broil in the context of a well-constructed plot heavy on social satire. This season, the show is loose, the first five episodes practically bled together, and while the last two have been my favorite of the season, everyone celebrating that Kendall's plot machinations were essentially useless is uh, not dramatically satisfying. There's always the chance that the final two episodes could completely blow this out of the water, but letting absolutely nothing happen until the final two episodes is what I watch Selling Sunset for, not Succession (Selling Sunset is the second best comedy on television, by the way).
One thing The Sopranos had going for it was the mob factor. People had to die, the status quo had to change often, because the mob whacks people. And mobsters you like get whacked! The Roy family operates like the mafia but no one has gotten whacked, baby. Send Tom to prison and let his relationship with Greg finally change. Let Shiv fuck somebody else and finally have an orgasm (nobody believes you fuck as good as you say, Tom!!). Let Roman fuck a man, because the sexual tension between him and Justin Kirk's Nazi candidate Jeryd Mecken just might have been hotter than his with Geri. And wouldn't you love to see Geri finally debate giving in to fucking Roman because she'd rather he fuck her than fuck a Nazi?