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'Succession' recap, Season 3 Episode 6: Corruption runs in the family

Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), Shiv (Sarah Snook), Kerry (Zoe Winters), Logan (Brian Cox) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) chat about politics.
Macall Polay
Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), Shiv (Sarah Snook), Kerry (Zoe Winters), Logan (Brian Cox) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) chat about politics.

What happened

In the wake of last week's news that the current president is not running again, the Roys descend upon the secretive political gathering where the Republican nominee for president is to be effectively anointed (the primary process, in which voters believe they are the ones who choose the nominee, aside). Siobhan is horrified when Roman talks Logan into supporting Mencken, whom she considers a budding fascist, but is it enough to make Siobhan turn on the family? Naaaah. She just wants to stand far enough away that she can feel better about herself.

Speed rankings

95 MPH: Logan

Logan's priorities are to avoid DOJ prosecution and go after tech because it's a threat to his company. But he also seems to still be trying to punish Shiv for making him seem unnecessary last week. And he always wants to have his ring kissed (which is really about his fondness for people who will humiliate themselves for him), which is why he goes through the whole thing about demanding Boyer bring him a Coke, and then pretending he was kidding. He's also more and more familiar with Kerry, who is now willing to insert herself into his conversations.

One of the things I find interesting about this week is contemplating whether Logan was serious, ever, about proposing they pick Connor. I assume not, and I'm still 80 percent sure of that. But it's not like that level of power doesn't appeal to Logan, given that it would certainly solve all his regulatory problems.

Ultimately, Logan is willing to throw his weight behind literally anyone, no matter how noxious, to continue to be rich and powerful. It doesn't get much more dangerous than that.

90 MPH: Roman

It's interesting that they chose to have Roman be the one who wants to bet on Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk). Between this and the earlier plotline involving the unhoused man who was mistreated during Kendall's bachelor party, it's been a year of reminders that if you hate what the Roy family stands for, Roman is as much a part of it as anyone, even though he's the funny one, the silly one, the one whose relationship with Gerri a lot of people have found genuinely endearing.

Even so ... I'm not sure they've really laid the groundwork for Roman to be into Mencken, to be honest. Just selfishly, what does this offer to Roman? One bathroom conversation, and Roman is excited to hype up a guy who refuses to condemn Hitler? Is it that ... Roman and Logan are both going to pick this guy to spite Shiv? I get that the message is supposed to be that the Roys all treat this like a game, but ... I am not sure I buy this.

80 MPH: Shiv

This is a hard week for Shiv. She continues to learn that nobody in the family has any respect for her, even when her political expertise seems most relevant. They mock and ridicule her input when she pushes back on Mencken. Shiv is pushing for Rick Salgado (Yul Vazquez), who has approached her with a kind of alliance offer, not unlike the alliance she made with the second Sandy at the shareholders' meeting. Her atop the news, him atop the White House, wouldn't that be something? But this time, it doesn't work.

She has some very good lines, though, including my favorite: "Nothing's more dangerous than a second-rate individual who sees his chance." Wooooooof. She still hopes her dad will give her some credit for what she pulled off at the shareholder meeting, and he still won't. And Kerry is giggling at his taunting of Shiv, which is the kind of thing that's a big gamble for a person in Kerry's position.

She's also not making any warmth points this week, given the way she essentially tells Tom to suck it up and go to prison.

Lisa (Sanaa Lathan) and Kendall (Jeremy Strong) find themselves at odds, and you can tell from Lisa's face that she's about done.
Macall Polay / HBO
Lisa (Sanaa Lathan) and Kendall (Jeremy Strong) find themselves at odds, and you can tell from Lisa's face that she's about done.

80 MPH: Kendall

Kendall is such a jerk in this episode. As we've discussed, he's spent this season lining up women to advise him who he ignores and mistreats. Certainly, he's not happy about Lisa telling him that he doesn't have quite the ironclad case against Waystar that he thought he did based on the papers he has, but that's not her fault!

When he insists on insulting the regulators when they can hear it, because he somehow thinks he's going to intimidate them, Lisa has had enough and gives it to him straight about how much his own behavior is hurting him. Honesty is too much for Kendall, who can pay people enough that they'll lie to him and has been desperately seeking evidence that he is the badass he wants to be. He fires Lisa — although honestly, she might have fired him otherwise. When he breaks this to his PR team, saying Lisa turned out to be a "toxic person," Comfry realizes this is getting worse, fast.

Kendall arranges a clandestine meeting with Tom, whom he's identified as the family's weak link, partly because he's the one who's on tap to go to prison. Kendall invites Tom to switch sides — without, of course, telling Tom how much trouble he's in. This is absolutely an effort to manipulate Tom, but it's not any worse than what Logan is doing to everybody, so ... they're even? Unfortunately for Kendall, nothing doing. Kendall snaps pictures of Tom leaving the meeting and makes sure Tom sees him do it, but Tom mostly considers this a pretty weak effort at intimidation compared to what Logan is capable of.

60 MPH: Tom

The Tom Update? Still not used to the idea of prison. And not ready to team up with Kendall.

Willa (Justine Lupe, center) is not excited about finding herself between the conference organizer (Stephen Root) and Connor (Alan Ruck).
Macall Polay / HBO
Willa (Justine Lupe, center) is not excited about finding herself between the conference organizer (Stephen Root) and Connor (Alan Ruck).

50 MPH: Connor

Connor thinks he's in his element here — even if Willa (hi, Willa!) is miserable, writing her play on her phone. It's funny to see Connor run into Maxim Pierce (Mark Linn-Baker), who was sort of Connor's quasi-nemesis at the meetings at Tern Haven last season. Seeing them being pals here is an interesting jab at idea that two filthy rich guys who are theoretical political opposites are still more alike than different.

Connor is also a pretty terrible partner to Willa this week, given that he makes it sound like he generates her ideas with her and doesn't protect her from the conference leader (Stephen Root) who is a little overly familiar with her.

He ultimately just wants to be president, and he feels like he comes closer than ever to getting his father on board. But then: nothing doing.

40 MPH: Greg

Oh, Greg. When he's not begging Kendall not to turn on him, he's desperately reaching out to Tom for help.

Things get worse for Greg when he starts telling the story about suing Greenpeace and finds himself a local hero at the conference. You might expect Greg to be able to pull some shred of his morality out of the fire with his statements to the family that he's not 100 percent comfortable with the way they're trying to pick the next president in a hotel room, but all that really means in this case is that he knows better than they do why what they're doing is bad. It's not like he's going to do anything about it. Instead, he winds up hoisted on the shoulders of some of the conference revelers. And that seems like it would be disconcerting.

In summary

I may wind up being in the minority on this, but I didn't care for the literal political storyline here that much. I actually like Succession less when it's as explicit about its connections to our current crises as this episode is. Roman mocking Shiv and sarcastically threatening to get "cis white male stank" on her is just another day in any internet comment section. And I think the bit where they think Boyer is a secret vegetarian is just a little ... you know. A little '90s, let's say. I think you can establish that rich people sit around making cynical decisions about politics in ways that are a little less explicit than this.

I look forward to getting out of politics, which is something I feel like I say every few hours.

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Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.