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Succession Season 3 Episode 9 Recap: A Marriage Story

Well, folks, here we are. The last episode of Succession’s third season. And what an episode it was.

There’s a lot — and I mean a LOT — to unpack, so let’s dive right in.

The lingering question from last week’s episode is whether Kendall survived his drunken float in the pool, and we get our answer very quickly: he’s okay, Logan tells Iverson during a rare moment of showing actual grandfatherly tenderness while reading the boy a book. As we’ll come to see, “okay” might be a bit of a stretch — “breathing” or simply “not dead” might have been a more accurate assessment.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Roy siblings, spouses, and potential spouses-to-be are playing* (*cheating their way through) a game of Monopoly. Succession is such a layered series that it can actually get away with a scene that’s so gleefully on the nose. In a season where I was so often holding my breath out of stress, it felt nice to join the show in laughing at itself. When Tom laughs as he pulls a “get out of jail free” card, it feels like everyone, cast, writers, and viewers, are all in on the joke at the same time, for however brief a moment. Notably, Jeremy Strong is not there for that part. (I’m sorry, Jeremy. Tell Jessica Chastain I actually do love your method.)

Kendall finally emerges, and we find out Comfrey is the one who saved his life, which I refuse to treat as anything more than a side note. The sibling reunion is brief — there’s a wedding to attend, but more importantly Roman and Logan have a scary Swede to visit.

On the boat to Lukas Matsson’s lakeside villa, Logan dances around the topic of the sext he received from his son in a manner that manages to be both clumsy and vicious. Kieran Culkin continues his master class in physical acting from the dick pic episode, his uncomfortable tics hitting a new frequency, and the two drop the subject.

Their multi-luxury-vehicle odyssey complete, the two join Matsson on his landscaped grounds to discuss how they can salvage their deal (and to lob a few insults at Mark Zuckerberg). Unfortunately, the tech entrepreneur and self-proclaimed “slab of gravlax” has moved from wanting a merger of equals to wanting to acquire Waystar Royco, installing himself as CEO and giving Logan a smooth transition out. He promises a top spot for Roman — the unbreakable bond of peeing on a phone together! — and offers to consider the rest of the executive team for roles in the new structure. Logan is quick to shut the idea down, but has never looked so uncertain. When he sends Roman back to the wedding without him, it’s clear that the door might not be as firmly shut as it appears.

Once back at the villa, Roman joins his siblings in an intervention attempt for Kendall. They all awkwardly share how much they love him, to which he responds: “What is this? What’s the angle?” There is simply no trust left — Kendall can’t see a world in which his siblings show care for him without an ulterior motive. And, honestly, why should he? Once he understands what’s going on he gets defensive, telling each sibling, “you need an intervention” (Kendall entering his Oprah era, I see).

Throughout the intervention, Connor is getting visibly worked up. And when Kendall calls himself the eldest son, it’s finally too much. “I’m the eldest son,” he says quietly, then louder, until he is yelling about how dismissive they all are of him, and how he is constantly excluded. In the past I would have rolled my eyes as I do for most of Connor’s antics, but now we have the context that’s been pieced together all season: that Connor in fact had a huge hand in raising his siblings when their father wouldn’t. Now, I’m not going so far as to call myself a Conhead — I still disagree with almost everything about him — but I can spare some empathy for the part of him that has seen the siblings he raised treat him like he’s nothing. He, too, is his father’s son, and he departs with the “fuck off” to prove it.

The only silver lining to all this for the actual eldest Roy is that it sparks such pity in Willa that she literally says “fuck it” and agrees to marry him. “How bad can it be? Right?” Yes, exactly the words I want to hear from my betrothed! I hate it, but I think I’m rooting for them.

It’s finally time for the main event: Caroline and Peter’s wedding. Logan is absent as he pulls a mysterious business deal, and Peter is devastated. He’ll clearly fit in just fine with this family. Inside the ceremony, everyone is *extremely* back on their bullshit. Kendall is late, and sad. Shiv and Roman are trading incest jokes (please… we’ve suffered enough). Willa is sobbing, the reality of her proposal acceptance sinking in. And Greg is seated between his two romantic interests, telling the countess how much he loves weddings before turning to Comfrey to say “fucking kill me now.” The play-both-sides master at work!

The real scene is at the party, though, where Shiv delivers the most passive-aggressive toast of all time to her mother. It’s no secret to anyone who knows them that there’s bad blood there — not least of all Tom, who has seen Shiv’s resentment towards Caroline firsthand. So when Shiv puts her hand on his shoulder and says, “I hope that your marriage is as rich and happy, rewarding, and fulfilling as mine,” it feels like the deepest cut of the many she’s dealt to her husband.

While Shiv, Roman, and Tom are enjoying being mean to each other, Gerri suddenly stops by and utters the most elite sentence ever spoken: “I just heard that Larry Vansitart’s PJ landed at La Dante and that he’s headed to Lake Maggiore.” Translated into 99% speak, there’s a deal going down between Waystar Royco and GoJo, and the Roy siblings are out of the loop. Once they discover that Frank and Karl are lying about being in New York when they’ve actually arrived in Italy, Roman finally reveals what went down at Matsson’s (well, most of it — he saves the bit about him having a promised role). It sends Shiv into overdrive. She and Roman find Kendall, and convince him to go with them to try to figure out what’s happening.

They stop in a back alley to game plan, but when Kendall sees the villa’s waiters carrying out the day’s trash he suddenly sinks to the ground and breaks down. At first, his siblings are annoyed, but when he says “There’s something really wrong with me, Shiv,” they start paying attention. He tries to articulate his feelings, that he tried to get them out of the company (or really the family) that has made them all so miserable, and can only sum it up in the same words he used against his father: “I’m not a good person.” Finally, he lets out the secret that’s been weighing on him all this time and tells Shiv and Roman about the waiter. They’re stunned, and react the only ways they know how: Shiv by taking a business call, and Roman by resorting to inappropriate humor. It’s a tremendous scene. Jeremy Strong gives a tragic, emotional performance, closely followed by Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin as they portray Shiv and Roman navigating this enormous revelation and the emotion required of them that they’re so not used to giving.

Finally, Shiv shares the bad news: dad is selling the company. With this newfound emotional bond, the three Roy children finally decide to team up and take down Logan. They drive to where he has set up his headquarters, informing their nearest and dearest on the way — namely, Tom and Connor. It’s a tense car ride as they discuss the risks (and Roman contemplates the fact that he has a potential job offer with Matsson), but in the end they agree that they hold the votes to block the deal thanks to their parents’ divorce settlement.

Back at the wedding, Greg gleefully tells Tom that he might be in the position to ascend to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (words that are hilarious coming out of his mouth). But Tom is uninterested. Instead, he invites Greg to join him in making a “deal with the devil” — further details he can’t divulge. “Do you want to come with me, Sporus?” he asks, and yes I screamed! It’s the most romantic thing ever to happen on this show, I’m sorry. Also, once again, the devastating mixture of sadness, resignation, and pretend excitement Matthew Macfadyen injects into this moment is simply breathtaking. He works past Greg’s hesitation, until the family’s odd cousin finally gives in: “What am I gonna do with a soul anyways?”

Meanwhile, the three siblings reach Logan, where he has gathered Gerri, Karl, and Frank to iron out the details. They confront him about the situation and he admits that yes, he is considering selling to Matsson. The timing is right for him to get the most money — he “feels it in his bones.” Logan pulls out his greatest hits of emotional manipulation in the face of his kids’ pushback, picking the ones that will get to each one the most: ignoring Kendall, mocking Shiv, and making empty promises to take care of Roman. Miraculously, though, the three of them stick together — Roman even gathering the courage to say no to his dad and stand up for himself and his brother. Yet the damage he’s inflicted on them all is still evident, with Roman and Shiv already close to tears by the time Logan lets rip: “You come for me with love?” It’s brutal.

Of course, their ability to even attempt this comes from their shares in the company. And of course, Logan has that covered: he’s convinced Caroline to renegotiate the terms of their divorce, which includes taking those shares away. Roman begs Gerri to help in a truly sad and pathetic display, to which she only asks, “How does it serve my interests?” And as Shiv asks who the rat was who gave Logan the heads up, and the time to sway Caroline, we already know the answer. She sees Tom enter, and Logan puts a grateful hand on his shoulder. The camera cuts to black on Shiv’s steeled face as she lets Tom comfort her after his betrayal.

And so, after this electric episode, who ends the season as our winners and losers?

Winners

Mr. Thomas Wambsgans: now THAT is what you call a character arc. Tom has leveraged never being fully allowed into the family and has learned from observing. Gone are his days of incompetent people pleasing — he now knows exactly how to make himself useful, and the right person to use him. From the moment he offered to take the fall and go to prison, it was always going to be Logan. And Shiv made it an easy choice after telling him time and time again how little she loved him.

Logan: Tom said it best in the parking lot of the diner in Virginia: “I’ve never seen Logan get fucked once.” He has escaped every close shave, and has come out on top of what appears to be the final one: selling the company and screwing over his entire family. In anyone else’s eyes, destroying your children might seem like a loss, but to Logan his children are only there as another group of people to defeat.

Greg: while he hasn’t been as elegant, he’s been playing the game just as effectively as Tom, always managing to find the right link to stay afloat. And if he’s going to completely fall from grace, he at least gets to do so with one of the most iconic lines of the series. Plus, he’s been promised up to twenty of his own Gregs, and I for one would like to see it.

Gerri: in just two sentences she delivered a near fatal blow to Roman. Their strange courtship was always a sort of competition, and she won by a mile.

Us: that was simply top notch television. We’ll be talking about that episode for years, and we all got to watch it live. We win.

Losers

The Roy siblings were the clear losers of the week, and really of the whole season. Now, usually I treat my losers equally, but this week there is definitely a spectrum. So, from least to most devastating loss, our losers are:

Kendall: obviously Kendall is in a really bad place. But at the same time, he finally has his siblings on his side, which I’d say is really what has been the most important goal for him this whole time, even more than any business aims. I would also imagine that Logan’s betrayal stung a bit less for him — he’s been there many, many times before.

Connor: we now have a window into the pain he’s been feeling, and it’s not insignificant! Sure, Willa accepted his proposal, but I don’t know that I really believe they’ll make it down the aisle — and I don’t know how much more Connor can take.

Roman: to finally stand up for himself and get so brutally taken down by both his father and his… I don’t know what to call her, his Gerri? It’s understandable why he is completely stunned in his last frame of the episode. He’d been the highest he’d ever been this season, and crashed spectacularly.

Shiv: not that she hasn’t had it coming with her treatment of him throughout their marriage, but the dual betrayal of Logan and Tom is a devastating blow for Shiv. I’m terrified of what she’s capable of next season now that she has nothing to lose.

“I Can Fix Them” of the Week

No one, because no one needs fixing. I was skeptical when the episode opened — personally, I thought it would be interesting to see the Roy family reckon with Kendall’s death — and then it all tied into place in a perfect mess, and I am totally invested in exactly where everyone ended up. The balances are flipped, the ugliness is laid bare, and the next season can’t come soon enough.

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Written By

Allyson lives in New York, where she was born and raised. She likes short stories and long movies. When she's not writing about Film & TV or conducting research for cultural institutions, you can find her making sure everyone knows she's Italian.

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