Spoiler alert: this recap is for people watching Succession season three, which airs on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK. Do not read on unless you have watched episode eight.
Wedding bells were ringing. So were alarm bells in Waystar Royco’s HR department. But is a funeral toll about to ring out, too? Here are your tasting notes for the penultimate episode, titled Chiantishire …
Before the Tuscan turmoil began, we were served the amuse-bouche of a board meeting. Logan Roy (Brian Cox) “ambushed” major stakeholders Stewy (Arian Moayed) and Sandi Jr (Hope Davis) beforehand to inform them that Waystar was in talks to buy GoJo. The two Ss were unhappy about being cut out of the deal-making process, but agreed it made sense.
Around the boardroom table, things got even more awkward. Shiv (Sarah Snook), still furious at being sidelined, dialled in because she was at home in bed feeling depressed. Sorry, “working on strategy”. Then there was the small matter of Logan being legally recused from the opening portion of the meeting, due to the ongoing DoJ investigation. He stood outside the boardroom, gazing through the glass like a stroppy silverback. Not off-putting at all.
We’ve had the president-picking episode and the excruciating party episode. Now it was time for the flawed minibreak episode, as Team Roy boarded their PJs to a family wedding in Italy.
After some in-flight bickering, Roman (Kieran Culkin) aired his suspicions about their stepdad-to-be. Peter Munion (Pip Torrens) had had three bankruptcies, two divorces and four children (bankruptcies aside, this was the same as Logan). Munion was now a nursing home magnate, running “silvery gulags”. After a whirlwind romance, was it wise for Lady Caroline Collingwood (Harriet Walter) to walk down the aisle? God forbid anyone call the Roys cynical, but Roman reckoned Munion was on the make.
He’d also been bombarding Gerri Kellman (J Smith-Cameron) with unsolicited dick pics, which she tactfully termed “the items”. When Gerri tried to draw a line, he dismissed it as her being “minxy”. After last week’s party antics, Romulus was becoming irredeemably awful. He needed taking down a peg or two. About that …
Kendall (Jeremy Strong) was first to arrive at the Palazzo del Dysfunction. Looking gaunt and sporting a penance buzzcut, he’d gone full sackcloth and ashes. As his mother remarked, he looked like he was “just back from the front”. Harriet Walter, AKA “Scary Poppins”, was deliciously bitchy – even outdoing her scene-stealing recent TV turns in Killing Eve, Doctor Who and Ted Lasso.
She’d divided up the itinerary to keep Kendall and his father apart. We finally met Munion (Pip Torrens), an unctuous toff in panama hat and lime-green chinos. Style-wise, this was a week for cream linen and tasteful cruise-wear. The Roys were in Club Med mode.
Connor (Alan Ruck) admitted to girlfriend Willa (Justine Lupe) that a reporter from Politico was digging into her past. As a former sex worker, this could prove awkward for the presidential pipe-dreamer. Con came up with a solution. It looked for the world like he was going to break up with Willa. Instead, he went down on one knee in one of the least romantic gestures you’ll ever see. They faked rictus grins for bystanders, but the next morning, Willa was still procrastinating. “This much thinking could get unromantic,” said Connor. You don’t say.
When Roman asked mom if she’d signed a pre-nup, she hardly put his mind at rest, variously describing Munion as “Bridezilla”, “a tart for VIPs” and “a grasping little scholarship boy”. She later let slip that he’d lost his London flat in a salmon deal gone bad. Fishy.
When Logan arrived with both wife Marcia (Hiam Abbass) and PA-cum-lover Kerry (Zoë Winters) in tow – “the skunk, the porcupine and the concubine”, as Lady C dubbed the trio – Munion pressed his predecessor’s flesh. He asked Logan to talk to his UK government contacts about “giving something back, a chance to serve”. Translation? “Get the dipshits in Downing Street to make him Lord Seatsniffer of Pantyhose.”
Also present and correct was PR rep Comfry (Dasha Nekrasova), who told Kendall a podcast was running a “Curse of the Roys” investigation. It included the mysterious drowning of a waiter at Shiv’s wedding – accidentally killed by Kendall, of course, in a Chappaquiddick-echoing car crash. Uh-oh.
Smartphones chirruping in unison, the Waystar squad grew concerned about GoJo CEO Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), who’d tweeted: “Going to Macau, feeling lucky” with added gifs and aubergine emojis. Kendall thought he was “going nut-nut”. Roman figured it was merely a play, fuelling rumours that GoJo was moving into sports betting to drive up the share price.
Roman was dispatched to salvage the deal at Matsson’s swish Swiss mansion. Matsson admitted he was spiking the share price to maximise his leverage – a move as borderline unlawful as Roman juicing him for insider intel. Did Matsson still want the deal? He’d get into bed, but only as an equal.
At Lady Caroline’s “bachelorette party”, she and Shiv sniped over cigarettes. In a rare moment of mutual honesty, both admitted that the other one could always make them cry. Ms Onion, soon to become Mrs Munion, added that some women simply weren’t cut out for motherhood – including her and Shiv.
Shiv bridled and immediately returned to husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), declaring “Let’s have a baby.” As she seduced Tom, she insisted on dirty talk, telling her husband he wasn’t good enough for her and that she didn’t love him. It was meant to be hot roleplay but was a tad too on-the-nose.
Next morning, Shiv backpedalled. The baby plan was adjusted to freezing embryos, potentially for 10 years. Tom sought reassurance that the “spicy pillow talk” wasn’t the truth. All is not well in their mismatched marriage. With the looming threat of prison out of the way, Tom was starting to see it.
Logan agreed to a moonlit supper with Kendall, but became suspicious when a private chef prepared separate meals to cater for his dietary requirements. Like a medieval king, he got Kendall’s son Iverson to check his mozzarella wasn’t poisoned.
With neither touching their food anyway, Kendall said he’d had enough and wanted out. For a $2bn dividend and “a chunky asset”, he’d be off the board and disinherited. After all, that’s what Logan offered in his birthday card. “That was for fun,” smirked Daddy Cruel.
Kendall got his dad’s back up by seizing the moral high ground, repeatedly insisting he was a better man, as if trying to convince himself. “You’ve monetised all the American resentments of class and race,” Kendall ranted sanctimoniously. “You’ve turned black bile into silver dollars. Pay up and let me out.”
Logan pointedly brought up that drowned waiter (him again): “I cleaned up your shit and I’m a bad person? Fuck off, kiddo. Goodnight.”
Who hasn’t sent a message to the wrong person by mistake? But a dick pic to your dad? Less relatable. At a meeting with their bankers in Milan, Roman explained that Matsson wanted a merger of equals. Was “GoJo Royco” a dealbreaker? Not when he outlined how it was a “growth bomb” which could future-proof the legacy media firm. Besides, equality was just optics to massage Matsson’s ego. The Roy hand would remain on the tiller.
When Logan reluctantly agreed, Gerri texted “well done” across the table. In reply, Roman sent her another “item” – but in an agonising scene, it went to his father instead. Logan was incandescent. Shiv gleefully told him about Roman’s kinky fixation with Gerri. Her brother had “issues” which were “a potential problem”. He bellowed for Roman, told him he was a laughing stock and suggested firing Gerri. Even in his darkest hour, Roman balked at that. A fine Kieran Culkin performance as his cocky bravado fell away to reveal the little boy beneath.
Perhaps most nauseating was Shiv’s “uokhun?” follow-up chat with Gerri, feigning sisterly #MeToo concern while sharpening the knife. Gerri saw straight through her and stonewalled. Shiv was making her move.
We left with Kendall passed out face-down on a pool float, ignoring his kids yet again. Shot from below, it was both Turin Shroud-like and the third reminder this week of that drowned waiter.
But what was with the dropped beer bottle and bubbles just before the credits rolled? Expect fans to be rewinding and debating. Kendall appeared to move position to put his face in the water. Was he trying to drown himself? You’d have to say the signs have been there. He’s been a dead man walking all series. Even his family seem to loathe him. The sign above his party’s door last week was: “The Notorious KEN. Ready to Die.” He later sobbed: “I wish I was … home.” Surely he was going to say “dead” – and that was before the waiter guilt resurfaced.
He didn’t take his own life in those horrifyingly ambiguous final frames … did he? We now face a fretful week’s wait to find out.
Roman shot himself in the dick. Was Shiv, as she said, “the only candidate left in the field”?
“Life’s not knights on horseback. It’s a number on a piece of paper. It’s fight for a knife in the mud” – The Tao of Logan Roy.
Rejoin us next Monday for the can’t-come-quick-enough season finale. In the meantime, valued wedding guests, please leave your thoughts and theories below.