HBO on Friday released a nifty recap of “Succession” Season 2’s critical plot points and best barbs just days ahead of Season 3’s first episode. Thanks to COVID-related production delays, the acclaimed drama has been off the air for almost two years, meaning fans may be rusty on their knowledge of the previous season. Whether you’re a fan looking to refresh your memory or new to the “Succession Hive,” the clip is a succinct compilation of everything you need to know before Sunday’s premiere.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead.)
The beginning of the clip finds Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) – self-envisioned successor to patriarch Logan (Brian Cox) – in a very similar position to where he stands at the beginning of the upcoming season. After a series of failed coups in Season 1, ending with Kendall crawling back to his father, Kendall sits down for a primetime interview.
“Why did you get involved? Why did you back out?” the anchor asks, referring to a business rival’s plan to acquire Waystar Royco. “I saw their plan. My dad’s plan was better,” Kendall replies.
The clip then cuts to the family regrouping at one of their lavish country houses to strategize their way out of their enemies’ “bear hug”: should they “stick or sell”? Logan appoints Kendall and his potty-mouthed brother Roman (Kieran Culkin) as co-chief operating officers, much to the ire of the other siblings, who deeply resent Kendall’s betrayal(s).
Meanwhile, Shiv (Sarah Snook) becomes power hungry when her father offers her the role of successor behind closed doors, as does her eldest brother, Connor (Alan Ruck) who harbors delusions of running for president despite “never [having] done nothing never,” in Roman’s words.
The family’s fragile alliance rips apart at the seams when they visit the Tern Haven estate on a mission to acquire the company PGM. Matriarch Nan Pierce (Cherry Jones, who won an Emmy for her guest-starring role) brings tensions to a boiling point when she bluntly asks who will take over at a dinner attended by both families – and Shiv says, “It’s gonna be me.” Logan is furious, Kendall and Naomi Pierce (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) get high in a helicopter, and everyone is generally miserable.
As Logan ruthlessly pursues a deal with PGM, the entire family flies out to Argestes, a woodsy retreat for media’s elite with a strict puffer vest dress code. There, head advisor Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) shares what Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) – Shiv’s increasingly estranged husband and Waystar executive – and his assistant Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) have known all along: an ugly scandal concerning the company’s cruise line has come to the surface, and New York Magazine has written a blistering exposé about it. Greg finally confesses to Tom that he held onto some of the evidence he was supposed to shred last season.
Roman and Gerri strategize a new business deal to add allies at an upcoming shareholders meeting. Former PGM CEO Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter) starts to alarm Logan’s wife, Marcia (Hiam Abbass) and his children as she grows closer to him, culminating in Logan’s announcement that she will become the new CEO of Waystar Royco at a celebration in his hometown of Dundee, Scotland. In a cringeworthy attempt to win his father’s love, Kendall performs an original rap song (“L to the OG,” which is streaming on Spotify).
The Roys are summoned to Washington for a Congressional hearing on the cruise ship scandal. (Greg steals the scene with his bumbling response to an early question: “If it is to be said, so it be – so it is.”) Logan throws Kendall under the bus, but it isn’t enough: “It’s time for a blood sacrifice,” he tells Shiv. For her part, Shiv coerces a former employee who has threatened to speak out into staying silent. Rhea, sensing that the company may tank, renounces her CEO appointment.
In a truly Shakespearean finale, Logan gathers his inner circle at the family yacht, where he reveals that someone will have to act as scapegoat for the cruise ship scandal. Shiv and Tom’s already rocky marriage take a sharp downturn when she volunteers him. After much back-and-forth, Logan selects Kendall: “You’re not a killer. You have to be a killer,” he tells him.
So Kendall takes his father’s words to heart. At the press conference where he is supposed to take the blame, Kendall tells the world that his father “is a malignant presence, a bully and a liar … This is the day his reign ends.” The family watches from their yacht, horrified, while Greg grips a manila envelope with the documents he saved in Season 1. Kendall rips up the speech he didn’t read and walks out, where cameras, shouted questions and tough decisions await, setting the stage for a seismic power shift in Season 3.
Check out the recap video here or at the top of the page.