Succession season 3 review: The ruthless Roys make a punchy return in superb comedy-drama

The latest season takes the Emmy-winning satire to new, expletive-heavy highs.

Logan (Brian Cox) in Succession season 3
5.0 out of 5 star rating

After winning multiple Emmys, building a dedicated fanbase and ending season two on one of the biggest TV cliffhangers of 2019, expectations for Succession‘s third season were always going to be as high as the Waystar Royco skyscraper.

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But while the task of filling season two’s big leather loafers was a daunting one – particularly since the COVID-caused two-year wait only hyped fans up even more – creator Jesse Armstrong has slipped effortlessly back into them with the third act of his Shakespearean story of familial power struggles.

Our favourite dysfunctional family, led by swear-y, scary patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox), are back and more foul-mouthed, ferocious and perfidious than ever in the fallout of Kendall (Jeremy Strong)’s season two finale bombshell. For those who need reminding (it has been two years after all), we last saw the Roys as they watched Kendall implicate his father in WayStar RoyCo’s covered-up allegations of sexual assault and criminal misconduct against executives at a live press conference.

Kendall (Jeremy Strong) in Succession season 3
HBO

Season three picks up just moments afterwards, with shell-shocked, hyperventilating Kendall locking himself in a bathroom as a furious yet composed Logan jets off in a helicopter, surrounded by the rest of his floundering family. As both gather their troops – which for Kendall is just the hapless giant that is cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), while Logan keeps hold of Roman (Kieran Culkin), Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), Shiv (Sarah Snook), Connor (Alan Ruck), Gerri (J. Smith Cameron), Frank (Peter Friedman) and Karl (David Rasche) – the father and son wage all-out war on one another, with Logan threatening to “grind [Kendall’s] f**king bones to make my bread”. #JustDadThings.

Despite the long hiatus, Succession immediately throws you back into the fast-paced crossfire of barbed insults and expletive-laden taunts that’s become the show’s trademark over the years. From sharp The Thick of It style comebacks (delivered predominantly by the electric Culkin) to simple, childish trash-talk, Armstrong’s punchy dialogue is a level up from seasons one and two. In fact, the show gets so creative with the Roy siblings’ takedowns that you’ll probably be reaching for the dictionary several times throughout the season…

The award-winning cast are back on top form as the fickle Roy family as they backstab, defect and bully their way through season three. In the words of his character, the brilliant Brian Cox goes “full f**king beast” as master manipulator Logan, intimidating his children into sticking with his sinking ship after Kendall’s torpedo attack to his reputation. Cox is terrifying as the volatile Logan, who will switch from sweet-talking his children into heading into battle for him before turning on them like a snarling dog who almost exclusively barks the f-word.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Strong expertly portrays the adrenaline-fuelled Kendall, who always seems just a few steps away from either achieving his corporate dreams or suffering another mental breakdown. An antihero who appears to have left his drug problems in the past, Kendall is now high on the promise of power and his desire to take down the father who was ready to throw him under the litigious bus.

As for the rest of the Succession ensemble, there’s more of Gerri and Roman’s mother/lover dynamic this season as the two pair up once again in the fight for Waystar Royco control, while Matthew Macfadyen is back as Shiv’s lapdog Tom, who continues to torment the terrified Greg.

A captivating nine-part struggle for power, season three is a near-perfect return for the critically acclaimed Succession, which never fails to remind you that your own family aren’t actually that bad when compared to the imploding Roys.

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Succession airs on Sky Atlantic and NOW from Monday 18th October. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and visit our Drama hub for more news and features.