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Review: 'Succession' season 3 finale contained major power grabs


Four siblings and a cousin vying for control of a multi-million-dollar media company - that's the premise of "Succession." Last night, the third season of the HBO show wrapped up with some major power grabs. And, spoiler alert, we're going to talk with NPR TV critic Eric Deggans about that show.

Welcome back, Eric.


CORNISH: I was only teasing - spoiler alerts ahead for the whole conversation, starting with the fate of the troubled sibling Kendall Roy, played by Jeremy Strong. Tell us what happened.

DEGGANS: Well, as you said, spoiler alert. Kendall didn't die. He did nearly drown, but he was saved. And I knew that Kendall likely wouldn't die. His status as the one child of this family who's been most completely shortchanged by his father makes him really unique to the story. And Jeremy Strong delivers these amazing performances, including last night when he revealed to his siblings that he accidentally killed someone, and their father, Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox, covered it up.

Now, the biggest development here is that the three siblings most involved in the business - that's Kendall, Roman and Shiv Roy - they banded together to try and stop their father from selling the company to this Elon Musk-style tech entrepreneur. But despite overcoming their mutual distrust and realizing that they can't really trust their father, he still may have outmaneuvered them.

CORNISH: So this is kind of a Shakespearian drama in a way - right? - the idea of the king, so to speak, and who does he leave the family business to. Can you talk about how this has played out in this particular season? What made it distinct?

DEGGANS: Yeah. Well, so the season started with Kendall challenging Logan. He wanted to use this scandal to force his father out of the company. And it might have worked if his siblings had worked with him, but they couldn't stop backbiting each other until they realized that the sale was happening. But the sale isn't just about them losing power; it's about their father telling the world that he would rather sell their company to someone else than leave it for any one of them to run. And it's the kind of betrayal that gets them all to understand just how transactional their relationships have been with him.

CORNISH: Can we talk about how the story has evolved, though - right? - because in a way, this cycle has been going for a number of years now.

DEGGANS: Right, right. Well, you know, I feel like the last two episodes of this season really took flight. We saw these characters break through their defenses and their self-delusions, and they spoke honestly. Shiv, the sister, played by Sarah Snook, stated pretty plainly that she didn't love her husband, Tom. She also had a conversation with her mother, Logan's ex-wife, that highlighted how Logan manipulates everybody in the family. And Kendall saw his dad confront him about covering up this accident.

Now, I think this season moved too slowly. We spent way too much time watching Kendall kind of fall apart and not enough watching this family come to grips with itself. So last night's episode to me kind of landed like a movie that ends right before the third act.

CORNISH: We know the show is, in fact, headed for a fourth season. What are the predictions so far?

DEGGANS: Well - and again, a spoiler alert - it seems like Shiv's husband Tom warned Logan what the siblings were going to do in opposing the sale. So he might have some more influence going forward than he has up till now. But what happens if the four Roy siblings actually work together to stop their father? For me, so much of this show is about the toxic impact of inherited wealth and family-run corporations. So can the Roy children kind of toss off the damaging impact of their parents and find a better future together? Well, you know, probably not, because it's "Succession," but it's going to be fun seeing them try.

CORNISH: That's NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans.

Thanks so much.

DEGGANS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.