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Succession - Episode 3.06 - What it Takes - Review

The Raisin is dead, long live the Raisin!
Figuratively, at least, but the damage done by the Roys to the President's reputation has effectively ended his (one, and now only) mandate. In this new Succession episode, the hunt for the new GOP candidate is in full swing.

I'd never wondered before how the Republican party went about these things, and as unlikely as one family's choice having this much impact seems, after four years of Trump, I'm assuming it's actually quite close to what happens in the real world. First, though, said-family must actually agree on which candidate to sponsor, which is harder than it would appear. In truth, there are almost no good options, considering, well... where they are, and who's up for the job. Ultimately, it's between: vice president Boyer, who's about as bland as the diner food Tom's new prison-prep menu now consists of, middle-leaning and Shiv-supported Salgado, Roman's new fling: Menckenazi, and, well... Connor. Believe it or not, "Connorheads" exist in the world of the show! And at this point, really, would Connor be any worse than the aforementioned others? Sure, he has zero (0) experience, but that's never stopped any political candidate from running (and winning, unfortunately). Honestly, compared to Mencken, Connor seems like a downright sensible option, if you forget his little anger outbursts at people he considers beneath him (remember the butter hardness debacle), and the fact that he's "dating" an escort who unsuccessfully moonlights as a playwrite.

Still, it appears there was only ever one choice that was going to work for Logan (because let's not kid ourselves, it's always Logan's choice, despite his children running around like headless chickens trying to gain his approval). As per usual this season, it's Roman's time to shine, or rather to remind everyone just how despicable he truly is. Lost in the myriad of his one-liners (usually hilariously pointed, admittedly), it's easy to forget that Roman is likely the most damaged of the Roy children, but also, there's no other way of putting it, the shittiest. He doesn't care about politics and admits so himself, and why would he, when none of the choices impact a life in which he constantly abuses his privilege? What does set him off kilter in this episode, however, hits much closer to home.
"I'm here with Shiv. Just wanted to let you know new dad just dropped."
"I'm sorry, what?"
"Yeah, Mommy's getting remarried, dingus! Did you know? Of course he didn't know. Ken bores the shit out of Mom."
[...]
"All right. Just, uh, wanted to let you know Mommy still doesn't love you. Bye, Ken, bye."
Despite Shiv's ribbing about Roman simultaneously wanting to fulfill his Oedipus complex with both his parents, there's some truth about him reacting like a child learning his parents are divorcing and having a tantrum about it.
"My mother is marrying some dickhead crooked-toothed turnip man. What's wrong is how little you care about it, you frozen bitch."
"Poor Rome! His dreams of porking Mom slipping through his little lubed-up fingers."
Cut to the bathroom scene with Mencken, and Roman lengthily moisturizing his fingers, as he shamelessly flirts with Jeryd (is this the male version of Lakynn meme?), and that little quip takes a whole other dimension. Considering Mencken's politics, him being a gay fascist would both not be surprising, but also a turn for the books. Logan has never really hidden his disapproval on this matter, so it would be no wonder if Roman was actually gay and in the closet. Despite his outrageous flirting, bordering on harassment, with Gerri, it never felt quite as genuine as the chemistry he has with Mencken.
Shiv and Roman keep trying to undermine each other, although... there's really no contest. Roman is indeed transforming into Bootleg Logan as Gerri put it, and Shiv has been straying further from the light ever since that fateful moment in season 2, when she announced to the others she was The One. Spoiler alert: she wasn't the one, isn't, and likely never will be, now. To be The One in Logan's eyes, one must never assume one is The One. Kendall got burned, and now it's Shiv's turn.

Unfortunately, even away from Logan's shadow, Kendall is still flailing and if the next episode's promo is anything to go by, it's about to become spectacular(ly disastrous). For now, he's realized his case with the DOJ isn't as solid at it seemed (did it ever?), gotten schooled by Lisa for refusing to do prep and then, unsurprisingly, failed to behave appropriately when he testified. Lisa gets fired for all her hard work, and after being hyped for an entire episode as the best of the best, we've barely seen her and now Kendall is that much more in freefall. To be fair, he has much more important fish to fry: his fortieth is approaching and both the theme and guest list are up in the air. I, for one, cannot wait especially since it means Alexander Skarsgård will finally appear, but more importantly there's an excellent chance that this will be this season's L to the OG, hopefully times a hundred. And if that means Kendall momentarily forgets his looming demise, well, so be it (and so it is).

As a last ditch attempt, Kendall finally tries to rally Tom, who's becoming increasingly withdrawn in a quiet, desperate way. Shoutout to Matthew Macfadyen, because while everyone's acting on this show is fantastic, his portrayal of Tom has been spectacular, and it doesn't even need to be showy, it just shines on its own in every episode. After Greg figuratively dumps his own charges on Tom (since he's going down anyway, I guess. Greg just isn't the same naive giant he used to be. He lives in the Roy world now, baby! And he's seizing every chance he gets to get in deeper, even if it means leaving his conscience at the gold-encrusted gate), and Shiv fails every single opportunity to the words Tom is waiting for, Tom would indeed seem like easy prey. But that would be discounting Tom's smartness, and behind his extravagant behavior whether when he feels inferior (Logan) or superior (Greg), he is discerning.
"My hunch is that you are going to get fucked. Because I’ve seen you get fucked a lot. And I’ve never seen Logan get fucked once."
My hunch is that Tom will indeed split from the family at some point (to escape prison, but also because I don't see his marriage with Shiv coming back from the cake batter remark), but it won't be to join forces with Kendall. Unless Shiv comes too, but can she?
I really, really hoped that she'd finally stand up to Logan and say no to being in a picture with Mencken, but the best she could do was refuse to be placed right next to him. Whatever else happens, this will be branded as part of her reputation forever, and there's no going back from being associated with the alt right.

Sidenote: even after watching Logan, uh, giggle with Kerry when the Raisin was shouting on the phone, having her handle his UTI meds (I did wonder how... he'd gotten a UTI, but didn't particularly want to know), and now them officially confirming they're sleeping together, I'm left wondering at how he went from Rhea in season 2, to this.

In a way, it's a little representative of this season so far. It doesn't feel like it should be happening, it's not truly done in an engaging enough way, and yet it's there. Don't get me wrong, I love Succession, it's still the best thing on TV right now, and anytime really, but it often feels like there are dashes of greatness sprinkled among the episodes, and the writing (scene to scene) is, as always, fantastic, but there doesn't seem to be a real arc that skews the season overall. That said, it's still immensely enjoyable, and I really hope the next three episodes deliver. As usual, sound off in the comments with your thoughts about the episode!

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