Unpacking My Favorite Succession Theories—Real and Imagined

At the height of
Succession season
, I could be easily convinced that members of
the New York media have their pay docked for each week they don’t
compose a witty tweet about the Roy family. After all, the show
is—to borrow a turn of phrase from Frankspeak—“unusually
subject to the vicissitudes of public opinion.”

I’ve got a few opinions myself: At this stage I’m primarily
invested in Kendall’s unconventional good looks, Roman’s
capacity for love, Greg the “Machiavellian fuck,” and
Connor’s sourdough starter. I’m not sure that any of the other
characters defanged by Logan can surprise me now (live culture
excluded), though I invite showrunner Jesse Armstrong to prove me
wrong.

Succession’s prime
Sunday night time-slot
disposes me to lying wide awake in bed
for hours afterward, ruminating on the few horses I have left in
this race and unraveling the riddles of the season, rather than
strategizing for the tangles of Monday morning that await me. In
advance of the imminent finale, I am here to hyperdecant a
blender’s worth of these theories, some of which are my personal
takes on ongoing conversations, the more predictable fare, while
others have been cooked up in a headspace all my own. Allow me to
pelt a few metaphorical water bottles in your direction with this
one-woman AMA.

Who will be on the receiving end of Logan’s blood sacrifice?

I’m putting my Monopoly money on Greg as Logan’s intended
“blood sacrifice,” though I predict he’ll skirt his Grexit by
exposing his damning Voice Memos (wherein Wambsgans narrates his
own destruction of evidence). Nothing incentivizes familial
blackmail like turning down a quarter of a billion dollars. (An
aside: You may know that Sarah Snook who plays Shiv Roy is
Australian, but have you heard Matthew Macfadyen’s British
accent?!? Prepare to feel hoodwinked.)

What else will bubble up in the season finale?

While Logan suspects Sandy and Stewy are behind the
whistleblower, “The Weasel,” my hunch is that the
whistleblower’s generous funding can instead be traced to
Greg’s sturdy grandfather, Logan’s brother Ewan, who had made
menacing remarks to Logan at his 50th anniversary celebration in
Scotland. This weekend’s finale is also bound to reveal the
backstory of Logan’s sister, another haunting reference glossed
over during the Scotland trip, (possibly resurfaced by Logan’s
unwelcome biographer?) and how Logan’s guilt over that tragedy
factors as one of his most major motivations. Not a theory, but
here’s hoping that Roman and Gerri run off together into the
sunset.

How far does the Godfather connection go?

I’m certainly not the first person with an Internet connection
to draw a venn diagram connecting the Roy and Corleone families. My
pet theory within this conversation is that Succession’s
structured the way The Godfather was intended to be. At some point
in the production process, Francis Ford Coppola designed The
Godfather trilogy to have each installment centered around a
different Corleone brother: the original Godfather focused on the
eldest Sonny (James Caan), and Godfather II revolved around Michael
(Al Pacino). Their adoptive brother Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) was
supposed to operate at the center of Godfather III, though
financial disputes with the studio ultimately led to Duvall’s
departure from the franchise (this offers an explanation for why
The Godfather III falters under the weight of the original and its
sequel). As we’ve seen, the first season explores Kendall as
successor and the second considers Shiv, so the third must examine
Roman’s potential for the role (with his bride Gerri). This logic
would find Season 4—laughably—entertaining the idea of Connor
as successor (at which point he may be leader of the free
world).

And what about The Jinx?

I recently watched an interview with Jesse Armstrong where he
conceded that Succession is less indebted to his own 2011ish
screenplay Murdoch than it is to HBO’s The Jinx: The Life and
Deaths of Robert Durst. This connection had been apparent to me at
first blush, when I watched the pilot with its herky-jerky
cinematography last summer—Succession’s opening titles draw
rather explicitly from the intros of The Jinx and its predecessor
All Good Things. (The latter is the feature film on Robert Durst
that made Durst willing to cooperate for The Jinx. Casting Ryan
Gosling as his doppelgänger might have been persuasive.)
Succession learned a few tricks from the Robert Durst cinematic
universe, crafting an opening title sequence with light-leaked,
super 8mm home video footage of sibling tennis matches and seated
lunches on the grassy property underscored by hints of family
dysfunction, and the recurring motif of the rückenfigur, a
compositional device that always finds the imposing Logan Roy
framed from behind.

A Shiv fan wonders: Is Shiv losing her edge?

As someone who
once went on the record
as an ardent fan of Shiv Roy’s season
one togs, I must now contradict myself: Shiv’s style undergoes a
grayed-out sanitization over the course of Season 2 (to illustrate
character development!) as she becomes more involved with the
tasteless world of Waystar Royco. Her blazers get longer and
longer, a cue for the otherness of her femininity which contributes
to assignments like convincing a female victim to back out of
testifying before Congress. Color altogether vanishes from the Shiv
Roy staples, firmly planting Shiv on the greyscale where her
father’s wardrobe resides. By comparison, Naomi Pierce suddenly
looks chic in her chocolate brown courtroom suit.

Do any other shows pass the Tonsil Hockey Test?

Funniest-person-I-know Nora
Taylor
posed a rhetorical inquiry on August 20th in the form of
a Instagram Stories poll: “Is there a better ‘prestige’ TV
theme song to make out to than the one from Succession?” I
crunched some numbers and the data speaks for itself: Nicholas
Brittell’s theme has over one million plays on Spotify. More
underrated is the official HBO 26-song, 37-minute-long soundtrack
from
Season Uno
.

How am I going to bring Pete Davidson into this conversation?

I’ll tell you right here, right now. Nothing takes the wind
out of my sails like an absent Pete
Davidson
in the first month of SNL season, but I theorize that
Saturday Night Live is waiting for Pete’s return from the Suicide
Squad set before staging a Succession spoof: Pete makes for an
uncanny Roman. They share an archetype as the cunning delinquent,
able to oscillate between juvenile humor and piercing wit, setting
expectations low and yielding high rewards. It takes one to know
one, I suppose: I took the Buzzfeed quiz and it turns out I’m a
Roman, too.

How long must we wait for Season 3? And what do we have to look
forward to?

My crystal ball shows next season’s themes orbiting around
foreign money and corruption, the historical dynamics between Logan
Roy’s own siblings, and Connor’s presidential run, mirroring
the actual lead-up to the 2020 election. This is all underscored by
my prevailing theory in television that the second season’s
always the best, so enjoy it while it lasts.

What kind of Kendall Roy spinoffs are we potentially working with?

Deaccession, where Kendall Roy takes his talents for selling
assets and redirects that energy toward unloading last season’s
Lanvin sneakers on Grailed and TheRealReal, or JamSession, in which
Kendall launches an ATN-adjacent podcast where he discusses new rap
releases with former Buckley classmates and occasionally deigns to
recite some of the song’s lyrics (off-key).

I welcome your own predictions and predilections below. I’ll
be belting “ROMULUS!” to no one in particular and commenting on
Nicholas
Braun’s Instagrams
with reckless abandon in the meantime.

Feature photos via HBO.

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My Favorite Succession Theories—Real and Imagined
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Source: FS – NY Fashion
Unpacking My Favorite Succession Theories—Real and Imagined