“This is going to be epic,” says Kendall Roy at the beginning of the seventh episode of the third season of ‘Succession’, where we see him in the middle of a rehearsal on a large stage singing the lyrics of ‘Honesty’ by Billy Joel and ready to fly hooked to a harness with a wooden cross hanging behind it. It is just one part of the great show that he is putting on to celebrate his birthday, at a party in which there is no lack of budget or embarrassment (although nothing could overcome the “L to OG” moment). An experience with vaginal corridors and futuristic rooms, which, however, will end up being the setting for some of the moments saddest in the history of the HBO series, and perhaps also for the turning point of several of his characters.
Titled ‘Too Much Birthday’, this episode of ‘Succession’ is a look inside Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong), a heartbreaking X-ray of his fears, his complexes, his insecurities and his longings. He holds a party to celebrate his 40th birthday, but in reality he is a character stuck in childhood, a boy-man who in this event turned into a celebration of his own figure will have to deal with traumas of parental absence, ‘bullying’ by part of his siblings (and, well, everyone) and constant tantrums like he’s turning 4 instead of going into quarantine. Under the direction of Lorene Scafaria (‘Wall Street Scammers’), this extraordinary episode shows us the alarming fragility of a man who has spent the whole season playing tough on his hostile opa against his father, and that now, on his birthday, all he has left is the certainty that there is no one in this world who really knows, understands or even loves him.
As soon as the party begins, Kendall’s joy suffers the first blow: Roman (Kieran Culkin) hands her an envelope in which both he and his father Logan (Brian Cox) makes him an offer of two billion dollars to buy his share of the company and invite him to disappear from the family business. As we’ve seen in previous episodes, Kendall still cares about Waystar Royco and seeks her father’s approval, so this little gift doesn’t suit her at all.
Also, he learns that the only reason why his brothers Roman and Shiv (Sarah Snook) have come to his party is to talk to Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), a technological genius owned by the GoJo company and with whom they hope to reach a collaboration agreement with Waystar. These intentions were known to us at the beginning of the episode, in which the Roy heirs discover that the real adults (Gerri, Karl and Frank) have eaten their toast with the patriarch, managing to solve the company’s legal affairs and also avoiding that none of those present have to go to jail. The celebration of Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) trashing Greg’s (Nicholas Braun) office should be worthy of an Emmy Award.
In the same meeting with Logan, this relationship with GoJo is discussed exposing one of the central conflicts of ‘Succession’: tradition against modernity, parents against children, the past against the future. Roman and Shiv are working hard to bring this deal to fruition, but Logan is willing to throw it overboard because they have made him ugly. The mogul has no idea how today’s young entrepreneurs do business or sign alliances. The old politics are left to the conventions of the Republican Party that we saw in the previous episode, but, with the technological geniuses of the present, you have to play the same game. That is, to be unbearable kids with branded bomber jackets. And who will understand that lifestyle better than Roman Roy?
In this episode, again, Roman will prove himself the most likely and dangerous heir to Waystar Royco. When he manages to talk to Matsson, he manages to convince him to stop by his offices after inviting him to piss on his cell phone in the event’s bathroom. That attitude without limits or scruples is what could take the youngest of the Roys to the top, although it is not clear that he is so intelligent as to really achieve something significant in this world.
His sister Shiv is, but at Kendall’s birthday party she will find out how far she has been left out of the ‘boy’s club’. They have not counted on her for that poisoned gift to Kendall, they ignored her with the Republican candidate, she has not managed to get close to Matsson … Even in the most tense moment of the episode, Roman blurts out that the train has passed for her, that there was a time when having a woman gave a good image but that, now, it is time for men to take command again and she remains silent. The truth is that Shiv will never have that shark attitude that Roman has. She has too many internal conflicts, too much scruples, and too much dignity to swallow with the way the masculinized corporate world around her works. It seems that Shiv is going to explode sooner rather than later, and not just giving it his all on the dance floor..
In that tense moment that we mentioned, the image left by the Roy brothers is daunting. Roman, elated by his victories and with a class bully attitude, spills all the bile. Shiv, incredulous, insists that there are limits when Roman reveals that there is a plan in place to go against Kendall’s family and start a campaign of personal smear. AND Kendall, who blurts out to his brother that he is not “a real person”, ends up on the ground with a shove in front of all his guests. The party is over for them. In the end, the only one who will go home happy is Greg, who against all odds has managed to hook up with one of Kendall’s workers, Comfry (Dasha nekrasova).
It’s been a rough night for Kendall. In addition to everything mentioned, the birthday boy has spent a good part of the night looking for the gift his children have given him, which has been lost in the crowd of guests and packages. He desperately seeks it because he knows that it is the only thing that, perhaps, could connect him to the world again. His girlfriend Naomi (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) gives him an impersonal wristwatch, which he could have given to anyone. In Kendall’s little tantrum at that gift and her obsession to find the one her children have given her, we find the main theme of this episode: the character’s deep loneliness and his sudden conviction that if he died, no one would miss him. Those things you think about when you get into your 40s.
In this sense, the last scene of the episode is very revealing. Again, his man-boy complex comes to the fore: we see him on the balcony of his house wrapped in a child’s bed cover, looking into infinity. Later he sits down with his girlfriend, rests his head on his legs and she caresses his hair with a motherly attitude. “It’s just a party,” Naomi tells him. But it is not just a party. That party was her life, from the entrance in the shape of her mother’s womb to the tree house that symbolized her special place, passing through the hall of compliments (where actors throw pretty phrases to visitors) and a room of future newspaper covers. who imagine their successes. That party was the best possible representation of that precarious house of cards that is his sanity. And it may have collapsed.
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