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‘Succession’ season 3 episode 8 review: Chiantishire

The penultimate episode of Succession season 3 is set in a Tuscan paradise, but it's a nightmare for some...

Kieran Culkin (as Roman) and Harriet Walter (as Lady Caroline Collingwood) in Succession season 3
(Image: © Graeme Hunter/HBO)

Our Verdict

Several jaw-dropping moments take place in this penultimate episode, but it is the one-on-one conversations that pack the biggest punch.

For

  • *Finally getting more insight into Shiv's psyche.
  • *An acting masterclass on offer from Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox.
  • *Roman comes unstuck.
  • *Guest star Dame Harriet Walter's annual appearance never disappoints.
  • *The location scouts continue to find the most exclusive places.

Against

  • *Free Tom from this marriage!

This post contains spoilers for Succession season 3 episode 8, "Chiantishire." Read our previous review here.

Twists and turns during pre-wedding events (with some business on the side) is a Succession speciality. 

Nothing brings a family together quite like a wedding (well, maybe a funeral). Yes, even a clan with as many fractures as the Roys have added during this season of Succession can put their differences aside for some nuptials. After delays caused by the pandemic, this HBO production has managed to add a new glamorous European destination to the roster. The luxurious setting in Tuscany provides the backdrop for Lady Caroline Collingwood’s (Harriet Walter) wedding. And, of course, yet another round of which Roy child is Logan’s (Brian Cox) favorite.

After Kendall’s (Jeremy Strong) party took a turn for the miserable, he has responded by shaving his hair off and declaring himself as the loser in this ongoing war for the soul of the company. Even though Logan is Caroline’s ex-husband, he is still on the guest list and considering, he blocked his son’s phone number, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Logan has conditions regarding Kendall’s presence. Moments before the Roy patriarch’s garden arrival, Kendall is told to make his exit and, mere seconds after he complies, he confronts daddy dearest. A meeting time is set, although Logan is reluctant to attend whatever showdown Kendall has in store.

Rather than raise his profile, Kendall has found the offers have dried up since the DOJ investigation went stale. The only nugget of interest is from a podcast that is making a series on “The Curse of the Roys.” Subjects they will be covering include Connor’s (Alan Ruck) mother, Logan’s relationship with his sister Rose, and the death of the cater waiter who worked at Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Tom’s (Matthew Macfadyen) wedding. Who could forget the Succession equivalent of Chappaquiddick? Certainly not the audience, nor Kendall, considering how pale he goes when the waiter's death is mentioned. 

Succession season 3 wedding in Tuscany

(Image credit: Graeme Hunter/HBO)

In the season 3 premiere of Succession, Kendall was making jokes about being a killer but he is no longer laughing. At dinner, Logan is so suspicious that his son might pull a move favored by the Ancient Greeks — “Jim Jones you with an olive” — that he gets his grandson to taste his pasta, to make sure it hasn't been tampered with. “I’ll be broken when you die,” is Kendall’s response to this charade. This two-hander is a masterclass from Cox and Strong that's up there with the “number one boy” scene in the aftermath of the waiter’s death. 

Kendall has realized he cannot be the white knight to save Waystar Royco, but he still doesn’t quite get that his father doesn’t work with absolutes. He lives in the grey mess, which is why he always wins. He did turn black bile into silver dollars and he also sincerely believes he does his best with regards to his children. Rather than Kendall warning his dad about the podcast, instead, Logan makes the first thrust —bringing up the waiter. It is his go-to winning hand when Kendall tries to pretend he is a good guy. Logan will cover up a crime to protect his offspring, but he will also use it to make them fall in line. Kendall says he wants out of the business and, at this moment, nothing has been clearer. However, you don’t simply get to cash out when you are a Roy. 

Perhaps a more permanent end is required. The perilous Jay Gatsby-esque image of Kendall lying face down on a float (with what looks like his nose dipping underwater) in the pool would certainly be a tragic end to this story — with a nod to the waiter storyline. It's unlikely that Kendall will die — although, if he does, this would be quite the mic drop from the Succession writers. Shot from underneath with Nicholas Britell’s score elevating the already jittery, heart-stopping moment.

Jeremy Strong in Succession season 3

(Image credit: Graeme Hunter/HBO)

Meanwhile, Shiv’s evening spent with her mother offers an enlightening perspective that peels back previously unrevealed layers. The barbs aren’t quite as pronounced as the father/son dinner, but everything Shiv does later in “Chiantishire” reflects her mother’s observations regarding Shiv’s manipulative methods. This isn’t to say Caroline is an innocent party because she also says some truly horrible things, but Shiv’s subtle rewriting of the past is a prelude to how she takes her chance when Roman (Kieran Culkin) finally screws up. Caroline knows her ex-husband well and his tendency to treat people poorly to see if they will come back. All of his children are part of this abuse cycle and Kendall’s attempt to break free has already been thwarted.  

By the end of this penultimate outing, Shiv has managed to boost her worth — Logan calling her “Pinky” is code for his approval. All it took was Roman accidentally sending an X-rated photo to his father that was intended for Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron). Culkin has perfected the ‘might puke in the middle of this conference room’ face and Shiv getting to talk to her dad first is why he is going to have a hard time coming back from this. She effectively paints Roman as a deviant and while I am not excusing his actions (especially after Gerri specifically told him to cut it out), Shiv knows she can spin his transgression into gold. The following scene in which she puts on a fake voice of concern when talking to Gerri about HR options is a reminder (once again) why Shiv will never be a feminist hero. She is her father’s daughter and she is working this mess to her advantage. Sure, it is good to see Roman brought down a peg or two after he overplayed his hand with Mattson (Alexander Skårsgard) and he courted an alt-right candidate but Gerri is also getting punished. 

Shiv has already told Tom she will do anything to fight for her position and her renewed vigor only increases after her spiky chat with her mother. She tells Tom she wants a baby but walks this back the following day with the compromise of freezing her eggs. Vacation is when Shiv and Tom are honest with each other, or rather, truths slip out. This is somehow even worse than the beach conversation in Croatia. It is hard to see a future in which they are together and yet Tom has stuck by her, so far. Will her single-minded quest for power be the last straw? 

As we head into the final episode of Succession season 3, everything is coming up Shiv while the other Roy siblings are drowning.