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Succession season 3: episode 2 “Mass in Time of War” recap: Tables turn as war looms

Succession Season 3

Succession‘s second episode of its third season shuffles the players as the Roys prepare to clash.

The title of the second episode in season three of Succession, “Mass in Time of War,” shares the name of a Joseph Haydn musical composition. Haydn composed this mass as his home country of Austria was about to face off against the ever-mighty Napoleon, mirroring the nation’s apprehension as they prepared for battle. We find the Roy family dealing with similar apprehension as Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Logan (Brian Cox) bulk up their teams before an all-out battle between son and father. This isn’t the war – this is just Operation Thumb Twiddle, and it’s a tour-de-force episode of Succession.

The episode begins with Shiv (Sarah Snook) alone in the backseat of a car, fresh from her disastrous meeting with Lisa (Sanaa Lathan). Her phone rings. The screen photo is a picture of Saddam Hussein, but the name reads “Dad.” She lets the phone ring, still stung from the announcement of Gerri’s (J. Smith-Cameron) CEO title. Meanwhile, back in Sarajevo, Logan’s still having the worst time. He finally reaches Roman (Kieran Culkin), and tells his son to “Keep Gerri close.” It’s a cheeky moment for episode writer Jessie Armstrong to have Logan unknowingly consent to Roman and Gerri’s complicated relationship. Roman gives him his word, as he’s off to do as his father instructs. 

Succession Season 3
HBO

Still holed up at Rava’s, Kendall approaches Greg (Lindsey Buckingham … er, actually Nicholaus Braun!) and sees if he can get some backing from his grandfather, Ewan (James Cromwell), the bitter brother of Logan. Greg is apprehensive, suggesting that’s more of a call for Kendall to make. There’s a deliciously awkward moment of silence between the two, played to perfection by Strong and Braun. Kendall reassures Greg he’s done the right thing, joining Team Kendall to fight the good fight.

With that, Greg steps out to clear his head, sidestepping a literal Trojan Horse sculpture delivery (courtesy of Stewy) … only to see Shiv enter the building. A nervous wreck, Greg answers a mystery number on the phone, only to hear Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) on the other end, searching for information for Logan. Greg ends up revealing that he saw Shiv enter Kendall’s lair, which hurts Tom as he hasn’t been able to reach Shiv. Tom seems a man adrift without his office spouse Greg and his actual spouse Shiv, stuck in a stuffy hotel with a frenzied Logan, a hungry Karl (David Rasche), a pondering Frank (Peter Friedman), and a maneuvering Hugo (Fisher Stevens).

Succession Season 3
HBO

Tom will have to drift a little bit longer, as Shiv exits the elevator and greets Kendall with “There he is. The little man who started this big war.” Soon Roman and Connor (Alan Ruck, bringing in a hefty dose of “big brother energy”) appear at the apartment. Reunited, it’s time for the Roy kids to do what they do best: discuss taking down their father, all while camped out in Kendall’s daughter Sophie’s bedroom. The thought of planning a coup against their father while in a child’s bedroom is a hilarious concept. Kendall pitches his battle plan for taking down their father’s media empire while Shiv hugs a stuffed animal, Connor reclines at the end of the bed, and Roman lounges in a child’s chair. To the viewers, the Roy children’s behavior may shock and disgust, but to the Roys, it is no different than the childhood games they played.

Back in Sarajevo, Logan is in his words, “losing juice.” This line from Logan ties in nicely with Kendall’s lines last week that “The juice is loose, baby!” The writers of Succession are clever at finding similarities in dialogue for Logan and Kendall use, even when in separate locations (last week they both shouted “Action Stations!” to rally their sides).  If Logan can’t keep his juice, perhaps he can get Marcia back. They were estranged at the end of season two after Logan became infatuated with Rhea (Holly Hunter). Marcia is back, baby! But she also has some demands (more financial improvements for her and her daughter) before she returns to Logan’s public side. Demands it seems that Logan and Waystar Royco is willing to pay.

This isn’t the war – this is just Operation Thumb Twiddle, and it’s a tour-de-force episode of Succession.

Not to be forgotten in the episode is Greg and Big Gramps, aka Ewan. Greg reconnects with the patriarch of his family and tries to pitch Kendall as the best option for Waystar Royco to “do good.” Ewan was not impressed by Kendall’s press conference. The other matter Greg wants to discuss with Ewan is legal counsel. Ewan, disappointed, asks Greg if he thinks he needs a lawyer because he broke the law. Greg says he didn’t do anything illegal; he’s just worried he’s about to go into battle without any armor. Ewan, portrayed by the excellent James Cromwell, takes a beat to calculate how he can use his grandson to take down his brother, and tells Greg he’ll support him with legal counsel.

At the end of the night, Kendall has pitched his heart out to his siblings, dropping that he has a deal in place with Stewy (Arian Moayed), Sandi Furness (Hope Davis), and Sandi’s father Sandy Furness (Larry Pine). It’s then revealed that Logan sent donuts to Rava’s. The Roy children are now worried, wondering who revealed their secret sibling meet-up to their father. Kendall tries to shake off the donuts, saying they’re not relevant. Roman believes that they’re all too relevant. Kendall presses his siblings for their decisions. One by one, they all drop out of Kendall’s plan, turning their reunion into a fight of spectacular sibling insults, all leaving Kendall to join their father’s side.

Succession Season 3
HBO

At the end of the episode, it’s Kendall who’s in a frenzy, losing his siblings to their father. The day after, he sulks into Lisa’s alone, surrounded by a team of lawyers as they prep their defense. Logan is now calm and collected, returns to the city, complete with paparazzi to document a loving family reunited. As Gerri and other Waystar Royco members go to greet Logan on the tarmac, it’s Shiv who remains in the car, making Logan come to her. The final shots of Shiv and Roman suggest that even though they’ve committed to Team Logan, their family is more divided than ever, each sibling out for themselves, as the Roy Family War approaches.

Episode Superlatives:

  • Best Father/Daughter duo: Sandi Furness (Hope Davis), daughter of Sandy Furness (Larry Pine). Sandi only appears in a brief scene with Kendall and Stewy, her dad on speaker as they rehash the deal that Logan and Kendall offered Stewy in Greece. While it’s all-too-common for businessmen to pass down first names to their male children, it’s nice to have this fun twist with Sandi and Sandy Furness. Here’s hoping we get to see more of the Furness family in future episodes.
  • The MVP of the Episode: Marcia Roy. Abbass as Marcia owned this scene, gliding into the Sarajevo hotel lobby (with her lawyer in tow), talking smoothly to Logan, and stroking the lapel on his jacket. Marcia is back, baby!
  • The most iconic line: Greg’s metaphor on why he needs a lawyer –  “If everyone is showing up to battle in armor, then I feel kinda exposed here in my loincloth.”
  • All About Food: Roman asks Gerri if he were to side with Kendall, would one of the kids (preferably him) come out on top, and Gerri says it wouldn’t happen because it’s “snake linguine.” It’s giving me notes of her season one line of calling business at Waystar Royco “funky chowder.”
  • All about food, part two: Anyone else relieved to see Karl snacking in the background n at the beginning of the episode?

Succession Season 3 Trailer:

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CategoriesRecap TV
Ashley Lara

Ashley is a writer, producer, and avid karaoke fan living in New York City. She co-produces/co-hosts She Makes Me Laugh, a monthly female and non-binary comedy show. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @smashley_lara.