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Succession and the Worst Birthday Party Ever

Succession, S.3, Ep. 7: “Too Much Birthday”

At one point during the 40th birthday party for Kendall Roy that takes up the bulk of the 7th episode of Succession‘s third season, Kendall comments that “it feels like an asshole’s birthday party.” But how could it not, because it is. 

Something has been hinted throughout the season that’s got clearer over time is that Kendall doesn’t actually have the goods, and hasn’t got what it takes to defeat his father and take over the company. Sure, the evidence isn’t as strong as he originally hoped- but more importantly, Kendall is the problem. 

It’s a super-expensive evening, held in a warehouse and requiring the presence of numerous actors and special effects- but what it’s missing is any friends of the birthday boy, with the exception of people he’s paying, those looking for business opportunities, and his siblings, who arrive for planned confrontations. This leads to Ken, unable to hold up the illusion of competence for a minute longer, breaking down in tears. 

Kendall’s continuing impotence is crystallized, like never before, in this birthday party episode. Early on, we see the Waystar leaders celebrating word from on high in the Department of Justice that indictments or other major action from the government is unlikely- meaning none of them, especially the very worried Tom, will be heading to prison.

“Too Much Birthday”

So the company soon moves to the next order of business- a possible purchase by the company of a tech company, owned by mogul Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård.) In one way, it recalls News Corp’s ill-fated purchase of Myspace, although giving it some modern resonance, it is true that the real-life Fox has an extremely unheralded streaming service (Tubi.) 

We also see Greg going on a rare bit of courting, confessing a crush on Ken’s employee Comfrey (Dasha Nekrasova), and proceeding to ask her out over Kendall’s objections. Despite lapsing into a southern accent when he tries to flirt, she says yes. 

The episode ends with some ugly confrontations between Kendall and all three of his siblings and not the sort of witty banter that’s the hallmark of the show- it’s more telling each other they hate each other. A side battle is going on between Shiv and Roman since Shiv is jealous that Rome was tasked with the Matsson meeting — as well as the delivery of a $2 billion buyout offer to Ken — while she wasn’t even told about it. 

From those assignments to his delivery of the alt-right presidential candidate, to Logan’s obvious dismissal of Shiv, it’s looking more and more like Roman will emerge by season’s end as Logan’s choice as successor. 

“Too Much Birthday”

Waystar notes: 

– Kendall wisely opts out of singing Billy Joel’s “Honesty” at the party, since we know any attempt at Kendall acting musical can only end in tears. I did enjoy the cover of “Funkytown” that played for a chunk of the party sequence. 

– I’m trying to figure out which tech mogul Matsson is supposed to be. Sean Parker, maybe? He’s not a clear nerd like most of them, and he doesn’t have nearly the goofball energy of Elon Musk. 

– Shiv may have not gotten everything she wanted, but she’s a hell of a dancer. 

– Just two more episodes to wrap up all of the season’s plots, with hints that the Pierce acquisition might be back in play. 

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and RogerEbert.com. In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

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