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Succession returns on Sunday, and season 3 is even more fun, nastier, undeniably more frenetic than ever

Succession returns on Sunday, and season 3 is even more fun, nastier, undeniably more frenetic than ever

Despite being classified as a drama and winning dozens of drama Emmys, Succession is largely regarded as an oddball comedy at its core. Really, its a tragi-comedy, as it paints us resentfully of the American ruling class, the Haves, whose sloppy monopoly games leave countless Have Nots exploites and insolvent. Theres the well-known overlap between HBOS Succession and Shakespeare s King Lear, but therell also be the overlap with Veep, the spiky comedy whose self-interested power mongers display the same absurd megalomania.

Watching the thrilling first seven episodes of the pandemic-delayed third season (which will air Sunday at 9 p.m., and will feature nine in all), I found myself laughing more than ever at creator Jesse Armstrongs super-wealthy drama queens and opportunists. The Veep vibe is stronger and sharper, with characters gnashing out insults that seem to transform ordinary obscenities into metrical poetry. And its not just Kieran Culkin witty Roman spouting profane wit, although that has been his forte since the beginning. The entire gang finds full expression for their tremendous stress in the art of verbal abuse, as they continue to ruthlessly jockey for Dads place at the table and his love, too. [chefs kiss]

This season, the Roy familys rarefied air is under a lot of stress, as Kendall is thrown under the bus about the sexual abuses and coverups in the Waystar Royco cruise division Judas-ing him, to use Kendalladjective. Kendall rebels in the new episodes, which are fast-paced and intensely detailed, and he tries to bring his siblings, as well as Cousin Greg, on his side. The pair are with him or not, depending on how the wind seems to be blowing (and cracking its cheeks). Logan is in a coma as pressure to step back mounts, and Brian Cox is at his barkiest, growliest best, the alpha in his pack of nepotistic wolves. Kendall is nobody talks to the snake, he warns them.

Kendall appears to be dropping his rocker this season more than ever, deceiving himself into believing hes a rock star winning the PR battle with his father because the media is breathlessly dragging him, ridicule being attention. He runs a war room to get help with his attack plan, but he adheres to his own demented tactics in utter desperation, practically shouting BWAHAHA as if wakingness were his weapon. Of course, he couldnt care less about the cruise divisions rape culture (and wait for the brilliant needle drop of Nirvana Rape Me), but looking like Mark Zuckerberg, the empty bro next door, has an amoral hunger in his eyes. Once again, Jeremy Strong delivers a performance as rich in cracked comedy as it is in pathos.

Logan, who works for Fox News and is known for manipulating coverage on his Fox news-like channel, ATN, finds himself in a fierce fight against an investigation. This season, the politics and the parallels between the Roys and The Real Murdoch Family are even more prominent. Many of the episodes are, as usual, set at parties and events, and this season one of your hours takes place at a Future Freedom Summit, where the connection between ATN and the choice of political nominees is obvious. In real life, these moral crimes are debilitating; on Succession, they are satire at its most stinging, as power mongers dismiss a possible candidate for his nervous lip-licking tic.

The constantly shifting alliances this season are more complicated than you will find on the most dreary season of Survivor. Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Roy) are simultaneously a team and more feverishly competitive, as is the Roy habit. They are rich and shrewd but miserable, as are all of us except Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), who isnt rich or savvy, though he is certainly not. As always, watching him naively stumble among his savages is a delight. Greg, who is played and played again this season, Braun as uninspired as ever, may be accused of fan service by the writers.

Gregs scenes with Matthew Macfadyen savage Tom are a wry take on Laurel and Hardy, as Tom obsessively considers the possibility of jail time and, like usual, vents his frustrations on the one lower than him in the litter. Like everyone else in this game of corporate thrones, Tom is always ready to step on a fellow soldier on his way to the top.

SUCCESSION IS A VALUE.

Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, Alan Ruck, J. Smith-Cameron, Nicholas Braun, Sanaa Lathan, Brian Scoop, John Smith, Jason Sacks, Keira Clkin

On HBO, Sunday at 9 p.m.

Matthew Gilbert is available at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.

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