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Succession: Who Does Kendall Have Left?

In a world in which alliances are vital, does the most embattled Roy have anyone he can turn to?
  • Broken all over again: Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in Succession (HBO)
    Broken all over again: Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in Succession (HBO)

    In recent weeks on Succession, Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) seemed to becoming a person again. He successfully aligned himself with Naomi Pierce, securing her vote (let’s ignore the mess he made of his bed) and a future date. He was also the voice of moral reason when discussing how to handle the cruise scandal. It seemed he might soon be able to step out of the shadows of his Chappaquiddick-esque cover-up, not to mention his very public betrayal of his father. But last week, a trip to England and the scene of his crime — not to mention a window into his childhood that indicated he was essentially raised by wolves — caused yet another backslide.

    Now eye contact is once again off the table for Kendall, his posture has shifted back to its hunched position, and Jeremy Strong conveys the sound of his character's soul shattering into a million pieces without so much as uttering a word. In a season of ups and downs, Kendall has resorted to petty theft and calling himself a “Techno Gatsby” in an attempt to feel something. If he doesn’t tell someone about his role in the cater waiter’s death soon, his already damaged psyche is going to fragment even further, Yet in a world in which alliances are vital, his pickings are slim.

    Listed from least- to most-likely to have his back, here's where Kendall stands with the people around him:

    Logan Roy

    Brian Cox as Logan Roy in Succession (Photo: HBO)

    A master manipulator, Logan (Brian Cox) noticed his “Number One Boy” was starting to feel good again, so he needed to be put in his place. After two attempted takeover bids, it makes sense that Logan would want to reinforce his power, and he has the perfect weapon to wield over his son. Taking him on this apology tour is a special form of punishment that kills several birds with one stone. With Sandy and Stewy (who Kendall teamed up with last season) stoking this particular tabloid scandal, Logan sees Kendall as the maker of his own misery.  (And he's not wrong.) By bringing a member of the Pierce family into Logan’s house, he sees Kendall rubbing his nose in his defeat. The fourth transgression is questioning Rhea's presence, giving an unsolicited opinion about optics. That's the final nail in a Kendall shaped coffin. By dragging Kendall along on his damage-control trip to see the family of the dead waiter (and then shutting him out of the room), Logan is once again lording his power over his son, never mind grinding the gears of Kendall's horrible guilt.

    Lady Caroline Collingwood

    Harriet Walter as Caroline Collingwood in Succession (Photo: HBO)

    Everything you need to know about how emotionally stunted the Roy siblings are can be gleaned from their visit to their mother, Caroline (Harriet Walter). In a moment of despair, Kendall asks his Mum if he can talk to her about something. Sensing this is a conversation about “difficult things,” she does everything in her power to keep whatever is bothering him bottled up. This is the nearest Kendall has come to sharing his secret with anyone, but rather than listening, she simply tells him she is too tired and it would be better to do it “over an egg” the following day. By morning, she has slipped out, leaving a note with a half-hearted apology. Truth be told, Kendall is probably better off sitting in the kitchen with just his misery for company.

    Roman Roy

    Kieran Culkin as Roman Roy in Succession (Photo: HBO)

    When Logan lashed out at Roman in “Argestes,” hitting him so hard it knocked a tooth out, his big brother was the first to leap to his defense. It played like a scene from their childhood, in which Kendall likely stepped in. This was the most fired up he'd been all season, so it's no surprise that he was on the receiving end of a mental beatdown by his father in the following episode. Roman will always toe the line when it comes to their dad — he even pretended this incident didn’t happen. The chances of him being there for Kendall are slim, but with Shiv driving the anti-Rhea train, there Still might be an opportunity. Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) is the key to Roman’s decision making, if they figure this out then maybe they have a shot.

    Shiv Roy

    Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy and Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in Succession (HBO)

    It feels like a lifetime ago, but there was a moment after the active shooter lockdown in which it seemed Kendall might come clean to Shiv. Instead of telling her the reason for his jittery behavior, he gave her the kind of hug that tells you a person is barely hanging on. She's still in the dark, but she knows he isn’t a contender for the Waystar crown (even if he's been acting like it in recent episodes). Tellingly, when she realizes that Rhea (Holly Hunter) is making a play, it's Ken that she decides to call. Yes, there's a lot of lingering distrust, but maybe there's still hope for an alliance?

    Naomi Pierce

    Annabelle Dexter-Jones as Naomi Pierce and Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in Succession (Photo: HBO)

    Kendall has found a kindred spirit in Naomi (Annabelle Dexter-Jones). She's from a background of extreme privilege and has a penchant for illicit substances. This relationship has gone from wasted helicopter hookups to FaceTime dick pic requests. Staying over and dates at the zoo are also on the agenda, although sadly Kendall didn’t get to appear in his very own Simon and Garfunkel song as his dad flexed his power. Logan doesn’t have a high opinion of the Pierce women or his son’s starry-eyed fixation (Logan uses a saltier term for this love-struck affliction). A well-suited match, Kendall might unburden his soul on his new love interest, but it's not exactly the kind of secret you want to reveal this early in a relationship. Talk about scaring someone off with your baggage.

    Cousin Greg

    Nicholas Braun as Greg Hirsch in Succession (Photo: HBO)

    At the start of Season 2, Greg (Nicholas Braun) is pretty much the only person Kendall can act like his old self around. It's impossible to hunch when in the vicinity of Greg, which is probably why Kendall found him so appealing. He scored him an apartment (so he could party there) and he isn’t getting this level of adoration or respect from any other person in his family. A collector of secrets, Greg has proven to be a semi-successful manipulator. Will Kendall become an addition in Greg's small dossier of “Secret” material? After all, Greg is the one who told Kendall about the waiter who had drugs. This connection has yet to resurface, but nothing ever stays buried on Succession.

    Rava Roy

    Natalie Gold as Rava Roy in Succession (Photo: HBO)

    Aside from a brief appearance by his children in the second episode — when Kendall couldn’t bring himself to embrace his daughter — his family has been absent this year. This comes across as purposeful avoidance on his behalf, as it was painful enough for him to dance with them at the reception after the watery accident had occurred. At Shiv’s wedding, Kendall also got into a blow-out argument with his ex Rava (Natalie Gold), so it's definitely volatile between the pair. Yes, it could jeopardize any chance he has of seeing his kids if he does tell her, but he never sees them anyway.


    Peter Friedman as Frank Vernon in Succession (Photo: HBO)

    Roman has Gerri, Shiv has Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), and Kendall has Frank (Peter Friedman). This relationship is not as close as a husband or a mother-adjacent figure, but Frank has always been there for Kendall in times of business crisis. He was on board for the hostile takeover bid, and he knows where Logan has skeletons buried, so what's one more? Plus, he maybe has a guy he needs killed in Palermo. Frank is far from squeaky clean and he has proven to be loyal (for a price) whenever the Roys have needed him in the past.

    Who do you think is most likely to be there for Kendall as the season nears its climax? People are talking about Succession in our forums. Join the conversation.

    Emma Fraser has wanted to write about TV since she first watched My So-Called Life in the mid-90s, finally getting her wish over a decade later. Follow her on Twitter at @frazbelina

    TOPICS: Succession, HBO, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Brian Cox, Harriet Walter, Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin, Natalie Gold, Nicholas Braun, Peter Friedman, Sarah Snook