The following story contains light spoilers for Succession Season 3, episode 1, “Seccession.”
The rules of Succession have been pretty easy to pick up on. If Logan Roy wants something, it might be really nice—he’s got old money, and he does have taste—but it might be antiquated and out of style (he purchased TV stations for no reason). If Kendall Roy wants something, it might be in style theoretically, but it might also be super cringe-worthy and probably a little tacky. If Shiv Roy wants something though? Shiv is, in many ways, the smartest character on the show. If she wants something, it’s probably just really good. And when all three are competing for something—like they were in the premiere episode of Succession Season 3, titled “Seccession,” for the help of an attorney named Lisa Arthur—it’s probably just really, really good.
When we first hear of Lisa Arthur—presumably a Gloria Allred-type—it’s when Gerri suggests that she could be a potential option to give Logan legal advice. Logan, of course, crudely remembers that Lisa “did the hookers,” to which Gerri confirms that yes, she did indeed represent trafficked sex workers in a previous suit. Lisa is the clear best attorney option, someone who would give Logan and Waystar/Royco clear credibility if she took their side on their case.
There’s not a shot in hell of that happening, we later learn when Shiv meets with Lisa herself (the two have a past friendly relationship). Lisa, ever the professional, met with Shiv with the pretense of it being on Logan’s behalf, just to let her know that due to the ugly optics of the situation alone, there would be no way she could take his side. “I don’t think I fit,” she says.
Shiv, though, doesn’t really care about saving her dad’s hide. Instead, she’s trying to play up the “friend” card to get Lisa on her side—she wants the best optics and the best cover if she were to land the CEO title when Logan steps back. But she also knows she might need to distance herself from everything the family is involved with entirely. Basically? She wants to have her cake and eat it too.
And, again, Lisa can’t do it. She cuts Shiv off before she gives too much information, because Lisa’s already made her choice—she’s representing someone else. She’s working with Kendall, who earlier mentioned to his ex-wife, Rava, that he was talking to Lisa Arthur (“She’s famous,” Rava remarks). They acknowledge that it’s a tricky thing they’re trying to pull off; Kendall needs to implicate his father without implicating himself, while not hurting the company enough to be in a bad place when he, presumably, takes the reigns. We think they’re officially working together now? Their meeting is interrupted when Cousin Greg foolishly opens a bottle of Rava’s old, prized wine on Naomi Pierce’s request (a messy situation and probably a whole different conversation). But Kendall is in the power position with the attorney everyone wanted to work with.
Kendall calls Logan and tells him that Lisa is working with him, and Logan is—predictably— furious. “We’ll go full FUCKING beast!” he yells at the end of the episode. The old man isn’t used to punching back—he’s clearly been the one on the offensive for the majority of his life. But things are changing. Times are different. Logan’s #1 Boy won the power play this time.
But we certainly can’t close the book on this (or any) power play. In fact, with a powerful and famous attorney on Kendall’s side—and Logan hiring one who Gerri suggested goes “scorched earth”—the fireworks are probably only just getting started.
Lisa Arthur is played by Sanaa Lathan
CJ RiveraGetty Images
Lisa Arthur is played by a Sanaa Lathan, an actress who’s had a career in film and television for nearly 25 years. Some of her most notable early roles were in Blade and The Best Man, but she also appeared in movies like Love & basketball, Out of Time, and Alien Vs. Predator. In the last decade, you may remember her from Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion or as a detective in Now You See Me 2.
Succession isn’t her first rodeo on TV either; earlier this year she appeared on Netflix’s Hit and Run, she’s played regular roles on The Affair and Boss, and also did an episode of Jordan Peele’s revival of The Twilight Zone. If her voice sounds familiar, it’s because she’s voiced a character on both The Cleveland Show and Family Guy for many years, in addition to providing the voice of Selina Kyle/Catwoman on the brilliant Harley Quinn animated series.
All of which is to say: Succession has another good choice on its hands for who will almost certainly be a key power player in another season of high-stakes corporate drama.
Evan is an associate editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE.
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