'Succession' returns for S3: A reminder of the Roy family battle lines drawn so far

There’s not been a television family that has so captivated the world since the glitzy days of the Ewings in Dallas and the Colbys in Dynasty.

Succession is far from a soap opera, though: it's closer to a Greek tragedy.

In just two seasons of the HBO series about a warring media conglomerate family, Scottish actor Brian Cox has lead a stunning ensemble cast to become some of the best known stars in the world.

Cox, born in Dundee like his alter ego Logan Roy, is the scheming and brutal family head and CEO beloved of the best four lettered put downs in TV.

Read more: The best TV to watch this Autumn

The entire cast — from Sarah Snook’s powerhouse Shiv and Jeremy Strong’s troubled heir apparent Kendall, to Kieran Culkin’s louche-with-a-heart Roman and Alan Ruck’s permanently deluded loser Connor — make up a brilliantly monstrous group.

Watch a trailer for Succession S3

As the show returns for a third season, the Roy family is at war like never before. The battle lines have been drawn, and it’s getting nasty... and very complicated.

Here’s where the action had gone when they all left off.

The Cruise Scandal

Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun as Tom and Greg in Succession (HBO)
Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun as Tom and Greg in Succession (HBO)

The scandalous misadventures of family friend Lester in the Waystar Royco cruise line division has been bubbling over since the very start of season one.

Shiv’s hapless husband Tom inherited the mess when the was appointed to the division, and he attempted to palm it off onto new arrival, Cousin Greg, a loser relation from the other side of the Roy family who is much smarter and shrewder then he appears.

When attempts to bury it failed, the publicly owned company became subject to massive government investigation. In the season two finale, Logan Roy demanded a head for the chopping block to help the rest ride out the scandal.

Kendall’s battle for power

Ambushed by his rebellious son Kendall at the end of Season 2, Logan Roy begins Season 3 in a perilous position, scrambling to secure familial, political, and financial alliances. Tensions rise as a bitter corporate battle threatens to turn into a family civil war.
Brian Cox as Logan Roy in Succession

Having started the series about to be handed control as Logan was set to retire, Kendall quickly found the rug pulled from beneath him. Even his dad’s serious illness couldn’t stop the old man keeping Kendall from control, and he stayed on.

Despite staging a coup, Kendall was brought back in line when Logan covered up a horrendous drug driving incident the recovering addict was involved in. He was under the wing of his dad until the final moments of season two, when Logan decided Kendall should be the blood sacrifice.

Read more: Kendall and Greg team up in first look at S3

The season finished in breath-taking style with Kendall and Cousin Greg, producing all the Cruise division documents proving Logan was in on the scandal and calling for his prosecution.

Shiv and Roman’s foundations

Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin in Succession (HBO)
Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin in Succession (HBO)

Shiv spent the entire run of season two being told directly by Logan that she was the one he wanted to take over the company when he retires or dies. But that carrot can only be dangled for so long. She’s impatient, but may have cashed in her brownie points with her dad when she pleaded for him not to sacrifice husband Tom over the cruise scandal.

Roman stepped up in season two, leading a charge for private investment that could have saved them all, but his wisdom in making a well balanced judgement call has seen him go up in his dad’s estimation. But he did then throw it away by buying his dad the wrong Scottish football team, Hearts, instead of fierce rivals Hibs, whom his dad really supports. He's also having a torrid affair with older family lawyer Gerri, which looks set to continue.

Connor’s White House down

Alan Ruck as Connor Roy in Succession (HBO)
Alan Ruck as Connor Roy in Succession (HBO)

The eldest and most useless son Connor has been staging a ridiculous and lampooned presidential PR campaign on a platform of ending income tax. Ploughing his dad’s money into the scheme, he’s been desperate to make an impact.

Read more: Alan Ruck teases Succession S3

He’s also been using his wealth to support his paid escort girlfriend Willa, and his poor attempts at staging a Broadway show for her. While Logan tried to bribe him out of his embarrassing presidential run, the family’s continued chaos might mean his Trump-style dreams aren’t dead yet.

Succession starts 9pm, 18 October on Sky Atlantic.

WATCH: Trailer for Succession season three