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Breaking Down Every Nook & Cranny of the ‘Succession’ Season 3 Premiere

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Breaking Down Every Nook & Cranny of the ‘Succession’ Season 3 Premiere
What to make of the season 3 premiere of Succession? David Russell/HBO

After nearly two years off the air, HBO’s Succession has finally returned to delight and entertain with a gaggle of out of touch 1%ers all acting horribly in their own self-interest. While we gave a broad overview of the third season in our (mostly) glowing Season 3 review, Succession deserves more in-depth exploration than just that. So each week, we’ll be breaking down each episode with a beat-by-beat recap while also doling out some weekly awards. Shall we dive in?

Succession S3E1 “Secession” Recap

We open with the Roy family traveling via helicopters across the snowy mountains like a caravan of Bond villains. Logan appears to be contemplating the recent events of the Season 2 finale as Kendall does the same in a bathroom somewhere in Manhattan. Both are processing the bombshell Kendall dropped on his family in their own ways. The Logan Squad is looking for a place to regroup: either New York, London, Singapore, or L.A. Rich people (cue eye roll). Logan doesn’t immediately know where to go or what to do and is taking out his frustration on his family and staff as usual. After taking some time to breathe, Kendall emerges from the bathroom like a man on a mission: “Actions stations. Let’s fucking do this.”

The Season 2 finale promised an all out war between Kendall and Logan. I like how the premiere’s cold open here immediately establishes the battle lines between the two. It appears that Kendall had a rough outline of what he was getting into, but perhaps didn’t think it all the way through. The totality of his actions and the ship he’s just put himself at the helm of are only now sinking in. 

For all the differences between the two, it’s worth noting that both Kendall and Logan are processing in somewhat similar ways before mobilizing. 

Kendall is heading to Waystar, naively thinking he still has a job there. He wants to get a team of lawyers ready. A gaggle of media swarms him outside to which Greg’s response is to continually and needlessly scream “No Comment.” Never change, Greg. Kendall axes one of his assistants for not being fully on board with his takedown of Logan. Honestly, who can blame her? The spur-of-the-moment move may have been necessary for Kendall last season, but the lack of planning is going to be difficult to overcome. Elsewhere, Shiv and Roman discuss the status of the situation and the fate of their father. Both are curious if this is the end of Logan as a media mogul. All children deny any knowledge of Kendall’s plan, which is true. Kendall puts Greg in charge of monitoring his social media temperature.

I love the constantly shifting alliances of the family members and their persistent concern for their own status. For all the machinations, scheming, and planning afoot, the only thing that matters is the family. By clever design, this is also what hurts them the most and adds to their disconnect from the real world. That dynamic is the very center of the show. 

In a hilarious elementary school game of telephone, Logan speaks to Kendall through his assistant Jessica. Logan says he’s going to “grind up your bones to make my bread,” to which Kendall hilariously responds that he’s “going to run up off the beanstalk.” Even with this epic bombshell, Kendall still comes across like a child playing grown up.

I wrote in my review: “The need for emotional honesty directs their business decisions because it’s the only way they know how to articulate and translate their feelings. Logan raised each of them on a transactional basis; how could they not turn to oppositional mind games to express themselves?” Consider the above exchange exhibit A. These people have bottomless pits of money to spend, and yet are still the most damaged of all. No, they don’t have to worry about money, but at what cost does that comfort come?

Logan strategizes with his team. Roman advises not cooperating with the government investigation, which Gerri disagrees with. The plan is to play hardball and wait until Kendall self-destructs. Logan Squad is going to try and bring in the President, who they refer to as “The Raisin,” for support. Meanwhile, Greg can’t figure out whether or not the Pope has followed Kendall on Twitter. Both sides are reaching out to one another with feelers for potential double crosses and information. Both sides are also looking for potential support systems. Logan Squad is sussing out whether or not the DOJ is going to investigate. Things are heating up. 

Greg is Extra Greg this season and it’s a wonderful sight to behold. Overall, “Secession” is laying the groundwork for a never-ending game of alliance musical chairs.

Kendall’s talks with his girlfriend about how he may be the best person in the world at the moment. Waystar Co cancelled Kendall’s access to the office building. Greg compares the situation to “OJ…except if OJ never killed anyone.” To which Kendall responds, with a grin on his face, “Who says I never killed anyone?”

Kendall has always been the most moral of the characters, but that’s like saying saying he’s the nicest of your middle school bullies. At the end of the day, he’s still toxic and self-serving and he’s clearly getting off on the false pedestal of ethics he’s assumed. He’s co-opting the serious issue of workplace sexual harassment for his own purposes and turning his dark side inside out. And for him to joke about the actual person he killed in such a flippant manner is revealing of his true colors. 

“Secession” raises the question: is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons still commendable?

Succession Season 3 COVID
HBO’s Succession David M. Russell/HBO

On behalf of Logan, Shiv is going to try to connect with her friend Lisa Arthur, the same lawyer Kendall is aiming for in this familial debacle. Logan splits up the team for various responsibilities. Shiv and Tom promise to talk about their marital issues at a later time; Shiv tells him she loves him, and Tom doesn’t say it back.

I thought Tom’s line last season (“I wonder if the sad I get from being with you is worse than the sad I get if I alone”) was pretty heartbreaking. And even though he’s terrible, Shiv treats him like shit. Of all the kids, she is clearly the best with other people—it’s why she was sent in to persuade the witness not to testify last season (a point of no return for her character’s morality). But for all of her deft handling of external egos and agendas, she doesn’t know how to act with her own husband.

Season 2 saw Shiv finally enter the family business with bravado and a sense of moral superiority from her work in politics. Now, she may be realizing she’s not quite as smart or ethically stationed as she once believed. She knows Waystar is a cesspool deep down, but she doesn’t care.

Kendall retreats to his ex-wife’s apartment to set up base camp. He tells her that he did this for her and the kids (ugh). He asks her if he can win and she says “I don’t know.” Elsewhere, Logan’s team reviews the litany of disasters and emergencies the company has previously weathered. But this time around, they’re against the Senate, FCC, potential class action lawsuits, etc. It looks bad. Logan doles out responsibilities and strategies while declaring that “IT’S WAR!” He also offers to step back as CEO publicly as part of his approach (whiles still pulling the strings), opening the door for an internal race for new CEO.

Kendall is still all ego. He needs to be validated at every stop. And with Logan opening up a bakeoff for interim CEO, it positions Succession to do what it does best: pit characters against one another in an effort to climb the ladder.

HBO Succession Season 3 Review
Brian Cox in HBO’s Succession. Graeme Hunter/HBO

Alliances are forming and the game is afoot. Greg is hilariously awkward while attempting to flirt with Kendall’s new social media team. Kendall immediately bulldozes them with his own thoughts and plans without listening to their ideas at all. It’s all about “narrative arcs” for them. 

The entire idea of “narrative arcs” is icky. None of what they do is real. In typical Succession fashion, it is the sheen of idealism grafted onto personal vendettas. I love how creator Jesse Armstrong and his writers room can take the trendy buzzwords of today and slip them into this story as examples of how the 1% are just trading on cultural currency for their own benefit. It’s savvy, much like the major players of the show.

Tom pushes Gerri and Roman to Logan instead of Shiv. Roman pushes himself, but also Gerri, for the CEO role, which takes him out of the running in Logan’s mind. Logan likes killers which is partly why he smiled in the Season 2 finale when Kendall blew him up. Roman and Shiv trade some sibling banter. Shiv meets with Lisa Arthur, who is now repping Kendall, and also inquires about some personal assistance to help her navigate the waters. Everyone is watching their own backs. Back at the hotel, Roman wants to fool around with Gerri but she’s not interested. She wants to avoid “mess.” Sorry Groman Shippers. Doesn’t look like it’s happening as quickly as we hoped. But on the more positive side, Gerri has been named interim CEO!

She’s easily the most qualified. I actually think she could help the company. This also sets Roman up well for the future. I’m just worried how Gerri will be eventually screwed over.

Succession S3E1 Recap Explained
HBO’s Succession David M. Russell/HBO ©2020 HBO. All Rights Reserved

Awards & Categories

The Shareholders Award for the central theme of this episode: While this episode did some heavy lifting in the table setting department for the season, it was also very much about the how and why we display loyalty. What is it that endears or attracts us to someone? What is it that keeps us in line? Is it fear? Morality? Personal gain? Should doing the right thing for the wrong reasons still be championed? 

The “Fuck Off” Award for Best Line of Dialogue: Kendall, speaking to his new social media team, says “I think the headline needs to be: Fuck the weather, we’re changing the cultural climate.” In his own way, Kendall is just as much of a bumbling buffoon as Greg. His obliviousness is just propped up with the arrogance that a lifetime of wealth provides. 

The 1% Award for Best Example of Wealth Porn: The laundry list of potential destinations Logan’s fleet of airplanes and private jets were prepared to carpool his squad. I mean, really

The Fortune 500 Award for the Best Strategic Play from a Non-Logan Character: Kendall locking in Lisa Arthur and, by extension, blocking Logan from hiring her. Remember, Shiv’s failure to get Lisa also contributed to Gerri being named CEO. The ripple effects were big on this one. 

Quarterly Earnings—Best Pro and Worst Con of this Episode: The Best Pro would have to be the Action Stations moves from both characters. Succession is a show that has never needed actual action or high concepts to be entertaining. It’s a series of conversations taking place in expensive settings that wring out the drama. It’s a black comedy, a Shakespearean play that just so happens to have very impressive set design and nice clothes.

The Worst Con is that I don’t love the path they’re setting up for Kendall. Call me a sucker, but I wanted him to move morally and be the one ethical light in a sea of sludge and darkness. Instead, he’s just doing all this to save his own ass. While that’s extremely on brand for Succession, I also would have liked to have seen something of a hero to root for.(mostly) glowing Season 3 review

Breaking Down Every Nook & Cranny of the ‘Succession’ Season 3 Premiere

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New documentary tells the story of ski race held just weeks after Germany’s surrender in World War II

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New documentary tells the story of ski race held just weeks after Germany’s surrender in World War II

Barely a month after Nazi Germany surrendered in 1945, war-weary American soldiers from the renowned 10th Mountain Division “ski troops” — who had trained for World War II at Colorado’s Camp Hale — held a ski race on a spectacular peak in the Julian Alps, near the border of Italy and what was then Yugoslavia.

In Italy’s Apennine Mountains, they survived fierce clashes with German forces that claimed the lives of 992 of their comrades. They had fought heroically on Riva Ridge, Mount Belvedere and through the Po Valley to Lake Garda, where Benito Mussolini had a villa. Terrible images of battle were all too fresh in their minds, but holding a ski race seemed like a good way to celebrate the lives that had been spared. Despite the horrors of mountain combat, they had not lost the love for skiing and mountaineering that drew them to Camp Hale three years earlier.

The story of the 10th — its cold-weather training in the mountains between Vail and Leadville, its fierce battles in Italy and the improbable giant slalom at Mount Mangart on June 3, 1945 — is told in a new historical documentary written, produced and directed by Chris Anthony, a professional skier and member of the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame. The 70-minute film — titled “Mission Mt. Mangart, the Mighty Story of the 10th Mountain Division” — premiered on Veterans Day at Boettcher Concert Hall in an event that included a performance by the Colorado Symphony. It will play at several Colorado venues during ski season.

Anthony, who is well known to Colorado skiers for more than two dozen appearances in Warren Miller films as a daredevil big mountain skier, is often overcome with emotion when recalling how the movie came to be made and the reactions it is eliciting. He falters when describing what happened after a screening for 300 troops at Fort Drum, N.Y., the current home of the 10th Mountain Division, when a two-star general summoned Anthony to the stage. Anthony saw the general had difficulty composing himself.

“I walked up there and he told me that on their uniforms on the left arm is the 10th Mountain Division patch, but if you have a 10th Mountain Division patch on your right arm, that means you’ve seen combat,” Anthony said. “He tore the combat patch off his right arm and handed it to me.”

“Mission Mt. Mangart” captures the fun-loving character of the troops training at Camp Hale and the tragedy of war, using lots of archival footage and first-hand accounts from men who lived through it.

Bruce Campbell, who reported to Camp Hale when he was 18, is one of the few veterans of the World War II ski troops who is still alive. Now 98, his baritone is one of the voices in the film’s narration, including this observation on the mood of the 10th when the guns finally fell silent.

“You would have thought that, upon hearing that the war had ended for us that we would be cheering and firing weapons and hollering,” Campbell says. “But there was a far more somber reaction because we were tired and the war was over for us. It was a short period of combat but very intense, and we couldn’t help but think about wounded soldiers and, of course, those killed in action.”

Vili Vogelnik, provided by Chris Anthony

A pair of vintage skis from the 1940s are shown in the foreground with Mount Mangart in the background. Mangart is a peak in Slovenia where 10th Mountain Division troops who trained for winter warfare at Colorado’s Camp Hale held a ski race a month after the World War II ended in 1945. That race, and the heroic exploits of the 10th that preceded it are depicted in a new film by Chris Anthony, “Mission Mt. Mangart,” which will be shown at several Colorado venues during the ski season. Anthony is a former Warren Miller ski film athlete.

And yet, only 32 days after German forces surrendered Italy, the 10th decided to have a ski race. They had been repositioned in the Julian Alps, in what is now Slovenia, to deter Yugoslavian dictator Josip Tito from moving into Italy. Few knew about the race when Anthony learned of it by chance seven years ago. He set out not only to tell that story but to re-create the race for the film.

Anthony learned the idea for the race on Mangart came from Karl Stingl, a 10th Mountain soldier who was struck by the grandeur of the peak while running military messages back and forth over nearby Predil Pass. Stingl was born in a German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia and learned to ski there as a boy. His parents sent him to the U.S. in 1937 to live with a relative because they sensed war was coming. He joined the 10th in 1942, becoming one of the many European-born skiers and mountaineers who joined the elite infantry unit at Camp Hale, including two famed Austrian mountaineers and ski racers, Toni Matt and Friedl Pfeifer.

As Anthony says in the movie, “When the opportunity came to utilize the skills they learned to fight for their new country against the tyranny destroying their homelands, they signed up.”

The Mangart race was won by Walter Prager, a Dartmouth ski coach and native of Switzerland who was a two-time world downhill champion before the war. Finishing second was Steve Knowlton, a longtime Coloradan who famously used to describe himself as “the first ski bum in Aspen.” He competed in the 1948 Olympics, opened a night club in Aspen and was instrumental in founding Colorado Ski Country USA, serving as the organization’s first director.

“He was a freshman at the University of New Hampshire and got the call, or heard about it, and rode his motorcycle west to Camp Hale to join up,” said one of his sons, Reid Knowlton, in a phone interview with The Denver Post.

After the war, former 10th Mountain ski troops helped found ski areas all over the country including Aspen, Vail and Arapahoe Basin. Despite the bloodshed they had seen while fighting in the Alps, the spirit of skiing and the mountains still burned within them.

“It might have saved them,” said Knowlton, who saw Anthony’s film at the Boettcher. “That was their playground, their comfort, everything they knew. I think they were able to hold onto that. They were young guys, having fun. They had to go fight, but they kept their passion alive, and that may have helped diminish or limit the PTSD that others in subsequent wars have had to deal with.”

There is something almost eerie about how Anthony came to make the film. Visiting the home of an Italian friend at the friend’s home in Colorado decades ago, Anthony saw a picture of Mangart and it cast a spell on him. He decided he had to see that mountain in person, and he made numerous trips there in the years that followed. It became like a second home.

“From the first time I laid eyes on Mount Mangart, it felt as if I had some sort of spiritual connection with the mountain,” Anthony said. “It’s as if my life had been designed to take this journey and share this story.”

Janez Kavar, a retired general in the Slovenian mountain troops, heard about Anthony’s frequent visits to the region, and in 2014 he left a manuscript for him at a hotel where Anthony stayed whenever he was there. Kavar previously had been to Colorado on research missions, visiting the Denver Public Library and the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail to learn more about the 10th. At the museum, Kavar saw Anthony’s “Climb to Glory.”

Professional skier, writer, director, producer, Chris ...

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Professional skier Chris Anthony, familiar to Colorado skiers for appearing in Warren Miller ski films and in-theater performances as MC, is the director, writer and producer of “Mission Mt. Mangart,” a historical documentary about the World War II 10th Mountain Division ski troops. The film will be touring Colorado venues this winter.

The manuscript Kavar left for Anthony became the seed for the film, and in 2017, Kavar helped Anthony re-create the race on Mount Mangart. Townspeople turned out to help clear the road of rockfall and avalanche debris.

“All these townspeople, current mountain troops and retired (troops) in their 80s showed up in period gear from the ‘40s and we re-created the race,” Anthony said. “It had been raining for weeks. The day we had the permit (to film), blue skies. The next day it started raining again. There’s no way I was getting away from this story. Now I was married to it, and I had to deliver on it.”

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How data is reshaping real estate

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How data is reshaping real estate

By Patrick Sisson, The New York Times Company

Jordan Fisher was troubled. Every variety of the Red Bull energy drink comes in a similar metallic can, and his company’s camera system, which tracks products that customers pick up in stores, was having trouble distinguishing them.

This obstacle was one of many that his company, Standard AI, faced while retrofitting a Circle K convenience store in Tempe, Arizona, with computer vision software, which tracks every item that customers pick up so they can simply scan their app-enabled phone to pay as they leave, eliminating the checkout line. A network of more than 100 cameras can identify any of the thousands of similarly sized candy bars or beverages grabbed by customers, including cans of Red Bull, now identifiable thanks to a combination of geometric projections and higher-resolution cameras.

This tracking of consumer activity within the store — where shoppers look and linger, with cameras capturing their interactions and their near-misses — is part of a growing effort to use data collection to make commercial real estate more efficient.

“Checkout is kind of the killer app, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Fisher, CEO of Standard AI, which hones camera accuracy in high-volume, high-density environments. “You have a system that understands where people are in real time, down to the centimeter. It’s all about utilization of real estate.”

From the invasion of big-box stores to the ascendancy of e-commerce and, most recently, pandemic lockdowns, physical retail may seem stuck in perpetual crisis. But in-person shopping is still very popular and the subject of significant investment. (Retail tech investment hit a record $31.5 billion in the second quarter this year.) Amazon has spent generously on physical retail, including $13.4 billion on the acquisition of Whole Foods, and the development of its Just Walk Out system, which kick-started a race for cashierless checkout among grocery stores and retailers.

The added layers of technology in stores and entertainment venues — crowd-tracking cameras, information gleaned from smartphones, tallies of neighborhood foot traffic and sophisticated demographic data — aim to replicate the data measurement and analysis of the online experience.

But privacy advocates are sounding the alarm about the technology as Big Tech is under increased scrutiny. Congressional testimony from the Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, in October has intensified calls for new regulations to rein in Silicon Valley giants.

Outcast via The New York Times

A handout photo shows the crowd analysis software used by Standard AI to track customers in a Circle K store in Tempe, Arizona. Tech start-ups are offering new tools to help retailers and entertainment venues be more efficient by counting crowds, tracking foot traffic and following local shopping habits.

Complicating efforts to address privacy concerns is a lack of regulatory clarity. Without an overarching federal privacy law or even a shared definition of personal data, retailers must sort through layers of state and municipal rules, such as California’s Consumer Privacy Act, said Gary Kibel, a partner at law firm Davis+Gilbert who specializes in retail privacy.

Technology companies counter the pushback by noting that their systems are designed to limit what they collect and anonymize the rest. For instance, Standard AI’s system does not capture faces, so they cannot be analyzed with facial recognition technology.

The growing volume of data on consumer and crowd behavior is having significant implications on real estate design. It is making even physical space more interactive for marketers.

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Can supersonic air travel fly again?

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Can supersonic air travel fly again?

By Roy Furchgott, The New York Times Company

Despite the promise of two-hour flights from New York to Los Angeles, the supersonic airline industry never really got off the ground. That is largely because of physics: specifically, the sonic boom, the thunderclap noise made when an aircraft breaks the sound barrier, which essentially doomed supersonic aviation as a viable business.

In 1960s-era tests, booms reportedly broke windows, cracked plaster and knocked knickknacks from shelves; in 1973, the Federal Aviation Administration forbade civilian supersonic aircraft from flying over land. Planes could go supersonic only over the ocean — most famously, the Concorde, the sleek British-French passenger plane that flew a handful of routes in less than half the average time. But potentially lucrative overland routes were off-limits, restricting supersonic travel’s business prospects.

NASA and aviation entrepreneurs, however, are working to change that, with new aircraft designed to turn the boom into a “sonic thump” that is no louder than a car door being slammed 20 feet away. That may induce the FAA to lift the ban, which could allow for two-hour coast-to-coast supersonic flights.

“The main reason NASA is working on this is to enable regulation for supersonic flight,” said Craig Nickol, NASA’s low-boom flight demonstration project manager. “The main objective is to open up new markets.”

The supersonic age dawned Oct. 14, 1947, when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier while piloting the rocket-powered Bell X-1 over the Mojave Desert. In the following decades, the barrier was also broken by a succession of military jets, once by a passenger airliner (during a test flight of a Douglas DC-8 in 1961) and, ultimately, by regular commercial service from the Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 and the Concorde, both long defunct.

The far more successful Concorde mostly traveled trans-Atlantic routes at about $6,000 to $7,000 per ticket for a 3 1/2 hour flight in a cramped, noisy cabin, which was nonetheless considered glamorous. The Champagne-and-caviar flights were discontinued in 2003 after 27 years of intermittent profitability and one crash that killed 113 people. What the Concorde’s chief pilot called “the airliner of the future” was consigned to the past.

But the possibility of a supersonic renaissance was arriving even as the Concorde was on its way out. The slide rules and log tables used to design it had been pushed aside by supercomputers, which enabled engineers to test and tweak virtual aircraft designs comparatively cheaply and quickly.

That is exactly what DARPA, the research and development wing of the U.S. Defense Department, and NASA did in 2003 with the Shaped Sonic Boom Experiment, which confirmed that computer-designed modifications to a Northrop F-5E jet would hush the sonic boom in the way the software forecasted.

“We flew it and measured it, and our model predicted the boom very well,” Nickol said. “It was the first time we could prove that we could shape the sonic boom in a way we could predict.” That demonstration set the course for research to follow.

Taming the boom is complicated. Air has substance, which an aircraft slices through, much as a boat moves through water. A plane pushes air aside as it flies, creating ripples of air pressure. As an aircraft approaches the speed of sound, pressure builds up on surfaces like the nose and tail, creating waves of high pressure in front and low pressure behind. At the speed of sound, waves pile up and combine to reach the ground as an abrupt change in pressure that is heard as that thunderclap sound.

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