The best episodes of ‘Succession,’ ranked
Succession is an Emmy award-winning television series on HBO, with a strong ensemble cast, that has been running for three seasons since it started airing in 2018 and is on its way to debuting its fourth season. The series follows the exploits of the fictitious Roy family, headed by Logan Roy (Brian Cox), as they operate their billion-dollar media empire Waystar Royco. Logan attempts to navigate health issues, internal power plays, and external takeovers while trying to decide who deserves to be his successor.
The series is absolutely fantastic and tends to outdo itself every season. While fans of the series have undoubtedly already watched it every season from start to finish, in case you are planning a binge session of its best episodes, here is a ranked list of the top ten episodes of Succession.
10. Season 1, Episode 5: “I Went to Market”
Most Thanksgiving episodes in shows are happy, focused on family, and are all about coming together. This episode of Succession could not have been further away from this usual staple. In the episode, the entire family gathers together at the lavish penthouse of Logan Roy, including his own brother with whom he does not get along.
It has everything from Tom trying to implicate Greg in the massive death pit of scandals, which he inherited from the old head of the parks to the introduction of Connor’s girlfriend who turns out to be an escort he hired.
But the best part of the episode is Logan trying to instill a toughen-up attitude in Kendall’s son Iverson, and it culminates at the end of the episode when Iverson attempts to take away a can of cranberry sauce from Logan because he lost the game they were all playing. Instead of letting go of the can, Logan hits him across the head with it, eliciting a rightly explosive reaction from Kendall and the others. This episode is a great example of how the series is an expert in creating dramatic situations from out of nowhere.
9. Season 3, Episode 3: “The Disruption”
The Disruption is an absolute doozy. Kendall sees that Shiv is ascending to the CEO track and sets out to sabotage her during her speech addressing the entire company. This breeds nothing but contempt between the two siblings as Shiv, in retaliation for his stunt during her speech, pens an open letter airing Kendall’s dirty laundry, calling him a drug addict with serious problems. This is also the first time where viewers lose faith that the family will be able to keep the company as the episode ends with Logan giving in to an FBI raid.
One of the major highlights of the episode is Jeremy Strong’s great performance when he becomes dejected and curls into a ball after the media get Shiv’s letter until he sees news of the raid and perks up slightly. This episode manages to be entertaining while simultaneously setting up the brewing tension that would be felt in the next several episodes.
8. Season 2, Episode 9: “DC”
This episode is filled with one testimony after another. The Roys get called to testify for Congress as to their complicity with the sexual assault and murder allegations leveled against their dead uncle, Lester. DC is the episode that most likely reinvigorates Kendall, taking him out from under his father’s thumb and making him confident that he can run the company as we see him not balk under all the pressure.
Shiv also speaks to the key witness in the case to turn her to their side, swallowing any misgivings she had about what happened to save her father’s company — in a way, we see Shiv turn into the person her father would want her to be.
The episode also contains a great subplot where Roman tries to broker a deal with some foreign investors and ends up being held hostage along with Karl. Though ultimately it doesn’t lead anywhere too interesting, seeing the usually overly sarcastic Roman sweat is extremely entertaining.
DC is also the beginning of Tom’s fears of going to prison as he is laughably terrible when giving his testimony. He even denies knowing who Greg is! This episode is undeniably great and filled with several tense moments — Waystar Royco may or may not crash while a few of them are harboring an active fear of landing in prison, while Roman is afraid of ending up dead.
7. Season 1, Episode 6: “Which Side Are You On?”
Everything that Kendall has built in the first five episodes of the series falls apart in Which Side Are You On? It is the first time we see him spectacularly fail and deal with the fallout. He organizes a vote of no confidence alongside other high-ups in the company, Frank and Gerri, against his father. But at the last minute, he is forced to leave and gets stuck in traffic, resulting in an explosion of tension and drama as he gets late to his own vote for no-confidence.
Logan belittled everyone voting for Kendall and needless to say, the vote does not go Kendall’s way and he loses his control. Logan also spreads rumors that Kendall has fallen off the wagon and this makes the latter spiral further out of control. This on-and-off feeling of dread and cringe about Kendall’s fate is the major theme of the episode as we see the backstabber get betrayed instead.
6. Season 3 Episode 5: “Retired Janitors of Idaho”
“Retired Janitors of Idaho” is all about Logan and Shiv trying to make a deal to buy out their competition. Sandy, their former adversary from season one has suffered a stroke and is now only communicating with his daughter. During the annual stakeholders meeting for Waystar Royco, Shiv, Logan, Sandy, his daughter, and Stewy try to work out a backroom deal. The deal goes awry because Logan becomes increasingly sick and ends up delirious, unaware of his surroundings.
One of the most hilarious moments in the entire show is in this episode. When Tom is taking Logan to the toilet and Greg comes up to them and asks, “Are you going to the bathroom?” and with a lot of vitriol, Logan questions: “What business is it of yours?”
Frank ends up stalling the shareholders with an impromptu speech. He is repeatedly given instructions and it becomes somewhat of a running gag that he needs to keep talking. The brilliance of the episode is Brian Cox selling that he is sick as his interactions with every character are absolutely hilarious, making this one of the best episodes of Succession.
5. Season 1 Episode 10: “Nobody is Ever Missing”
“Nobody is Ever Missing” is the episode where Kendall really loses his footing. The episode, even though it takes place during Tom and Shiv’s wedding, is mostly about Kendall. Spiraling out of control after Logan spreads rumors about his drug abuse, he falls off the wagon and starts using again. He is unable to stop his self-sabotage even after he notifies his father of his betrayal.
Kendall ends up leaving with a waiter to get more drugs but gets in an accident where the latter doesn’t survive. This leaves a wet and miserable Kendall to walk back to the mansion alone. This is where he hits rock bottom in the series as the event directly influences his decisions going forward, altering him deeply as he breaks down in an extremely vulnerable way as things only get worse for him.
Logan finds out that Kendall was involved in the accident and blackmails him into pulling out of the deal. From the moment the car accident occurs to the moment where we realize Logan knows, there is non-stop tension leaving us on the edge of our seats, which explains why the episode went on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama.
4. Season 3, Episode 8: “Chiantishire”
This episode may contain the greatest moment in recent television history. Roman, who is at a board meeting with Shiv, his father, and Gerri, sends the latter a picture of his privates, or so he thinks. He watches in sheer horror as his father’s phone beeps instead and he realizes that he sent Logan the picture intended for Gerri.
No man has ever been more uncomfortable on television than Roman Roy, played by Kieran Culkin, is in this episode. Logan pulls him into his office to yell at him, because of course a father would yell at a son for something like that, especially when your father is Logan Roy. This cringey yet hilarious scene is the perfect example of how funny the show can get.
At the end of the episode, which concludes on yet another cliffhanger, Kendall drowns, with no sign as to whether or not he survived. Of course, he does, and while it sets up the fantastic next episode, i.e., the season three finale, “Chiantishire” holds its rank as one of the most fantastic penultimate episodes ever!
3. Season 2 Episode 3: “Hunting”
The main reason this brilliant episode of Succession is so high up on this list is that “Hunting” might be the best example of Logan Roy’s brash nature. He plays a game called “Boar on the Floor” with Greg, Tom, and Karl while the rest of the family and some others watch.
Once shuttered from the outside world he completely belittles the trio, telling them to get on their hands and knees and oink like a pig, before demanding them to fight over sausages he tosses to them on the floor. It’s a brilliant example of how dark the show can get sometimes, especially when they play on stereotypes of how the extravagantly rich behave behind closed doors.
The entire episode also has almost a tense looming scythe over its neck as Logan decides to try to take over the Pierce conglomerate. What further establishes’ this episode’s brilliance is the fact that it also won an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series in 2020.
2. Season 2 Episode 10: “This Is Not for Tears”
Pretty much the entire episode is the Roy family debating who to serve up to the Department of Justice as a sacrificial lamb, to take all of the blame so the DOJ leaves Waystar Royco alone. Several names bounce around before Logan privately suggests that Kendall be that lamb, so Logan holds the waiter’s death over his head.
At the last minute, Kendall gives a speech that is supposed to seal his fate by admitting his wrongdoing, but to everyone’s surprise, he instead throws his father under the bus making claims about his conduct and letting the world know that he is gearing up to take over his father’s company… again.
One of Tom Wambsgans’ greatest moments also occurs in this episode. After they discuss throwing him in prison for their benefit, Tom loses it and brazenly sits next to Logan, takes a bite off the chicken he is eating, and walks away leaving everyone bewildered and the object of his little show of confidence in outrage.
It also serves as a nice bit of foreshadowing as Tom is seen taking more of a powerful position among the characters in the next season. This hilarious moment takes place just before all hell breaks loose with Kendall turning on Logan makes this a fantastic episode, which also won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series in 2020.
1. Season 3 Episode 9: “All the Bells Say”
“All the Bells Say” is, hands-down, pure gold as it brings together almost two seasons’ worth of story for one excellent cringe-inducing and suspense-filled episode. For one, Kendall finally admits to Roman and Shiv that he was responsible for the death of the waiter back in season one. And despite them not being on the best terms with Kendall, their sibling love trumps their anger over petty arguments.
It also has one of the best Tom and Greg interactions in the entire series, when Tom asks “Do you want a deal with the devil?” and Greg responds with “What am I going to do with a soul anyway?” cementing Greg firmly at Tom’s side and surely trapping him in their abusive cycle. But the sheer joy on Greg’s face is hilarious considering the circumstances.
Seemingly at the end of the episode, on a cliffhanger, Logan strikes a deal to sell the company and unsuccessfully tries to split the siblings up, but Kendall, Shiv, and Roman’s bonds are stronger than ever. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop Logan from winning, leaving the brothers dejected, as their father’s company, their birthright, has seemingly been sold off.
Logan leaves the room after telling them all off and runs into Tom. He pats him on the back and we can assume that Tom told Logan about the trio’s attempt to block the sale of the company. Shiv looks outraged at her husband and that’s how the season ends, on yet another cliffhanger. All the tension and drama that had been building up all season was brilliantly concluded in this episode.
There you have it, the ten best episodes of Succession thus far, filled with cringe-worthy, hilarious, and anxiety-filled moments. Here’s hoping that the next season will break its own record with more memorable, chaotic, and Emmy-worthy storylines.