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The 10 best episodes of ‘Succession’ to prepare for season 4

Watch these 'Succession' episodes before the fourth season premieres

HBO Max has a lot of great options to choose from right now. From the current greatness of The Last of Us to the classics of the past like The Sopranos, the streaming giant has everyone covered, no matter what types of shows and movies they enjoy watching. One of the most decorated contemporary hits on the network is the dark comedy Succession. Following the poisonous family dynamics of the Roy clan, this intelligent and exquisitely acted show is both funny and thought-provoking in novel ways that other shows have a difficult time matching.

Brian Cranston in "Succession"
David Russell/HBO

The fourth season of the series will premiere on March 26 on HBO and HBO Max. In the meantime, we thought it would be fun and timely to compile the best Succession episodes into one tidy list for everyone to enjoy. It’s almost impossible to make a Succession episode list that agrees with everyone’s opinion of the show, but we think these great hours of television have the most elements to satisfy a large majority of viewers.

10. “Safe Room” (Season 2, Episode 4)

A still from "Succession" episode "Safe Room"
Peter Kramer/HBO

The plot in Succession is often secondary to the moments of character clarity that arrive at a moment’s notice. Iconic scenes litter the best hours of this show, like presents under the Christmas tree, and this episode in the middle of the second season has a plethora of these goodies. We get to learn a little more about Roman Roy’s (Kieran Culkin) unconventional sexual attraction to Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron); there are some classic Tom and Greg (Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun) antics while they’re locked in a backroom hiding from a presumed gunman. Finally, there’s a glimpse of the potential tender relationship that could develop between siblings Kendall and Shiv (Jeremy Strong and Sarah Snook) when the former lays his heart out for his sister at the end of the episode. The combination of humor, cringe, and tear-jerking acting makes for a perfect example of this show’s best qualities.

9. “Dundee” (Season 2, Episode 8)

A still from "Succession" episode "Dundee"
Graeme Hunter/HBO

Season finales are always one of Succession‘s strong suits, but some people don’t appreciate the lead-up to the climactic episodes. This antepenultimate proceeding has one of the most iconic musical numbers in HBO history during a celebration of Logan Roy’s (Brian Cox) 50th anniversary with the family business. “L to the OG,” a two-minute satire on the hero-worship that happens anytime Logan enters the room, is a song that will never get out of your mind. It’s also an example of the twisted and relentless grip the patriarch has over his second-to-oldest child, Kendall.

8. “Too Much Birthday” (Season 3, Episode 7)

A still from "Succession" episode "Too Much Birthday"
Macall B. Polay / HBO

You would think that a party funded by wealthy elites for wealthy elites would be the ultimate bash. When the subject of the celebration is a depressive Kendall Roy, though, it turns into something very sinister. The biggest malcontent of the Roy family is unable to cope with his 40th birthday in fine fashion, as his whole world starts to spin when Kendall is offered a buyout from Waystar Royco. Portrayed with poignance and perfection by Emmy-winner Jeremy Strong, this episode is a unique character study that makes audience members think about their own mental well-being.

7. “Retired Janitors of Idaho” (Season 3, Episode 5)

A still from "Succession" episode "Retired Janitors of Idaho"
Macall B. Polay/HBO

The middle of the season is always a hard time to navigate in TV dramas. Finding that soft spot between the finish line and the narrative drawl of the early season is something writers can’t always figure out. Not so for Succession, which is able to make the audience reflect on what’s already happened while anticipating the end. Brian Cox is even more sublime than normal here, playing with Logan’s emotions while the old man is working his way through some hysteria while enduring a UTI at a crucial shareholder meeting for Waystar.

6. “Which Side Are You On?” (Season 1, Episode 6)

A still from "Succession" episode "Which Side Are You On?"
Peter Kramer/HBO

A lot of dramas have a hard time finding their footing at the beginning of the first season, and Succession was no different. The style and tone of the show were still at a bit of a crossroads, as it was difficult to determine whether the show was more of a black comedy or a dark Shakespearean experience with some laughs tossed in for good measure. The sixth episode of season one is finally able to lay down the hammer that there are going to be major dramatic turns amongst the Roy family as Kendall desperately tries to oust his father from the CEO chair from the distance of his cellphone. This sets up the friction between the two main characters that would propel the series to greatness.

5. “Hunting” (Season 2, Episode 3)

A still from "Succession" episode "Hunting"
Peter Kramer/HBO

Boar on the floor. Those four words are enough to conjure images of where you were when you watched the most frighteningly awkward moment in Succession. Logan Roy is on the prowl and hunting for the rat who let out his plans to buy Pierce Global Media. The resulting scene is a display of dominance from a character left unmatched on HBO since Tony Soprano. This is arguably the episode that cemented Logan as the most powerful person on dramatic television, and everyone is still revolving around his ego as we enter the fourth season.

4. “Chiantishire” (Season 3, Episode 8)

A still from "Succession" episode "Chiantishire"
Graeme Hunter/HBO

The penultimate episode of the third season was a masterclass in setting up a finale. The Roys are in Italy throughout most of the hour, but the ending has two key scenes that make this episode one to remember. Logan is finally fully privy to Roman’s flirtatious relationship with Gerri after Roman sends a nude to his father instead of his crush. The result is one of the most meme-able scenes in the series. There’s also a terrifying cliffhanger as the credits close: Kendall floating to sleep in a swimming pool, leading many to wonder for a week whether the number-one boy is committing suicide before the climax.

3. “Nobody Is Ever Missing” (Season 1, Episode 10)

Colin Hutton/HBO

Now we’ve reached the heavy hitters. When discussing the finale of the first season, it’s vital to bring up how brilliantly creator Jesse Armstrong has continued to use this episode to propel the Logan and Kendall relationship forward in every season since. When Kendall leaves a waiter for dead in the water at Shiv and Tom’s wedding after doing drugs, the consequences of his actions are immediately left in Logan’s manipulative hands. Seeing the Roy family figurehead impose his domination on Kendall yet again by promising to get his son out of legal trouble, but only under specific circumstances, is heartbreaking. Kendall has been living with this secret for the rest of the show until the third season finale.

2. “This Is Not For Tears” (Season 2, Episode 10)

Graeme Hunter

The second season finale satirizes the ways that big corporations throw one person under the bus during times of trouble. Logan decides that Kendall should take the fall for the accusations of sexual misconduct levied against the Roys, but Kendall stabs his father in the back in the final scene of the season by blaming Logan for everything. This shocking plot spectacle is the most memorable moment, but the unraveling of Tom and Shiv’s marriage is another high point. The special way these actors can spin a dialogue is second to none on TV right now.

1. “All The Bells Say” (Season 3, Episode 9)

A still from "Succession" episode "All The Bells Say"
Graeme Hunter/HBO

The last episode we’ve gotten to see of Succession so far is also the best one. Kendall finally admits to his hand in the death of the incapacitated waiter in the first season, the Roy siblings band together in ways the audience has been waiting for, and Logan wins the war with his children yet again, with some help from Tom. With clear factions between the characters heading into the fourth season, there’s no telling what twists are about to come next.

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Shawn Laib
Shawn Laib is a freelance writer with publications such as Den of Geek, Quote.com, Edge Media Network, diaTribe, SUPERJUMP…
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