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Succession has become one of HBO’s most popular television series, chronicling the drama surrounding the Roy family and their media conglomerate Waystar Royco. When Succession Season 1 first debuted, it wasn’t obvious that the show would blow up. However, by the final episodes of the first outing, most fans found themselves firmly invested in the struggles of Kendall Roy (Jeremy Roy) and his siblings — even if they weren’t necessarily sympathetic or relatable.

‘Succession’s early episodes introduce the Roy family

Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox as Kendall and Logan Roy in 'Succession' Season 1 Episode 1 on HBO. They're facing one another, and Kendall is holding his arm out toward his father.
Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox in ‘Succession’ | Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

Succession Season 1 gets straight to the point when it comes to the Roys, introducing a family that cares more about their business and power dynamics than one another — a “family of vipers,” as Ewan Roy (James Cromwell) so aptly puts it.

That’s apparent within the first few episodes of Succession, as Logan (Brian Cox) backtracks on passing Waystar Royco down to his children. Once the war between the family patriarch and Kendall truly takes off, it’s hard to know who to root for — and that’s without adding Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) to the equation.

Such character dynamics make for a series that’s difficult to look away from. And the drama has only gotten more intense in the later seasons of Succession. But what were some of the installments that drew fans to the HBO show in the first place?

Kendall Roy’s mistakes lead to 1 of the season’s best episodes

The first few episodes of Succession spend a lot of time setting up the dynamics of the Roy family, and many of the show’s jokes don’t land as well as intended. Perhaps that’s why the series received so many ratings between seven and eight stars on IMDb — by no means bad scores, but low compared to later episodes.

Succession Season 1’s finale, however, is the top-rated installment from its initial outing. “Nobody Is Ever Missing” takes place during Shiv and Tom’s (Matthew Macfadyen) wedding, but Kendall is the real star of the episode. The ending sees him trying to score drugs with one of the waiters, only to crash the car they’re driving into a lake. The fallout of the accident forces him back into Logan’s clutches.

And Jeremy Strong’s performance is praised highly in the reviews for “Nobody Is Ever Missing.” Kendall’s plight is hardly relatable, and he’s probably not who we should feel for after the finale. However, as one fan points out on IMDb, the actor elicits emotion from the audience anyway:

“This episode is a masterpiece. Jeremy strong delivers [some] of the best acting I’ve ever seen. It’s been forever since a TV show made me cry! I’m baffled!”

The writing also factors into that, another aspect of the episode fans commended in their reactions. Succession may take time to ramp up its drama, but its finales never disappoint. And Season 1’s raises the stakes — and excitement — ahead of future outings.

‘Succession’ Season 1 took time to find its footing


‘Succession’: 3 Questions the HBO Show Needs to Answer After Season 3

While the season 1 finale is one of the highest-rated episodes of Succession, the early installments are among the lowest. Ratings dipped a bit following the series premiere, with episodes two and three receiving 7.7 stars on IMDb.

“S*** Show at the F*** Factory” and “Lifeboats” both delve deeper into the show’s familial relationships. However, some viewers felt the dialogue and subplots could have been improved. Both have since gotten more attention and have even become highlights of the HBO series.

Still, viewers’ failure to connect with Succession‘s early episodes proves every show must find its footing. Luckily, the unique cast of characters kept fans engaged enough to continue watching. Succession just wrapped its third season, and most are already eagerly awaiting its fourth. It’s come a long way since its 2018 debut.

The first three seasons of Succession are currently streaming on HBO Max.