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Every Fleabag Episode Ranked

Throughout two short seasons, "Fleabag" creator, writer, and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge caught lightning in a bottle. The show's premise, which follows a self-destructive young woman navigating family drama and a hectic sex life, is not exactly revolutionary. Yet "Fleabag" is executed with such specificity and deft, insightful writing that it feels like nothing short of a minor miracle. Waller-Bridge stars as the titular character, who runs a small guinea pig-themed cafe while juggling dysfunctional relationships with sister Claire (Sian Clifford), Godmother (Olivia Colman), Father (Bill Paterson), and The Priest (Andrew Scott), and also mourning the death of her best friend Boo (Jenny Rainsford).

Before ascending the charts to become one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time and sweeping the 2019 Prime Emmy Awards, "Fleabag" had humble beginnings. Waller-Bridge debuted her Fleabag character on stage in a one-woman show at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The show then moved to London's Soho Theatre before becoming adapted to TV for BBC Three and Amazon Studios. Unfortunately, no future seasons of "Fleabag" are imminent, but the first two get better with each viewing. It feels sacrilegious to refer to any episode of the series as anything less than excellent. So, here is every episode of "Fleabag" ranked from very good to best. Warning: spoilers ahead.

12. Season 1, Episode 3

"Episode 3" — the episodes have no titles beyond their number — finds Fleabag meeting Claire on her birthday at the cemetery where their mother is buried. Claire announces she has made the arrangements for her very planned surprise birthday party, which she likens more to a professional networking event where she wants to explore a potential work opportunity that would require relocating to Finland. The episode peaks shortly thereafter when Fleabag leaves the cemetery and catches a dog staring intently at her. She returns the gaze, flattered, then sobers as she tells us: "Can't go out with a dog."

"Fleabag" is often a perfect calibration of bittersweet, but this episode's tone veers heavily on the bitter. The culprit is the excessive presence of antagonistic Martin (Brett Gelman), Claire's sleazy husband, who ropes Fleabag into helping him find a gift for Claire's birthday before her party. Martin has his humorous moments, like drunkenly asking Fleabag if he can "eat a water" at her cafe. But too much of his scummy, jerk attitude can be taxing and impedes the episode's pacing. The shopping venture goes awry when Fleabag runs into Boo's boyfriend Jack (Anthony Welsh) at a shoe store and runs off. It is an affecting moment for Fleabag that lands much stronger in later episodes once we learn of her connection to Jack. Although "Episode 3" is not the show's strongest passage, even the "worst" episode of "Fleabag" is leagues better than most shows' finest.

11. Season 1, Episode 5

In one of the tensest chapters of "Fleabag," Claire and Fleabag go to Father's house for their annual luncheon commemorating the anniversary of their mother's death. The sisters are surprised when their godmother crashes the somber gathering and appears determined to make the day about herself, preventing any mourning of her late sister. Between the sisters still reeling from their silent retreat fiasco and Godmother's barrage of snide jabs, "Episode 5" is 23 minutes of pure ceaseless discomfort.

The episode is predominately shot in close quarters within Father's house, which ratchets up the already claustrophobic atmosphere, but also leaves some scenes verging on stagnant. The slow burn brews to a boil when Fleabag throws Claire under the bus, announcing she earned a promotion in Finland but is not taking it. Claire turns the tables on Fleabag, revealing that she will not go to Finland because she cannot leave her "broken sister" to fend for herself. Fleabag suffers further embarrassment when Godmother remarks how she resembles her mother after a few drinks, prompting Fleabag to shove Godmother, who slaps her in return. It is a harsh display of rage and emotion for characters who usually traffic in passive-aggressive verbal warfare.

10. Season 2, Episode 2

"Episode 2" immediately picks up on the brewing sexual tension between Fleabag and The Priest when she attends mass at his church. He is surprised to spot her in the sea of parishioners, her presence ruffling him and leaving him tongue-tied as he struggles to deliver his homily. After mass, he invites her to stick around for tea, which turns into gin and tonics and a spirited conversation about faith. When Fleabag confesses she does not believe in God, a painting collapses off the wall, leaving Fleabag spooked and The Priest in awe. Claire takes Fleabag to lawyer up, as Martin is planning on pressing assault charges following their scuffle at the restaurant. Later, Fleabag tries to cash in the therapy voucher Father gave her for her birthday, but the therapist (Fiona Shaw) tries to interrogate Fleabag's lust for The Priest.

"Episode 2" is immensely enjoyable, mostly thanks to Shaw's dry comedic guest turn, but this quieter, slower-paced episode had the unfortunate task of following the explosive second season premiere. It cannot help but feel a little slight by comparison. Still, it carefully raises the stakes in Fleabag's budding relationship with The Priest and her ongoing feud with Martin.

9. Season 1, Episode 2

"Episode 2" starts with the series' first foray into surrealism, opening with Fleabag on a quiet Tube train when, suddenly, "Sail Song" by AWOLNATION blares and her fellow passengers begin dramatically laughing to the beat of the music. She turns to us and confesses, "I think my period's coming." It is a visual device "Fleabag" uses sparingly, but effectively.

"Episode 2" gently pushes several storylines along, giving us more backstory about Boo and bringing Fleabag's relationship with Harry (Hugh Skinner) to a much-welcomed close. Most importantly, the episode plants the seeds of conflict between Claire's art dealer husband Martin and Fleabag when she asks him to find a buyer for the sculpture she stole from Godmother. Fleabag digs her grave deeper when she lies to Father about stealing Godmother's sculpture and later blackmails Martin into not telling Claire about their arrangement by threatening to reveal his pornography addiction. This is primarily a table-setting episode that may not have the most memorable scenes but sets up the vital groundwork for future episodes.

8. Season 1, Episode 4

In "Episode 4," Claire and Fleabag attend a women's silent retreat, a guilt-driven Mother's Day gift from Father. Claire and Fleabag are both on edge, each harboring secrets from one another as they participate in therapeutic exercises designed to help them "let go of the past." The sisters commiserate over their disdain for the retreat when the workshops start resembling manual labor projects. While scrubbing the floors, Fleabag jokes, "We pay them to let us clean their house in silence." Meanwhile, at the neighboring property, another retreat is underway called "Better Man," a workshop for men to cope with their misogynist impulses. One of the participants is Bank Manager (Hugh Dennis), who rejected Fleabag's small business loan following a misunderstanding in the pilot episode.

"Episode 4" is the series' sole departure from its London setting, leaving Claire and Fleabag marooned in the English countryside to confront their ongoing issues. Ironically, the oppressive supervision forces the sisters to confess their secrets: Fleabag admits she stole the sculpture Martin gave Claire from Godmother and Claire confirms she received the Finland promotion. But when Fleabag tells Claire that Martin tried to kiss her, Claire is devastated and departs the retreat early, leaving Fleabag to go to the Better Man workshop and share a poignant conversation about healing with Bank Manager. "Episode 4" is one of the more melancholy stretches of "Fleabag," deftly stacking the house of cards before it collapses in the final two episodes of the first series.

7. Season 2, Episode 5

Fleabag seeks validation after her stormy experience with The Priest by going on a date with Claire's lawyer friend, Hot Misogynist (Ray Fearon). The steamy, boozy night out leads to a brutal hangover the next morning when disheveled Fleabag and Claire go to Father's to sit for Godmother as she paints her portrait of them. Fleabag is shocked to find The Priest there, explaining that he will no longer be able to officiate the wedding. He conjures an excuse about a family emergency he must tend to, but the true reason is his involvement with Fleabag. 

When The Priest finds Fleabag at the bus stop headed to work, he doubles down on making it clear they have no future, asking her not to come to the church anymore. He shares Fleabag's romantic feelings, but he cannot control himself while he is in her orbit. It is emotionally brutal stuff leavened only by the hilarious B-story about Claire's awful, asymmetrical "Amélie" haircut and ends with a surprise late-night visit from The Priest.

6. Season 2, Episode 4

Opening with The Priest modeling his cassocks for Fleabag, the leisurely "Episode 4" marks the first traces of conflict between the two. They spend the day together, growing closer as they drop in on a Quaker meeting and end up visiting Fleabag's cafe. Earlier in the day, The Priest begins to notice whenever Fleabag breaks the fourth wall and addresses us with facial reactions and witty asides. She's able to downplay the habit until he catches her doing it again at the cafe and he, too, breaks the fourth wall. It's jarring and his curiosity puts Fleabag on the defensive. While The Priest tries to defuse the tension, telling Fleabag he is only trying to get to know her, she snaps, telling him she does not want that.

When The Priest leaves, dejected, Fleabag is distraught and haunted by memories of her mother's funeral and wake. The painful flashbacks give viewers more insight into Fleabag's past, specifically her fraught relationship with Father. At the end of the episode, Fleabag goes to church to apologize to The Priest. In perhaps the most heartbreaking scene of the series, The Priest invites Fleabag to confess her sins and she comes clean about the miscarriage, voices her deepest fears, and pleads for guidance. The emotional moment turns romantic — until another painting falls off a wall, startling The Priest into leaving Fleabag. It is a complete punch in the gut and one of the strongest endings of the series.

5. Season 2, Episode 6

The series finale of "Fleabag" is a masterclass in conflict resolution, as each storyline finds its ending with a carefully crafted sense of inevitability. Compared to the volatile first season finale, "Episode 6" is a quieter affair, starting on a hopeful note with Fleabag and The Priest in bed together the morning of Father and Godmother's wedding.

The event forces each major "Fleabag" character to reckon with their future. When Fleabag gives Godmother her present, she insists on opening it in front of her away from everyone else. The gift turns out to be Godmother's stolen sculpture, which has made quite the journey throughout the series and is almost a member of the cast itself at this point. Claire reveals to the family that it was her, not Fleabag, who had the miscarriage, and tells Martin that their marriage is over, begging for him to leave her.

Moments before the service, Father goes missing. Fleabag eventually finds him in the attic, his shoe stuck in between the floor and insulation. They share a vulnerable conversation in which he sums Fleabag's intimacy issues up with a poignant half-compliment: "I think you know how to love better than the rest of us. That's why you find it all so painful." The Priest finally realizes he cannot allow his attraction to Fleabag to interfere with his faith, culminating in a devastating final scene at the bus stop in which Fleabag confesses she loves him and he tells her "it'll pass." After a brush with the supernatural, Fleabag bids us farewell, walking off into the night.

4. Season 1, Episode 1

From "Parks and Recreation" to "The Office," some of the most popular comedic TV shows of all time begin with weak pilots that fail to convey the world, characters, and tone. "Fleabag" is the rare exception, delivering a knockout of a pilot that expertly introduces our heroine, her central relationships, and the direct-address language of the show. Fleabag immediately breaks the fourth wall with the viewer, rambling about how she prepared for the one-night stand she is about to host with Arsehole Guy (Ben Aldridge). This immediately bonds the viewer with Fleabag as we quickly see is not one to hold back her thoughts and, in the event she does, she'll at least share them with us, her confidant.

"Episode 1" is most remarkable for how much groundwork it effortlessly lays. The pilot places Fleabag in a series of squeamish scenarios with the closest people in her life to establish their history and the conflicts they'll face throughout the series. This is best demonstrated in the scene where Fleabag and Claire attend a feminist lecture "Women Speak: Opening Women's Mouths Since 1998," during which we glean the sisters' thorny and combative, but ultimately loving, rapport. By the final scene when Fleabag horrifies her cab driver with the story of Boo's death and reveals she stole Godmother's sculpture, you'll be hooked.

3. Season 1, Episode 6

"Episode 6" marks Fleabag's humiliating downward spiral to rock bottom. Things nosedive when Fleabag and Arsehole Guy arrive at Godmother's "Sexhibition" and Fleabag quickly learns she was not invited as a guest, but to serve. Godmother smacks an "I'm here to help" sticker on Fleabag's shirt, hands her a tray of champagne flutes, and tells her to get to work. Fleabag takes this in stride until Arsehole Guy dumps her, admitting he's in love with the woman he's been seeing for the last few months. After he leaves, Harry shows up with his new girlfriend and rebukes Fleabag's pass at him. Then Claire arrives with Martin in tow. Before Fleabag can confront her sister, Godmother interrupts, telling Fleabag to take care of a champagne tray. Fleabag does just that, takes them into the butler's quarters and drinks them all. Now drunk, Fleabag spoils the reception and throws a scene. 

Claire finds Fleabag after the outburst and tells her she is not taking the Finland promotion and believes Martin, who insists it was Fleabag who made the move on him, not vice versa. Fleabag pleads for Claire to believe her, but Claire admits she has her reservations considering what Fleabag did to Boo. Fleabag's deepest, darkest secret that she's withheld from us all season is finally revealed: she was the woman with whom Boo's boyfriend cheated, which culminated in Boo's accidental death. It is a heartbreaking twist and Fleabag cannot bear to look us in the eye. To have crammed this much dramatic action into a 24-minute episode is truly astonishing. And even more impressive, it ends on a surprisingly hopeful note when Bank Manager gives Fleabag a second chance to interview for a small business loan to save the cafe.

2. Season 2, Episode 1

After a three-year hiatus, "Fleabag" returned in 2019 for a second season with proof that Waller-Bridges is a genius and the first season was no fluke. Only a year has passed in the world of the show since we last saw Fleabag, who had alienated everyone in her life. In "Episode 1," we find Fleabag in a posh restaurant bathroom, standing in front of the mirror and cleaning blood off her face next to another woman with blood on hers. We flashback to the scene of the crime: Father and Godmother's dinner party celebrating their upcoming wedding. Fleabag is reunited with estranged Claire, allegedly sober Martin, and the charismatic Priest, who is to marry Father and Godmother.

The group plays nice, politely ignoring their festering tensions until Claire retreats to the bathroom. Fleabag follows after her and finds that, after months of trying to conceive a child, she has had a miscarriage. Fleabag wants to take her sister to the hospital, but Claire insists on staying and returns to the table as if nothing had happened. Fleabag confronts Claire, but, seeing the pain in her eyes, covers for her, claiming she suffered the miscarriage herself. When Martin taunts Fleabag, suggesting her miscarriage was "for the best," she punches him in the face. While defending himself from a second blow, Martin strikes Fleabag and accidentally jabs the passing waitress, leaving all three with gushing bloody noses. The taut, brilliantly directed "Episode 1" demonstrates what separates "Fleabag" from its contemporaries.

1. Season 2, Episode 3

"Episode 3" finds "Fleabag" firing on all cylinders, featuring a meticulously plotted story with hysterical dialogue and wholly earned moments of pathos. In the best episode of the series, Fleabag helps Claire by catering the "Women in Business Awards" event, hosted by Claire's asset management company. Claire asks Fleabag to bring the award out when the winner is announced but urges her to not toy with the delicate glass trophy. Once alone with the trophy, Fleabag immediately disobeys Claire's warning and accidentally shatters the award, forcing her to dash out and find a substitute.

When Claire announces the winner is her colleague Belinda (Kristin Scott Thomas), she is horrified to present her with Fleabag's replacement choice: Godmother's sculpture. Claire insists Fleabag follow Belinda out and retrieve the stolen piece of art, which Fleabag obliges, and stalks after Belinda, who notices and announces, "I'm trained in the martial arts. It's just the basics, but it's enough." Fleabag explains the cursed sculpture's story to Belinda over martinis at a bar, the finest scene of the entire series. Fleabag and Belinda share a wry, flirtatious conversation ruminating on feminism, sisterhood, sex, and aging, leading Belinda to confront Fleabag's misanthropy, reminding her that "people are all we have got." Simply put, the episode, like the series in general, is perfect.