The long-awaited Season 6 of Game Changer is right around the corner, and though Dropout has kept our chirping baby bird mouths fed with plenty of Game Samers, from Dirty Laundry to Make Some Noise to Jess and Zach fancam simulator Play It By Ear, nothing hits quite like the real thing. Now, with February just a few days away and bringing with it the promise of another Valentine’s Day watching Total Forgiveness by yourself instead of in the arms of a lover, one question remains: Will this be the season where the cast finally launch an armed insurrection to overthrow the tyrant Sam Reich?
Here are the top 10 Game Changer episodes ranked by how close the cast comes to snapping and taking up arms against their host.
#10: “The Everything Factory”
This high-volume episode features cast members Jess Ross, Jess Clemons, and Katie Marovitch, who at the start of the show find themselves relegated to an assembly line tasked with making increasingly absurd products, starting with “10 Ham Sandwiches” and eventually culminating in “1 Tossed, Screamed-At, Butt-Rubbed, Sam-Kissed, Captain Ameriduck in Bra and 7 Triple-Decker Sandwiches.” Of course, “high-volume” is close cousins with the fight-or-flight response, and as soon as that conveyer belt whirs to life and the one-minute timer starts ticking down, the line between the two becomes very, very blurry. The relentless demands of industry keep the players in check, but one suspects with a longer runtime we might’ve seen a stony-faced Katie Marovitch make a move for Sam’s throne.
#9: “Name A Number”
This episode is proof that Becca Scott, Izzy Roland, and Erika Ishii are an inimitable, unstoppable force akin to entropy, and could probably overthrow Sam under the right circumstances. Unfortunately, “Name A Number” is not those circumstances. Any inkling of revolt dies on the vine as soon as the game’s hyper-competitive nature is revealed, with players wagering on the number of times or seconds they can perform specific tasks. Becca manages to succeed in forcing a three-way tie at the end though, an act of solidarity that scared Sam so deeply the three contestants haven’t been paired together in an episode since.
Forget everything about “Whodunnit”, a murder-mystery experiment in Game Changer’s first season, and focus on one thing: Rekha Shankar. From the first five minutes where Sam announces “Players, there has been a murder,” and her response: “Yeah, no shit”, it’s clear Rekha lets the show proceed as a mere courtesy. At any given moment she could easily seize control of the whole operation with a smile and a pun so good it kills a PA dead on the spot, and no one would raise a goddamn hand to stop her.
#7: “As A Cucumber”
Like Izzy presumably explained to her parents when they started dating: you’re going to be seeing a lot of Brennan from here on out. That’s because Brennan Lee Mulligan is God’s answer to the question, “Can I create the perfect nerd soldier”: A goofball so intense his commitment to the bit borders on fanaticism. Brennan’s presence alone introduces a Bolshevik tension to an already tense episode, which features the cast getting ambushed by loud noises, timed challenges, and tiny Sams popping out of player podiums in a bid to raise their heartrates above resting. Players who manage to stay calm score points, and while Brennan ends up largely excelling at this thanks to a combination of meditation techniques and what I assume are frequent visits to a mind palace full of bird facts, it’s clear his deeply competitive nature is the only thing keeping him and his fellow players in bondage.
Season 4’s “Survivor” (parts 1 and 2) gave cast members their first taste of revolutionary democracy, and for that it can’t be overlooked on this list. These episodes have all the necessary ingredients for a successful unseating of the powers that be. The players have the numbers. They have the tools of representative government. They have makeshift weapons in the form of mic packs in socks. The pieces are all there, and if it weren’t for the snake Lou Wilson, all seven elimination votes on the first round would have gone to Sam Reich. Instead, we are left with the question of what could have been, and are Grant’s shorts really short or are his legs just really long? Either way I’m uncomfortable.
#5: The One Where Brennan Finally Snaps
This episode starts off as a fairly intriguing riddle game in the vein of “Green Glass Door” and “Umbrella” where the goal is to guess the rule, before eventually devolving into an unwinnable humiliation Any% speedrun for Dimension 20 host Brennan Lee Mulligan. At the end Brennan gets so mad he finally snaps, screaming “YOU HAVE DISHONORED ME FOR THE LAST TIME, REICH” before lunging for Sam’s podium like a frenzied rhinoceros with an arrow in its ass, foaming at the mouth with rage for the injustices committed to it in the name of improv comedy.
#4: “Filmed Before A Live Studio Audience”
Yes, rise up and go forth, my children. Smash things. Break the set. Be so loud Sam has to tell you to quiet down so he can get a clean take of the episode’s outro. You have nothing to lose but your chains (and paychecks).
#3: “Do I Hear $1?”
“Do I Hear $1?” ends on a high note of comradeship matched only by the black, bottomless hole that is Grant O’Brien’s self-respect. In the episode, the players attempt to underbid each other to win money by doing increasingly embarrassing or unpleasant things. Ally Beardsley eats a Post-it note for $8. Raphael Chestang likes the last 30 posts on his ex’s Instagram for $200. Grant offers to “shave off [his] pubes and eat them” for $4000 with a speed and nonchalance so alarming it makes you rethink the value of the American dollar. On the last prompt—For $3000, what would you do with a box of live crickets?—the cast decides to unionize, effectively breaking the game by refusing to underbid each other and splitting the remaining money equally. It’s a beautiful moment of collective action, made all the more beautiful since the world never has to know what Grant would do to a box of crickets for $3000.
#2: Every Episode of “Sam Says”
With confirmation that the upcoming season will include a third episode of “Sam Says” (this time featuring the legendary Vic Michaelis and Jacob Wysocki, of Mr. Mayonnaise’s Mansion fame), there’s no better time than the present to look back on the game that radicalized Izzy and broke something beautiful deep within Lou Wilson. “Sam Says” is like Simon Says on steroids, with the same premise as the classic game but distilled down to a cruel science by host Sam Reich, whose subversive prompts and slippery wordplay could make sinners of priests and a comedian of Dave Chappelle. The sequel episode with Jake, Ally, and Zac Oyama gets even nuttier, throwing into question what even counts as a “Sam says”. Does Sam’s voice coming out of another person’s mouth count? How about another person’s voice coming out of Sam’s mouth? If a book store never runs out of a certain book, does that mean that nobody reads it, or everybody reads it? It’s enough to drive any man to the edge.
#1: “Escape the Green Room”
There are moments in history where the façade of civility is cast aside, leaving only that animal, man, and the unsparing truth of his condition clear for all to see. “Escape the Green Room” is one such moment. The rivalry between player and host is never made so explicit as hearing Sam’s cackling laugh over the TV screen while he informs the cast of their situation, like an extroverted Jigsaw in his prime.
Brennan, Lou, and Siobhan Thompson find themselves trapped in the Game Changer green room turned escape room, their freedom withheld by a series of puzzles, smashable objects, and a camera operator whose culpability Lou brings into question while citing the Nuremberg Trials. The greatest moment comes toward the end, however, when the cast members unlock a door only to discover Sam Reich sitting tied and gagged on the toilet (seriously), begging to be released. They close the door on him.
In another world, they walk out and never look back. They are free from the tyrant Sam Reich. Free from his games, from his points, from his thoughtful prizes and continued support in a career-long friendship that bridges the gap between the personal and professional. They leave the Dropout set, feel the wind in their hair, and see the open road stretching all the way to the California sun on the horizon, their freedom laid out before them.
It is here. It has been here the whole time.