Kendall Roy shot for the moon in Sunday’s episode of Succession, and appropriately enough, he wore a flight jacket inspired in part by Elon Musk and SpaceX.
The episode — about which many spoilers follow — features Kendall (Jeremy Strong) trying to torpedo Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) in his efforts to buy Waystar Royco. Kendall realizes he can tank Matsson’s purchase if he can drive Waystar Royco’s purchase price above $192 a share — and sets out to do that by any means possible.
He sets out to juice the Waystar Royco stock price — no matter how artificially — by getting investors excited about a Waystar Royco project called Living+. (“Living+” is also the name of the episode.) The program promises to give older people a cruise ship-like experience on land, by housing them in communities that will attend to all their safety and entertaining needs. Kendall stops just short of promising that Living+ will also extend people’s lifespans.
To take his moonshot, he resorts to all kinds of dubious theatrics. When his hopes for a full-sized house and clouds fall short, he settles for a flight jacket with CEO emblazened where a real pilot’s name would go.
It’s a typically pretentious Kendall move — equating his business proposal with a journey to the skies. Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) takes a look at the flight jacket Kendall has had made for him, so they can go twinning, and decides he wants no part in Kendall’s big presentation.
But Kendall’s theatrics pay off. The mood during his presentation changes from skepticism to awe as Kendall appeals to the memory of his father, beaming in live from heaven, through the magic of carefully sculpted, pre-recorded message.
Strong said the flight suit was his idea. He received the script for “Living+” while shooting on location.
“The first thing I did when I read the script was text the costume designer and the director from Norway and say, “I need a flight suit to wear for the product launch,” Strong told Vulture in an interview about the episode.
He added: “I started doing some research, and there was this costume designer named Jose Fernandez who designed a flight suit for Elon Musk. It was a ‘Chief Twit’ thing I wanted to embody,”
Kendall’s big swing had other inspirations as well.
“I had read about Shari Redstone doing a ViacomCBS product launch where she rode in one of the Transformers cars,” Strong told Vulture. “It was Bumblebee — this yellow car. I went off with costume designer Michelle Matland and designed the flight suit and put these patches on it — we wanted to make, like, a Maverick jacket, and that element really unlocked something for me. The way [director] Lorene [Scafaria] was shooting it, the Chief Twit almost felt like a Leni Riefenstahl thing.”
There are lots of references to unpack there, but “Chief Twit” refers to the self-effacing nickname Elon Musk gave himself upon his takeover of Twitter.
In an amusing case of art imitating life imitating art, Musk chose Fernandez in part because of his work creating costumes for films including Captain America: Civil War, Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man, the X-Men films, and other superhero movies.
Elon Musk and Succession
And in another bit of fun parallelism between the worlds of Succession and Elon Musk, some fans of the show have observed similarities between Musk and Kendall’s nemesis, Matsson. Both are known for unpredictable behavior, and Sunday’s references to Matsson’s reputation for drug use recall the concerns about Musk smoking marijuana on a 2018 episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Making things even more meta, Matsson initially responds to Kendall Roy’s offensive using the Chief Twit’s preferred platform, Twitter. But Kendall’s presentation is such a success — and his response to Matsson’s tweet so adept — that Matsson decides to delete the tweet.
Here are some looks at the SpaceX suits that helped inspire the Kendall Roy flight jacket:
Main image: Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in Succession Season 4 Episode 6, “Living+,” wearing his cool flight jacket.