Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy, ousted media conglomerate exec and self-described defender of democracy
New York City, Spring 2020
Episode: “Too Much Birthday” (Episode 3.07)
Air Date: November 28, 2021
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Creator: Jesse Armstrong
Costume Designer: Michelle Matland
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today’s my 34th birthday, a day I share with Ernest Hemingway, Robin Williams, and Cat Stevens. Luckily, things have been going good enough that nothing has me considering calling in Springsteen to rescue the vibe, but the same can’t be said for Succession‘s #1 boy.
The third-season episode “Too Much Birthday” centers around Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) planning to “go nut-nut, pure excess, full-bore” for his 40th birthday bash at The Shed in Hudson Yards. The extravagant jubilee is merely a very transparent attempt to compensate for the lack of real personal connections in his life, severed even further after going public against his father’s toxic leadership of Waystar Royco at the end of the previous season.
“This is highly egalitarian,” Kendall insists during the planning, sharing that he wants everyone from servers to his “imagineers” to have fun, “like do your job, but fuckin’ get your drink on, get your buzz on. There’s no boundaries if you’re cool.”
Kendall is pleased to hear his beleaguered publicist Comfry (Dasha Nekrasova) estimate that 80% of his A-list are planning to attend—unfazed by the 15% of which that are “maybes” (“maybes are nos, let’s not live in a dream world,” he insists)—including “Jeff, Elon, and Lukas.” It’s more her dawdling over whether “the sibs” plan to attend that has Kendall nervous, though he tries to hide it.
Back at the Waystar Royco office, the aforementioned sibs Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) are debating whether to attend “KenFest”. Roman rationalizes his initial interest as “pure rubbernecking”, but it becomes Don Draper’s work-described-as-a-party upon learning that erratic tech CEO Lukas Mattson (Alexander Skarsgård) will be there, giving the Roys a chance to negotiate for a deal.
Like a modern-day Gatsby, Ken begins the party by overseeing it from a lonely “VIP” section above it all, driven by a sense of validation that keeps a watchful eye on the attendees. “I feel like it’s pretty fuckin’ iconic,” he comments to Naomi Pierce (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), just before he lights up upon the arrival of not one, not two, but all three of his siblings!
Shiv: Go on, tell us… who’s here?
Kendall: Who isn’t?
Roman: Your dad.
Shiv: Your mom.
Connor: Your wife and kids.
Roman: Any real friends.
Shiv is only partially right as, technically, their mother did make an appearance by way of the entryway he designed to replicate his entrance into the world through her “cold and inhospitable” vaginal canal forty years earlier. Their father, Logan (Brian Cox), also sends his regards by way of an insultingly generic birthday card inscribed with the heartfelt message “
Happy birthday Cash out and fuck off”.
Kendall ignores his siblings’ sadly accurate ribbing at the expense of his emotional isolation and leads them into a room designed to only enhance the gulf between them, decorated with oversized headlines from the future predicting their respective fates: Connor elected president (of shitting his bag), Shiv arrested in a streetwalker roundup, and Roman dead from a “tragic jerk-off accident”. The party also boasts an eerie compliment tunnel, a thankfully aborted crucifixion of Billy Joel’s “Honesty” which Kendall had been rehearsing at the start of the episode, and a replica of Kendall’s childhood treehouse, where he tucks Mattson away from the prying eyes of his siblings: “This is my treehouse. You shouldn’t be anywhere near here.”
“It’s a great night. Happy you’re here. Fuckin’ best birthday ever,” he had told the sibs, though the last line seems more designed to convince himself as he circulates through his five-dimensional catastrophe of “all bangers all the time.”
With his father’s $2 billion “mind game” burning a hole in his pocket and the realization that his siblings are only at his party for networking reasons, Kendall breaks down upon not even being able to find the gift from his two children among the pile of empty presents, leaving him an even more depressed and empty shell than we’ve ever seen as he enters his 40th year:
This is so pathetic. I wish I was- I wish I was home.
What’d He Wear?
Kendall insists on his guests handing over their coats with their phones (“Kendall would like his present to be everyone being present”), even repeatedly asking Connor (Alan Ruck) to remove his as he feels the presidential hopeful’s quilted coat is “souring the vibe”.
Of course, the rule doesn’t apply to Kendall himself, who most assuredly considers his flamboyant $6,900 Gucci jacket to be an indispensable part of his birthday fit. The distinctive jacket debuted in 2017 as part of a collection designed during creative director Alessandro Michele’s second year at the helm, according to High Snobiety.
The quilted body of the jacket is a dark gray-green satin-finished cotton, with black quilted raglan sleeves each detailed with a gold-edged green velvet strip running the length of each arm from neck to wrist. The ribbed-knit collar, cuffs, and hem are banded in five balanced maroon and white stripes.
From the front, the jacket may look a little ostentatious—from the sides, perhaps a little louder—but the back turns the volume all the way up with its colorfully embroidered UFO splashed across the entire back. The design is embroidered in shades of red, blue, and green, underscored by bedazzled bursts of red and green. (You can see more detailed photos of the UFO design and the rest of the jacket in this Grailed listing.)
The structure of the jacket recalls a traditional MA-1 bomber jacket with its ribbed-knit collar, cuffs, and hem, as well as a straight-zip fly, covered with a four-snap storm fly that coordinates with the banded elements for a varsity jacket-inspired touch.
The orange quilted lining also hearkens back to the “emergency” lining on military outerwear, designed to be reversible so that a downed pilot could wear a bright color visible to rescue planes. I don’t believe Kendall’s Gucci jacket was designed to be reversible, and the only interior pocket is the set-in pocket on the left inside chest panel where he stores the card and buy-out offer from his father.
Kendall swathes himself in green under the jacket, wearing a bottle-green wool-and-cashmere turtleneck sweater that @successionfashion identified as an $890 sweater also from Gucci. The sweater has a narrowly ribbed roll-neck, cuffs, and hem. (Kendall clearly places considerable value in cashmere sweaters, tasking Comfry with bribing Connor to trade out his own quilted jacket for a complimentary cashmere jumper… but our presidential hopeful who was interested in politics at a very young age doesn’t fall for the sartorial bait.)
“Too Much Birthday” also introduces a popular statement piece from Kendall’s closet (in fact, Jeremy Strong’s real-life closet) by way of the octagonal 9-karat gold pendant etched with a face from artist Rashid Johnson’s “Anxious Men” series of paintings, suspended on a chunky blackened silver chain-link necklace and accented with a ruby stone. One of a limited run of only 15 pieces designed in collaboration with LIZWORKS, the necklace initially cost $15,500 (according to Tom Barker for High Snobiety), though LIZWORKS now lists the price at $30,000.
Kendall wears black cotton slim-fit jeans and completes the Gucci-of-it-all with a pair of Gucci Flashtrek sneakers that may look chaotic on their own but at least unite the green, black, and gray color scheme from the rest of his outfit.
Originally retailing for $975, these leather-and-mesh sneakers have a unique lacing system, similar to hiking boots with four sets of silver-toned metal eyelets—the front two conventionally spaced, while the two behind it are farther apart—and a set of speed hooks at the top of each instep. (Thankfully, Kendall forewent the gem-embellished straps that could come with the Flashtreks… seriously.)
The leather rounded toes and the rubber midsoles and outsoles are army green, trimmed by gray suede accents. The rest of the shoes’ construction are primarily black leather and black mesh, aside from an ovular green patch that extends up each side of each shoe and to which the two rearward sets of eyelets are affixed. The black mesh-and-leather tongue has “GUCCI” prominently embroidered and encircled across the top in yellow, in a font licensed to resemble the Sega logo.
Aside from the Rashid Johnson-designed pendant, Kendall’s only other visible jewelry is a black ridged bracelet around his right wrist, perhaps meant to signify his treehouse-level of access for the party.
I can’t tell if Kendall is wearing a watch under the ribbed-knit cuffs of his turtleneck, but his descent into despair is accelerated when Naomi tries to distract him from looking for the present that his kids made him by giving her gift. We can’t see much of the rose-gold watch on a black leather strap, but we know it doesn’t go well. After all, it was established as early as the first episode when Logan received (and promptly gave away) a Patek Philippe for his birthday that wristwatches—even prestigious luxury watches—are about an impersonal as a gift can get in the Succession-verse.
“I don’t wanna be a dick, but I have a watch,” Kendall responds. And yes, Kendall, you have many watches… what’s one more to add to the collection? Of course, it’s not about the watch and never was.
What to Imbibe
Having handed off the baby bottle that he was ironically(?) drinking milk from earlier, Kendall pulls a shot of Hennessy X.O. cognac off a server’s tray after Comfry hits him with the uncomfortable update that his siblings have been searching his party for Lukas Mattson… and he puts the pieces together to realize that they were never there to celebrate him at all.
When Maurice Hennessy created Hennessy X.O. in 1870 from cognacs that had long matured in their casks, he in turn developed a new grade of cognac, designated “X.O.” for “extra old”.
Kendall returns to the belly-warming comfort of Hennessy X.O. yet again when he’s cornered by the Roy family’s favorite butt-monkey, Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun).
On the other end of the prestige spectrum, Kendall pulls a 40 of Olde English 800 to wash down the bad taste in his mouth after a conversation with his ex-wife Rava (Natalie Gold), continuing to take pulls from it while talking to Greg about Comfry.
One of the canonical malt liquor 40s of my college years, “Old E” originated in the 1940s not in the UK but at the Peoples Brewing Company in Duluth, Minnesota. The name changed as operations moved around the country, with Olde English 800 established in 1964 under its Blitz-Weinhard ownership in Portland, Oregon. The brand continued changing names over the course of the 20th century, from Pabst to Miller, who has continuously produced Old E since 1999. The alcohol content varies by region, though typically between 5.9% and 7.5% ABV with Canadian offerings up to 8.0% ABV.
Hennessy cognac and Olde English both have ingrained associations with hip-hop music and culture, explaining why they would appeal to a guy like Kendall who pumps himself up by rapping along to the Beastie Boys’ open letter to NYC.
How to Get the Look
He may claim to be “the eldest boy” by Succession‘s finale, but Kendall Roy rings in his 40th birthday in an attempt to look youthful in his loud quilted bomber jacket, green cashmere turtleneck, and designer sneakers—all by Gucci. Unfortunately, he learns the hard way that layering yourself in tens of thousands of dollars worth of clothes and accessories aren’t enough to enrich his soul.
- Green-gray quilted satin-finished zip-up bomber jacket (with four-snap storm fly) with maroon-and-white banded ribbed-knit collar, cuffs, and hem, snap-fastened welted hand pockets, black quilted raglan sleeves with gold-trimmed green velvet strip detail, and UFO-embroidered back
- Green wool/cashmere turtleneck sweater
- Gold designer-etched octagonal pendant on blackened silver chain-link necklace
- LIZWORKS x Rashid Johnson “Anxious Men” Pendant
- Black cotton slim-fit jeans
- Green, black, and gray leather-and-mesh designer sneakers with metal-eyelet lacing system and green lugged rubber outsoles
- Gucci Flashtrek
Do Yourself a Favor and…
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Look, it just-it just-it just-it just feels like an asshole’s birthday party? And my thing, from the very first meeting, is that it shouldn‘t feel like an asshole’s birthday party. Yeah?