Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) is desperate to be part of the Waystar Royco elite. He’s put in a lot of work to get there, marrying his way into the Roy family only to betray his wife to earn Logan Roy’s (Brian Cox) respect. He’s even tried his best to dress for the job he wants, with his suits getting increasingly slimmer and his shoes increasingly shinier. But still he’s on the outside looking in. He’s trying too hard, and in the April 23 episode “Kill List” his puffy blazer and too-white shoes make him stick out like a sore thumb.
This isn’t the first time Tom’s donned a puffer in an attempt to fit in. In Season 2, Episode 6, “Argestes,” he threw on an overly puffy vest as part of his tech bro uniform. The conference was filled with men in casual half zip-ups and turtlenecks, no labels or unusual silhouettes, items that any normie might wear — just 10 times more expensive. “Look at all you guys with your blazers on, coming from Burlington Coat Factory, is that where you all shop at?” asks Zell Simmons (Nore Davis), the comedian roasting the crowd at Argestes. It’s indicative of the nondescript “stealth wealth” aesthetic that defines the Roys’ style, signaling a nonchalance that is only afforded to the most privileged.
At Argestes, Tom’s exaggerated vest featured a giant logo, as if he’s trying to show that, yes, he too spent a nice chunk of change on his look. But in trying to prove that he belonged, he made it even more obvious that he didn’t. In Norway, Tom appears to be seeking redemption for that look, wearing a noticeably slimmer but all the more confusing jacket. It’s quilted, but it’s wool. It’s slightly casual, but also a blazer. It’s label-less, but too unique to fly under the radar. Tom has moved through the company in a similar fashion, doing his best to be considered part of the team while also making enough crucial mistakes, personally and professionally, that he can never fully fit in at the top.
In “Kill List” almost everyone is putting in more effort to match Lukas Matsson’s (Alexander Skarsgård) low-key, cozy Swedish aesthetic, dressing in their best hygge sweaters. Even on this assignment, Tom missed the memo. The tech bro uniform doesn’t quite work in a sauna-adjacent environment, and Tom seems to be the only one without hiking appropriate footwear. “This is why people don’t take you seriously,” Shiv (Sarah Snook) says while kicking dirt on his sneakers, “because your shoes are so f*cking white.”
To really get ahead, Tom should try caring less. Just look at Karl (David Rasche) and Frank (Peter Friedman), who have managed to hold top spots at the company for decades. They prepare for a potentially life-changing meeting with Matsson by eschewing vanity to squeeze into compression socks, and when things are at their most delicate, they throw on bathrobes and just sit back to see what happens. When Tom watches with bewilderment as Karl pulls the compression socks on, it’s either because he’s disgusted that Karl would wear so seemingly unsophisticated — or because he's realizing that, once again, he’s overdone it.
Succession airs Sundays at 9:00 PM ET on HBO. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R.