When it premiered in October, Disney+’s The Right Stuff looked to be another well-made drama about the space race—it didn’t exactly zoom past the competition. But as the first season has unfolded, executive producer Mark Lafferty, who adapted the series from Tom Wolfe’s book of the same name, has found compelling tension in the show’s workplace setting as well as the egos of extraordinary men. There’s a spaceman race within this space race: John Glenn (Patrick J. Adams) is as clean-cut as they come, but he’s not opposed to a little sabotage in order to ensure that the “best man” gets to the moon. The philandering Alan Shepard (Jake McDorman) is nearly as competitive, but he hasn’t gone to the lengths that Glenn has to edge out his rival.
But at the end of episode seven, “Ziggurat,” Shepard is revealed to be the winner (for now). He’s all suited up for the launch that will make him the first American man—Russia’s Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space—much to Glenn’s chagrin. Glenn’s snitching wasn’t the only thing that could have compromised Shepard’s launch, of course; the astronaut was also struggling with an inner ear problem that affected his balance. But in this exclusive clip from the season-one finale, “Flight,” which is written by Mark Lafferty and Vinnie Wilhelm, it looks like all systems are go for Shepard, who finally breaches the atmosphere. Glenn even manages to set aside his pride long enough to root for his (hopefully) former rival.
Season one also introduced a promising storyline for Trudy Cooper (Eloise Mumford), wife of Gordon Cooper (Colin O’Donoghue) and a pilot in her own right. She was recruited by fellow aviator Jerrie Cobb (Mamie Gummer) for a women’s astronaut corps, though Gordo doesn’t seem to be on board. Hopefully, the Right Stuff finale, which hits Disney+ on Friday, November 20, will address both Shepard’s achievement and Trudy’s new path.