A Missing Succession Character Has Returned To Finally Claim What Is Hers

The following contains spoilers for "Succession" season 4.

"Succession" has thrown its game board up in the air. The masterful third episode of season 4, "Connor's Wedding," featured the long-awaited death of Logan Roy (Brian Cox). His children, miles away from their father during his last moments, spent the episode trying to process their loss.

Episode 4, "Honeymoon States," portrays Logan's family and inner circle convening at his apartment for a wake. Also putting in an appearance is a returning face: Marcia Roy (Hiam Abbass), Logan's third and final wife. Last we heard from Kerry (Zoe Winters), Marcia was "shopping in Milan — forever." She didn't show up for Logan's 81st birthday in the season 4 premiere, "The Munsters." She tells Kendall (Jeremy Strong) that she and his father had been exchanging "intimate phone calls" every morning and evening, but the truth of that is uncertain.

As always, Marcia acts polite but projects an ominous presence; you can sense warm silk hiding cold French steel. She carries herself at the wake like she owns the place because, well, now she does (though she winds up selling the property to Connor (Alan Ruck) for $63 million).

The Logan-shaped void in "Succession" will test the characters and their desires like never before. Now that Marcia is an active part of the show again, will she finally take center stage?

How Marcia got here

Marcia's screentime has steadily decreased as "Succession" has gone on; Abass even got downgraded from the main cast to a recurring character in season 3. But season 1 played up the sinister mystery of Marcia Roy. In the pilot, Logan asks his children to sign an agreement giving her greater control of the family trust. Shiv (Sarah Nook) also conducted an unfruitful background check on her, teasing there was more to be uncovered. Despite her opaque intentions, Marcia was always at Logan's side and she seemed genuinely devoted. Watch the ending of episode 7, "Austerlitz," when she tenderly helps Logan out of a pool and covers his back scars (inflicted by his uncle in childhood) with a robe.

However, Marcia's husband pushed her further and further away. Logan, on top of all his other faults, couldn't keep his dick in his pants. During season 2, he became enamored with Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter), causing friction with Marcia. The estrangement escalated after Logan's birthday party in "Dundee," when he announced Rhea as his successor (though she soon declined).

Marcia returned in season 3, episode 2, "Mass in Time of War," exploiting Logan's need for public reconciliation to get a more favorable prenup agreement. Privately, they remained estranged and Logan started an affair with Kerry.

Cox himself said he felt Marcia and her story had been "put on a back burner." I'd say this is a consequence of the play-it-by-the-ear writing style of "Succession." Logan was originally set to die in season 1, so it's possible his sticking around precluded the writers from giving Marcia a bigger role. Now that Logan is finally gone, will she take the spotlight?

What does Marcia want?

Is Marcia only after money? If that's the case, cashing out sounds like her best option. Selling the apartment to Connor tracks with that, indicating she's ready to leave the Logan chapter of her life behind. 

Or does she want power? The family trust restructure back in the pilot would've given her two board votes and the ability to choose Logan's successor. I doubt she wants the top job at Waystar Royco for herself, but she may want an outsized place at the table. This is sure to bring her into conflict with the kids, especially after Kendall and Roman (Kieran Culkin) end "Honeymoon States" as co-CEOs, promising to shepherd through the sale of Waystar to GoJo.

Marcia greeted Logan's children like family at the wake, but they have always seen her as a wicked stepmother (not that their own mother Caroline is any less horrible). She's threatened Shiv in the past and she knows about Kendall's involvement with the waiter's death from "Nobody Is Ever Missing." During "Honeymoon States," Marcia humiliates Kerry with so little mercy that even Roman thought it was too much. That could be a forebear of how she'll approach any clashes with the Roy children. She's boasted in the past: "I have fought and I have lost, and I have fought and won, but when I lose, the other one will generally lose an eye or a soul."

Greg (Nicholas Braun) seems to think Marcia is the horse to back, but when he tries to ingratiate himself with her, she freezes him out. Back in season 1, Marcia called Greg a "fly buzzing in [her] face" and her opinion apparently hasn't changed.

Who is Marcia?

With only six more episodes of "Succession" to go, will the series finally offer a deeper exploration into Marcia's background? I'd say don't get your hopes up. "Succession" has never used flashbacks and it prefers to keep the characters' backgrounds vague. Take the repeated suggestions that Roman was abused in childhood, or the mystery surrounding the death of Logan's sister, Rose. Another show might have had a dramatic revelation by now, but "Succession" has asked its audience to keep reading between the lines instead. After all, the Roys are all too emotionally stunted to talk about anything truly delicate.

While Marcia's in-universe backstory is a mystery, her real-life inspiration is not. Series creator Jesse Armstrong claims the Roys are based on multiple clans. However, one parallel has been repeatedly discussed: the Murdochs, the infamous family behind NewsCorp and Fox "News." Armstrong even wrote an unproduced movie script about the family, titled "The Murdochs." It's not hard to see how Armstrong strip-mined this script for "Succession."

Continuing the analogy, Marcia would be Wendi Deng Murdoch, the third wife of Rupert who also features in Armstrong's script. They were married from 1998 to 2013 and still together when Armstrong wrote the script. Like Deng, Marcia is the younger, international wife of a right-wing media baron (Deng is Chinese, Hiam Abbass is Palestinian but it's unclear if Marcia is too).

Now, the similarities aren't endless. While Marcia is a socialite, Deng Murdoch is a successful businesswoman in her own right, having first met Rupert while serving as VP of Star TV in Hong Kong. Logan's death means we won't get any more storylines paralleling Rupert and Wendi, like them having children, divorcing, or Marcia (allegedly) screwing the former British prime minister.

It may have begun as a roman à clef, but "Succession" has grown into so much more.

"Succession" airs on HBO and streams on HBO Max every Sunday at 9 p.m. EST.