Succession: It's Gonna RULE When Marcia Finally Goes Off

Don't let rapping Kendall obscure last night's most ominous scene.
  • Marcia (Hiam Abbass) closes in on Rhea (Holly Hunter) in Succession (HBO)
    Marcia (Hiam Abbass) closes in on Rhea (Holly Hunter) in Succession (HBO)

    Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Dundee," Season 2 episode 8 of Succession.

    Lots went down this week during Succession's field trip to Scotland for Logan's (Brian Cox) homecoming. After failing to rouse her mostly disinterested siblings into mounting some kind of defense against Rhea (Holly Hunter) and her recently unfurled inroads into Logan's good graces, Shiv (Sarah Snook) got handed a gift in the impending lawsuit bombshell that's about to hit, which will almost certainly knock Rhea off her new perch as newly-announced CEO. It's an incredibly crafty piece of maneuvering from Shiv, who seemed for a while like she was letting her zeal for taking Rhea down turn her into just one more needy piranha in the Roy family waters. Once she calmed down — and got word that the lawsuit would be a big enough bombshell to incinerate the new CEO — she cunningly leaned on her dad to go trough with his plan to elevate Rhea, who now seems like a sitting duck.

    Elsewhere, Logan's brother Ewan (James Cromwell) stopped by to sneer at his brother for being a worse foe to humanity than Hitler and to give grandson Greg (Nicholas Braun) the ultimatum: quit working for Logan or be chopped from the family will, an agonizing choice for Greg, who was already putting up with a lot after catching sand mites from Willa's new play.

    There was also the bit about Roman purchasing his dad's favorite Scottish football club as a present, only for Logan to tell him he bought the wrong team. And oh, right, yes, Kendall surrendered all future dignity by debuting a hop-hop ode to his father that hopefully no one will ever let him live down.

    But one of the biggest, most exciting, most brimming-with-potential moments was also one that might have been easier to overlook. It's long been apparent that the sleeping viper in this pit has been Logan's wife Marcia (Hiam Abbass). Marcia spent much of last season helping Logan recover from his stroke and hissing at Shiv for trying to exclude she and Logan from her wedding. But Marcia was virtually absent from the first half of this season, resurfacing now just as it seems like Rhea has caught Logan's eye for more than just her business acumen.

    And while you'd expect that the wife of a powerful media mogul would move swiftly to shut down any potential affairs on her husband's horizon, Marcia is playing her cards quite differently. Early on in "Dundee," Shiv approaches her step-mother and tries to plant seeds of dissent and chaos, making sure Marcia knows exactly what (she assumes is) going on with Rhea and her dad. Marcia doesn't bite — like she'd give Siobahn the satisfaction — but clearly the gravity of the situation sunk in, because we're soon treated to the most tantalizing scene we've seen this whole season.

    Marcia corners Rhea at the top of a staircase and pulls her in, like they're about to share a secret that will bond them. Only Marcia instead asks Rhea if she's been tested for STDs. See, because Marcia still sleeps with her husband, and if he's going to be bringing home any unpleasant surprises from certain new extramarital ventures, she'd like to know. Rhea is blown back by this moment, caught on her heels exactly in the way Marcia must've intended. And now that she's delivered the "I see what you're doing" message, here comes the "don't fuck with me," as Marcia squares up on Rhea and tells her, "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 so." That's what it sounds like. The closed captioning is even more delicious: "But when I lose, the other one will generally lose and eye or a soul." OR A SOUL! Marcia is playing for KEEPS!

    Marcia's always been playing the long game. People forget that the first big moment of conflict in the series premiere regards Logan's wishes to amend his will to include Marcy and install her on the Waystar board with double voting power. Marcia has always been someone for the Roy kids to be wary of as an enemy. "Who are you?" Shiv asked her last season during their rehearsal-dinner fight. "Apart from a machine for gathering power." That Marcia will one day be a combatant in this game of thrones is no surprise. The extremely pleasant surprise is that she apparently has experience ruining the lives of those who cross her.

    It didn't happen this week. It might not happen by season's end (though we hope it does). But at some point, that coiled viper is going to strike out. When she does, it's gonna be major.

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    Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Succession, HBO, Brian Cox, Hiam Abbass, Holly Hunter, James Cromwell, Jeremy Strong, Nicholas Braun, Sarah Snook