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Severance

I am a cruel and selfish Tyrant.

I am a cruel and selfish tyrant. There were times when I wished for a severed self. Be it in school or now, during my working days, there are times when I wish someone would just do all the hard stuff, and I can chill and do the fun stuff. It was easy to imagine and felt right to imagine, because in my mind, that other part of me, that should be doing all the work, was an actual Other. It was just an entity, a shade with human appearance, but I saw it as an Other, something less than human. I have seen the monstrosity of my ways.

Severance is a show about these potential Others. A company named Lumon has created a procedure that allows workers who work for them to have their private and their work life so separate that it is severed. We, for the most part, follow the work lives of four members of the macro data refinement wing of the company. They don’t know what the work really is, nor what the data entails. All they know is that the work is important, and mysterious. They do wonder. Human curiosity is a stallion that is nearly impossible to tame, and its one theme that will repeat itself throughout this series. The members of the Macro Data Refinement teams are Marc, Helly, Dylan and Irving.

Helly is the newest member, after the leader of the group, Petey apparently quit the company. Helly joins the company in the first few shots of the show, and she is as confused as we are. She thinks she has amnesia, or that she has been drugged and kidnapped. Mark, who has been promoted to department chief, runs her through various protocols to help her adjust to her reality. She is an entity that will exist only during working hours. Helly, who seems very direct and rebellious in nature, finds it hard to deal with her new situation. She tries to quit multiple times, she even submits a formal resignation, but her outside person, which they and the general public refer to as an outie, rejects these claims. Helly’s outie really feels like an entitled bitch…

Irving, the oldest of the bunch is having the easiest time to follow the rules. The creators of the company, the Eagans, have created a book with different rules and myths that work as a sort of religious revelation. With the help of these texts, they control and shape the worldview of the severed workers. Sinister to say the least. At the beginning of the show, Irving is as pious as it gets. There is joy and pride in his face every time he thinks of the founders. He knows the creed by heart and repeats it with exaltation. Will he feel the same as the show progresses?

Dylan, like Helly is a bit of a rebel himself, but his rebellion is easily put down with material gain. And when I say material gain, I mean the various rewards Lumon has prepared for their workers when they accomplish certain goals. Dylan likes to brag about all the stuff he has gotten. He does have a F U attitude about him and doesn’t respect the company or revere it as someone as Irving does, but he still works very hard because he likes the status. Will status remain his utmost priority as the show progresses?

The last but not least is Mark S. S stands for Scout. He is the only character that we really see on both sides of the mirror, both the life of his inside person and the life of his outside person. Inside Mark is a basic dude in a lot of ways. Both the Lumon leadership and we as the viewers get an early impression that he is a company man. Company man in the sense that he will do his job, plain and simple. He isn’t overtly ambitious, nor loud or charismatic. He just wants to work with minimal hustle, get everything over with. A good day for mark is a day he can work in peace without any distractions. He struggles with the new duties of being a department chief after Petey, his best work friend quit suddenly. New responsibilities and new people can shape us in incredible ways, will that happen to Mark S. as well?

Mark Scout, the outside version of Mark S is a miserable man. All he does is drink and watch documentaries, rotting at home. Can’t really blame him tho. A few years back, his wife passed away in a car accident. He has been a very miserable and fucked up shell of himself ever since that tragic event. He took the job for a simple reason, so that he doesn’t have to think about his wife all the time. Perfectly fair. Everyone griefs in their own way. At least he has awesome sister to cheer him up and set him up on dates. He is lukewarm on his brother-in-law, who is a bit of a alternative, modern hippie type of new age person. Nonetheless, the importance of the brother-in-law must not be understated, especially when one of his books accidently gets in the hands of the Micro Data team.

Lumon is not just a company, it’s a religion for its workers, or at least it tries to present itself like that. Lumon, to my limited knowledge, is a unit of light, but it is also a crevice as a term in biology. The authors couldn’t have picked a better name. To the outside world, those unfamiliar with the state of the severed workers, Lumon is a brave new company, a light that shines upon a brighter future that will soon come. To the workers, it’s a crevice, a cave. Like the shadows the chained-up people in Plato’s cave see on their walls, so the Lumon workers only experience a very limited part of the human condition. There are there to work and work only. They must avoid anything that resembles actual human connection. Love is strictly forbidden. But they are real people, actual human beings. They need and want more than what their toothless work experience gives them. Some of them try to gain that, and get punished in ways worse than the worst cults punish their people. Lumon tries to keep the departments as much separate as possible. Micro data refinement doesn’t even know how many other departments there are. When Lumon can’t guarantee that the department that are close enough won’t interact, they spread myths and rumors that spread animosity among both groups. The OnD department, the closest one to the Micro Data one is said to have a cannibalistic past rebellion in their history. There are even paintings of it. But once the Micro data people talk to them, they figure out that Lumon has created the same myth for the OnD department, with Micro Data as the leaders of the bloody and cannibalistic rebellion. They also like to play the good cop bad cop, in a very brutal and sinister way. If some of the workers have issues, they will send them to a break room, where a lovely therapist will help them relax and they will be read statements about their outside person. If they really misbehave, they will be sent to another room. In that room they are psychologically tortured until they finally break and realize the “mistake of their ways and return to the Lumon fold”. One of the characters had to read a statement for over 1000 times just to get out. And the workers can’t even leave the place when they want to, due to some spacial distortions. But at least it revitalized the punk scene.

What surprised me the most were the revelations towards the end of the season. Few were absolutely mind blowing and make me desperate to see season 2. One thing that makes this show unique is its brilliant opening sequence. Intros are a dying art in the USA, unlike in anime for example. So it was such a pleasant surprise to see such a fantastic, creative and wild intro, which perfectly fits such a unique and uniquely brilliant show. The whole cast is great, but Adam Scott has the most the do to carry both the inside and outside aspect of the show. He brings so much distinction between the two Marks. You can see it from the moment he steps inside the elevator at work, just how his changes and his whole personality alters completely.

Can’t wait for season 2!!

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