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Severance - Final Four Season 1 Episodes - Review

 

 CAUTION: I will be SPOILING nearly every plot twist here. Don't read until you've watched the last four episodes of season one of Severance. 

     Full Disclosure: I had already seen the entirety of season one of Apple TV+'s new sci-fi/fantasy/ thriller series, Severance, thanks to Apple TV+ providing advance access. I will be spoiling the rest of the season since it is all officially aired now.

      Hide and Seek: Here, the pacing is starting to pick up, even as things are filmed to slow down. Ms. Cobel has blossomed into a fabulous villain, esp. with scenes like when she sings Hymn to Kier, acapella. When she appears at Devon and Ricken's, one wonders what kind of trouble is she trying to cause for Innie and Outie Mark? It is clear that Lumon is a cult to her, and she is its ultimate apprentice. She would probably kill for Lumon. Is Lumon a metaphor for the 2nd coming? What was Kier Eagan really up to when he created technology, pharmaceuticals, and medical procedures? Is he meant to come off as a religious figurehead? 

 When we visited Optics and Design, it became clear that no Innie understands fully what is going on? Why are they severed in the first place? The scene with Irving and Burt by the plants was humanistic in a way I didn't think this series would ever be capable of. I think it's actually hilarious how they are bringing the MDR and O and D departments together through their magical connection. I almost don't want Burt to retire either. 

 It is interesting how Helly suddenly feels focused and confident now after her mental health walk with Mark. Even Dylan notices how much more they are getting along. Perhaps there is some connection between Mark's feelings for Alexa and his progressively warm attitude toward Helly? 

We don't know much about Alexa yet except that she is a midwife, but maybe she is harboring a similar kind of pain. The scenes with Gabby were interesting. She seemed aloof before, but now that Devon has run into her again, it appears that maybe she was severed during her labor. This might be why her son has a second name and her Senator husband is so pro-Severance. 

It appears being severed is not just something limited to Lumon in this universe. This is what is scaring the people who are ani-severance. I wonder if Apple has similar practices :-)?      

The scene with Dylan show that he has a reckoning coming knowing that he has a child since he thought of his Outie self as a Player with his crush on Ms. Casey. Milchick definitely screwed up here. What will Dylan do now? 

  Defiant Jazz:

    Here, Rugabe, who administered the severance procedure and now is responsible for reintegration, returns. Now that Doug is deceased and Ms. Cobel doing reconnaissance, Milchick assumes acting boss status...and loses control of the workers very quickly. Rugabe pretty much confirms that the severed employees are the "livestock" that Helly referred to in the pilot with her explanation as why severance exists in the first place. "Emotional convenience" is another such snap answer.

 It seems Mark did the procedure to get over Gemma's death. Outie Helly doesn't even think her Innie self is even an actual person. Is being a real human simpler than just our own memories and in-person experiences? 

 It was interesting that Rugabe referred to the Inner Mark as a "child" since he is apparently only two years old since Mark was severed. Ms. Cobel had referred to I.M. as a child in the previous episode. Perhaps this shows that a big theme of the series is that we have children for emotional fulfillment without thinking about how that fulfillment affects the children themselves. Of course, the Innies have enough cognitive function to do their jobs and some memories of their Outie Selves, but really are children when you think about it and basically livestock. It does work dramatically that we have Devon and Alexa as main characters since they deliver real children while Rugabe is the midwife of Innies. 

 The music experience scene was fantastic and perfectly satirical to actual corporate playful events for employees. Irving and Mark were very awkward and even Helly seemed to actually enjoy something for once. I was wonder who was operating Dylan's on/off switch at Lumon while Milchick was with Dylan. Only Ms. Cobel and Milchick can do that now that Graner is dead. Operating that switch was a 2-person job and Cobel was nowhere to be seen then. 

 It was interesting how Dylan's entire purpose changed when realizing about his son. He suddenly seemed like an actual 3 dimensional character. It seems the severance system can be rigged very easily. The idea of the Innies going to the outside world is interesting. 

 The scene Burt announces his retirement was very effectively sad. I think that is why he didn't care about telling Irving how he really felt since he wasn't worried about losing his job since he knew he was being replaced anyway. After seeing Outie Burt's speech, Irving compares it to death. Is it? Are the Innies really livestock? Do they really live in the chip? Does that actually make them immortal? That might explain why Cobel wants the chip inside Petey's head since that really is Innie Petey. That is probably how Innie Gemma/Casey survived. 

 The Ms. Casey twist was quite interesting. It makes Mark's character even more sad that he has access to Gemma but doesn't recognize her as we saw when he passed her in the break room. Ms. Selvig even asked Devon if mark ever thought of her.

 So many mysteries to be solved on the series. Hopefully, they won't all wait until next season. The scene where Cobel talks to the Board when Natalie appears and seems shaken by them was quite telling. Rugabe said she would contact Outie Mark, but will she eventually meet Innie Mark on the real world? Is this series really more than just a serious variation of corporation office sitcom cliches? Is there really a philosophical stance about exploiting children? Watch and find out. 

  What's for Dinner: 

 Well, the question of if we will see any more of the Outie lives of some of the worker characters was answered quickly here. Yes, we did, especially Irving. I found it fascinating there does seem to be similarities between the Innie and Outie characteristics, as long as they are subconscious. They are the same person, just, well, split between the two. 

 Inside the office, there seemed to have been a time jump since the previous episode since Helly is working like nothing is going on. Clearly, something about to happen, though. It turns out that the Innie want to launch "Operation Overtime" where they will meet their Outie selves. Their plan is to do their work diligently without giving Milchick or Cobel any indication that they have a plan up their sleeve. 

It does kind of amaze me how much the management characters underestimate the workers. Is this how Apple stores function when it comes to middle management? One major plot hole is how they managed to plan this plan in the 1st place since we already know management can spy on them anywhere and time in the office. Maybe the cameras aren't as effective and omnipresent as we have been led to believe, but I doubt it. This needed more explanation. 

 Elsewhere in this episode, we find out why Dylan likes waffle parties since they're basically code words for a mysterious masked office orgy, which he gets eyeful of wearing a mask of his boss, no less. Everything is commodified in this office, even sex and human connection, or at least the illusion of it.

 Another revelation is that the severance procedure is more than just a prevention device to make sure you don't fall in love with your co-worker - or form any human connections at all at work. The character expansion of Cobalt was necessary since Patricia Arquette had been playing her like a typical villain since the pilot. This is more of a multi-faceted character than we have been shown before. I appreciated it and made the character finally feel worthy of Arquette's underrated talents. I liked that she encouraged Mark to quit Lumon at the book release party after being fired. Can she really be Selvig in the real world? Probably not, but we shall see if there is hope for her yet. 

 What Dylan did at the end was pretty shocking by flipping the switch to awaken Helly, Mark, and Irving's Innies in the real world. But, we need some urgency going into the season finale. 

  The We We Are: 

First, I enjoyed seeing Helly being celebrated at a party that looks like your average Apple launching gala. 

 Mark wakes up in Devon's bed and sees Cobel. He makes the mistake of actually calling her Cobel, which triggers Cobel to contact Milchick to check the security. The Innies have clearly escaped their captivity. I was surprised that Mark admitted to Devon that was the Innie Mark. Is this why Devon told him of Gemma's death? Mark admits Cobel is his boss in the Innie world. 

 Irving wakes up to discover his Outie's artistic and military background. He sees a map to find the Outie Burt with.

 About that gala from the beginning, turns out Helly is the Innie of Helena Eagan, who is the daughter of Lumon CEO Jamie Eagan. It was clear from the start that Helly was there for political purposes. Turns out Helena only had the procedure done to build public support for it. Helly is definitely livestock, but of a different kind. 

 Cobel tries to stop Helly from making a speech while Milchick gets through Dylan's door blocks to end the overtime contingency. Of course, Helly was able to say enough publicly at the gala to tell the world of the Innies' daily torture in the office. 

Irving then discovers that Burt is already married...to another man. 

Mark sees a photo of Gemma and realizes that she is Ms. Casey, which makes him run to Devon to tell her that his wife might actually still be alive since her Innie is, well, living and breathing. 

 So, Cobel really is as brainwashed as they come since she just cannot Lumon even after they fired her. Apparently, trying to stop Helly could be a way back into their good graces, or at least she wishes. Lumon is more than just a job; it's a cult, clearly, but we sort of already knew that. Still, its cold gravitational pull is a dramatic wonder to behold...and fear.

 Great cliffhangers all. A little predictable, but almost all television series have to be to a certain degree nowadays, it seems. I cannot wait to see how it all gets resolved in season 2. Maybe we'll all get our own versions of the Waffle Party for being good and waiting. Lumon giveth and taketh away in equal terms, I suppose.

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