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Severance Apple TV Series: Work-life balance taken to a whole new level!

Updated: 4 days ago

These days there are more onscreen dystopian realities than we know what to do with. Ben Stiller's Severance Apple TV Series is one such Orwellian nightmare that is worth a watch. While season 1 was an absolute smash hit, a lot hangs in the balance for Severance season 2 as the audience expectations are sky-high.


Severance's Rabbit Hole of a Plot


The series starts with a disoriented employee talking to a disembodied voice over an old-timey intercom. The audience is then Tarentino'ed back to the voice which is that of a severed employee.


Severance Apple TV Series
Lumon's disorienting orientation

Severance refers to the surgical implantation of a neural implant that separates the work part of your brain from the life/home part of your brain. The fictional company in the series called Lumon recruits employees this way since the work that happens at this enterprise requires pathological levels of confidentiality.


Severance Apple TV Series
Got something on my mind

So once an employee goes through the process of severance, the second the employee leaves the work building, they will not be able to recall anything about their work. When they re-enter the building every morning, they are "re-activated" and will feel like they never left the building.


You are shown an almost Pavlovian response to an elevator ding where the employee "snaps" out of his work self into his outside persona.


Severance Apple TV Series
Ding!

The person who works in the Lumon building is called the "Innie" and the person who lives life outside the Lumon building is called the "Outie." Both personas are separated psychologically with each of them not knowing about the other's activities and memories.


The series is predicated upon massive levels of suspense that will ease just a smidge every episode. There are several parallels to cults that you can see play out in Lumon where the employed individuals are discouraged from thinking anything that expresses their identity.


There are also hard and strict punishments that are handed out to employees who step out of line and scant (and sometimes nonsensical) rewards to people who conform.



Severance Season 1 Finale


To refresh you movie junkies about what happened toward the end of Severance season 1, you see the Lumon employee innies grow increasingly frustrated with their life. With help from each other, the Lumon innies plot an escape to the outside world. They use the "overtime contingency" at Lumon to activate or wake up their innies when outside.


While doing this, the innies at Lumon uncover a mountain of closeted skeletons ranging from hidden identities to love interests and people who were thought dead. Everything is left dangling in a delicious cliffhanger that is yet to be unwrapped in Severance season 2.


I have intentionally left out any plot details of season 1 so that you can enjoy watching the finale without the wet blanket of any spoilers.


Theories about Severance Season 2



With Severance Season 2 set to premiere on January 17th, 2025, theories abound regarding the central plot of this psychological sci-fi series. Mainly it involves explaining the mission of Lumon and the purpose of their mind-based experiments.


A Reddit AMA by Dan Erickson shed some necessary light on the matter, confirming audience theories so that you can rule out broad stuff:


  1. The Lumon building where the Innies go to work is a physical building that actually exists, unlike the Matrix where people are plugged into a simulation.

  2. Lumon's tech is one of the ways "society willingly ‘segments’ itself from unpleasant truths" - whatever THAT means!

  3. The audience WILL see more goats says Erickson, without clarifying if it involves cloning or mind control experiments.

  4. The black goo in Irving's mind is just that, it's all in his head and not real.


Unconfirmed audience theories:


  1. Lumon is a mind control tech that helps create soldiers who can compartmentalize their missions and avoid PTSD

  2. The technology at Lumon has been used to retain the consciousness of founding fathers such as Kier Egan.



Cast


The cast of Severance is an eclectic mix of veteran actors and (relatively) new faces with Adam Scott ( Mark Scout) leading the charge in this psychological thriller.


Scott is the central character who is trying to unravel the mystery that is Lumon, with John Turturro (Irving), Christopher Walken (Burt), and the beautiful Britt Lower (Helly) along for the ride


Severance Apple TV Series
MDR team at Lumon

Patricia Arquette is also playing the role of the cold and ruthless boss Harmony and the funny dude Zach Cherry (Dylan) whom you would have seen in Spiderman: Homecoming and Shang Chi.


Of course, the biggest surprise is the person who is directing this sci-fi thriller Ben Stiller who seems to be quite comfortable dealing with dark, morbid, and twisted plot motifs.


New cast members in Season 2 include Gwendoline Christie of Game of Thrones fame and Merritt Wever from the Godless series. Another familiar face you would recognize is Alia Shawkat from Arrested Development and another five new actors bringing the new cast tally to eight.


Should You Watch It? Yes!


Apart from the stark metaphor of work and life balance that can get extreme in some cases, Severance is worth watching because of the great cast, performances, and what is sure to be an awesome plot device. I just hope that the suspense builds to a meaningful and satisfying reveal, or else the audience backlash to this would be spectacular.


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First Published 18th March 2022 and updated 18th July 2024

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