Severance: In Perpetuity
February 26, 2022 11:05 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Mark takes the team on a field trip, but Helly continues to rebel. A deteriorating Petey struggles to tell Mark about Lumon's misdeeds.
posted by sleeping bear (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
First couple of episodes gave me Lost season 2 vibes, this one moved it a bit more to Portal 2 vibes with the weird perpetuity wing.
posted by sleeping bear at 11:06 PM on February 26, 2022 [6 favorites]

Oof. I feel so bad for Petey; I'm concerned that we've seen the last of him, save for flashbacks.
posted by destructive cactus at 1:07 AM on February 27, 2022

I suspect the team is not going to hit their quota this session.

I wonder what the consequences of that might be..?
posted by Faintdreams at 2:03 AM on February 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

That ringing phone ...
posted by essexjan at 2:25 AM on February 27, 2022

My current low-stakes theory is that Milchick lives in the Lumon building. Sounds like he's not the only one (if that's right) since Petey mentioned the people who never leave.
posted by minsies at 4:55 AM on February 27, 2022

i'm assuming it will turn out that everyone has more than 2 "lives" going on.
posted by AlbertCalavicci at 6:56 AM on February 27, 2022 [4 favorites]

I’m interested in whether the outies actually receive the resignation requests. And if so, I’d love to learn more out outie Helly. I feel like if I got a resignation request I would honor it. I recognize the show is keeping some of this ambiguous on purpose.

Maintaining the severed staff also seems incredibly resource-intensive if each person is monitored by their boss outside of work (as Mark appears to be). Are the other members of Mark’s team also monitored this way? Do they also live in that townhouse development? What work could they possibly be doing that justifies so much expense? Why would anyone sign up to be a boss there when you have to work all the time and maintain a second identity?

I have a lot of questions, but really enjoying this.
posted by jeoc at 7:00 AM on February 27, 2022 [5 favorites]

There's a line in the beginning of Ep2 that keeps nagging me: During the scene in the hallway when Helly first "awakens" in severed space, Milchick says "When we heard you were coming here it was like a miracle. It's amazing what you're doing".

This could easily just be the standard corporate pep talk that Milchick gives every new arrival, but it does also make me wonder if there's something unique about Hellie's role or mission. Perhaps she's related to the CEO or something similar.

In general, the writers are doing a good job of doling out the details of the mystery, I was also intrigued to see on the Wikipedia page that each of the next six episodes has a different writer, curious how that will affect the narrative.
posted by jeremias at 7:53 AM on February 27, 2022 [6 favorites]

As Helly didn't have the "Don't come back here" note when she was dragged back from the smashed window, I'm wondering if Helly on the other side will have it.
posted by essexjan at 8:47 AM on February 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

I wondered about her plan there. I can't figure it out. Was she planning to throw the note through the door's window, then somehow get through the door, hoping her outside self would see the note and read it?
posted by destructive cactus at 10:42 AM on February 27, 2022

I think she was trying to stick her head through the window far enough to switch and read the note in hand before she dropped it.

I think if I was stuck in there, I'd just get the numbers wrong. What are they going to do, fire me?
posted by Marticus at 3:26 PM on February 27, 2022 [9 favorites]

"The neighbourhood never filled up. It's nice. Quiet."

Mark's pad is probably a controlled enclave, heavily surveilled. Though, I'm having second thoughts about Harmony Cobel (Arquette) being un-severed, unless there's something along the lines of idealism, greater good, or religion is involved.

Or perhaps "partially" severed - if Innies can be neurologically manipulated, why not Outies?

Helly's message (on her arms) is great instincts. Kudos to the writers. Did she wash them off before Milchik bandaged her arm?

"Are you going to make me throw my mug at you? ... Mark..."

And... there's a mark on her door where the mug struck. And it's gone by the time she has her conference call with the Board.

The kerning on the plaques in the Hall of Perpetuity annoys me.

Milchik:... like a miracle. It's amazing what you're doing".

Interesting. I chalked it up as corpo mealy mouthed words, but I wonder now. Is Milchik 5th column, and Helly a backdoor hire and Milchik is priming her?

Now... how does Mark know that Milchik will "extract" ingested messages, regardless of which end is more expedient?

Also, the book that Milchik is reading during Helly's run - is that authored by Mark's brother-in-law (or whomever; actor Michael Chernus)?
posted by porpoise at 8:21 PM on February 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

the book: Yes, this was the present that said brother-in-law was fretting over precisely how to leave at Mark's front door.
posted by dumbland at 8:56 PM on February 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

Now... how does Mark know that Milchik will "extract" ingested messages, regardless of which end is more expedient?

I interpreted that as a spur-of-the-moment fib in order to get Helly to rethink her decision to swallow the message.
posted by jeremias at 2:46 AM on February 28, 2022

Why would anyone sign up to be a boss there when you have to work all the time and maintain a second identity?

That's why I gave up on the Treadstone series (Amazon) - the flaw I couldn't get over was;

If everyone surrounding the "activatable" spy/killer/asset is "in-on-the-secret" and there to provide cover/support - then why bother worrying about whether or not that particular spy/killer/asset "knows" what they are?

Seems to be a very expensive program with many points of human failure amongst the handlers...
posted by rozcakj at 5:47 AM on February 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Now... how does Mark know that Milchik will "extract" ingested messages, regardless of which end is more expedient?

I interpreted that as a spur-of-the-moment fib in order to get Helly to rethink her decision to swallow the message.

My take - it's in the orientation/handbook - or Mark knows from direct, personal experience...
posted by rozcakj at 5:49 AM on February 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

I wonder if the self help book written by Marks brother-in-law will become a chekov's gun ..?

I only speculate because outside personal items are conspicuous in thier absence in the office.

Remember how in the first episode Mark switched wrist watches? He mentioned that his wife was a teacher in Russian studies and the watch was (I believe) Russian military (Soviet era?) and he swapped it out for a non-descript one when getting his Lanyard/Access card.

This show is such a mental work out.
posted by Faintdreams at 9:13 AM on February 28, 2022 [6 favorites]

Back in the episode 1 post, I mentioned that the Board's retro-tech speaker device reminded me of Counterpart's "Management". Having an interpreter come in and translate for an unspeaking Board is also a direct parallel.

I expected the ambiguity of Ms. Selvig to be drawn out for a few episodes; her side of the phone call could have been misdirection. And her crying over weird failed cookies is such a departure for the confident boss she is in the office or while searching the basement, so I wonder if she can be remotely switched between personalities.

Also, do you think Optics and Design were really having a two person egg drop contest?
posted by autopilot at 5:06 AM on March 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

Few things I noticed this episode:
-When Mark gets out of work near the end it is much later than usual (guard was gone and parking lot empty) so what was he doing in the time after everyone else left?

-During one of the audio talks in the perpetuity wing it talked about the founders belief in the 4 basic elements that make up people/peoples minds (I forget exactly how it was phrased) but our main crews task seems to be to isolate and sort those numbers into 4 distinct bins with at least one type of them correlating to "dread", which was one of the 4 elements.

-My wife pointed out there is some weird stuff maybe going on with food. Originally I just chocked up the the food-less dinner party as supposed to being a "pretentious-hipster-pseudo intellectual" sort of thing but later at the diner when Mark talks with Peet there is again water at all the tables (even empty ones) and we never see him order or eat food. Granted they could of just cut away from that since its not vital to the plot, still weird.

-Everything seems very sinister but with any lack of consequences? Like we don't get to see the whole 'break room' scene but what is the penalty for failing or resisting? Like what if Helly just sat there and refused to read the words or participate at all? Can you get fired?

Overall for a "mystery box" type show they seem to be doing a good job at playing out the mystery elements, I just hope we get a better payoff than LOST.
posted by Captain_Science at 7:31 AM on March 1, 2022 [8 favorites]

The questions are kind of starting to pile up for me.

Helly asks if they're dead, if they're in a post-apocalyptic bunker, etc - so does she genuinely not know anything about the world outside when in? Is there memory of pop culture, common reference points etc? It's sort of implied that they don't know *anything* outside the office.

And yet each innie seems to have a markedly different reaction to their condition: you have the true believer, the guy just plugging away not really giving a shit, Helly who is in near constant rebellion, and Mark kind of fluctuating between each of those states. But it seems the goal is to create these blank slate corporate humans whose entire view of the world is shaped by the company (as the perpetuity wing seems to imply).

But once they got to the Perpetuity wing I was like, why would they all react so differently? The Lumon hagiography is played for its creepiness, we're cringing at the thought of being stuck inside this pure corporate PR world with no escape, but why would any of these people have grounds for skepticism or cynicism about it? What would that even be based on?

In other words, knowing that you will have people who either will or won't buy into the Lumon mythos, why would Lumon basically have that be the only outlet. You either have the fake cheery/uplift of the perpetuity wing or the barely concealed violence/rapiness of Graner and the Break Room (where Milchik will extract contraband from any orifice by implied force?). Like if you're not successfully, surgically incepting them into total psychological dependence on the Lumon mythos, why put all your chips on that?

There seems like a ton of potential here but I'm worried the mystery box plotting might be at odds with the satirical potency
posted by anazgnos at 3:55 PM on March 3, 2022 [4 favorites]

I have to say I'm warming to the Irving as mole theory.
posted by mykescipark at 11:08 AM on March 8, 2022

What did Mark’s license plate say? I’m watching this on a phone: I couldn’t make it out. They live in “Ganz” USA, right? Or is it Kier, a company town? I thought the TV weather report Mark watched mentioned bad weather for Kier.

The board got a little less omniscient in my eyes when they insisted that reintegration was proven to be impossible. I expected the board to be so alert to threats that they would explore any possibility no matter how remote.

Will Mark exfiltrate Petey’s photo/map? The all-powerful symbol detectors would see it. But they don’t flag his badge, which has the company logo on it. Could you disguise your message as a Lumon logo to get it past the symbol detectors?
posted by Monochrome at 9:09 AM on March 19, 2022

Remember Numinous? I dunno
posted by Monochrome at 11:42 AM on March 19, 2022

All we know is the board insists that Selvig not question that reintegration is impossible.
posted by straight at 2:50 PM on April 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Like we don't get to see the whole 'break room' scene but what is the penalty for failing or resisting? Like what if Helly just sat there and refused to read the words or participate at all?

This seems like it needs explanation or is a big mis-step. I can believe she would read the words once in a spirit of, "Whatever, get on with it," but I can't believe she would read it a second time without some sort of coercion. She'd try talk to Milchick and refuse to continue until he answered or coerced her in some way.
posted by straight at 2:55 PM on April 10, 2022

The break room scene, while she’s reading the screen, keeps cutting to one of those polygraph scribble paper machines that gets more active the more she reads it: my take is the phrase is a code that unlocks some Dread feeling (leading to obedience) that gets worse and worse each time, or something related to what the device can deploy. Mark S. sure doesn’t like it.

The BIL’s book is going to be spotted by Mark S. and cause Problems, definitely.
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 3:05 PM on April 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

One of the past CEOs is named Pip, as in Pip's Bar & Grill
posted by rocket88 at 5:49 AM on May 1, 2022 [8 favorites]

Re: why couldn’t Hilly just refuse to read the words? Well, imagine spending every single moment of the rest of your life in that room, with brief intervals of walking to and from the elevator. Forever. Never eating, sleeping, drinking, speaking to or seeing another person, for years and years and years, watching your hands grow gradually older and more wrinkled and realizing you’re going to die and almost every moment you can remember of your life is just sitting in that room.

But sure, I mean, she COULD just refuse.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:34 PM on June 7, 2022 [7 favorites]

Really wondering about the incentives for joining the severed workforce. We know Mark is there because of trauma, but what about everybody else? It doesn’t seem like it pays especially well based on Mark’s lifestyle. Is it just that since you have no memories of working it’s kind of like getting paid for nothing, or is there some greater economic pressure in the outer world?

Also, man I hate Irving. Kudos to John Turturro.
posted by rodlymight at 8:30 PM on June 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

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