Severance: Defiant Jazz
March 24, 2022 7:31 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Mark and the team encounter new security measures from Cobel.
posted by Silvery Fish (77 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
WOOOOOOAAAAHHHHH!!!!

I forgive almost everything that didn’t set right with me about the last episode.

Poor Dylan! Poor Irving! Poor Mark!

I’ll have more to say after a second watch, but right now, what struck me was that this episode is all about love, and the brave and desperate and defiant measures a person will take to protect and preserve that love which gives life and heart purpose.

This episode really drove home the horrific situation the innies are in; destined to die and not remember and not be remembered.

There’s a lot more to unpack, but I need more time to pull my thoughts together.
posted by Silvery Fish at 7:46 PM on March 24 [11 favorites]


1) is this out early?

2) Irving’s “Let’s burn this place to the ground” actually made me accept that this can be a successful character driven story without revealing what the numbers are and I take back what I said in the last episode’s thread. Well done writers.

3) This was an incredible episode and I’m excited to watch it again tomorrow.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:03 PM on March 24 [7 favorites]


What an episode! So many great moments whipping between moods. They didn't resolve "chekov's vomit" yet, noting that one in case it doesn't come back up.

The dance party & bite scene was my favourite and the list of options for the music experience are worth a pause. Who's blowing their dance party 5 minutes of Wistful Pipes though, trap option.

I loved every member of the party finally getting on Revolt level, now united to advance through the game together. I also love the kind of reverse potential horror for the innies to replace the outies, like don't think there's a "stargate Tok'Ra" solution here for the two people to cohabitate long term, certainly not intentionally by design. Gonna be interesting to see how or what they do when getting the chance to flip on the outside for themselves.

And damn, last episode was already great but with the added context of the photo at the end, makes that tiny hallway scene even more tragic. Now I'm wondering if there's a possible way that she was never actually his wife, if she was but in a fucked-up severed sort of way. Could just be something that happened after too, but something Very Weird is up with her asking mark's "sister" if he ever thinks he sees her. Obviously could just be trying to suss out if he's getting leaked memories from seeing her at work, or maybe so far as seeing her in the wild, but at this point I'm always suspecting something sneakier.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:08 PM on March 24 [5 favorites]


4) I posted that before the episode finished and 🤯 the ending. Guess we know the full time innie situation. The OTC combined with the picture is a solid Chekhov’s Gun
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:10 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


oh my god oh my god oh my god

i loved this so much
posted by mochapickle at 10:58 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


This was great. I knew they were heading to a known person reveal at the very end, but it wasn’t who I expected. And isn’t she only a part-time innie? HM.

But also to NSAID’s comment, this is where I felt a deliberate shift from Mystery Box to Character Story. I do hope they don’t lose the mysteries put out there - I find those super compelling - but can get with this change.

Is it weird that Outies record goodbye messages? It almost made me wonder if Innies are largely devoid of real emotion in some way. Everything we’ve seen outside of MDR’s quest is restrained and within an appropriate office protocol: polite, planned. Irv’s love for Burt, Dylan’s love for his kid, the plot to burn it down… all this appears unanticipated and the answer from Lumen is to shut it down.

Anyway, curious where we’ll land in the last eps here! A great ride.
posted by hijinx at 5:46 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


1) is this out early?

They say they get released friday but mine are always available by 10:00 PM ET on Thursday.

I enjoyed this episode but found the lack of security a little implausible. So Graner gets killed, Mark has his security key, and with all the cameras around he still roams around Lumon freely? Nobody can see that Graner's key card is still being used at Lumon? Also it kind of rendered the new security measures they made such a big deal about in the last episode kind of obsolete right away.

I loved the stuff with Dylan. Suddenly none of the perks matter. Poor guy. I can see how having just a glimpse of your outie's life would totally mess you up like that.

The Overtime Contingency is interesting and I'm looking forward to seeing them use it. I was half expecting Mark's outie to wake up while he was looking at the photo of his wife.

I hate waiting a week for the next episode. I want to know now! It's going to be frustrating waiting for the next season.

I love this show so much.
posted by bondcliff at 7:18 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Ok, I have a fully formed fan theory now...

The whole point of the severance program is to create new recruits for the Lumon cult. What better way to indoctrinate someone than to start with a blank slate. The ultimate goal of the "work" is to convince the innies that they are the chosen ones under Kier, and that the innies should replace their outies in the real world, so that the Lumon cult can fill the world with it's devoted innie followers.

Ms. Cobell is one such convert. She used to have an outie persona, but the indoctrination worked and now she's living on the outside as a full time innie cult member. It was a decision made on her innie's own free will, to replace her outie. Lumon actually wants to *empower* all the innies to make the same choice she did, to betray their outies and chose full lives for themselves, a decision that indebts them to the secrecy of the Lumon cult forever.

So Irving has it all backwards when yells at O&D during the retirement party. He claims Milchick doesn't get it because he's not severed, but Milchick *is* severed, and living life as a full time innie. And Burt's innie isn't dying through this "retirement" process, his outie is. Burt's innie is about to be rewarded for his years of service to Kier by becoming a full fledged person. And of course Burt's outie has no idea this is even going to happen (and never will). His outie's cluelessness is played up in the goodbye video, where he freely admits to having no idea what's going on. His ignorance of the situation (which is initially sold as a benefit of severance) is about to get him "killed".

The card that Dylan stole depicts two people fighting (all of the cards do). The cards are a metaphor for the innie/outie conflict, and serve as a prophecy for the triumph of the innie. They also reveal Lumon's ultimate goal, which is why they are such sensitive material. If an outie were to see such a card, they might start to understand what kind of danger they are in.

I suppose some innies don't successfully convert, in which case they can either be fired (the outie is "set free" from the plan and Lumon gives up on the innie), or in more serious circumstances, the innie can be kidnapped, and the outie's death faked (a la Mark's wife / Ms. Casey).
posted by grog at 10:41 AM on March 25 [26 favorites]


Say what you will about him but Milchick's got the moves. I loved that MDE scene. When Milchick was dancing behind Dylan I kept flashing back to the Judas and Christ scene from Jesus Christ Superstar, then Dylan's flashback threw in a little 2001. What a great episode. The cult watching the show is growing just like the cult in the show. Does this mean that soon we'll be characters in the show and won't remember our lives before it came on?
posted by Stanczyk at 11:57 AM on March 25 [8 favorites]


Bawdy Funk
Bouncy Swing
Buoyant Reggae
Defiant Jazz
Effusive Ska
Exalted Choral
Exciting Rap
Hootin' Tootin' Country
Lofty Orchestral
Maximized Rhythms
Playful Punk
Reckless Disco
Spooky Ambient
Tearful Emo
Thoughtful Grunge
Wholesome Big Band
Wistful Pipes
posted by Monochrome at 12:04 PM on March 25 [38 favorites]


Mark ought to substitute a 45 of Petey's daughter's "Fuck you, Lumon" for Playful Punk.
posted by Monochrome at 12:44 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


OMG! What an episode. Milchik is the most terrifying character I've seen on TV since Lalo Salamanca. Something about that smiling demeanour hiding a total psychopath. During the dance party I realised who he reminds me of - 1970s Richard Roundtree.

My heart broke for Irving and I want so much to know about his outie life to see if it involves Bert. Irving will be a very dangerous adversary for Lumon, I think.

That photo at the end. Holy shit!
posted by essexjan at 12:53 PM on March 25 [10 favorites]


WOW

Terrifying the way the doctor just instantly beats Griner to death. Suggests some truly heinous stuff is happening at Lumon.

The MDE was amazingly surreal, but also fun, and also incredibly ominous. Something about Milchick changing into that skintight white turtleneck is super creepy. Tactical. (though not a true tactleneck because it's not dark black or slightly darker black)

It's interesting that Milchick thought he could keep Dylan in control after the accident with the kid, seems like they would just immediately remove him from the team one way or another.

And holy shit about Mark's wife. Has he mentioned any connection she had with Lumon before her death? Such a great reveal. My complete thought process as he began tearing up the photo: Are they obscuring her face on purpose? Oh they totally are. Is it Helly? No, it can't be Helly. It's gotta be Helly, who else could it be? It really shouldn't be Helly, but they are going to make it be Helly, that's too bad. Or is it just a fakeout and she is going to be no one? OH SHIT.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:23 PM on March 25 [10 favorites]


If you had told me a couple of months ago that For All Mankind would become my second-favorite Apple TV+ show, I would have laughed in your face, but here we are.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:26 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


What an episode. I was wondering (and I think somebody here mentioned it in one of the earlier episode's threads) about the candle that appears in two places (innie world and outtie world, trying to be vague in case anyone accidentally happens upon this thread before watching), and when I heard Covel's question to Mark's sister, it all fell into place in my head. That last scene was such a tease but I was so ready to be right, haha.

The pacing and plotting of this show is crazy good! During that last reveal, I remember thinking "we weren't ready to know this before Mark was ready to recognize it".
posted by destructive cactus at 2:54 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Aw yeah:

I am also wondering why we have never seen a photo of Mark's wife, and if it's perhaps because she is one of the severed employees that lives at Lumon.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:29 PM on March 14 [+] [!]

***

This episode was so much better than the previous one. Lots of weird corporate bullshit. I agree that it's odd that no one was paying attention to Graner's absence after security was increased.

And this by greg is a great theory. We were wondering how Ms. Casey could be a "part-time innie"- isn't Mark a part-time innie? He didn't seem surprised to be compared to a part-time innie though...

(I really hate the word "innie" and I can't believe I have said it so often over that last few weeks.)
posted by oneirodynia at 3:10 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, the comment was by grog, not greg!
posted by oneirodynia at 3:17 PM on March 25


Innies and outies, like they're belly buttons.
posted by Stanczyk at 3:48 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


AHHHhh.

This was so great. I just finished a five-minute run of saying 'what the fuck' over and over.

And a Paul Anka needledrop? Whew!
posted by minsies at 5:43 PM on March 25


The whole point of the severance program is to create new recruits for the Lumon cult.
I've been trying to decide if there's something cult-like going on. At first I thought they were just playing with the 50s corporate benevolent parent attitude, but I started getting a real scientology vibe later on. I'm still not sure though.

Then with Cobel so interested in Mark's family, i began to wonder if everything was really about him personally, that the department was just a ruse so they could study him and his relations for some reason.

Now I'm wondering if the reason that Ms. Casey had to be given some time away was that she was starting to see/recognize Mark, which is why Cobel asks his sister about him.

I have no grand theories though.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:11 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I need to start writing these things down, but for the record I after last weeks' episode I fully called that Miss Casey was Mark's wife.

Two years ago I bought a fancy 65 inch OLED 4k TV for my basement, and despite having watched several action movies on it in the intervening months, the MDE was by far the prettiest thing I have watched on it to date. The colouring and the camera work were spell-binding. Ben Stiller's got some chops.

Anyway, my thing with Lumon is it seems to rely entirely on people doing what's expected of them, all the way down the chain. The Board never speaks. They just sit passively and what for whoever is on the other end to figure out what's expected of them and do it.

Which means the innies have SO MUCH POWER. And it's clear they are starting to realize it. If Milchick were to send one of them to the Break Room, what would happen if they just said "Make me"? We saw evidence last week on Mark's knuckles that punishment may have gotten physical, but we've never actually seen Milchick or Granger or Cobel lay a hand on any of the Severeds.

The two times Milchick got pushback in this episode showed how actually toothless he is. Dylan fucking bit him, and the worst he could do was say "This MDE is officially cancelled." And when Irving is screaming about what Lumon is doing to Burt, all Milchick can do is firmly tell him to go back to his office. Helly seems to have decided to just go along with her role, but very clearly nothing she could do would make anyone either fire or harm her, so aside from not being able to leave, she has all the power within the confines of the severed floor.

Whatever Cobel is, she's also figuring out that if she goes rogue, it doesn't seem like anyone above her is going to actually do anything about it.
posted by dry white toast at 7:30 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


are we supposed to recognize marks wife in the photo at the end? i guess i can see that she is maybe asiatic and has black hair but that’s not miss caseys nose, is it ? i was expecting helly, but now i don’t know what to think.

also the non severed lumen employees can’t all be permanent innies. milchick is clearly dylans cousin or brother or something, he is close to the outies family
posted by dis_integration at 9:39 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


So good.
posted by Nelson at 9:47 PM on March 25


i see that the internet seems unified in the opinion that it’s a photo of the same woman as ms casey, even though i remain confused. this episode was fantastic though! the best show since station 11 ended
posted by dis_integration at 9:48 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Mark and Helly's outies have already encountered each other, Mark nearly hit her with his car on day 1.
And this by greg is a great theory. We were wondering how Ms. Casey could be a "part-time innie"- isn't Mark a part-time innie? He didn't seem surprised to be compared to a part-time innie though...
Was it Cobel who mentioned Ms Casey being part-time? I forget. Anyway I only took that as referring to employment status. Mark's a full-time severed employee, as in he works the severed floor 9-5, Monday to Friday. Ms Casey in comparison is (described as) a part-time severed employee, meaning she doesn't.
posted by dumbland at 6:29 AM on March 26


Yeah, it was Cobel who called Ms Casey a part-time innie, in the previous episode.
posted by minsies at 8:44 AM on March 26


I'm getting a bit nervous about how much they need to tie up in the next two episodes!

I got the impression from some interviews I read that they are keen to do another series and have plenty of material in mind for it, so I don't expect we will see the resolution to everything.
posted by simonw at 10:17 AM on March 26


Seems the shoot has already started.

https://productionlist.com/production/severance-season-2/
posted by daksya at 10:22 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


dry white toast: "The two times Milchick got pushback in this episode showed how actually toothless he is. Dylan fucking bit him, and the worst he could do was say "This MDE is officially cancelled." And when Irving is screaming about what Lumon is doing to Burt, all Milchick can do is firmly tell him to go back to his office."

The non-severed Lumon empoyees that we know all seem to be sucking at their jobs a bit — nice job clomping your way into an ambush, Graner — but Milchick especially. He should have some sense of how big a fuck-up it was to reveal the existence of outie-Dylan's child to innie-Dylan. And I fully believe he has the ability to escalate Dylan's, uh, insubordination beyond the empty threat he made. It's hard to square the power that Lumon is portrayed as having outside the building with regard to severance (getting it legalized in the first place, for instance) with the impotence they've demonstrated inside the building.

One of my pet theories is that Milchick has been slow-walking his job, whether purposefully or not, ever since he read Ricken's book. That even Ricken's platitudes about work not defining a person were enough to disillusion Milchick about the whole endeavor. Two episodes ago, Irving and Dylan would never have signed onto a mutiny, but Milchick seems to have done the exact things necessary to get both of them on board.

The main thing that makes me hesitant about this theory is the fact that he's so good at being creepy one minute and then genuinely charming the next. That's typically a trait that gets reserved for outright villains.

They've done a great job of humanizing even the villains that we're aware of. Harmony does some awful, awful shit, yet I'm somehow on her side in her battles with The Board. She's demonstrated herself to be a Kier True Believer rather than a specific believer in severance, and if she somehow decided those two things were at odds with one another, she'd choose Kier.

Her crusade to prove that reintegration exists is framed as a way to guard Lumon from a threat, but I feel like it could just as easily convince her that severance is a dead-end, that it can't be used to achieve whatever ideals she thinks it's achieving.
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:52 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


grog: "Lumon actually wants to *empower* all the innies to make the same choice she did, to betray their outies and chose full lives for themselves, a decision that indebts them to the secrecy of the Lumon cult forever."

This is plausible, I agree. If it turns out to be true, though, then we need an explanation for Helly's outie. Prevailing fan theory seems to be that she's an Eagan, or an expert on the severance team, or something, and severed herself as a way of eating her own dogfood, as it were. When she says to her innie, “I am a person. You are not,” I believe that she believes that.

So I'd need that to be reconciled somehow. I've also read speculation that Helly's actually a mole, and is trying to foment rebellion; but if that were true, I'd need to know how she thought she could pull it off. The whole point of an innie is that they can't be controlled by the outie.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:04 AM on March 26


Every time the crew walks the hallways in slow-mo, I see the slow-mo walk in Mystery Men. I keep expecting Dylan to chicken out, turn around in slow-mo, and get pulled back in by the others.
posted by vitabellosi at 12:07 PM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Seems the shoot has already started.

https://productionlist.com/production/severance-season-2/


Excited to hear that, until I made the mistake of reading all the way down. Warning, there might be S2 cast spoilers (thus, semi-spoilers for S1).

I went back to watch parts of other episodes. When Mark was in his Wellness session with Ms Casey, Dylan was reading Ricken's poem "Destiny." Just after "I is for the eyes that observe us with love," there was a shot of Ms Casey looking at Mark.

There's also been incredible misdirection in the story. I'm not sure how many fans considered his wife might still be alive, but even fewer would have guessed Casey. (Even in the above Destiny sequence, I was more focused on Helly trying to kill herself than on Mark's session.)

If Gemma was severely injured in a car accident, the chip might have something to do with her still functioning at all. God, the tragedy if/ when one or both of them realizes the truth.

And shout out on the use of music in this show, both the selected existing songs and the original score. The latter often has that Latinish beat, reminding me of some 1960s spy thriller.

I'm very eager to see Helly and Burt on the Outside. Perhaps Helly's Innie will experience a Contingency moment at the Eagan Gala. ( Yes, I'm still in the "she's part of the family" camp. Tho maybe there'll be a different twist.)

And skimming through those earlier episodes, I was struck again by the odd language. Multiple times Lumen writing uses words like "whilst," not exactly our contemporary American English. (Tho I'm not obsessed with what this world is, I'm just taking it as some alt universe where they can make those chips but still have older-looking music / TV / computer tech.)

At any rate, from the MDE to Harmony throwing that doll to the reveal, this was some episode.
posted by NorthernLite at 1:53 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


"The music dance experience is officially canceled."
Another great episode.

So much going on, and so many questions:
-is Reghabi really a former Lumon worker (or contractor), who is now making up for the severance horror?
-I love how Burt's outie's video appearance is very Christopher Walken
-What does "retirement" mean for the severed? The Board has (apparently) insisted reintegration doesn't occur. Do they kill the innie - if so, how? EMP the implant?
-Dylan's attack, and Milchik's surprising powerlessness
-Cobel successfully and cruelly overpowering the Board's "intermediary" - a gala event to come
-the awfulness of Mark's drunken conversation, and then the shocking final image
-Milchik tells Burt they can work on their final preparations, now that they have the card back. Does "final preparations" refer to anything other than retirement, because the card doesn't seem connected to that?
-record player - why is so much of the technology older than 2022's?
-Gabby may have been severed for birth. How widespread is severing?

Now I'm thinking of that scene when Mark and Mrs. Casey slide past each other in the very narrow Break Room entrance.

And Ms. Cobel talking about seeing her dead husband everywhere.

Didn't Ms. Casey tell the severed to view all things equally, like Mark describes Gemma's tastes?
posted by doctornemo at 2:38 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


And is The Lexington Letter an ebook?
posted by doctornemo at 2:39 PM on March 26


Yes, it's an ebook, we're talking about it here. It's free but you have to own Apple hardware to read it that way. Alternately there's the whole book on imgur.
posted by Nelson at 2:56 PM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Thank you, Nelson.
posted by doctornemo at 3:27 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


-What does "retirement" mean for the severed? The Board has (apparently) insisted reintegration doesn't occur. Do they kill the innie - if so, how? EMP the implant?

I don't think they would EMP it. If they did, outside Petey could have simply retired and gone on with his life without a care in the world. It seems like Lumon might want the option to be able to flip the switch on people for as long as they live. This might explain why Petey opted for for reintegration, which meant damaging the implant somehow. Reghabi says that Petey died because didn't keep up with the recovery protocol, but if that's the case, why was he completely off on his own? Why would he have left Reghabi? Did he trust her?

Cobel was fascinating this episode. I laughed out loud during the latching training where she just sort of chucked the doll onto the couch! I think savetheclocktower has a terrific read on her motivations, that she's more loyal to Kier than she is to the severance program and is fully prepared to act accordingly. So much of what she's doing seems like it's going off book.

Why do so many of Cobel's actions focus much on Mark? We don't have any indication that anyone else is being followed so closely. She lives next door, she ribs him gently about the state of his burned-out lightbulbs so it's clear she's visited there before.

But it feels more like more than professional interest. She looks out the window and watches him alone in his house, and tenderly says, "Poor Mark." She finds so many ways to insinuate into his life. And that Christmas candle. She knew where it was in a sealed storage container. When she picked it up, she took in the scent of it as if it held a memory. She asks the sister if Mark ever talks about Gemma. She tells Mark a story about her husband who passed away, and yet for a long time she saw him everywhere. Is it possible that she's been implanted with some of Gemma's consciousness and memory somehow? In her office, she suddenly threw a mug at his head -- maybe it was a coincidence but it was the day after he went on his first date since his wife died.

I'm baffled by the Miss Casey thing. It's her in the picture, but multiple characters have said she's dead. If she's only a part time inside person (I can't say the i-word, I can't do it, it's so horrible) wouldn't she be out in the world after work? Wouldn't she be recognized? I don't think she's a robot because robots wouldn't have use for a break room.

Last week we were all kind of meh about so much happening in a single episode, and now we get this week and it all make sense. So many shows will have a rather dull repositioning episode about 2/3 of the way through where not much happens and the episode solely exists to get characters where they need to be for the end of the season. But this show, y'all. This show does the renegade, opposite thing and instead does an episode where TOO MUCH happens so the rest of the season can happen. It's brilliant.

I'm excited there will be a season 2 because I desperately want Helly to be a villain now.
posted by mochapickle at 4:00 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure how many fans considered his wife might still be alive, but even fewer would have guessed Casey.

I think it was the comments here that tipped me off to the possibility, but once I had it in my mind, Ms. Casey was the only option. Mark has seen Helly and Ms. Cobel on the outside without freaking out, and he has had very little if any interaction with any of the very few other women we've seen on the inside.

In theory, if an outie wanted to quit and end the innie's existence, all they would have to do is stop going to work, right? You only need to reintegrate if you want both selves and sets of memories to survive.

As for where Ms. Casey is when we don't see her...and also possibly related to the senator's wife...is it possible we'll find out there are severed people whose selves are both under the impression they are effectively the innie? Or is that too...expected of a direction for any capitalist, authoritarian, or patriarchal institution to take this kind of technology?
posted by lampoil at 5:00 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


The handwashing instructions in the manual are pretty bogus. Current best practices is to let the water run, and turn off the faucet with disposable paper towels that you dried your clean hands with. Hang on to the paper towels, activate the door handle, keep door open with foot, deposit paper towels in the waste receptacle.

The talk about "disease" really maps to the "disease of thinking."
posted by porpoise at 5:08 PM on March 26


As for where Ms. Casey is when we don't see her...and also possibly related to the senator's wife...is it possible we'll find out there are severed people whose selves are both under the impression they are effectively the innie?

So weird, right? I guess my main question is, Since everyone thinks she’s dead, was her death faked? Was she in on it? Did she actually die and get downloaded? What did outside Gemma/Casey know?
posted by mochapickle at 5:17 PM on March 26


I think this episode was a good payoff for the last few. I’m still conflicted about the show; but the innies’ actions are at least making sense now.
posted by interogative mood at 6:29 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Burt G worked at Lumon for seven years, I'm pretty sure that's how long they said Irving worked there. Does anyone know what Irving's last initial is? I'm wondering if maybe they're a couple on the outside.

-record player - why is so much of the technology older than 2022's?

Seems to me the innies would have no idea that technology has advanced beyond what they have in the office. There's no reason to have newer computers or MP3 players or whatever. Perhaps anything more advanced could get hacked or be used to communicate with the outside world.
posted by bondcliff at 6:33 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Irving says during the ball-roll game in the second episode that he’s been there three years. But yeah, I still very much want Burt and Irving to be together on the outside. It’s romantic to think that they’d still find a path to each other as strangers…
posted by mochapickle at 6:56 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I hate the idea that there will be a season 2. I was really hoping this would wrap up with one season.
posted by interogative mood at 7:00 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


-record player - why is so much of the technology older than 2022's?

With just a couple exceptions, the technology on the severed floor is vintage and technology elsewhere is modern. Mark Scout watches an HDTV and his old CRT TV gathers dust in the basement. Mark S. uses a CRT monitor and has watched DVDs on a CRT TV.

The exceptions I noticed are that non-severed on the severed floor have cell phones (the Board’s representative has a Bluetooth earpiece too, the camcorder, and I almost forgot the 3D printers in O&D), and that everyone has cars from the 20th century.
posted by Monochrome at 8:36 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


One theory I read re: the older technology and furnishings was that they were perhaps less likely to cause the severed to inadvertently connect them to their current outside life events and memories.
posted by mochapickle at 8:46 PM on March 26


are we supposed to recognize marks wife in the photo at the end? i guess i can see that she is maybe asiatic and has black hair but that’s not miss caseys nose, is it ?

I paused on the photo and then googled the actor who plays Miss Casey and it's definitely her.
posted by essexjan at 12:58 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]


The problem with things like this is that one makes up speculative stories to explain things, become attached to one's explanations and then when the version the actual creators come up with is different, one feels disappointed. While trying to avoid that, I wonder whether Gemma/Ms Casey became a full-time innie, so her outie necessarily died (like innie Burt, but in reverse), and the car crash (which could be tweaked to, um, obfuscate the true identity of the person who had died in the crash) was confected to give her death an external reality.

Ms Cobel (whose outie name I've forgotten), has, presumably, reintegrated, possibly spontaneously (so she's keeping the fact that she has access to both personalities secret from everybody) - she is "really" both people, and able to switch between them.
posted by Grangousier at 3:18 AM on March 27


The old tech is explained a bit in this excellent article about production design from a couple of weeks ago.
The table, like much of the other furniture in the office building, is meant to evoke a subconscious, almost nostalgic sense of the idea of “work,” grounded in mid-20th-century design. ...

Hindle and Baseman learned the hard way that any single brand of computer would be too identifiable for viewers. “We brought in every imaginable desktop we could think of,” Hindle said. “We made a computer that, if it ever came out in the real world and the engineers described what they were doing, no one would believe them. It’s a cathode-ray tube, but it’s a touchscreen. It has a trackball. We recognize some aspects of it, and some not at all.” The contradictory qualities are supposed to be baffling but also a bit amusing. “It doesn’t look like an adult high-tech computer,” Baseman added. “It looks like a toy.”
I interpret this to mean "we did it because it looked cool" and not "this is a secret clue about time or the nature of Lumon". These choices go up all the way to the amazing use of the Bell Labs Holmdel Complex as a location. It feels very in line with the design choices made in Legion and Loki.
posted by Nelson at 7:08 AM on March 27 [7 favorites]


Another thing that popped out at me in this episode, when "Mrs. Selvig" referenced Clark Gable ( as an example of a handsome man) to Mark's sister. Now, I'm an old movie fan of a certain age, but even to me that seemed a very dated reference. Was it just another character quirk, or are we going to discover she's somehow much older.

Also, I briefly wondered if she's an Eagan. (She and Helly even related.) But I think Cobel/Selvig's more a zealot who was raised into the cult. And I don't think she and Milchick were ever severed, they are curators / controllers of the experiment which is Severance.

And we haven't seen the last of those ideogram cards, whatever their purpose.
posted by NorthernLite at 10:28 AM on March 27 [7 favorites]


Lumon might want the option to be able to flip the switch on people for as long as they live.

That... is a very scary idea.
posted by doctornemo at 11:27 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


It is.

And I was thinking: Irving says in the second episode that he's been there for three years and he was "hired older." If he's the same age as John Turturro, he's about 65 and has a good 40+ years of his career behind him.

We don't know when severance technology began, right? So who's to say Irving wasn't severed at age 25 and then moved between severed facilities every few years, starting fresh every time? Who's to say Irving has spent his entire career severed and has absolutely no idea of it.

That black goo he keeps seeing when he drifts off? Maybe it's not the result of undergoing a severing at an older age, but the cumulative result of being severed for 40 years.
posted by mochapickle at 1:12 PM on March 27 [4 favorites]


Good question, mochapickle. We know Lumon goes back to the 19th century. How old is severing?
posted by doctornemo at 4:40 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


The panicking about the card may point to them purposefully being designed to bypass the scanner in the elevator/stairwell.
posted by Marticus at 4:57 PM on March 27 [5 favorites]


Kier became CEO in 1865. Not a terribly remarkable year in any way…
posted by mochapickle at 7:35 PM on March 27 [4 favorites]


That black goo he keeps seeing when he drifts off? Maybe it's not the result of undergoing a severing at an older age, but the cumulative result of being severed for 40 years.

I do wonder what the explanation is for the goo. Given how big of a role it plays in the title sequence I’m thinking it will have some significance.
posted by good in a vacuum at 8:18 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


As for where Ms. Casey is when we don't see her...and also possibly related to the senator's wife...is it possible we'll find out there are severed people whose selves are both under the impression they are effectively the innie?

Yeah, I think there is something to this. The real power of the severance process is the way the innie's personal memories are completely excised while still allowing them to walk, talk, type, joke, dance, etc. Seems like a fairly trivial task to perform that excision on both "halves" of a person.

It's fascinating to me personally that one of my favorite movies of all time (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and what is quickly becoming one of my favorite TV shows of all time (Severance) feature main characters who use the technological deletion of memory as a way of dealing with grief. Yet I don't personally have any traumatic memories that I would like to remove -- at least as far as I know? Genuinely starting to wonder if I have repressed something...
posted by Rock Steady at 6:37 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


We made a computer that, if it ever came out in the real world and the engineers described what they were doing, no one would believe them. It’s a cathode-ray tube, but it’s a touchscreen. It has a trackball.

Touchscreen CRTs were absolutely a real thing!
posted by BungaDunga at 5:32 PM on March 28 [3 favorites]


Wow the best episode.

The coy feather dance of revealing the wife's face was hilarious.
posted by fleacircus at 6:48 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Another thing that popped out at me in this episode, when "Mrs. Selvig" referenced Clark Gable ( as an example of a handsome man) to Mark's sister. Now, I'm an old movie fan of a certain age, but even to me that seemed a very dated reference. Was it just another character quirk, or are we going to discover she's somehow much older.

Yes, this struck me as odd too. Clark Gable's been dead for over 60 years. The go-to good-looking movie star for women of my (and Mrs Selvig's) age is Brad Pitt or George Clooney. I'm wondering if there's some 'eternal life' shit going on here.
posted by essexjan at 4:30 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


The Clark Gable thing reminded me of when Lucille on Arrested Development said, "It's a banana, Michael, how much can it cost? 10 dollars?".
posted by thedward at 9:33 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Well folks, Patricia Arquette has me personally worried about Eleanor the baby, among other things. She's replied to a couple of my Severance tweets, most recently after I told another fan the actor playing Devon has said in an interview the baby will be OK.

Replied PA: "Don't trust her. She's acting."

Haha. I think.
posted by NorthernLite at 5:01 PM on March 29 [11 favorites]


"Defiant Jazz" is the second best episode title of the season after "The Grim Barbarity of Optics and Design".
posted by simonw at 10:47 PM on March 29 [4 favorites]


I cannot watch any scenes with children in peril and had to fast forward through the chat between Devon and Selvig.

So I guess I'll be checking in here before I watch the final stretch of episodes to make sure that baby is OK.
posted by Tevin at 8:28 AM on March 30


Hey Tevin, if that's wrt my comment, I'm pretty sure she was just messing with a fan. As dark as it is, this show doesn't seem like it would go there in terms of physical harm to a real baby. We might find out that none of them are real human beings, or that they're being manipulated in a psych experiment (even to the point the baby doesn't really exist?). But it feels like they'd totally lose the audience if they hurt a little kid.
posted by NorthernLite at 11:37 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Wow this show you guys

Random thoughts:
• kind of felt at first like they should have ended the previous episode with the first scene of this one, but in retrospect maybe it’s better that they kind of split the episodes right as the roller coaster climbed to the top of the hill

• did anyone else have a moment watching Dylan describe the visit and thinking, for a moment, that there were showing his own closet as a weird storytelling thing, before realizing that it was the supply closet?

• wondering about the symbolism of the finger traps, and if that’s a deliberate thing rather than just a bit of surreal corporate silliness

• Jesus CHRIST that “exactly” at the end
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:40 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


New episode is up now…
posted by Rock Steady at 6:41 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I just watched this episode.

I want to offer that we see various methods of control in play in the Severed Floor.

Cobel is The Boss. She exercises control over the innies via authority. She does yell and throw things, but mainly you do what she says because in the context of the office, she is above you in the hierarchy/chain of command, she has the power to give orders.

Graner was physical force. A big man whose job was to be ready to dish out violence. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Milchick operates by manipulation. His affect shifts gears smoothly between chummy and menacing, but I don't think we ever see him do physical violence. Most of the time the characters obey because they are convinced to obey. Milchick is in charge of carrying out the mental torture of compelled contrition in the Break Room. I think this is why Milchick doesn't actually put up a fight when Dylan attacks him - he is used to manipulating people, not strong-arming them.

During this episode, Milchick has a lot of people to manipulate. He has to get the MDR team to accept their new imprisoned (excuse me, "Safely Situated") working conditions. He also needs to deal with the fallout of Dylan's "overtime", and Burt's retirement. He can't get backup from Cobel because she's pulling a no-call-no-show, and Graner is also WFH(ell).

So perhaps this is why he doesn't realize what an explosive situation he is creating with the MDE. Dylan is already in an upset state of mind after his encounter with his son. We know that Dylan is competitive, and he loves perks and the status he earns from his hard work. Celebrating Helly's achievement threatens Dylan's status. Throwing the MDE before Helly actually hit 75% also somewhat devalues the perk/recognition system - bending the rules means the rules are not actually very important, and the rewards are therefore arbitrary and meaningless. Furthermore, during the MDE, Dylan is sitting at his desk trying to work, trying to re-connect with his self-image as a top-performing employee, but he is being prevented by the noise and lights of the MDE, and Milchick dancing mockingly around him, rubbing his face in the situation.
posted by rustcrumb at 3:34 PM on April 3 [8 favorites]


The song at Burt's retirement party is Choucoune. The rewritten english lyrics introduced as Yellow Bird by The Norman Luboff Choir in 1957 just ooze with relevant allegory. Great silent montage opportunity.

...or I'm reading too much into this and it's just a random selection from their library music. Production's? Lumon's?
posted by easyasy3k at 12:42 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


I only started watching this week and just got up to this episode. WOW.

Glad to see that someone else saw a Scientology parallel. Maybe I'm just super tuned into that because my pandemic lockdown entertainment was All The Scientologies (starting with Leah Remini and then down all the rabbit holes I could find), but everything from the glorified but changing handbooks to the art to the hero worship to the punishment holes with e-readers gauging your sincerity while you keep saying the same thing until they deem you truthful enough - it's all there. All that's missing is fake nautical uniforms. Not sure whether there's a deeper meaning to it, but I can't unsee it.

The acting is amazing, but I do hope that there are answers rather than more mysteries. I really hope that Burt gets out, and that "Retirement" isn't a euphemism for wiping your memory before (???) on the outside. I don't think there's any reason for them to physically hurt an outtie because ostensibly they'd have no memories of what went on inside, but now that there's been one murder and another death, I don't know what they have in store. I was getting really happy with this being a creepy but low-stakes show. I don't need to see people die or get hurt, especially people I like.

I'm still not sure about Helly, but one thing bothered me that I thought I caught and no one here mentioned yet, so I maybe misheard? Either last episode or the one before, Harmony was in her office and told Graner that reintegration was not only possible, but that it explained both Petey and Helly's situation. Which blew my mind, because if Helly reintegrated and then chose to go back, that would be insane, but also make a lot of her introductory dialogue - and why she insisted that she go back - make sense. I realize that there are more episodes in the season that I haven't seen so this could be way off base, but does anyone know what I'm talking about?

The other thing I can't shake is how much Harmony's voice sounds like Moira Schitt's, and it makes it very difficult for me to take her seriously. When she finally said "the baby" in this week's episode I almost lost it. Don't you mean the bebé?
posted by Mchelly at 5:38 AM on April 7 [6 favorites]


Moira!
that's who it is!

In response to your question about reintegration -- I don't know. I remember that comment and being intrigued by it, but I don't think it's meant to be understandable yet. Just the idea that reintegration is something that Harmony is interested in, and that Lumon says is impossible.
posted by Acari at 8:33 AM on April 7


Between this and The Outlaws, it feels like Walken is doing some of the best work of his career right now.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 6:07 PM on April 7


It’s not a spoiler IMO to tell you the baby is fine this season.
posted by Monochrome at 8:44 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]


The problem with things like this is that one makes up speculative stories to explain things, become attached to one's explanations and then when the version the actual creators come up with is different, one feels disappointed.

I get what you're saying, but with good writing, it doesn't matter if I guessed right. It's more important that the mystery be solved within the realm of reason in the show. It's only disappointing when the conclusion is deus-ex-machina or the characters start acting differently than we would expect.


On another note, I'm back in the office for a couple of retirement parties this week and it is super freaking creepy being in the office now with all this corporate stuff, including the branded office supplies, talks of culture and team building....its freaking me out man!
posted by LizBoBiz at 2:09 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Okay, so I'm a little behind everyone else, and you all know what happens next now. But holy fucking shit, this episode!

Irving's "Let's burn this place to the ground." I thought, man, what a capper to the episode, and was expecting the fade to black and credits. But then. But then.

If Gemma is Ms. Casey, that seems to take this to a whole other level. That's not just memories being severed. They (Lumon presumably) actually faked Gemma's death. Other people think she's dead too. There would have been a death certificate, a funeral, a body (closed casket maybe?), the whole process of convincing the entire world that she was dead when she wasn't. Their memory severing chips wouldn't have helped at all with that. They'd have to do it old school. And either Gemma was complicit in that herself or she wasn't. Either option implies some pretty horrible things.

Did she want to leave Mark but feel she couldn't somehow? Why?

So maybe Lumon took her against her will? Why would they do that? Why go to all the trouble? It suggests that Lumon is somehow more than just a trap that takes anyone who wanders into it. If they went to the trouble of faking Gemma's death, that makes it seem like this was targeted specifically at Mark. Along with Coben keeping close tabs on him in the outie world, it suggests that there's something intrinsic to Mark that makes him important to Lumon rather than him just being someone who applied for the job to forget his grief.

And if that's true of Mark, it's probably true of other severed as well. That would begin to hint at why, as people upthread have noted, Lumon seems strangely powerless once the innies' infractions go past petty non-compliance to outright rebellion. I mean Dylan literally attacked Milichik. Irving went off on him in front of a whole department. But no punishment. They've already sent people to the break room for lesser stuff, and it seems like they have no next step beyond that. They could easily get rid of these people and replace them with more compliant innies, but they don't. For some reason they must be too important to give up on. What could that be?

All of you who've seen the last couple episodes are laughing at me right now, aren't you?
posted by Naberius at 10:22 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


I'm just watching this now and I just came in to say that I actually said "oh NOOO" out loud when they revealed the Gemma photo. And also that the guy playing Milchick is a freaking genius.
posted by potrzebie at 11:02 PM on May 3 [4 favorites]


“We made a computer that, if it ever came out in the real world and the engineers described what they were doing, no one would believe them. It’s a cathode-ray tube, but it’s a touchscreen. It has a trackball. We recognize some aspects of it, and some not at all.”

What he's not acknowledging here is that the computers are almost direct replicas of Dasher D2 terminals, released by Data General in 1977.

They added a trackball to the keyboard, and a little webcam above the CRT screen. And as someone on Reddit observed, they removed the CONTROL and ESCAPE keys. LOL.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:41 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


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