Lumon's drones plot their escape this week on Severance [Apple TV+ recap] | Cult of Mac

Lumon’s drones plot their escape this week on Severance [Apple TV+ recap]

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Severance recap Apple TV+: Lumon Industries doesn't know what lies ahead.
Lumon Industries doesn't know what lies ahead.
Photo: Apple TV+

The plan is set on this week’s episode of Apple TV+’s dark comedy thriller Severance. But will our heroes make it out of Lumon Industries? Will anyone believe Mark, Helly and Irving when they wake up from their regular lives and emerge their work selves?

This week’s magnificently tense episode, directed by series executive producer Ben Stiller, is a real nail-biter. It’s wonderfully edited and excellently performed.

Severance has abandoned its early crux — the depressing lives of office drones who literally have no souls because they’ve been surgically stripped of them — for a more fast-paced approach to the show’s thriller aspects.

It’s no longer a show about the drudgery of both lives lived by lost people. It’s about the race to get back some measure of its characters’ personhood.

Severance recap: ‘What’s for Dinner?’

In this week’s episode, titled “What’s for Dinner?,” Mark (played by Adam Scott), Helly (Britt Lower), Irving (John Turturro) and Dylan (Zach Cherry) are ready to put their plan in motion to get back to the surface, so to speak.

Helly makes her quota for the quarter, which means that someone from their department gets to go to a party that night. After the party, Dylan will make his way to security and wake each of them up, at which point they will go for help.

Dylan is sweating bullets by the time they bring him to the party. But the party isn’t quite as wholesome as it sounds. Dylan puts on a mask shaped like the founder of Lumon. Then women, also wearing big head masks and lingerie, perform an erotic dance for him. It’s eerie and depressing. What the hell else goes on here after hours?

A plan to break out of Lumon

Their plan has several risks, not least that these versions of Mark, Helly and Irving, have never been outside before. The friends their “outies” have are not their friends. How will they know who to trust?

They get spooked when Milchick (Tramell Tillman) cancels their little pre-party to go handle a “management” issue. They don’t know it’s because the board of directors just fired Cobel (Patricia Arquette) because she lied about Helly’s suicide attempt.

This comes right after she fired Ms. Casey (Dichen Lachman), who we now know was Mark’s supposedly dead wife Gemma in her other life.

Questions abound. Mark thinks she’s gone, so what happened and just how did he wind up with that story? What did the authorities tell him? Was Lumon behind her disappearance?

Mark visits Mrs. Selvig to see if she wants to go to Devon (Jen Tullock) and Ricken’s (Michael Chernus) party. Mrs. Selvig has been acting as the couple’s nanny for the last little while, though now that she isn’t monitoring Mark, there doesn’t seem to be much point.

Still, she dries her tears and heads over anyway. She’s thus nearby when Mark tells Devon he’s thinking about quitting his job. After all, he severed because he didn’t like thinking about Gemma. But after his breakthrough, what’s the point? He can think about Gemma and talk about her a little more openly after avoiding it for so long. She hugs him … and that’s when Dylan wakes him up.

Get away from them

This week’s episode is all plot and quite well done. The editing between Mark’s normal life at home, and Dylan preparing to wake him up, has just the right speed and wild variables. You want them to be able to do it, but you’ve been conditioned to think something bad could go wrong at any minute.

Maybe I’m imagining things, but the scene of Dylan working the big computer to wake everyone up looked like the one in Jurassic Park where Laura Dern turns the park’s power back on. Even the buttons and stuff look the same. Funny.

The power of symbols

Severance is big on symbols and echos, and I like that they introduce the fact that regular Irving has been painting the break room at work where people go to be punished all this time.

To him, it’s probably just an abstract shape from his dreams. But we all know what it is (especially after we see Gemma/Ms. Casey walk down it again for the last time). It’s also a little funny that waking life Irving is a big Motörhead fan.

I’m curious to know what the writers have in store for Mrs. Selvig/Cobel. She’s been such a cloying, heartless person at work, and now we know she’s grieving a dead daughter at home. After weeks of watching her do hideous things in the name of Lumon, how will the show treat her now that she’s “free”?

There’s a lot to like about Severance. Enough, in fact, to paper over the little logical fallacies and such (endemic to a lot of science fiction). I’m very ready to see what they do in next week’s season finale to set up a second season.

Watch Severance on Apple TV+

New episodes of Severance arrive Fridays on Apple TV+.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.