Of course, the “outey” version of Mark has a story. A quiet soul, he still mourns the loss of his wife in a car accident, giving the very concept of “separation” additional emotional weight – who wouldn’t consider leaving that kind of pain behind for eight hours a day? day ? Mark has a pregnant sister named Devon (Jen Tullock) and a brother-in-law (Michael Chernus) who doesn’t think he made a healthy decision. And then Lumon’s world begins to invade Mark’s life on the surface, challenging him to reconsider what he does at work every day and how we can’t really live two lives.
There are big, fascinating questions at play in “Severance” about grief, connection, and identity. The work/life divide has been a topic of discussion, especially during the pandemic, but what if it was literal? What would that mean? There are also questions about why a company would want terminated employees and the moral implications that would entail. What are they hiding? What can we manage without knowing ourselves and those we work for when we are behind a desk?
Creator Dan Erickson spins his concept in consistently unexpected and captivating ways, pushing his characters through a perfectly balanced series of twists and character reveals. The writing may be a little out there for some viewers, and there’s a little narrative slump mid-season before an amazing final couple of episodes push to a spectacular cliffhanger, but the whole thing grounds it. , keeping us engaged with people as much as their struggles. . Scott plays both brands with subtle differentiation. Mark’s work is just a bit brighter and more upbeat. He does not carry the crushing weight of grief. Turturro and Walken get an arc that I wouldn’t spoil but is surprisingly charming. Lower is fantastic in the early episodes, although it fades a bit into the background mid-season. And then there’s Arquette, nailing the very unusual part of the mystery woman trying to stop this house of cards from falling.
Unlike a lot of television even in the era of prestige, “Severance” also has a strong visual language and overall craftsmanship. Stiller directs the first two episodes with a foreboding that remains somehow playful, the way Kaufman films can be both funny and terrifying in the same scene. We marvel at the ingenuity of “Severance” concepts and then are struck by what it all really means when our work can never leave. The gorgeous (yet ominous) score by Theodore Shapiro (Stiller’s regular composer on his films) swings in and out of “Severance” in a way that makes it easier to get lost in this spectacle, marveling at everything ‘he does so well while asking us what it means when we say we wish we could leave work behind when we come home at night. Are you sure?
Whole season screened for review.