Friday, March 11, 2022

REVIEW: 'Severance' - Mark's Team Breaks the Rules by Exploring Other Departments in 'The Grim Barbarity of Optics and Design'

AppleTV+'s Severance - Episode 1.05 "The Grim Barbarity of Optics and Design"

Irving and Dylan confront Burt about his lies. Mark discovers a strange new department.

"The Grim Barbarity of Optics and Design" was written by Anna Ouyang Moench and directed by Aoife McArdle

Rules are being broken at Lumen Industries. Harmony allows some of it. She can't control the outcomes each time. However, she recognizes the importance of allowing a little more freedom in the hopes it produces more compliance later on. The hour starts with Mark needing to save Helly from tragedy. Helly was told she wasn't a person. Her outie makes all the decisions. The innie has no agency. She is suppose to complete this work. That's all she can expect from life. It quickly contorted itself into a suicide attempt. It's a spiteful and vindictive action meant to inflict pain onto her outie. She wants to hurt herself at the exact moment that shift happens. Emotions change during that elevator ride. Mark pulls Helly to safety and immediately forgets about it. Adrenaline is pumping. However, his outie doesn't know his work day just ended very differently. It's nothing more than the same job it has always been. Sure, he confides in his sister he fears something nefarious is going on inside Lumon. He is simply expected to hold that view. That's the natural way the story develops. In this situation, the protagonist must be skeptical of the true nature of his reality. He's not living it. He is a participant in the drama. He is viewed as accountable for not monitoring Helly more closely. Harmony delivers that stern lecture. She does so because she knows she will be on the receiving end from her superiors as well. She wants to arm herself with as much information as possible. It's futile to go to the board with only suspicions. Of course, that too could produce retaliatory actions. She must be careful. She promotes this environment where those with the awareness create new obstacles and mind games for those who've been severed. It divides the two categories of humans. One batch is expected to do a job. It's mysterious and cryptic no matter who is in charge. It may all be nothing more than an elaborate experiment. It requires constant monitoring. That manipulation is keenly felt. Milchick knows Irving and Burt have been spending time together. He wants to tear them apart because it's not safe for the various departments to mingle. They must remain separated. That only showcases how every person who works for this company has been told something different. Irving and his team were told to fear Burt's work in Optics and Design. Burt and his team were led to believe that Macrodata Refinement are actual monsters. That's not the truth at all. Those walls are being dropped. Friendships are forming. It's having a personal impact on the employees. It still doesn't explain the purpose of their actions.

Helly is told to settle for the simple mission of mapping out the severed floor. That's what Petey was doing before he was reintegrated. Even afterwards, he was trying to recreate the memories and make sense of what he was doing. It has now become Mark's mission. He hangs on every word of Ricken's book. His outie has complete contempt for his brother-in-law. They aren't similar in any way. And yet, this is the only outside perspective innie Mark knows. He has only been told the company line. He now has access to new information that may be contradictory. Of course, Ricken's words aren't that original or insightful. He's mostly a hack disguising as a serious self-help guru. He believes his initial failures to get into the literature world where a condemnation of the industry and not his personal talents. Not everyone has the skills to succeed no matter what they decide to do. It takes trial and error to figure out what's actually worthwhile and impressive. Ricken even has the opportunity to publish his work now. He obviously didn't find that much adversity. He has achieved some modicum of success. His words don't immediately alter Mark's behavior. They have the potential to do so. Again, Mark and his team are discovering new departments. It's strange and alienating. Mark and Helly stumble upon a room full of baby goats and a man who doesn't want them to leave. Nothing within this company can be easily processed. Of course, management believes in their importance. Nothing can contradict what they've set forth as the truth. Harmony knows the tech in Petey's head was altered. She needs to find the doctor who did that work. She needs to warn people these threats are coming. They target the bottom line of the company. That's an outsized threat. One that may expose the many heinous things that have been done. That's a priority for the outie worldview. On the inside, it's all about surviving each day. They are trapped in menial jobs. Their actions can build up as threats too. Harmony believes she can carefully monitor the situation. She can handle things before they get too out of control. Things may have already reached that point. All it takes is communication. People yearn for these connections. That impulse drives them even when they are tasked with solely focusing on the job. Helly doesn't want to be a family with her co-workers. She must rely on them as allies. Punishing her innie self is nothing compared to what the company has already done to shape her perspective on this job. That animosity and anger is palpable throughout everything. It requires strategy to be effectively handled. The show delicately does that while escalating both sides of this conflict.