Friday, March 25, 2022

REVIEW: 'Severance' - Mark's Team Hits Their Breaking Points in Dealing with Lumon's Security Protocols in 'Defiant Jazz'

AppleTV+'s Severance - Episode 1.07 "Defiant Jazz"

Mark and the team encounter new security measures from Cobel.

"Defiant Jazz" was written by Helen Leigh and directed by Ben Stiller

It was emotionally convenient for Mark to undergo the severance procedure. It allowed him to be a productive member of society without being completely paralyzed by the death of his wife. And yet, so much of this personal story is built as a mystery. Mark felt drawn to Petey. They worked together at Lumon. However, he has no memories of his best friend from work. He saw the suffering that led to his death. He is still drawn to the doctor who can possibly reverse the procedure. That pulls him deeper into the conspiracy of Lumon. He doesn't know what his innie is capable of doing. He doesn't know what that part of himself wants. He is completely in the dark. He made that choice. He did so to have purpose once more. This greedy company took advantage of him. And now, Harmony has ordered new security measures to keep Mark's team in line. She has doors installed that will keep the Macrodata Refinement team confined to their office. They can no longer roam the severance floor and interact with the other departments. Those interactions have already revealed just how precarious this entire company is managed. Any deviation can set off troubling alarms. Dylan experienced that. His innie was awakened after hours. He was at home when Milchick needed to retrieve information. That was completely transformative because it offered Dylan a glimpse of his life. He is a father. That's personal. He wants to know his son's name. It wouldn't be easier to forget that happened. That's a part of him. He is now questioning life beyond the walls of Lumon. So many people want to put their heads down and just do the work. That's what management conditions the team into believing. It's what is necessary to do a good job. Helly was never under the illusion of the greatness of this company. She only saw a controlling entity that wanted to inflict suffering on its employees. It bullied them into compliance. It treats the corporate culture as a religion. That can still have an effect on the people who aren't severed. For those who have gone through the procedure, this is all they've ever known. They are completely separate people. Mark is told that his innie self probably isn't all that different from him. They probably respond in the same way. His innie just doesn't have the emotional baggage his outie carries around. That context has been removed from his essence. That doesn't diminish the refinement team's ability to live full and rewarding lives. It's all a test to see how far they'll go.

Irving arrives at a place where he is completely willing to burn Lumon to the ground. He has always been the most devout member of the team. He adheres to the rules and the teachings of Kier Eagan. Any disruption to those protocols make him uncomfortable. The team doesn't deserve a music and dance party based on Helly's performance. It's what Milchick hopes can ease over the new security measures. However, the team is never truly confined. Mark has Graner's key card. He doesn't know how. That mystery persists for him. Graner almost killed him. Mark is dealing with that while trying to come across as a decent boyfriend for Alexa. He isn't succeeding. In fact, he continues to drink his problems away. Meanwhile, the refinement team is on a mission. They have to break into security and retrieve the protocol for the overtime program. As soon as they became aware of its existence, it completely changed everything. They could no longer be in the dark about the gentle nature of this company. The truth has been exposed. That can't be ignored. Similarly, Burt being sent to the Break Room isn't punishment enough. Instead, he is forced into retirement. It all presents as an active choice on his outie's part. He can talk about how good he feels at the end of each shift. He trusts that's because of the people he works with. He doesn't know for sure. He couldn't recognize any of them or the importance they have. Irving is devastated. Burt is dying. That's what this declaration is. That's what retirement has become. It's a celebration of pending death. Irving wants to prevent that for as long as possible. As such, he targets his anger at Lumon. That breaks him. And yet, the team doesn't enact the overtime protocol. The audience anticipates that with every sip Mark takes and every misstep he makes with Alexa. That doesn't occur. Instead, he remains mourning over Gemma. He must tape the picture of her back together. Then, it's revealed Gemma is actually Ms. Casey. That's yet another reveal of Mark's personal significance from the outside informing characters inside Lumon. It means his grief has also been a manipulation. This loss has defined everything. Harmony wonders if he ever imagines her. That's a strange and peculiar question. It comes from what the truth is. The audience can make those connections. Mark still props up the greatness of his wife. It's the same technique Ms. Casey used when treating the people at Lumon. Those traits continue to define these people no matter where they are. They are simply prevented from having all the pieces to fully understand the world around them. That remains elusive. It's an intense metaphor. It's also extremely effective given the ways society seeks to hurt people by counting on their continued ignorance.