Friday, April 1, 2022

REVIEW: 'Severance' - Mark's Team Prepares for a Glimpse of Their Lives Outside the Office in 'What's for Dinner?'

AppleTV+'s Severance - Episode 1.08 "What's for Dinner?"

The team prepares a plan. Mark attends Devon and Ricken's party.

"What's for Dinner?" was written by Chris Black and directed by Ben Stiller

Mark's team is capable of meeting their quarterly quota. They were shamed and punished for their extracurricular activities. They were told such pursuits were a distraction that would prevent this important work from being done. They couldn't lose focus. And yet, they still deliver what's expected of them. It's a lot of abuse built around the idea of consequences even though it's completely unnecessary. No one truly knows what the team is doing. They are motivated to reach these goals because the alternative would be much more dire. But it's all in service of exploring greater personal freedom. The Severance program is essentially a way to separate a person into one who has control and one who doesn't. The innies are meant to offer complete servitude to the company they work for. That's all they are expected to be. Their entire lives are at work. This job is the only thing that matters. It's the only thing they can aspire to have. It would be dangerous if they learned anything else about the world or who they truly are. Even the wellness room has the same card of facts to soothe anyone questioning their place in this environment. It's performative. It's meant to highlight the ways in which clarity is desired by everyone. So many people want to discover that higher purpose. The outies are given that freedom. They are the ones making the choices. Their innies have to be okay with that. They have no say in it though. They would die should this arrangement end at any point. The program is billed as providing therapeutic relief to those who need it. Mark hasn't gotten over the death of his wife. He still centers his world around her. He continues to grief that loss. He was severed in order to work in a professional capacity. He no longer sees it as necessary. He is capable of living his life fully aware of what's happened. He doesn't need to be reintegrated in order for some greater understanding to occur. He has found peace in the life that has always had control. The motivations and ambitions of his innie are much different. He has an opportunity to see this outside world. The team has the rare ability to get information out. They are all committed to it. Not much has been seen of Irving and Helly outside the Lumon environment. With Irving, he spends his days painting only using black. Meanwhile, Helly is seen at a party. Those are the activities taking place when they are woken up in the outside world. It creates a division. It's freeing for those who have been trapped inside for so long. But it's also proof of how controlling Lumon seeks to become with this technology.

The board fires Harmony because she has been keeping too many secrets. That makes the severed floor conveniently empty as Mark's team put this plan into motion. Dylan isn't being supervised during his celebratory waffle party. He has received this designation because of his hard work. He is also committed to staying behind and allowing the others to experience their lives. He sacrifices himself for the good of the team. For the first time, they will wake up outside of the elevator. Dylan is desperate to know more about his son. He received a glimpse before he was tragically pulled away. He is graciously giving to his co-workers. They seek greater understanding. Even that may potentially come at a cost. Mark is at a party surrounded by people who will be familiar to his innie. That is already known. The truly unexpected details will come from Irving and Helly's lives. Mark may still deliver the most impact. It's directly because Harmony is in the same location. She is punished for getting close with Devon and Ricken. It's a distraction even though she is more loyal to the Eagan family than anyone else. She destroys the shrine at home after being fired. Her life is completely destroyed before she is capable of delivering the evidence proving the misconceptions of the board. She has worked tirelessly to protect and control this program. She punishes Casey even though she and Mark have no awareness as to who they truly are to each other. Mark feels sadness when Casey says she has been fired. She notes how the time spent with Mark's team was the most memorable in her entire life. These people have to seek out the simple pleasures. That lets them know they are alive. Their lives are incredibly short. They aren't expected to do anything but work. They have to pretend to nurture these friendships. They have to work together for the specific tasks required by a large company. They aren't required to be interested in it all. However, the stakes are so extreme that they have forged strong bonds amongst the team. Irving is motivated out of anger over losing Burt. Meanwhile, Mark and Helly kiss hoping for the best when they venture into the outside world. They aren't a couple out there. They don't know what to fully expect. This may be the end for all of them. They have to grapple with the inherent sense of doom all of this could spell out. It's a huge gamble. One that may fail spectacularly. It requires them to choose who to trust out there. They aren't informed by much yet the outside world is full of complications revealing a much more sinister conspiracy has long been rising around Lumon.