Friday, April 8, 2022

REVIEW: 'Severance' - Mark, Helly and Irving Aspire to Be Heard When Their Circumstances Dramatically Shift in 'The We We Are'

AppleTV+'s Severance - Episode 1.09 "The We We Are"

The team discovers troubling revelations.

"The We We Are" was written by Dan Erickson and directed by Ben Stiller

Mark, Helly, Irving and Dylan truly have nothing to lose. They have repeatedly been told their lives don't matter. The people with full awareness of their circumstances made the decision to work in this office. They must have their best interests at heart. Their outies have the priority because they are able to have personal lives outside of work. Meanwhile, the innies simply have to serve the job. They have a task that must be completed. In order to inspire them, the company culture has been turned into a religion. The workers must idolize the Eagan family. They are deities who have achieved so much thanks to the loyal work and determination of their employees. When the overtime protocol was discovered, it was easy for the team to decide to take the risk to see their outside lives. They have always wondered. They all have felt personally betrayed by Lumon. They have no control over whether they come to work. They have no agency. This new device allows them to grab ahold of that power. It was all set up in the penultimate hour. And now, their freedom is determined by how long Dylan can keep the two switches flipped. He sacrificed for the happiness of his colleagues. He too is just as desperate to know about his son. Milchick lords those personal details over him. He doesn't budge because this mission is about so much more than him. In the end, the characters did come to serve a collective purpose. It was one directly in opposition to the grand goals Lumon has explored thanks to the severance program. The board wants to label it as a success. That's simply not true. That can no longer be denied. Too much happens publicly for everyone to go back to the normal existence they had come to operate within. That's a fascinating place to explore in another season. Right now though, it's all about the tension of this mission. Mark, Helly and Irving have a limited amount of time outside. They are suppose to find someone their outie trusts and confess everything to them. It's a more accessible mission for Mark because he happens to be at an event with the people he cares about. Of course, Harmony is there as well. That one slip up is enough to expose how bold the severed workers are willing to be. Meanwhile, Irving learns he has been investigating the severance program and the people who have been directly harmed by it without knowing the truth. And finally, Helly is actually the great-granddaughter of Kier Eagan. She is in the line of succession to take over the company. She became the public example of the success and happiness of severance. Her sacrifice was made for the greater good no matter how personally destructive it would be for her.

For the longest time, it seems as if the team will fail in their mission. They won't accomplish what they set out to do. The plug will be pulled as soon as Milchick answers Harmony's call. Mark and the team have no awareness of what to expect. The audience has always known why Mark chose to be severed. He saw the therapeutic benefit of the procedure. He now believes he no longer needs it. He can cope with his life without having to escape it for several hours each day. Harmony even encourages him to quit. The outies have no agency though. They are the ones suddenly sidelined. Their hopes and ambitions are no longer relevant. Instead, their innies are in charge. They have to navigate completely new worlds. It's startling. It's dangerous for Irving to even drive across town. These resources are available for each of them to make an impact both big and small. It's up to each of them to embrace that fully. Mark is pulled from room to room not knowing who to trust or being able to confess his truth to his sister. When he finally gets some time with Devon, it's absolutely life-changing. He receives clarity even though he stumbles upon a massive reveal too. He knows Gemma is still alive. Well, she was when he last saw Ms. Casey. So much could have possibly changed in the time since then. Everything moves fast in this world. Life can be painfully slow. It all has dramatic tension. That's what makes this finale so visceral and thrilling. The season set up the stakes for these characters to make these big moves. Now, it's time to deliver. Devon may or may not be able to get Mark's story to a reporter. It's more significant for Mark to storm into the room declaring his wife is still alive. Meanwhile, Irving needs to see Burt. He trusts that bond even though this version of his lover has no clue who he is. Irving sees the peaceful life Burt has. It's painful. He still yearns to be included. He can't escape from those feelings. He must embrace them fully even though his outie will be incredibly confused when he wakes up. And finally, Helly offers the biggest declaration because she is the voice for the entire company. She is trusted to be the greatest advocate. That means she can inflict the most damage. Harmony can't even successfully threaten her by promising to make the lives of her colleagues even more miserable. That no longer carries any true significance. The laws of life are different outside the severed floor. They can't abide by the same rules. That even applies to Dylan who is trapped in the security room. The team is willing to risk everything. They have that conviction and clarity. They get to make their provocative statements. They declare the truth to the world. Now, it's up to the world to actually listen - which may not be as reassuring as the team might hope.