Severance's corporate conspiracy gets even creepier [Apple TV+ recap] | Cult of Mac

Severance’s corporate conspiracy gets even creepier [Apple TV+ recap]


Severance recap: Just when you thought things couldn't get any weirder at Lumon Industries ...
Just when you thought things couldn't get any weirder at Lumon Industries ...
Photo: Apple TV+

The plot thickens on this week’s tense and exciting episode of Severance, the show about a creeping conspiracy at a shady organization.

Mark is finally ready to start asking questions about what his employer Lumon Industries is up to, even though he knows the company will do everything in its power to stop him. He’s going to have to watch himself on two fronts because his outside world self is starting to dig into Lumon, too. And if he keeps making a spectacle of himself at work, they’ll be watching him extra-closely outside.

Severance recap: ‘Hide and Seek’

Now that Irving (played by John Turturro) and Burt (Christopher Walken) have confessed their feelings for each other, they just have to decide if they’re willing to take the next step in their relationship for each other. (There’s a beautifully drawn little scene in a garden room Burt has discovered; both actors have been doing incredible work all season, and theirs is sometimes Severance’s most satisfying subplot.)

Meanwhile, Devon (Jen Tullock) is out at the park with her newborn when she sees the woman, Gabriela (Nora Dale), she met in the birthing cottages. Only it’s quite clear that this woman has no idea who she is. Her husband Angelo (Ethan Flower) comes over and separates them, pleasantly and robotically. The whole thing gives Devon a weird feeling.

She does a little investigating and finds out Angelo is a political figure and he’s very pro-severance. She’d pry more, but her babysitter, Mrs. Selvig (Patricia Arquette), shows up. Curious.

Marking time

Mark (Adam Scott), Irving, Helly (Britt Lower) and Dylan (Zach Cherry) plot their next move as they try to figure out exactly what’s going on at Lumon. Ms. Casey (Dichen Lachman) is punished for her failure to keep track of Mark and Helly last week, and Mark gets dressed down by Cobel (Patricia Arquette) for letting it happen. Mark comes back in a foul mood and directly disobeys her order to stay out of other departments, so he takes the whole office down to see Burt.

Burt’s department doesn’t know why Mark’s crew has questions about what they’re doing, but they’re a little hostile about the idea of working together to figure out the point of Lumon and all its secret operations. Milchick (Tramell Tillman) breaks up their meeting and Cobel sends Mark to be punished, passing Casey on her way out.

Incidentally, Mark and Helly are starting to develop feelings for each other at the same time Mark goes on another date with Alexa (Nikki M. James), the woman he was too brusque with when Devon set them up earlier in the season. They see a flier for a show on their way out and, lo and behold, June (Cassidy Layton), Petey’s (Yul Vasquez) daughter.

They show up to the concert just in time for a song whose chorus is “Fuck you, Lumon!” Mark tries to talk to June but she doesn’t want anything to do with him. It’s enough to make him feel guilty and curious enough to finally answer Petey’s phone, which he left in Mark’s basement. It’s been ringing nonstop since he died.

The woman (Karen Aldridge) on the other end knows Mark’s voice. Can he meet now?

What did he tell you?

I haven’t talked about Theodore Shapiro‘s score for Severance yet, largely because it fits the aesthetic and vibe of the show so well it can be easy to forget you’re being lulled into its moods so exquisitely by the music.

His theme for the show (that plays over the truly sickening opening credits sequence – it makes me hopelessly uncomfortable but I can’t look away!) is memorably cloying and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head ever since the pilot. Shapiro’s doing good work week after week. And though this week isn’t a special showcase for his work or anything, I wanted to acknowledge that he’s been knocking it out of the park.

Everyone is, really. The Severance cast, whose performances seemed at first purposely alienating, have cohered memorably into an oddly mannered  unit. It can be difficult to pick a favorite performer, everyone’s doing so well.

Patricia Arquette does stupendous work this week (it might be that I have to admit she’s the best actor in the cast). She rockets between batty Mrs. Selvig and soulless and bullying Mrs. Cobel with ease. What an amazing performance. And Arquette makes it seem, like Shapiro’s score, like just another stitch in the show’s fabric.

I’m excited to see Severance head into full-on Alan Pakula mode, what with its late-night meetings and society collapsing in the fringes thanks to the stewardship by capitalist entities. But I’m also glad the show hasn’t sacrificed its eerie quiet just because the plot’s kicked in a little more.

This is not my beautiful wife

The writing isn’t all there.

Watch Severance on Apple TV+

New episodes of Severance arrive Fridays on Apple TV+.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at


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