‘Severance’ review: In Apple TV+’s bizarre, futuristic workplace, time flies slowly

If you’re returning to the office soon after a long hiatus, if you’re even thinking of returning to the office anytime this year, may I recommend that you think twice about watching “Severance” – because after nine episodes of this mystery psychological work, you will be traumatized at the mere thought of cubicles, office screens and break rooms, security badges, security personnel, harsh lighting, the “Groundhog Day” repetitiveness of your days and oh yeah, that guy who never stops sucking at bosses and gossiping about company history.

In “Severance”, the office is hell.

Or maybe it’s some kind of heaven, washing away our pain.

No way. At least hellish.

These days, it’s harder than ever to separate your work self and your home self, especially if your workplace is 10 feet from your living room couch, or maybe it’s your living room couch. salon. In the deliberately paced, well-acted, and sometimes intriguing Apple TV+ series “Severance,” we’re in the near future in which you can volunteer for a procedure, aka brain surgery, that will completely and completely separate your workplace and out of – the clock themselves. When you check in to work at the mysterious, all-knowing and coldly intimidating headquarters of Lumon Industries, you have instant and utter amnesia about your outer life. All you know is work, your co-workers and your work, which involves macro data refinement or something mind-numbing.

A world away from the wacky antics of “Parks and Recreation” in the workplace, Adam Scott is still a master of deadpan, everyone, reactive comedy and drama – and he’s perfectly cast as a ” Mark S., a former college professor who is devastated by the death of his wife and took the job at Lumon Industries so that for eight hours each day he would forget his pain. (It works both ways; once Mark and his co-workers leave the offices and resume their normal lives, they also have no real memories of their professional experiences. Mark doesn’t realize that his nosy neighbor, played by the invaluable Patricia Arquette, is his supervisor at work. And yet, she knows who he is, because… HIJINKS and DUPLICITY.)

Britt Lower is outstanding as “Helly B.”, who has just joined the program and is desperate to get out, attempting multiple escapes from the maze-like corridors of Lumon to find herself back where she started. This is because the corporate version of yourself – the “innie” – is at the mercy of the real version of yourself, the “outtie”. As long as Helly B. the outtie wants Helly B. the innie to keep going back to work and thus going into a waking coma for eight hours a day, that’s how it will be.

Meanwhile, John Turturro’s Irving strikes up a friendship with Christopher Walken’s Burt, who is about to retire from Lumon, while the deceptively friendly Mr. Milchick (Tramel Tillman) acts as a sort of prison guard. , monitoring everything employees do and rewarding them with perks for meeting performance goals.

It’s all very civilized and it’s all very controlled and it’s all kind of annoying, because we know there’s something ‘Twilight Zone’ about this whole thing – but while director Ben Stiller does a great job of placing us inside the vast but claustrophobic grounds of Lumon, and the cast is universally excellent, “Severance” begins with a slow exploration and turns into a steady march – but never really takes off and spends way too much time on us. lead to a reveal we knew was coming five episodes earlier.

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