Severance Season 1 Episode 8 Review: What's For Dinner?Mary Littlejohn at .
Lumon employees are dropping like flies.
On Severance Season 1 Episode 8, the Innies seize their moment and make a daring play to shake up their destinies.
Unfortunately, for every egg social and waffle party, there must be sacrifices.
On Severance Season 1 Episode 7, we learned that Ms. Casey is Mark's wife, Gemma, who is believed to be dead. Mark and Ms. Casey haven't had much interaction -- it's always been standard and professional.
These are our lives. No one gets to just turn you off.Mark
They have no memory of each other outside of Lumon, as Milchick noted. Not only that, but Gemma doesn't seem to be subject to the same protocols as the other severed Lumon employees. We know she is only "awake" for the wellness sessions, but we never see her come down the elevator.
How is she "activated"? Is Outie Gemma alive, or is she effectively brain dead, and Ms. Casey is the only version of her that still exists? Without knowing the answers to these questions, it's impossible to know what happened to Ms. Casey as she was sent to the "testing floor."
Is that where all the Innies go when they retire or get fired? This is probably where they get their chips inserted and removed. The moral implications, again, are horrifying. As we have come to realize, when an Innie stops working, they cease to be.
How cold was Milchick at that moment, allowing Ms. Casey only a crumb of comfort? It was a cruel irony, given all the facts Ms. Casey had told everyone about their Outies, and she was only allowed to know that her counterpart was happy and did many wonderful things.
Do you know if I’m happy up there?Ms. Casey
Despite not knowing exactly how she got where she is, Gemma/Ms. Casey remains a tragic figure.
Wouldn't you be odd if your life had only been 107 hours long, made up only of one-on-one interactions devoted to someone else's wellness?
She can't be gone for good -- it would be too much of a tease to bring in that massive plot twist only to have it be rendered pointless with her definitive death.
Outie Irving is a painter, and somehow, he has seen that dark hallway, or at least that's the implication. With a short introduction to Irving's quiet outer life, we gained access to a few more pieces of the Severance puzzle.
The black ooze that Innie Irving keeps hallucinating seems to be the black paint that his Outie uses to paint the dark hallway to the testing room, over and over.
This suggests Outie Irving has some access to Lumon unbeknownst to his Innie and that their consciousnesses are not as divided as they should be.
If Outie Irving keeps painting that hallway, maybe it is as simple as that is where Outies go to get their chips inserted. But the constant repetition and attempts at remembering it suggests he is trying to access some subconscious memory through his painting.
Innie Irving, meanwhile, means business. Lumon, and by extension Kier Eagan, has taken away his love, Burt. This handbook that he has memorized, like a bible, has robbed him of true happiness.
He allowed himself an act of vandalism that symbolized the rejection of Kier's teachers, something he had believed in for most of his career.
Okay, kids. Let’s find out what’s for dinner.Irving
With the handbooks on display and the secretive way the Macrodata team keeps the "New Testament" of Ricken, one can't help but see the glaring religious overtones -- how the suppression of new ideas can never truly be maintained forever.
"Our job is to taste free air. Your so-called boss may own the clock that taunts you from the wall, but, my friends, the hour is yours.”Mark & Dylan [reading "The You You Are"]
The human yearning for knowledge and new ideas outside totalitarian regimes is pervasive. Rebellion, even in the face of death, is worth it.
There's still the question of why Ricken's book was left for them to discover in the first place. Ms. Cobel brought it down, and then when she hugged mark at the very end, she told him to leave Lumon.
However, when she stole that book, Ms. Cobel was in a very different place.
Surprisingly, Lumon wasn't actually in on Ms. Cobel's spying on Mark and Devon. It was also surprising that the board didn't know about Helly's suicide attempt.
Work’s just work, right?Mark
Ms. Cobel went off the deep end tonight, and it was pretty unsettling. Ms. Cobel has had something roiling in her for this entire season, and it finally came bursting out.
Patricia Arquette's Cobel/Selvig is still an enigma, a symbol of how even the unsevered can be treated as chattel to Lumon, less-than-human workers to be disposed of at their discretion.
Now that she has been fired from Lumon and had everything she cares about stripped away from her, will Cobel do her own personal investigation? She is a woman scorned by her devoted love (Lumon/the Eagan mythos), vengeance incarnate.
Her curiosity around Mark/Gemma/Devon remains mysterious, but wherever that story builds will be fascinating. Is Cobel a force for good or evil, and does she have her own motivations independent of anything Lumon-related?
The chemistry between Helly and Mark finally manifested. Their workplace romance has evolved organically, the typical enemies-to-friends-to-lovers trope.
Helly: You pretended to care about me pretty well.
Mark: You’re easy to pretend to care about.
Helly: As are you.
Both seem aware of the hesitancy the other feels and don't wish to overstep their professional boundaries. However, it's clear by the end that since they are attempting to overthrow their workplace, they don't have to be loyal to any protocol.
It made sense that Helly was the one to make a move and go in for the kiss. Mark probably recognized the power dynamic of their boss-employee relationship and didn't want to overstep, despite his feelings, to respect Helly's boundaries rather than company rules.
The lighting during the egg bar social was perfect. The pink of the lunchroom where they sat together and expressed how much they cared for each other was so warm and pure and wouldn't have felt nearly as romantic under the fluorescents.
One particular shot lingered on the mirror as if hinting at what was to come --- the discovery of the other side of themselves, existing only through the looking glass. Not entirely subtle, but delightful nonetheless.
We haven't yet addressed what was undoubtedly the most disturbing sequence in the entire series (which is saying something). And no, I'm not talking about Helly's "100%" computer animation of Kier Eagan telling her he loves her and then flying off a mountain.
Of course, I'm referring to the waffle party.
Pardon my language, but what in the HELL was that? Those were some next-level, Eyes Wide Shut shenanigans right there.
It makes sense that exotic dancers would have to wear masks to avoid identification or recognition, but why do they have to be so terrifying?
Their significance remains elusive, but if one wanted to go down the rabbit hole, you could consider them as symbolic counterparts to the Lumon employees — Helly as the Bride, Mark as the Jester, Irving as the Sheep, Ms. Cobel as the Old Woman.
The more you think about it, the more disturbing it gets. This is the prize Lumon bestows on its star employees? I just can't.
Are these dancers severed employees? Is their entire life just these five-minute sensual dances at the end of the quarter for waffle-party winners? Or are they employees with other duties who must remain anonymous in this incarnation?
Could their Outies have consented to this? Again, this sequence raises so many questions. It definitely set a mood, though, and the music was appropriately ominous and foreboding.
Dylan has been a deeply satisfying character to watch evolve. The reveal of his "perk" was so touching. Though he cannot be with his Outie family, he has realized that, as an Innie, the Macrodata team really is his family.
Though it was artificially created, his care for them is as deep as any bond in the outside work. Dylan probably understands that this mission may be the only chance they ever get at escape, and he's willing to sacrifice the opportunity to make sure his team experiences it, too.
We only got one glimpse of Outie Helly before the "switch," and it looks like she's at the Lumon gala. Why? What is her part in all of this?
All we know of Outie Helly is that she is determined to work at Lumon and does not view her Innie as a real person. Just how evil is she, and how deep does her involvement go?
On these last few episodes, the stakes have amped up considerably. This episode was full of mounting tension, and the pace has certainly picked up. My heart was pounding during the final sequence.
However, it still feels like the plot points are being dragged out. There is too much setup and not enough payoff. It doesn't feel like Severance, as a show, particularly respects its viewers.
I figured it out. The goats lay the eggs.Helly
There are too many mysteries yet to be solved. Will they all be answered in Episode 9, or will they carry over to Season 2 (which has already started filming)?
I'm inclined to believe the latter, which is disappointing, but it's been an interesting ride, and I'm curious to see how this season concludes.
What do you think is in store for the final episode? What secrets will we learn, and which mysteries will remain unexplained? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Mary Littlejohn Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She loves television, cinema, and theatre (especially musicals!), particularly when it champions inclusivity, diversity, and social justice. Follow her on Twitter.