'Severance' Season 1 Review
Are you struggling to balance your work life with your personal one? Maybe if someone comes to you offering a technological solution for it, you should take a minute to assess the situation, at least based on the new workplace thriller series called Severance. Headlined by contributions from showrunner Dan Erickson and director Ben Stiller, the title references the procedure one goes through to separate their work and personal lives. That's what our main character Mark Scout (Adam Scott) has decided to do previously as he welcomes in a new employee Helly (Britt Lower) to the team working at the basement level of Lumon headquarters, a cryptic tech company. The team also consists of Irving/''Irv'' (John Turturro) and Dylan (Zach Cherry), and they are supervised by Peggy (Patricia Arquette) and Milchick (Tramell Tillman).
This first season plays both like an investigative exploration and character piece, latter moving in two parallel lines as we follow Mark in the outside world and the severed team inside Lumon. Perhaps the most impressive thing about it is that Erickson & Co. don't go the easy route and separate the worlds tonally, and the risk actually pays off as the environment gets more and more tense with each episode. Conundrum which is there to be solved, doesn't get rushed immediately and that is why you get valuable time with the characters. The cast takes an advantage of that, everyone bringing solid B-plus-to-A-minus effort, much because the show doesn't forget to add humour and oddities to the characters in midst of all the mysteries and detailed aesthetic choices.
In that aesthetic sphere, the show really excels when it comes to Jessica Lee Gagné's cinematography and Jeremy Hindle's production design which compliment each other perfectly right from the first frames on. ''Severed'' setting is clinical, composed and features pretty outstanding camera movement that captures all the suffocation of the interiors inside Lumon, while outside world is warmer, though yet a bit uninviting so you'd understand why someone would want to do the severance. Eventually when these worlds collide and darker side of this technology rears its head, storylines are woven together so well that it's easy to see why the filmmakers would put all their chips on that explosion. Unfortunately the season finale suffers because of it since it doesn't quite find required symmetry with the first episode, leaving its characters singing a very awkward note and hoping for season two to save us all when this severed world certainly doesn't need a cliffhanger to be intriguing.
Smileys: Tone, production design, cinematography, atmosphere
Frowneys: Some issues with ending
By reading this all, you've earned yourself a nice song-and-dance break.