Severance Is A Brilliant Reinterpretation Of A Well-Known Existential Nightmare

Severance
Severance
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For decades, the question of what constitutes humanity or sentience has provided fodder for science fiction and horror stories. The question of whether or not an “artificial” person is truly a person has piqued our interest since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—whether it’s with robots, zombies, or clones, in the present or in dystopian futures.

Even at their best, however, the vast majority of these tales have clear moral dividing lines. Sure, the replicant, cyborg, or clone monster may be frightening or difficult to control, but they’re still clearly sentient, right? AppleTv+ has a new take on the same paradox in their new original, Severance.

Insperation And Ideas Behind The Series

Severance
Severance

Consider Westworld’s robot uprising or the Blade Runner franchise’s tragedies. There’s plenty of complication to go around, but the morality of murdering or exploiting a group of “artificial” people is still pretty obvious. She retains some knowledge, such as the ability to speak and the existence of the state of Delaware, but her memories of her family, her life up to this point, and any hopes, dreams, or motivations are all gone. This is by design, and, as her new boss Mark S explains, it’s the ideal Severance package.

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Wha Is The Story Of Severance?

Severance
A scene from Severance

Helly—and all of her coworkers—are brand new, factory reset humans who will never be able to leave Lumon. They will not be able to experience anything outside of Lumon. That Is due to the nature of the chips in their brains. Because the chip in their head flips control back to the «outie» consciousness, the person who decided to undergo the procedure in the first place, who has no knowledge or memory of anything their «innie» consciousness experiences or does, the second they step outside the building, the chip in their head flips control back to the «outie» consciousness, the person who decided to undergo the procedure in the first place.

Two personalities share a single body in terms of functionality, but one of them willingly committed the other to a life of indentured servitude. In that life, they never see the sun, leave the building, make friends, have hobbies, or do anything but work.

A scene from Severance
A scene from Severance

We learn early on in the season that Mark, outie- Mark, as opposed to Mark S, the employee, is adamant in the defense of his decision to undergo the severing procedure because he is still grieving the loss of his wife. It was making it impossible for him to work or function, and he believes that severing the connection will help.

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In fact, he expressly refuses to consider a world without severance, and he isn’t afraid to voice his opinion on the subject. For him, severance is a good thing. Is it, however, a good thing for Mark S? He’ll never know, and to be honest, he doesn’t seem to care.

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