I Know It’s Cruel and Unusual,” Adam Scott said of that Severance Cliff-Hanger.
Over the course of Severance’s nine-episode first season on Apple TV+, viewers have gladly drawn comparisons to Lost, another programme that appeared to delight in dangling riddles in front of its audience and waiting a looooooong time to answer them.
The similarities are also quite evident for Adam Scott, a diehard sci-fi enthusiast who also happens to appear in the show—especially when it comes to the season’s terrible cliff-hanger.
“Isn’t it?” says the narrator. After being informed that the episode’s last scene is “brutal,” Scott responds with a smile. His character, Mark, has no knowledge that the wife he believed was dead is really working alongside him on the same floor of Lumon Industries, owing to an implant in his brain that has completely separated his professional and personal lives. (This was revealed to the audience a few episodes earlier, in yet another cliffhanger.) “She’s still alive!” exclaims the narrator. Mark yells to his sister before his colleague Dylan (Zach Cherry) is compelled to flick the switch that permits Mark’s severed work persona to be aware in the real world back at the Lumon office.
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Mark’s employees Helly (Britt Lower) and Irving (John Turturro) have their own real-world insights, which are mixed with a brilliant parallel action sequence. Helly is a high-ranking Lumon employee who has been supporting the Severance programme even as her severed self rails against it; when the switch is turned, she’s in the midst of making a rousing speech about the suffering the severed “innies” go through at work. And Irving, who had the finest workplace romance of the year with Burt (Christopher Walken) before he was forced to retire, discovers Burt out in the real world for the first time, looking happy at home with his spouse. When the switch is switched, Irving is left hammering on the door.
What happens when their “outie” selves reclaim control, having no recollection of Lumon or any of these life-altering events? We’ll have to wait until next season to find out—at least, Apple announced a second season earlier this week, anticipating this agony. For Scott, though, it’s all part of a long-standing television tradition. “I’ll never forget the moment Lost season one ended as an audience member,” he adds. “And I guess I simply sprang up from the sofa and yelled, ‘No!'”
For those who need a refresher, the Lost season concluded with Locke and Jack staring into the mysterious hatch, eager to find what was within…
However, it will have to wait until next season. “It was astonishing the discipline it took them to wait until that exact time to get the camera down that hole and staring up at the performers,” Scott recalls. “I understand it’s harsh and odd in some respects, but I also think it’s a lot of pleasure to be watching something and having that emotion.” And we were thinking the same thing as we were doing it: “Oh Jesus, if anybody is still with us, this is going to be a lot of fun.”
Scott said this week on the Little Gold Men podcast that he knows more about the world of Severance than the audience, such as the significance of the young goats he and Helly found a few episodes ago. But, with the exception of one, he’s not dropping any indications about it. He adds casually towards the conclusion of our talk, “Did you notice what the very final sound of the episode is?” I hadn’t, but I walked back to hear it—the Lumon severed floor’s elevator ring.
What does this imply? Scott isn’t saying anything. But there’s one more thing for Severance fans to think about as they wait for season two.