Severance Season 1 Episode 6: Hide and Seek Recap

In episode 6, Graner and Cobel close in on the person who helped Petey with reintegration. Cobel punishes Ms Casey for letting Helly out of her sight the day before and warns Mark to keep MDR in their own office. Mark rebels against her orders and takes the team to O&D instead, where they meet the rest of the department. Outie Mark goes on another date with Alexa. While out on a walk, Devon runs into Gabby, the other expectant mother from the birthing center, but Gabby doesn’t remember her. Later, Devon learns that Gabby’s husband is a pro-severance state senator.

Recap

Dressed for bed in a homespun cotton nightgown and braids, Harmony (Patricia Arquette) finishes turning Petey’s (Yul Vazquez) implant into a pendant and clasps its chain around her neck. She’s made her bedroom in the basement, enclosed on two sides by the basement’s cinderblock walls, painted an institutional white, with only partially framed walls on the other sides, almost suggesting bars. Her bed has an old cast iron bed frame. The room is lit by a single fluorescent light, mounted on the wall over the head of bed, and candles the size and shape of Gemma’s candle, but Harmony’s are white.

It looks as though she’s recreated her childhood bedroom from a mid 20th century orphanage or school. Or she’s a survivalist who’s very worried about natural and manmade disasters, so she sleeps in her basement bunker.

Harmony gets a call from Graner (Michael Cumpsty) saying they’ve traced Petey’s reintegration signature to a former Lumon employee named Reghabi (Karen Aldridge). Graner promises he’ll find her.

After they hang up, Harmony turns toward a shrine to Kier (Marc Geller) and Lumon she’s created in the corner of the room and kneels down to pray to Kier.

Harmony: “Tame in me the tempers four, that I may serve thee evermore. Place in me the values nine, that I may feel thy touch divine.”

Just in case anyone doubted that Lumon and Kier are also a religious cult, take a good look at that shrine and listen to Harmony’s prayer, taught to her when she was a child. The use of the phrases “that I may serve thee evermore” and “that I may feel thy touch divine” directed toward the corporation and its founder speak of devotion and indoctrination far beyond brand loyalty. In this prayer, the speaker promises endless servitude to a living God. It’s implied that good behavior will be rewarded with continued membership and attention.

These are the types of promises cults and corporate scams use to lure in desperate, lonely people. It’s not a coincidence that they use religious language-people respond to it, whether the organization backs up their words by taking care of the community or not. Frequently they do the bare minimum to maintain their people’s health and safety, combined with a system of cheap but flashy perks to reward compliance and underlying harsh consequences for those who threaten the status quo- just like Lumon. A corporation that depends on a cult of personality, such as Lumon, sometimes lasts in spite of the loss of the founder because they produce quality products and learn to change with the times, which gives the company the financial leeway to survive later missteps and lack of vision. Severance and Lumon could be satirizing anything from Amway to Tesla to Apple to (Walt) Disney.

Severance S1Ep6 Petey's Implant as PendantSeverance S1Ep6 Selvig's Basin & PitcherSeverance S1Ep6 Kier Shrine Up Close

Severance S1Ep6 Petey's PhoneSeverance S1Ep6 Mark Tosses PhoneSeverance S1Ep6 Burt & Irving in Plant Room

The next morning, Mark (Adam Scott) digs Petey’s phone out of the box in his basement. The blocked number continues to call every few hours, including in the middle of the night. It’s a technological Tell-Tale Heart that dials up the guilt every time he tries to walk away from the fight Petey passed on to him. Mark feels the guilt, but he still takes the battery out of the phone and tosses both into his outside trash bin on his way to work.

Face it, Mark, you’re the Chosen One. Also, one of the themes of this episode is that Mark is the Chosen One, along with Helly and the rest of MDR. Overall, I think the way he put Petey’s map through the shredder was significant- this show is using archetypes, but thanks to the implant, they’re shredded up, recombined, and passed around between the characters like a game of telephone… or maybe like Petey’s telephone. And also, I don’t know if Mark stayed sober the night before or what, but he normally wouldn’t have been able to make that shot into the trash bin and this morning he makes it twice in a row. Maybe I’m just used to watching his uncoordinated innie.

Burt (Christopher Walken) shows Irving (John Turturro) into his own private Garden of Eden, a room filled with potted plants the size of the tree in the Wellness room. It’s the closest Innie Irving has ever come to the feeling of being outside. Burt found it a while ago and has never told anyone else about it. Now he wants to share it with Irving as their secret place. Irving is relieved to have someplace where they can be alone.

They hold hands and Burt tells Irving that the handbook is silent on lip-to-lip contact, so technically it’s not forbidden. Ever the stickler for the rules, Irving points out that romantic fraternization is discouraged. What he means is that he’s just not ready to take their relationship to the next step, though they work this out as their lips make a strong case for lip-to-lip contact. They settle for leaning their foreheads together, noses touching in eskimo kisses, Burt telling Irving that he’s okay with waiting, as long as Irving stays there with him.

Devon (Jen Tullock) takes the baby out for a walk to the park, where she sees Gabby (Nora Dale), the woman who shared her coffee at the birthing center. She stops to say hi, but Gabby doesn’t recognize her and says she named her son Bradley instead of William, as she’d told Devon the night they were in labor. Gabby’s husband joins the conversation, introducing himself as Angelo Arteta (Ethan Flower). Once he hears Devon met Gabby at the birthing center, he quickly rounds up the family, including their other two sons, Declan and Kai, and they leave the park.

Mark reads more of Ricken’s (Michael Chernus) book. Chapter 29 is titled “Camaraderie”.

“What does camaraderie mean? Most linguists agree it comes from the Latin “camera,” which means a device used to take a photograph. And of course, the best photographs are not of individuals, but of groups of happy friends, who love each other deeply. But I think camaraderie is more than smiling together in photos. It’s standing together in hard times. It’s recognizing a common struggle in another person and reaching out to offer them a loving hand.”


Camaraderie and You (If You Are an Innie)

I’ve read multiple interviews where series creators Dan Erickson and Ben Stiller describe Ricken’s book as full of silly, stupid stuff. I want to clarify that they had Ricken express valid messages in silly, factually incorrect but emotionally true, or overly sincere ways that make some men uncomfortable. Amusing as it is, technically, the only error in the above passage about camaraderie is that the Latin word camera means chamber, which evolved into a French word for friends sharing a bedroom (camarade=roommates) before it’s meaning became more generalized. The refiners eyes are opened by what Ricken says because of the book’s emotional honesty and underlying truth. Ricken makes them feel like he sees and cares about them. Lumon’s materials, on the other hand, make them feel like either children or criminals.

Though it’s likely the innies don’t know the prayer Harmony said earlier, which instructs followers to beg for Kier’s approval by serving him and pretending their own needs don’t exist, that’s the philosophy the innies are expected to live by on the severed floor. Ricken, by virtue of speaking through the only book they’ve seen other than the handbook, is given high status as an author. And that author just told Mark that his feelings of love and friendship toward his coworkers are admirable, not something to be forgotten as soon as he changes out the group photos or shreds the map in the shredder.

Through The You You Are, Ricken told Mark that his life doesn’t have to be a pretty lie.

Milchick threatened Mark for worrying about Petey’s disappearance from MDR. Graner pushed him onto the elevator when he was trying to help Helly. Cobel placed the burden of leading MDR through emotional crises on him when emotionally, he and his coworkers are children.

But now, a second source of wisdom and authority is telling him that his instinct to take care of his coworkers and validate their experiences is correct. That’s incredibly powerful.

Through the DESTINY poem, Ricken told Dylan that’s it’s okay to dream and have hope for the future. That help might even be coming. Teamwork, strategy and hope are very dangerous sentiments in a place like Lumon. Helly (Britt Lower) has already made the team bold, while the loss of Petey, the former heart of the group, taught them to value their connections with each other. Ricken helps them take the next steps as they gradually learn to understand loyalty and protection.

I want to mention the Bible Parable of the Sheep and the Goats before moving on, because this episode is all about characters judging each other and making decisions for themselves rather than following orders. In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46), Jesus tells his followers that when judgement day comes, God will separate souls into two groups, just as a shepherd separates his flock into the sheep and goats. The sheep will be sent to the right and symbolize those who took care of others as if they were Jesus himself and who followed his teachings faithfully. They will be rewarded with eternal life. The goats will be sent to the left and symbolize those who weren’t faithful and didn’t do enough to take care of others. They will receive eternal punishment.

Though on the surface this parable sounds like it encourages cooperative behavior, it’s actually one sided. The sheep are told to be selfless with everyone, no matter how they’re treated in return, so they can earn a reward after they die. God’s sheep are the followers who unquestioningly do what they’re told. They are at risk for exploitation and enslavement.

Meanwhile, the goats are the individualists who go their own way. The issue with goats, or masters in the language of Nietzsche, is the reverse- independence and strength, when overused, or used without empathy and compassion, become a way to justify stealing from and exploiting those not as fortunate as oneself just because one is able to.

The world needs both types and, as with the tempers, we’re all a little of both. It’s probably best to find the balance between the two sides represented by Baphomet, a symbol of personal equilibrium and ideal social order.

Kier and Myrtle used the language of compassion and empathy, but also valued strength and self-sufficiency. Kier ran Lumon during a period in history when virtually all businesses exploited workers to the point of death and disability, even children, but was also there for the progressive period of labor reform.

Myrtle was in charge during World War 2, when women went to work in droves, doing the jobs soldiers left behind, and the post-war economic boom, when many (male) workers were treated and paid better than ever, but women were forced back into the home or low wage work. I suspect both CEOs had mixed records on worker exploitation, to be honest. CEOs tend to be ruthless, put profits first and attempt to get away with whatever the market will accept. They also tend to be adept at putting up a charming front, have excellent social skills in public and score high on the psychopath scale.

I have a feeling Lumon’s CEOs have grown more ruthless and less compassionate over time. Everything we know about the severance program tells me it’s exploitation and part time enslavement, leading to full time enslavement. They want sheep, rather than goats, and use severance to turn people into calm, cooperative near-zombies like Ms Casey (Dichen Lachman), who’ve forgotten that fighting back is an option.


All four refiners plot their next move in the kitchenette. Irving believes they should work toward uniting the departments, the way Kier intended. The first step is for all four of them to visit O&D. Still suspicious of those O&D snakes, Dylan (Zach Cherry) accuses him of fraternization and suggests the ghost of Kier can officiate at his wedding. Irving takes offense at the accusation and says he’s self-reporting Dylan, which doesn’t even make sense.

But it does, in a way. By saying he’s self-reporting Dylan to himself, Irving is recognizing himself as an individual with authority in a way he never could before. He’s the senior Macrodata Refiner and an expert on the Lumon Employee Handbook. He knows what he’s talking about and deserves respect. But more than that, Irving is recognizing his own human rights and that in this instance, the rules Dylan wants to enforce out of fear and jealousy violate Irving’s rights as a human being.

Mark tries to rein them back in, asking about the machines they were making things with. Dylan says it’s the clubs they murder the goats with. He’s in a bad mood today. Irving explains that they didn’t ask questions about the machines. Helly agrees that visiting O&D as a team is their next move, as part of their goal to map the whole floor. Irving comments that he doesn’t approve of mapping. Helly suggests she and Mark go on another mental health walk, but he’s not sure. They do still have to reach their quarterly quotas.

Helly quotes his own words back at him: “The work is mysterious and important.”

Oops, now they’re flirting. Mark smiles and says that sounds just like him. Helly gives him a mysterious smile, then leaves the room, tossing “Praise Kier” over her shoulder as she goes out the door.

Dylan is disgusted that Mark and Helly are also openly fraternizing. Mark tries to deny it, but he’s got a big grin on his face. Dylan and Irving point out that he never smiles at them like that. Milchick (Trammell Tillman) interrupts their conversation, asking what they’re talking about. They try to cover by saying they were talking about Ms Casey. Then they actually start to wonder where she is.

It’s a sad moment for Ms Casey. She’s told them positive things about themselves in their Wellness sessions. She was so worried when she lost Mark and Helly yesterday. She helped Irving find Burt. But not one of them gave her a second thought today.

Cut to Cobel’s office, where she explains to Mark that Ms Casey, as a part-time innie, is still a baby isn’t as experienced as the refiners, but she still has to abide by the rules. Casey failed at her assigned task of supervising Helly, so she’s in the Break Room. Mark tells Cobel that Casey’s failure isn’t her fault, because he snuck Helly out for their mental health walk, so he’s the one who should be punished.

Cobel tells Mark that his valiance is sweet, but Casey isn’t important enough for all of this fuss. “Who won’t you go to the Break Room for?”

Mark still doesn’t think it’s fair that Casey is being punished for something he did. He argues that as Helly’s department chief, he’s allowed to take her for a walk if he thinks she needs one.

And just like that, they’re talking about Helly instead of Casey. Outie Helly chose her current situation and has been harsh and cruel toward her innie for rejecting that choice. Innie Helly is willing to take the entire severed floor down with her in order to get revenge on herself. They are two sides of the same coin and neither is a passive victim. Innie Helly is high maintenance, requiring constant attention and action.

Innie Casey is her opposite, appearing to have had her personality wiped clean and to have fully tamed her tempers. She’s able to sit still and observe others for hours at a time, noting more than their physical state. She’s been nothing but kind and helpful to her coworkers while dutifully following orders. She’s a sheep, rather than a goat, but there’s something desperate about her need to make sure those around her are okay.

Cobel shows Mark surveillance footage from the day before and asks why he and Helly were wandering through othering departments while MDR falls below quota.

Mark: “She almost died.”

Cobel: “It’s not your job to play nursemaid to every new refiner.”

It has been up until this minute.

Mark: “Okay. So what is my job?”

Cobel: “Are you really asking me that?”

Mark: “Yeah. What is it we actually do here?”

Cobel screams in his face: “We serve Kier, you child! And until you get that through your mildewed little brain and hit quota, MDR’s hallway privileges are hereby revoked. So get back to your desk and stay there until you’re told to move.”

Mark barely contains his own feelings before walking out. Harmony looks a little ragged around the edges herself in this scene, as if she spent a sleepless night or has been to the Break Room. Maybe she got in trouble for letting MDR wander too much and is overcompensating today.

It’s 10:35. Time for some fun. Helly draws a desk lamp on a Lumon Post-It. She’s a capable artist. Dylan fantasizes that MDR was watching to see if he and Ms Casey would give in to their sexual tension, by way of saying he’s sad she’s in the Break Room. He says he even picked out the shirt he’s wearing for her. Helly notes that his outie, who has no idea Casey exists, picked out the shirt.

Dylan: “Maybe love transcends severance.”

Helly asks if he really believes that and he says no, but of course a dreamer like him believes in love overcoming all odds. Then Dylan asks what really happened between her and Mark and the “baby goats,” insinuating that it was more than a walk. She asks if he’s saying that “baby goats” is code for sex with Mark. He asks her if that’s the way they’re using it. She says no and is confused about why they would even think to say that. Dylan says he believes her, but says it in a way that leaves his options open.

Mark returns from Cobel’s office and tells them Casey’s in the Break Room and they’ve been confined to the office, “so no more interdepartmental visits.” He yells the last part at Irving.

Irving’s eyes widen as he tries to take in the news, then he visibly crumbles. He apologizes to Mark for setting a bad example for the younger team members. Mark can’t handle hurting innocent people, or anyone, really, which makes him a terrible choice for management. But for today, it makes him a good choice to continue the rebellion. He asks Irving to take them to O&D. Innie Mark may not consciously know that he lost he wife, but something in him recognizes what Irving’s feeling and he won’t take someone else’s person away from them. He needs to fix this now.

Kudos to John Turturro for that moment when Irving thought he might never see Burt again and his eyes turned into dark, hollow caves. I felt the breath get sucked out of my lungs at the sight of a man who’d lost what mattered most to him.

Severance S1Ep6 Cobel Yells at Mark
Cobel’s stance is similar to cobra position. From this angle, her painting looks like trees or smokestacks rather than clouds.

Severance S1Ep6 MDR Hero Walks to O&DSeverance S1Ep6 FeliciaSeverance S1Ep6 Elizabeth from O&D with Watering Can

Severance S1Ep6 Dylan with Watering Can in 3D Printer
The 3D printer/replicator on the left still has a watering can inside.

MDR takes a slo-mo hero walk to O&D. Burt brings them straight to the backroom. Cobel spots them on her monitor and sends Milchick to intervene. Mark and Helly comment that the O&D crew is more people than they’ve ever seen. Burt tells his people that although change is scary, they need to accept it and work through the fear and disorientation. He opens the floor to questions.

One of the designers, Elizabeth (Rachel Addington), asks what they refine. Since they can’t answer, Irving asks if she’s holding a watering can- she is and there are more in the 3D printers. Felicia (Claudia Robinson) and some of the other designers try to shush the rest, but Burt says they think the watering cans are for the topside executive offices. The previous week’s assignment had “more of an aggressive feel.” Elizabeth doesn’t think hatchets are aggressive.

Hatchets are a heavy blade on a stick. How are they not aggressive? They’re like a Viking weapon you can also use on trees.

Mark says they’ve been trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. He mentions the baby goat department he and Helly found. Burt hasn’t heard of that department before. They all make noises about how important the work is. Helly asks how sure of its importance they actually are, wondering if that’s just something they say to make themselves feel better, bursting their bubble.

Mark suggests they all work together. Felicia doesn’t understand what he wants to cooperate on. He explains that they could try to determine what the departments are for, how big the severed floor is and how many workers their are. Burt and Felicia give each other a look.

That was a weird look. Do they know this will lead to trouble or have they been told to encourage MDR to break the rules?

Mark: “I mean why won’t they tell us what we’re doing here? What are they so afraid of? If the Eagan philosophy is illumination above all… [Irving: “Illumination beyond all. But, yes.”] then why doesn’t that include us? Why are we down here still working in the dark?”

Burt agrees with Mark’s call to action. “Kier would want us to feel the warm embrace of knowledge and truth. That way we could be true partners in his teachings.” Burt is such a hippie. 😉 ❤️

He continues, saying he and Mark, as department chiefs, should make contact with the goat department to find out what they know. They can each bring one aid-de-camp. Milchick arrives before he can name his aide-de-camp. I really wanted to see if he’d find a way to justify choosing Irving.

Backing up a little, while Mark makes his speech, Dylan wanders behind the 3D printers and finds a tray of 6 picture cards. Each depicts a different violent martial arts movement that results in knocking the breath out of someone or strangling them. I’m going to count these as aggressive, along with the hatchets. I was willing to lump the hatchets, goats and watering cans together as farming necessities, but when you add in the cards and the permanent innies living underground, together they point toward tools for a survivalist community in a huge underground bunker. Or some kind of secret experimental community or prison camp.

It can always be all 3. Survivalist experiments done on a secret group of prisoners held in a camp created from an abandoned mine or a cave system.

While Milchick stares everyone down to give them a moment to think about what they’ve done, Dylan shoves one of the cards in his pocket. Then Milchick leads MDR back to their office. It’s not the walk of shame he hopes it will be. On the way, Mark argues that they aren’t children and didn’t do anything wrong. Milchick ignores him.

Cobel is waiting when they get back to the MDR office. Milchick leads them to stand in front of her. Without introduction or explanation, she sings a hymn about Kier while staring straight at Mark.

Kier, chosen one, Kier.

Kier, brilliant one, Kier.

Brings the bounty to the plain,

Through the torment, through the rain.

Progress, knowledge, show no fear.

Kier, chosen one, Kier.

When she’s done, she says: “I trusted you, and you abused that trust. Your inefficiency and free-range chicken roaming is ultimately your responsibility. [Graner appears at Mark’s side.] Escort him to the Break Room.”

Mark goes quietly, but his face takes on the hardened , bitter look we associate with Outie Mark. Ms Cobel’s eyes look empty- she didn’t want to punish him this way, but he left her no choice. The words to the song are meant to encourage listeners to have hope and renewed determination, not chastise them for overstepping their boundaries.

Graner uses his key card to silently let Mark into the narrow Break Room hallway. Ms Casey enters the hallway from the Break Room end at the same time. As they meet in the middle and squeeze past each other, Mark says, “I’m sorry.” Ms Casey perks up a little as she continues down the hall.

Mark turns the doorknob to the Break Room and the scene abruptly ends.

Severance S1Ep6 Eagan Fight Club Cards
Yoga positions and first aid instructions turned into fighting instructions. The card Dylan is holding shows warrior pose, but it shows the pose ending by striking a bystander in the chest.

Severance S1Ep6 MDR at O&DSeverence S1Ep6 Milchick Catches MDR at O&DSeverance S1Ep6 Cobel Sings Kier SongSeverance S1Ep6 Mark & Casey in BR HallSeverance S1Ep6 Post Break Room Casey

Flash forward to that evening. Mark is out on another dinner date with Alexa (Nikki M James). He has scraped and bruised knuckles on his hand from the Break Room, so Lumon probably compensated him with another gift card. He tells her that Lumon said he hurt his hand replacing a water cooler jug. They agree that those jugs are heavy.

Did he hit something to get those injuries? The movements on the O&D cards all require striking others with the hands. Do some Break Room punishments involve practicing those moves on other innies? Maybe his co-conspirator Burt?

This time, the restaurant is busy. Mark is eating and there’s food on the plates. Mark doesn’t seem as haunted and is drinking water. Something has shifted inside him.

Mark asks Alexa if she’s seen Devon’s baby recently. She hasn’t, but she recommended some lactation consultants to help Devon with breastfeeding. Mark thinks it’s a good idea for his sister to get expert help other than Ricken.

Alexa asks if Mark ever thought about having kids with Gemma. He says they tried to have kids of their own but it didn’t work. They talked about adopting, but then decided to accept that they weren’t meant to have kids and make the best of the lives they had. Alexa thinks they had a healthy attitude. Mark says that it was mostly Gemma. She helped him cope. Gemma was the pragmatic one who always came up with alternative solutions. He starts a story about a camping trip they took, then decides it’s weird to tell his date stories about his dead wife. Alexa thinks it’s healthy that he’s able to talk about her.

Mark: “You know, sometimes I think she’d want me to get off my *ss. And sometimes I think she’s not worried about me at all. She’s just pissed that she’s dead. Sorry, I know that doesn’t totally make sense.”

Alexa: “She’s a part of you. You know? You can’t just separate yourself…”

Mark: “Oh, no, but you can, Alexa, with this exciting new procedure.”

They both laugh.

Severance S1Ep6 Mark & Alexa @ Dinner
Severance S1Ep6 Gabby's Google Results
Severance S1Ep6 Harmony, Ricken, Devon

Devon researches her new acquaintances Gabby and Angelo Arteta and discovers that Angelo is a pro severance state senator whose campaigns are financed by Lumon. Publicly, Gabby is his glamorous accessory at political events, while at home they’ve apparently been going through a nightmare kitchen remodel for years. Gabby’s social media accounts are locked, so all Devon can access are news stories.

Sounds like Innie Gabby went through childbirth, then Outie Gabby and Angelo named the baby. But what’s up with the kitchen remodel? Maybe a vehicle for grift and money laundering?

Devon closes her computer and picks up the baby when Ricken calls her to the other room to interview Mrs Selvig as a potential lactation consultant. Ricken mentions that “The kelp worked,” implying that Mrs Selvig suggested it to them. That means they were in contact, probably through Mark, before the baby was born.

My quick take on the kelp is that it smells like the ocean, which is linked to the subconscious mind, dreams and the feminine, so Selvig might believe that the smell of fresh kelp would help Devon and the baby relax and connect during and after labor. Symbolically, it’s another of many references to water. Kelp is sometimes used to induce labor when inserted into the cervix and is a rich source of iodine when eaten. Ricken’s plans for the kelp didn’t seem to extend beyond hanging it in the delivery room, but he also decided not to share the purpose of the kelp with Mark, so we don’t know if they made it into a nourishing soup for Devon after Eleanor was born.

There’s a bust of a goat’s head on a stick sitting next to a chess board on one of Devon and Ricken’s side tables. Though Ricken helps people with his books, they aren’t Lumon sanctioned, so he’s a goat.

Ricken and Devon thank Harmony for meeting with them, She says she was thrilled when Mark mentioned they needed help. Then she turns to business, asking about Eleanor’s birth and planning to discuss nursing positions. She gives Devon a free sample of her homemade shea butter salve to soothe her sore nipples. Ricken lets her know they’re interviewing a few people.

When Eleanor starts to cry, Harmony is sympathetic and asks to hold her. She rests the baby’s head on her shoulder, then rocks her and walks with her as she hums the Kier song (lullaby?) she sang to Mark and MDR earlier. Eleanor settles immediately. Harmony might have a sedative on her neck that knocked Eleanor out, but she also might be more relaxed with babies than a pair of exhausted new parents.

Severance S1Ep6 Zeus Splits Brain with Lightning Bolt
Severance S1Ep6 Cartoon Brain Pours Milk
Severance S1Ep6 Dylan's Son Counting to 1000
Severance S1Ep6 Innie Dylan & Son

Suddenly, we’re in a cartoon! A lightning bolt splits a brain in half. The halves of the brain separate, pouring out a white liquid. Felix the Cat appears for a moment, holding something huge and black above his head as if he’s Atlas holding up the sky while Zeus rains a lightning and thunder storm down on the world.

So, Milchick is Atlas, then, the guy who’s always in crisis mode, doing much more than his share of the work. Felix the Cat was a rival of Mickey Mouse in the early days of animation whose popularity was eclipsed by Mickey. If Milchick is also Felix, does that mean Mark and the severed workers are Mickey and his gang and they’re about to win?

A young boy (Blaze James Gorman) sits in front of the TV with his eyes closed, counting. He’s in the 700s.

Innie Dylan wakes up sitting in a closet at his Outie’s home. Milchick sits in front of him, pulling his radio away from his ear. He tells Dylan that he’s been woken up at home because Milchick knows Dylan took the ideographic card from O&D. No use in denying it- Milchick has seen the surveillance footage. Milchick needs the card back. He wants to know where it is. Did Dylan smuggle it out of Lumon and back to his house?

Dylan is distracted by the contents of his closet, which is stuffed full of clothes and whatnot, so he uncharacteristically misses the huge mistake Milchick just made. Innie Dylan has never seen anything like Outie Dylan’s overstuffed clothes closet and it’s a fascinating window into his other life.

He just told Dylan that the code detectors in the elevators won’t stop severed workers from bringing out drawings, including symbols such as arrows. I’ve wondered if the code detectors are actually management, who watch severed workers so closely they always know when they’re planning to smuggle writing out. Maybe it’s the managers who push the right buttons to have the elevator put on a show. You’d think the arrows on the cards would count as code. How close can pictographs get to letters and numbers before they set off the alarms? The key might be for someone to send messages to themselves quietly, without telling anyone else and to keep the pages hidden. Dylan could try emoji speak or hieroglyphics.

Milchick says Dylan doesn’t realize how sensitive the situation is and asks if someone paid him to smuggle the card out. Dylan confesses that he hid the card under the toilet in the bathroom. He didn’t know what it was. Milchick says that’s fine.

This sounds like Milchick’s job is on the line and the cards could be the subject of corporate espionage. Maybe they’re illegal or point toward an illegal operation. Maybe a rival martial arts playing card company wants to spoil Lumon’s splashy release strategy.

The boy runs into the closet yelling, “Daddy, Daddy!” Dylan is shocked and asks if this is his son. Milchick sternly reminds the boy that he was supposed to wait in the other room while counting to a thousand. Milchick says “End it” into the radio. We see a lever pointing at “on” flip to “off” and Outie Dylan wakes up. He smiles at his son, who recognizes that Dylan is his dad again and runs back to him. Dylan asks Milchick if they’re done, then leaves the closet when Milchick says they’re good.

Milchick is comfortable in Dylan’s house and Dylan’s son understood what was happening. This might have happened before, but with Lumon approval, so Milchick was able to wipe Innie Dylan’s memory. Outie Dylan was terse with Milchick once he fully came back to himself and left Milchick alone in his closet, an odd thing to do with someone you hardly know. Outie Mark wasn’t sure Milchick would remember him when he called in sick, but the proper, formal Milchick is comfortable giving orders to Dylan’s son and sitting in his closet. Odds are they know each other in the outside world. Dylan and Felicia have some chemistry going, too. Maybe they are all related?

Severance S1Ep6 OTC Switching Off
A glimpse of the hand that holds the levers (lower right corner). I think it’s Felicia. She wasn’t too keen on departmental cooperation and would want to get the missing card back so no one in O&D got in trouble. It could also be Burt, who would have been sent to the Break Room or suffered a similar punishment, just like Mark. But someone who was still in the O&D backroom had to notice the card was missing and tell either Burt or Milchick. Or maybe Graner and/or Milchick noticed it when they went over surveillance footage. But Graner is already out stalking Harmony & Reghabi, so it’s not his hand.
Severance S1Ep6 Milchick in Closet

Mark and Alexa stand outside the restaurant after dinner, deciding what to do next. Mark notices a poster for Petey’s daughter June’s band that says they’re performing tonight. He asks Alexa if she wants to go, promising they’ll leave if the band is lame. Alexa corrects him, saying he means if the band isn’t as cool as they are.

June (Cassidy Layton) is in a punk band that’s performing outside in an alley. As soon as Mark and Alexa arrive, he says he feels old. The band’s last song is about Lumon taking away their first love, with a rousing chorus that repeats “F**k you, Lumon. I hate you, Lumon.” Obviously it’s a singalong and Mark and Alexa join in.

The cult-like Kier worship of the severed floor isn’t shared by the town- every time Mark goes into the streets, people shout that Lumon is terrible and hurting people.

After the show, Mark and Alexa say hi to June and tell her the band was good, especially the last song. Mark says he thinks Petey would have liked it. June says they write what they know, but questions how Mark would know what Petey liked, since they were both severed. Before he can answer, a fight starts in the alley, so Mark and Alexa leave.

As they’re walking away, Mark explains to Alexa that June is the daughter of a coworker who died. He tells her it’s been difficult to piece together… but she kisses him before he can finish the sentence.

Graner knocks on Harmony’s front door and is surprised when she answers wearing her lactation consultant outfit, scrubs with rainbows and unicorns. He starts to tell her that he found Reghabi, the former Lumon employee who helped Petey with reintegration, but gets distracted and asks her what she’s wearing. She tells him she was doing private research. He asks her what that’s a euphemism for.

The characters on this show are certain that no one says what they mean and that there are many euphemisms for sex.

Harmony tells him she’s reached the end of her patience and he could have just called her on the phone. He was enjoying his nurse fantasy, but he gets to the point- one of his contacts tipped him off that someone is holed up in an old lab building on the Ganz College campus and the dean has told security to ignore it. Graner and Harmony agree that it’s Reghabi. He invites her to come with him to Ganz to see if that’s who it really is. She says no, but to let her know what he finds when he’s done. Graner mentions that maintenance is doing the installation tonight and he agrees with her decision. Then he takes another shot at the nurse fantasy, but she closes the door in his face.

So much misdirected and unconsummated lust in this show. It really does have an air of A Midsummer Night’s Dream about it.

Kissing led to more and now Alexa is asleep in Mark’s bed while he lies awake thinking about Petey. Finally, he gives up and digs Petey’s phone and battery out of his trash. As soon as he turns the phone on, the blocked number calls. This time he answers. Harmony watches from an upstairs window.

The woman on the phone asks if Mark is the caller and what Petey told him. Mark says Petey didn’t tell him anything, but he wants to understand. She asks him to meet her now.

At Lumon, maintenance workers install automated, key card-controlled metal doors in the entrance to Macrodata Refinement. From now on, the refiners won’t be able to leave their designated work zone without permission from management.

The board must have come down hard on Harmony for letting Mark and Helly find the goats. Severance was supposed to protect them from goats.

Even though it’s the middle of the night and Alexa is still in his bed, Mark goes to meet with the woman at Ganz College, where he and Gemma used to teach. When they come face to face and he asks who she is, she tells him to follow her and walks past him.

Severance S1Ep6 June's Band PosterSeverance S1Ep6 Punk JuneSeverance S1Ep6 We Hate You LumonSeverance S1Ep6 New DoorsSeverance S1Ep6 Shadow Mark on the PhoneSeverance S1Ep6 Reghabi & Mark


Commentary

I’ve had the thought for a while that one argument for the severance floor actually being a shared psychic space rather than a physical place is that Mark looks so much younger there. And the innies’ skin is so smooth and perfect. So much about Mark and Harmony’s physical being changes between the outside and the severed floor. Mark usually looks like a starved ghoul on the outside but like normal Adam Scott on the inside, especially as he grows closer to Helly. The workers could be put into a semiconscious state during their work hours. We watch their eyelids flutter in the elevator- maybe they’re going to sleep and waking up.

But we also saw Outie Mark’s physical appearance improve in this episode, despite having spent the afternoon in the Break Room. His flirtation with Helly improved his mood, making him more sociable with Alexa. There’s a feedback loop going on between Innie and Outie Mark and their feelings for Helly and Alexa that’s confusing and probably won’t end well. Both of Mark’s dates with Alexa have followed his stints in the break room. Is the punishment cathartic for him, leaving him feeling more sociable, or does it leave him in desperate need of companionship without strings attached? Or is Alexa the one making the dates, tipped off by someone at Lumon that Mark needs to be watched closely tonight?

Obligatory inclusion of the 4 tempers and 9 virtues for reference. Click on images to enlarge:


Eagans, Implants, Shadows and Ghosts

One hint that Petey and Harmony were close is the care she takes to turn his implant, which she referred to as Petey, into a pendant that she wears him around her neck. It’s a little disturbing that the inside of his implant looks okay before she sends it to be tested, but it comes back a red blur. Diagnostics scrambled his implant brain the way severance and reintegration scrambled his physical brain.

More importantly, Harmony gave Lumon the chance to copy the final version of Petey’s mind so now he can be cloned, too. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. They already have the severed workers’ DNA/blood from the severance procedure. The film “Moon”, with Sam Rockwell, currently on HBO Max, shows how easy it is to gaslight isolated populations using technology. Don’t want to spoil more, but this would be a good time to watch it.

The lamp Helly draws looks like a gooseneck lamp, which would make it another poultry/livestock reference, along with Cobel’s mention of chickens. The livestock mentions are a message to the innies, but are they food, slaves or sacrifices?

In addition to the shadow images which have been prevalent from the start, there are an increasing number of shots that show ghost images such as reflections, fades or overlapping images. The left end of the restaurant screen cap above shows the bar overlapping the tables as if we’re seeing the image reflected in a mirror or window. June’s poster overlaps with others. The new Macrodata Refinement doors show the beginning of the fade to the next image. This may have something to do with reintegration or reincarnation. There’s a good chance they’re competing goals.

Maybe Harmony and the Kier originalists believe in reintegration for the severed, healing of core wounds and perhaps body sharing and integration between the original personality and an implanted persona from someone who’s died. On the other hand, the board wants to remove the original personality, similar to the film Get Out, but using the implant instead of surgery. Then reincarnation is achieved by replacing the personality completely, probably by reprogramming the implant. Older Eagans could act as immortal vampires using this method, appearing to die but actually cannibalizing their own children by stealing their bodies and lives.

Why kill an ambitious heir to the throne when you can take over their body and rule as a corporate robber baron for several more decades instead? Wash, rinse, repeat.

Did you notice Helly showing artistic talent? My theory- Imogene was the artist behind the paintings. Myrtle was creative in a variety of ways and enjoyed passing her love of handiwork on to others. Leonora was responsible for the innovative building and corporate design language. And Helly is the next female Eagan to show artistic/design talent, but as with the others, her artistic talents and contributions will remain uncredited. She may even be Myrtle reincarnated.

Kier said he expected to live on through his works rather than in fact, but technology had developed enough by the time he died that it’s conceivable his children and grandchildren preserved his consciousness in order to eventually bring him back. Maybe that time has already happened and one of the characters we already know is Kier. Harmony seems to think it’s Mark. If another Eagan staged a coup, young Kier could have been ousted as a child, before he even knew who he (or she) was.

The shadow image of Mark on the phone with Reghabi is very similar to the shadow of the goat that he and Helly followed in episode 5. Is he ready for whatever Reghabi will get him into? My guess is the characters are sheep by default (according to The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats), or Lumon wouldn’t let them stay in Kier City without “reeducation”, if not imprisonment. Goat imagery appears to indicate characters are taking risks and breaking the rules- acting as headstrong goats who risk becoming Lumon’s blood sacrifices or sacrificial scapegoats. Even if they aren’t harshly punished, too much rule breaking could lead to discovering truths the characters might not be ready to hear.

Is Mark the scapegoat or the leader of the herd? TBD. Note that the evil portent of doom shadow goat is in front of a wall that looks like the new MDR doors. MDR wasn’t ready for this milk jelly.

Speaking of, milk poured out of the brain in the cartoon. Combined with breeding goats, who produce milk, it makes me wonder if goats have some special quality that enhances whatever special brew the Eagans are working on. The goats might be valuable for their ability to produce milk, rather than their reputation as sacrifices and troublemakers. First and foremost, Lumon is a business that needs to manufacture products and make money. The goats might be on their way to the testing floor to provide ingredients for new products. In the Bible they are mentioned repeatedly as a valuable part of the flock who enhance wealth. Their role as a sacrificial animal was far secondary to their role as livestock. And the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats is a metaphor meant to apply to humans, not an indictment on the character of goats for all time.


Chosen One, Kier

Cobel sings straight at Mark: Kier, chosen one, Kier. Kier, brilliant one, Kier. Brings the bounty to the plain, Through the torment, through the rain. Progress, knowledge, show no fear. Kier, chosen one, Kier.

She tells him he’s the chosen one and to keep going, showing no fear, despite the obstacles ahead, because he’s making progress. Then she tells him she has to let him pay the price for his own mistakes, because they are his, not hers, as if she feels guilty for not taking his punishment for him, the way he’s taken Helly’s punishment for her and was willing to stand in for Casey. Has she recently shown Valiance and been to the Break Room in his place?

The lyrics of this song call Kier brilliant and the chosen one. They say he brings bounty to the plain, which would normally be where farms grow food. He has to cross through torment and rain to bring his bounty, suggesting Kier fed the masses during natural and man made disasters. Then chosen one is repeated while telling Kier to fearlessly pursue progress and knowledge, as if someone or something stood in the way of his vision and methods for improving life. This all makes me think Kier made controversial scientific breakthroughs that he implemented despite protests and criticism. I’m going to guess they were in the form of genetic engineering, creating Frankenstein life forms that required unsustainable farming practices and dependency on a corporate overlord, such as what happened in the Green Revolution.

Maybe Kier went from topical salves to Monsanto.


Harmony, Eleanor and Leonora

Harmony is the one who tells us Eleanor’s name, not her parents or uncle, which might be a hint that Harmony has a familial connection to Mark and Devon or Ricken. She could be an older (half) sister who was separated from them in childhood, so that she remembers them but they don’t remember her.

She might have helped raise them before they were separated, as often happens with older siblings, especially sisters, when one or both parents are incapacitated or gone. That would explain why she’s so maternal toward both Mark and Devon and takes risks to be around them and the baby. Or why she ran over to take Ricken’s book when he left it on Mark’s front stoop and knew it’s his fifth. She and Ricken also share a certain whimsical view of the world, whereas Devon and Mark are both more grounded.

Leonora, the name of the CEO before Jame, is a variation of the name Eleanor, so Devon gave her daughter an Eagan name. Leonora died in 2008 at the age of 48 after being CEO for 9 years. She’d be 62 in 2022 if she were still alive. We don’t know when Severance takes place, so it’s hard to say if she could be Mark and Devon or Ricken’s mother. She’s a little young to be the actors’ mother, but the characters could be younger than the actors or the show could be set 10-20 years in the future.

Mark and Devon mentioned their father at the non dinner party, in connection to his love of whiskey, which he passed down to Mark. Ricken mentioned his father while Devon was in labor, saying he doesn’t want to turn out like his dad. Neither mother has been mentioned, but that could be a function of the production using male characters as the standard rather than having any meaning about mothers- other than that the Severance world is as sexist as our own.

Harmony has mentioned her mother twice, to both versions of Mark. Cobel’s mother was an atheist and Selvig’s was a devout Catholic. Who knows if either version bears any resemblance to Harmony’s actual mother or to Charlotte Cobel. I suspect Harmony was orphaned around the age of 10 or 12 and when no one else was available to raise her, she was sent to Myrtle Eagan’s boarding school to finish growing up. She saw the school and the Eagans as her family, but she also wants to reclaim lost connections of her own, whether they are blood relatives, step family or the children of a close friend who died.


Illumination vs Love

In this episode Mark and Irving said that the Lumon motto is, “Illumination beyond all.” In episode 2, the implant package said, “Don’t live to work. Work to Live.” Dylan told Helly, “Maybe love transcends severance.” These three statements get to the heart of the tension in priorities Severance is exploring. Illumination beyond all suggests the board’s priority is the advancement of their technology- better living and more profits through science and progress, as it was understood in the mid 20th century, before the dangers of the products of modern science were widely acknowledged. This is the battle we’re still fighting. Science brings us our modern standard of living and vast corporate profits, but it’s also brought mass extinction, climate crisis, dead zones in the oceans, and illnesses caused by man made chemicals.

One of the questions of the season is what can love, loyalty and memory endure and still survive? On Severance, we aren’t shown any fairytale stories of true love with no obstacles or flaws, just ordinary people trying to survive together and apart, who put work into keeping their relationships going. Transcendent love isn’t necessary, just survival and maybe some forgiveness. The better part of commitment is honoring the pact to not leave, no matter what.

Everything else is negotiable, though there’s a difference between Ricken and Devon putting up with each other’s quirks and Gabby putting up with her husband’s corruption. She must get something beyond severance out of it, though that traumatic kitchen remodel argues otherwise. Or maybe he has an “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” memory wipe button he pushes every time she complains about something. The ability to selectively wipe memories in those with implants would explain a lot.

But what if love could transcend severance? As the season progresses, we see more and more evidence that there is carry over between innies and outies. Muscle memory, sense memory, emotional memory and trauma sometimes break through. Sometimes Innie Mark is triggered by loss. Now that we know Dylan is a parent, it’s easy to see that his Innie has been using parenting skills all season as he teaches Helly how to use the refinement program and tries to protect his refiner family. His innie’s loneliness is explained by the emptiness where his feelings and memories for his son should be. He instinctively knows someone is missing.

While Lumon pushes the severed workers toward living to work, they’re learning to chose love and loyalty first- working to live. Mark realizes the Eagans put themselves above all else, including all others and makes his speech in the O&D backroom. Outie Dylan picks up his son and gets him away from Milchick as quickly as possible. Innie Dylan cooperated with Milchick, but also took in as much of his surroundings as he could. Helly realizes she doesn’t have to fight her outie and Lumon alone. Irving and Burt bring two departments together that are meant to hate each other, despite Milchick’s 266.

Putting illumination above and beyond all else could mean a variety of specific things to the Eagans. It could mean they’re searching the universe for enlightenment or that their goal is to spread Lumon’s beliefs and cult. Or the Eagans could be intent on solving some mystery of the universe that will grant them immortality, eternal wealth and power. They keep the severed workers in the basement while seeking illumination, a small irony. Kier glows in the taming the tempers painting- maybe he found illumination beyond all else, but didn’t share the secret with the others.


Kier Shrine and Other Stuff in Harmony’s Underground Bedroom

Severance S1Ep6 Kier Shrine Up Close
Pin up photo of Kier in the place of honor, along with Kiernival ticket. Harmony was a good student who won many ribbons and honors. A page encourages Probity, one of the Nine Virtues. The Four Tempers are represented in the corners. There are several bottles and labels from original Lumon products, perhaps relics that Kier and/or Myrtle actually touched.
Severance S1Ep6 Charlotte Cobel Hospital Bracelette (3:17:44) & Breathing Tube
Hospital bracelet reads Cobel, Charlotte Born 3-17-44. Next to breathing tubes. From Harmony’s mother?
Severance S1Ep6 Jester Hat
There are multiple jester entries in the shrine, suggesting it’s a favorite temper for Harmony.
Severance S1Ep6 Myrtle Eagan School for Girls Photo
Charlotte or Harmony outside the school. Harmony attended the Myrtle Eagan School for Girls. Charlotte may have, too.
Severance S1Ep6 Old Lumon Industrustries Pruduct Label
Early Lumon label from when they were a pharmaceutical company.
Severance S1Ep6 Shrine Probity Sign
Probity means having strong moral principles, honesty, decency. “You will never progress in perfecting your imperfect self until you…” What?
Severance S4Ep6 Kier & Raggedy Ann Dolls
Rag dolls of Kier and Myrtle?
Severance S1Ep6 Selvig's Basin & Pitcher
Pitcher and basin in background on left, such as those used when running water is lacking.
Old Woman temper on the upper left, Young Woman temper on the upper right. Small bust of Kier and a heart next to young woman.
Goat temper on the bottom left, Jester temper on the bottom right.

When she was 7 years old, Myrtle Eagan told her father, Ambrose Eagan, Kier’s ne’er do well son, that she intended to become CEO of Lumon someday. She was an ambitious woman, especially since she said those words in 1893. She became CEO in 1941 and ran the company with the same values that Kier had taught his family. Her school for girls also taught Kier’s values, including the Nine Virtues, the Four Tempers and the value of hard work and perseverance.

The girls were taught the the basics of all sorts of handiwork. We watch Harmony turn Petey’s implant into a necklace; she makes herbal salves and other remedies; she’s a creative, experimental cook; she sews rag dolls and probably some of Selvig’s clothes. There’s a good chance Harmony trained as a nurse at school, since many schools for the poor and working class included vocational training during the time period Severance is mimicking. Up until the last few decades girls would have been trained as secretaries, nurses or teachers. If Harmony lost her mother to illness at a young age, she might have been inspired to become a nurse, eventually specializing in maternity and infant care.

There are at least three images of Kier- the central photo, the small clay bust and the image of him as a jester on the Kiernival ticket. There are also at least three images of jesters. We already know Harmony worships Kier. The love for jesters is new information. The jester seems to represent frolic/sanguine, which is the temperament she takes on as Selvig. Addicts can get lost in frolic and there are some indications Kier had substance abuse issues. Harmony has the bust of Kier next to the young woman, who I think is dread/phlegmatic, the most balanced temperament. Perhaps Kier trained himself to operate in dread after he overcame his issues with frolic, the drug (aka ether) and the temperament.

Historically, jesters were popular from ancient times in cultures all over the world. They entertained rulers and their courts, serving at the rulers’ pleasure, but also given the right to honest critique within their humorous barbs. In this way, jesters acted as devil’s advocates who sometimes helped rein in rulers who let their emotions get the best of them. Sometimes the jester was the only one who could safely deliver bad news to the ruler, both because the jester could find the most pleasant way to deliver the news and because honesty was expected from the jester.

In tarot, the fool card is the equivalent to the jester- fool is another name for jester. Depending on its position, the fool can mean new beginnings, innocence, adventure or recklessness, fearlessness, risk. As with frolic/sanguine, the fool’s element is air. The fool is also associated with loyalty, protection, journeys, purity, freedom and unlimited potential, along with future challenges.

“The Fool tarot card is the number 0 of the Major Arcana, which stands for the number of unlimited potentials. Therefore it does not have a specific place in the sequence of the tarot cards. Its place is either at the beginning or at the end of a sequence. The Major Arcana is often considered the Fool’s journey through life. As such, he is ever-present and therefore needs no number.” (X)

The fool is the main character of the deck and the subject of the reading automatically becomes the fool. Like Kier, he’s the beginning, the end and everything in between. Kier and the fool are in everyone and everyone is in them. Think about the potential implications of that, genetically and spiritually.

Note that the fool carries a white flower and Milchick gave Helly white flowers on her first day. The fool also looks up when he should be looking down, which corresponds to the innies’ obsession with getting to the outside (up) while Petey wanted Mark to investigate the permanent innies (down). And is reminiscent of Burt and Irving’s worry that Kier would fall off the cliff in the painting that hangs over the drinking fountain in episode 4. Like Dylan, the fool is attached to his stuff and enjoys excitement and stories, but sometimes encounters more excitement than he bargained for. The pattern on the fool’s outfit is busy and multicolored, like Selvig’s favorite coat and her nurse uniform.

Harmony’s Selvig persona cultivates the appearance of the fool. She’s quirky and easily distracted, but loyal, caring and adventurous. As Cobel, she’s malice, taking charge and directing events, becoming aggressive when necessary. But as Harmony, alone in her basement bedroom, she’s woe, showing her intelligent, hard-working, studious side; remembering the past, her people and her values; practical and down to earth with an air of loss and sadness.

She kept her lactation consultant side gig secret from Graner, which probably means it’s not a board approved activity.

A closer look at Selvig’s unicorns and rainbows, plus the goat’s head behind her.

Angelo and Gabby Arteta Article Analysis

Severance S1Ep6 Angelo Admits He Supports SeverageSeverance S1Ep6 Arteta Family PortraitSeverance S1Ep6 Arteta is Kier Life MagSeverance S1Ep6 Arteta's Reservoir Journal ArticleSeverance S1Ep6 Gabby's Google ResultsSeverance S1Ep6 Gabby's Locked Social Media

Here are screenshots of Devon’s research on Gabby and Angelo Arteta. The articles confirm that they are in the US, in a fictional state abbreviated PE, which is similar to the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island (PEI). Since this is an alternate universe with alternate history, one of the current US states or territories could have a different name. Pennsylvania, for example, is named for one of its founding fathers, William Penn. In the Severance world it could be named or renamed for someone else and could have different borders. Or the state of PE could be anywhere in the world with forests and winter, similar to the way the Watchmen TV series turned Vietnam into a US state.

The Artetas are pictured with their two older sons, who look like they’re 3 or 4 and 5 or 6 in the photo. Since they’ve been married 7 years, they got started right away, when Gabby was very young. The traumatic, ongoing kitchen reno and addition is discussed, with the article mentioning skeletal walls and piles of insulation. That sounds like Angelo didn’t pay his workers and they walked off the job or there’s a lawsuit involved. Something corrupt is happening. Why is a popular state senator unable to get anyone to put up his dry wall and insulation? Were the workers severed without their knowledge as a way to force them to work overtime and pay them less or not at all? Or is this a money laundering scheme, as I suggested earlier?

Arteta has been on Lumon’s payroll for a while, but only admitted to accepting campaign donations from the company when it appears local media accessed campaign finance documents and called him on it. He was the mayor of a nearby small town until he began vocally supporting severance, a controversial opinion. Then he had a meteoric rise to the state legislature, winning reelection in a landslide. You have to wonder if severance allowed Lumon to rig the vote using the same tech that allowed Gabby to give birth in her innie state. Flip the switch on the right election officials and on enough voters in the right places and you’re good to go.

In the photos, Gabby always has the same smile and is tilted toward her husband. She’s described as an advocate for children, wellness and mental health issues, but no specific activities or causes are listed. Her mental health is compromised by her kitchen, she’s only able to raise her kids with a lot of help and she can’t handle giving birth, so maybe mental health issues are her biggest interest after her own family. Maybe when her mental instability starts to show, her husband turns her off and plays with Gabby 2 instead. I wonder how many Gabby personas have had mental break downs already. Both of the Gabbys we’ve met seemed out of it. She’s glamorous, but her memory is probably wiped clean every few months.

The Reservoir Journal is another piece of evidence toward my theory that Kier City is similar to Johnstown, PA, since it presumably means there’s a reservoir nearby.


Petey’s Maps

The first version of Petey’s map that we’re shown is a partial map from the greenhouse that he drew based on the memories his outie has access to after partial reintegration. Petey remembered MDR, the Break Room, Wellness and the houses where the permanent innies live. It looks like he might have remembered Team Building and the Perpetuity Wing as well, but the writing is obscured. He has question marks for the Mind section at the top and under the houses, where he also has question marks in the original. O&D, in the bottom left, is represented very differently and more accurately. Did he learn more before he left or remember more afterward? Many smaller details shown on his innie’s map are left out completely.

While staying in his basement, Petey tells Mark that he hid a map in MDR before he left. Mark finds Petey’s map hidden in a picture frame when he switches out the group photos. Petey somehow knew Mark would be promoted to his job when he left and thus would be the one changing out the photos. This could be another indication of collusion with Cobel, but the show has also made it seem like Mark was the clear choice. Irving doesn’t want the job and Mark has seniority over Dylan. Dylan actually seems like the refiner who’s best suited to be department chief. Mark isn’t terrible at supervising, but he’s not very interested in it either, while Dylan is dedicated, on the ball and great at supervising others.

The full map. In the bottom left, Petey, who had a perfectionist side, notes that it’s “for research only, not to scale.” Above that is O&D, with a question mark, and to the right is the Perpetuity Wing. MDR forms a triangle with the other two, toward the center of the map. It looks like there could be two Break Rooms, one to the right of MDR and a smaller one directly below, with the long, narrow hallways to each darkened. Sevy the implant character from the MDR employee handbook sits on top of the darkened hallway for the smaller Break Room below MDR.

Someone on Reddit suggested that the ME on the sign for Myrtle Eagan’s School for Girls from Harmony’s photo on her shrine looked like the halls from Petey’s map. There is a section that connects the Perpetuity Wing and Team Building that’s similar. Maybe it leads to a secret passage only Myrtle and her favorites knew about.

There is a Coil of Doom just above the Perpetuity Wing that points toward O&D, but the direction might be a coincidence. There is a tiny room just above that says 4+9, probably code for controlling behavior. My guess is that either this is the security office/control room where the on/off lever lives that activated Innie Dylan at home or the control room is the gold rectangle to the left, connected to 4+9 by a hallway, and the Coil of Doom gives those controls the juice necessary to send commands anywhere in Kier City. I’m guessing that anything that has to do with the implants that’s not automatic happens in the control room.

Whichever of the two rooms isn’t the control room is probably Cobel’s office. It makes sense for Admin to be close to MDR and the control room. But it’s odd that Petey didn’t label her office, since as department head he must have gone there as often as Mark does now. Since Cobel worships Kier and is fond of mentioning the four tempers and nine virtues, it would make sense for Petey to use 4+9 as code for her office. Outie Mark might have to work with June and do some memory work to bring as much of this back as possible and figure the rest out. Maybe Selvig has a helpful salve or tea?

Moving on, there are two small rectangles with connected up and down arrows. I think those are elevators. The innies only seem to know about one, so the other is probably management only. I’m relieved to know that Milchick doesn’t have to take the stairs every time he beats someone upstairs or to the severed floor. Management’s elevator is probably hidden over behind O&D, while the elevator over by Team Building is likely responsible for Mark’s ~90 second walk to the office and all of Helly’s long chase scenes. That looks like stairs on the other side of Team Building.

O&D has Xs and zigzags on the circle that encloses it. Does it have some kind of funky shielding to disguise whatever the printers do and whatever else happens there? How many layers deep is the department? They are still lying about how many workers they have- at least one person ran out of sight when Irving opened the door the first time and another was in the far distance- he didn’t count either of them and Burt has gone along with his miscount. Management must have listened in on what Irving told the rest of MDR and then told Burt how many O&D workers to reveal to Irving. He was pacing the conference room to get his story straight.

We’ve been shown that the O&D department has an outer room with two employees which stores and distributes art as a cover story. The second layer uses 3D printers to create seemingly innocuous items and has approximately seven employees. But then there were those cards, which were so important that Milchick thought he might get fired over them. Who are they for and what are they about? O&D remains mysterious and Burt is still keeping secrets about the extent of their activities. The entrance to the backroom, or storeroom, as Burt calls it, even though it’s a manufacturing floor, feels like looking into the belly of a whale and wondering if it’s safe.

Sevy is in the center of Petey’s map, the way the implant is placed in the center of the brain. Above him, is a long black triangle, topped with a red square, that looks like it’s about to beam him up into the mind, with its multicolored frills and spidery, dripping black eye. The frills around the mind remind me of Mark’s two goldfish, one black, one gold. According to several shows in the last few years, goldfish represent the soul, most especially Russian Doll, which I think of as a sister show to this one. If so, we have to consider whether Lumon has collected enough souls via implants to make a huge collective mind and what they intend to do with it. Then again, the map isn’t drawn to scale- the collective mind could be huge or tiny in reality.

The squiggly lines indicate radio waves entering and leaving the collective mind, interacting with the implants of the severed workers. The encoded numbers that MDR categorizes probably originate here. This may be the supercomputer made up of harvested minds that I kept wrongly insisting the show Travelers had. Or maybe I need to wait a while more for fictional technology to catch up with my imagination, lol.

The storyline is sitting right there, people. Quantum entanglement of multiple disembodied, preserved minds to create a supermind, used for worldly rather than otherworldly purposes. The time for a judicious use of collectivism is here. Enough with cowboy disembodied single minds surfing the internet and spirit realms. Find a way to link the ghosts in a circle around the world to save the climate and the ozone layer. Actually, Ghosts and Upload are on the edge of my idea, they just haven’t figured out how to link the power of multiple minds consistently. Travelers stored minds together, but just let them sit dormant until they were transferred to a new body.

But I was writing about Severance, or collectivism within a single human mind…

The Mind’s squiggly lines could also symbolize merging souls, either the reintegration of the two sides of one soul or a new soul being layered on top of the original soul, depending on how the chips fall. You can see where reintegrating two sides of the same person and deleting all or part of the original soul might be steps you’d want to achieve before attempting to layer a new soul into a mind.

The Mind might be the holding tank for Eagans waiting for Lumon’s scientists to perfect the process of inserting them back into waiting bodies. The “board” might be a bunch of dead Eagan CEOs who refuse to give up control. I’m sure we all have a few relatives who would’ve stuck around to keep sabotaging our relationships and choosing our apartments if they could. Now imagine that person insisting on taking up half of your head for the rest of your life. Or maybe they already do. If so, go watch Russian Doll after this.

On the right in the center of the map are the little houses Petey drew to represent where the permanent innies live, either on a different floor or closed off from the rest of the severed floor. Just below and to the left of the houses are questions marks. I wonder if that could be the Diagnostics department, where Cobel sent Petey’s chip for testing. Permanent innies would be good at keeping secrets revealed in test results. And they’d make great test subjects.

Petey was vague with Mark about where he got his information, because on TV, no one is in a hurry to talk about life and death information, even when they’re dying, unlike real life, where deathbed confessions are more than a cliche. But sometimes, in real life and with Petey, the personal items the dead leave behind do the talking for them. Once again, I wonder what June found in Petey’s stuff and if she realized its significance. Mark has connected with her twice and shown that he considered Petey a friend, so if she finds anything unusual related to Lumon, she might call him. No one else from the office went to the funeral as themselves.

In the upper right corner is a compass symbol (the arrow with the circles in the middle) to help the reader orient the map to the outside world. This is significant because innies aren’t supposed to have any concept of where they are in relation to the rest of the world. That compass is the beginning of an escape plan. If you know where the elevator is relative to the doors to the outside, you have enough orientation to dig a tunnel and figure out where it will end. Or to place a bomb on the inside or outside and understand which parts of the facility it will effect. There’s a stick of dynamite attached to the top of the Wellness Suite in the upper left corner. Okay, it might be a candle with an extra long wick, but I think Petey and Ms Casey both want to blow the place up for good.

There are some coded symbols next to the compass that might be regular math or science or might be Petey specific. XX is 20 in Roman numerals, but X also marks the spot. After a lifetime of living with engineering types, I think they are abbreviated, coded technical specs for the implant, but I can’t read them myself. The symbol with three legs looks like a transistor and the rest could describe the transistor and chip’s capabilities and upgrades.

Hover over or click on the images below to see the full captions.

I’ve written before about the stick figure with arrows and waves coming out of its head in the lower right corner of the map. I think the waves are radio frequencies and the arrows are lasers transmissions, or possibly quantum entanglement, triggered by the implant. The arrows come from each eye and the back of the head, where the implant is located.

We’ve seen several instances of intense stares between characters during life changing moments: between Petey and Mark when Petey collapsed at the store; between Mark and Helly when she collapsed in the elevator; between Milchick and Helly while her implant was activated. In the background of the painting The Grim Barbarity of Optics and Design, one person holds the other’s head and stares into their eyes. There is some significance to looking into the eyes of a person with an implant. In this case, “the eyes are the window to the soul” is the truth, and the implant is permanently connected to the soul.

The last image is the crowned figure on the left, next to Wellness and Ms Casey’s bomb candle. The figure looks up at their crown in surprise. They’re severed, so they don’t know who they are in the outside world. I have several guesses about who the figure could be, if it’s meant to be a specific person at all, so I’m not going to bother to make a guess. Underneath the figure, Petey wrote, “We’re here X because we’re not all there,” which has a dual meaning. The severed workers aren’t all there, as in their minds aren’t complete or completely sane.

And they are in that particular spot on the edge of the map because while they’re severed, so they aren’t all there, they’re still free to leave the facility, unlike the permanent innies over where the houses and the superhero with the x-ray eyes are. Once you’ve signed your life over to Lumon the rest of the way, or been declared dead, your life is forfeit. Imagine the experiments they’re free to do on you then.

This also looks to me like another version of Kier Tames the Tempers, with Sevy standing in for Kier. The crown is actually a jester’s hat, signaling the temper of frolic/sanguine. Arrow eyes is malice/choleric. Mind is woe- they associated that black eye with Mark, who is also woe/melancholic and associated with goldfish. The little houses are dread/phlegmatic, happy to mind their own business unless provoked, just like Innie Dylan, who we saw in his closet at home.

If this interpretation is correct, that would make the goat boy in the painting woe/melancholic, the old woman malice/choleric and the young woman dread/phlegmatic. I can’t see the jester as anything but frolic/sanguine unless the show straight out says otherwise.

The final map is Mark’s attempted reproduction of Petey’s map after he put the original through the office shredder. He hasn’t gotten far. Mind is at the top, Wellness upper left, O&D lower left. The Perpetuity Wing is at the bottom. In the center, he has MDR on the left and the Break Room on the right. And he has that odd narrow center triangle where Sevy sits and looks like he’s about to be beamed up into the mind. He also has something to the left of MDR. Comparing it with the original map, I wonder if it’s the conference room where they found Ricken’s book. Other than the Mind, these are all places he’s been recently.

Unless maybe the goats and the unlit area where Helly and Mark took their mental health walk are in or near the Mind. Casey went four minutes in one direction to get to the supplies. Mark and Helly went in a different direction, past the conference room, but they wandered into unknown, forbidden territory that Graner warned Cobel about. Supplies could be toward the lower right, in the direction of Team Building. Mark and Helly wanted to avoid Irving’s destination of O&D, Casey’s home base of Wellness, the elevators and stairs where people might be, and the Break Room and the Perpetuity Wing because they were trying to get away from the Eagans and corporate control for a minute. That almost has to send them toward the upper center and the undiscovered country of the Mind. 😉

Baphomet by Éliphas Lévi (1856)

We know from the cartoon that there is milk in the brain/mind, and there was milk flowing into the goats’ room from the ceiling. Maybe whatever the Eagans’ psychic supersecret is, it lives just above the goats. Maybe Kier was a Freemason and Lumon is holding Baphomet, symbol or deity of balance and opposites, hostage, breeding them and drinking their milk. Baphomet is a binary creature, both male and female, human and animal, good and evil, etc, with their qualities all in equilibrium. Maybe the goats turn the milk into blood or psychic energy or the four humors, which is used in turn to keep the inhabitants of The Mind alive?

If it’s not Baphomet or mother goats, don’t ask me where the ceiling milk comes from. I can say that raw mother’s milk is super special, filled with unique antibodies and nutrients. Breastfeeding mothers share their immunity with their infants. Those little white goats were kept in isolation until Mark and Helly stumbled onto them, pure and unexposed to environmental toxins or diseases. They could have been meant for people with compromised immune systems, but their exposure to people from the outside contaminated them. Lumon also tries to keep the minds of the severed workers pure and uncontaminated by the outside world, but it’s creeping in, through Petey, Ricken’s book, Dylan’s exposure to his son and the messages from Helly’s outie.

Images courtesy of Apple+TV and whoever else they belong to. No Copyright infringement intended.

One thought on “Severance Season 1 Episode 6: Hide and Seek Recap

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