'Severance' Ending Explained: All Your Questions Answered
Here are our theories...
Jennifer BissetFormer Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
How good is Severance? Has any show ever explored the idea of work-life balance so effectively?
Plus' Severance takes its high concept to the extreme, bringing mystery, conspiracies and absurd imagery with it.
The show poses tantilizing questions, some of which we can answer after that thrilling season 1 finale, and some that will have to wait until future seasons (Apple confirmed the show has been renewed for a second season).
Here's our breakdown of that ending, and all of your other questions about season 1 answered.
What do the Lumon workers do?
That's another question future seasons will have to answer. The Macrodata Refinement division sort encrypted numbers into digital bins. When they reach 100% on their data refinement file and make their quota for the quarter, a personalized message plays in the form of a retro video game cinematic. Founder of Lumon Kier Eagan hilariously says, "I love you." A very fatherly thing to say to the workers who essentially know no other parental figure. (Side note: Anyone else think of Pierce's dad from Community during the video game episode?)
What are the O&D workers doing?
The Optics and Design department, consisting of at least seven employees, is hidden away in a secret back room. The room is filled with printers likely used to manufacture Lumon stationary,
and other items the employees can't acquire outside. "It's an Elon Musk-like billionaire company with money flexibility," production designer Jeremy Hindle told AV Club. "They just manufacture everything of their own, like mugs, pencils, erasers, keyboards. They can't buy these items from outside without someone realizing what the company actually does."
Why does Irving hallucinate black goo?
When Irving first hallucinates the black goo, he appears to be dozing off. The hallucination might be a means of scaring workers awake -- or there's more to it. The goo escalates in episode 5, when Irving sees a puddle of black liquid drip through the ceiling and then out of Mark's eye. This time Irving didn't appear to be drifting off to sleep. Irving is older than the other employees, and Mark's response is a little cheeky -- "We lose you again there, buddy?" We'll have to wait and see if there's more to the goo than being a personalized wakeup call for Irving.
What's with the baby goats?
The appearance of baby goats in Lumon's pristine white corridors is one of the more absurd occurrences. There's one theory saying the department -- consisting of a white room and a single employee feeding milk to baby goats -- actually has something to do with human kids, cloning and the transfer of consciousness. "They're not ready. You can't take them yet, they're not ready. It isn't time," says the employee, implying there is some growing to do. One of the goats screams in alarming fashion, sounding almost like a real wailing baby. Helly theorizes the goats have something to do with the numbers, but Mark doubts this. This is no doubt another question teed up to be answered in future seasons.
Who is Dylan's outie?
Dylan's outie has a son and two other children, who Milchick offers to reveal the names of if Dylan lets him into the security room. Of course, Dylan doesn't do this. Despite being the "office" comedic relief and general smartass, Dylan surprisingly has the most stable and loving personal life among the Macrodata Refinement team — something that his innie became painfully aware of once he was activated in the later half of the season. This goes to show to that there's so much going on with each character outside the bounds of the Lumon office, and hopefully we'll get to learn more about each character's outie in Season 2.
Why doesn't Gabby recognize Devon?
Gabby, aka a woman Devon (Mark's sister) met at the birthing lodge, doesn't recognize Devon at the park. Devon later suspects Gabby, whose husband is a Lumon-backed state senator who supports legalizing severance, had her memories severed in order to shut out the pain of childbirth.
Who's Mark's outie?
On the outside, Mark was a history professor married to Gemma, aka Ms. Casey. She died a couple of years ago in a car accident. Unable to keep teaching, Mark started at Lumon to spare himself, along with his innie, from the pain.
Who's Irving's outie?
Irving's outie lives with his dog Radar in a dingy apartment. An ex-military man, Irving's outie has been investigating Lumon, collecting newspaper clippings about company controversy as well as a list of severed employees. He's also marked a map with the locations of ex-Lumon employees.
The other thing: Irving's outie paints dozens of haunting paintings of a dark corridor. This corridor is the same corridor that leads to the "testing floor" where Ms. Casey is sent as punishment for failing to monitor Mark and Helly.
Who's Helly's outie?
The identity of Helly's ruthless outie, who cruelly rejected her innie's plea for resignation, totally makes sense. Hellie's outie is Helena Eagan, daughter of the clearly unhinged Lumon CEO James Eagan. Helena underwent the severance surgery in order to build public support for legalizing the procedure. Helena's father thanks her for going through with the procedure, giving us some idea of the pressure Helena is under to please her family. Her grandfather Kier Eagan is the founder of Lumon. James promises Helly that one day she'll sit with him at his "revolving" -- which could be a reference to cloning or the transfer of consciousness. His grand plan? To implant a Lumon chip into every single person in the world.
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