There are shows that are suspenseful simply because of continuous high-paced action sequences that move the plot forward. There are others that take the time to build suspense slowly through dialogue, setting, mood, and music and do so over the course of multiple episodes. Then there’s Severance. Much like the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, the delayed gratification payoff for Severance is equivalent to receiving the keys to the Willy Wonka Marshmallow Kingdom.
Produced by Ben Stiller, Severance is an AppleTV+ show that centers around Mark Scout (Adam Scott) and his job at Lumon, a dystopian corporation with cult-like aspirations of global proselytization. All employees of Lumon are subjected to a medical procedure called “Severance,” in which their memories are surgically divided between their work and home lives. Their work lives are known as “innies” and their personal lives “outies.” This might seem a novel idea on the surface, as we all would like to achieve that illustrious work-life balance, but Severance’s commentary is based on the drastic ramifications such a procedure would entail. The suspense builds as the outies' lives begin to bleed into the innies’ workspace and vice versa until the final few moments of the finale episode. Spoilers notwithstanding, the series finale left me speechless and staring aimlessly at the end credits, both in shock and hoping there would be just one more scene.
In the end—and for the Christian viewer—Severance is a chilling reminder that to be a people who were created in the image of God means to accept the entirety of our human experience. Our memories, no matter how painful or distressed, give us reason to step into the creation experience and embrace life as those who have been grafted into an intimate relationship with the Creator. We are to be both innie and outie, and to disconnect the two might make us more efficient producers but will inevitably make us less efficient beings. (Rated TV-MA for peril, strong language. Apple +)