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Severance Episode 5 The Barbarity Of Optics and Design Review- The Horror Of The Goats

Severance Episode 5 brought us more of Ricken’s brilliance and a new batch of clues to inspect. Let the games begin.

Severance Episode 5
Courtesy of Apple TV+

If I had a dollar for every time a coworker pushed me into an elevator to avoid a tough talk, I would own the company now. Oh, that’s just Mark and me? When Mark found Helly hanging from an extension cord, he was quickly dispatched back to the outside world where the complexities of navigating a workplace suicide don’t hang around your neck like an albatross. Adam Scott was brilliant in Severance Episode 5, morphing between his panicked innie and his doting brotherly outie.

Try as she might, Helly was unsuccessful. Her innie is doomed to a life of drudgery by a calculating outie who has no regard for her happiness. We still don’t know why, but we do have a slightly better understanding of the elevator’s inner workings. The times are staggered not just to keep the workers from interacting on the outside but also because if the elevator is tripped to return before the person exits, they remain in whatever form the elevator ride triggered them to switch to. In Helly’s case, this means her outie was conscious when the elevator came back for Mark’s innie.

The horror of waking up back at the office with no knowledge of how you had been stopped from killing yourself must be nearly debilitating. She may have no permanent injuries from her attempt, but she certainly has emotional ones. Mrs. Cobel and Ms. Casey are right to be concerned about Helly. She is pulling out her eyelashes and seems resigned to a terrible fate. She does have Mark, though, who is quickly becoming convinced on both the outside and the inside that something isn’t right at Lumon. There is something to speaking the truth that makes it more real. In a show that is so much about perception, you have to wonder if that is significant.

Just because Mark’s innie leaves the grief of his outie behind does not mean he has no trauma. As Pete pointed out, the pain never leaves you. It is just pushed down. With Helly’s suicide attempt, he also has that obvious trauma to deal with. Mrs. Cobel blaming him doesn’t help matters either. Mark is proving to be an independent thinker, and his attempt to help Helly slip Ms. Casey’s watchful eye leads them both down an even weirder rabbit hole or lamb hole, as it were. Mark may have destroyed Petey’s map, but he is recreating it at lunchtime. Helly may not think she is Petey’s replacement, but she becomes Mark’s ally.

Harmony is going rogue. She keeps Petey’s chip and integration a secret from the board and has her own playbook that she is using now. She sent Ms. Casey down to watch Helly because she wants to see if trying something new warrants new intel. Milchick is also taking initiative and ran a 266 on Irv, which presumably means there must be at least 265 other games.

Irv and Burt continue to be the sweetest couple we never knew we needed. I hope Burt’s intentions are pure. He seems like a nervous suitor who is just as confused as Irv, but he could be a corporate spy. For now, I choose to believe he and the rest of Optics and Design are innocent severed workers who are just as manipulated as MDR. By the end of Severance Episode 5, the only thing we know for sure is Dylan and Irv, and all of O and D have met each other. I’m guessing this is not part of Milchick’s plan. Lumon frowns on fraternization. Find all our Severance coverage here. It’s time for my break.

Corporate Culture- All the details that don’t fit any where else

Irv was not asleep when he saw the black goo in Severance Episode 5. Sleep is not the trigger for his anxiety.

There are red, blue, and green ID tags in the paintings. Who is the third division?

The courtship of Kier of Imogen

This was Ricken’s fifth book.

Mark now knows about Ricken’s book, but he doesn’t know where it went or if it is important yet.

Who goes for coffee while in labor, and what is with the sea kelp hanging?

Does Mrs. Cobel have an inappropriate workplace romance going on with Mr. Grainer? She calls him Daddy, and he slightly smirks, but it could also be a hint that he is the father of the woman who got pregnant while an innie at Lumon.

Soul voids are devoid of souls.

Irv thinks inspirational quotes scattered around the office are the key to happiness, while Dylan believes everyone should give up some of their performance points so Helly can earn perks.

The Macro Data Refining Calamity is the painting that Burt has in O and D.

Why does Kier Egan have a quote about prisoners?

A few of Ricken’s genius quotes: What separates man from machine is that machines cannot think for themselves. Also, they are made of metal, whereas man is made of skin. Bullies are nothing but Bull and Lies. It wasn’t I who was wrong, but literature itself. They can’t crucify you with your hand in a fist. At the center of industry is dust. A society with festering workers cannot flourish, just as a man with rotting toes cannot skip.

The Employee Handbook-The Crazy Theorycast

I want to think Ricken is a total boob but try as I might, I find myself fascinated with the idea that he is a low-key revolutionist. He left an advanced copy of his book on the front porch for Mark’s outie to find. We see him worry about its placement which could be a normal concern that it will be found, but it could indicate a greater awareness of Lumon and Mark’s situation.

What if this book which seems like a bunch of innie talking points, was designed to make its way inside Lumon and spark a revolt? Ricken might be a genius disguising as a platitude spouting beta cuck. What looks like buffoonery on the outside is a perfectly written manual for the inside. If the totality of your literary wisdom were the Lumon handbook and Egan propaganda, Ricken’s book would look like the greatest works of Aristotle and Plato.

The wealthy woman who is giving birth in the cabin next to Mark’s sister Devon could be the woman who became pregnant and left Lumon. If this person and Carol are the same, Mark’s outtie is very close to yet another coworker and doesn’t realize it. Was the man in white who left her cabin as Devon was arriving medical personnel or someone from Lumon?

The technology in the elevator that shifts the workers between their severed parts seems to depend on the elevator ride itself and not the passage of floors. This means one couldn’t simply walk up and down the stairs and achieve the same shift. Instead, it might be a mental trigger like a hypnotic suggestion that each time they begin descending or ascending, they will switch lives. This nugget of information also means it is possible to get an innie out if several people are involved, and the outie wants to help their innie.

What of the voices Dylan and Helly hear in the breakroom aren’t a baby crying and a man mumbling but the lambs bleating and their caretaker?

Could outie Helly be the person calling Mark on Petey’s old phone? We know outie Helly saw Mark. If she is indeed working for the revolution from the inside, she now knows her innie has an ally in Mark.

What if the goats aren’t goats at all. This could be another altered perception. Baby goats are called kids, so this could be a clue that overpopulation is an issue and they are culling the herd. The theory that consciousness could be uploaded into new bodies could also be possible. If the goats are trial clones, they would eventually cease to be relevant in the experiment and thus slaughtered. If the goats are symbols for kids, is this room actually a nursery with severed children, and Helly and Mark see them as goats? The caretaker is distraught because eventually they are taken from him and given to new parents or used to upload an Egan?

Maybe there is more to Ms. Casey than we thought. She told Irv where Burt was, knowing he would probably go to him. Does she secretly want the divisions to mix? She also seems genuinely worried about Helly and Mark before sliding back into her corporate speak. But, of course, she might also be a robot.

Is Milchick a robot? There is a brief glimpse of his right hand and what appears to be a hidden Lumon logo within a tattoo. If he is a robot, all of the innies could be AI’s that “use” the outie’s bodies while on the severed floors. They aren’t severed versions of the same person. They are artificial versions of the same person. When they go to and from the severed floors, the chip is activated or deactivated, allowing the human or AI to assume control.

Is the truth hiding in plain sight? At first glance, the larvae story that Burt tells is propaganda nonsense designed to keep the departments apart. What if it is a clue to the work Lumon really does. If they are in the immortality business, this could indicate Kier and his family never die. They are reborn into a new body or uploaded into a robot. This is why we never see or hear the board, and it ties in nicely with the goat theory.