Apple TV+ announced the second season of Quit just days before the final installment of the series premiered, a move that may have saved society as we know it.
If the show’s obsessive fans had reached the end of that episode, now out, and had no idea there would be another season to deal with what happened in those final moments, it could have been mayhem. Mass demonstration. The marches. The frenzy. Boycott Apple and all its products. My MacBook will now be out of the window and floating in Hudson. (OK, there will probably be a flurry of angry tweets. But still!)
In other words, that is how you do a season finale.
That’s how you move the show’s loyal viewers, who spent the whole season figuring out clues and easter eggs, then heading to Reddit to debate theories.
You reveal some of the show’s biggest mysteries and you make them reveal shocking. You build to a breaking point, a point where it becomes clear that what just happened could change the entire universe of the show. But you also let in enough air that, when the screen turns black, the viewer realizes they haven’t been breathing for about three minutes and exhales with a sigh. aaaaahhhhh!
And most of all, do what very few series seem to be able to do these days: Make it clear that every moment of the series — every character choice, camera angle, dialogue, and twist — has to be. have there. That you know where you’re going all the time. That there was a plan, and that the end of that plan would tear everyone apart. (So for the love of God and for the safety of this country, make sure everyone knows there’s going to be a part two.)
A waffle party for everyone involved.
(Warning: Spoilers for the season end of Quit follow.)
We last saw our severed friends in last week’s penultimate episode, “What’s for dinner?” They are on the verge of chaos.
If you’ve read this carefully, you probably know the premise of the series and the rules of this kind of sci-fi universe, which is uncomfortably familiar and certainly disturbing in its resonant universe.
Lumon, a possible large corporation/cult that appears to be founded on the principles of “Science for Living a Better Life,” has developed technology that enables surgery-ready participants cut off their brains. While working for Lumon, they have no memory of life back home and vice versa.
It is presented by Lumon as something not only revolutionary but altruistic: a way to achieve work-life balance, and even to deal with trauma. Adam Scott’s Mark, for example, has severance proceedings following the death of his wife. His wife’s death? There’s so much to say about that… But in any case, it’s clearly far more nefarious: a means for a company to imprison unsuspecting and loyal employees.
The North Star behind any of these activities is that the work itself (“Innie”) and the home self (“Outtie”) can never know anything about each other.
So, perhaps the most consequential event of the series happened when floor manager Milchick (Travell Tillman) used what is known as the “Overtime Contingency” to switch Dylan (Zach Cherry) from mode Outtie went into Innie mode while he was at home to interrogate him—Something went awry when Dylan’s son barged in. Now Innie Dylan knows that Outtie Dylan has at least one child.
That misstep, causing Dylan to see his baby, unravels the key events of the finale, “We Are Us.”
The refiners — Mark, Dylan, Helly (Britt Lower) and Irving (John Turturro) — decide to make a plan to make their own “Overtime Contingency,” switching to their Innies while they are at their homes for to seek help exposing Lumon and the inhumanity of severance. Dylan volunteered to stay in the office to carry out the mission, and the other three would be people who “wake up” in the real world.
The first audience members gasp (assuming that every time I gasp, scream, grit my teeth, or hug a pillow, so do everyone else watching) happens in the very first seconds of the episode.
What a genius move Mark wakes up to chatting with Patricia Arquette, who at work is his domineering boss, Miss Cobel, but at home is his busy neighbor, Mrs. . Innie Mark didn’t realize that the woman he was talking to was not his boss in this scene, but playing Mrs. Selvig. It disorients him as he, at a book party for his brother-in-law, tries to piece together how his family life was, and why Miss Cobel is there.
It’s heartbreaking and stressful to watch him try to figure things out. At first, he thinks his sister Devon’s (Jen Tullock) child is his, not his grandchild. When he finally realized Devon was his sister and that they had a close relationship, he knew she was the one he should confide in about everything going on at Lumon.
As Devon continues to deny him because she’s supposed to party and raise the baby, Mark tries to hide from Miss Cobel-as-Mrs. Selvig, who is suspecting that something is wrong with him. You are about to have a panic attack while watching. We continue to cut back on Dylan, who is struggling to maintain the “Overtime Contingency.” The episode is basically a 40-minute time bomb.
Tension levels exploded through the ceiling when Mark, who was still unaware that Miss Cobel was posing as Mrs. Selvig, casually called her “Ms. Cobel,” let her know that this is Mark’s version of Innie. I screamed in horror, like I’d just seen a ghost, so much so that I thought it scared the real ghost in my apartment.
Meanwhile, with confirmation of what the refineries are doing, Ms. Cobel sped up to her car to get to Lumon headquarters to end the Overtime before everything was exposed — presumably, at first it seemed at first, with Devon’s baby in the car, at which point I paused the episode to get my Xanax prescription back.
“I screamed in horror, like I’d just seen a ghost, so much so that I thought it scared the real ghost in my apartment.”
Of course, Irving and Helly have also woken up as Innies.
Irving was in the middle of one of his macabre paintings, which turned out to be a cursed hallway where Lumon employees were taken down an elevator to be “retired.” We last saw the hallway when Miss Casey (Dichen Lachman) burst into tears as she walked down it, shortly after we learned — in one of the season’s best twists and turns — that she was indeed his wife. of Mark, who is presumed dead.
Irving finds in his apartment a trove of information about Lumon’s employees, and discovers the address of his brief office worker, Burt (Christopher Walken). Trembling, he decided to drive to his house. When he arrived, he found Outtie Burt married, and my heart felt as if someone with sandpaper and thumbtack stuck to their finger had decided to give it a massage.
Then comes the most surprising revelation of all: Helly, who tries to escape a severed life that includes one suicide, wakes up at a gala in Lumon, where her Outtie resides. He is being honored as the keynote speaker.
Turns out she was a member of the Egan family, and volunteered to be cut off because she believed too much in the company’s cult mission. All the unsettling old lovers are there and in black: Natalie (Sydney Cole Alexander), the liaison at Lumon who conducts the mysterious “board” bid; Angelo Arteta (Ethan Flower), Lumon-sponsored politician, campaigns to bring severance to the masses; and his wife Gabby (Nora Dale), whom Devon met at the novitiate and who seems to have been severed so as not to remember childbirth.
Britt Lower is brilliant in this episode, between the shock and the devastation when Helly learns who she is as an Outtie with the anxiety that comes when she realizes she wasn’t meant to reveal the company to anyone, but at a gala dinner, in front of her head father Lumon, where she intends to promote its virtues.
That’s a lot of plot description, but it also barely scratches the surface of the complicated web that started the trouble in the final season, as themes from the beginning of the season were finally pulled in and left unresolved.
But it all leads to a tense final scene when, after a lengthy lead-in, the trio reveal their emotions in the final seconds before Milchick finds Dylan and disconnects the Time Contingency.
Irving ran to Burt’s front door and began smashing frantically and calling for help. Helly reveals the truth about severance— “We’re prisoners down there!” – when security came running to stop her. And Mark saw a photo of “Mrs. Casey” in his sister’s office, and realizes that, not only is his wife dead, but he’s been working with her at Lumon during his Innie life and doesn’t even know it. He runs outside to find Devon and screams, “She’s alive!” Then the screen goes black. The overtime reserve period has expired.
There has never been a better finale than this. Sopranos desire.
We often talk about “trying to land” when shows, like Quit, accumulating an increasingly obsessive audience week after week. When fans are so invested in the story and its mysteries, crafting any satisfying conclusion can be an impossible task. Tackling things too easily or in a way that seems counterintuitive to what the viewer “wants” and you are leaning. But leave things open and face the wrath of those who feel they owe the answers.
It’s a hell of a spoiler, and if we live in a world where that’s the last time we see this show, I’d like to have the memory of ever watching it removed in the first place.
But there are so many excellent pieces from the last that come together, revealing just how meticulously everything is designed, the series accomplishes the magic of both: juicy revelation while makes us want more. Two things, in a great TV episode, are never cut.
For more, listen to ‘Severance’ star Adam Scott on The Last Laugh podcast.
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