Leave it to Severance to start posting mysterious images on social media. After Apple TV posted an image (scroll down) of Adam Scott's character, Mark S., some fans suspected that it meant we're on the cusp of some overdue Season Two news. So, is Season Two finally be around the corner? Well, it's complicated. Even with the new teaser from Apple, I'm sorry to report that 2022's breakout series has become, shall we say, severed from its work-half.
Following the WGA strike and rumors of drama behind the scenes, production on the show was halted indefinitely, according to Deadline—forcing audiences to sit with the first season's amazing cliffhanger. Luckily, according to producer Ben Stiller, production is finally back on. After a fan commented on the cryptic Apple teaser for Stiller to "give us a sign," the comedian responded, "We are working on it." Mark S., hold on, buddy.
Stiller also recently shut down rumors of drama surrounding the series creator Dan Erickson and co-executive producer Mark Friedman. The two "ended up hating each other on the first season, per multiple sources," according to The Town's Matthew Belloni, with AppleTV+ going through several rewrites for Season Two.
"No one’s going to the break room," Stiller responded on Twitter. "Love our fans and each other, and we all are just working to make the show as good as possible." Lumon Industries, I'm sure, is furious at the lack of efficiency. Those numbers aren't going to sort themselves! But Season Two is still very much in the cards for Severance.
Team Severance has been tight-lipped on potential Season Two plot reveals, but Patricia Arquette did issue a sinister warning. Speaking with Entertainment Tonight a year ago, Ms. Harmony Cobel herself joked, “Be scared, very scared." She continued, "I think these guys have been working really hard, and come up with a lot of really creative things. They have a whole world in their minds. They just let us in, piece by piece, into what’s going on, but I think it will be fun and beautiful.”
She also revealed that she loves to read fan theories, so if you've been trawling the Severance Reddit in the wee hours of the morning, just know—Arquette is watching. Now that talk around the Lumon water cooler is officially heating up, here's a quick rundown of everything we know about Season Two so far.
Well, when we talked to Tillman back in August, we had to ask him if there is any way he could top his defiant jazz performance in Season One. If you didn't know, Tillman is a massively accomplished theater actor, with a beautiful singing voice. So you know what we had to ask him: If Season One saw Mr. Milchick dance, Season Two has to see the man sing, right?
"Oh, you're going to get in trouble!" Tillman exclaimed. "You're going to get me in trouble. I have no idea. That's in all honesty. I am not trying to evade the question. I have no idea. Ben and Dan are working as we speak, and I know they're going to craft something that is incredible, genius, and funny. So we'll see."
Mr. Tillman, if you're reading this? If you end up singing a three-minute-long ballad to the severed floor next season, we're absolutely getting you on the phone again.
Considering that just about every major character was left in the lurch at the end of Season One, it's safe to assume that all your favorite stars will return, including Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, Christopher Walken, Britt Lower, Tramell Tillman, Zach Cherry, and Dichen Lachman. As for new faces, the series has added a stacked cast of new players, including Bob Balaban, Robby Benson, Stefano Carannante, Gwendoline Christie, John Noble, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Alia Shawkat, and Merritt Wever.
For Season Three and beyond? Severance's creative team is shooting for the moon, with Erickson saying that he hoped to pitch President Barack Obama on a guest role at the Emmys (where Obama was nominated for outstanding narration in the Netflix docuseries Our Great National Parks). “If he is [there] I’m going to see if he wants a role on this show,” Erickson said. “I think he’d be really good, he’d bring some gravitas.”
Jen Tullock, who plays Mark's sister Devin, joked, “If we could get Barbra Streisand to come around, I’d pretty much give you every American dollar I’ve got in my bank account.” Stiller, for his part, has more realistic expectations. “For me there are a lot of people like Christopher Guest; I kind of imagine, ‘Wow that would be amazing if someday he might be a part of the show,’” Stiller said. “It’s fun when you have a show like this where it allows for people to maybe come in for an episode or two but also fit into the world of Severance.”
We don’t know much about Season Two yet, but yes, Erickson offered some tantalizing hints in our interview with him. "There's definitely going to be some expansion of the world," he teased. "Within Lumon, we're going to see more of the building, and we’ll see more of the outside world, too." He went on to comment on the storytelling architecture of the entire narrative:
There's an overall plan for the show. I have an end point in mind, and I intentionally didn't plan it season by season, because I wanted it to be flexible enough that we could get there in two seasons or six seasons. I want to allow us to be surprised by where the show goes. There’s a sense of what Lumon is trying to do and the role that our main characters are going to play in that, and where it all will culminate. It's really exciting to think about taking the next step on that trip.
Season One ends with a spectacular cliffhanger when Mark, Irving, and Helly manage, with great difficulty, to bring their innies into the outside world. The consequences of their subterfuge are enormous: Mark learns that his supposedly dead wife is in fact his coworker, Irving discovers that his Lumon lover is married, and Helly learns her Eagan heritage, then announces to a gala of industry bigwigs that the severance procedure is torture. Dylan is apprehended by Mr. Milchick, but as Stiller pointed out in an interview with Deadline, Dylan has already seen the Matrix, back when his innie discovered that he has a child.
"Obviously, that’s a huge question and something that really is important to be dealt with because their whole perception of the world has been altered by having this glimpse," Stiller said. "That’s going to be a lot of what the second season has to deal with—a big part of the engine of the second season’s beginning." Similar conflict abounds for Mark, whose revelations will cause strife in his love life. "With Innie Mark, we’re starting to root for him and Helly, but now we also want to root for Outie Mark to find his wife," Stiller said. "That’s an interesting juxtaposition and conflict we’ll explore in the second season."
Though Season One centered on Mark and his perspective, meaning that we got scant few glimpses of his colleagues' outies, Erickson promises that everything is about to change. "In Season Two, we're going to be showing all of these people on the outside," he told EW. "Similar to Mark, they each had their own reason for getting this procedure, and they're all at some stage of a healing process for one thing or another... Being able to take what Adam did in the first season—with the differentiation between his innie and outie, and how they feel like the same person but with this vastly different lived experience—seeing the other three characters' version of that dichotomy is, I think, the most exciting part."
Mark's outie undergoes near-constant surveillance from his boss, Harmony Cobel, who moonlights as his kindly neighbor, Mrs. Selvig. Though Mark now knows the truth about Cobel's double life, Erickson teases that we haven't seen the last of her schemes. "I think that she does have some special attachment to Mark," he told Polygon. "And I don’t think it’s entirely Lumon-based, that’s what I’ll say. I think that she’s—without giving away too much of what we’ll see—there’s a professional interest for sure. And obviously, we’ve seen that there’s some sort of experiment or something happening with him and his wife, and sort of observing them. But I think that you can see it in her eyes that it’s become about more than the job."
If you really can't wait for Season Two, mosey on over to the Severance Reddit, where fans have already posted thousands of compelling theories. Many fans have latched onto a comment made by Helly's father ("One day, you will sit with me at my revolving"), postulating that the Eagan family members upload their consciousnesses to a computer and become part of the Board that so tormented Harmony Cobel. Could Kier Eagan still be alive in the ether, by that logic?
Another fan suggests that Irving, an ex-military man, may be an undercover operative who underwent the severance procedure to investigate Lumon, judging by his obsessive research and documentation about Lumon employees. "What if the severance procedure was initially developed for use in war?" one Redditor wonders.
"You have enlisted soldiers that are easily indoctrinated to do your will, and they have no recollection or PTSD after their tour is complete. Irving would have been involved with this severance program as a soldier, and it explains why his so interested in secretly tracking down other people." In a recent Reddit AMA, Erickson nodded at this theory, saying, "One of the nice things about opening up the world a bit is that we'll get to see other applications of the technology. Other ways society willingly 'segments' itself from unpleasant truths."
And what about those damn goats seen wandering around Lumon? Theories abound, with explanations ranging from cloning to brain experimentation. Erickson isn't saying much, but he assures viewers, "I don’t think we have seen our last goat on the show." In an interview with Variety, Stiller confirmed that we'll learn more about the goats in Season Two, saying, "There’s no way the goats are there for no reason." Things could get even stranger than random goats wandering the halls; when Esquire asked Tramell Tillman about the possibility of bringing his vocal chops to Season Two, the actor joked, "You're going to get me in trouble!"
Erickson's AMA confirmed some Season One mysteries and teased what's to come in Season Two. One thing's for sure: "The office is real," Erickson confirms. "It exists physically and everything we see there is actually happening (except the black goo, which is Irv's dream)." If your money was on the good old "it's all a simulation" theory, you've lost your bet. Erickson also hinted at another Season Two mystery—just why did Helena Eagan conceal her innie's suicide attempt from the Board? "Good question. I think more of that will reveal itself in Season Two!" he replied.
Alas, until Season Two makes its debut, there's not much we know for sure. As Erickson tells IndieWire, "It turns out it’s easier to ask interesting questions than answer them." We may not know much, but we do know one thing: trust in Ben Stiller. In an Esquire profile of Stiller, Severance star Patricia Arquette said, “He’s merciless. He never stops. He never stops rewriting, he never stops thinking. Weekends, holidays—you’d get phone calls late at night, you’d get phone calls early in the morning. Ideas. New things. He has incredibly intense focus on everything—every little set piece, every little wardrobe thing. I’ve never seen anybody so focused on everything.”
In Stiller and Erickson’s capable hands, no doubt Season Two will be another thrill ride of sci-fi goodness and corporate intrigue, though it's still a long way away, with no specified air date.
While we wait, there’s still a lot to chew on. Fans who want to delve even deeper can check out The Lexington Letter, a free, supposed “tell-all” book from former Lumon employee Peggy Kincaid, which Erickson confirms is, in fact, canon. We may soon have another book to enjoy, if his tease from the AMA is anything to go on; replying to a fan who asked if Ricken's The You You Are would ever make it into print, Erickson said, "I think the chances are pretty good it will happen..." Praise Kier!