From now on Apple TV+ severance pay began, we saw the world through the eyes of Helly (Britt Nieder), a woman with no memory of basic details about herself who works for a mysterious company called Lumon. As Helly and we soon learn, this is because she voluntarily participated in a process called severance pay, in which a chip in the brain allows one to completely separate work life and home life, creating two different versions of the same person. Helly’s outie has essentially, like the other fired employees in the building, condemned herself to a life where she could do anything for the company she works for with no idea what it is or how she’s getting out of the deal comes out. Of course, as the finale proved, Helly’s life is very different from that of the others in the company.
Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for the Season 1 finale of the Apple TV+ series Severance.
At the start of Episode 9, one of the first most shocking bits of information we are confronted with is that Helly is actually a descendant of Kier, the man behind the Lumon empire and part of the Eagen family, making her the daughter of CEO James Eagen (Michael Siberry). Helly is Helena Eagen, a senior executive at the company who hopes to earn PR points by projecting a positive view of the workplace. This is necessary because the series currently has the Senate debating whether or not to legalize Lumon’s settlement process. Her time as a part-time employee therefore allows her outie to speak on stage at a gala with invited press representatives about the process.
Of course, Helly’s connection to the Eagens was a theory that gained momentum as the series progressed, although the show did an excellent job of keeping us in the dark until the very end. One of the main reasons many suspected she was related to the Lumon founders was the extent to which her bosses on her floor put up with her. From smashed windows while trying to escape, to wandering halls, to suicide attempts. Helly made it clear in every way she could that she wanted to resign but was being held against her will. While it turns out pretty quickly that Lumon doesn’t allow its employees to leave their posts, if Helly had been a regular employee, that rule would probably have been bent considering how disruptive she was in the office.
We’ve had clues as to who she is since the series began. In episode 2 milkick (Tramell Tillmann) comments while taking her to the maternity surgery room that it’s amazing that she works there, even calling it a “miracle”. Later in the series, when the group visits the Eagen Museum, aka the Perpetuity Wing, Helly looks at Lumon’s first female CEO (likely her great-grandmother) and wishes she remembered her childhood. Later in the wellness center we learn that a certain unconscious knowledge about a person’s outer life is stored in an innie. If Mark (Adam Scott) begins to create a clay model of the tree where the car accident that resulted in his losing his wife occurred, it is triggered by his wife’s presence in the room, although he does not identify her as Miss Casey (Dien Lachmann). So it stands to reason that seeing a model of their family members was enough to trigger a part of Helly that connected the people in that room to their own childhood and family.
There’s also the fact that Milchick almost always got the camera out whenever she came into frame at the party, a fact that seems innocuous at first but becomes extremely important when you realize that Helena Eagen’s only reason to be to separate for such promotional material was to be dismantled from their inner lives.
We don’t know too much about the failures of the other characters on the show, but both Petey and Mark suffered personal losses that led to them having to undergo the separation process. Mark lost his wife in a car accident (or so he thinks) and Petey (Yul Vazquez) lost his in a divorce. There is reason to believe that Dylan (Zach Cherry) and Irving (John Turtorro) had their own pain that caused them to split up and work for Lumon. In the season finale, Helly’s father meets with her briefly to thank her for undergoing the procedure and even makes a comment about how hard it’s been for her, which ties in with the fact that all the severed staff are there, to escape the hard life they lead.
The little we knew about Helly’s outie before the Season 1 finale came from Helly herself. When Helly threatens to cut off her hand to give up her role at the company, she is faced with a taped version of her outie, a cold and unforgiving woman who tells Helly to get to work and stop complaining because she’s not a real person. This cements the notion that Helly isn’t a real person to her. Even her own father sounds disdainful when he mentions Helly’s outie, probably because he shares Helena’s belief in not considering them real people. While we know that a large part of Helena’s aspirations was to work for the benefit of the legislature, her father also mentions something about her joining him in his “Revolving,” which could be a title of sorts for Eagens if she take command of the leadership. So it’s possible that after telling the world about the horrors of the severance process, Innie Helly would not only cause the law not to pass, but also cause her to lose faith in the board.
While the show has been one hell of a ride since its inception, the Helena twist expertly woven into the show really ups the ante for all the characters, especially since one of the series’ biggest enemies is now a character we all know and love.
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https://collider.com/severance-season-1-helly-twist/ How Severance Season 1 announced this big Helly Twist