‘Severance’ Season 1 Finale: Britt Lower Explains Big Helly Reveal


The following contains spoilers from the Apple TV+ Season 1 finale. Breakup.

Talk about a rude awakening.

As the Breakup The season 1 finale has begun, as Dylan inside Lumon’s control room triggered the overtime emergency protocol that “woke” her co-workers from their Outie worlds, Helly R. found herself dazzled during of a corporate gala, where she was about to give an expected testimonial. Because, we and she realized, Helly R. is actually Helena Eagan, the daughter of Lumon Industries CEO Jame Eagan and thus a descendant of company founder Kier Eagan! Moreover, his speech was intended to tone down the great “separation” debate by vouching for his own first-hand experience.

Now self-aware but concealing it, Helly did not shy away from the spotlight, but rather plotted to seize it by exposing Lumon’s torturous and imprisoning practice. But she barely uttered a few angry words before Dylan lost control of the OT protocol, and the Innies presumably went back to “sleeping.”

TVLine spoke with Britt Lower (rhymes with flower) on Helly’s arc, playing Innie-as-Outie, what Season 2 might look like and that very enjoyable “Defiant Jazz” dance experience.

TVLINE | Viewers had to wait a long week to find out what happened once Dylan flipped the “Overtime Contingency” switches. Since when you do you have to wait, after reading episode 8, to get your hands on that final script?
We actually had all the scripts when filming started, because we were supposed to start filming in March 2020, and of course the pandemic hit and we closed for seven months. During that time, the writers were able to complete all nine scripts, so we had a really rare instance on TV where we had everything ready for ourselves before we even started. It was a really good way to feel super prepared in terms of the basics, but also to have plenty of time to do the internal work of sculpting the inner life of the character, and also to do a lot of cheesy esoteric research. [Laughs] I’ve done a lot of research on memory loss and how waking up and not knowing who you are affects your behavior…. I watched a ground of documentaries.

TVLINE | Now, some actors will tell you, “If you give me the nine scripts, I won’t read them!” I won’t let the ending affect my arc, I can’t tell what my character is doesn’t.” But you fell into the other camp?
Well, we had to, because we filmed out of order for the most part. It was almost like shooting a nine-hour movie in that we were shooting somewhat of a progression, but to do the basics of knowing your lines, we had to have read all nine.

For me, it was a real pleasure to imagine Helly’s arc. I’m a visual artist, so I drew all the action sequences that Helly goes through and put them on my wall, and it almost looks like a graphic novel. I mean Helly is so dynamic. She’s constantly moving, so being able to look at that wall and identify where we were in the filming process was super helpful. I could watch, “Oh, that’s where she threw the speakerphone at Mark’s head” and “That’s where she’s breaking a window.” I could see the progression of his escape attempts, and how they intensified visually and emotionally.

TVLINE | What ended up being the hardest part of playing Helly’s Innie as Outie in the finale?
It’s so funny – Adam Scott had a lot more experience than Zach [Cherry] and John [Turturro] and I to play the Innie to the outside world, so we had this running joke that he was our “drama teacher”. As we approached the shoot [the finale]he gave us mock lessons on how to do it. [Laughs]

TVLINE | Helly keeps it awesome ish together once she “wakes up” at the Lumon gala. Some people might fidget a bit, be like, “What is pass, or am I?” But she was a cool cucumber and understood the situation.
Helly has a cool head, but I can tell you that internally there was a lot more going on than she let on!

TVLINE | We saw that in your eyes, that the wheels were turning and that there was a ground of current treatment.
Yes, because she wakes up surrounded by people and it’s impossible to tell who she can trust or not. I think Helly has a poker face throughout this season, but she’s definitely putting on a stronger one for this episode.

TVLINE | If we were to rewatch the previous eight episodes, would we find any clues to Helly’s identity, family relationships?
Hmmm…. There are a few Easter eggs in there. I’d rather fans find them than report them though. There are certainly Easter eggs in the writing. I would like to hear from someone other than myself.

TVLINE | Were you surprised that at the end of the season, we still don’t know what the Macro Data Refinement department is doing by eliminating those floating number screens?
You know, I deliberately keep myself in the dark about this. Sure [series creator] Dan Erickson, the writer, knows all the answers in his head, but I asked them not to tell me because it was better for me, for Helly inside, to be in the dark too.

Best TV QuotesTVLINE | Were those CRT monitors working in front of you, or were the screens dropped off in post-production?
It was super cool – the technical team designed all the computer animations. They were all practical. We learned how to “tweak” those numbers, and it was really fun, like learning this cool little video game. Zach Cherry, who plays Dylan, I think was actually the smartest of us when it came to “refining.” He found all these cool ways to move the numbers that none of us could figure out. He is incredible.

TVLINE | Considering what happens in the finale – specifically Helly’s outburst and the fact that Cobell knows Mark has “woken up” – have we seen the last of the macro data refinement room? Will these people ever be able to return to the office?
This is a great question… which I absolutely have Nope Answer to. I can’t wait for season 2 to find out for myself! What is you think?

TVLINE | For a hot second, I speculated that Lumon might have a separate “mind-erasing” product to sort of “reset” everyone – but would they really send them back to the company, knowing that were they jokers? So maybe Season 2 is a road trip and you’re all on the run!
We never know!

Carefree Jazz DanceTVLINE | Give me a “Defiant Jazz” dance anecdote, because that sequence was a lot of fun.
Oh my god it was Great fun….

TVLINE | Tramell Tillman, who plays Milchick…. Wowhe went all-in.
Tramell is the complete opposite of his real-life character, as he’s incredibly warm and lovable and not scary to everything. I loved seeing him get into that dancer mode, because he’s absolutely brilliant at dancing.

TVLINE | Did each of you have to decide, “How good a dancer is my character?” Because we’ve all seen what Adam Scott was doing, uh, doing.
Adam and I in this scene are kind of having a “junior dance” moment, gazing shyly at each other from across the room. We were doing a whole bit of comedy on the side, like, “Oh okay, Helly and Mark are basically going through puberty right now.”

kiss of separationTVLINE | What did you think of the scene where Helly planted that kiss? “In case we don’t come back…and in case we do?” »
Helly is an impulsive person, and I love that she went for a kiss after holding back for at least one episode, because you don’t see much restraint from her otherwise. I think it indicated how much she cared about Mark, and also how much she cared about other people. You see this when she says goodbye to Irving, and when she offers to stay for Dylan instead. What’s so poignant about this whole streak is that so far Helly has thought singularly about escaping, getting out, but once she starts thinking about the other refiners as family, it complicates his desire to escape.

Severance pay remembers his own childhood quote

TVLINE | I think I mostly want to rewatch the team’s visit to the Perpetuity Wing, as it was all about Helly wisely cracking/snarling at the statues – and now we know they’re his ancestors.
Mmm-hmmm. Which might make it even scarier.

TVLINE | She had some good lines there, at least two made it into our quotes of the week.
My goodness, writing about this show is a real pleasure to talk about. It’s very quoteable!


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