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Turturro-Walken subplot adds spark to ‘Severance’

John Turturro (left) and Christopher Walken in "Severance."Apple TV+

“Severance” is about halfway through the season on Apple TV+, and it has only become more compelling with each new episode. The sci-fi show, which has a touch of Charlie Kaufman and Samuel Beckett to it, is about a corporation called Lumon that provides severance to willing employees, so that their work memories are separated from their home memories. It’s a carefully shot story — Ben Stiller directed six of the nine episodes — and the cast is excellent, including Adam Scott and Britt Lower.

I want to single out two cast members, though, who add a fascinating subplot to the show. John Turturro plays Irving, a severed co-worker at Lumon who is a nitpicky but endearing fellow. He follows the strict Lumon rules obsessively, he’s clearly sitting on a lot of suppressed anger, and he is ripe for something new. Christopher Walken plays Burt, a severed worker who is head of the design division. He, too, plays by the rules of Lumon, but you can see quiet rebellion in his eyes. It’s Christopher Walken, after all.


The two meet accidentally, and it’s lovely, a spark between two robotic individuals. They quickly feel the attraction, and Turturro and Walken convey that with a beautiful sense of surprise. Each time we see them together, the actors have slowly let their character’s guard down ever so slightly more. The two have worked together before, and you can feel that comfort between them. It’s a same-sex attraction like very few I’ve seen on TV, and it adds a nice distinction to an engaging and haunting story.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.