“Ruptura” series satirizes the discomforts of corporate life

Depressed by depression since his wife died, Mark Scout left the university where he taught history to take a job at Lumon Industries, a technology corporation (or something similar).

He chose the new job because it offers the opportunity, eight hours a day, to completely obliterate the feeling of grief. It so happens that Lumon is a pioneer in a procedure known as “rupture”: some of its employees receive a brain implant, a kind of chip capable of separating memory into watertight compartments.

Activated by a signal emitted in the elevator, the implant makes the worker forget – without losing his knowledge and skills – the life he leads outside. During office hours, Mark does not remember that he is a widower and therefore does not suffer from the sadness that weakens him in everyday life. He has no idea where he lives, or where he was born or raised.

When leaving the elevator, he recovers all these memories, but he doesn’t remember anything he did during the day. It’s like there are two Marks – one on stop, one on break.

The premise of an absolute split between work and personal life operated by neurotechnology seems to extrapolate the limits of what is plausible even for science fiction. The author of this review confesses that he began to see Break (Severance, AppleTV) with the fear of finding a script that would be discarded by Black Mirrorthe series that often (but not always competently) deals with memory-altering technologies.

But far from it: Break he says what he came to in the first episode, and from then on it only grows in tension until a season finale that leaves everything on hold, including the viewer’s breath (Apple, by the way, has already confirmed the second season).

In the first episode, Mark’s (Adam Scott) melancholy quiet life is shaken. He is elevated to the head of his department because the person who previously held the position has left Lumon (and, of course, nobody knows why). In addition, Mark will have to train a new employee, the rebel Helly (Britt Lower).

Break embraces the absurd and makes it believable. Corporate life is intelligently satirized, starting with incentive programs for workers, which include cheap prizes such as offering buffets with different varieties of melon.

No one knows exactly what the Big Data Refinement department does, where the main characters work. Meetings with employees from other sectors are discouraged, which does not prevent Irving (John Turturro), Mark’s subordinate, from starting a quasi-romance with Burt (Christopher Walken), from the Optics and Design department.

Lumon’s corporate culture has traces of a religious sect: Mark’s supervisor, Harmony Cobel (Patricia Arquette) – who did not go through the process of breaking up – keeps, in her house, a kind of altar devoted to the company’s founders. And as if all that wasn’t crazy enough, at one point Mark and Helly discover a room where a lone employee is dedicated to raising… goats!

The bureaucratic universe that escapes the understanding of those who work there is reminiscent of the work of Franz Kafka. Even the geography of the office, with its white and labyrinthine corridors, is very Kafkaesque. But unlike other Kafka emulations out there, always heavy and dark, Break incorporates the strange humor that the Czech imprinted in works such as The Metamorphosis and The castle🇧🇷 Six of the nine episodes are directed by Ben Stiller, an actor with comedic experience.

Even the most fanatical workaholic at one time or another he finds a stubborn bottom of dissatisfaction in his professional life. Many even work harder waiting for the end of the day.

Break it enacts an extreme version of these splits in modern life and, in fiction, extremes are positive – they provoke us to question the conditions in which we live and, why not, to laugh at them.

Jeronimo Teixeira

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