Warning! SPOILERS for Breakup.
Breakup deals with a chilling but curious concept of a world in which employees of a certain company have their separate personal memories (or “cut“) of their memories of working life, but one theory posits that two of the show’s characters aren’t really separate. The new Apple TV+ series has Ben Stiller as producer and mixes elements ranging from Office for black mirror. Breakup follows the story of Mark Scout, an employee of Lumon Industries for over two years, and Helly, who has just joined the company.
Although Lumon Industries is a large and well-known company in this universe, its huge complex is sparsely populated with employees. In the small rooms where Mark and Helly work, there are only two other office workers as well as a supervisor and the head of the department. There’s also not a lot of furniture in the offices, and most of the technology available is outdated.
All the contradictions surrounding Breakup‘s Lumon Industries collaborate with the idea that all is not what it seems in this company. In addition to the obvious problem behind the separation process, it is possible that other secrets are hidden Breakupcharacters. This is all complicated by a theory claiming that two people at Lumon Industries aren’t actually separate.
Theory: Harmony is not broken (and is the real boss)
While everyone at Lumon Industries has to say something nice every day about the portrayal of a mysterious character known as Kier Egan, it’s still unclear who the real boss of Lumon Industries is. All the attention given to the creator of Lumon Industries may just be serving as a red herring to distract audiences from the fact that Harmony Cobel, played by Patricia Arquette, is the one really running the company. Harmony seems to know a lot more about the secrets of Lumon Industries than any other employee, and it seems like the character is more than the head of the department.
Harmony strictly follows company guidelines and is the one to judge and lecture employees when they do something wrong. It’s also through Harmony that the company’s mysterious board communicates with the employees, though no one ever really hears them say anything. It’s possible that such advice doesn’t even exist, and that it’s all a pretense to hide that Harmony is pulling the strings. Breakupit’s Lumon. It is also curious that, among those who work on this floor, Harmony is the one who does not show any personality traits. Even though characters like Mark and Helly are completely out of touch with their versions of the outside world, they’ve at least developed a level of personality in the workplace.
It could also indicate that Harmony didn’t go through the separation process. In fact, there’s more reason to believe that Patricia Arquette’s character isn’t cut than the other way around. At the start of episode 1 of Breakup, Harmony tells Mark a story about something her mother used to say. If the character had been separated, she wouldn’t be able to remember anything like that. At no point does Mark question that she has a story from the outside world to tell, indicating that people might know that Harmony isn’t broken.
Another element that makes Harmony one of the most intriguing characters in Breakup is she Mark’s neighbor in the outside world. If Harmony has access to her memories, then she’s sure to stay close to Mark with an ulterior motive. Mark may have a role to play in Lumon Industries’ long-range plans, and it may be Harmony’s role to keep him in check.
Milchick is suspect – is he unharmed?
After Harmony, Milchik seems to have the most power within this department of Lumen Industries. Tramell Tillman’s character acts as a sort of supervisor to department employees and has a deep understanding of company rules and methodologies. He was the one who guided Helly through her admissions process, and most likely the one who did the same for other employees like Dylan and Irving.
Milchik also appears to have been with the company for some time. The character evoked some memories of Kier Egan, the creator of Breakup‘s Lumon who are no longer alive or not part of the company. Milchik also showed strange behavior towards his employees, sometimes treating them cordially, sometimes more intimidatingly. The best example of this is Helly’s early group dynamic, in which Milchick vehemently berates the new hire for asking too many questions about Lumon Industries.
Like Harmony, Milchik seems to know a lot about Lumon Industries for just a manager. This may indicate that he is also not separated, although there are not many other clues to support this hypothesis. An interesting twist would be if the outside world’s version of Milchik was completely unaware of Lumon Industries’ secrets, while his job itself is one of those tasked with keeping Breakupthe memory splitting process is in progress.
Why some separator characters are not separated
There is more to Breakupmemory switch that the show revealed. It would be naive to believe that everyone within this department went through the firing process, and it’s likely that at least Harmony didn’t have their memories shared. If there really is a board of directors in charge of the company, it makes sense that one or two workers would be chosen to have the privilege of keeping their memories in exchange for keeping the other employees on track.
It’s also possible that the entire memory switch practice is just the first of many secrets that Lumon Industries is hiding. Since the show’s universe relies on Christopher Nolan-level sci-fi technology advanced enough to separate control of a person’s memory with a simple chip, nothing in Breakup can be considered absolute truth. There’s no guarantee that these characters haven’t already been reset multiple times in their professional memory or that there’s even a third mode their brains can switch to.
If there are two or more characters in Breakup who aren’t separated is a question only future episodes of the series will answer. From now on, viewers would be smart not to trust any character in Breakup said or done. Even simple employees like Mark may not know what they are part of, which makes the wait for the rest of BreakupSeason 1 is even more exciting.
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Breakup releases new episodes every Friday on Apple TV+.
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