Severance: A bad day at the office. Watch WWU alum Dan Erickson's workplace thriller

The first five seconds of the trailer for the television series “Severance” flashes on Adam Scott walking down a narrow office hallway, followed by Patricia Arquette giving a brisk nod to someone sitting opposite her desk, a mustachioed John Turturro offering up a soulless smile to a colleague, and Christopher Walken pressed against a glass partition with an expression of open-mouthed horror — or possibly menace — on his face. By the end of the three-minute clip, it's clear whatever the actors' characters are up to at the office, it's nothing good.

In the Apple TV+ series written and co-produced by Western Washington University and Upfront Theatre alum Dan Erickson, the plot centers around a man named Mark Scout (played by Scott) who undergoes a surgical procedure to separate his work life from his home life. While he's at the office, he can't access his personal memories, and when he's home he has zero retention of what occurred at his place of employment. It sounds like a swell way to achieve the optimal work/life balance, but dark mysteries abound in the workplace thriller, and all is not as it seems.

Erickson, 38, said a play containing the same thematic DNA of “Severance” came into existence during his time at Western — where in addition to obtaining an English degree, he also studied screenwriting and was active in the theater department and the improv group known as the Dead Parrots Society.