Apple TV+ is taking fans deeper down the rabbit hole in Severance, and the cast and crew are here to help us keep up. After this week's episode, executive producer Ben Stiller sat down for an interview with SyFy Wire along with some of his colleagues to unpack the confusion as Lumon Industries. Warning: There are spoilers for the first four episodes of Severance ahead.
Stiller was joined by Severance creator Dan Erickson and actors Britt Lower, John Turturro and Zach Cherry to discuss Severance Episode 4, "The You You Are" this week. The episode was full of big developments for the characters trying to unravel the mysteries of their workplace and establish lives for themselves within it, and it ended with Helly (Lower) attempting suicide in the hopes of escaping the job. Erickson explained that the writers considered this a pivotal episode for the entire season.
To start with, Erickson said that fans should not underestimate the impact of the self-help book delivered by Mark's (Adam Scott) brother Ricken (Michael Chernus), which has now made its way into the office. He said: "The arrival of this book, and basically the first case of outside information or an outside perspective leaking into the severed office, it changed everything, and it's so much fun that it's Ricken's book that ends up having that effect. [Inside] are these ideas that some of us might take for granted, but to the 'innies' they're like 'Oh, my world expanded!' It's like, they just did acid and listened to Dark Side of the Moon, you know?"
Erickson also addressed the shocking cliffhanger with Helly, saying: "What happens with Helly obviously changes everything too and creates the sudden sense of stakes. It turns the trajectory of the office in a very different way with her coworkers." Lower gave her own perspective on the scene and on what Helly is going through.
"I think it speaks to how much Helly values her autonomy, and how she feels trapped and restrained," she said. "And the length to which she goes to try to escape this experience, I think it just speaks to that depth of feeling betrayed by herself, actually, on the outside. It isn't really the office that's keeping her there. It's herself."
When discussing Helly's tragic cliffhanger, Stiller specifically praised this week's director Aoife McArdle. He said: "How she put together that last part of the episode, which leads up to that conclusion which is pretty disturbing, I thought she did it quite elegantly. It was a lot of different character moments coming together there. Also, I'd say Theodore Shapiro's score throughout the show, to me, is a very important element in the show. He started writing before we even started shooting because it was important for us all in getting a vibe. We played it on the set sometimes. It really helped establish the feeling of what was going on there."
Finally, Turturro discussed the burgeoning romance between his character Irving and Christopher Walken's character Burt. He revealed that he actually suggested Walken for the role after he learned about the office romance in the script, saying: "That was one of the reasons I did the roll because I liked that aspect of the character. When I met with Ben and Dan, I was 'who would I do it with?' And Dan asked 'do you have any ideas?' And I said 'Chris.' I've done five projects with Chris and I really love him. We just share a sense of humor and sense of play, and you never know what you're going to get from."
"Everyone thinks he's odd and crazy, but he has such a vulnerability and a sensitivity that I thought if I have to fall in love with someone, I kind of want to do it with someone I love. When you have that, then you can do the imaginary things within the scene," Turturro went on. He said that he and Walken did not rehearse their romantic scenes together much and they tried to let them play out organically.
"We just did it," he said. "Chris' body is very alive as an answer, so any little thing you do with Chris, there's always a reaction through his body. But it was hard to sustain because the scenes were so delicate. We were both worried that we would lose the scope, the delicacy because it's hard when there's so much coverage," he says referring to the multiple camera angles needed for each scene in a single-camera show. "Thank goodness, there was mostly just two of us in those scenes, so that was really easy."
Severance is airing week to week on Apple TV+ with a new episode each Friday. The show is slated to continue through April 8, and it has already been greenlit for a second season. Season 2 is filming now in New York and New Jersey.