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Ben Stiller & 'Severance' cast dig into that major Episode 4 cliffhanger for Apple TV+ thriller
The Lumon offices are in a tizzy by the end of Severance's latest episode, "The You You Are."
As the mysteries of Severance continue to unfold each week on AppleTV+, Mark's (Adam Scott) outside world is encroaching more on his inside Lumon Industries severed self; unapologetic company man, Irving (John Turturro), is investing even more because of colleague, Burt (Christopher Walken); and Helly (Britt Lower) is as adamant as ever to get the hell out of her severed nightmare. In the latest episode, "The You You Are," many of the storylines in the "outie" and "innie" worlds come to a head in a way dramatic fashion with some intense repercussions.
SYFY WIRE chatted with Severance creator Dan Erickson, executive producer Ben Stiller, and actors Britt Lower, John Turturro, and Zach Cherry (Dylan) to talk about the big moves that happened in "The You You Are" and how all of it is going to impact what's to come.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers below for Severance Episode 4, "The You You Are"**
In the episode written by Kari Drake and directed by Aoife McArdle, Mark's Lumon team members each experience a bit of an epiphany moment. Mark visits the scene of his wife's car accident; inside of Lumon, Dylan discovers and reads the outside world book written by Mark's brother-in-law, Rickon (Michael Chernus); Mark's ex-severed BFF Petey (Yul Vazquez) gets buried; Irv and Burt become closer and cuter than ever; and Helly makes her most dramatic move to get out of Lumon — she hangs herself in the Lumon elevator.
Talk about turning points!
Erickson says that in the writer's room, "The You You Are" ended up naturally becoming a pivot point episode for many of the building story issues. One of his favorites is Dylan accidentally finding the signed self-help book that Harmony Cobel (Patricia Arquette) steals from Mark's house and carelessly brings to Lumon. "The arrival of this book, and basically the first case of outside information or an outside perspective leaking into the severed office, it changes everything," Erickson enthuses. "And it's so much fun that it's Rickon'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?"
For waffle party chaser Dylan, the shake-ups in the Lumon offices are certainly pushing the character out of his comfort zone. "It's the book and it's also Helly's presence," Cherry says of the biggest motivators pushing his character to a new path. "Dylan certainly questions the mandates of the company a little bit, but he does it more just for fun and to be like, 'This is kind of bullsh**.' But when Helly shows up and really starts asking why and let's do something about it and then he finds this book that empowers him a little bit, those two things together bring him to that a-ha moment."
On the lighter side of things, the softly burgeoning flirtation between Irving and Burt gets stronger as they spend some work time together. The unexpected romance was always in the script, but Turturro admits the casting of Walken was his suggestion.
"That was one of the reasons I did the roll because I liked that aspect of the character," Turturro shares. "When I met with Ben and Dan, I said, '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."
Asked if the two plotted out the pace of their relationship in rehearsals, Turturro says they never talked about it. "We just did it. 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."
But arguably the most impactful of any scene in the episode is Helly's attempted suicide. In the wake of her exhausting punishment and viewing the video from her outside self refusing her resignation, she's so desperate to get out of her severance that she hangs herself in the elevator.
"What happens with Helly obviously changes everything too and creates the sudden sense of stakes," Erickson says of the bleak scene. "It turns the trajectory of the office in a very different way with her coworkers."
"I think it speaks to how much Helly values her autonomy, and how she feels trapped and restrained," Lower says of the moment. "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."
Stiller also praises the episode and director McArdle. "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," he says. "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."
New episodes of Severance drop Fridays on AppleTV+.