It was the cliffhanger that shocked the internet.

Apple TV+’s series “Severance” premiered with a healthy dose of curiosity. What was this workplace thriller from (the notoriously snide comedy-creating) Ben Stiller? The premise itself was intriguing: What if there was a way to sever your memories between home and work? But by the time the finale aired, the ripple of interest had turned into a full-blown shockwave of surprise. Fans could not believe the jaw-dropping cliffhanger “Severance” finished on, especially since the show wasn’t guaranteed a second season.

Executive producer and director Stiller, cinematographer Jessica Lee Gagné, editor Geoffrey Richman, set decorator Andrew Baseman, and actors Adam Scott, Tramell Tillman and Britt Lower sat down for a detailed explainer of the last episode on Variety‘s “Making a Scene,” presented by HBO.

Warning: There are spoilers ahead about the season finale of “Severance.”

“If the finale works for people, I think it’s because the writing is there, in terms of really trying to address all these questions that have been posed during the season,” Stiller said. “Not necessarily answer all of them, but answer enough of them.” … “Really not up until we aired the finale, I don’t even think then, I was confident that people would be totally satisfied with it.”

Even the actors were totally enthralled by the finale twist.

“I was absolutely engrossed in it, and I was enraged,” Tillman, who plays Milchick, revealed. “I remember reading on my laptop and seeing that I only had a couple pages left. And I said, ‘Wait a minute, they’re not going to end the finale like this, this is not how it’s gonna go down.’ And then it ends the way it does with me tackling and Adam screaming at the top of his lungs and I’m like, ‘No, no, no, no, no.’ I was absolutely floored.”

Since the narrative of the finale was set entirely around the clashing of the innies experiencing the real world for the first time, the episode needed to have a different feel.

“‘Severance’ is kind of a combination of two main different aesthetics,” Lee Gagné explained. “[The real world] is a bit more traditional, a little bit more long-lens, studio-based kind of vibe contradicting with the weird, wide-angle close-ups, and very lush, strange photography of the underground world and very robotic and kind of security-driven. Then you have this weird intersection of those [two] worlds and that’s the elevator or transitional scenes, where people are going from their innie to their outie. Because episode nine is actually all about that transitional moment, where those two things collide, the innie and the outie world, Ben wanted to find a way we could keep that weird subjective.”

Stiller originally toyed with the idea of making it all one shot, but after that idea proved to be impossible, the director decided to take the cameras off the sticks and try and push every scene to go as long as it possibly could. Enter the steadicam.

“I knew from the very first shot of the episode on Mark (Scott) that we wanted to keep it as continuous as possible,” Stiller said. “It almost felt like the camera was attached to the front of [the actor’s] face.” A surprising choice for both Stiller and the cinematographer, as Lee Gagné revealed that neither of them traditionally liked working in that medium.

“That was also a completely different feeling on set,” Scott said, comparing the filming experience to making an action-thriller. “But that’s a sloppy way of saying the immediacy of this episode was felt on set in a practical way, because everything was handheld.”

The shooting style helped knit together the fractured consciousness along with another interesting “Severance” creation: the fritz cut. “There were some times, where it didn’t quite feel right just cutting from one [scene] to the other,” said editor Richman. “The fritz cut was kind of functionally a way to bridge the scenes so that they were more seamless, but also kind of thematically tie back to what’s happening, which is the severed transition.” Inspired by the title sequence score from Theodore Shapiro, Richman used the musical cues to blend together the fritzing between characters.

That attention to detail spread all the way down to each meticulously chosen set piece. Every prop in the shot informs the audience on the existence of the newly introduced outies, take John Turturro’s outie Irving and his character’s elderly dog. “It was important to show that he had a dog, that he was nurturing and taking care of an animal,” Baseman explained. “Along with the dog bed in his bedroom, I had some chewed up toys in the entryway, I had a leash that we hung up on the doorknob, food bowls in the kitchen … it was an old dog, and it was a bit poignant to see his sad face, so we had the dog bowls up on risers so it’s easier.” Also important to the character was demonstrating that he was proud of his past service. Among his neatly lined up possessions included framed military badges, a flag in a shadowbox, vintage military posters and a “ceramic box in the shape of a key that maybe his nephew or niece made in school.”

This all helped paint a better idea of who this mystery outie man was, along with his taste in music and art obsession. Another great character reveal from Baseman was hanging on the walls of Devon and Ricken’s home. “I had portraits of Ricken (Michael Chernus), self portraits that he did as one of his many hobbies. We had the scenic artist do about a dozen portraits of Ricken in classic impressionistic scenes. There’s a version of Ricken as the famous ‘Scream’ painting [and] other portraits. It just shows his ego and his failed attempt at another hobby as he keeps trying to reinvent himself.”

As for the way the season ended, there was no doubt that Stiller wanted to wrap it all up with a cliffhanger. “I felt it’s okay if we don’t answer the bigger questions yet, in terms of these mysteries about the show because there’s room to do that in future seasons. … This is a series that is meant to go at least a few seasons, so we can’t not make it as if we’re not going to have a second season.”

Did he worry about not getting a second season? “It wasn’t anything I ever really thought about too much, honestly, when we were making it. I thought maybe it would help  push Apple to want to do a second season, but at the end of the day, I think they wanted it to go a second season. … I remember thinking before we renewed, ‘Well if it is a one-season show, it will be a really interesting one-season show that people will always wonder what happened and someday they might ask for another season if they don’t renew it! To me, it wasn’t even a question, this is what the show is and we just have to commit to that.”

Additional reporting from Jazz Tangcay and Jenny Maas.