Going out with a bang: Ozark’s post team on the show’s final season

Netflix fan favorite Ozark culminated in definitive ends for some characters and amoral open ends for others. Throughout the explosive finale, the show stayed true to its ethos and challenged viewers on how we as a society reward unfettered power and money.

Shepherded by showrunner Chris Mundy and producer/director/star Jason Bateman, the gritty crime drama accrued 45 Emmy nominations, 4 Emmy wins, and 1 Golden Globe. I had the chance to sit down with editor Vikash Patel and assistant editors Mike Boord and Mary Chin to discuss the show’s final season, the role Evercast played in production, and more.

**Please note we discuss spoilers for Ozark’s final season**

How was it editing season four versus previous seasons? 

Vikash Patel: The major change was that editing the final season was 95% remote. I did all seven of my episodes from home. I believe Cindy [Mollo] did all but the finale from home and I think Heather [Goodwin Floyd] did hers from home as well. All using Evercast.

What was your remote work setup and how’d Evercast fit in?

Patel: With Chris, we would hop on Evercast for screenings, alt versions, to discuss music, etc. We used the remote workflow with Chris constantly, from the first episode of the final season to the last one. 

Mike Boord: We just get such faster feedback from it. I remember Viks saying things like “I got Chris for 30 minutes, we’re going to hop on Evercast and show him some stuff I did real quick.”

Mary and Mike, how’d working remotely change life for you as assistant editors, not being able to be in the same room as your editor?

Mary Chin: Our team had a hybrid situation where I was at home the whole time and Cindy was in the office for episode 14, which was the series finale. Evercast was instrumental in keeping all three of us on the same page and helpful in getting the ideas in Jason’s head across. I handled a lot of the VFX spotting and Evercast was irreplaceable in terms of work that needs to be done fast.

Boord: Yeah, if you’re uploading QuickTimes, you’re spending a half hour to an hour doing that so someone can view it. But Evercast replicates the idea of being in the room with that person. 

Can you elaborate on the division of work between the assistant editors and editors?

Boord: My big task was making all the sound play. Viks would cut picture, and I’d make sure everything shined as far as sound goes. We would collaborate on building up the world of sound—to steal a quote from Viks, “painting the scene with sound” and making it as complete as possible. 

Chin: I think philosophically I take the assistant editing job as a vague term. It’s whatever it means to your editor, and I want to make them look the best. It can be sound work, music, rough pass of a scene, or fielding emails. I see myself as a catchall for my editor.

Working on Ozark was really fun, reading the notes and being involved in the creative process. You don’t always get to be involved creatively on shows, so I was really grateful to have that here.

Boord: I just wanted to add that everybody in post would talk to each other about “what’s going on in your episode that might change something we’re doing in ours.” Little things like the arcade game in season three, there wasn’t much thought on that. So Mary and I were the ones to help guide that a bit. Sometimes on other shows, there’s no communication between me and the other assistants. Which is not a great thing. Ozark is definitely one of those shows where there was collaboration across the board.

How was it dealing with the expectations and pressure of the final season to such a beloved show?

Patel: Truthfully, I don’t think there was any additional pressure. I edit every episode with the same approach. You watch the performances, you read the script, and you react to what you are seeing. 

It was labor intensive but the great thing is, I had so much trust in Jason and Chris. I always knew they had my back. Also Mary and Mike are being very humble, but they’re both stellar assistants. So when you’ve got that support system, it makes my job and I’m sure Cindy’s job easy to create and tell the story. So back to your question, I didn’t treat the final season any differently.

Chin: I’d say the same, we didn’t have any different approach in terms of how we tackled our day. Maybe there was more pressure higher up since they’re shooting it.

Patel: Jason set the aesthetic template in the first season, right? So we knew the show, the characters, and their journeys. Now it was just landing all the planes and making sure the moments really resonated, which I guess was the biggest challenge.

What were your initial reactions to the show’s conclusion?

Patel: Before I even started in October 2020, Chris sent me all 12 scripts. So I read all of them and was like, “oh my God, where’s this going?” Chris told me, “14 is going to be polarizing, either you’re going to love it or you’re not.” That was the lane he chose and that decision was deliberate. So when I read it, it took me a few days to process. I think it’s the right ending, they were never going to get away from the mess they created and they all survive, but do they really survive? 

I don’t know how the finale was received but I’m sure it’s exactly how Chris intended it to be. Some people probably loved it and some probably hated it and that’s fine.

Boord: When I first read it, I was the same, it took me a minute to process but it feels appropriate. It’s like The Sopranos where it leaves you a little open-ended and I like that. It keeps me thinking about it afterward.

Chin: I get this question from my friends a lot, and I mean, my jaw drops at the end of every episode. Since I didn’t work on season one or two, I had this unique attachment to the show where I watched as an audience member, then watched on as a crew member. From season one, I was kind of expecting this ending for Ruth. I love her but she’s just a very reckless character and I felt like she was going to die sooner or later. 

Viks, since you’ve been on since season one, how do you feel the show has evolved over time? Was there a time when it really started to hit a groove for you?

Patel: Absolutely, I think the first three or four episodes of season one is when everything dialed in from a story and character point of view. We really figured out the strength of the characters and Chris started writing to them specifically, like Julia [Garner]. The great thing Chris did is in scene one of episode two, he just laid it all out. He elected to tell the kids, who are the proxy for the audience, that the family is laundering money for the cartel. Something that could’ve been saved for much later in the season, but by doing it then you’re just hooked on the show.

Jason was very hands-on in season one from a filmmaking point of view. I don’t believe we locked an episode until he finished shooting and was able to make tweaks to them to get them aesthetically how he saw the whole series. He found filmmakers that really understood the aesthetic of the show, which propelled the later half of the first season and then by season two it was off to the races.

Were there any big evolutions from script to edit to final product?

Chin: We had a really big evolution in the opening of 408. There were at least 15 versions of that opening where Evercast was very instrumental because Amanda [Marsalis], the director, would jump on with Cindy and they would rework the scene. It took a lot of work but I think everyone is very pleased with where it landed, getting across Ruth’s emotional state and where she’s at after discovering Wyatt and Darlene. It’s a tricky balance because it’s not the series finale yet so we can’t get her too upset. That scene was one of the biggest changes from what was scripted to what everybody saw.

As we wrap up, what’s everyone watching right now that you’re loving?

Chin: I just started Peaky Blinders a couple of weeks ago, so I’m super late to the game but I’m loving it. 

Patel: Best series ever. I just finished watching an Amazon British series called The Outlaws with Christopher Walken that’s written by Stephen Merchant. It’s a really funny dark humored drama that I enjoyed and now it’s soccer season so that’s what’s on every night.

Boord: I’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale, which I’ve always loved. It’s a great story with really good acting and characters.

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