Nominated for an Emmy for his work on Silicon Valley‘s Season 2 finale, “Two Days of the Condor,” editor Brian Merken is thankful for the almost-missed opportunity to be working on HBO’s acclaimed series. “Quite honestly, it was the last possible hour that they would consider bringing me on that I became available,” he says. “It almost didn’t happen.”
After toiling on such comedies as Malcolm in the Middle and Ugly Betty, Merken says the scripts for Mike Judge’s workplace series are some of the strongest he’s ever received. “This show is kind of a perfect mixture of both (comedy and drama),” he says. “There are laugh-out-loud moments, and then, in our season finale, we had our main character get fired. That’s typically not that funny.” (Laughs.)
What is it about editing the funny stuff that Merken finds so appealing? “I think it’s mostly because I’m a 38 year old man who acts like a child,” he says. “Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t have a good time cutting drama, but I always tell my friends, ‘You want to know what my sense of humor is? Just watch an episode of Silicon Valley.’ That really is the perfect amount of intelligent humor mixed in with total and utter childishness.”
Merken has cut the finales for both seasons of Silicon Valley. “There is an art to it,” he says. “Most people would say there’s a lot of pressure to create this amazing thing at the end of a season. I don’t necessarily feel that pressure, and that again goes back to having a strong script.”
For Merken, one of the biggest challenges was the final scene and intercutting the court’s surprise ruling in favor of Pied Piper with the rest of the gang in the “hacker hostel,” who are preparing to delete the entire platform. The show plays with audience expectations, as Richard races home to try to prevent catastrophe. “That was something unique to our finale this year, the whole caper aspect to it,” Merkin says. “It was a very different rhythm for our show.”
The other difficulty was the structure of the episode. “It was very A story-centric. There was no major B story,” he says. “When you have a B story, you have somewhere to cut to if you feel like the rhythm isn’t working. But I had nowhere to cut to. Thankfully, it worked out.”
Currently, Merken is in the middle of editing Judd Apatow’s more improv-driven Netflix series, Love, and will return to edit Season 3 of Silicon Valley.
To see a clip from the Season 2 finale, click play below: