Apple TV has officially joined the fray in what we call today the “streaming wars” era of the entertainment industry. Apple now finds itself going up against the likes of Hulu/Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and the forthcoming HBO Max. All platforms will provide their own original content but today we are here to focus solely on Apple TV+’s original series produced by the Academy Award-nominated M. Night Shyamalan, Servant.
Servant is a psychological thriller that follows a Philadelphia couple in mourning, who have to cope with an unspeakable tragedy. As this couple tries to find a way of properly coping with this tragedy, they also have to find a way to fix their marriage. Their marriage has changed severely after this tragedy and the couple finds themselves mending their wounds in their own personal ways. This causes the occasional clash between the couple which causes some unwarranted tension, more so when the wife, Dorothy Turner (Lauren Ambrose) hires a nanny to take care of their newborn son.
I would like to give a warranted potential SPOILER WARNING for our readers who might find some parts of this review a tad bit spoilery. You’ve been warned!
Still with us? Great! Things start to get a little weird around the Turner household once Leanne (Nell Tiger Free), the nanny arrives in the house. She seems off, and Sean (Toby Kebbell) has taken notice. Leanne is very silent, too observant almost. She’s religious and carries a cross made out of what seems to be straw and splinters. That’s not the real shocker here! Sean reveals that his son Jericho died in his sleep. Perhaps a case of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), but that’s not necessarily revealed to be the factual death of this child. As a way to have Dorothy properly cope with the death of her child, doctors suggested getting a doll made, who we presume is modeled after their actual son Jericho.
As the days pass by, Sean has grown even more suspicious of their new nanny Leanne and he thinks she’s brought “something” to their home. Why you might ask? Well…the doll is no longer a doll…the doll is now a living human being. And here is when the series truly grabs you and doesn’t let go! It does a great job of using not only its plot devices aka Jericho and Leanne as ways to keep you watching. But the show also uses its 32-minute episode runtime to keep you guessing and coming back for more.
Is there more? Of course! The thrills keep on coming! Sean calls upon his brother in law Julian Pearce (Rupert Grint) to inform him of their now living son. Julian questions the reality of things, including the identity of this new nanny Leanne. The unfortunate part is that Dorothy cannot be told what’s real and what isn’t. If you haven’t caught the drift by now, Dorothy still thinks their dead son is alive! This is presented in a number of ways throughout these initial first episodes. As the viewer though, you want Sean to tell his wife the truth, but its easier said than done. We don’t know what kind of downward spiral she succumbed to after the initial tragedy, nor do we know what kind of downward spiral she could succumb to if and when she finds out that this new baby, is not HER baby!
It is clear that she suffers from some form of PTSD and the only way to treat it was with the baby doll of her dead son. As for Dorothy, she also has an illness. She suffers from Mastitis, an infection and inflammation of the breast, which causes pain and swelling of the breast due to the pressure being placed on the milk duct (hurts like hell, once you watch that one scene of the episode you’ll understand why).
Backtracking to Sean and what he is dealing with, as he is now conducting a personal investigation on Leanne with the help of Julian and his close friend who just so happens to be a private investigator. Leanne has now grown suspicious of Sean and that’s only because he destroys her cross, which he saw dangling over the baby’s crib AFTER the baby was magically brought to life. As a result of that, Sean now has random splinters appearing in random parts of his body. So far the series hasn’t provided any clues as to what they really are or what they are meant to represent. We have some theories but we’ll hold on to those theories and reveal them another day.
As the investigation on Leanne deepens, Leanne is not who she has portrayed herself to be. While there is some truth to her identity. Looks CAN and WILL be deceiving!
Created and written by Tony Basgallop. Executively produced by M. Night Shyamalan and Tony Basgallop, Servant is a thriller that reels you in right from the start, and once you are hooked, there’s no letting go, and you are now embarking on a really ambitious psychological thrill ride, that will leave with more questions than answers as the layers start to peel back.
Servant Episodes 1-3 premiere November 28, exclusively on Apple TV+, with new episodes releasing every Friday.