The servant’s ending was awkward, confusing, and totally fitting

Endings are hard. This is especially true of serialized mystery TV shows, those where plenty of juicy secrets draw viewers in, but the answers often fail to satisfy them. Putting a final bow on a story like this is a unique challenge. That’s part of what he does Servant, the Apple TV Plus psychological thriller directed by M. Night Shyamalan, so interesting. While many of these shows seem like they’re making it up as they go along, Servant he had a specific end in mind. As Shyamalan told me before the most recent season premiere, “The story wanted to be four seasons.” The show was weird, confusing and often silly. But at least there was the promise that it would all make some sense in the end.

Well, here we are at that end. It was, I cannot say, a strange journey — one full of “reborn dolls,” obsessive cults, plague-like sorrows, and quite possibly, a quarrel with God. People died and others were brought back to life. And through it all, the central question at the heart of the show — just who or what is Leanne (Nell Tiger Free), a nanny who is the maid of honor — has remained unanswered. In the finale, someone finally comes out and directly asks, “What are you?”

The answer, as you can imagine, is a bit complicated. But at least Servant it comes out on its own terms – that is, the finale was just as awkward and confusing, but in a way that fit the story perfectly.

Note: this review contains spoilers for all four seasons Servantuntil the last episode.

Okay, so first, a little setup is required. The new season started with a bang and ever since, forces have conspired against Leanne, who in turn has unleashed her full power. Dorothy Turner (Lauren Ambrose), whom Leanne considers a sort of mother figure, lives in fear of her nanny and wants nothing more than to leave for good. Dorothy’s husband Sean (Toby Campbell) and her brother Julian (Rupert Grind) are now fully on her side. Leanne still lives in their house, taking care of the family and their child Jericho, but is incredibly secluded (apart from the adoration of the faithful who worship her in the park across the street).

a:hover]:text-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray”>Image: Apple

In episode 8, a full Category 2 hurricane descends on Philadelphia as a physical symbol of Leanne’s simmering wrath. He shouts to the swirling winds as if they are locked in battle. (Presumably, she’s actually talking to God.) She also learns an important truth from her former cult, the Church of the Lesser Saints: since no one is powerful enough to kill her, the only way to end this whole mess is to kill herself. “You shouldn’t exist,” ex-cult leader Uncle George (Boris McGeever) tells her. Leanne, of course, disagrees.

Another very important thing happened before the finale. Way back in Season 1, the show began with a tragedy: Dorothy, sleep-deprived and alone, left her child, Jericho, in a car one summer night, and the baby died. Dorothy’s inability to cope with this horrific experience led to therapy with a reborn doll, and when Leanne came on board as a nanny, the doll miraculously came to life (though she also changed back on a doll at various points in the show). The big problem is that no one in Dorothy’s life, especially her husband and brother, could find the courage to tell her what really happened—partly because they were scared and partly because they didn’t want to ruin whatever magic was working Leanne. .

If Servant ended on a neat and tidy note, wouldn’t it Servant any longer

But in episode 9, the penultimate, amid the chaos of the powerful storm, they finally talk — and it’s brutal. The camera pulses like a heart as it slowly zooms in on Dorothy’s horrified face. It’s a shocking scene, one that puts Dorothy in a difficult choice: does she accept reality or change her mind to side with Leanne in hopes of bringing Jericho back again? Part of this decision making process involves Dorothy finally asking Leanne what it is. “It’s okay,” Leanne tells her. “I am yours.”

Ultimately, we don’t learn much news from the finale. And honestly… that’s okay. Ambiguity works for what Servant is. It’s clear that Leanne is some kind of supernatural force, one with a darkness within her – her moods can affect the weather, animate people and cause physical harm – but whether she’s literally a demon or an angel or something else isn’t never clearly explained. Instead, the finale focuses on something much more personal.

a:hover]:text-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray”>Image: Apple

Despite her power at the end of the season, Leanne really only wants one thing: a family. She thought she found it in the Turner home, a place where she could be a help and comfort to a family struggling with a terrible loss. But her inability to control her powers made life difficult. And when Dorothy finally decides she must live with the pain as an expression of her love for Jericho, Leanne finds herself without a purpose. She makes a decision on her own: to end the destruction her power has brought, she decides to take Uncle George’s advice and end her own life. And he does so in the most dramatic way possible, burning down the Turners’ house while they were still inside. The scene is hauntingly beautiful, like a literal rendition of that John Mayer song, before it gets really scary.

The ending reminds me a bit Lostits controversial ending. Both are narratively disappointing, leaving many unanswered questions and details open to interpretation. But they are emotionally satisfying. If Servant ended on a neat and tidy note, wouldn’t it Servant any longer. Instead, it ends the only way it can: with a strange, terrifying and confusing sequence that completely encapsulates the last four seasons. Even if the show had all the answers, it would be out of character for me to tell you all of them.

Leave a Comment