As a general rule of thumb, I have pretty much learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to M. Night Shyamalan’s twisty-turny horror drama, Servant. Four seasons deep, and Servant is still flirting with the kind of mysterious, alluring qualities that many showrunners would balk at. The sheer audacity of its atmospheric tension is ratcheted up to even greater extremes in the premiere, “Pigeon.” Get ready to become reacquainted with the picture-perfect Turner family and their little bundle of joy, Jericho, destined for a harrowing conclusion!
At the close of season three, we last left Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) having plunged off the termite-eaten broken railing and careening down to her presumed death. The presence of the Church of the Lesser Saints loomed throughout, but it ultimately appeared to be Leanne’s mysterious powers that led to Dorothy’s unfortunate accident. As Dorothy fell, Leanne had apologetically snatched Jericho from her grasp just before the two of them were able to escape in Dorothy’s waiting Uber. In “Pigeon,” the audience is quickly treated to the answer as to whether Servant would truly kill off one of its core characters before the endgame begins.
Naturally, the answer is a resounding “no, not yet.” A giant “WELCOME HOME, DOROTHY” sign hangs as Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) prepares for the matriarch’s return from the hospital. As a welcome home present, Leanne is whipping up Dorothy’s favorite cake. There is a quiet before the storm though—the church is coming for Leanne in ways so aggressive they must be seen to be believed. Before Dorothy even returns with Sean (Toby Kebbell) and Julian (Rupert Grint) to the family brownstone, Leanne undergoes unspeakable horrors while getting closer to embracing the reality of her growing powers.
Dorothy continues to be the core of this piece, even in a more incapacitated state. Her road to recovery is long, and Lauren Ambrose imbues Dorothy with the same ferocity and sheer willpower that she has brought to previous iterations. The indescribable torment Dorothy feels at not being able to answer the cries of Jericho when he needs her the most truly broke my heart. Equally good is Nell Tiger Free, keeping Leanne’s complexities and secrets close to the chest. Leanne lashes out at anyone and anything that may stand in the way of the Turner family and her own well-being; the cracks seemingly caused by Leanne’s powers spread catastrophically far and wide. Julian and Sean especially seem to both take backseats to the primary action. Julian, however, does have a hilarious moment when he finds an unexpected set of vibrators whilst snooping around.
Apple TV+ teases that Servant’s final season will present answers to the big questions, namely: “who is Leanne Grayson, and who is the child in their home?” It certainly feels to this viewer that Shyamalan and crew are building toward an epic confrontation. Though critics have merely been given the opening three episodes, Servant delivers an excellent appetizer platter of what is to come. Ferocious pigeons, swarms of bedbugs, and questionable old ladies color this trio of episodes in the trademark brand of strangeness this series has become known for.
Season four of Servant treats us with a glossy new rain-drenched intro, accompanied by the eerie score we have grown to love. It pans up the walls and onto the roof of the Turner’s brownstone before finding Leanne and Jericho perched there as the rain continues dumping down atop them. Though it remains to be seen whether or not Servant truly sticks the landing, it has become one of my favorite Apple TV+ shows for the duration of its run. Housing phenomenal performances, horrifying gothic imagery, dark humor, and stunning cinematography, Servant serves up a piping hot meal of psychological thrills with ease.
Servant’s creepy final season debuts Friday, January 13th on Apple TV+, and previous seasons can also be found on that very same streaming platform.