Now that all the episodes have been released, I feel like I can adequately review Servant, Apple TV’s thriller tv show directed and produced by legendary M. Night Shyamalan.
I had high hopes going into this– I am a huge Shyamalan fan, and after seeing the suspenseful previews for months I finally broke down and got a subscription so I could watch it.
This is a show detailing the lives of a young married couple who recently lost their newborn son. To help the wife cope with the loss, they got a doll made to resemble their deceased child. Due to a mental breakdown, the wife Dorothy treats the doll just as a real human baby. The first episode starts with her hiring a nanny for her doll/son.
The show is a slow burning one; the ever-present creepy music always seems as if something sinister is about to happen. Unfortunately, it almost never does. I can count on one hand the times I was actually surprised. The threat of it is always there, but it’s as if the writer relies solely on the feeling of suspense rather than writing any event of substance. You’re lucky if you get one “Wow, how creepy,” moment per episode.
The cast is just meh. The main couple — Dorothy and Sean– are some of the most disappointing. Sean ( both the character and the actor who portrays him) is hard to watch. Grumpy, brooding, and always gossiping about his wife to his brother-in-law Julian, he does not add much to the show. His portrayal as a husband/father who just lost their only child is so unrealistic, it makes everything about him seem inauthentic. Dorothy is slightly better, but something about her is just unnerving. The nanny Leanne, played by Nell Tiger Free, was a perfect casting for the role. Meek, sweet yet creepy, she is one of the most (if not THE most) thrilling parts of the show. Rupert Grint shines as the brother-in-law: angry yet protective, suspicious yet dismissive.
Weirdly enough, given it is a Shyamalan show, there is not a twist ending. The ending seems to attempt two surprises in its final moments, however both are referenced earlier in the episode. The only real, unexpected surprise in the whole season comes in episode nine, when you find out how their son Jericho actually dies.
If you are considering paying for AppleTV just to check out this show, I wouldn’t recommend it. The slow burn and the tension that builds throughout the season never amounts to much, and it did not live up to my expectations. If you already have an AppleTV subscription and are a thriller/horror fan, then you may enjoy this show. Be warned: You may want to watch it sooner rather than later. Filmmaker Francesca Gregorini is suing Apple and M. Night Shyamalan for stealing her story from a 2013 movie about the same subject matter, so it may get pulled from the app soon. (https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/tv/ct-ent-servant-apple-lawsuit-20200117-6qutorfv5faijben7cqpph3xaa-story.html)
Production has begun on season two already. But if they don’t add more blatant horror or excitement, I doubt it will make it to season three.