When it comes to premium television, Apple TV+ is gaining ground. They consistently produced and supported complex and captivating programming. From trippy Severance to hilarious and self-aware Mythic Quest or smooth and addictive Acapulco, they showed their commitment to bringing their viewers something fresh and smart. They also proved that they weren’t going to ax shows harshly like Netflix tends to do. One of the first of their high-profile offerings to see its planned conclusion is The Servant of Creator Tony Basgallop. Servant Season 4 Episode 1 marks the beginning of the end for this sometimes hysterical (thanks Julian stunt doubles), always creepy series.
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and no amount of fine wine, Hermès belts, or culinary magic can make us feel good. Things are falling apart around the Turners, and like Humpty Dumpty, he cannot be put back together. Servant Season 4 Episode 1 serves up more of the same claustrophobic terror that proves this show goes with a bang, not a whimper.
Let’s talk about the opening credits first. It can’t be by accident that we now get reflected images of the city as the rain puddles on and around the Turner home. Was the cult right all along, and Leanne and Jericho are the harbingers of the apocalypse? Will the madness and corrosion that has not so slowly eaten away at the Turner home begin to seep into the larger world? Is the rain a sign of baptism? Will the rain from heaven wash away their sins and renew Leanne and Jericho? The final season of Servant has arrived and we will finally have our answers.
Dorothy didn’t die from her fall on the termite-infested railing at the end of Season 3 of Servant. She was hospitalized, rehabilitated and finally returned home. Since we last saw this foursome, they’re still doing what they do best. This crew continues like no one else. It’s a testament to Toby Kebbell (Sean), Lauren Ambrose (Dorothy), Rupert Grint (Julian) and Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) that these often wishy-washy, weirdly threatening and repulsive narcissistic people are always likeable. Against all logic, we still care about what happens to these messy people who have been through so much.
Julian completely fell off the wagon (who can blame him), and Sean is the hottest villain boss on TV. Although Leanne deludes herself that Dorothy will be happy to see her again, she continues to grow her Leannapalooza church. The Philadelphia block we know so well seems to be withering away before us. No longer full of life and color, streets feel neglected, dead plants litter flower boxes, and pumpkins are ignored long after they should. There’s something in the air that can’t be denied. Something bad is happening or is already there.
Leanne remains diligent in locking the doors as she painstakingly prepares for Dorothy’s return. His previous worship does not give up. When a man breaks in, a frantic race through the house and down the street begins. As a group of cult members approach, a car drives by and one of them shouts “only the church can see us” as they scatter and hide like cockroaches. Insect symbolism has always been strong in Servant. Moths, termites, bees and now cockroaches give us the impression that these people may not be normal humans. Perhaps golems made of earth and clay, or the magician’s beast that can turn insects into destructive weapons of disguise and fear. We don’t know it yet, but in Servant Season 4 Episode 1, her old band learns that Leanne has friends of her own.
The police chased Leanne’s faction out of the park, leaving her alone and vulnerable. The rubbish and paintings are a reminder of how chaotic things have become. In Servant Season 1, things were weird. In Season 2, they were dangerous and confusing; Season 3 brought a new sense of humor and a new chemically-altered recipe for weirdness. Like Sean’s masterful culinary concoctions, all of the ingredients were familiar but used in such unique ways that we couldn’t help but savor every delicious thirty-minute bite. The catastrophic calamity of possibilities is only beginning to crystallize. Like a cat that hadn’t started hissing in previous seasons, there was the flattening of the ears and the arching of the back. Now in the fourth and final season, Servant is baring his teeth and preparing to take a meaty, potentially maggote bite.
As hordes close in, Leanne hides in the car as life slowly returns to the streets. However, neighbors and pets now scare him. Who is a friend? Who is an enemy? Has anyone ever been just a Karen with a tube of lipstick and a sequin dress? Everyone is a threat, and now that the police have taken all of her followers and dumped them somewhere in town, she’s in trouble. Her old band keeps coming for her, and we still don’t know which side we should be on. A dog barking and rushing at the car further complicates the problem. Does the dog smell anything weird? Should we be listening?
Servant constantly invents new ways to lock Leanne up while rarely leaving the block she lives in. First it was the brownstone main level, then the eerie confines of his religiously themed bedroom. The attic was next, and now a car parked right out front. Clever camerawork constantly tugs and pushes our perspective, making us feel every drop of sweat and every beat of his heart. Busy people, children and street vendors are now all potential threats.
When the hot dog vendor attacks her, she retaliates and stabs him with a pen. It is a moment of violence that shocks her. This demonstrates that she is still the same young girl despite all her changes. The Leanne we see in Season 4 has emerged from her shy cocoon to become something to be reckoned with. She still wears muted colors, but now her style is best described as pious sensuality. Her slightly curly hair, barely there delicate makeup, and unbuttoned keyhole dress all scream, “I am a woman who comes into her own, and I will make you exist in Silent Hill if you laugh at me.” Just because you’re an angel or a demon doesn’t mean you can’t be sexy, does it?
She narrowly escapes when another cult member disguised as a jogger comes to the vendor’s aid and throws the ritual ointment in his face, temporarily blinding him. Leanne manages to get in the car and get away from the harm, but barely, and Aunt Josephine isn’t done with her and us yet. Is it a stress-induced hallucination, or has it come back from the grave to haunt her? It’s hard to tell where the pale blue eye begins and the telltale heart ends.
When another shipment of cult members arrives, including two scary twins far beyond their Overlook days, Leanne appears defeated. An ominous commanding man tells her to come back and that they don’t want to hurt her, but they will is the unspoken threat. She retorts that they can’t hurt her anymore. She is no longer who she was and tries to start the car and drive away. They try to smoke it. Just when all seems lost, the pigeons begin to surround and attack the cult members, gouging out eyes and piercing flesh. When the attackers leave, the pigeons retreat to the top of the brownstone to watch and wait when they might be needed next. Not to be outdone, her lieutenants eventually return in a cab, and she tells them they must be smarter.
Inside, his cake is burned and traces of burglary remain. Always in style, Dorothy rides home in an ambulance in a low-key yet polished manner. This house has seen too many ambulances in the past two years. Dorothy hasn’t forgiven Leanne, and everyone knows it. Suddenly, the atmosphere changes from a Hitchcockian thriller to a melodrama with the subtle swaying of a musical swell. It’s a family in crisis, after all. It’s easy to forget among all the supernatural occurrences, reborn babies and ominous omens.
They are damaged people in damaged relationships who cling to normality when there is none. It all started because no one had the courage or the decency to get Dorothy the help she needed after a terrible postpartum accident left her childless and catatonic. Even without all the woo-woo mysticism and strict scare faith, it’s a horrifying story about parents who lost their child and a brother who can’t do anything to help them or himself, and so he numbs the pain. as he can.
Dorothy may be home, but nothing is right in Servant Season 4 Episode 1. She is paralyzed and the prognosis is uncertain. She has closed herself off to Leanne emotionally and physically, and the young female witch is devastated. Yet after all that’s happened, Leanne still considers her a mother figure. At its core, Servant boils down to family relationships. Mothers and children, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers. Leanne longs for a mother, and her relationship with Dorothy is fascinating to watch. I wonder how far Dorothy will go to get rid of Leanne? Will Leanne ever let her go?
As Leanne’s surprise turns to pain, lights flicker, light bulbs pop, and cracks in the foundation grow and spread beyond the house. Something blooms, and it’s not always a flower that grows from a flower. It is possible that a weed grew from hell itself, and you know what they say about hell and women. Everyone should be careful or be looked down upon, burned or something worse.
Watch for all of our Servant coverage here. New episodes premiere every Friday.
- Dorothy’s style is impeccable as always. You may be able to dull its spirit but never its shine.
- Is Leanne Snow White or the Wicked Witch? Both could command nature. It sure looks like they make Leanne a mighty witch, angel, or demon. There aren’t many other explanations for all the electrical pulses, foundation cracks, floods, and plague. Either she controls everything, or something wants her on Earth.
- Pigeons symbolize prosperity, peace and transformation. Leanne has already changed so much. After what happened with the birds in Servant Season 4 Episode 1, I doubt those birds are here for peaceful purposes. They have been used as messengers and pets for thousands of years due to their intelligent yet gentle nature. The creatures that attacked the church members were not peaceful, but they were loyal. Often a symbol of the Holy Spirit, is this a sign that Leanne is bound to the Good Place instead of the fire? Maybe Leanne is some kind of Old Testament angel who burns with the fire of Heaven and the wrath of Hell?
Tracy Palm Tree
As the editor of Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the editor.
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