Dorothy has one final trick up her sleeve on the season finale of Apple TV+ thriller Servant, M. Night Shyamalan and Tony Basgallop’s show about a mystic nanny and the troubled family she appears out of nowhere to help.
Just when it seems like things can’t possibly be more warped than they already are, a handful of desperate events throw the Turner household into tragedy and disarray. Is there any coming back from this?
Servant‘s riotous third season comes to a close on a dreadful cliffhanger, promising more chaos and darkness in the currently filming fourth season.
Servant recap: ‘Mama’
In this week’s episode, titled “Mama,” Dorothy (played by Lauren Ambrose), Sean (Toby Kebbell), Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) and Julian (Rupert Grint) are over their squabbling and all apparently on the same page. Dorothy knows she has to pretend to get along with everyone to survive. She’s keeping her anger tamped down, but she’s not forgetting that her family wanted to have her committed.
Sean is starting to have questions and worries. If Dorothy is as angry as she says she is, reprisals are coming in some form. He knows Leanne had something to do with the death of Dorothy’s rival anchor (Molly Griggs), but he can’t prove it. And even if he could, so what? It’s become very clear that there is no baby Jericho without Leanne, so why not just let her do what she’s going to do to survive?
Leanne goes out of her way to show Dorothy she means her no harm. She finds her a job opening that her homeless servants learned about by hanging out near a TV station’s dumpster.
All seems well … except for a few things. Uncle George (Boris McGiver) is back. Roscoe (Phillip James Brannon) has been working for him the whole time. And Dorothy is planning to flee in the middle of the night with Jericho. She shouldn’t be surprised when this attempt is thwarted in the most stupendously painful way possible.
I’m not your mother
The final scene of the Servant season 3 finale had me screaming out loud for more, but this show always makes me do that. The seasons always pass in the blink of an eye, and I just need to know what happens next. The motif of the rotting wood paying off in such a bleakly funny manner was just icing on the cake of a beautifully directed sendoff.
Ishana Night Shyamalan directs once more this week, and she’s truly on fire. The first shot of Uncle George on the street, in his dirty white suit bent over a cane like some demon right out of Francisco de Goya, is a marvel, an image worthy of John Carpenter’s mid-’80s period.
There’s also a great, eerie zoom of the bugs that have been eating their way into the foundation of the Turner house that seems right out of a ’70s psychological horror film. And the way the director handles off-screen characters, the people lurking just outside the Turner house during the episode, is stunningly assured. We’re watching a major talent develop before our eyes.
This has been as tight and lovely a season as Servant has yet produced. I’m just angry I have to wait another six months to a year for more of it.
Watch Servant on Apple TV+
The season 3 finale of Servant premieres March 25.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.