Apple TV+ thriller Servant heads toward mutually assured destruction this week. Sean and Julian start believing in angels and demons. Dorothy chases down a lead. Leanne is becoming too powerful to even speak to. And a stranger from the past shows up to tell a story that the Turner family does — and does not — want to hear.
It’s a conflicting, confounding and con … ehh very good episode of the show created by M. Night Shyamalan and Tony Basgallop.
Servant recap: ‘Myth’
Season 4, episode 7: In this week’s episode, titled “Myth,” Julian (played by Rupert Grint) can’t sleep. He and Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) are back to cohabitating after last week’s shakeup. He’d be loathe to admit it to Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) and Sean (Toby Kebbell), but he’s starting to get freaked out by all the coincidences and unexplainable phenomena going around their Philly brownstone.
Take, for instance, the crowd of people who have taken to standing in the street in the dead of night staring up at Leanne’s bedroom window. Julian goes downstairs to check the closed circuit cameras and helps himself to a little bedtime story: an illustrated brook about the biblical devil. He’s starting to crack like the streets outside. He tries bringing the situation up to Leanne the next day, but she eludes his questions.
Dorothy is trying to track down the first lead she’s got in a while. She has an old news broadcast of hers where she interviews a young Leanne on the kiddie beauty pageant circuit. She calls her old producer to see if they’ve got Leanne’s release form on file, but no dice. Dorothy’s going to have to try something else to get the nanny out of the house.
Angel or devil?
Meanwhile, Sean is too concerned with a clip of his reality show going viral to notice either Dorothy or Julian’s homework. Julian demands an explanation about the devil book. Sean rather ludicrously has to explain to Julian what a “Faustian bargain” is, but his belief is that Leanne’s some kind of fallen angel.
Just then, Julian suffers some kind of attack and can’t speak. Odd timing. They crack open a bottle of wine and start musing, when Julian’s P.I. friend Roscoe (Phillip James Brannon) sneaks in and gets their attention. Someone wants to talk to them. Uncle George (Boris McGiver) is waiting in the vacant basement apartment. He’s got a story to tell.
Turns out George died and was brought miraculously back to life by the cult, and they preached the gospel of the Church of Lesser Saints from that moment on. Leanne’s family burned to death in a fire, and believed she had done something to kill them. They recruited her and that was that. And he does mean that.
George has all the answers about Leanne
George, rather bafflingly, tells them that Leanne is just a confused girl who believes in a delusion. This sets off Sean and Julian. What about everything they’ve seen? What about four seasons’ worth of supernatural malevolence?
George serves up convenient explanations for everything. Tunnels under the house to transport a baby into the Turner house without anyone seeing it … Leanne setting up little painful tricks to seem like biblical punishment whenever she needed them to believe she had power. They even orchestrated Leanne’s appearance just as Sean and Dorothy’s original baby Jericho died so suddenly and so tragically and was replaced with a reborn doll. But why?
When Leanne’s parents died, Leanne saw and was very impressed with Dorothy. So George would take her to visit Dorothy once a year, during her broadcasts (which Dorothy now sees in the old clips she’s watching) as a way to mark the passage of time. When Jericho died, Leanne asked to go be a nanny to Dorothy’s birthing doll. And the church happened to know that a local addict had died nearby and left her baby on the street, abandoned. The perfect substitute for Jericho.
George only has one favor to ask for all this exposition: He wants Leanne back.
There’s just one curious thing. Roscoe admonishes George when he’s done telling his story. Apparently, stories of George’s religion really sank into Roscoe’s subconscious. He believed in the Church of Lesser Saints. And it’s all a lie? George tells him to grow up and go home to his family (abandoned for the cause of the church). But something about George’s tone of voice says he hasn’t been truthful to either party. After all … why is he still flagellating himself and talking to his god in an alley if he doesn’t believe?
Humor, horror and overall excellence
Ishana Night Shyamalan directs Servant again this week, and she delivers the humor as well as the horror. Sean muses about the various things they might use to combat Leanne and, as he’s thinking, Julian keeps writing deterrents on a notepad with a Sharpie. “Maybe silver,” Sean says.
Julian writes “werewolves,” as in “you’re thinking of werewolves.”
Then Sean muses about garlic, and the written response comes a minute later: “Vampires.” Pretty good.
I was a little bummed to think George was telling the truth, but then this show is always good at subterfuge. So when we got our last-minute reveal (mere moments after the whole family politely stood up to Leanne at that night’s dinner), I was back in. Servant is just too good. It’s a crying shame it has to end after this season.
Watch Servant on Apple TV+
New episodes of Servant season four arrive every Friday on Apple TV+.
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.