Servant goes out in a blaze of glory [Apple TV+ recap] | Cult of Mac

Servant goes out in a blaze of glory [Apple TV+ recap]


Nell Tiger Free and Lauren Ambrose in ★★★★☆
It's showdown time on Servant.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewServant, the stellar Apple TV+ show about a supernatural nanny and the Philadelphia family that plays unwitting and unwilling host to her journey, comes to its fiery finale this week.

Leanne must decide who she’s going to serve, and Dorothy decides what her family and life will be from now on. The episode, entitled “Fallen,” serves up a mostly perfect ending to a mostly perfect show.

Servant finale recap: ‘Fallen’

Season 4, episode 10: Dorothy (played by Lauren Ambrose) has a choice to make. She can believe that Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) turned her child into a doll and can turn him back … or she can believe that the nanny’s a charlatan. The Turner family matriarch tells Sean (Toby Kebbell)  and Julian (Rupert Grint) to wait outside while she deliberates.

Meanwhile, Dorothy goes upstairs to say goodbye t0 baby Jericho … and she rejects Leanne’s overtures. Leanne begins to cry and the city starts flooding. So she goes to the rooftop to shout at her god.

Dorothy comes up to talk to her. She forgives Leanne for what she’s done — and thanks her for giving her months with her son, but she can’t have her son back. The pain Dorothy feels for accidentally killing him, as revealed in last week’s episode, is something she can’t ignore anymore. She needs to heal.

Dorothy tries to get Leanne to forgive herself, but she can’t. After all, Leanne killed her parents — and liked it. Dorothy says that if Leanne can forgive Dorothy for killing Jericho, she should be able to forgive herself. As they’re standing there, talking in the rain, Leanne spies a man and two little girls standing across the street from the Turner house. Then lightning strikes the roof and snaps off an antenna that almost kills Dorothy and Leanne. Leanne says that her god is trying to kill her.

A feint and a fiery series finale

Dorothy goes down to the car just as her brother Julian’s stab wound starts bleeding again. They must get him to a hospital before the flooding makes the roads impassable. They offer to take Leanne along, but she doesn’t go (though she says she will, but that she “forgot” something upstairs and needs to go find it).

Turns out what she’s looking for is the knife Uncle George gave her to stab herself with (which she left buried in his face after she offed him), and the kerosene he was going to use to burn her body after he killed her. Leanne covers the living room in kerosene and lights it up. She heads upstairs and calls Tobe (Tony Revolori). He says he was thinking about her. She makes him describe the perfect date to her. Heartbreaking.

Julian notices the flames and runs inside, but he doesn’t get very far. Sean confronts the cult member on the street, and the man tells the Turners that Leanne did this to herself to save everyone. Leanne plays a record, puts on Dorothy’s old dress and perfume, dances by herself, and slashes her own wrists.

Servant ends its reign as most cinematic show on TV

Throughout <em>Servant'</em>s spectacular four-season run, Nell Tiger Free gave it her all in the role of Leanne.
Throughout Servant’s spectacular four-season run, Nell Tiger Free gave it her all in the role of Leanne.
Photo: Apple TV+

Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala direct this week, and I just don’t know how it is that they’re so good when working on this show and so terrible elsewhere. Their 2019 movie The Lodge is a trainwreck and their 2014 surgery horror movie Goodnight Mommy plays like a parody of sadistic Austrian cinema.

But on Servant they prove unbeatable. Too good! The first shot of this week’s episode was of Sean and Dorothy with a split diopter. We’re in it from the jump. Dorothy’s confused, anguished face dominates the foreground, with Sean’s uncertain expression diminished in the back.

The camerawork throughout the whole episode proves superlative — lots of purposeful, uneasy gliding through spaces. The directorial team does, however, mess up the most important image in the episode: Leanne’s actual death. They strap a rig to her so the camera is moving with her as she catches fire, and then the shot of her CGI body falling through the burning house is not weighty enough. It’s too obviously fake, and a missed opportunity for something a little more solid and evocative for our farewell to such a tremendous character.

Behold, the awesome power of Nell Tiger Free

Still, the rest of the Servant series finale delivered. What a star showcase for Nell Tiger Free. The most difficult (but also, best) stuff comes when Dorothy initially rejects Leanne’s offer to stay with her and form a family. They’re alone in the house together, and Leanne starts sobbing and trying to reason with Dorothy.

“What are you?” asks Dorothy.

“It doesn’t matter … I’m yours.” is Leanne’s heart-rending response. Free lets her speech become childish in Leanne’s moment of true desperation. You just feel for the character.

Servant never failed to deliver

This was a top 10 show for me every season it was on the air — a visual marvel, a feast of great and singular performances, a beautiful cornucopia of folk horror tropes and rewired Lifetime original movie plot design.

Showrunner and executive producer M. Night Shyamalan, his amazing crew of directors and writers, and Servant’s outstanding cast came together to make something unlike anything else on TV.

In fact, Servant was the most cinematic TV show in years. I will miss the way the team wielded their cameras to show you the most brilliantly absurd sights. I will miss Nell Tiger Free’s performance of an impression of humanity. And I will miss feeling like anything at all could happen at any moment and, despite the ridiculousness of any given plot point, it all still felt like just the right move for this wild and wonderful show.

Au revoir, Servant. I will miss you.


Watch Servant on Apple TV+

You can now watch all four seasons of Servant on Apple TV+. And if you’re a fan of horror and psychological thrillers, you really should.

Rated: TV-MA

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 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


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.