Signal Horizon

See Beyond

Servant Episode 5: Cricket-Recap and Review- All Your Questions Answered

Apple TV +’s Servant has pretended to be many things. Is still pretending in fact. Is it the story of a witch? A straight psychological thriller perhaps? Episode 5, Cricket seems to hint that we are borrowing from the Book of Revelations, and that might be the biggest redirect yet.

The quick episodes of Servant feel simultaneously longer and short than their thirty minutes run time. This is due to the incredible amount of plot subversion and information thrown at the viewer under the guise of lowkey creeping. It’s been an atmospheric oddity of too bright personalities, too dull affects, and too enigmatic mysteries. All of that should add up to a snooze fest of overwrought dialogue and underdeveloped plot beats. Instead, it is a wildly unsettling who done it(if there is a who or even and it). True to form episode 5 created just as many questions as answers.

Three of the four main players are struggling. Sean still can’t taste anything which is a major problem for a culinary consultant. He is also still finding chunks of wood in his body. The chair leg Dorothy pulled out of his neck was definitely not splinter sized. Dorothy continues to be the same self-absorbed narcissist, only her fugue states seem to be lasting longer now. She also has a raging case of lip herpes.

What has triggered her trances is still a mystery. She wakes as if they never happened and seems to have no memory of them occurring. Leanne after appearing emotionless and stoic in the first four episodes is now behaving erratically. In her defense, she does have people trying to feed her dog food, random strangers entering and exiting her home, and Dorothy’s brother hiring spies to keep tabs on her. Only wine-swilling Julian has nothing to complain about.

It would be a lot for anyone to handle, much less a naive eighteen year old. Each night she prays diligently for something and each morning brings a new clue that something isn’t right with Leanne. By the end, praying alone doesn’t get it down and she flogs herself as the credits roll. It is a disturbing and painful look at just how devout she is.

Visually and behaviorally, Leanne is leaning heavily into Nell from The Last Exorcism territory. She wears modest clothing and simple cotton nightgowns that feel as if they were literally borrowed from the set of the aforementioned movie. Leanne acts sweet and gentle until she is wronged whether through one trick too many, a lying friend and the child she is supposedly caring for, or a completely ridiculous trip across town for cake that goes uneaten.

She’s clearly over the abuse and lashing out. It will be interesting to see if Wanda the spy Jullian hired will put the pieces together on what really happened to the little ice cream eater. Leanne knew the girl had terrible allergies and gave her lobster ice cream. She knew exactly what she was doing when she allowed them back into her house and fed the child something that easily could cause a reaction. At the last minute she did save the child, but can you count it as saving when she was the one to induce the reaction?

Dorothy is out of touch in more ways than one. Like many who struggle with life in the limelight, she is an aging star without even being aware of it. Her news reports, although amusing, are hardly hard-hitting journalism and her performances are as nuanced as a sledgehammer. She never turns it off either. Her on-air and off-air persona are the same, which is not to say she honesty portrays herself, just that she performs her whole life.

Always acting, her mantra is fake it until you make it. Coupled with obvious signs of mental illness, it’s a distressing picture. No matter how many times she verbally cuts Sean, you can’t help but feel sympathy for her. She is a seething ball of insecurity and it’s hard to watch. Lauren Ambrose’s performance, which once seemed almost cartoonish, is now highly effective and conveys just how wrong this household really is.

Sound design by Mark Filip and music by Trevor Gureckis continue to enhance the eerie chamber piece. This is a potentially larger than life story told in the tiniest of settings and both Filip and Gureckis provide the auditory cues needed to adjust your internal framework. Plucking strings, plinking piano keys, and teeth gratingly annoying flies buzz just out of reach. It is all perfectly designed to put the viewer on edge and wrong-footed.

After thirty minutes of twists, turns, and misrepresentations there are many questions remaining. To make sense of the madness here are the biggest quandaries.

What’s with the crickets?

Leanne says her mother thought crickets were bad luck. To find a cricket in your home was a sign of terrible things to come. This is contrary to common beliefs and Chinese tradition that both hold the lowly cricket is good luck. The Chinese actually kept them as pets. They are considered watchdogs of the home as they sing or chirp happily unless an intruder is present and then the instantly become silent. Surprisingly they can also be used to tell the temperature. Called the Dolbear’s Law the number of chirps a cricket makes in fourteen seconds is added to 40 to calculate the temperature. Usually, the only thing detrimental about crickets is killing one which is considered very bad luck. Leanne imprisoned and killed a cricket(briefly anyway) so that’s not great.

Is the baby Jericho reborn, or Leanne’s biological baby?

Leanne of the perfectly arranged Campbell’s tomato soup cans is devoutly religious and potentially magical. The infant Jericho could still be the Turner’s baby resurrected like the cricket in Leanne’s room or he could be her own baby smuggled into the house. Both options are equally strange. Turning a doll into a living child is weird enough, but somehow lucking into finding a couple looking for a nanny for their doll and slipping your own child into the mix unquestioned seems even weirder. Are the neighbors so aloof they don’t notice there is a new baby in the house? Additionally, what are the odds of finding a job as a doll nanny? It would have to be astronomical especially when it was not advertised that way, to begin with.

Why Campbell’s tomato soup?

Leanne craves order and consistency above all else. Above all else uniformity is essential. Andy Warhol painted 32 Campbell soup cans that in a pop art grouping that represented the iconography of the ideal American family. Leanne wants nothing more but to be part of that, so it isn’t much of a stretch that she would reach for the all American soup. Another bible verse, Corinthians 15:38 is also a strong possibility given the possible resurrection of the baby and the cricket.

You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

Corinthians 15:38

Leanne may just be really into tomato soup but with all the things coming back from the dead and religious iconography it’s worth mentioning.

Is Leanne a witch, Satan’s servant, or mentally unstable?

The strain of the situation is beginning to wear on her. Rigid for reasons yet to be revealed, she is losing her tight grip on her anger and her life. Turning to the Bible each night she prays for guidance or at least a pimple on Dorothy’s camera-ready face. Writing Dorothy’s name in her bible seemed to plague Dorothy with a boil on her upper lip. When Sean had his name written in the bible he had a large wood chard removed from his neck.

Crickets are drawn to Leanne’s room and bed specifically, and one dead cricket returned to the living in her presence. She is too devoted to Christianity to be a witch, but she may be a servant of the Devil. The name of the series may be a clue. Her family may have known and told her she was evil and thus the need for carefully controlled behavior or her true nature would leak out. The fire that killed her family could have been a result of her powers. In any case, I don’t think you want to piss her off. Sean and Julian should curtail their taunting and bullying ASAP.

What are the Bible verses Leanne writes the Turners name next to?

Things get really freaky when Leanne asks for a little divine intervention. Her revenge on Dorthy and Sean coincides with an intense pray session and recording of their names in Leanne’s Bible. The verses she chooses are disconcerting, to say the least. When she discovers Dorothy sent her on a trek across town for nothing while she stayed back and had sex she read from Leviticus chapter 18.

The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, [even] their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs [is] thine own nakedness.Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; [for] they [are] her near kinswomen: it [is] wickedness.

Leviticus 18:16 and 18:17

This chapter primarily deals with sexual activity and incest. Considered the Holiness Code it lays out rules for intimacy with chapter 20 dealing primarily of punishment. The Book of Leviticus offers a code for morality and apparently Leanne has found Dorothy lacking.

Sean does not fair much better. His name is written beside 2 Samuel 19:24.

And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace.

2 Samuel 19:24

This verse references a sacrifice to the King. Mephibosheth refused to care or groom himself from the day his King departed until the day he returned. Sean is well-groomed, but maybe this is more an indictment on the fact that he was less emotional than Dorothy over the loss of his son. Now that Jericho is back(if he is) Leanne expects him to prostrate himself to his child. He’s not the worst parent ever, but he could stand to be a tiny bit more involved.

Omens and portents are everywhere. As the witches of Macbeth say, “By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes. As I listen to the discordant sounds of Gureckis’ unsettling score I can’t help but add, “By the ringing of the bells, there is someone under spells.” Whether it be Pinocchio reenvisioned or Judgement Day something is very wrong and I’m loving every minute of it. Catch up on all our coverage here.

4 thoughts on “Servant Episode 5: Cricket-Recap and Review- All Your Questions Answered

Comments are closed.