M. Night Shyamalan and Apple TV +’s Servant was a breakout hit last year. Between the wine-swilling and unexpected humor of Rupert Grint’s Julian, the chilling weirdness of resurrecting babies and biblical curses, and evangelical cults, there was something for everyone. Anyone who has been even a casual fan of Shyamalan could guess the type of story he would support. Very few anticipated the level of unsettling dread that Servant Season 1 brought to the screen each week. It was a blanket of tension that permeated every episode until the final explosive ending. Here is everything you need to know about Servant Season 2.
Leanne may or may not be a witch, female Jesus, the Devil, or a manipulated girl.
Servant Season 1 never clarifies what Leanne is, but her cult family sure thinks she is important. Somehow the Reborn doll Dorothy had been caring for came to life right after Leanne arrived, and more than a few strange things happened to Sean last season. Odd Pinocchio references, bible verses, and food choices all have a meticulous place in the grand mystery. Everything works in concert to lead the viewer to one plausible but possibly false fact after another until we are left reeling and confused, just like the Turner’s and Julian.
The young, innocent girl the Turner’s let into their home isn’t the guiltless naivete she appears to be. Looking carefully at the writing in Leanne’s bible and her resume leads to even more questions. The handwriting doesn’t match, which makes you wonder if the cult set up Leanne as a mole and she never ran away at all. Uncle George and Aunt May just came back for the baby. Leaving only a single blue balloon in the street.
Assuming Sean doesn’t have brain cancer, which is a possibility, he has been cursed to feel and taste nothing as he slowly turns into a block of wood, and the home has some serious structural damage in the basement. Uncle George tells him so in the finale, but we have no way of knowing if he is cursed by Leanne, George, or a medical ailment.
Leanne is the prized piece of a religious cult run by her relatives.
Leanne began living with the cult when she was a child after her family died in a fire she or Uncle George may have started. They are devout Old Testament believers who are rigid in their followings as they are with punishments. The cult has been committing crimes for years, as witnessed by Dorothy’s old reporter footage. Leanne even met Dorothy during one of those reports. All of this would make the viewer believe the cult has been planning this for years. Or if you believe their ominous platitudes, bad people are fated to have bad things happen to them. All we know is Leanne was last seen with the baby and the cult. Sean has no feeling and was burning his hand and seemingly feeling nothing, and the basement needs to be mud jacked.
Dorothy’s first baby Jericho died in a tragic accident while Sean was away.
We know exactly what happened to Dorothy’s baby. It was a terrible accident brought on by a lack of sleep and stress. Unfortunately, ever since, Dorothy has been deluding herself into believing it never happened, with Julian and Sean assisting in that deception. When the living baby Jericho was taken by Leanne at the end of Season 1, Dorothy began to have flashbacks to what happened. From the dates on the video recordings she has of her work, there was a six-year gap between 2011 and 2017. Perhaps in Season 2, we find out what happened in those lost years?
There is a real baby.
We still don’t know if the doll came to life or if Leanne somehow had a perfect look-a-like baby shoved in her suitcase. That is undoubtedly one of the mysteries that might get more attention this year, but more likely, we will get Uncle George and his group’s backstory. They are a scary bunch, and why they believe what they do should make for good storytelling.
Servant Season 2 ups the dread and the humor with standout writing and performances.
Nothing goes hand in hand with fear than comedy. I’m not sure what that says about us as a species that we laugh at horror movies as much as recoil from them. Servant Season 1 had its moments of levity, particularly with Julian(who makes wine drinking an art form rather than an alcoholic’s cry for help), but Season 2 is funnier still. It is easily some of the most clever writing I have seen in years. Those hilarious beats of absurdity serve(see what I did there) to shine the light into the depths of just how dark things have become.
Our core three are in a pressure cooker just waiting for the steam to release or the top to pop, whichever comes first. If Season 1 was a simmer, Season 2 is a barely controlled fire. Tony Basgallop and M. Night Shyamalan are not playing around this time. They are leaning all the way into the abject terror a family would feel after losing their baby not once but twice in the worst possible circumstances. Grint continues to be the standout of the series. Still, Lauren Ambrose’s brittle, narcissistic Dorothy and Toby Kebbell’s manic indifference of Sean shines as well now that the introductions are out of the way. Nell Tiger Free continues to bounce seamlessly between scared and fragile young women to a menacing threat.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t still secrets to reveal or mysteries to unravel. Rather we now get a chance to live with these characters a little more than when we did last season, which bathed everything in the sickly light of deception and incredulity. There is a reason all three act as they do, and we are just scratching the surface of their collective reasoning. Each gets their chance to “explain” their side of the story, and for fan-favorite Julian, he gets a heart to go along with his snarky voice.
Sean continues to make swoon-worthy food. I would literally die and let Leanne resurrect me with or without splinters for a chance to eat his gastronomic masterpieces. The lingering shots of his dish preparation are nothing short of food porn, and I love it. About the only thing Servant loves more than dead/undead babies and fancy meals are wine, and everyone must have got new livers between seasons because they are drinking even more. Of course, when your live-in nanny maybe brings your dead baby back to life and then runs off with him to rejoin her creepy religious cult, you are probably going to up your drinking game.
Servant Season 2 works because it feels like our own homes are invaded. In a pandemic world where the outside only intrudes through deliveries, calls, and news stories, we can relate to Dorothy, Sean, and Julian. We feel their anxiety on a visceral level. We laugh with them, we cry for them, we think they are beyond bizarre, but mostly we are horrified by what has happened to them and terrified we could be next. It is a testament to brilliant directing, acting, and writing that a show about a resurrected(maybe) baby named Jericho no less and his kidnapping by a disturbed young woman is not just entertaining but funny as Hell. Bleak times demand bleak stories, and Servant Season 2 makes babies of us all.
Servant Season 2 premiers on January 15th on Apple TV Plus with new episodes each Friday. Watch the Season 2 trailer here and prepare for another massive bowl of weird. Catch up on all our coverage here.
As the Managing Editor for 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 in Chief.