“Servant” review: Apple TV+ Shyamalan series starts strong
Servant hit Apple TV+ Thanksgiving day and after reviewing the first three episodes back-to-back, two things stood out. Firstly, the Turners have a really nice kitchen, and I can’t wait for episode four.
Servant is about Sean (Toby Kebbell) and Dorothy Turner (Lauren Ambrose) coming to terms with the loss of their infant child. The baby doll they’re given to look after is a tool to help Dorothy through a breakdown, but now that she’s going back to work, the couple has hired a nanny (Nell Tiger Free). Trust me, it gets weirder from there.
Keeping you guessing
Ninety minutes into the series, it is slow-paced, but not in a bad way. The show uses that time to twist and squirm, making you rethink where the story is heading. From the first scene, it was teasing theories. Could it be that the nanny is a grown-up doll coming back for her child?
By the end of Episode 1, every theory was thrown out with the bathwater. The same was true for the second and third episodes. So despite its slow pace, the show keeps you off-balance throughout and that’s a fantastic quality for it to have.
Lots of dark comedy
There are some delightful moments of dark comedy between the characters. Kebbell and Ambrose bounce off each other with biting dialogue that fits their conflict. With each moment, they become more believable as a married couple who know each other’s dirty little secrets. From their strange looks and the different ways they handle the doll, it is engrossing.
Rupert Grint plays Julian Pearce, Dorothy’s brother. His plodding bluntness borders on being politically incorrect. He’s an entertaining character despite his accent — think Ron Weasley after a very tough life and a bottle of scotch. So far, the accent is the show’s only weak point.
Mental health and food porn
Vegetarians and vegans should be warned: Sean Turner is a gastro chef who uses animals in his creations. Food is used heavily in the cinematography, and it’s clever. The brutality of how the meat is handled shares similarities with how the husband treats the doll. Together, it creates a darker comparison to how the husband is handling his grief.
This is the show’s underbelly: a poignant mental health story, with husband, wife, and brother dealing with things differently. It’s through the nanny’s presence that the dynamic of the Turner household changes and where the fantasy elements creep in.
Servant verdict: Binge
- Streaming on Apple TV+
- Created by Tony Basgallop
- Starring Toby Kebbell, Lauren Ambrose, and Nell Tiger Free
Three episodes are currently available, while new episodes are coming weekly from the series executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan. You can check out the first episode for free.
Shyamalan has clearly influenced Servant creator Tony Basgallop, which that’s a good thing. If you’re looking for something creepy to binge on, Servant is for you.
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