Servant (TV series)
|Written by||Tony Basgallop|
|Directed by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||10 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original network||Apple TV+|
|Original release||November 28, 2019 –|
Servant is an American psychological horror television series created and written by Tony Basgallop who also executive produced alongside M. Night Shyamalan. The series is produced for Apple TV+ and debuted on November 28, 2019. Ahead of the premiere, Apple renewed Servant for a second season.
Six weeks after the death of their 13-week-old son, Philadelphia couple Dorothy and Sean Turner hire a young nanny, Leanne, to move in and take care of Baby Jericho, a reborn doll. The doll, which Dorothy believes is her real child, was the only thing that brought her out of her catatonic state following Jericho's death. While Sean deals with the grief on his own, he becomes deeply suspicious of Leanne.
Cast and characters
- Toby Kebbell as Sean Turner, a stay-at-home consulting chef, recently bereaved father and husband to Dorothy
- Lauren Ambrose as Dorothy Turner, a local television news reporter, recently bereaved mother, and wife to Sean
- Nell Tiger Free as Leanne Grayson, a mysterious young nanny from Wisconsin hired by the Turners
- Rupert Grint as Julian Pearce, Dorothy's brother and Sean's brother-in-law
- Mason and Julius Belford as Jericho
- Phillip James Brannon as Matthew Roscoe, Julian's private detective friend
- Tony Revolori as Tobe, Sean's commis chef
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date |
|1||"Reborn"||M. Night Shyamalan||Tony Basgallop||November 28, 2019|
|Leanne, a dour 18-year-old, moves into the Philadelphia home of Dorothy and Sean Turner as a nanny for "baby Jericho"—a reborn doll. Following the apparent crib death of the real Jericho at 13 weeks old, Dorothy suffered a "psychotic break", and a therapist suggested the doll as a coping method. Dorothy, who acts as though the doll is real, enthusiastically welcomes Leanne into their home as she returns to her own job. Sean, alone in his grief, is uncomfortable around the devoutly religious Leanne, who also acts as though the doll is real. When Leanne puts the baby down for a "nap", Sean discovers Jericho alive in his crib.|
|2||"Wood"||Daniel Sackheim||Tony Basgallop||November 28, 2019|
|Leanne appears mystified when Sean demands to know whose baby is in his house, telling him that it's his son. Dorothy acts "normally" when she sees Jericho, as though he'd never died. While both women are sleeping, Sean attempts to take Jericho to the police, but is suddenly unable to disarm the security system. He confides in Julian, Dorothy's brother, who, along with their father, is one of the few who knows Jericho died. Sean destroys a homemade straw cross Leanne hung above Jericho's crib. He begins finding painful splinters all over his body and loses his sense of taste. Dorothy begins having flashes of catatonia, the state she was in after Jericho's death six weeks earlier.|
|3||"Eel"||Daniel Sackheim||Tony Basgallop||November 28, 2019|
|Leanne passes out while watching Sean, a chef, kill and prepare eels in the kitchen. Using the address from her application letter to Dorothy, Julian and a private investigator, Roscoe, go to Medicine Bridge, Wisconsin, to investigate Leanne. They discover a burned out house that belonged to the Grayson family, and graves for Leanne, who was born in 2001 and died in 2007, and her parents, who also perished in the fire. Julian believes Leanne is an impostоr who is trying to get money from the family through blackmail. Leanne begins to emulate Dorothy.|
|4||"Bear"||Nimród Antal||Tony Basgallop||December 6, 2019|
|After realizing that Leanne is taking Jericho into her own bedroom at night, Sean installs a nanny cam in her room to spy on her. Flashbacks reveal Dorothy suffered multiple miscarriages before Jericho was born. Dorothy decides to take Leanne and Jericho to work with her to meet her coworkers, but Sean intervenes and insists Jericho is too young. However, while watching Dorothy reporting live from a murder trial, Sean spots Leanne in the background with Jericho, watching Dorothy. Leanne watches a DVD from 2011 of Dorothy's reporting, which appears to show Dorothy interviewing a young Leanne at a children's pageant.|
|5||"Cricket"||Nimród Antal||Tony Basgallop||December 13, 2019|
|Leanne is hurt and angered by both Dorothy and Sean's actions toward her. She feels betrayed by Dorothy, who sends her on an errand so she and Sean can be intimate, while Sean snaps at her after she brings up a yellow onesie from the basement. After Leanne writes their names in her Bible before her evening prayers, Dorothy wakes up with a sudden coldsore and Sean gets yet another unexplained splinter. When Julian sends by a girl posing as a nanny to try to get rid of Leanne, Leanne gets her revenge. As a crying Leanne flogs herself, a dead cricket returns to life.|
|6||"Rain"||Alexis Ostrander||Tony Basgallop||December 20, 2019|
|Sean goes out of town for business. After Leanne receives a card in the mail with "Found you!" scrawled inside, her bizarre Uncle George arrives. He unnerves Dorothy by exhibiting strange behavior and announces that Leanne is returning with him. Dorothy insists that he spend the night during a rainstorm, with Julian also staying to watch over things for Sean. Julian and Dorothy are alarmed to discover Jericho lying on the floor of his bedroom and George curled up like a baby in the crib. The following day, Leanne insists on staying, and Uncle George relents but says he will return with her Aunt May, whom she can't refuse. He gives the Turners a hand-carved marionette of a chef in honor of Sean, which Sean later finds hung from Jericho's mobile.|
|7||"Haggis"||Alexis Ostrander||Tony Basgallop||December 27, 2019|
|Natalie, Dorothy's friend and kinesiologist, is revealed as the "therapist" who suggested the reborn doll to bring Dorothy out of her catatonic state following Jericho's death. After a session with Dorothy, Natalie is critical when she discovers the Turners hired a nanny. Later, Natalie hears a baby cry and goes into Jericho's room, where she alarms Leanne, who grabs her by the hair and runs out with Jericho. Natalie comes over for dinner and tries to confront Dorothy. When Leanne is in the basement to get wine, a large crack appears in the concrete floor. Natalie hears a growl and goes into Jericho's room, where she discovers the baby. She is then chased out by a large wolfhound that follows her downstairs, where Julian kills it in front of a horrified Leanne. Julian claims the baby belongs to Leanne and may be adopted by the Turners. After Leanne takes her Bible into the room with the dead dog, the very alive dog runs out of the house.|
|8||"Boba"||Lisa Brühlmann||Tony Basgallop||January 3, 2020|
|Tobe and Leanne go out bowling, while Sean and Dorothy go out to a news awards gala. Julian is tasked with babysitting. When Julian goes into Jericho’s room to check on him, he finds a reborn doll in the crib. Tobe and Leanne have fun, but when Leanne kisses Tobe, he pulls back. Julian confronts Leanne about the doll and her past in Wisconsin. Leanne is dismissive of Julian’s questions. Julian holds the doll over the stair railing. He is about to drop the doll, but he hears a baby crying and he begins to search for a baby. After his search is unsuccessful, he makes a confession regarding Jericho.|
|9||"Jericho"||M. Night Shyamalan||Tony Basgallop||January 10, 2020|
|In a flashback, Jericho is born at home in a tub and Dorothy's placenta is kept in the freezer. While Sean is away judging a cooking show, Dorothy struggles to take care of Jericho. One day, an exhausted Dorothy forgets Jericho in a hot car and then falls asleep, leaving him to die of hyperthermia. This prompts Dorothy to enter her catatonic state. In the present, Dorothy's car alarm continuously go off, later revealed to be Leanne controlling it. When Leanne finds out how Jericho dies, she confronts Sean and Sean partly blames himself for his death and that is why he stayed with Dorothy.|
|10||"Balloon"||John Dahl||Tony Basgallop||January 17, 2020|
|Leanne arrives at the Turner house ahead of the rest of the family, who are coming from the church for the christening for baby Jerico to a reception at the house. Sean has cooked the placenta from Jericho's birth to be served to guests. While reviewing footage of the ceremony, Julian notices Uncle George standing with a woman, presumably Aunt May, at the periphery of the ceremony. He tells the investigator Roscoe to keep watch for them outside the house, and suggests he get rid of them if he sees them. Leanne realizes that she doesn't know where Jericho is, and looks around the house frantically for him, finally finding him with Aunt May in the nursery. Meanwhile Uncle George approaches Sean in the basement. Sean offers him the money he and Julian have set aside for this, but George refuses it. George induces Sean to share his true desire, to have his son back, and confess what afflictions he's had since Leanne came into the house, the splinters and loss of taste. May tells Leanne that she has interfered with God's plan for the Turners and must leave the family and let the baby be a doll. A police officer comes to the house looking into a missing child, but it is unrelated to Jericho. That night, Dorothy approaches the crib and sees the reborn doll instead of Jericho. Thinking she had recognized Aunt May, she reviews footage of her old newscasts. She finds a standoff between a cult, the Church of the Lesser Saints, led by May Markham in Wilmington, which ended in an explosion, fire, and gunshots. Sean holds his hand over the stove burner long enough to burn it severely, but feels nothing. Leanne leaves and her people find her in the street for a mass group hug. When we next see the street Leanne and all the people are gone.|
On February 27, 2018, it was announced that Apple Inc. had given the production a series order for a first season consisting of ten episodes. The series was created by Tony Basgallop who also wrote for the series and executive produced it alongside M. Night Shyamalan, Ashwin Rajan, Jason Blumenthal, Todd Black, and Steve Tisch. Production companies involved with the show include Blinding Edge Pictures, Escape Artists, and Dolphin Black Productions. Mike Gioulakis served as the series' cinematographer. On October 3, 2019, it was reported that series is scheduled to be released on November 28, 2019. Ahead of the series premiere, on November 22, 2019, it was announced that Apple had renewed the series for a second season.
Shyamalan stated that he envisions the series to stretch for 60 half-hour episodes, or six seasons.
On August 22, 2018, it was announced that Lauren Ambrose and Nell Tiger Free had been cast in leading roles. On November 30, 2018, it was reported that Rupert Grint had joined the main cast. On December 4, 2018, it was announced that Toby Kebbell had been cast in a starring role.
Servant was filmed in Philadelphia from November 2018 to March 2019. Exterior scenes took place in Philadelphia's Center City near Spruce and 21st Streets. A set for the interior of the Turner home was built in a former paint factory in Bethel Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 85% based on 46 reviews, with an average rating of 6.88/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Though Servant's slithering mystery often wanders into dark, crowded corners, its claustrophobic atmosphere and powerful performances build enough tension to keep viewers hooked." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100 based on reviews from 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
In January 2020, Francesca Gregorini filed a lawsuit against Servant producers including Tony Basgallop and M. Night Shyamalan, the production companies involved, and Apple TV+, alleging copyright infringement for her 2013 drama film, The Truth About Emanuel. Basgallop and Shyamalan responded that neither had seen her film and that any similarity is coincidence.
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