A Philadelphia couple is in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.
Back in November 2019, Apple TV+ launched with quite the good start, debuting two wonderful shows that audiences were able to watch right from the comfort of their own homes on day one of the new streaming service’s availability – Dickinson and Servant.
Servant is one of those bizarre shows that focuses on one simplistic storyline but manages to stay fresh thanks to its invigorating performances, its ever-present sense of dread, and jolts of tension. One of the biggest problems I had with season one of the show was that too many episodes felt anti-climatic. There would be these long build-ups that seemed to promise something insane right around the corner. The only problem? Nothing ever came.
And the show followed a pattern in every episode that got tiring after a while, but the season still ended up winning me over due to the performances, atmosphere, and central mystery of the show. The show’s writers have had plenty of time to tweak some of these writing problems for season two and gratefully, I can report that this is a big improvement over the previous season, although this season does suffer from a few episodes feeling like the same as prior episodes.
You’ll watch one episode and be entertained by it, and next week you’ll watch the newest one and think “Wait, didn’t I already see this kind of thing happen last week?”. Don’t worry though, this problem isn’t rampant in season two, it happens a few times and it doesn’t take away from the overall experience of the story, annoying as it may seem.
In my opinion Servant‘s biggest strength is without a doubt its atmosphere. There hasn’t been a single episode yet from both season one and two that’s felt lacking in that department. The show feels genuinely chilling even when there isn’t anything overtly scary happening on-screen. The talented people working behind the scenes have done a great job ensuring that we always have our guards up even when we aren’t necessarily sure what we are preparing ourselves for.
This creepy and unsettling atmosphere is further accentuated by the bold and striking cinematography from Mike Gioulakis and Jarin Blaschke. The two work wonders in Servant, making every single frame feel tight, claustrophobic, and disturbing. And the exact same thing can be said about the musical score by Trevor Gureckis, whose themes feel delightfully creepy and always have a tendency to leave goosebumps on my arms in various scenes.
All of the performances this time around feel just a little bit stronger than they did last time too. We already knew that both Lauren Ambrose and Toby Kebbell were the two strongest actors in season one, but something that I wished we got more of in that first outing was some stronger development for the babysitter Leanne (Nell Tiger Free).
Thankfully, season two essentially puts Leanne at the forefront of the story. She is in every episode and gets ample amounts of screen-time and development, and by the end of the season, I felt like I knew her a lot better than I did the first time around, but remarkably, she’s still the type of character that you’re unsure of and feel a little bit freaked out by.
This is a solid second season even if it never quite reaches any big home runs, save for the last episode which is the best of the whole series. Because of the shocking twists in the finale of season two, it looks as though season three may be the final outing for Servant, and it’s shaping up to be a wild one.
Overall Grade: B
Created by: Tony Basgallop
Network: Apple TV+