Apple TV’s Servant
Season 1, Episode 1: “Reborn”
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Written by Tony Basgallop
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Wood” – click here
A rainy night. Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) and Sean (Toby Kebbell) Turner welcome a young woman named Leanne Grayson (Nell Tiger Free) into their beautiful home. They’ve brought her to live there as a nanny. Dorothy takes Leanne on the grand tour of the place, including her personal living quarters. The nanny’s a quiet young lady, and the parents are trying to adjust to having someone moving in with them, let alone an employee. They have dinner together to get to know one another. It’s awkward. Dorothy offers the young lady wine, forgetting she’s not of age, and things get more awkward.
Afterwards, the couple argue. Sean doesn’t want “to be judged” if he’d like to have a drink or jerk off in the middle of the day, whereas Dorothy’s trying her hardest to make things ultra normal. Leanne settles in after dinner, and Sean catches a glimpse of her praying by her bed, albeit he stares a little too long, a little bit lusty.
All’s normal in the Turner house. Until it isn’t.
See, the Turners lost a child a while ago— their 13-week-old baby boy. They got themselves a reborn doll. They named it Jericho, like their real boy. It was the only thing that helped Dorothy after she went catatonic following the loss. The doll’s treated exactly like a living, breathing child.
The couple try to live a normal life. Leanne plays along with the reborn fantasy. It’s actually only when Dorothy’s around that the act goes on for Sean. He encourages the nanny to put the doll down when his wife’s gone. Leanne prefers to “keep up this charade.” Sean isn’t quite sure what to make of the young woman, whose belief in the doll rivals that of his wife. He snoops around her room. He looks through her drawers, pricking his finger bloody on something: it’s a wood and twine cross. He puts things back as they were, but he’s left unsettled.
Dorothy gets home from her first day back to work— she’s a TV news reporter— and Sean’s not in a great mood. She asks about Jericho, like any mother would her child. She wishes the baby were still up, so she goes to read him a story. Sean ends up finding that wood and twine cross hanging in a window. He asks his wife whether she knew the nanny was religious. He’s creeped out. Dorothy thinks he’s a “prehistoric man” acting out because he’s territorial over his own home and probably wants to fuck the nanny.
We get more of the sceptical side re: baby Jericho when Julian turns up— Dorothy’s brother. He and Sean sit down for a few drinks. They talk about the reborn doll and how far the situation will go. Julian worries things are going much too far with a live-in nanny, warning his brother-in-law this could be over the edge.
It’s all weird in the Turner home now. Sean becomes increasingly unnerved by the doll, actually throwing it to the floor when Dorothy hands Jericho over so she can use the bathroom. He’s seen by Leanne. Poor Dorothy keeps having troubles with mastitis. She’s in pain. Leanne helps out by massaging Dorothy’s breasts to free up the blockage. It’s an odd moment of both intimacy and relief between the two women.
Leanne takes a day to herself, leaving Sean at home with the doll. He hears a cry over the baby monitor and rushes upstairs, seeing the wood and twine cross hovering above the crib, and inside is a living Jericho, not a doll at all. Like magic.
A very intriguing, wonderfully slow burning episode. Stellar opening.
Father Gore’s excited to see more. Beautifully disturbing premise, and some top notch acting already. “Wood” is next.