This article will contain full spoilers for Servant Season 2, Episode 2. Click here for our coverage of the season’s premiere.
After an outstanding season 2 premiere, Julia Ducournau returns to direct the second episode of the sophomore season, entitled “Spaceman”. Where we last left things, it appeared that Julian (Rupert Grint) was now complicit in maintaining Dorothy’s (Lauren Ambrose) false reality. Picking up on that, much of this week’s Servant focuses on the guilt this leaves him with.
We begin with Julian noticing a hole in the wall, presumably where Dorothy had discovered the hidden camera. Disconcertingly, he discovers the bathwater still running. When Julian goes downstairs to question her about it, he catches a familiar sight: Dorothy maniacally studying old video footage. This time, however, the footage is of Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) holding the baby Dorothy believes to be Jericho. Determination in her eye, it’s clear to Julian she’s not going to stop until she has that baby in her arms.
To lighten the mood, Julian hands Dorothy an unusual gift: a spaceman costume he was going to give the baby. She scoffs at the gift, telling Julian that his issue is that he doesn’t believe in anything. As she walks away, Julian puts the costume on the doll, exclaiming “who wants to go to space? You fucking do!”. It’s a hilarious little character moment that’s a testament to Grint’s bizarrely great performance and how prickly Julian is, even when he tries to do good.
Another quite funny scene follows, where Julian and Sean (Toby Kebbell) try to figure out what the next step is in their deception of Dorothy. It’s now abundantly clear Sean is in on the ruse, but two heads aren’t exactly better than one. Julian suggests doing a ransom, but the two can’t seem to agree on a price point. Part of Servant‘s appeal is the pleasure of seeing this situation spiral out of control, and this scene delivers.
The dark humor gives way to some real darkness, however, as the focus comes back on Dorothy. She carefully studies a video of the cult she reported on, wherein a man constantly flagellates herself. Horrified, she decides she has to go into the news station to try something completely outside the box. What’s her plan? Well, as we see later in the episode: to try and speak to “Jericho”. During a late-night newscast, she talks in a motherly voice before dropping a bombshell. On live TV, she announces that Leanne is missing and asks her to come home. It’s ridiculous, but given the ridiculous situation, it just might work?
Back to Julian and Sean. As the two continue to barter over a fake ransom, a familiar face shows up: their private detective John Roscoe (Phillip James Brannon). Roscoe seems to think only one day has passed since the christening, and when Julian and Sean inform him it’s been four days since then, he’s flabbergasted. Wouldn’t anyone be? Where was he that entire time? They seek to answer this by inviting Natalie (Jerrika Hinton) over to perform some hypnosis on him.
Here comes the episode’s best scene, and one of the scarier ones Servant has had so far. While he’s under, Roscoe looks like the fear of God has been put into him. He recalls having his hands tied, being taken to a dark room – apparently still in Philly, where “they’re on their knees for Him”. This “Him” apparently has a hook for a hand, and once He receives a (the?) baby, “He takes out the yes and he throws them away”. That line is the stuff of nightmares, and, expectedly, it shakes everyone in the room to the core. It could be hinting at anything, from the demonic to merely a sadistic cult leader, or was it all in Roscoe’s head? If it’s either of the former, that would signal a huge, potentially exciting direction change for Servant.
They send Roscoe home, unable to decipher what to do with this information. Julian and Natalie go home together. Unprompted, Julian goes on a monologue where he talks about wanting to go to space, to its very edge, and hit the back wall of it when he was a child. But when he realized he couldn’t “hit the back wall”, he lost interest. Julian starts to well up as Natalie comforts him, telling him that his problem is that he doesn’t commit himself to the help he needs to get for himself. It’s a harrowing character moment that provides previously unseen insight into Julian. He’s a man who, for all his brashness, deeply cares about the people around him, shouldering their guilt on his shoulders.
It’s a somber scene that would’ve been perfect to end on. But you know this show, so we’re left with one big cliffhanger. As Sean relaxes for the night, he receives a call from an unknown number. It’s Leanne! She asks why they’re trying to find her. Sean tries to probe her for questions, but the house begins quaking as if some outside force is doing it. He questions her again, to which she responds “why don’t you tell her what she did?” and hangs up. Sean is left to look through the emptied panels of the front door, as he’s no closer to finding Leanne, yet more frightened at the same time.
And that’s “Spaceman”! Although lacking in the propulsive nature of the season premiere, it’s a phenomenal episode in its own right. It layers on the character development while not skimping on the horror, mystery, and comedy that make Servant what it is. Creator Tony Basgallop is beginning to tip his hand as to what the endgame of this season is, and it appears that we’re heading towards some kind of showdown with the cult, including a grand return for Leanne. So long as he continues to get collaborators like Julia Ducournau to direct the hell out of that vision, I’m along for the ride, whether a hook-handed demon shows up or not. –James Preston Poole
Episode Rating: 9/10
Season Rating (So Far): 9.5/10
Servant is now available to stream on Apple TV+.