This article will contain full spoilers for Servant Season 2, Episode 7. Click here for our coverage of the previous episode.
After a one-two punch of all-time best episodes, it was only natural that Servant‘s second season couldn’t maintain the momentum forever. Thankfully, the follow-up episode, entitled “Marino”, doesn’t deflate things much at all. Director Nimrod Antal (Predators, Vacancy) serves up a classic Servant caper that ever-so-slightly builds on the revelations of “Espresso”.
The episode opens right where left off. George (Boris McGiver) curses Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) for her alleged role in the Marino family tragedy. During his tirade, he seemingly goes catatonic, as Leanne runs up to the attic in a flurry of tears. Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) and Julian (Rupert Grint) try to make sense of this state. Dorothy, of course, thinks he is faking. Up in the attic, Leanne is in the midst of hysteria, gathering her things to leave. She blames herself for what happens while Sean tries to calm her. She says the Marinos were a family just like the Turners, and she was supposed to protect them. Ominously, that somebody “reads the signs” and sends them where they have to go. As he leaves her, Leanne self-flagellates violently.
Unable to deal with George’s state any longer, Dorothy puts in a phone call to a colleague at her news station. She finds out that the cult did not perpetrate the Marino shooting, as she once thought. It was the father who did it in a gruesome homicide. To most that would end things. Dorothy being Dorothy, however, fixates on the fact that one of the sons, Sergio, is missing.
Meanwhile, Leanne – hearing this news – watches an old video of Sergio streaming video games. During the video, Sergio calls Leanne over to make an appearance. Though timid, she acquiesces. This video shows an amazing amount of care that Leanne shows towards the boy. Moreover, her reaction is completely gutting. It’s stunning how the series has managed to make Leanne a lot more human this season, even if the question of her divinity hangs in the air. She seems to genuinely care about the work she does, and seeing her (quite literally) beat herself up is gutting. Nell Tiger Free, series creator Tony Basgallop, and episode writer Ishana Night Shyamalan deserve all the credit for finally pulling the curtain back on the human (?) inside Leanne.
“Marino” goes full throttle with the tension upon the arrival of Officer Reyes. Officer Reyes notes the prior connection between the Turners and Leanne, who was supposed to be at the Marinos when the tragedy occurs. Reyes acts to look around. What ensues is a delightful bit of black comedy. Dorothy tries to get Reyes out of the house. Julian tries to hide George, who sporadically yells “Leaaaaanne”. And Sean tries to get Reyes away from the attic. It’s hilarious in the way that Antal absolutely refuses to let us breathe. Damn near every shot features a near-miss of Reyes almost stumbling upon something she shouldn’t see. It’s a real-life, macabre Looney Tunes!
Naturally, Reyes makes her way up to the attic. What she finds is not Leanne, but it’s not much better. An extreme amount of wooden crosses adorn the room. Sean knows he’s busted. Or is he? Reyes somehow mistakes this as Dorothy’s grief and tells Sean he needs to keep an eye on her. Eventually, she leaves, and a sigh of relief is had. Each week, we tune into Servant thinking the Turners can’t get out of their predicament, and somehow they always do, simultaneously digging a deeper and deeper hole for themselves in the grand scheme.
Following Reyes’s visit, we discover that someone found Sergio’s body. This sends Leanne deeper and deeper into madness as she begins to rip the crosses in the attic. Before we get to that, we have some other business to address. A wooden box arrives at the door, snapping George out of his catatonia. The box contains a Betamax tape he must show to Leanne, as well as the note “Reunite Them By Christmas Eve”, a dagger, and some vials. This seems to be some kind of strange ritualistic equipment used for resurrection, or so we think. The episode ends with Leanne continuing to rip down the crosses before the window above her shatters.
The trajectory of Servant is starting to come into focus. This is the story of a fallen angel – Leanne – whose decisions cause grief for families and the people around her. The Turners are merely the hapless folks who are our viewpoint. At least, I think that’s what it’s about. It’s been a hell of a ride so far, any direction would be welcome. This episode reminds me why I fell in love with the show in the first place: its dark comedy, people getting in and out of impossible situations, and an ever-widening tinge of the supernatural. Season 2 of Servant may tread a bit of water near the end. Still, you could do much worse when it comes to prestige TV. – James Preston Poole
Season Rating (So Far): 9/10
Servant is available to stream on Apple TV+.