This article will contain full spoilers for Servant Season 2, Episode 9. Click here for our coverage of the previous episode.
Following a showstopper of an episode that firmly got me on Team Leanne, Servant pumps the brakes. In Servant terms, that means another tense chapter focusing on character with a smaller focus on the overarching story. They got the right man for the job: episode 7’s director Nimrod Antal.
Episode 9, entitled “Goose”, opens with Sean (Toby Kebbell), plucking the feathers off of – what else – a goose! As he arduously plucks away, the camera follows a single feather up from the backyard into Jericho’s room, where Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) is vacuuming. Between Sean’s jerky movements and Dorothy’s own nervous motions, Antal quickly establishes a mood of anxiety. After all, it is Christmas Eve, the date where they allegedly reunite with their child. Or, at least, a child. Dorothy couldn’t be more ready for the reunion, going to the room George was staying in, only to find him gone.
Leanne (Nell Tiger Tree) is hanging up Christmas lights when Dorothy comes in to inquire as to where George is. Leanne says George left. Naively, Dorothy accepts that he’ll be back later, not knowing of his fate in the previous episode. Downstairs, Sean is preparing a second goose. After all, Dorothy’s father is coming to visit with his new girlfriend: the young “Kourtney with a K”. Not even this act is spared from the dread that pervades Servant; the leering camera lingers on the guts coming out of the geese. Just like the pleasant surface of the goose gives way to the unfortunate reality of what’s inside, the Turner household struggles to maintain its facade of niceties in the face of the unspeakable darkness lurking beneath. It’s another in a long line of images that successfully, though non-subtly, reinforces the themes of the series.
Meanwhile Julian (Rupert Grint) and his father arrive in the midst of an argument about the situation. Here we meet Kourtney, exactly the airhead as presumed, who can’t keep up, leading to a classic comic outburst from Julian. In the kitchen, Leanne and Sean are working on the Christmas meal. Leanne explains to Sean that George isn’t coming back, withholding information about his death. She says that he’s not like her and wouldn’t break the rules to “bring back Jericho”. She asks what Dorothy will do if Jericho doesn’t come back. We then cut Dorothy standing on the stoop, looking solemn as she waits. It’s easy to forget just how sad the family’s situation really is until we get these kinds of beats.
Later, Sean and Julian get into an argument over whether George is coming back. Julian is sick of the looping nightmare and is ready to wash his hands of the whole ordeal, but Sean harbors a belief that George will do right by the family. There’s little time for more argument, as the dinner table is set and it’s time to eat. Julian, however, will not do this sober, immediately pouring himself another glass of wine. Typical behavior of him, yet the mood changes when Sean proposes a prayer.
Sean bares his soul here in an unforeseen way. In his prayer, he talks about how fortunate the family is, but says that it should be taken all away if they can have back what they lost. Dorothy thanks him for his beautiful prayer, but Julian claims the prayer to be “bullshit”. His father quickly tells him to be respectful of pain and others’ ways of coping with it, to which Julian quickly retorts that he “never gave a fuck about [his] pain”. The Turners, extended and immediate, are being torn apart by their various traumas, and it’s scenes like these that make it doubtful that certain wounds will ever be healed.
Dorothy hears someone pulling up, rushing out to the stoop believing it’s George. Unfortunately, it’s another couple pulling up. She cannot hide her heartbreak. Eventually, Sean joins her. These sit together in quiet hope. It’s a heartbreaking moment that really lets it set in just how much they both really do miss Jericho. At the table, Julian’s phone is ringing. It’s Natalie. Leanne gives him a knowing glance, as he excuses himself to the bathroom. While on the toilet, he sees missed call upon missed call from Natalie. Julian snorts cocaine in the bathroom. As the camera goes up, the walls grow ever taller, spiraling into something nightmarish. His demons are clearly not behind him.
As if his inner turmoil wasn’t complicated enough by this apparent relapse, Leanne confronts Julian in the kitchen. Julian seems regretful of his tryst with Leanne, which may have been brought on by this relapse or may have been the reason for it. However, she clearly isn’t. She says she feels different now, more powerful. She gives into temptation, pleasure, lust. Sin. It’s satisfying to see this character so guarded for so much of the series continue to break free of her chains. It’s just as unfortunate to see Julian struggle through a coke-fueled game of charades in the den, before once again excusing himself to the bathroom.
As he snorts more cocaine, a voicemail from Natalie echoes in his mind. The voicemail recalls an attempt to help him. But it may be too late. Julian collapses. His pulse stops. Kourtney finds him, and everyone is in panic mode. Sean repeatedly attempts to bring him back and it seems all hope is lost until Leanne comes in. With one pound of the fist to his chest, he is back to life. She has brought him back from the dead. Now he is bound to her. She is his angel. But is she the angel he needs? The dramatic possibilities of this are endless and I’m excited to see how it unfolds.
As Julian is whisked into the ambulance, Leanne goes downstairs to find a horrifying sight: a makeshift noose in the basement. She finds Dorothy upstairs, who, after questioning, refers to the device as a “contingency”. Leanne seems to realize how much Jericho really means to her, that she’d follow him into death. Before we can ponder that, the episode ends with a mysterious woman wearing a black veil, who promises answers about Jericho.
This is it. The goose may be well and truly cooked. It’s been an exasperating ride, in a season of television that’s been up there with Legion and Twin Peaks: The Return in its level of boldness. It would be easy to wonder if this will amount to anything major. Servant seems to have already answered this question. We’ve had episodes that expand the lore like last week and we’ve had episodes like this that dive deep into character. Both have combined to tell an increasingly mesmerizing story. Whatever next week brings us in the ending of this chapter of Servant, nothing will take away the path that has been laid. – James Preston Poole
Season Rating (So Far): 9.1/10
Servant is available to stream on Apple TV+.