‘Servant’ Season 2 Finale Recap/Review: “Josephine”
This article will contain full spoilers for Servant Season 2, Episode 10. Click here for our coverage of the previous episode.
And now, the end is near. And so we face the final curtain. My friends, I’ll say it clear. I’ll state my case of which I’m certain: Servant season 2 has been a whirlwind journey so far. Even when it stumbles, it remains with a shadow of a doubt the boldest thing to come out of mainstream television since Twin Peaks: The Return. It should be no surprise, then, that the second chapter of creator Tony Basgallop’s odyssey ends in an appropriately bombastic fashion.
Once again directed by Ishana Night Shyamalan, “Josephine” picks up right where the last episode left off. A woman in a black veil introduces herself as Aunt Josephine (Barbara Sukowa), claiming that it’s time to put an end to this whole mess. If only. Josephine, though presenting herself as a figure of kindness, radiates eeriness. The veil obscures much of her figures, and her speech feels archaic, sinister.
READ: ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Review: “A Classic Fantasy Epic Full of Heart”
That doesn’t stop her from trying to “comfort” Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose). She tells Dorothy that she empathizes and that no one should bear such weight as she does. She claims to be able to give Dorothy peace, but first, she needs to talk Leanne (Nell Tiger Free). Leanne, already arming herself, panics, telling Sean not to leave her alone with Josephine. Seeing an opportunity to get his baby back, he relents to Josephine’s wishes.
Yet first, Josephine hands Dorothy “the truth”: the onesie that Jericho died in. This sends Dorothy into a frenzy, locking the door to Jericho’s room. She puts the onesie on the baby doll. It seems, finally, she is beginning to piece together what really happened to Jericho. Meanwhile, in the attic, Josephine gives Leanne her “final warning”.
She places the Betamax tape we’ve heard so much about into the player. What we get on screen is one last wallop of Servant‘s dark humor for the season: a kitschy training video from the cult Church of the Lesser Saints. A mustachioed, corny host takes us through the “reunion ritual”, re-enacted by him and some very awkward members of the church. The first step is Invocation. The person performing the ritual plays music that relates to their time on Earth, then brutally injures themselves. Next is Consecration. The subject of the reunion is blinded, then pieces of their limbs are torn off with a hot knife. Ouch. Finally comes Emancipation, wherein the subject is burned and reunited with God.
READ: SXSW 2021: ‘The Oxy Kingpins’ Review
To a T, this ritual seems to match exactly what Uncle George was about to do to Leanne and clarifies exactly what “reunite them by Christmas Eve” was referring to. One thing it also hints toward is that maybe this cult is cruder than being actual angels, but moreso humans with strange powers that use crude methods. It’s an interesting wrinkle, and the scene is another idiosyncratic reminder of why Servant is unafraid to be itself. Even when answering questions, it goes in an unexpected direction.
Scared out of her wits, Leanne begins to capitulate, repeating a prayer from Josephine. Regardless, Josephine makes one huge mistake. She asks Leanne to “forget Dorothy Turner”. At this point, it’s fair to say that despite their rough patches, Leanne came to the Turners because she wanted to help Dorothy. So, she refuses, and in return, Josephine throws oil into Leanne’s eyes that temporarily blinds her. And the struggle begins.
Over at Jericho’s room, Dorothy has finally come to the realization that… the cult has apparently killed Jericho? It’s another way of avoiding her finally facing the truth, but it nevertheless causes Dorothy to start preparing to hang himself. Then, in a vulnerable moment, Sean tells Dorothy that he needs her and that he’ll never forgive her for what she’s about to do. It’s a beautiful, earnest beat that shows how the family has grown closer together over the second half of this season. It doesn’t feel forced in the slightest and provides a nice cap to the arc between Sean & Dorothy being at odds that’s been brewing since day one.
Meanwhile, Leanne attempts to run away from Josephine. Shyamalan directs the absolute hell out of this sequence. Despite being a gritty sequence set in a cellar, it takes on an epic scope of good vs. evil. Josephine pins Dorothy down, heating up the knife, and violently begins tearing the flesh off of Leanne’s arm. It’s a gruesome moment that, more than anything, reminded me “oh my god, I care about what’s happening to Leanne. Servant really has changed over the past year!”.
Before it’s too late, Dorothy comes to save the day, hitting Josephine in the head with a shovel. It’s a crowd-pleasing moment that had me giddy. But what had me even giddier was whenever Leanne tells Dorothy that she will bring back her son. Surely, we can’t be going there, right?
As Dorothy goes upstairs, Leanne rests. That is, until Josephine springs back up for one last scare. Leanne is having none of it. She tears off the black veil, revealing a scar underneath. In the type of one-liner that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger blush, Leanne proclaims “vanity is a sin, Aunt Josephine” and stabs her through the eyeball. No more comment on this. The grandeur speaks for itself.
Upstairs, Dorothy is ecstatic about the possibility of Jericho coming to life. Sean realizes it’s time to tell her the truth. As he starts to do so, a sound comes through the baby monitor. The Turners go into Jericho’s room only to Leanne… holding a resurrected Jericho. All is well. The Turners have their child, and they can be happy again. With a guardian (fallen) angel on their side.
READ: ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Review: “Superheroes Become The Modern Myth”
Servant season 2’s finale is the satisfying third act of a summer blockbuster for prestige TV. All the threads are brought to a head and concluded, enemies team up, and the evil is extinguished. It’s fist-pumping goodness that seems tailor-made to satisfy fans of the show without feeling forced. And like a good summer blockbuster, it has an ending teasing the next go-around.
As Leanne sits in her room by herself, she talks about a darkness growing inside of her. Instead of fearing it, she embraces it, knowing that this is who she is meant to be. The camera pans to the inside of the walls where Josephine’s charred body is located, and Leanne proclaims that she’s started a war.
Sheesh. As if this season didn’t do enough already, we’ve wrapped up things by establishing that season 3 will involve a holy war of sorts. If anyone can whether it, it’s the Turners and Leanne teamed up. Whatever strangeness season 3 brings, Servant has earned my trust to do whatever it wants. Most importantly, thank you for reading our recaps of season 2. I hope to see more fans of the show accumulate the longer it goes on, but no matter what, I’ll be here to cover it next year. – James Preston Poole
Season Rating (So Far): 9.2/10
Servant is available to stream on Apple TV+.
I don’t know what show you’re watching, but this season has been an absolute mess waste of time that could have been covered in a single episode. Jericho disappears with Leanne and reappears 10 episodes later. None of the in-between matters or has much explanation of what’s going on at all. This is not good storytelling. It is meandering and reminiscent of Lost. The writers only knew then, as they do now, where the story started and where it ends. The rest of the ride should be fun, but with no real explanation, my guess is it will fall flat in the end and leave questions completely unanswered.