The following contains spoilers for Season 3 Episode 3 of Apple TV+’s Servant. For our recap/review of last week’s episode, click here.
It’s become clear over the course of the past two episodes that this season of Servant is going to be the slowest of burns. This course of action on creator Tony Basgallop’s part isn’t a misstep so much as it is curious. From the get-go, season 2 is a pressure cooker of unbearable tension and nervous dark comedy. Season 3 goes for a textured, contemplative look at paranoia and guilt. In this week’s installment, “Hair”, it works a bit better.
Servant directing newcomer Carlo Mirabella-Davis, who helmed 2019’s excellent Swallow, makes a statement within the opening moments of “Hair”. During a flashback, Julian (Rupert Grint) discovers Jericho dead in the crib, flies swarming around him. Dorothy is catatonic and Julian has no idea what to do other than vomit. He calls his dad, on the verge of hysteria trying to communicate what has happened. No matter how much time has passed since the reveal of what really happened to Jericho in season one, it’s still such an unthinkable thing to happen that seeing Julian’s initial reaction to the incident adds a more horrifying texture. Moreover, it’s a perfect segue into the present day, where his storyline anchors the better part of the episode.
Julian remains unconvinced that Jericho is the real Jericho. His girlfriend, Vera (Sunita Mani), who is seemingly aware of the truth of Dorothy’s situation (and seemingly unaware of Leanne’s resurrection of Vera), brainstorms with him in a car outside the Turner residence. They figure if they want to prove anything, they’ll need some biological evidence. Julian meets with Roscoe (Phillip James Brannon), a private investigator and a member of the Servant supporting cast we haven’t seen in some time. Roscoe is freaked out by even being involved with Turners anymore, after the trauma he endured at the hands of the Church of the Lesser Saints. After some convincing, he agrees to help Julian find out whose baby Jericho is.
There’s a sense of kindred spirits between the two. Julian and Roscoe are both victims of the whirlwind that the Turners bring upon themselves. I like to think that Julian’s had enough of the madness, having endured the trauma of seeing Jericho’s state firsthand. He doesn’t want the truth. He needs it. Julian practically manhandles “Jericho” trying to get a sample of his hair. After collecting the sample, he sneaks under Leanne’s bed to see if he can find one of hers. Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) interrupts this, only to be met with the excuse that he is looking for his watch. Julian, of course, is already wearing his watch.
As he is prone to do, Julian goes for a hail mary. He acts like he misses the affair between him and Leanne, and at first, she is receptive to this. Until, of course, things go awry. He tries to pull a piece of her hair out and she promptly kicks him out of the room. He doesn’t know what to do, since Roscoe is due to arrive, so he grabs a hairbrush belonging to Dorothy and sends her sample along with Jericho’s. Later, the results arrive, and Julian’s worst fears are confirmed: the baby is not Dorothy’s. His immediate instinct is to confront Dorothy with his newfound information. Julian heart-wrenchingly tells Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) that the baby is not hers. Furthermore, he recounts finding Jericho dead.
Dorothy looks on with horror. Although not at Julian’s revelation, but by her belief that he’s relapsed. Julian looks to be on the verge of a breakdown, unable to emotionally handle breaking this news, when the doorbell rings. A mother from the “Mommy and Me” get-together comes to collect her diaper bag… and her hairbrush. Turns out the hair from “Dorothy” Julian sent is actually from a random mother. Dorothy calls Julian out for his invasion of privacy, storming out. In any other show, we could breathe a sigh of relief. Make no mistake, this is Servant: this is only another layer to the purgatory Julian finds himself in being in the orbit of the Turner family.
The rest of “Hair” is fairly unremarkable. Sean (Toby Kebbell) befriends some homeless teens in the park, feeding them. Dorothy uses this to get a news story out of it. There are some fun Servant hi-jinks, but nothing much of note happens with this subplot. The most important it has comes at the end of the episode when Leanne looks at the window to see the teens watching her. Clearly, they’re from the Church of the Lesser Saints. Even more clearly, the Turners are about to clash with them. The die is cast, gears are turning, next week’s looking exciting.
“Hair” is an impressive episode of the series despite its slower pace. Exploring the degradation of Julian at the hands of this very messed-up situation makes for a great seasonal foundation. Now that I’ve adjusted to what Servant‘s approach is this season, I think I can take a few more of these more introspective episodes. –James Preston Poole
Episode Rating: 8.5/10
Season Rating: 8.5/10
Servant seasons 1-2 and the first two episodes of season 3 are now streaming on Apple TV+.