Back in 2011, Elizabeth Olsen was far from becoming a Marvel megastar. In search of his own voice, he starred in what to this day remains one of the best fiction films about sects: Martha Marcy May Marlene.
The tape, directed and written by Sean Durkin, stood out for a stifling atmosphere. The viewer could not determine if what was happening on the screen was the consequence of a paranoia of the main character or if it was a manhunt for a woman who had physically escaped from a macabre cult, but was psychologically still tied to it.
That overwhelmed feeling and the questions are repeated in Servantthe Apple TV + series that this March comes to an end after four seasons. Despite the fact that Tony Basgallop (The Consultant) is the director, this work is known as “the M. Night Shyamalan series”, because he works in the executive production and the series exudes all those elements known in the productions of the Indian-American filmmaker.
It is recognized, for example, that in the first seasons, it is impossible to have a verdict on what we are seeing on the screen: Is it a collective hysteria, the product of a family loss or indeed a supernatural intervention? These kinds of questions have already been raised in Shyamalan’s films, such as the village either The Happening.
A study in evil
Servant part of a very concrete fact: the death of a baby. When the Turner family believes that their tragedy was just a nightmare, they will discover that, on the contrary, it is just the beginning of an inexplicable journey in which personal relationships rot and crack, like the old house they inhabit. All this motivated by the presence of an enigmatic nanny, Leane Grayson (Nell Tiger Free).
Nell, who we saw in Game of Thrones as Myrcella Baratheon, the sister of the sinister Joffrey, is the star of the series. It begins as a girl haunted by her past, victim of a cult. He struggles to adjust to the freedom offered to him by his bosses, the parents of the resurrected Jericho, TV presenter Dorothy Pearce-Turner (Lauren Ambrose) and chef Sean Turner (Tobby Kebbel).
However, as is customary in Shyamalan’s workthat apparent fragility of the nanny will lead to something else. The old house of a bourgeois couple will become a prison because Jericho’s life is literally linked to Leane’s. The nanny goes from being a companion, a caregiver, to a second mother. towards the end of the series will occupy all the spaces of the family, conquering even the environment of the progenitor.
To enjoy Servant you have to be very patient. The first season is practically a contemplative challenge. We are not sure what happens. It’s a drama? What is terrifying in the coexistence of a couple of snobs, who seem to be in love with the idea of paternity rather than putting it into practice? It is precisely in the details that the series separates itself from anything we have seen before.
Using elements of the most basic terror, such as giving life to a doll or the presence of the mysterious babysitter, the series delves into the daily life of the Turners and how power generates disparate relationships, in which it is abused, even with the approval of the victim. It is no coincidence that the mother practices a profession dominated by image and the father imposes himself with a title that allows him to exploit others: chef.
When Leanne enters the dynamic of this couple, it seems destined to be the repository of the frustrations of a lost physical love. In this sense, the way in which she must carry out her orders brings her closer to slavery. Nothing far from what we suppose can happen in wealthy families with servants. We discover, however, that there is a deep connection between the caregiver and the baby, which will affect everything from the moment they arrive at the house.
Faced with this change in relationships, the viewer asks himself the question: who should we really fear? In the first two seasons of Shyamalan’s series, the answer is not easy. We hate Jericho’s biological parents, for their neglect of what is brewing and that will end up taking its toll on them. At the same time, we grow distant from Leanne, who is consumed by accumulating power and paranoia.
In maternity, men are superfluous
the script of Servant He is witty, especially when he uses black humor to highlight some things about living together during the first years of babies. This is how Sean and Julian Pearce (Rupert Grint), Jericho’s uncle, play supporting roles in raising the little boy. They end up subjugated by feminine power.
Unable to resolve the differences between the two women who lead the household -Dorothy and Leanne-, during many passages these men act as simple observers or executors, intellectually invalidated to offer substantive solutions.
The above is an example of how a supposed horror series becomes an examination of our society. Here paternity is a burden and for this, the main characters are stripped of any sentimentality. Precisely, when the camera points towards that another way to examine family ties, Servant it becomes an exquisite dish, defying social conventions and moral rules.
Unfortunately, like all of Shyamalan’s work, the closure is unsatisfactory. Although in the last two seasons there is an attempt to explain, or at least give more details about the fantastic elements, the series remains at a standstill. It seems that the fact have shortened its duration (it was intended for six seasons according to its creators), it ended up hastening some decisions that broke with that brilliant examination of the intimacy of the Turners.
At the end of Servant we are going to meet lots of loose ideas that the viewer must put together. It is not an easy job. But more than the abrupt end, the important thing is to be aware that the keys have already been counted. Thus, the true value of the series is not in its conclusion, but in those questions that it leaves in the air.