If you're still unfamiliar with Servant, created by M. Night Shyamalan for Apple TV+, here's what you've missed so far: After the death of their infant son Jericho, Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) and Sean Turner (Toby Kebbell) fill the void of their lost baby with an eerily realistic doll. Refusing to acknowledge the loss of her son, Dorothy continues to mother the doll while Sean neglects to inform friends and family of the passing of Jericho...
...To perpetuate the ruse further, the young nanny Leeanne (Nell Tiger Free) moves into the Turner household and begins caring for the doll. However, at some point the doll turns into a real baby. Where did the baby come from? And who is the servant?
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 5 AHEAD
Episode 5 of Servant, entitled “Crickets” once again allows Nimrod Antal a directorial interpretation of the events of the Turner home. Hitting the halfway point of the season, we finally get a different perspective of the unravelling events as both Turners remain mostly absent in this episode. Instead, this episode comes from Leeanne’s point of view and we see how from her perspective the house, family, and neighborhood are not what they seem from the first half of the series. Leading up to this point, most of the story came from a male gaze and our interpretations of various characters became skewed due to relying on Sean as the primary perspective. With a Leeanne-centered story we realize all the unexplainable events might go beyond the capabilities of the servant. So, previous assumptions come into question. Is Leeanne actually just a small-town girl alone in a big city where everyone around her lies and talks poorly about her? Or does some sort of supernatural presence follow her?
Straying from the non-religious Turners to the more devout Leeanne, this episode relies heavily on more sacred themes. However, Leeanne’s level of religion still seems hard to pinpoint. In the earlier episodes, her praying seems more as a show as she simply repeats the same words over and over. In Nimrod’s episodes, the nanny’s dedication to religion seems more for her benefit and not an act. When under stress or duress, Leeanne relies on her religion, but does she use it for comfort? Or vengeance?
Through the eyes of Leeanne, we witness a different point of view of the Turners and see the off-handed cruelness they bestow on each other and their nanny. First, the intense splinters continue to find Sean (and only Sean) and through this phenomena, the spouses’ disdain and biting remarks for each other only seem to intensify. Also, we see a change in Dorothy’s relationship with Leeanne as the friendliness gives way to a master/servant interaction. Through a misleading request, Mrs. Turner convinces the nanny to partake in a lengthy erranding to get the young girl out of the house. After realizing the deception, Leeanne turns to prayer to release some of her frustration.
Following Leeanne through her daily tasks, the show introduces another nanny from the neighborhood, and she becomes interested in the Turners. A super suspicious Wanda (SJ Son) worms her way into the house and is full of questions and takes pictures of everything. However, Leeanne’s love for children blinds her and instead of distrusting her new “friend”, she willingly watches the child in Wanda’s charge. As if being treated poorly by the Turners was not bad enough, Leeanne faces further disappointment when she learns Wanda was simply hired by Dorothy’s brother Julian (Rupert Grint) with the intention of making Leeanne leave.
With more attention on the nanny, we for the first time see Leeanne express some serious emotions when Julian plays a little switch-a-roo with the nanny’s beloved Campbell’s soup for dog food. No longer the stoic unemotional character, we see a young woman overwrought with betrayal and lack of acceptance. Episode 5 definitely creates a more sympathetic approach to Leeanne and causes us to question the reliability of the previous narrator. Further aligning with the religious themes of this episode, a plague settles upon the house as an intended ingredient accidently becomes set free and Leeanne’s mundane life becomes covered in live crickets. The chirping follows the nanny throughout the house and everywhere she looks at least one of the locust-like pests appears. At first, whenever Leeanne finds a stray cricket, she catches it and returns it to the container in the basement. However, after a day of ridicule and trickery from everyone around her, she takes a lone insect from her bedroom and traps it under a cup, leaving it to die.
At the end of the episode, Leeann finds an unlikely ally in Sean. The husband takes a surprising turn as he asks Leeanne to assist with the tedious job of flavoring the remaining crickets. While working side by side at the table, the nanny alludes to an oldwife’s tale told to her by an aunt that when a cricket enters your house it meant something bad was coming. So, based on the number of free-roaming crickets in the house something very bad is coming. Sean openly admits he needs the nanny. Using Leeanne as a muse, the chef relies on her to taste his most recent creations and she provides suggestions on how to make his strange concoctions more palatable. So, currently the relationship of servant/master becomes more blurred between Sean and Leeanne and raises questions of how these two characters will interact in future episodes.
Ending the long day in her bedroom, the religious undertones come to a head as Leeanne resorts to self-flagellations. But, what does she believe she is being punished for? And where is the secret nanny cam Sean installed in the previous episode? If Sean is still recording why is he not doing anything? As the camera backs away from Leeanne, her whimpers of pain become mixed with insect chirping as we see the once dead cricket, is now alive again.
Don't miss Episode 6 of Servant, "Rain", when it drops on Apple TV+ December 20th.
By Amylou Ahava