Thursday, November 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'Servant' - Leanne Mimics the World Around Her While Julian Researches Her Past in 'Eel'

AppleTV+'s Servant - Episode 1.03 "Eel"

Sean enlists Dorothy's brother, Julian, to monitor her relationship with Leanne.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of AppleTV+'s Servant.

"Eel" was written by Tony Basgallop and directed by Daniel Sackheim

Leanne mimics the world around her instead of offering unique personality traits herself. That is strange and unsettling. It means she initially presented as a timid young woman exploring the city for the first time. That's a familiar narrative. One that allows Sean and Dorothy to lower their guards and accept her into their lives. Sean didn't think it would be a big deal to hire a nanny even though there was no child to care for. He saw it as a great opportunity that anyone would be lucky to embrace because it came with no real responsibilities. And yet, Leanne grasped onto Dorothy's love for Jericho and insistence that he was still alive. By the end of the premiere, that seemed to be true. A baby has returned to the Turner household. It's unusual for Sean. Of course, it's also frustrating that neither he nor Julian have called the police in the hopes of figuring out exactly what is going on here. The Turners do present as a well-to-do white couple who would blindly assume that the police are the protectors of justice and ensure that everything turns out fine in the end. There isn't a real reason why they would try to keep all of this private. That instinct first emerged when Jericho died suddenly in his sleep. The couple agreed to keep that quiet as a way for them to try to contain the fallout and mourn the loss on their own first. They have a quaint and intimate life together as well. Sure, Dorothy reports the news. She is seen by thousands of people every day. However, she still has a fair amount of intimacy and agency within her home. Her profession doesn't have to serve as a distraction to everything that defines her in her personal life. That can be an uplifting message. But again, the show is very much presenting a case of mystery where no one quite knows what's going on with Leanne. She doesn't feel free to share the details of her past. Dorothy feels the importance of getting her to open up. She even wants them to become best friends. That's the relationship she wants. She needs someone who loves her son just as much as she does. That may not be Sean. That's probably because of his inability to accept that everything is fine when a strange baby has suddenly appeared in their lives - rightfully so too. That first presented as something potentially supernatural happening in this world. There is always something suspicious with the way that Leanne observes this world and the people who live in it. Her religion may be the only practice of her own that she carries. Everything else may simply be her repeating the actions she has observed from others. She is growing more and more comfortable within this home. Dorothy wants her to feel welcomed. They have already seen each other in some incredibly vulnerable moments. That has forged a strong bond. But again, Leanne appears to be present at all times to monitor what the Turners are during as a couple and as parents. She may be trying to step into Dorothy's role. That may not be a stretch given that a baby was seemingly brought back to life. Julian wants to believe that this is all just an elaborate scam where Leanne is taking advantage of a vulnerable couple. She has bought into this false reality in the hopes of scoring a lucrative pay day after stealing the identity of a child who died in a fire a decade ago. That's the sensible explanation to him. And yet, Sean is still in the house having to take care of the child now apparently in his care. That's where his focus suddenly is. It just comes out of a very slow-moving narrative. In the end, it may all be worth it by seeing what the major twists are. Right now though, it's simply details that could add up to something more enriching once Leanne presents her true colors and abilities in this world. Until then, she passes out at the sight of Sean skinning an eel only to show confidence with the same task later on.