Everyone’s favorite gripping and bizarre supernatural thriller series, Servant is finally back! the Servant The Season 3 premiere wastes no time introducing new mysteries while tracking some disturbing plot developments that unfolded towards the end of Season 2.
We pick up three months after the events of the Season 2 finale. Leanne is a paranoid, nervous wreck after murdering Aunt Josephine and starting a war with the Church of the Little Day Saints. She’s convinced it’s only a matter of time before cult members arrive at the Turners’ home to harm her or her family.
Sean and Dorothy think Leanne is overreacting, or they are in denial. All they care about now is Jericho’s return. After completing a stint in rehab, Julian does his best to become a better person, including drinking green juice and working out relentlessly. He has a new girlfriend, Vera (Sunita Mani), whom he met at the treatment center.
Servant season 3, episode 1 recap: What’s wrong with the donkey?
Entitled “The Donkey”, Servant Season 3 episode 1 draws an interesting parallel to a biblical story featuring a man named Balaam, a talking donkey, and a sword-wielding angel of the lord. Let’s take a second to discuss it as it is relevant to this specific episode and potentially the theme of this season as a whole.
In the story, Balaam is seen as a false prophet who rejects the word of God to do his own thing. Even his donkey is more aware of God’s will than Balaam. While walking his donkey, the animal keeps stopping because he sees an angel of the lord (unseen by Balaam).
Balaam punishes the donkey every time he strays from the angel’s path until finally the donkey starts talking and asks Balaam why he is being punished. Only then does the angel become visible to Balaam. The story has several meanings, but the main conclusion is that sin always has consequences. You can read more about the story and its interpretation here.
Why do I mention Balaam and the donkey? A painting depicting the biblical scene is shown in close-up in the episode. If you do a Google image search of the story, you’ll see many versions of the painting that contain the same items shown hanging in Leanne’s bedroom.
In Servant season 3, episode 1, it is discovered that Leanne’s resuscitation powers no longer work. She keeps finding moths in her room, and whenever they die, she collects them and stores them in her bathroom cabinet in hopes of bringing them back to life.
Why is this important? The moths emanate from Josephine’s burnt corpse, wedged between the walls of Leanne’s bedroom. They are seen crawling out of a meticulously placed hole in the wall directly above the painting. I doubt it’s a coincidence. It looks like we are now witnessing Leanne’s punishment for ignoring God’s will, which the cult warned her about repeatedly last season. Josephine’s murder seems to correlate with her losing power or the potential manifestation of a new, more destructive ability, but more on that later.
As is the case with many things on Servant, this story is very open to interpretation, especially because Leanne is seen holding a dagger a few times. She now sleeps with her under her pillow as a precaution. When she holds it, Leanne looks a lot like the sword-wielding angel from the Bible story and shown in the painting. At the end of the episode, this dagger is stolen from him. Does this mean God forsook Leanne?
Servant season 3, episode 1 recap: Is the cult really coming for Leanne?
Throughout the premiere, Leanne struggles to keep her fear of the cult in check. She can’t even get to a park on a walk without approaching a random older man who looks a bit like Uncle George. I can’t say I blame her for her paranoia either, especially after everything we’ve seen. But Julian, Sean and Dorothy all live in their typical state of denial, refusing to believe anything is wrong. They’ve got what they want now, Jericho, so they’ll fight tooth and nail to keep their happy bubble whole.
Leanne’s fear leads her to stay home instead of going to the Jersey Shore with the rest of the family for a day trip. She gets drunk on wine (yes, that huge pit in the basement is still there) and even tries to get Toby to come over.
While alone, Leanne begins to doodle in her notebook. She seems to fall into a strange runaway state, scribbling on the page. Then Dorothée tells him that a flock of seagulls attacked Julain at the beach, and suddenly Leanne’s drawing makes sense. Did she provoke the attack? Was it revenge for Julian trying to break up with her before he left for the shore?
At the climax of the episode, someone breaks into the house and steals several items, including his dagger. The police say the theft is nothing more than a common burglary, but how are we supposed to believe that? I found it interesting that Dorothy tried to calm Leanne down by telling her that humans have an instinctive need to look for patterns in things to make sense of them.
It almost feels like a direct nod to the audience and our desire to uncover the potential mysteries of this series. “I don’t know what’s crueler, really, about living in a world that’s indifferent or constantly testing us.” Whether Dorothy really believes in it or just trying to keep her life as orderly as possible remains to be seen, but she promises Leanne that they’ll have a high-end security system installed.
Servant season 3, recap of episode 1: Leanne’s paranoia
All in all, it was a really strong episode. It showcases the suffocation and paranoia that Leanne feels exceptionally well, with some sequences that are very Hitchcockian in nature. We also see how Leanne is still so tied to this little brown stone, as at one point part of the house crumbles and barely misses Julian after Leanne gets upset and bursts inside.
Another thing I appreciate about “Donkey” is how the show lets the audience see and feel what Leanne is going through. That man she met on the street, why has been is he standing there like that? Why did that woman look at Leanne through the blinds as she walked down the sidewalk? It’s easy to see his point and wonder why the Turners aren’t scared more.
New episodes of Servant Season 3 airs Fridays on Apple TV+.