ServerThe last season of was emotional, horrifying, and heartbreaking all rolled into one. Apple TV+ wrapped up M. Night Shyamalan’s twisted and haunting Alfred Hitchcock-esque story, one of Apple TV+’s first original series, in a way that felt rushed but also satisfying.
The story begins when a married couple enlists the help of a young woman named Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) to care for their young son. However, as revealed in previous seasons, Jericho sadly perished after being accidentally left in the car on a hot night. Grief-stricken and catatonic, her mother Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) was given a lifelike doll to help her cope, a radical new form of therapy. But she eventually completely suppressed the memory of her child’s death, believing the doll to be a real baby. Then something strange happened. When Leanne entered her life, the doll become real.
Through a series of supernatural occurrences, a twisted history of cults, and Dorothy’s husband Sean’s (Toby Kebbell) acceptance that Leanne, though powerful, didn’t actually bring Jericho back to life, season three It ended with a tragedy. A terrible “accident”, coincidentally just as Dorothy was trying to disappear into the night with Jericho, rendered the woman temporarily immobile. Leanne had even more leverage now, and she was ready to use it.
A meaner, sinister Leanne
Season 4 opens with Leanne smugly enjoying Dorothy’s situation and the control it gives her over the woman. A mystical being or just a troubled young woman (or both), it’s obvious that Leanne just wants Dorothy and Jericho to herself. They are a symbol of family, and the mother figure, she wished she had.
As Leanne continues to be hunted by the Church of Lesser Saints, she is protected by her strange powers and the homeless dropouts who worship her as their new leader. But she Leanne can’t trust anyone. A neighbor, a woman jogging down the street, or a friendly passerby may be, and likely is, a cult member in disguise.
Paranoia increasingly leads Leanne to do horrible things like force birds to attack enemies, create an infestation of bedbugs, and even brutally attack an innocent child and break his arm because she thinks he’s “one of them.” When Leanne confesses to the mother-like mannequin in her bedroom, her power is consuming her. But she also likes it. For the first time, viewers begin to wonder if she Leanne could be the manifestation of evil, not the cult she once belonged to.
When two elderly caretakers, Bobbie (Barbara Kingsley) and Bev (Denny Dillon) move in to care for Dorothy, Leanne’s anger deepens. Of course, it turns out that one of them is a cult member trying to kill Leanne. Julian saves her just in time, but a desperate Dorothy and Sean, finally coming to terms again, recognize how dangerous Leanne is and try to hatch a plan to get rid of her. Easier said than done.
I’ve been watching you
While fans have long known that Leanne entered a child beauty pageant that Dorothy had covered for the news channel years earlier, Dorothy finally sees it with her own eyes. Creepy Uncle George (Boris McGiver) tells Sean and Julian (Rupert Grint) some heartbreaking truths that prompt Dorothy to go through her old tapes. As she plays tape after tape, Dorothy sees Leanne in the background of each segment on the same day each year: the day her mother died in a fire.
It’s a chilling discovery that only intensifies Dorothy’s desire to get rid of Leanne once and for all. But Dorothy also feels a sense of motherly empathy, perhaps even adulation that Leanne has done so much for Dorothy. Leanne is dangerous, but deep down she’s just a lonely and troubled young woman. So much so that she ingratiated herself with Dorothy with a trap door baby trick and a strange new baby.
After a second failed attempt to kill Leanne, this time by Uncle George, who ends up dead, Leanne commits her most heinous act, nearly killing both Sean and Julian. She now, she can be alone with Dorothy and Jericho the way Leanne says she should be.
Dorothy finally snaps out of it
The main question throughout the entire series has been: when will Dorothy recover and remember what really happened to Jericho? That moment finally comes in the penultimate episode.
The reaction is just as the fans imagined. Dorothy is confused at first, but the sincerity in Sean and Julian’s confessions brings the memories flooding back. Dorothy screams, cries, and falls to the ground. In one fell swoop, she needs to decide if she’s going to deal with her pain or hope for a second chance with “her child” through Leanne.
The most surprising part of the ending is not that Dorothy finally allows herself to cry, but that she wants to forgive and help Leanne. She assures the young woman that she is worthy and loved by her, that she is not responsible for the death of her parents, and that she deserves to be happy.
But it’s too late. Leanne realizes that she will never get what she wants. She sprinkles gasoline all over the Turners’ house and lights a match that symbolically lands right next to the baby doll on the couch. She sings, dances and listens to music in the attic as she anxiously waits for the flames to rise high enough to encapsulate her. They do, and the scene is tragic, explosive, and cathartic, especially since the little boy posing as Jericho is still supposed to be in the house, too.
the final twists
The twists, however, keep coming. In the aftermath of the fire and the suspicious absence of a body, Dorothy learns something shocking about Officer Reyes. Dorothy now remembers the compassionate female officer who shared kind words with her the day Jericho died. She also returned to the Turner house for the second time in a previous season to search for Leanne. It turns out that Officer Reyes is actually a member of the Church of the Lesser Saints. He wants Dorothy to know that she and the others are there for her.
But Dorothy and Sean have no intention of returning home. They are ready to focus on each other, to finally process the death of their son and move on. However, their lack of empathy for the child they had been raising for several months, and who presumably died in the fire along with Leanne, is a glaring problem that the finale doesn’t acknowledge.
Meanwhile, Julian tries to get over it all by having coffee in town when Officer Reyes approaches him. She reveals who she is and reminds him of the time Leanne restarted her heart when it stopped beating due to a drug overdose. She says that she had a purpose, for him to do something meaningful with her second chance.
The skeptical Julian rejects her, but when he turns around, he sees the reflection of a painting of a dove across the street in the store window, with two wings appearing on either side of it. Either Julian will be indoctrinated, or the Church of Lesser Saints will forever hound him until he does. And he knows it. The family may be free and free of Leanne, but they can’t escape the cult’s clutches.
In its center, Server it was about love, loss, obsession, taking advantage of the vulnerable, and the importance of dealing with grief. In many ways, Leanne and Dorothy were more alike than they realized. Neither of them coped with their grief in a healthy way and, out of desperation, brought them together as a toxic and dangerous couple. In the final moments, they were both finally set free, even if it didn’t go the way they intended.