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The Ending Of Servant Explained

If "Servant" taught us anything, it's that good help is hard to find and that you probably shouldn't hire anyone who submits a handwritten essay instead of a resume. A brooding supernaturally infused psychological horror, the Apple TV+ series is a modern retelling of the Faustian myth developed and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Told against a backdrop of beautifully plated food fantasies and architectural delights with just the right amount of dark comedy, "Servant" is a captivating meditation on the impact of unaddressed grief.

The series follows the affluent Turner family as they gradually realize their nanny, Leanne (Nell Tiger Free), has a more dangerous side too late after inviting her into their home. With its fourth and final season complete, the show finally wrapped up some of its most head-scratching mysteries while leaving just enough loose ends open to leave fans intrigued. Grab a scoop of lobster ice cream, and let's sink our teeth into the ending of "Servant."

The house has all but fallen apart

The 19th-century Philadelphia row house serves as an aesthetic focal point for the events of "Servant" and as a symbol for the unaddressed issues slowly tearing away the once-strong foundation of the Turner family. As Leanne's interference in the Turners' lives takes root, exposing the extensive emotional damage hidden underneath the home's pristine facade, her impact on the house itself starts to stack up, gradually transforming the three-story townhouse into a dump.

From its stunning chef's kitchen to the decadent Farrow & Ball wallpaper, every detail in the home is well-appointed. Sean (Toby Kebbell) sanding the entryway in his splinter-induced craze is the opening salvo in a slow-brewing assault on the home. The supernatural effects of Leanne's life choices increasingly crack the foundation and walls, widening a pit in the basement that the family can't seem to repair. Under her influence, the building develops a handful of Old Testament-inspired infestations — crickets, moths, termites, and eventually bedbugs all take up residence in the home.

Like the family who lives there, the home also bears the scars of more corporeal events despite the Turners' efforts to repair some of them. From the replaced handrail on the upstairs staircase to the shattered attic skylight, the damage increases until nearly every inch of the home has been affected by the crisis unfolding within its walls, an outward manifestation of how truly broken the Turner family has become.

Sean and Julian turn on Leanne

Following a theme reminiscent of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," "Servant" sees an increasingly desperate Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) plead with her husband, Sean, and brother, Julian (Rupert Grint), for support in getting Leanne out of their lives. Because she doesn't understand the leverage Leanne has over them with Jericho (Jack and James Hoogerwerff) and the very real danger she poses to the family, the boys are left looking like they chose Leanne over her. Dorothy's desperation becomes so acute that she even makes plans to surreptitiously leave with her son in the dead of night, which would mean leaving her husband, career, family, and home. When those plans are interrupted by her three-story fall, Leanne's grasp over the household is complete, leaving Dorothy literally imprisoned in her bedroom and forcing the men to tiptoe around their new boss.

As Sean finally comes to accept the thing he has known all along — the supernatural nature of Leanne's hold over the family — Julian is still under her thumb, continuing to convince himself that she's just a girl. Finally committed to Dorothy's side, Sean arranges for the cult to grab Leanne, ultimately leading to an emotionally charged fistfight with Julian. As is often the case with abuse, it takes a serious shock to the system — in this case, the horror show that plays out at Jericho's birthday party — for the men to finally unite against Leanne, fittingly restraining her in Dorothy's wheelchair and delivering her to cult members waiting in the tunnels below in the episode "Tunnels."

Leanne becomes completely unglued

Despite Leanne's ever-growing supernatural abilities, "Servant" constantly reminds viewers that she is just a traumatized teenager in the painful process of growing up with details like the record she plays ad nauseum, the rebellious doodles in her diary, and the selfish nature of her relationships. This barely post-adolescent volatility becomes even less stable when she begins to question her indoctrination and follow her own will, but at least she has the Turner family to keep her grounded. With Sean and Julian's betrayal, though, Leanne goes full Anakin Skywalker.

Despite Sean and Julian's eventually delivering Leanne to the religious cult known as the Church of the Lesser Saints, they quickly learn this change of heart came too late, as Leanne has become so powerful not even the Saints can stop her. Releasing her from her bonds, George (Boris McGiver) tries to impart this to Leanne, appealing to her compassion for the Turners and telling her the world will remain out of balance until she sacrifices herself. But like anyone who has tried to reason with an angry teenager, his efforts are wasted. It's a reality that Leanne cannot bring herself to accept, instead choosing to fully embrace the Luciferian transformation she's been dancing around. After brutally stabbing Uncle George in the mouth before ritually killing her nemesis and his compatriots, Leanne turns on Sean and Julian, sending them to the hospital and banishing them from the home. It's a Machiavellian maneuver that solidifies Leanne's total control over Dorothy, setting the stage for the epic showdown to follow.

If you or someone you know is dealing with spiritual abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Sean and Julian come clean

From the beginning of "Servant," Dorothy's absent grief loomed like a shadow over her home and served as the driving force behind everything with Leanne. Her acceptance of that reality was always implied to be the only way the series could be resolved. As Redditor u/Which_way_witcher observed on the "Servant" subreddit, "It's Dorothy's path out of Oz." But unlike Dorothy Gale, Dorothy Turner's poppies are the gaslighting of everyone who should be protecting her.

There's something existentially frightening about Dorothy's lack of awareness that she's been trapped in a personal hell for so long while blissfully throwing parties and planning her return to work just as so many women push through unaware of the soul-numbing toll from bearing the invisible labor of motherhood. For Dorothy, this hell began before losing her son to a hot car death when Sean and Julian left her alone with a colicky baby and no support system.

Rather than processing her grief, Dorothy becomes locked in a delusional attachment to the Reborn doll her friend Natalie (Jerrika Hinton) introduces to help snap her out of a catatonic state. Sean and Julian selfishly go to great lengths to maintain the comfortable status quo, even when they're convinced the child could be a stolen baby. When they finally realize Dorothy coming to terms with the loss is the only way to save her, the brothers-in-law come clean, walking Dorothy through her lost memories of that agonizing week and the missing time from her calendar in the episode "Awake."

Dorothy wakes up

Dorothy coming to terms with the truth about Jericho is essential not only for herself but for Sean and Julian as well. The entire family's ability to process and deal with their grief becomes frozen in time when Leanne shows up with the resurrected Jericho, completely robbing them of any chance to heal. The truth is a constant elephant in the room throughout the entire series, with Sean and Julian constantly worried about what will happen if Dorothy remembers. In a gutting moment amid a torrential downpour, Dorothy slowly accepts the truth, finally coming face-to-face with the raw grief she had long since forgotten.

As she finally comes to grips with the horror long buried beneath her psyche, Dorothy has a visceral reaction, breaking both the car window and the baby monitor in despair. But she quickly emerges stronger, almost as if deep down, she has always known the truth and feels relieved to have finally accepted it. No longer in denial and finally united in purpose, the family confronts Leanne, telling her to leave their home. When Leanne offers Dorothy an unvarnished Faustian bargain — the chance to raise Jericho if she stays with Leanne — it forces Dorothy to realize how important her grief is. After finally coming to understand everything that's played out, Dorothy tells Leanne she can't take that deal, explaining that she has to feel the pain of losing Jericho because that pain is the pain of her love for him.

Dorothy forgives Leanne

Just as Dorothy always needed to accept her grief, Leanne always needed to learn to love selflessly. Like many children of abusive parents, Leanne develops a very dysfunctional understanding of how to love as a child. When the tormented girl meets the lovely and maternal reporter Dorothy Turner covering one of her pageants, Leanne begins to fixate on her — a fixation that lasts throughout her lifetime. Although Leanne later goes to great lengths to help Dorothy, she does it so Dorothy will love her in return rather than out of pure altruism. As Uncle George keenly observes before Leanne dispatches him, it's a selfish love — not to mention an obsession that nearly brings about the apocalypse.

By the end of the series, Leanne has visited a host of miseries upon the Turner household. Besides the Biblical omens, plaguelike afflictions, and pestilence, Leanne has disposed of a corpse in their walls and killed several more, psychologically tortured Dorothy, exerted control over the family, and physically harmed everyone in the home. And yet despite everything, Dorothy finds it in her heart to forgive Leanne.

Wide awake for the first time since Jericho's death, Dorothy realizes how much Leanne has suffered and how alike they are. Following the girl onto the roof during the apocalyptic storm, Dorothy asks for Leanne's forgiveness over Jericho's death. In turn, she forgives Leanne, telling her that she isn't evil and that she would have been proud to have her for a daughter.

Leanne makes a sacrifice

Having finally experienced the power of genuine love, Leanne realizes the truth of what Uncle George told her — that she has been acting out of selfishness and putting everyone she cares about along with the rest of the world in danger. Besides the ground opening up around the Turner home, a devastating storm has descended on Philadelphia, leading to flooding and shutting down parts of the city. At the same time, she realizes that everything else Uncle George said was true, meaning she has become too strong to be vanquished by anyone else but herself. Like Christ before her, Leanne has to sacrifice herself to save everyone, especially the people she loves the most.

Despite everything that has transpired between them, the Turners and Julian ask Leanne to come with them as they take Sean to the hospital for his stitches and seem willing to accept her again as a member of their family. But instead, Leanne returns to the townhouse, locking the door behind her and initiating the Lesser Saints ritual. After apologizing to Uncle George's ashes, she pours gasoline throughout the house, igniting it with a match and heading upstairs. She calls Tobe (Tony Revolori) to arrange a date she doesn't plan to attend, her way of saying goodbye to her sweet, sincere friend, before putting on her favorite music and sacrificing herself in a horrifically poetic scene that finds her dancing as the flames consume her.

The house burns down

After everything the family has been through, the Turners' townhome — once a place of music, laughter, and celebrations — is deeply haunted by the weight of misery and despair. While it's tragic to see such a lovely old building burn down under any circumstances, as a symbol of everything dark in their lives, it makes sense that the home and everything in it would need to disappear like the house in "Poltergeist" or in this case, purified by fire. By the end of the series finale, the entire home is gone with nothing but an empty husk left in its place as a devastated Julian struggles to come to terms with Leanne's final move. Because everyone in the neighborhood had moved out or left during Bedbuggate and only Leanne was left in the home, there was never any danger to anyone besides her.

In torching the home along with herself, Leanne stripped away everything that had been weighing the family down — the wine cellar, the extravagant meals, Dorothy's videotape collection, the Mommy and Me nightmares, the time they spent ignoring Jericho's loss, and Julian's coke addiction, to name a few. Although someone tells Sean insurance should let them rebuild it exactly the way they want, Sean and Dorothy indicate they have no plans to return. Instead, they're left with a clean slate and the chance to finally move forward together.

Officer Reyes reveals a secret

As Officer Stephanie Reyes (Victoria Cartagena) first crosses paths with the Turner family after Jericho's death, she seems to be one of the few people in Dorothy's life who both knows the truth about Jericho and isn't bent on keeping it from her. That's why it seems unfortunate, at least from Sean's perspective, that Reyes is one of the officers to show up when Dorothy later reports Jericho as missing, demanding an investigation. But then, Reyes has a knack for showing up at cases involving Leanne. After the tragic Morino shooting Leanne was meant to prevent, Reyes' investigation brings her back to the Turners' home once more, where she finds Leanne's attic covered in Lesser Saints crosses.

In a Shyamalanian twist, Reyes reveals the truth to Dorothy: that she is one of the Lesser Saints sent to look after Leanne. Like Leanne and all of the other Saints, in the episode "Fallen," Reyes says she died tragically only to be resurrected by those like her. According to Reyes, the car crash that took her own life took those of her parents, and she was brought back to help others — a job that goes hand-in-hand with police work. When Leanne later went off script, Reyes was asked to watch out for her, too. Reyes' revelation explains some potential plotholes surrounding Jericho's death and rather neatly wraps up any lingering questions about what police might make of the brownstone's ever-expanding collection of human remains and any fire accelerant they might come across.

The skies clear

Throughout "Servant," the weather plays a significant role in the storytelling. It's a severe heat wave that pushes the exhausted Dorothy to forget Jericho and ultimately claims his life. Days later when Julian arrives to check on his sister, it's raining cats and dogs as he peers through the back door at the rotten meat inside. As spring begins to renew the earth and bring the park to life, Dorothy and Sean are intent on getting Leanne out into the world even though it's how she meets the lapsed Lesser Saints living in the park under the guise of an unhoused community. And in the Season 3 episode "Mama," Philadelphia rapidly shifts from a snowstorm to the beginning of spring.

By the end of Season 4, Leanne's actions have generated a serious weather front that calls to mind the Biblical deluge. While it's implied that Leanne could somehow be behind everything just as she was behind the splinters and insects, the theory is discounted when she runs to the roof cursing God for throwing the book at her. After making her decision to set things straight, Leanne tells Tobe she has a feeling the weather will clear up tomorrow despite the official weather report. The premonition proves true when she sacrifices herself, leaving clear, sunny skies for the Turners to survey the wreckage of their home.

Julian is hit with a truth bomb

Like everyone else in the Turner household, Julian has some pretty shocking realities to contend with, realities that leave him deeply emotionally damaged. It's Julian who finds Dorothy and Jericho days after the infant's death after blowing them off for a coke bender. The images of Jericho's corpse haunt him long afterward, as does the powerful guilt that goes with them.

All of that trauma takes a toll as the family waits for the missing Jericho's Christmas Eve return, with Julian making trip after trip to the bathroom for coke bumps until his heart stops. When Kourtney with a K (Katie Lee Hill) discovers him passed out and not breathing, Sean immediately begins CPR, but his efforts are unsuccessful. Just as things seem hopeless, Leanne shows up to revive Julian by simply kissing him in what looks a whole lot like a supernatural resurrection. Stranger still, Julian awakens convinced that he saw Jericho in the space between life and death.

This moment is cast in a new light when Officer Reyes reveals the rest of the truth about that day. Throughout the final events of the series, a trio of onlookers has been lurking around the house, something Dorothy and Leanne spied from atop the roof in "Awake." As the crestfallen Julian stands around waiting after the fire for confirmation that police have found Leanne's body, Reyes tells him he was given a second chance after his overdose, indicating that the Lesser Saints have been hanging around watching him.

There are still a few loose ends

Although many of the central mysteries in "Servant" get wrapped up by the end of the series, M. Night Shyamalan leaves a few things up for speculation. One of the show's more enduring mysteries, the truth about Jericho's nature, is never entirely explained. While Leanne admits that she brought him back for Dorothy, it's never quite clarified where he was going when she would switch him out for the doll. Was Jericho ever really there at all or were they all somehow under the influence of Lesser Angel hypnosis? Was the doll transformed into a human baby and back again? If nothing else, at least we know Jericho is in a better place thanks to Julian's post-Lazarus declaration in "Goose."

There's also a question about where the ex-cultists ended up. Before her sacrifice, Leanne's groupies were hanging around doing her bidding. Since they all left for safer ground during the storm, it's safe to assume they survived and could even see Leanne as a martyr for the ex-Angel cause. There's even the outside possibility that Julian, despondent over her death and newly minted himself, is willing to fill her shoes as the head ex-angel in charge. We're also left to wonder what comes next for the Turners. After parading around with a baby for the past year, it's hard to imagine they could easily talk their way out of any questions that arise from friends and former colleagues. And most importantly, what's next on Sean's dinner menu?