Let me start by admitting I loved The Sixth Sense. And Unbreakable. Even Signs. M. Night lost me a bit around his “the wind is the evil villain” phase, which came somewhere in-between his “the lady is the water is more evil than the wind” and his “modern society is more evil than the wind and that lady in the water” phase where every single movie had a twisty ending that gave the folks at Black Mirror all the ideas for their fourth and fifth seasons.
Okay, Cam. Take a breath.
There was also that mid-life crisis called The Last Airbender where he no longer felt like his own creativity was worth anything, so he signed on to direct movies from other people’s crap instead.
It was a bad look.
Listen. I wanted M. Night to win. I wanted the guy to have a comeback, Travolta-style. I found myself trying each new flavor of cinema he’d throw my way, and kept finding myself disappointed. But there was a moment, a short moment, when I thought he was approaching the Pulp Fiction rising-like-a-phoenix moment with films like The Visit, Split and yes, even Glass. There were more moments in The Visit and lots of moments in Split and a moment here or there with Glass. Nothing was approaching The Happening-badness, so I felt like M. Night, my brother, had found his way after wandering in the vortex of twist-ending cinema, and had seen the light.
Somewhere between Split and Glass, there was this happening called Apple TV Plus. And they announced that not only was he producing a new thriller series called Servant, but he would direct the pilot and oversee the entire endeavor.
Color me excited.
You know those people who tell you that if you can only get through the first three episodes of [insert any show name here], that you’ll finally love it just like they do? You know those people who proclaim that they weren’t really into it when they started the pilot of [insert show name here], but after four hours of forcing themselves to concentrate on it, they kind-of, sort-of, felt like it was OK?
I am eight episodes into Servant, and all I keep thinking is that M. Night is clearly toying with me. Because after being eight hours into this thing, I can only tell you one thing that has happened, which is not a spoiler in the least. That thing?
That nothing has happened, whatsoever.
There’s a family. Who lost a baby. As a part of some psychological suggestion and self-help idea, they’ve got a rubber look-alike baby in the crib upstairs. And the wife takes care of it while the husband pretends it’s a real baby. Now, when the first hour of the show opens up, they’ve hired a strangely innocent young woman to, yes, take care of the baby in yet another misguided attempt to keep the wife convinced that her baby is alive and well. And then about thirty minutes into the pilot episode (again, not a spoiler), the baby miraculously turns from a rubber baby into a real breathing baby.
The questions run wild. Where did this baby come from? Did the young woman who has been welcomed into their home bring it with her? Why does the wife not notice that her rubber baby is now a living, breathing baby? Her brother recognizes it. But why doesn’t she? And what’s up with this young woman’s eerie silence. And her scratchy hair-crosses that she hangs up everywhere? And why should I care when I am still asking the same questions eight episodes into the damn thing.
M. Night? C’mon, buddy. Aren’t there only ten episodes of this thing? When are you going to give me even a morsel of something? There hasn’t been any morsels. It’s hour after hour of a crying baby, darkly-lit hallways, and eerie looks. There’s the icky sound of squishy food being made in the kitchen by the Chef/Father, the ickier sound of the young innocent woman slurping tomato soup and the even ickier sound of watching someone scoop up lobster ice cream from a Tupperware container and eat it.
Did I mention that nothing has really happened yet?
And I’m eight episodes in?
I’d like to review this show. I’d like to tell you it’s great. I’d like to tell you that the story unfolds in such a compelling way that you should watch it. That if you can just make it three episodes in, you’ll really start to like it.
But I’m eight episodes in and nothing’s happened.
All I can tell you is that M. Night Shyamalan has clearly made me his bitch a** servant, because despite nothing happening, I keep coming back for more.
Does that mean I like it?
I can’t quite tell.