Reason: Following the thrilling season three finale, season four will bring the final chapter of the Turner story to an epic and emotional conclusion. Leanne’s war with the Church of Lesser Saints intensifies and threatens Spruce Street, the city of Philadelphia, and beyond. Meanwhile, the shattered Turner family must confront not only the growing threat of Leanne, but the certain reality that Dorothy is waking up. As the Turner family brownstone continues to crumble, the questions are finally answered: who is Leanne Grayson and who is the child in their home?

Review: When Serving first debuted back in 2019, it made me incredibly uncomfortable. With static shots, extreme close-ups and lingering camera angles, the visual framing of the series was unlike anything else on television. M. Night Shyamalan‘s first foray into episodic storytelling asked the question of what would happen if grieving parents suddenly got their child back, but told it through the lens of a supernatural nanny, strange happenings and sickly beautiful cuisine. With each successive season, Serving delved into multiple genres and evoked paranoia and potential paranormal abilities, making it one of the most mysterious series on the air. Now entering its fourth and final season, Serving delivers the answers that have kept us guessing for over three years.

So many series raise questions that they can’t provide satisfying answers, and that can be frustrating for dedicated audiences stuck with a story from the beginning. After watching the first three episodes of the last season, I can’t say about Serving sticks the landing many have been waiting for after a 30-episode commitment. With seven chapters to go, I’m still hoping the show delivers the answers we’ve been asking for since the premiere: Is Leanne supernatural? What is her connection to the Turners? Is their home a conduit for her power? Who are the cult members Leanne is running from? Will Dorothy realize what happened to Jericho? What does it all mean? I can safely say that this season begins by raising new questions without answering any of the ones we already had.

Before you throw your hands up at that last comment, may I also say that the premiere episode of Serving‘s fourth season is unlike anything we’ve seen in this series. Serving has bucked the trend of TV dramas by airing in half-hour segments, and the first episode this season packs more excitement into those thirty minutes than most hour-long series can fit into an entire season. Without giving away any details, I can say that after the shocking ending of the third season found Dorothy Turner (Lauren Ambrose) plummeting from the top of her stairs to an uncertain fate, the premiere focuses almost entirely on her return home and the beginning of her rehabilitation. Focusing on Leanne (Nell Tiger Free), as she prepares to return home, threats arise and Leanne must struggle to use her fledgling abilities. That’s quite the episode, and director Dylan Holmes Williams and writer (and series creator) Tony Basgallop crank up the paranoia and special effects before the series falls back into its expected cadence.

During the first three episodes, Serving again shifts its inspiration and evokes elements of Rob Reiners Misery and the films of Roman Polanski when we meet Dorothy’s new carers, much to Leanne’s chagrin. The trust in the Turner home is now broken. Still, Leanne’s hold on the clan is formidable as Julian (Rupert Grint) continues to share an intimate connection with her. Meanwhile, Sean (Toby Kebbell) longs to keep Dorothy sane and Jericho alive. Sean’s career continues to expand while Dorothy’s success collapses, a factor that remains a constant thorn in their relationship. Sean continues to cook beautiful food, a recurring theme in this series, while his family is barely holding together. The literal structure of their home continues to crumble, starting with the foundation of the basement, but what will become of this has yet to be seen. Leanne’s homeless henchmen are also back and form an essential part of the impending showdown with the religious fundamentalists who have haunted Leanne since the first season.

Directed by several returning helmers from the first three seasons, including Nimrod Antal and Ishana Shyamalan, it is notable that M. Night Shyamalan is not directing any of the three episodes that open the season. While his directing duties have been sporadic over the course of the series, I hope the filmmaker found time to direct one of the final seven episodes despite his commitments to directing the upcoming film Knock on the cabin, which was in production at the same time. Still, the tone and style that Shyamalan set for the series with the first few episodes of the premiere season remains intact. The claustrophobia of being inside the Turner home has eased a bit as the series has expanded into the surrounding neighborhood, with the premiere episode set almost entirely on the Philadelphia street in front of the house. The chemistry between Free, Ambrose, Kebbell and Grint remains very important as this story begins its final season, and all four are at the top of their games in these three episodes.

Waiter, M. Night Shyamalan, Rupert Grint, AppleTV Plus, Horror

It is difficult to judge about the last season of Serving is a fitting end to this series, but the first three episodes are a masterfully constructed setup for the end of this tale. I am cautious as I have been let down by Shyamalan before. Still, his recent output has far exceeded his missteps, and this cast and crew have consistently made this series one of the most unsettling experiences I’ve ever had on television. I thoroughly enjoyed these first three episodes in all their skin-crawling glory. From the eerie score, the subtle special effects and endgame banter, Serving is better than ever and drives home the terror with every scene. I hope the episodes I’ve seen don’t live up to the amazing first three, as this promises to be one of the best final seasons of any series.

The last season of Serving premiered on January 13 on AppleTV+.


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