One of the first big names to join Apple TV+ after the streaming service launched in late 2019 was M. Night Shyamalan. "Servant" premiered later that month, teaming Shyamalan — the newly minted showrunner — with creator Tony Basgallop for a spooky psychological horror series that was initially envisioned to be a 60-episode story (via The Hollywood Reporter). When all is said and done, "Servant" will come up a bit short on its original plan, as it wraps up with a total of 40 episodes. But as its fourth and final season unfolds and looks toward its series finale in March, "Servant" is still ending on its terms. That's something of a rarity for a TV show these days, let alone one on streaming.

Shyamalan understands that very well. Before "Servant," he had dipped his toe in the TV waters as executive producer and pilot episode director for "Wayward Pines." Designed to run for three reasons, that show was canceled after its second season. When he signed on to "Servant," Shyamalan knew there was a chance its pre-planned multi-season narrative might be interrupted. He acknowledged that in an interview with ScreenRant earlier in January before the start of "Servant" season 4:

"There was no guarantee that we were gonna get to finish this, there was no guarantee that we would make it there practically, that Apple would want us, that the audience would want us… We were one of those rare shows that got to make the show on our own terms, be growing in popularity throughout all of the seasons, and finish the story. So, that's the catch about making long-form storytelling is you may not get to finish the story. If it's not an episodic show, that's a real danger. And now that it's over, and we got to do it, I'm so grateful."

Shorter Episodes, Longer Story

With "Servant," Shyamalan was able to do a soft rebound after drawing very mixed reviews for his previous project, the superhero trilogy conclusion "Glass." That movie has its defenders, but for longtime Shyamalan fans — and especially those who enjoyed the two previous installments, "Unbreakable" and "Split" — the reception to "Glass" was merely the latest dip in a career full of epic highs and lows. That said, Shyamalan has continued making idiosyncratic films like "Old" and the upcoming "Knock at the Cabin." (Though it's come at the risk of self-financing his projects. But when it works at the box office, it pays off.)

Of course, when you're making a show produced by Apple, you've to face the specter of prospective cancellation. "Servant" represented a structural departure for Shyamalan as, unlike films, the story is told over multiple seasons. He had to think like a showrunner, not just a director. It has experimented with episode length too — with some less than 30 minutes long, "Servant" was among the new breed of streaming TV dramas to shake up the traditional one-hour format.

"Servant" plays its mystery close to the chest — set in Shyamalan's go-to filming locale, Philadelphia, the show began with the Turners hiring a nanny to care for their inanimate reborn doll, only for a real unexplained baby to suddenly materialize with said nanny — and while some viewers may have tired of the lack of answers early on, enough of them kept tuning in to ensure the series would not end prematurely. Season 4 of "Servant" is currently streaming on Apple TV+.

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