How Servant's M. Night Shyamalan Took Advantage Of Working During The Pandemic For Apple TV+'s Horror Series

The unprecedented events of 2020 left a lot of films and TV shows hanging while in the midst of production. As filming for projects like M. Night Shyamalan's Apple TV+ series Servant had to shut down, the entertainment industry had to figure out what safe on-set environments looked like, with the hopes that when the go-ahead was given, the wheels of progress could turn as quickly and efficiently as possible. Shyamalan didn’t let a moment go to waste, either, and he took advantage of working during the pandemic by further tweaking Season 2’s finished product, as well as developing the continual arc for Servant Season 3 and potentially beyond.

If Servant’s second season premiere was impacted by a big delay, it’s one that’s barely been felt in the long run, with Season 2 set to make its way to the genre-friendly streaming service Apple TV+ on January 15, which is only about 14 months beyond Season 1's initial debut. I was invited to partake in the press day for Servant, on behalf of CinemaBlend, and during my conversation with M. Night Shyamalan, who helped shepherd the series with creator Tony Basgallop, I was curious if the delays due to COVID-19 allowed the creative team to refine the show further. With a gleeful energy, Shyamanlan confirmed that the break gave him quite the leg up on the future of the series, saying the following:

Oh definitely. In the interim is where I kind of sat down and said, ‘Look, I’m just gonna work out the whole thing. … Where are we going and how are we gonna get there?’ I was hoping I would be able to break it down into episodes for the remainder of the piece, and it ended up being that way.

Reaching back to that fateful night when M. Night Shyamalan and his cast introduced Servant into the world at 2019’s New York Comic Con, the master plan was a series run that encapsulated 60 episodes over six years. Each of the first two seasons feature ten episodes, so that plan seems to be running like clockwork so far. But believe me when I tell you, Shyamalan took the break in shooting to secure a crucial milestone for that overall arc.

The break in filming, which lasted the span between March’s shutdown and September’s production restart, came with six episodes of Servant Season 2 in the can, so having more than half of the second season already filmed was a great place to be. It was that advantageous position that ultimately let M. Night Shyamalan hammer out more of the general arc for Servant’s planned six seasons. With his overall ideas firmly in place, the horror vet could officially bring the series to the halfway point with Season 3. Here's what he told me about the more distant future.

I had the four remaining for Season 2, and then the rest as we were all going. I was like, ‘This looks like the beats of everything.' . . . We’ve actually written the next 10 from that work over the pandemic. So we’re in really good shape in terms of being aware of where we’re going.

This isn’t just wishful thinking either. Apple TV+ already confirmed its Servant Season 3 order more than a month before Season 2's premiere date. So having that next round of episodes is obviously advantageous for a series that already operates in its own bubble, with one building serving as the various settings that Servant’s Turner family inhabits. Not to mention, with the cast and crew living in one apartment building bubble, as it were, that made not only finishing Season 2 possible, but it also likely means Season 3 can get back into the swing of things in 2021, no matter what the shape of the world may be.

The final ingredient to M. Night Shyamalan’s recipe for Servant’s success is, naturally, the fact that he oversees a lot of the finishing touches at home. Between finalizing Season 2, and shooting his latest film Old in the Dominican Republic throughout 2020, there is quite a bit for the director of massive hits like The Sixth Sense and The Village to process through the post-production stages. Luckily for him, Shyamalan has quite the set up in his residence, which allows him the comforts of working from home:

I do everything here. If I could pan up and show you, the editing rooms are there, the theater is there where I do all the mixes, and the color timing, and everything. I love it, it’s a big part of my life. I’m gonna miss it when it’s done, and I enjoy it. … [It] feels like a birth. If you’re in a good space, it’ll go well.

In the case the Philadelphia-set series, Servant never has to leave the state that serves as the home of not only its supernatural happenings, but its own executive producer. And there are plenty of twisted and spooky goings-on, especially after Season 1’s surprising finale. At this point, the only question that remains is whether or not Servant will return with Season 3 in its previously staked-out November timeframe, or if the next batch of episodes will stick with a January debut.

We’ll find out soon enough, but in the meantime, Servant Season 2 will start streaming on Apple TV+ this Friday, January 15, with new episodes dropping on a weekly basis. So keep a tab opened to CinemaBlend, as we’ll have more coverage of Servant leading up to the big day.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.