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Leanne shows everyone who’s really in charge [Apple TV+]


Dorothy is getting fed up with Leanne and her followers on this week’s installation of Apple TV + thriller Sideboard. The cultish mischief is ramped up as Leanne starts to exercise more overt and dark power over the goings on in the Turner household. And Dorothy realizes she’s no longer the one in control in a chaotic climactic vignette.

The endgame now looks like it’s going to be Dorothy and Leanne fighting for the soul of baby Jericho.

Sideboard recap: ‘Camp’

In this week’s episode, titled “Camp,” Sean’s (played by Toby Kebbell) new season as the host of Gourmet Gauntlet has begun. Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) is ecstatic, and Julian (Rupert Grint) is as happy for Sean as he ever gets. Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) says she is, but Leanne thinks she’s faking it.

Meanwhile, Dorothy is getting fed up with Leanne’s moodiness. She thinks it’s because Leanne and Julian are sleeping together, but things are getting weirder all the time. Dorothy also realizes she’s missing memories from the time Leanne first arrived.

Dorothy starts snooping around Leanne’s room and finds a sketchbook with some troubling drawings. Just what is that enormous figure standing in dark clouds, towering over everything?

However, Dorothy can’t get Sean to believe that anything is wrong. (I do love the show’s commitment to everyone’s blinders. It’s a pretty solid joke that after all this family has been through, Sean can’t be bothered to feel the least bit alarmed at the obvious malevolence circling them this time).

Dorothy hatches a plan

Dorothy happens to be watching when Leanne takes Jericho out to the park and lets the cult defectors out there hold her baby. Julian’s PI friend Roscoe (Phillip James Brannon) happens to be walking by at the same time as well.

Rather than sulking about how she feels she’s being disrespected, Dorothy decides to take action. She gets Julian’s on-again-off-again girlfriend Veera (Sunita Mani) to talk to Leanne about – and chaperone her – to a two-month dance semiotics class (another A + joke) in New Jersey. It’s a sly way of getting Leanne out of the house and away from Jericho.

Leanne sees right through it, of course, but she doesn’t argue. Sean also doesn’t argue but he hates the idea, too.

Julian does argue, trying desperately to knock some sense into his sister. Jericho starts crying, as if he knows that Leanne’s leaving for longer than normal. And then Jericho disappears, replaced by the birthing doll Dorothy believed was her son in the first season.

You know what I’m capable of

I gotta say I was expecting Leanne to go learn how to dance. Last season’s introduction of Aunt Josephine (an adjutant for Aunt May, the leader of the cult) hinted that Sideboard was starting to show the influence of the Dario Argento movie Suspiria, about a coven of witches operating out of a dance academy in Germany. But for now, that stuff remains in the background.

Celine Held and Logan George are back in the directors’ chairs this week, and work wonders with the climactic mystery. The tensions ratchets to nigh-unbearable levels as Dorothy and Julian tear the house apart looking for Jericho, whose crying they can hear from almost every room in the house. Leanne stands in the rain on the front steps while Tobe (Tony Revolori) tries to get her in his car so he can take her to the train station. The basement literally crumbles under Sean’s feet, and Veera breaks up with Julian.

Sean, once again missing the shape of the bigger picture, apologizes to Leanne, who steps back in the house and tells Dorothy that Jerico’s in his crib… been there the whole time. Dorothy understands in that moment that Leanne is calling the shots (she even has Julian to herself again, now that Veera’s out of the way).

She has been the whole time, of course, but now everyone knows it. Sean is the only one who doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong with that. He’ll see before the end, is my guess.

Watch Sideboard on Apple TV +

New episodes of Sideboard arrive on Fridays.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV +

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.






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Naveen Kumar

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