‘The Changeling’ Episode 2 Recap & Ending, Explained: What Happened To Emma’s Parents?


The first episode of The Changeling introduced us to the central characters of the show, Apollo and Emma. Their paths crossed at a library because Emma is a librarian, and Apollo buys and sells vintage books. And although it was clear that they were in love with each other, both of their pasts indicated that they were wading towards doom because of the traumatic histories they had inherited from their parents. The show made it pretty clear with the inclusion of a Brazilian witch who bestowed three wishes upon Emma, which allowed her to have a good husband, a healthy child, and a mysterious third thing. Emma’s best friend, Michelle, hinted that it’s probably something supernatural. Let’s find out if The Changeling Episode 2 gives us any information regarding that.

Spoiler Alert

Emma Starts Seeing Vanishing Pictures of Apollo and Brian

The Changeling Episode 2 opens with a young Emma and a young Kim standing in front of a burning house while the narrator says a poem. When the narrative jumps to the present, it seems like Emma and Apollo’s marriage is in shambles, and Emma is barely keeping it together. While Apollo is away with Brian (Emma and Apollo’s son), Emma and Kim go to a shady apartment, and Emma buys a bag full of chains from a woman. Kim is understandably disturbed by this turn of events, and even though she wants to know what Emma plans to do with it, Emma doesn’t give a straight answer. In order to illustrate why Emma is doing what she’s doing, the episode turns back the clocks by six months and shows Kim and Lillian visiting Emma, Apollo, and Brian. Apollo has to take Lillian to another room because she doesn’t hold back while criticizing Emma, who is already under a lot of stress. Kim hangs back with Emma and comforts her about motherhood while appreciating Brian’s cuteness.

The following day or a few days later, Lillian arrives to babysit Brian while Emma and Apollo go out to spend some time together. Before going out, though, Lillian asks when Brian is going to be baptized. Emma and Apollo are clearly not religious. So, they say they aren’t going to do any such thing. This is a point that should be noted because it’s going to be an important factor later on. Anyway, Emma and Apollo go on a beautiful but slightly melancholic date. The following day (I’m assuming it’s the next day, even though the passage of time is intentionally fuzzy), Apollo takes Brian for one of his trips to the park, and the camera hints that somebody is watching them. Soon after that, Emma decides to start working again at the library while Apollo takes Brian for his book assessment sessions. Their respective days go pretty well, as Emma is greeted by his colleagues and Apollo gets his hands on a rare edition of To Kill a Mockingbird (FYI, the book talks about racism). However, it’s ruined by the disappearing message. Someone in a voyeuristic position takes a picture of Apollo and Brian and sends it to Emma. Right after Emma notices it, the image just disappears, thereby causing Emma to doubt Apollo and her own judgment of reality.

Emma Sees a Doctor Regarding Her Postpartum Depression

When Emma is on her own with Brian, that same voyeuristic camerawork comes into play, as if The Changeling is trying to hint that somebody or something is constantly hovering around this family. While Apollo seems to be having a good time handling Brian and tag-teaming with Patrice to reprimand White people for their audacity, Emma seems to be losing it. Sheryl assures Emma that it’s merely a side effect of motherhood, but Emma doesn’t really take that advice. Instead, she goes on social media and starts going through the feed of a page called “The Wise Moms.” She starts jotting down a point about using aluminum foil on the windows to help the baby sleep, and that’s when she is hit with yet another disappearing message. I know that this phenomenon can seem pretty natural now because WhatsApp allows us to delete our messages as well as the copy of the message that’s available on the receiver’s phone. This technology wasn’t available in the 2010s. Back then, if you sent a message, it’d stay there until the receiver of the message deleted it. So, you can see why this could seem spooky to someone back then.

When Apollo gets back home, he sees that Emma is busy sticking the foil to the window. Before he can process that, Emma talks about the disappearing message. Since Apollo has no idea what she’s talking about, he is confused by the line of questioning. It’s easy to assume that Emma is seeing things that don’t exist, especially after she imagines that the toothless Brian has bitten her. They decide to call it a night, but Emma is woken up by the sound of her phone. She rushes to show it to Apollo because he’s around her for once, but the message disappears again before Brian can see it. Finally, Emma decides to visit the doctor and admits that it has been immensely difficult to be a mother. When she gets home, she reacts violently upon seeing how well Apollo handles Brian. But once she calms down, she accepts the fact that she has to go to therapy.

What Happened to Emma’s Parents?

The Changeling Episode 2 goes back to the opening moments, where Emma buys a bag full of chains. Kim knows that Emma is going to do something drastic and irrational. So she asks them to remember the day their parents died. Emma says that she and Kim returned from school and found out that the house was on fire and their parents had passed away. When Emma starts to wonder why they were taken to the hospital even though they weren’t touched by the fire, Kim says that she needs to know the truth about that day. She says that Emma’s memory of her childhood is completely wrong. Their mother was living with some form of mental illness that was only exacerbated by their father, who apparently didn’t even like the presence of the daughters. One day, while Kim and Emma were sleeping, their mother set the whole house on fire. Their father got them out, and when their mother tried to hold onto Emma, she ordered her mother to let her go. After getting them out, Emma assumes that their father went back inside to get their mother out and died. However, Kim doesn’t give a concrete answer. Instead, she just tells Emma that she has that look on her face that their mother did on the day she set their house on fire.

At the end of The Changeling Episode 2, Emma suddenly announces that she wants to get Brian baptized. I want to remind you that she was strictly against it earlier. But she has also heard people say that Brian isn’t a baby. On top of that, she’s hallucinating. So, it’s entirely possible that she believes Brian and the family are being haunted by something satanic. Apollo opposes Emma’s proposal and nonchalantly tells her to “get her medication. He immediately realizes that he has said the wrong thing, but the bullet has left the gun and can’t be put back inside. Emma leaves the house on an ominous note. She says that Apollo doesn’t see things from her perspective, but soon enough, he’ll begin to. We see something huge and invisible moving through the waters of New York. That’s followed by a shot of Emma violently breaking into her own house. It’s pretty evident that Emma has gone off the deep end due to her postpartum depression. That said, it’s tough to say how much of her condition is an actual medical issue or a result of the witch’s boon. It’s a tricky line to walk when you are commenting on something physiological while hinting at supernatural stuff. However, since we are in the early stages of the show, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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