The second episode of The Changeling focused on the unraveling of Emma and Apollo’s relationship soon after they entered their “whirlwind romance” phase and had a baby that they named after Apollo’s missing father, Brian. When Emma went to Brazil before marrying Apollo, she apparently wished for three things: a good husband, a healthy child, and a third thing that’s unknown. But the working theory is that she wanted to evoke something unnatural. It’s not clear if that’s exactly what’s happening because Emma’s deteriorating condition seems a lot like postpartum depression. She starts seeing messages that disappear. She argues with Brian because she thinks he is torturing her and treating Apollo way more leniently. And all this crescendos with Emma learning about her true past and then barging into her own house with a bag full of chains. What happens next will completely make or break the show for you.
Apollo Survives the Horrific Ordeal, But At What Cost?
The Changeling Episode 3 begins with Apollo bound to a chair with chains while his neck is attached to a pipe with a bicycle lock. Brian is in the bedroom with aluminum foil on the windows. Emma appears disheveled, and she has that look in her eyes. She apparently doesn’t feel pain because she picks up a boiling pot of water with her bare hands. Apollo, who is shocked to his core, asks for one thing and one thing only: to leave Brian alone. He begs Emma to just put him in the hallway and do whatever she needs to do to him. The narrator says a pretty haunting thing while all this is going on. He says that we all talk about being brave, but most of us don’t get a chance to know how we are going to react to such a situation.
Apollo probably didn’t know how he was going to react under a lot of stress, but his concern for his child over his own life defined who he was. Does Apollo’s pleading work on Emma? No. She knocks him out with a hammer and locks herself in the bedroom with Brian and a pot full of hot water. The episode allows you to imagine the rest because it’s not that kind of a horror show. By the way, before Emma goes for the kill, she says the thing that she has been hearing all this time, i.e., that Brian is not a baby. So, based on the attempt to baptize Brian, I am assuming that she considers Brian to be the spawn of Satan or something in the same vein as that. Anyway, we don’t get any direct answers as the episode moves forward in time and takes us to the period when Apollo is returning from jail. FYI, do make a note of the text messages during the opening title sequence; they change with every other episode.
Coming back to Apollo, when he goes to the dads-and-kids park, someone says that he “went in there with a gun.” This is something that we haven’t seen yet, but it’s an indicator of something we are about to see. The show probably wants us to think that he was jailed because of what Emma did, and the authorities just assumed that he was the perpetrator. But that’s not the case at all. Also, just in case you are under the impression that there’s a chance that baby Brian is alive, Apollo’s conversation with the janitor of his apartment gives us confirmation that he is very dead. As Apollo deals with his present situation, the episode shifts to the past and shows us how Lillian was punished by her boss because she rejected his romantic advances. She had to work Saturdays, and since the babysitter wasn’t available on those days, Apollo had to spend a lot of time on his own. When the episode cuts back to the present day, we learn that, after recovering from his injuries, Apollo went to the library where Emma worked and threatened her colleagues with a shotgun as he repeatedly asked them to reveal Emma’s location (this confirms that Emma is missing and not dead). As Apollo is done explaining all this at a meeting with people suffering from survivor’s guilt, someone asks him what he would’ve done if the librarians knew where Emma was. Apollo, without even giving it a single thought, says that he would’ve first killed Emma and then himself.
Apollo Learns the Truth About His Past
Apollo returns home, probably for the first time after the incident, and he experiences that same old nightmare where his father arrives at his doorstep and starts bellowing blue smoke from his mouth. The episode cuts to Patrice’s house, where Apollo arrives to have dinner with him and his wife, Dana. Patrice keeps telling Apollo to go meet his mother, which he hasn’t done since coming out of jail, while Dana kind of helps him recalibrate his senses. To avoid making the conversation about himself and the incident, Apollo pulls out the To Kill a Mockingbird book that he planned to sell and buy a house for his family, and he gives it to Patrice. Seeing Patrice go into the details of the book instead of just accepting it, Dana accepts it on his behalf and thanks Apollo for the gift. As Apollo starts to head back home, Patrice has a little chat with him. He basically tells Apollo that he looks like a guy who is about to kill himself. Patrice, who used to be a soldier, says that he has seen a lot of guys suffering from PTSD with that same look. As an incentive and a warning, Patrice says that if Apollo chooses to die, he is going to ruin the aforementioned book. Apollo is obviously overwhelmed because he didn’t expect to get called out so blatantly. But that’s the mark of a good friendship. Good friends don’t lie; they tell you the truth as it is.
By the way, the performances in The Changeling are fantastic. Just look at the way LaKeith Stanfield reacts to what Malcolm Barrett is saying. It is so realistic and heartfelt that you cannot help but relate to what Apollo is going through. Brilliant stuff. On a technical level, it’s amazing, too, as proven by the montage, which shows every Saturday that baby Apollo had to spend without his mother. And it ends with Lillian rushing into her home as smoke rushes out of the door. The smoke symbolizes Brian West, I guess, because right after this moment, Apollo and Lillian have a huge conversation about his father. Much like Kim revealing the truth about Emma’s past, Lillian says that Apollo’s past isn’t exactly what he thinks it is. She says that, contrary to what Apollo assumes is just a nightmare, his father did come to meet him. However, since Lillian had filed for divorce, he sent her away. Brian didn’t abandon his family; Lillian left him so that she could raise Apollo properly. Brian was apparently an irresponsible person who couldn’t help Lillian pay the bills on time. That’s why they had to go their separate ways. When Brian tried to re-enter their lives, Lillian had to push him away again. This information gets to Apollo, and he doesn’t understand what his mother is trying to say. He wants someone he can blame everything on, and he accuses his mother of making him think that he was the reason why Brian left them. Since he carried that guilt all his life, it seeped into his own marriage, and now his son is dead, and his wife is missing. Lillian realizes that Apollo won’t listen to reason at the moment. So she leaves and advises him to visit his son’s grave because he hasn’t done that.
What does Apollo discover about Emma’s wishes?
Apollo visits the church that Emma wanted to go to in order to baptize Brian and meets Father Hagen. Apollo needs Hagen’s signature on a document that proves that he has been on good behavior while he is out on parole. I’m just guessing here because I’m not from the USA, and I don’t know how this works. But I think that’s how it works, and certain individuals can sign off on the fact that a criminal who is on parole is not being a nuisance to society. Anyway, Hagen says that he’ll do it, but only after the meeting. What meeting? Well, apparently, Alice’s survivor’s meeting has convened at the church, and it’s in session. Unlike the previous meeting, though, this one is derailed by one of the other survivors, who starts demonstrating the symptoms that Emma showed right before she killed Brian. She talks about disappearing messages, and she actually has proof of this phenomenon because she hit print as soon as she saw the message. This means that Emma wasn’t actually hallucinating. This is something that is happening. And, from what I can guess, Emma wasn’t the only victim. Every single survivor in New York has been targeted by this entity, and their lives have been ruined. The episode doesn’t confirm this very explicitly.
At the end of The Changeling episode 3, though, when William and Apollo go out for a coffee after Apollo’s massive meltdown, Apollo focuses on the words “wise ones.” William searches the internet for some references, and they come to the conclusion that the survivor at the meeting was talking about witches. Apollo remembers the moment he cut the wishing thread on Emma’s wrist, and I think he feels that Emma wasn’t kidding when she was talking about her wishes coming true. He feels that there’s something supernatural at play, and it’s quite possible that Emma is either a witch now or is with the witches. Remember what Michelle said while talking about the nude photo of Emma in a Norwegian art gallery? She said that Emma looked like a sorceress. So, it’s entirely possible that she was possessed or that she transformed in some ungodly way, thereby leading to the horrific ordeal. Despite being a fan of horror and fantasy, I don’t know how this is going to impact The Changeling’s commentary on postpartum depression and other mental health issues. Genres have a habit of mixing things up so as to personify our fears and anxieties. But it’s a tricky thing to pull off. So, I am hoping that the showrunners and the writers have done that, or else they’ll end up squandering the immense potential that this show has.