The Changeling – Season 1 Episode 1 “First Comes Love” Recap & Review

First Comes Love

Episode 1 of The Changeling begins with a prologue. In 1825, 52 men and women sailed a ship from Norway to make an impossible trip to America. Questions like who these people are and why they made the voyage remain unanswered, for now.

We shift focus to 2010, where in a public library, our protagonists, Apollo and Emma, meet each other for the first time. The former is a book hunter seeking prized possessions like first editions and rare copies of books to sell them for profits, while the latter works in the library itself. Apollo instantly asks out Emma for a date but she rejects him. He asks her six more times and she turns him down on every occasion. 

Apollo’s persistence flows from his father, Brian West, who pursued Apollo’s mother, Lillian Kagwa, for 9 years. Brian was a police officer while Lillian worked as a secretary in various offices. They met in 1968 and only went out on a date in 1977. There are a lot of similarities between Apollo & Emma and Brian & Lillian’s romance story, like the place where they go for the first date and the things that they say to each other. Might this be more than just a coincidence? What mystic powers lie behind this strange connection?

Emma didn’t know her parents. Her elder sister, Kim, brought her up. The family belonged to Boones Mill, a “nothing town in the middle of nowhere.” The date goes really well as Apollo and Emma instantly strike a chord with each other. At the end of it, Emma reveals the reason she rejected Apollo was because she is going to Brazil for an indefinite amount of time. But Apollo does not seem to mind. He promises he will wait for her to come back and be together.

Brian and Lillian’s romance runs parallel to the other track. Both Brian and Lillian had a terrible childhood. That is one common thing all these four individuals share. They named their son Apollo after watching Rocky for the first time. It is revealed that Lillian lost her brother, Arthur while crossing a military checkpoint along with her sister. Apollo keeps having recurring nightmares about his father trying to kidnap him from Lillian’s house after their separation. His love for books was cultivated by Lillian, who borrowed magazines and books from every place she could to get him interested in reading. 

Later, Emma returns from her time away and texts Apollo, who waits for her at the airport for hours as her flight gets delayed. Emma tells him about a strange encounter she had with a woman in Salvador, who gave Emma three wishes and tied a red string with three knots to her hand. When it falls off her wrist, her wishes will come true. Apollo, to prove his companionship to her, cuts off the string as soon as she tells him. They get married shortly after.

Emma gets pregnant soon after and they get an apartment in the city. During a dinner date with Emma’s best friend Michelle, Emma gets up to visit the washroom. Michelle makes a shocking revelation about Emma to Apollo. There is a nude portrait of Emma hanging in a museum in Norway. She met him in Salvador and looked into the lens with the eyes of a sorceress.

Before Michelle can tell Apollo the three wishes, a waiter comes rushing to their table. We only get to know the first two wishes: a good husband and a healthy child.

Emma is in labour and since the couple has decided to have a natural birth, they head home. Before they can reach it, Emma delivers the baby on the subway. And thus, baby Brian Kagwa is born

The Episode Review

The pilot is certainly daring and challenging, to say the least. I wonder what went through the minds of the executives who were shown the haunting rendition of the first part of Victor LaVelle’s novel.

Stanfield and Clark Backo are inspirational as the protagonist couple. There is no doubt that their performances will continue to define the show going forward. 

The presentation instantly evokes intrigue and curiosity to know more about the show’s universe and its mysterious ways. Kelly Marcel and Melina Matsoukas do a stellar job of creating an atmospheric storytelling effort, one that is riddled with twists and immersive. I was at once drawn to the characters’ stories and the beguiling nature of Emma’s trip to Brazil.

I am going into The Changeling completely bereft of any idea of what the plot looks like. It is better to experience the show with this creative reimagining. On to the next episode!


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You can read our full season 1 review for The Changeling here! 
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