The Changeling – Season 1 Episode 2 “Then Comes a Baby in a Baby Carriage” Recap & Review

Then Comes a Baby in a Baby Carriage

Episode 2 of The Changeling begins with a flashback from Emma’s childhood days. We will talk about it later in the recap but the gist of the matter is that the house burned down and Kim & Emma were left orphans after this event.

In the present day, we see Kim visiting Emma, who is visibly disoriented. It is apparent that she isn’t getting too much regular sleep. She hasn’t checked her phone in a month; she almost walks into oncoming traffic like it is not there…something is wrong…terribly wrong.

The last scene before we cut back six months is Emma going with Kim to a dilapidated building. She knocks at a stranger’s door and says, “Cal sent me.” The woman goes back inside and fetches a bag full of chains.

Six months earlier, Emma’s problems with Brian have reached their next stage. Although she wrote off the initial distance as convention, Emma grows concerned that Briana actually does not like her. She still expresses her wish to be a “good mother,” just like their mother was to them.

Emma’s sleep deprivation has just begun. It is implied by the narrator (who is LaValle himself) that Emma had little to no sleep for almost two months. Lillian babysits Brian as Emma and Apollo try to get away from their new life to experience the honeymoon phase of their relationship again. They top it off with a ride on a cruise on the Hudson River. Apollo feels he has turned a corner but he has little idea of what comes next. 

To ensure that they get the benefits of Emma’s medical insurance, they decide she go back to work. Apollo is more than happy to carry him around to the park, the streets, and even his work. Patrice, a former veteran and Apollo’s business partner takes him to an estate sale to hunt for books. While fishing in the basement, Apollo strikes gold. First, in the form of a book given to him by Brian, his father. But more importantly, Apollo finds the first edition of Lee Harper’s To Kill a Mockingbird in pristine condition. It is even signed by Harper for her best friend, Truman Capote. Despite Patrice being his partner, Apollo does not tell him about his find.

Meanwhile, Emma starts experiencing strange incidents where she receives a photo of Apollo and Brian sharing an intimate moment from an unknown number (and at times, from Apollo). But after a while, the messages disappear, almost as if it was never sent.

 When Emma mentions the photo he sent to her, Apollo brushes it off as nothing. He simply says that he didn’t send it and does not think there is anything wrong with Emma. She has trouble sleeping at night and even wakes up Apollo suddenly trying to show him the photo that disappeared. 

The turning point in their relationship is undoubtedly when Emma takes Brian to see Dr. Calero, his paediatrician. She is perturbed by Emma’s state and her wild accusations, one of them being that Brian “bit her” while breastfeeding. Emma leaves the clinic in a possessed cadence, angrily cussing Brian and pacing through the busy streets. She even walks straight into traffic, not once caring about Brian getting hurt. He cries all the way through to the house where he finally quietens in Apollo’s arms. He is also disturbed to see Emma’s state, and more importantly, how disgusted she is of her child.

Calero phones Apollo and narrates the entire incident to him. He confronts Emma about what happened. She accepts defeat and recognizes she needs therapeutic help. He vows to support her and be by her side through this process.

Cut back to the present day, Emma picks up the bag of chains and starts walking away. Kim follows her and sits her down in a park, promising to tell her the truth about what happened to their parents. Their mother asked them to stay back home from school that fateful day. She wanted to “keep them close,” which was a sign of how she started to spiral in her mental health issues. 

Their father came back home from work and complained that the children wouldn’t let him sleep. But their mother lit the house on fire. She wanted to commit suicide but did not want to leave the girls orphans. Their father saved them and brought them to safety. After placing them outside he goes back in to burn along with the fire. It is unclear why he did so. Kim says something shocking to Emma, “I told you the truth because I saw the same look on your face today that I saw on our mother’s that day.” She tries to console Emma and assures her that everything will be alright. 

But the look in her eyes says something else. The narrator explains that after six months, the person affected by sleep deprivation and paranoia enters into the “final progression.” This is a point of no return, as we see unfolding in the climax of episode 2.

During breakfast, Emma says she wants to get Brian baptized. She has scheduled the ceremony for an hour from then. Things get tense between Apollo and Emma when she mentions the disappearing photo again. Apollo insults Emma for not caring about Brian and she leaves the house frozen in a stupor. We see Emma returning to the apartment in a frenzy, shouldering the door open, and saying, “God, I hope you will forgive me.” 


The Episode Review

I love how descriptive the episode was without giving off that impression. I have no complaints about the escalation of Emma’s mental breakdown. The extremes that we might potentially witness in the next episodes will substantiate the eerie discomfort The Changeling has established. LaVelle’s narration lays down a solid narrative foundation as well that the writers are well-positioned to exploit. 

Stanfield is seriously stealing the show. The more time he spends with the character, the more nuanced the depths of his inadequacies are eeked out. The Changeling could do with a slight tweak in how much information is made available, however, when it comes to piecing this puzzle together. While the motifs are very well appreciated, the ambiguity must not have a lingering effect on the storytelling.

I am impressed with this Apple TV production. It is rare to see such offerings in times when twisting the creative gauntlet has become some sort of voodoo…Emma, take note.

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You can read our full season 1 review for The Changeling here! 
  • Episode Rating
    (3.5)
3.5

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