The Changeling – Season 1 Episode 3 “*” Recap & Review


The nightmarish opening of episode 3 will be hard to shrug off. The Changeling lives up to its billing of a horror sending tremors down our spines. Emma has used the chains given to her by “Cal” to tie up and beat Apollo to a pulp. He can barely see through his eyes and begs her to spare Brian’s life. Emma emerges from the bedroom like a person possessed. She moves through the living room without responding to his cries and takes the boiling kettle off the stove with her bare hands. The metal burns through her bones but Emma remains unaffected.

Before going back into the room, she hits Apollo across the face with a sledgehammer. He falls unconscious and she proceeds to the room, muttering, “It’s not a baby,” before slamming the door shut. Two months later, a battered Apollo is released from prison. The wounds on his face might not be fresh but the scars it has left are permanent. Apollo has spent three months in prison and we are about to find out why. The startling revelation that surfaces in the next few scenes is that Emma has done the unthinkable: she has killed baby Brian.

It is eerie to think about the heinous act. But the larger question is: what drove her to do something like this? Fabio, the super of the building, expresses his deep sadness over what happened. Since Apollo was blacked out, he could not revisit the crime scene after his release. He narrates the horror tale at a meeting for a group called The Survivors. Emma is still at large. Apollo visited the library with a shotgun after he was released from intensive care to track her down. That is why he was arrested: for shooting a gun at a public library.

Patrice and his partner Dana welcome Apollo for dinner at their house. He offers his gratitude to them for attending Brian’s funeral and taking care of him like this. Patrice warns his friend not to have any suicidal thoughts as he hands over the novel’s first edition to him. He will ensure that Apollo hears the price of the novel from the buyer himself. That night, Apollo sneaks off into his old apartment, where the room has been cordoned off by the police. He is startled to find the kettle on but it is only Lillian, who also cleaned up the place after the incident.

Apollo enters the crime scene that once housed his baby’s crib. He makes a gesture with his hands as if he is holding Brian in his hands and lifting him up and down. Lillian walks in and recognizes her son’s guilt and regret-filled disposition. She knows the feeling herself as well due to the incident with Arthur. When Apollo mentions his recurring nightmares about his father, Lillian professes to come clean about something she hid from Apollo. It is a material thing that might change the course of events going forward. Lillian reveals that Brian actually did not walk out on Apollo and her.

He did not abandon them but Lillian divorced him. The nightmares he has been struggling with are real memories of when Brian wanted to forcefully take him away. Apollo is livid and feels betrayed by his mother. If Brian wanted to be a part of his life, why did Lillian not allow it? A feeling that his inadequacy as a father stems from Brian’s absence in his life overcomes Apollo. He goes to the Church to get the Father to sign his parole form. But he asks him to attend a meeting of The Survivors first.

Everything is going well as Apollo opens up about his angst over losing his baby boy. All of a sudden, a strange woman takes over the floor and starts to speak. Her mannerisms and words become exactly like that of Emma after a point, which evokes a frightened look from Apollo. How could they say the same things, like “It’s not a baby?” And the answer lies in where she gets her information from: The Wise Ones. Apollo is convinced the woman will kill her baby as she struggles to accept Cal’s word. 

He rushes out of the session to be followed by a man named William Wheeler. He turns out to be the buyer for Harper’s book. William takes Apollo for a coffee to calm him down and talk more. While checking his phone, he inadvertently plays a video of the incident from Church and this time, Apollo listens to it carefully. He asks what Wise Ones is and William mentions that it is a line from a book. The book is remarkably about witches and it all starts making sense to Apollo. The woman in Brazil is shown, among other things, in the final scenes, hinting towards her involvement in what transpired with Emma.

The Episode Review

The Changeling takes a dark and unsettling turn in episode 3. I did not expect the story to veer in the direction of witchcraft and cursed spells but it is indeed where we are headed. I might be wrong but I think “Cal” might be Dr. Calero. It is wild to speculate at this stage and we will need more information to confirm this. I just cannot get over how good Stanfield has been as Apollo. He owns the screen and holds us onto him like glue.

His granular refinement is mesmerising and has all the trappings of making Apollo the headline that defines the show. I wanted to say Rosemary’s Baby after I watched episode 1 but now my conviction has grown. The languid pace that the series has been running on might just turn sultry from episode 4.

I think it is the perfect time to introduce the more fantastical elements of The Changeling’s story. The creatives have a lot of time to anchor the origins of this apparent curse and all the gaff around it well enough. High expectations going forward.

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