The Changeling – Season 1 Episode 7 “Stormy Weather” Recap & Review

Stormy Weather

Episode 7 of The Changeling begins in the aftermath of Apollo’s disappearance on the island. Her mother, Lillian Kagwa (Adina Porter) scrambles across the streets of NYC looking for him. A storm brews deep in the heart of the sky as she takes refuge at the dilapidated Elk Hotel. She isn’t unfamiliar with its pillars and seams and its disgusting stench for she has been here before. But it is nothing to write home about. Her previous stay here was a forgettable event, one that wouldn’t even make it to the margins of her memoir if she were to write one.

What unfolds next is nothing short of exactly that – Lillian Kagwa’s life story. Replete with fantastical interventions from her past and possibly what the future holds, Lillian is confronted by her life choices and the topsy-turvy journey of making it to America. That is only a part of the maelstrom of feelings and emotions that hit Lillian on the night. At the brunt of her core memories are a mix of good and ugly moments spent with Brian.

We don’t get to see much of the former cop this season. All we know is that things ended up on a sour note between the couple and Lillian didn’t allow Brian any access to Apollo…until we learn more. She goes through a whole spectrum of different exercises to remember the past and transport herself back to the moment. It ranges from wearing old dresses to slow dancing to light music while cooking food. The surrealism of her reliving those memories constantly knocks at you from within the screen.

She lost her brother, Arthur, in Uganda and vowed to make a difference in Apollo’s life. However, Lillian felt like an outcast in America as she had to give up her sense of cultural identity to blend in. After these confusing sequences, we finally land on a cohesive explanation for what happened to their marriage. Brian was decisively bipolar. No one could predict how he could transition from one moment to the next. It not only annoyed Lilly but also made his antics unpredictable. 

Brian then started suspecting that Lillian was cheating on him with her boss, whom we clearly saw getting rejected in episode 5. Her connection to Elk Hotel came back to haunt Lillian and that is what ended up being the final nail in the coffin. Imagine her horror then when she came back from work one day with smoke bellowing out from under her door. She knew Brian was angry with her and his rage was reaching saturation point. She quickly rushed in and saw Brian trying to drown Apollo in the bathtub. Without hesitation, she acted to save her child, unlike all those years ago with Arthur.

He fell to the floor after a blunt hit to the back of his head. Lillian tried to turn a new chapter in her life with Apollo after burying the horrors of Brian’s violence and his body as well. She was encouraged to commit suicide at one point but something in her talked her out of it. She created a ruse for herself; an alternate reality that she so staunchly believed Apollo had no ground to question. It is the ending of this episode that is the most bewildering. We learn that all the events happened in Lillian’s mind.

The hotel has been long abandoned and now only rests as an empty structure of torn carpet and unkempt rooms. In a moment of betrayal and blatant character assassination, we learn from the hotel’s check-in register that Charles and Lillian did indeed have an affair. And Brian was actually right. There is also the off-chance that Charles is Apollo’s real father. The final shot of the episode is the previous episode’s first shot; Lillian throwing away her “red suitcase” of secrets into the water (presumably with Brian’s body) and a mysterious creature trying to reach out for it. 

The Episode Review

While I certainly appreciate the magnificent performance by Adina Porter, the beautiful cinematography, and the moving storytelling in episode 7, I didn’t like it. This was a standalone episode in the season that will divide the fans of the show straight down the middle. Its polarizing nature is clearly intended by the creatives who want to carve out an episode for Lilly’s character. 

I mentioned before how the show has unreasonably held on to its attachment to the novel. Reimagining the source material with authenticity and freshness that pleases the author might not be the same for viewers. This felt like a stinging betrayal from the rest of the show. Emma’s version of the events had finally brought it back on track. But we are further away from resolving the central mystery than we were at the end of the last episode.

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