The Changeling – Season 1 Episode 8 “Battle of the Island” Recap & Review

Battle of the Island

The finale of The Changeling begins with an unusual montage of all the key events from the series. This ends with the prologue from episode 1.

It is indicated that the Norwegian ship made an impossible journey “thanks to some help.” A darkness is shown ushering the boat through the tall waves toward a clear sky in the prologue. It is most likely the same monster from the end of episode 7. We jump back to the present where Apollo is still talking to Kinder Garten, a.k.a., William. 

Most of what he says has already been heard…except for a creature’s terrible growling gaining on Apollo every second. KG talks in riddles and calls himself one among “10,000 men with the same name.” Apollo rushes for cover toward the buildings sensing the creature’s proximity. But before he can make it to safety, the creature destroys all the community’s buildings, including the library. As it momentarily stops, Apollo, teary-eyed, goes inside what’s left of the library. He collapses in the sorrow of what has just happened, only to be alerted by incoming footsteps.

Cal is still alive and rues Gretta’s death, who fell protecting the children. A few from the community have made it outside. Cal and Apollo shepherd them through the forest as the creature makes contact with William. It seems that the two are working in cahoots, although the balance of power is egregiously skewed. The line of survivors looks like ants from the top-down view. They make their way out of the jungle but find themselves facing a cliff. 

The creature roars nearer as they begin descending with the help of a rope. As expected, Cal and Apollo are the last to go. The latter is even carrying Gayl with him and the creature strikes. The rope comes undone but before that, Apollo throws Gayl to safety. Cal and he fall with a thud on the ground. They survive because the fall is not that steep. But the community aren’t out of the woods, yet.

While the others get on a mid-sized boat, Cal doesn’t let Apollo get on it. She asks him to accompany her to use a much smaller trawler to distract the attention of the creature. It is then that Cal reveals the creature can swim. In yet another predictable move, Cal sends Apollo on his way. She chooses to sacrifice herself, mentioning how desperate she is to be reunited with her son. Cal hopes that she will be able to watch over him in the stars. 

We see the creature hurl a tree at the outgoing boat. But it barely misses. Cal shoots KG in the stomach, who is standing near the cliff, instructing the monster to keep on repeating his antics. Cal climbs the cliff and ultimately kills KG. As the creature comes face to face with her, Cal jumps to her death. It is also revealed that the creature is a female…but we don’t actually see her or learn anything more.

The moment Cal’s body falls with a thud, Apollo sees in the direction of the sky where he spots movement in the stars, hinting that she is reunited with her son. When the camera pans toward KG, we see the creature dragging him back into the forest. This might mean that he isn’t dead or that the creature can heal him. In intertwined scenes, we see that Apollo has made it to dry land. He goes back into the city and digs up baby Brian’s coffin, where he hears what looks like a baby still crying. It is quite certain now that Emma did not kill Brian and the fairies did indeed replace him with a Changeling, just as the book said.

The book is recited in the background as Emma makes it to Norwegian Forest and heads up to a glowing merry-go-round. The book dictates that Brian is somewhere behind it and we also hear some cries. The series ends with yet another mystery as we see a group of men watching live feed from a cave online. A man, most probably Apollo, navigates the pitch-black darkness in a cave with a torch. He stops in terror as the creature wakes up from its sleep and the credits start rolling. 

The Episode Review

I can’t call it “intentional”, but the finale of The Changeling is a sabotage. Season 1 had all the essentials to carve a special adaptation of LaValle’s novel. And the creatives did the job exceedingly well till the midway. But I do not know what happened post that as the story really went for a toss. And a bad one at that.

We wanted answers from the finale; at least a glimpse of the creature – whose origins are never discussed in the show – or perhaps who KG and his community of men are. Perhaps something similar to the allegorical reference to the female survivors as witches doing anything to protect their loved ones would have been enough.

But we get none of that. The truncated runtime comes as the biggest surprise of them all. It is a big reason why everything feels rushed, ill-planned, and ruefully ineffective in the finale. What prompted this sudden decision? What good did it do? Come to think of it, we only get at most 20 minutes of original content – the rest is just filler from the previous episodes.

Even the new content is curated so ambiguously that it is easy to lose the plot and miss everything. The scenes are not well-lit. Things keep happening randomly without explanation. Everything is all over the place. Almost every aspect of The Changeling’s Episode 8 feels like a dagger in the heart. Do not think of yourself as bitter if you feel betrayed…because this sacrilegious conclusion is nothing short of that.

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