Based on Victor LaValle’s eponymous novel, Apple TV+’s horror series ‘The Changeling’ revolves around a used book dealer named Apollo Kagwa, who gets together with Emma “Emmy” Valentine. Apollo and Emma form a family with their son Brian, whose arrival changes the duo’s lives forever. Created by Kelly Marcel, the show progresses through the tragedies that befall the Kagwa family as Emma commits a crime that severely affects Apollo before vanishing from the latter’s life. The first three episodes of the series, titled ‘Episode 1,’ ‘Episode 2,’ and ‘Episode 3’ respectively, open a window to their lives and end with ambiguous developments. If you are curious about the same, you are at the right place! SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Changeling Episode 1, 2 and 3 Recap
‘Episode 1’ begins with Apollo meeting Emma at a library in New York City. He asks her out, only for her to say no. Emma continues to say no whenever Apollo asks her out but the latter is persistent like his father Brian West, who had to ask Apollo’s mother Lillian Kagwa out several times to finally for her to agree to go on a date with him. Emma finally says yes to Apollo and they go on a satisfying date but their togetherness comes to an end soon as the former informs the latter that she is leaving for São Paulo. While exploring the Brazilian region, Emma meets a mysterious woman who ties a red string to her hand upon asking her to wish three things.
Emma closes her eyes and wishes for three things. The woman reminds her to not untie the string. She eventually returns to New York City and gets back together with Apollo, who cuts the string upon listening to the “origin story” of the same. Emma and Apollo soon get married and the former becomes pregnant in no time. From one of Emma’s friends, Apollo learns that his wife’s first two wishes were to get a good husband and a good child. Emma then gives birth to a boy, only for Apollo to name him Brian, the name of his estranged father.
‘Episode 2’ begins with Apollo and Emma taking care of the little Brian. Apollo fails to sleep properly since he has nightmares about his father, who abandoned him. Emma, on the other hand, suffers from post-partum depression. Her mental and physical health deteriorate gradually as she finds it hard to look after her son, who doesn’t stop crying when he is with her. In addition, Emma receives photographs of Apollo and Brian from either her husband’s phone or an unknown number. Since the photographs last only a while, Emma fails to convince Apollo regarding the authenticity of the same. After suffering for several months, Emma ultimately chains her husband up and kills her son Brian.
‘Episode 3’ begins a short while after Brian’s murder. After killing her son, Emma vanishes from her husband’s life and New York City. Apollo starts looking for her with a shotgun, hoping to kill her upon finding her. He gets arrested for terrorizing Emma’s colleagues with a firearm. After getting released on parole, Apollo finds it hard to make peace with the reality of his son’s gruesome death.
The Changeling Episode 3 Ending: Who Are the Wise Ones?
After getting released from prison, Apollo starts to attend support group meetings, which is a mandatory part of his release. While attending such a meeting, he meets a mother who talks about the difficulties of raising her daughter. She adds that she sought help from the Wise Ones and Cal, who is seemingly a member of the group, provided her with a way to solve the predicament she has been dealing with. Apollo gets triggered by the mother’s words as he realizes that Emma said the same before chaining him up and killing their son Brian. Furthermore, it is Cal who gives Emma the chain to lock Apollo up, which helps her restrain her husband while she kills their child.
As far as Emma is concerned, The Wise Ones is the name of a Facebook group dedicated to mothers who are dealing with the horrors of motherhood/parenthood. She comes across the accounts or experiences of several mothers who are finding it hard to accept the responsibilities of being a mother. But the “Wise Ones” can be a group of people who have sinister roots. Upon listening to the name during the support group meeting, Apollo tries to know more about the same, only to find out that the name belongs to a group of witches as per a certain mythology.
If the people who administer the group named the same “Wise Ones” as a reference to these mythological entities, they can be ones involved in sinister or supernatural activities. Since Cal seemingly promotes filicide, they can even be a group of witches whose existence revolves around such sacrifices. They must be manipulating mothers in distress and suffering to lead them to kill their own children. The mother whom Apollo meets at the support group meeting describes Cal’s instruction to kill her daughter as a way to get her child back.
Considering the same, the Wise Ones must be offering the mothers a “chance” to retrieve their children by making them believe that their babies are nothing but monsters. If the title of the show is a ray of light on the mystery regarding the Wise Ones, Cal and possibly others must be convincing suffering mothers that their babies are changelings, children substituted by fairies for their real children. They must be asking these mothers to kill the changelings to retrieve their real babies.
Who Stalks Apollo, Emma, and Brian?
When Apollo starts to go to work with Brian, Emma starts to receive photographs of her husband and son from his mobile phone. The photos, however, don’t last longer as they vanish seconds after she views them. When she shares the incident with Apollo, the latter dismisses the same. After a point, Emma starts to receive photos of herself and Brian from an unknown number. Apollo considers his wife’s experience as her imagination or even delusion but it is impossible for her to imagine something Apollo did exactly the way she describes the same. Furthermore, the mother Apollo meets at the support group meeting had the same experience with a printout of a photo she received as proof.
Since Emma seemingly isn’t imagining the photos, there is really a stalker following the Kagwas until the former kills Brian. The stalker can be a Wise One, who is trying to terrorize Emma using the photographs. The stalker’s intention can be to scare the suffering mother and make her believe that her child has demonic connections, hoping that the same belief would motivate her to kill her baby. Emma kills Brian when these photographs increasingly unsettle her. The mother at the support group meeting also confronts the “option” of killing her daughter upon receiving these images several times. If the Wise Ones crave murders, the stalker(s) who tries to lead these mothers to the same must be a part of the possibly sinister group.