The sixth episode of Apple TV+’s horror series ‘The Changeling,’ titled ‘Aftermath,’ revolves around the aftermath of Emma “Emmy” Valentine’s decision to kill her son Brian under the belief that the baby boy living with her is really a monster rather than her son. After killing the child, she ends up at North Brother Island seeking her real son. When she demands to reunite with Brian, Cal informs her that none of the mothers, including her, has ever been able to reunite with her loved ones. The intriguing episode ends with a pivotal decision Emma makes concerning her child. If you are eager to know more about the nuanced ending, you are at the right place! SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Changeling Episode 6 Recap
‘Aftermath’ begins right after Emma kills her son Brian believing that the child with her is a monster in disguise. After killing the baby, Emma goes to North Brother Island and asks Cal about how to reunite with her real son. Cal informs her that there’s no way to meet her child and all she can do is to accept that he is gone forever. Emma doesn’t accept the same and sets out to return, only for Cal to imprison her fearing that she will expose the Wise Ones and their location to the rest of the world. During her confinement, a monster supposedly visits Emma and leaves behind a twig of a tree.
After waking up, Emma listens to Cal, who introduces life on the island to the former. Emma then tries to leave the island and she succeeds in doing the same. However, rather than escaping for good, she returns with books for the library on the island. She forms a companionship with Gayl, a fellow mother living on the island. Emma talks to Gayl about discovering soiled books near their children before the two mothers killed them. Gayl adds that she once saw a leaf near a book. Although she doesn’t keep the leaf with herself, she draws the same and gives it to Emma, who comes to learn that the leaf belongs to a Norway maple tree.
Emma needs the internet to learn more about the tree, which leads her back to New York City. She meets Wheels, who is a part of an underground community where people live in harmony irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, and race. She finds a way to return to her old workplace, a library, to see which are the places where the Norway maple grows in the city. When Apollo arrives at the library with a shotgun to kill her, Emma runs away and ends up in the underground community after getting unsuccessfully chased by a couple of police officers.
Is Brian Alive? Where Did Emma Go?
Emma kills the baby with her under the belief that the latter is a monster who pretends to be Brian, her son. As far as she is concerned, Brian is taken away from her and the baby with her was substituted for her son. After talking to Cal, she concludes that the baby with her is a mere changeling, a substituted monster, and that she needs to kill it to retrieve her Brian. If Emma’s beliefs are true, Brian is not killed by his mother. But for Brian to be alive, he must have been kidnapped by a potent entity who left behind the leaf at Gayl’s place.
After talking to Gayl, Emma must have started to believe that a singular entity abducted the real children of the Wise Ones upon substituted them with look-alike monsters. She also believes that the entity left behind the Norway maple leaf at Gayl’s place, most likely when it arrived at the place to kidnap the latter’s child. This belief leads her to the conclusion that Brian was taken similarly by an entity who lives in the woods filled with Norway maples. “They bathe it at dusk. They hide it with guile. At home in the forest, forever lost in the wild,” the lines from ‘To the Waters and the Wild,’ makes her believe that the entity is hiding in the woods.
Emma then sets out to track down the entity who lives among Norway maples. After looking at the tree map of New York City, she learns from Wheels that the tree grows abundantly in Little Norway, a community of Norwegians in New York City, which is also the home to a forest. She goes to Little Norway to find out whether the entity is hiding amid the Norway maples of Little Norway, possibly with her child Brian. Since she is on a secret mission deep inside the forest, Emma is unapproachable for the time being, which explains why Cal tells Apollo that she is at a place where he cannot go easily.
If Emma’s beliefs and conclusions are true, it is safe to say that William Wheeler took her baby and placed a monster look-alike in her house to trick her. It is significant that William has Norwegian roots, especially while considering that the entity Emma is looking for resides in a Norwegian community. When Cal initially locks up William, he talks Norwegian. He must have learned about Emma after seeing her photograph, taken during her trip to São Paulo, Brazil, which ends up on the wall of a Norwegian art collector. Since William is really a monster/beastly entity disguised as a human being, it would not be surprising if Emma’s conclusion that an entity really abducted her son turned out to be true.
Even if Emma’s theory about an entity kidnapping her son Brian is true, it is unknown whether Brian is alive. She must have discovered the same upon likely arriving at Little Norway, possibly during the same time Apollo ends up on North Brother Island looking for his wife.