The AppleTV+ series The Changeling is a weird concoction of family drama, mystery, thriller, and an absurd horror tale, borrowing elements from Greek and Norse mythology. There are many lenses through which one can look at each episode, but the best way to not lose track is to stick to the characters. The central theme of the story is parenthood, and Lakeith Stanfield plays Apollo Kagwa. Apollo married Emma Valentine, and they gave birth to Brian, named after Apollo’s father. The tale takes a gory turn when Emma does something unthinkable to Brian. Apollo, who had his own issues growing up, is a complex character that is portrayed sincerely by Stanfield. Let’s take a closer look at Apollo Kagwa.
Lakeith Stanfield As Apollo Kagwa:
Apollo Kagwa is one of the central characters in the series. His life, filled with ups and downs, had brought him to meet Emma in a library, where he was so deeply smitten by her that he proposed to her. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. His resolve was really tested, as Emma only replied ‘yes’ to him after a six-month trip to Brazil. Apollo wanted to be a great husband and, more than that, a great father. He had a charm about him, which came from the honesty he had in life. He was in no way trying to impress Emma by saying all these things. There was a deep desire in him to be all the things he said he wanted to be. Whether or not he could be never mattered, as he galvanized all his willpower to make things happen. ‘I am the god, Apollo’ was his mantra, his affirmation that had helped him all throughout his life. Apollo, hence, seems like an odd guy. He has deep ambitions, but he is not the typical career man. He has an introverted demeanor, but he never appeared to be a dork. Emma, too, fell in love with him, not knowing the deeply tragic secrets of his childhood.
One certainly has to look at Apollo’s childhood and adolescent years to get a full picture of what was going on with him. He had nightmares where his father, Brian, came to speak to him, and he, as a child, could only be terrified by the blue mask and green fog coming out of Brian’s mouth. He certainly must have known what his father looked like, but perhaps he had forgotten as Brian abandoned Apollo and his mother, Lillian, when he was just four. This was a deep wound in his psyche. There was a shame he held very deep within his soul, which perhaps manifested in his declarations that he wanted to be a great father. That was his way to ‘take arms against the sea of trouble’. All his life, he felt like he was a monster, which is why his father must have abandoned him. Lillian could do little to prevent this thought from taking over his life. Apollo, too, didn’t go around like he needed help or someone’s pity. Emma came as an opportunity for him to prove that he was a man of his word, but he hadn’t imagined that his life would become a horror show, ruled by actual monsters and witches.
Fairy tales interested Apollo a lot, and once he found his father’s stash of memorabilia, where he found a children’s book, ‘To the Waters and the Wild,’ a love affair started between Apollo and his books. He made his money by selling second-hand books, often hitting the jackpot after finding a rare copy of a classic. Not having come from wealth, he knew the importance of money and always slouched just a little bit if he had to dine at a high-end restaurant. He sure was tenacious, though! That may have persuaded Emma eventually to marry him. He became a father soon, and thus began a bloody chapter in his life.
He wanted to be a great husband and a great father. They seemed like overlapping things. Soon after Brian was born, the husband and the father gradually became mutually exclusive. Emma cannot be blamed, but neither can Apollo. Someone was deliberately sabotaging the marriage, and Apollo just proved to be frail against witchcraft. There was simply no proof, though, so Apollo’s behavior seemed justified. Emma grew hostile toward him and the baby. Apollo had to decide: a great husband or a great father? What was he going to be? The choice is cruel and not a real one. Emma murdered Brian, as she thought him to be the devil and ‘not her baby’. Apollo almost perished at Emma’s hands, but God was with him, it seems, as he survived and frantically searched for Emma, who had gone missing after the barbaric incident.
Apollo received help along the way, and he came to know some troubling truths that ultimately required him to go on his quest. Lillian relieved him by telling him that his father hadn’t left him. She had forced him out of Apollo’s life. Apollo was livid at Lillian, but perhaps the burden he had been carrying of being a great father, as he didn’t want to repeat his father’s mistakes, had silently dropped off his shoulders. His friend Patrice saved him from committing suicide after he felt his life had lost all meaning. Apollo drifted in the hopeless existence until William Wheeler approached him to buy the copy of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Once Apollo met him, his life changed course again. Apollo got to know of someone known as ‘Cal’, who seemed to have brainwashed Emma and many other mothers online into killing their own baby. The mythology said they were the ‘Wise Ones’, a group of witches that had survived persecution. William gave him hope and took him to a mysterious island, where there was hope that Apollo would find Emma. There, he met Cal, and most of his doubts were cleared. Emma wasn’t insane when she poured boiling water over their son, Brian. According to Cal, Brian had been replaced by a creature that just mimicked Brian but wasn’t human.
There is so much he has yet to find out regarding his son, his father, Emma, and his own mother, Lillian. But what he did have was a strength he derived from his mantra, ‘I am the god, Apollo’. Now that he knew Emma was alive and on her own quest to find her baby, Apollo just wanted to reunite. But could he forget the murderous blows after he almost died? Could he forget all those months where he frantically looked for her and went to jail for threatening his co-workers into revealing her location? Emma could rest, as she knew she wasn’t insane. Apollo had to live with the fact that he had lost his son. But now that there was hope, Apollo was gearing up to fight monsters only seen in fairy tales. Seeing his bravery, it is safe to say that fortune did favor him, as he survived the island. He found the truth about William—a little too late, but better late than never. He will have to find Emma before she opens a pandora’s box, releasing creatures that they will be unable to fight against. The silver lining of all this was that Brian was alive, and there was a chance of reconciliation between the couple. The fairy tale has the two parents fighting for their child, and Apollo just might prove to be the great husband and father that he wanted to be.