After setting up the backstory of Apollo in the previous episode, the second episode of The Changeling deals with Emma and her backstory. She gave birth to her son, whom Apollo named Brian after his father. Emma initially enjoyed the miracle of motherhood, but as time passed, something started to shift in her. All this seems linked to the wishes she had made in front of the old woman, who had tied a red string on her wrist. As far as Apollo was concerned, he was a great father, taking care of the family and involving his mother, Lillian, as well. The second episode was more restrained than the first one, as it got more psychological. The horrors that surround Emma are much more mysterious, and nobody seems to be helping her.
How Were Emma’s First Few Months As A Mother?
After bringing Brian in this world, you would expect Emma to be delighted that they were both safe without any complications. She was an orphan, so Kim was there to help. Not just Kim, but Apollo’s mother, Lillian, also came around to help. However, she proved to be more of a stern mother-in-law than a supportive one. According to her, Emma’s breasts weren’t the ‘right’ ones. Anyway, for the first few months, Emma was relatively fine, even though she was finding motherhood overwhelming. She returned to her job after two months and could only relate to the online group, ‘The Wise Ones,’ where mothers poured their hearts out regarding their pregnancy and motherhood. They consoled Emma, but something wasn’t quite right. She had trouble sleeping, and even though Apollo was there as a loving and caring presence, as the months passed, Emma’s condition worsened.
Why Did Apollo Not Understand Emma’s Concerns?
Apollo was mostly busy with his job. He had made a breakthrough by finding a signed copy of the Harper Lee novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, which he planned to sell. That would have gotten them an apartment, and even Emma was thrilled to hear that. However, when it came to handling Emma’s deteriorating condition, Apollo could do little. At first, Emma didn’t want to let Brian out of her sight. When Apollo took Brian on a day out, Emma received a photo that seemed like it couldn’t have been taken by Apollo. Emma was concerned about Brian’s well-being, and this became the first sign that something was bothering her. The photos were being sent by Apollo, and they disappeared soon after she had seen them. Apollo wasn’t taking her paranoia and pinned it on her being tired from this new responsibility. It required trust and a lively mind to look into the matter, but Apollo, too, was dog-tired and couldn’t pay much attention to the photos Emma was vehemently asserting that she saw.
How Did Emma’s Condition Worsen?
At first, the photos she was receiving on her phone were apparently being sent by Apollo, even though he denied it. He couldn’t have taken the photos himself, as he was in them. So, was he giving his phone to somebody and then deleting the photos? That seems highly unlikely. Later, the photos started to come from an unknown number, and this time, Emma herself was the subject. She was being watched, and somebody was sending her photos documenting her perilous state of mind as a mother. Emma, who had once declared that she couldn’t live without Brian, now started to resent him for her condition.
Lillian had suggested to Apollo that Brian be baptized. She didn’t like the fact that he was named after someone who abandoned his family, but she asserted that baptism was an absolute necessity to protect Brian from evil. Emma took this suggestion with a pinch of salt, as she didn’t seem to be a believer, but as time passed, she began to ponder over every possible solution to the ‘Brian problem.’ She started to grow distant from her own baby and even had him diagnosed for any Abnormalities. The thoughts of harming Brian started to take shape. Some mothers go through postpartum depression after childbirth. Could it be a result of that, or was this because of something more sinister? Or was it simply caused by a prolonged case of sleep deprivation and nutritional deficiency? Kim, the only living relative Emma had, saw her condition worsening and decided to tell her about the day their lives changed.
What Happened On April 14th, 1990?
Kim, after seeing Emma bringing in chains, probably meant for locking Brian up or doing something even worse, decided to tell her the truth. Up until this point, Emma had believed that her parents had died in a housefire. This isn’t the whole truth. Kim told her, that it was a case of arson, and their own mother was the culprit. She had lost her mind and set fire to the house. Kim and Emma’s father saved the kids and went in to bring their mother out, but she succumbed to the fire. Kim told her this because she knew that Emma didn’t remember that day, but somewhere in her subconscious, the memory must be buried.
On a fateful day, Emma’s mother decided to commit suicide and wanted everyone to join her. This was her sick way of keeping the family together. It was only after Emma shouted ‘let me go’ that her mother loosened her grip, and her father was able to save her. The feeling of losing both parents must be playing a part in Emma’s current condition, or so Kim thought. Also, the fact that their own mother almost killed Emma in the fire was being projected in nasty ways in Emma’s case. She felt, it was her duty to let Emma know the truth, which might resolve some hidden traumas she was harboring. When Apollo heard that Emma had planned a baptism ceremony for Brian without consulting him, he was livid and took it out on her, indicating that she was the crazy one. The Truth about her mother and her deteriorating condition forced her to take a bizarre step.
Episode 2 Review
As I said, the second episode was a lot more somber, and it went deep into the subject of postpartum depression and its symptoms. Modern-day-Motherhood comes with its own set of problems, and it isn’t easy on anybody. It requires a whole community to raise a child, and with everyone being busy, motherhood becomes a daunting challenge, especially in the first two years. The theme of Motherhood lends itself easily to horror. There are many films dealing with the subject, and essays have been written about it. From that perspective, the choice to not go in ‘jump scare’ mode was a sensible one. The episode risked being quite repetitive but remained engaging throughout. Clark Backo’s performance is up to the mark in this episode, as she skillfully depicts the various stages of her deteriorating mental condition. The Editing could have been a little better. The Juxtaposition of Apollo’s scenes alongside Emma’s seemed a bit stretched.
The episode had an eerie vibe throughout, and in the end, the background score really outshone everything. The fairytale seemed to take a backseat, and the show gave the impression of a horror mystery rather than a fantasy. The anticipation of what Emma was going to do with Brian wasn’t too neatly scored. Yet the show leaves us with a great cliffhanger. Emma did mention her chosen way of committing suicide. It was to jump off a bridge. Did she take Brian away from Apollo and jump in the river? What really is the connection between all this and the old lady and her red string? And what about her nude photo in Norway, mentioned in the previous episode? All will be revealed in the following episode, hopefully!