While the latest episode of The Changeling felt like an epic on its own, it also felt very misplaced as a whole in the show. What’s really messing with me is the timeline in which the story is told, and to put such an experiment in the second-last position before the finale was an interesting choice to say the least. It is clearly a dream sequence, but there are so many things that are confusing that make us question so much more than we did before. Frankly, the waiting isn’t helping this show, because by the time we get a new episode, some details are lost in time. As someone who hasn’t read the book, The Changeling Episode 7 can be either awe-inspiring or plain weird. While the plot thickens, it also spreads itself too thin in places, making the show feel all over the place. We learn a lot of details this season, though, so let’s quickly get into them.
What Happens In The Episode?
At the beginning of The Changeling Episode 7, it is made clear that this whole thing is a dream sequence playing out in Lillian’s mind. It’s her story and her history that she’s been hiding for so long, finally being told by her. Now it’s not quite clear if this means that Lillian is on the verge of death or if, by the time Apollo returns, his mom will be gone, but I sure hope not. The narrator says that our dreams are like plays, and we cast people we know in them as actors. That’s why there are people we’ve seen throughout the series who appear as other people in Lillian’s dream. Lillian makes her way to the Elk Hotel (another name that somehow relates to Norway). It is New York, 1982. Lillian has had Apollo, and she has made a huge mistake. One that cannot be erased, so she decides to give up and commit suicide. She tries to jump out of the window, but something stops her. Or rather, it is somebody. Now, in the dream sequence, older Lillian meets younger Lillian and tells her to think of Apollo. Young Lillian thinks she’s talking to God, and she, who used to be a non-believer, is reborn with this interaction. We don’t know if Lillian imagined this conversation with God or if it was a witch who saved her life, putting her in a similar situation as Emma. It’s all quite a mess, really. Lillian has made a mistake, and she’s looking for it to be erased so she can be there for Apollo.
This Elk hotel, which has been around for 100 years, used to be a place for immigrants. Lillian is one too, and she’s made many sacrifices to become “American”. She talks about how she’s sacrificed a lot for Apollo to give him an American upbringing. She never showed him the food of her native home or the culture; she left it all behind for the American dream. What she didn’t realize until it was too late, though, was that America needed her to be small, a tiny piece in a huge world. We know that Lillian’s boss had been coming onto her from the start. He was a married man, and it would’ve been a sin for them to get together. But Lillian had done it anyway. Obviously, she couldn’t survive as a single mother, so she chose to latch onto Brian, the man who was madly in love with her, desperate to be a “good” father. But what Lillian didn’t pay enough attention to was the fact that Brian had a terrible relationship with his mother, which he could project onto Lillian. He showed signs of being strange, telling her that if he put her in a mental hospital, calling her “crazy,” there would be nobody to come look for her. Lillian didn’t realize that this was a threat because she was so keen on bringing Apollo into the world.
Later, Brian became paranoid. He also found the receipt for the Elk Hotel and confronted Lillian, calling her a cheat. Lillian said that was not true and she would never do that, but he would not believe her. Lillian says the problem was that Brian wanted Apollo too much, implying that he was mad that Apollo wasn’t his baby. It seems like somehow he realized it somewhere, and that’s when he came back to drown 4-year-old Apollo in hot water. Another theory could be that he saw a changeling in Apollo too, but this doesn’t seem likely. It’s the women who sense these things, isn’t it the mothers who know? Lillian comes back in time to see Apollo being drowned by Brian. She saves Apollo by knocking Brian in the head. Lillian also has wounds on her face when she reaches the Elk hotel, meaning that Brian may have struck back or there would’ve been some struggle back then. Finally, it was Lillian, who would do anything to keep her baby safe, who emerged victorious.
What we can’t understand, though, is how Brian delivered the box of his things to Apollo in his teenage years if he were dead. Maybe someone else was watching. It wasn’t only Lillian who would not be searched for if something were to happen to her; there was nobody left who loved Brian either. Lillian then dumped what we can imagine to be Brian’s body in the river, possibly at the advice of the witch or God. Lillian makes a deal with this person to “get rid” of what she’s done and let her live happily with Apollo. This deal does work, but we hear that God will always come back for what is theirs. In simpler terms, Lillian will have to pay for this deal, and it seems like she paid with Baby Brian’s death. We still don’t know exactly what was in the red suitcase, and at the end of The Changeling Episode 7, Lillian puts on the gold dress (her dream of singing), the recorder that she used to record her truth to Apollo, and a few other things. This could imply that Lillian has altered her reality and will be buried with her truths, never telling Apollo what really happened. As we hear many times in the episode, in America, history isn’t created; it is erased. That’s what Lillian did to become American. She also mentions that after killing Brian, she became truly American, like imbibing his Americanness.
I’m not quite clear why Brian plays a man with AIDS in The Changeling Episode 7; it’s possibly just the relationship he had with his mother. His mother was dismissive of him and didn’t want him, so maybe this is how Lillian is seeing it in her dream sequence. At the end of the episode, we see a now completely trashed Elk Hotel. The camera enters a room, and there’s a table in there with some words inscribed on it. It is the origin of the fairy tale and how it started in a garbage strike in 1968, signed by the author’s initial “V” too. Finally, we see the suitcase on the riverbed, and a creature’s hand reaches out towards it. We’ve seen this creature before in Lillian’s dream too, when she tries to put her hand through a mirror because something is coming towards her. It was this same hand.
At first watch, The Changeling Episode 7 felt completely unnecessary, and all the information we got from it could’ve been scattered as small revelations, or this episode could’ve been a little earlier on in the show. The end of the last episode was so important, and now, by the time we get back to that storyline, we’ll have forgotten what Emma was doing and what Apollo found out about the whole situation. This episode was quite stylized, and it would’ve been interesting if it were told quicker. There was just something that didn’t sit right with this whole episode. On second thought, I realized the episode is very beautifully made and also focuses on the power of parenthood, or rather, motherhood, but it all just gets lost in the myriad of things happening in this fever dream of an episode.