The Ending of The Changeling Explained and Discussed

The Ending of The Changeling Explained and Discussed
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The Ending of The Changeling Explained and Discussed. I am currently reading, voraciously, the novel The Changeling by Victor Lavalle. Mainly because I just can’t get enough of this never-ending hole of a story. It’s as if the bottom on reality just opened up, and I suddenly, without warning just collapsed through the earth. Now, for some people, that could, on its own, be a reason for panning a film, a book, etc. But not for THiNC.ers… not by a long shot. Quite the contrary, it just lit my hair on fire and made me dig all the deeper into the show, and the book in order to try and make sense of it.

So let’s dive in together, let’s take a look at the final episode of season 1 of The Changeling, and let’s see if we can make it make sense. Alright? If you are unfamiliar with the show, you can watch it right now on Apple TV+. Don’t read further on in this discussion unless you’ve finished the show (either that or finished the book, as I’m hearing the two ride pretty similar tracks.).

Quick Overview of the Show/Book – The Changeling

Apollo and his wife Emma live in New York together. We know that Apollo has trauma caused by his father going AWOL and he is tormented by nightmares of his eventual return. Eventually Apollo and Emma have a child named Brian, and everything is awesome. If really tiring. Apollo is totally engaged, and actually chooses to stay at home and allow Emma to continue her job at the library. But things shift left of center, and everything begins sliding off and into the drink when Emma begins to develop postpartum depression. Drugs don’t help, and worse, Emma is nigh on certain that Brian has been replaced with another child. Yes, conundrum.

Emma is tormented by disappearing messages. She seems to be totally losing track of reality. And Apollo? He isn’t backing his wife up. He’d like her to just take some more drugs, thank you very much. And with that, Emma chains up Apollo, hammers on him some, and then kills Brian. For some reason she used boiling water to do the deed. And then, poof, Emma goes missing.

Along the way, Apollo discovers a very rare copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. He finds a buyer online, William Webster Weaver, but it turns out, that the buyer, he isn’t who he says he is. He has actually been tracking Apollo, his wife, and the death of his son. This guy too had something happen to his baby, and he wants to try and get his wife back. Apollo though, would just like the cash. This William guy, just isn’t worth all this drama.

Long story short, the Apollo agrees to go with William in order to track Emma out to an island. This guy has a boat, and so… match made in heaven? When the duo arrive, they are attacked and imprisoned by women. Cal, the leader of this female cult, tells Apollo about a mythical story and how babies were replaced in the story. And, oh, by the way, that is exactly what happened to Brian as well. He was replaced. And now, he’s a changeling. Cal also is of the mind that Apollo’s new boat-friend, is actually Mr. Kinder Garten. Wait, um what, sorry? He is the ultimate evil in the world. Kinder Garten only was using Apollo to help him get to the impossible to find island… you see, the island lives between realities. And Apollo managed to invite the evil in. Good job Apollo.

Well, Kinder Garten is actually a legion, a host for thousands, and he has come to wreak havoc on the island. Pillage. Burn. Destroy. But Cal and Apollo manage to get the women and children to the boat, where they can flee for their lives. Cal and Apollo stay behind where Cal manages to run through the hell-spawn with a stake. Then Apollo leaves the island, and heads to Central Park, where he knows that Emma has gone to find her lost, swapped child. Apollo, follows Emma’s lead, and heads underground, only to find himself staring at an enormous eye. The end. No. No. No. That can’t be the end. Yes, it can. Let’s explain why.

The Changeling Show Explained

Who Is/Was William Wheeler? – well, we know that William Webster Weaver comes from a Norwegian familial heritage. We also know that one of his family traveled over on the ship to America that was physically impossible, without otherworldly help. By whom? A monster that we saw, once before, that lives deep within a murky river. Remember that? Right. We also learn that William was the tech savvy individual behind the disappearing messages that Emma was receiving. And while we know that Cal “killed” William, we also know that he is probably not dead as he was dragged away by the monster for some other purpose to be revealed later. (Wait, what later? That was basically the end! Well, supposedly there will be a Changeling season 2… which I strongly object to, but that is a topic of a different discussion.)

Who is this Kinder Garten Business? – “Children’s Garden.” Well, we know there are thousands of these people, working together for some darker maleficent purpose. These people are doing the bidding of some darker being/presence. A monster. And the monster is bidding them to nab children and replace them with different children in their place.

What is the Deal with the Faerie Tale Book? – Throughout the entirety of the show, we keep coming back to this leitmotif of a faerie tale. A children’s book that tells of monsters, unicorns and mythological beasts. And within the book, we learn that there are faeries that are prone to stealing, and keeping, babies. They keep them, hold them close, and they refuse to ever let them go. Hrm. What could that possibly mean?

The Changeling’s Defining Quote: “When you have to save the one you love, you become something else. You will transform. You know, the only real magic, Apollo, is the things you’ll do for the ones you love.”

Why Shouldn’t There Be A The Changeling Season 2? – OK, look. You are probably an American. Which means, when I say… this show is a fairy-tale, you saw, AWWW, DISNEY FAIRY-TALES ARE THE BEST! And no. That’s wrong. First of all, this isn’t even a fairy-tale… it’s a faerie tale. Or even a tale of fae. Fairies are evil creatures filled with hate, spite, and should fill you with unimaginable dread. Fairie Tales are stories with gruesome, sad, and very dark endings. I mean, have you read a real Brother Grimm story, ever? Not the cleaned up versions. A real one.

For example – a particularly horrific incident occurs in “The Robber Bridegroom” when a couple of bandits drag a maiden into their underground hideout. Okay. Bad. But THEN COMES THE PRINCE! No. No, he doesn’t. Then they force her to drink wine – OK PG-13, got it- no… it gets better. They force her to drink wine until her heart bursts. Pop. Then? They rip the clothes off her corpse, and proceed to hack her body to pieces. Go ahead… Disney that story for us, shall you?

Personally, I am very concerned that since there isn’t already a Changeling book 2 to base our story on, these American producers will basically turn this great faerie tale into a Fairy-tale. They’ll retcon Brian back from the dead. They’ll allow Apollo and Emma to save the day. But that isn’t what this story is all about!

What is The Changeling All About?

In a New York Times review, Terrence Rafferty described The Changeling as being about “the anxieties and ambivalence’s of modern parenting, the psychological value of the stories we tell ourselves and our children, and the rigors of survival in urban America.” And I would go a step further… and about the horrors of postpartum depression. Urban survivalism with a chaser of postpartum chaos, told through the lens of faerie horror.

The show (and the book) do a great job of compellingly teaching us that through women, mother’s to daughters, a chain of unbroken magic, and knowledge is shared. The information was learned, intuited, and infused onward to their daughters innately. This is a magical experience. Childbirth, child rearing, child relating. Magical. And deep in the recesses of these magics sprout the demons and terrors of darkness. Ideas that tear down these magical ideals, and attempt to unsettle this known lore, with its own chaos.

Personally, ending with the monster’s eye? Perfect. Stop there. We know that something deep within Emma broke. We know that she (realistically) murdered her own son, or more relevantly, something broke within her that was akin to Bryan dying. Either way. And we saw, depicted clearly, the terrors that come from this sort of real, or mental, tragedy. Fantastical islands of women, voodoo rituals, evil enchantresses. We get it. The show ends with an eye of the demon. Full stop. But if it continues, we’ll be given Disney Princesses, and happy endings. And I? Personally, don’t want any of it.

Edited by: CY