Apple’s new series, The Changeling, is just one of many shows this year that falls into a category I’ve had to address in my critiques. Considering the recent wave of adapted stories, it’s safe to say that Hollywood is suffering from a significant creative crisis. Some opt for the easy route, reviving old classics for a quick cash grab, while others struggle to make use of their ideas, ultimately squandering them. The Changeling, like many projects this year, possesses a promising concept but fails to execute it properly, eventually losing its way and alienating the audience with subpar content.
Let’s briefly touch on the plot… Apollo (LaKeith Stanfield) seizes the opportunity to meet Emma (Clark Backo), a library worker, and successfully secures a coffee date. The evening goes well, and a love blossoms between them. As a result of their romance, they have a child. However, being a mother proves to be a challenge for Emma. She believes her baby is not really a baby, leading to a confrontation with Apollo. Ultimately, they make a decision that will completely separate their paths.
The Changeling commences with a strong, American Gods-style introduction, hinting that the story will delve into a fantastical realm. We witness a ship struggling to reach the shore in the middle of the ocean, and with references borrowed from American Gods, we anticipate a connection to a supernatural element. And indeed, that’s what transpires. Emma encounters a witch in the forest and makes three wishes. The witch instructs her not to break the thread tied to her wrist until her wishes are fulfilled. However, Apollo, who claims to be a god throughout the series, demonstrates his power and thoughtlessly severs the thread, leading to a series of peculiar events.
Emma asserts that her baby is not a “baby.” As the process descends into madness, she and Apollo engage in constant arguments. Then, a significant turn of events occurs: Emma and Apollo part ways painfully. The mystery behind what happened to both of them and the truth behind the baby is effectively built up until this point. Especially up to the fourth episode, the series expertly weaves the witchcraft theme, which has been subtly concealed in the background. As a viewer, I believed I was in for an unexpected twist in the finale, but the investment I had mentally made did not yield the anticipated results. The series derails in the last four episodes, descending into a void unlike anything I had encountered before. Particularly the final two episodes appear entirely disconnected from the rest of the series.
Although we may have questions and uncertainties about how two different characters’ experiences in the fifth and sixth episodes will tie together, the series inexplicably adopts a theme reminiscent of Room 104 in the seventh episode, providing no contribution to the existing narrative. In fact, among the eight episodes, the seventh episode has by far the lowest IMDb rating. Following this unnecessary episode inserted prior to the finale, the actual ending creates chaos without answering any questions, leaving the audience bewildered. Like Lost, the series adds question upon question without offering answers, leading to a loss of interest on my part. I don’t believe I’m alone in my sentiments. The series’ descent into chaos towards the end is not just my personal viewpoint. The series genuinely loses its way, and as a result, I highly doubt it will see a second season.
In summary… The Changeling is a mediocre series that fails to deliver on the promising mystery it initially presents. I must renew my criticism of high-budget companies in this regard: while they may not struggle to generate ideas, they consistently falter when it comes to executing those ideas in episodes. The Changeling, especially among what I’ve watched this year, is one of the worst at conveying its concept. It loses its way to such an extent that, in the final episodes, you begin to suspect you are watching a completely different show. Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed the stark distinction between generating an idea and effectively translating it into a narrative on numerous occasions this year, and the brunt of this falls on the actors involved. LaKeith Stanfield and especially Clark Backo’s superb performances go entirely to waste.
Cast & Crew
writers: Kelly Marcel, Victor LaValle (based on the novel by)
starring: LaKeith Stanfield, Clark Backo, Adina Porter
USA | 2023 | 8 EPISODES |