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“When a baby is born, a mother is also born… The woman existed, but a mother is something entirely new.” Emma’s sister’s words echo throughout the episode as Emma not only adjusts to life as a new mother, but also used to being the mother of a possibly supernatural baby. It’s not like Brian showed any signs of Marvel-inspired superpowers or resembled Kuato Total recall, which Apollo ironically compared him to, but something just isn’t right. And if you ask Emma, Brian knows something is wrong too.
Before she marches wildly through the streets of New York, aggressively pleading with a six-month-old child strapped tightly to her chest, Emma’s descent into madness begins in a completely normal state. For many women, the postpartum period is a time of mixed emotions, compounded by the hormones and exhaustion that come with raising children. With her recurring nightmare returning, Emma and Apollo find themselves sleep-deprived, while Emma desperately tries to get baby Brian to latch onto her breast. There is a raw and restless energy that all new parents can relate to.
At first, Emma is full of fear and unwavering devotion – at one point she tells Apollo that she now has “this thing” that she loves so much that if something happens to “it” she will have to kill herself – Apollo, on the other hand, is the one who takes over fatherhood , as if it were his divine duty on this earth. Interestingly, Emma initiates her behavior at the end of the episode by referring to Brian as “it” where she doesn’t even believe the baby is the same one she gave birth to. Most of Emma’s scenes with the baby are full of shadows and darkness, while Apollo’s scenes show light and the busy life of the city. He takes Brian to the park every morning to spend time with the other fathers and carries him in a small tote bag close to his heart while he hunts for antique books with his best friend Patrice. They go to an estate sale, where Apollo’s mood gets even better when he finds a first edition of To kill a mockingbird Inside is a personal note from Harper Lee to Truman Capote, a find he says is worth at least $10,000.
Jonathan van Tulleken’s camera work juxtaposes the practically floating Apollo and the joy of new parents and takes us into a strange perspective, that of a creepy observer. As he’s in the park, a shot comes from a distance, our view slightly blocked by trees, as if we’re watching from across the street; As he puts Brian in the car, the camera captures him from an alley; When he’s in the attic selling real estate, the camera is often positioned in small hiding places, buried under various items. Without knowing it, he feels like Apollo is being watched, but he keeps putting Brian on the ground or turning his back on him. Since we know this story is about a changeling, we have to pay close attention every time Brian is left alone, because a changeling is the decoy left behind when a real baby is kidnapped.
As Brian gallivants around town with his firstborn, Emma realizes that the baby may be hers Is is actually observed. Just eight weeks after giving birth, Emma has to return from maternity leave because her family relies on her health insurance. Of course, Apollo sends her selfies of his adventures with Brian, but at some point she receives pictures of Brian and Apollo from some of the angles mentioned above, pictures that Apollo couldn’t possibly have taken since he is oblivious to being watched in every picture. As soon as Emma looks at the photos properly, they disappear.
When Emma asks Apollo about the mysterious pictures, he doesn’t take her seriously and treats her to a little patronization because she wonders if he deleted the pictures from the text thread because that was impossible (well, it was back then ). Kudos to Apple for the Do Not Send feature!! ). Although she knows details about Apollo’s outing with Brian, particularly about him changing the baby on the ground, Brian refuses to confirm her experience. When she takes a photo late at night, the picture is gone when she runs to Apollo to show him. As LaValle recounts at the beginning, “After two months of little or no sleep, a person could suffer from panic attacks, paranoia, and phobias that no lullaby can alleviate.” On the surface, Emma’s psychosis could be attributed to sleep deprivation and the dangers of postpartum. But the more she is confronted with the disturbing images, the more disturbed she becomes.
Although she finds some solace in an online support group (which gives us a great scene where she madly covers the windows with aluminum foil to block out the light), Emma finds herself circling in the drain during one of Brian’s doctor’s appointments. The tension between mother and son is palpable, and during the scenes in the doctor’s office there are scenes where Emma begs Brian to stop crying. Emma has a confused look in her eyes as she watches the baby. The bars of the child’s bed mimic a prison cell, showing how trapped she is in her own thoughts. Soon she reaches her boiling point, calling her crying son a “little shit.”
The doctor assures Emma that Brian is perfectly healthy and normal, but can tell from Emma’s appearance and nervous mood that the new mother is having problems. Emma storms home and talks to Brian so aggressively that passers-by look her way. She says sternly, “We both know something is wrong…one of us has to change it” and calls the quiet baby “the devil.” She walks into the street and screams at traffic while a man on the sidewalk screams what we’re all thinking: “It’s not a real baby!”
Emma bursts through the door and throws Brian into Apollo’s arms. The baby immediately stops crying, making Emma even more upset. She tells Apollo that Brian is an asshole and retreats to the bedroom where she takes another crazy picture of Brian, but this time it’s a picture of her carrying him after the appointment. Apollo asks his wife if she is okay and states that the doctor called and expressed concern about Emma’s mental state. Together they agree that she will talk to someone about the postpartum period and she is eventually prescribed medication.
Six months after Brian’s birth, Emma’s sister Kim comes to check on the new family because Emma hasn’t been answering the phone in the last few weeks. It’s time for his semi-annual checkup, but a visibly heartbroken Emma says that Brian isn’t even home and explains that she has something to do. Kim accompanies her to a run-down apartment building, where Emma is invited to visit by someone named Cal. When they arrive at the correct apartment, a scary-looking woman hands Emma a bag full of chains before quickly closing the door.
As if the bag of chains wasn’t strange enough, Kim says she’s seen the look on Emma’s face before…on her late mother. This causes her to reveal a family secret to Emma. Emma knew all her life that her parents had died in a fire; However, she learns from her sister that the facts of that fateful day are completely at odds with her memory of the truth. So far, Kim told Emma that the fire started after the sisters were at school and that the fire trucks were already there when they got home. The truth is much more disturbing: Emma and her sister were in the house when their mother set the fire.
Kim says the day started with her mother keeping her home from school. Her mother was visibly worried and told her father, who was upset after a long shift, that she “wanted to keep her close.” She begins to do Kim’s hair (in Emma’s memory, she was the one who had her hair brushed) and sings the same lullaby that Emma sang to Brian at the beginning of the episode. The girls doze off and are woken up by their father, who urges them to leave the house, which is engulfed in fire and smoke. Her father tries to evacuate the family, but her mother sits on a chair in the middle of the fire, pulls Emma into her arms and says cryptically, “We should all go together.” Emma backs away from her mother and says, “Let me go .” Thanks to her father, Emma and Kim make it safely outside and watch as the house goes up in flames. Her father says one last goodbye before returning to save her mother, who is never seen again.
Emma asks her sister why she’s telling her the truth now, and Kim admits that Emma’s face mirrors her mother’s face the day she set the fire. In response, Emma blurts out, “Sometimes I look at Brian and I don’t think he’s my son… he looks like Brian, but it’s like he’s someone else’s son.” Kim is already very worried and tells Emma that she was suffering from exhaustion and had lost her balance because she had to go back to work so quickly. She acknowledges that Emma’s childhood trauma of being left without parents may contribute to her seemingly irrational feelings towards Brian.
When she learns the truth about her parents, Emma goes even further mad. One morning, dressed all in white, she announces that she wants to have Brian baptized, something Apollo’s mother urged her to do, although she was strongly against the idea at the beginning of the episode. It is so important to her to have him baptized that she makes the appointment that day. Apollo becomes upset at being left out of such an important decision, and the couple begins to argue. Apollo says Emma probably wants Brian to perform an exorcism, not a baptism. He explodes and says Emma is the problem, shouting, “Why don’t you take a pill or something?” Apollo’s flippant comment is the final straw for Emma. She returns his cruelty with a blank stare and then calmly leaves the apartment. Before she opens the door, she looks at Apollo and says, “You don’t see it, but you will see it.”
• At the end of the episode, we get a glimpse of Emma’s troubling behavior, which those who read the novel know is coming soon. The way she kicked down the door and entered like a monster tells us everything we need to know.
• Is the transition from baby Brian to changeling Brian likely to occur when they leave him in the living room to sleep? Or maybe it was earlier when he started snapping but ended up biting Emma. It’s hard to say, but nothing could convince Emma that this was her baby.
• Patrice is great comic relief! His “fuckoffy” comment was the perfect joke to this know-it-all white woman.
https://www.vulture.com/article/the-changeling-recap-episode-2-then-comes-a-baby-in-a-baby-carriage.html Recap of “The Changeling” Episode 2