This review will contain spoilers. Be aware if you haven’t seen the episode.
Without a doubt the oddest TV show I have seen in 2023, The Changeling starts somewhat slow. The show’s premise seems cool, our protagonist’s wife and child are abducted into some fairytale and he has to go and save them. The first episode builds our characters from the ground up, and that’s pretty much it. We get some weird moments and some indication of what is to come, but we don’t dive into the ‘fantasy’ or the ‘horror’ too much in episode 1.
The Changeling stars LaKeith Stanfield as Apollo and Clark Backo as Emmy. Apollo and Emmy had traumatic childhoods, creating two adults that are pretty closed off to the world. It takes Apollo 6 attempts to try to land a date with Emmy, but once he does the chemistry is instantaneous. The two characters fit together like a natural pair, and their relationship feels real. Not everything is perfect, and while the relationship is steady, there is an overarching feeling that either character could implode at a moment’s notice.
Apollo is far and away my favourite character so far, although the cast remains small through episode 1. His past is mysterious, he has weird mannerisms at times, and he seems confident and nervous at the same time. It’s an interesting combo that has me glued to my chair, unsure of his next action.
Emmy is more outgoing than Apollo, putting on a smile for the world. She does a better job of putting on a mask, instead of avoiding the world. Her trip to Brazil kickstarts the fantasy/horror aspects, and although she probably won’t be in season 1 as much, I think her character plays off Apollo well.
The world around our characters doesn’t start forming, apart from the creepy river lady in Brazil, but you can feel the weird coming. Apollo has weird dreams about things that can’t be real, but I assume will be. We know this is set in some kind of a fairy tale, it’s just a matter of when that shows up.
The plot of the episode moves a a decent pace, but there is a lack of things that happen. It starts slow, with our characters just getting to know each other. The audience is introduced to the world at large slowly, but we still don’t know a lot. Apollo and Emmy bond and their relationship blooms after Emmy returns from Brazil. Apollo cuts the bracelet that Emmy received from the river lady in Brazil, the bracelet she was told to not cut.
Now I don’t know about you, but I would have followed the instructions of the magic river lady. I think all of the problems our characters are going to face will stem from that cutting action. We see two out of three of Emmy’s wishes come true, her wedding and the birth of a healthy child. What we don’t know is the third wish, although Michelle does try to tell Apollo.
Based on some of the comments Michelle makes, and the premise of the show, I would assume it has something to do with Emmy getting special powers, but we don’t have anything concrete yet.
To end the episode, the narrator comes back in with some philosophical lines while we are showing a couple of one-off moments that infer the trouble that is coming for Apollo and Emmy.
I enjoyed episode 1, even if it doesn’t dive too deeply into our story. I liked the way a couple of flashbacks were used to fill time and give more background information on Apollo and Emmy. Anytime we can be shown things instead of told, makes me a happy camper. I do see this show getting a million times weirder, and probably harder to follow by the end, but I think it’s a show worth checking on Apple TV +!