After leaving us with a cliffhanger in episode 5, episode 6 of The Changeling (Season 1) moves the story away from the main plot and shows us the why and when of Emma’s narrative. While Clark Backo was at the show’s center, the last few episodes pushed her to the background, not letting us know the reasons for her character’s motivations. That actor is fantastic in the new episode, giving us a much-needed window into the mother’s perspective and what led her to do the things that she did.

The following article looks at what happens in “Aftermath” and what lies ahead. Spoiler Alert!

The Changeling (Season 1) Episode 6 “Aftermath” Recap:

The episode opens on the day of Emma ‘supposedly’ killing Brian. However, since we are to see things from Emma’s perspective, let’s assume that she didn’t actually kill Brian but someone or something that was replaced with her baby in order to push her to the edge of insanity. Anyway, after the deed, Emma throws the kettle we saw in the earlier episodes, breaks the window, and escapes before the police arrive. We also see her totally enamored by a twig from a tree that we later learn to have been found in baby Brian’s crib. She takes the twig, runs away, and receives a message from ‘William’ featuring the quote from Apollo’s book. The text further irritates her, so she dumps the phone. We briefly see her floating, which might signify her as a powerful entity to be reckoned with.

We then see her taking a ferry, where Kim spots her and follows her. Halfway through the Washington Bridge, Kim signals someone and throws Emma into the water, telling her that this is the only way she can find the truth about her baby. At this point, we are not sure if Kim was always aware of Emma’s deteriorating conditions and ‘the wise ones,’ but I can assume that it will come up again soon.

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Someone from Cal’s group takes Emma to a secluded island. Emma is pissed off at this point because I think she expected to see baby Brian after the ritual that Cal might have asked her to perform. However, when that didn’t happen, Emma must have felt betrayed and angry at Cal, who now claims that Emma needs to rest before discussing it further. Cal tells Emma that Brian is gone, and all the other women on the island have suffered similarly and are still without their children. The ritual is only about getting the mother out of the spell cast by the monsters who put a ‘replica’ (the changeling) instead of the actual child. Since Emma thought that Cal would help her get the baby back, she is now restless, so Cal decides to put her to sleep and calm her nerves.

The Changeling (Season 1) Episode 6 - HOF
Clark Backo in “The Changeling,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

The drug, coupled with her sense of anxiety, leads Emma to dream about odd things, but the book’s phrase keeps haunting her. When she wakes up, she inscribes the phrase on the wall that we also saw in the previous episode when Apollo was in the same cell. Anyway, Cal comes in and finally tells her that once a baby has been replaced by a ‘changeling’, the mother will not be able to get her child back. However, Emma is persistent and decides to find the tree that matches the twig she found in her baby’s crib. At the dining area, she requests a woman who has two children about a way to escape the island. She tells Emma how to get to the boat shed, leading her to break the boat out and go solo in search of answers. As she tries to get on the boat, she nearly drowns but somehow finds the strength and raises the boat to the mainland.

Of course, she first visits the library, where she collects a host of books for the island, along with ‘To the Waters and The Wild’ – the book that Apollo’s father used to read to him. Before she heads back, she watches the snippets of news bulletins that show the story of Apollo being taken to the hospital with brutal injuries. When she returns to the island, she slowly starts developing the library by stacking the books for anyone to read. Till this point, we have come to realize that Emma is not just headstrong and persistent but also intelligent enough not to lead the crazy that she has been portrayed as. Since she is just now stuck with the twig, she questions the woman who helped her earlier about some similar things occurring to her and learns about her finding a leaf in her baby’s crib after the ritual. She draws her leaf, and Emma discovers that it belongs to the Norway maple species of trees that supposedly roots out over the parent tree, choking it to death.

The Changeling (Season 1) Episode 6 “Aftermath” Ending Explained:

Will Emma find Brian in Little Norway?

Emma asks Cal if she can use the internet, but when she tells her that she would need to go to the southern end, Emma goes back to the mainland. Only this time, she goes through the sewers of New York and meets a guy named Wheels. He drives her around the underground society that is almost similar to the one that lies above it. However, it is more inclusive, has no hierarchy difference, and works like clockwork. He leads her to a secretive passage that takes her to one of the subway stations. He promises to be there for her return, but only if she brings a book that the ‘history buff’ in him loves.

Emma then returns to the library again to find the connection between the Norway maple and Brian. She looks through the internet and finds a map of all the New York City trees and prints it out. However, before she can leave, she hears someone coming in early for work, which prompts her to hide in the women’s restroom. While waiting there, she hears a gunshot and Apollo screaming his lungs out, trying to look for Emma. This sequence leads him to prison, but Emma sneaks out and runs away from the police officers who chase her down. She barely makes it to the underground society and then sits down with Wheels for a brief chat. Since the Norway Maple comes up in the conversation, Wheels, a connoisseur of all things historic, directs her attention to Forest Hill in Queens, which used to be called – Little Norway because of all the immigrants that came in the early 17th century.

The ending of Changeling (Season 1) Episode 6 finds Emma back at the island stacking the library with the books she has brought. She hands out Apollo’s book to Cal, requesting her to give it to Brian in case he comes to find her there after her attempt becomes unsuccessful. We see her rowing back to the mainland as Cal looks towards Emma, glowing with a blue crystal halo. Cal’s look is no longer filled with pity or worry for Emma, who could not find her child. Instead, it feels like an affirmation that makes us believe that Emma might be the mother who would go far to find her child.

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The Changeling (Season 1), Episode 6 Links: IMDbRotten Tomatoes
The Changeling (Season 1), Episode 6 Cast: LaKeith Stanfield, Clark Backo, Adian Porter, Amirah Vann, Jared Abrahamson, Alexis Louder
Where to watch The Changeling

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