Season 1 Finale of The Changeling, i.e., episode 8, is here, and as expected, it leaves things unresolved for the mystery to continue. While that is totally okay, I have come to expect shows to have some kind of singular closure to one of their many themes. With The Changeling, we don’t get that. I mean, not exactly. The show is still playing safe, keeping all its cards near its chest; however, as a viewer, that might come off as frustrating.
What was Emma’s third wish? Is there really a monster in the show? What is it trying to say about social media? Where is baby Brian? These are just some of the questions that ran through the narrative and never got a definitive answer. At least, not yet.
So, before we sit in anticipation that Apple TV+ picks it up for a Season 2, here is a quick recap and speculation about the final episode of The Changeling’s Season 1. Please be aware of spoilers.
The Changeling (Season 1 Finale), Episode 8 “Battle of the Island” Recap:
Season 1 finale of The Changeling, i.e., Episode 8, begins with a recap of the entire season. No, not the recap we see before every episode pointing at what happened previously, but a quick take back to all the important things that have led us to this point.
The recap is quick to establish that Norway serves as an important plot point and that all these things are in some way connected to it. Emma’s photograph that now hangs at an art gallery and the photographer all belong to Norway. William had Norwegian descent, and Emma, who we saw trying her best to find baby Brian, has also been diverted towards the Norway Maple tree that only resides in Little Norway in New York.
Anyway, the actual episode opens right where we left things in episode 6 before the show moved away to explore two important characters of the show more deeply. William, who has now transformed into someone else, is still inside the cell on the island. Apollo, who has just met his wife, Gretta, rushes towards him and realizes that he has actually killed his daughter and is named Kinder Garten.
Now, this directly refers to and establishes one of the main themes of the show – social media and its perversive nature. Kinder Garten is an online community that, according to William, consists of 10,000 men. Are all these men, in some way, referring to those who turn into monsters (trolls) on the internet and take out their frustration of losing control over their own lives by finding some kind of power somewhere? I’d like to think so.
After realizing that William is not who he claims to be and is some sort of metaphorical and actual monster, Apollo is stunned. He can’t believe that the meek and outcast William, who led him here, has killed his daughter. To top it off, William has also called ‘the cavalry,’ which is a creature that has been teased throughout the show.
Now, we never truly see the creature in its flesh; the idea that there’s one is enough, I suppose. When Apollo realizes that the creature is approaching him, and most importantly, approaching the kids who are watching the play that Cal had organized – he panics and rushes towards the community buildings. However, before he can reach there, the monster attacks, burning much of the community’s effort to the ground.
Apollo is disheartened to see the wreckage, especially the library – a place that would help people off the ground; turned to smithers. He somehow climbs through the wreckage and finds that Gretta has died. A sense of guilt sets in. This is when Cal and a host of other women, along with the children, arrive and take Apollo with them, as they now have no way other than escaping from the island.
Cal, who has been a strong leader thus far, leads the women, children, and Apollo through the forest on the island, but since the creature has approached from the one way we have seen to the water, they have to use the other one. The other, and the only way now left to escape, leads to the sea through a huge cliff.
All of them rappel down the cliff one by one as Apollo and Cal become the last ones to do it. The approaching creature cuts off the rope that they had attached to a tree’s trunk, and Cal and Apollo get a little injured before reaching the bottom of the cliff.
Cal, who is the head of the women trope, asks the leftover women and children of the community to get into a naval boat that she has secured for instances like this one. However, she orders Apollo to leave the community now and take the paddle boat to his wife instead. She also says goodbye to everyone and decides that it is now her time to go. She tells Apollo about the myth of Callisto and how she can’t wait to meet her child finally after she perishes.
She puts him into the boat and tells him about the glowing, supernatural nature of Emma and why he should now go find her at the only forest in New York City and help aid her with the search for baby Brian.
Meanwhile, the creature, who has been getting mad all this while, throws a huge tree toward the boat that now contains the survivors. While it does not hit the boat, we can see a totally unhinged William now coaxing the creature to do it again.
Is William dead?
Cal stays back to fight it because the creature (who she refers to as a ‘she’) can swim. As Apollo paddles along, we see a brave Cal climbing back on the cliff to face William. Before reaching the edge of the cliff, Cal had fired a shot at William, which injured him. So, when she reaches the edge, she beats him to a pulp with a rock and then later stabs him. However, before William got unconscious, he said that the creature would get her, to which Cal had replied, ‘She will not let it have that satisfaction.’ So, after finishing William off and looking away at her community, almost reaching a point of safety, she leaps off the cliff and kills herself.
Assuming that such a beating had left William unharmed before, we can assume that he is not dead yet. We also hear the creature hurtling him away into the forest.
The Changeling (Season 1 Finale), Episode 8 “Battle of the Island” Ending Explained:
Is Baby Brian alive?
The show now conjoins Emma’s quest and Apollo’s towards the Norway Maple as one. We can see Emma approaching the Forest Park. She glides through and spots a merry-go-round inside the forest. The author, who also serves as the narrator, is again narrating Apollo’s book – only this time, its metaphors and similes make more sense as Emma desperately looks for her baby.
The Season 1 finale of The Changeling establishes a few open-ended things that are left unanswered. We see William is not dead and is constantly communicating with his Kinder Garten community. From the likes of it, we can assume that he is building an army of trolls that he can use to further harass other mothers and desperate individuals with no idea of parenthood on the internet. He is also closely monitoring the live feed to a cave’s entrance.
The conclusion of Season 1 finds Apollo digging through baby Brian’s grave and being bitten by something. It’s safe to assume that it might be ‘the changeling’ that was used to replace baby Brian. However, we can then see Apollo crawling through the cave we saw earlier, and when he reaches a dead end, we briefly see a creature opening its eye with the hint of a scream in the air.
Now, this creature that we saw at the end can be interpreted to be the one fairy creature that we have been hearing of from Apollo’s book. Now, since this fairy creature’s favorite meal is the ‘most beautiful child,’ we can assume that it has consumed baby Brian or uses him as a pawn so that it can stay alive. At this point, we can also assume that the screaming creature that we saw can be, in fact, a version of baby Brian, who has been kept away from the traumas of his parents for so long that it turned him into a monster, too. However, these are mere speculations, and having not read the book, it’s hard to really point out what the show is trying to say. In order to get more answers, our best bet would be to wait for Season 2 of The Changeling.