Sunday, July 21, 2024

“The Changeling”: A Haunting Exploration into Relationships and Trauma

LaKeith Stanfield as Apollo

Where to Watch: Streaming on Apple + 

Release Date: September 8th

Season: 1

Rated: R

Starring: LaKeith Stanfield and Clark Backo

Synopsis: A fairy tale for grown-ups. A horror story, a parenthood fable and a perilous odyssey through a New York City you didn’t know existed.

The Changeling is not your typical horror-sci-fi series. It’s a gripping narrative that explores the complexities of relationships, childhood trauma, and the blurred line between reality and the supernatural. Victor LaValle’s book has been adapted into a series that keeps you on the edge of your seat while also diving deep into the human psyche. At first glance, one might think this series is about the perils of modern dating and relationships, and it is, but it’s also so much more. It reflects the challenges we face in our personal lives and how our past traumas can shape our present and future. 

Apollo and Emmy

The characters in The Changeling are brilliantly portrayed, with LaKeith Stanfield leading the way as Apollo Kagwa. Apollo’s journey is one of resilience and determination as he seeks to provide for the loving family he never had growing up. His commitment to his family and the challenges he faces, both internally and externally, make him a relatable and compelling character. Stanfield’s performance is nothing short of charming, and he brings authenticity to the role, making Apollo a character that resonates with audiences; I know he resonated with me. So much so that I wanted him to win… especially being a Black man who was fighting for his child and wife! That is not a norm in modern television on a big platform. 

Clark Backo as Emmy

Clark Backo, who plays Emmy, Apollo’s pregnant wife, delivers a strong performance and shares palpable chemistry with Stanfield. Emmy’s character is introduced as both strong-willed and kind-hearted, which is why she initially hesitates to pursue a relationship with Apollo. However, as their love story unfolds, we witness the transformation of their relationship into one built on love and support. Emmy, like Apollo, carries her past trauma, and their shared experiences make their journey together all the more captivating. Emmy goes through a character transformation that may lead viewers to dislike her. She makes decisions that will leave you flabbergasted, but eventually, you learn what causes this change. Until then, you find yourself despising the character and trying to figure out why she is such a hot mess.

The Story

The heart of the series lies in its storytelling. The Changeling does an excellent job of drawing viewers in and keeping them engaged. It skillfully blurs the line between reality and fiction, leaving audiences questioning whether the characters’ experiences are a result of childhood trauma or something more supernatural. This narrative technique adds depth to the story and invites viewers to invest in the characters’ struggles and revelations. 

While the series can be emotionally challenging at times (especially when exploring Apollo’s and Emmy’s backstories), it is these experiences that make the characters so relatable. Life is not always easy, and people often carry the weight of their traumas with them. The Changeling doesn’t shy away from this reality and, instead, uses it as a driving force for the characters’ development. 

The Changeling also looks into the histories of both Apollo and Emmy’s parents, a crucial aspect of the story’s development and the evolution of their character arcs. This exploration emphasizes the significance of confronting personal demons and unresolved issues comprehensively. As these characters begin to unearth the truths of their childhood, they are confronted with a new layer of complexity that can be even more emotionally challenging than their own existing struggles.

Clark Backo as Emmy and LaKeith Stanfield as Apollo

Visuals and Directing

In terms of visual storytelling, The Changeling masterfully crafts a dark and profound atmosphere that significantly elevates the viewing experience. The series employs remarkable use of flashbacks and haunting imagery, lending an unexpected yet highly effective eerie quality to the narrative. These elements work in tandem to enrich the overall engagement and immersion of the audience.

Attention to detail in lighting, set design, and costume design plays a pivotal role in setting the tone for each scene. Whether it’s the evocative flashbacks or the enigmatic dream sequences, these aspects contribute significantly to the series’ overall impact. They not only transport viewers into the world of the characters but also help establish the emotional resonance of the storytelling.

Production quality emerges as a standout element in the success of The Changeling. This becomes especially evident as the series ventures beyond the borders of the United States to explore international settings. The seamless production values enhance the authenticity of these external landscapes, making the series more immersive and believable.


In conclusion, The Changeling is a horror-sci-fi series that demands your attention. Its exploration of dating, relationships, and childhood trauma is both thought-provoking and chilling. LaKeith Stanfield’s exceptional performance, coupled with the series’ implied themes and references to books, makes it a must-watch. The Changeling is the kind of series that will have viewers talking for the rest of the year and may even prompt them to pick up a copy of Victor LaValle’s book.

Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @fdapperdr Dapper Dr. Feel is a Entertainment journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association and African American Film Association.

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