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The Changeling Episode 4 Review And Recap- The Wise One’s Review Puppet Shows, Borrowed Boats, and Tribute Pages

The Changeling Episode, 4 of Apple TV+’s cosmic, horrific fairy tale, offers answers before presenting even more questions. This modern fairytale has so many layers; don’t feel bad if you are confused. Hopefully, the threads will come together as we move on to create the big picture.

It opens on a gloomy, mystical night, something we have come to expect from the show. Apollo’s mother stares into the water, dragging a suitcase up the pier. “Water renews but does not shed its layers,” our narrator, Victor LaVelle, tells us. These openings often remind me of The Twilight Zone. Nothing about this should be scary, but his voiceover and the music give it an eery edge.

The narrator explains that if giant predators can grow legs and make it to land, then witches can exist. The voiceover is always laying crumbs of mysticism. No matter how realistic and grounded the narrative appears, LaValle’s voiceover always leads us to believe something spiritual is at play here.

Rare Edition To Kill A Mockingbird

Apollo (LaKeith Stanfield) and his friend Patrice (Malcolm Barret) are back at the waterfront to sell the rare edition of To Kill A Mockingbird for $70,000. Patrice informs him a social media page is dedicated to his deceased son, Brian. It’s less a eulogy and more a mass judgment on his parenting.

William (Samuel Herring), whom we first met at the survivors’ meeting last week, wants to do the deal on a boat called Child’s Play. Fans of Chucky should have seen the red flags here. He rented the boat especially for the occasion, even though he didn’t know how to drive it. Even more red flags abound.

William starts to break down when he sees the book. He reveals he has bought it for his estranged wife, spending his life savings in the hopes of winning her back. He has a daughter who he feels like he has failed. Something is off about William throughout this interaction. He is either holding back critical information or making up stories. He is too much of a buffoon, crying about his wife and spilling Tab on himself.

Apollo dreams of the whistling kettle and of being chained up by his wife in his flat. He reaches out to Emma’s sister in the cafĂ© the couple had regularly frequented. He wants to pay her back. She helped with the birth, made the arrangements for his son’s funeral, and arranged the gravesite.

Apollo wants to know what Emma’s third wish was. She had the husband and a son. What else did she want when that bracelet fell to the floor? Soon after this meeting, Apollo gets a message saying, “Emma Valentine is Alive.” Months after disappearing into thin air, this is the first hint that she is alive.

In The Hunt For Emma Valentine in The Changeling Episode 4

The unknown number pin drops to Apollo, urging him to come to them to follow the map. Apollo walks past the park, rushes through traffic, and ends up standing in front of William. Apollo is obviously skeptical. How can a man with only an internet connection find his wife when the authorities haven’t been able to for three months? William presents it like he has gone out of his way to help a friend, putting together a task force of amateur internet sleuths.

William tells Apollo that Emma is on an island in the East River with The Wise Ones. This name was said by Monique in the survivor’s group in episode 3, and Emma found their social media page in episode 2. The Wise Ones are clearly at the center of everything in The Changeling.

William presents Apollo with a single piece of evidence that changes everything. It’s a snippet of CCTV that shows Emma, wearing a hooded cloak, walking through the streets of New York like a ghostly apparition. Patrice looks up Williams, and he is exactly who he says he is. At least his internet profile matches up. Apollo has a hunch that following William could end badly, but he’s willing to risk himself to find Emma.

Armed with a Boating for Beginners tutorial and a rented boat, William and Apollo find Emma. They pass Rikers Island and then George Washington Bridge, the same spot Emma said she would jump from if anything happened to their son. The Changeling Episode 4 is another atmospheric one, lensed by Melina Matsoukas. One interesting snippet William tells Apollo is that Patrice has been leaving comments on Brian’s tribute page, which Apollo felt was creepy. It is all glossed over, but one image he shows Apollo is of a sinking boat that is reminiscent of the one shown in the opening scenes of episode 1. Perhaps there is more to Patrice than the light-hearted war veteran we have seen so far. “Posting online is like leaving your front door open,” William tells him. Is that a warning or a threat?

LaKeith Stanfield gives a tortured performance in The Changeling Episode 4 as Apollo, the man who nearly had it all. He throws his wedding ring into the river in anger. His life had imploded. His wife nearly killed him and ended the life of their infant son, and she is walking around New York.

Once again, the visuals are steeped in reality, but the voiceover wants the audience to remember this isn’t all it seems. “Would you even know if you crossed into a fairytale, crossed into a book?” It’s signposting that duality with voiceover played over a shot of Apollo with the red bracelet Emma made her wishes with. What’s real? Who knows what real even is?

“There are portals in the world that we may never know we’ve trespassed through,” Victor says over a flashback of Emma in front of the Brazilian waterfront with the mystical woman.

Meet The Wise Ones

Apollo points out the island from nowhere. It seems unlikely he would spot this island in the dark river, but he does. Williams waits until they leave the boat to reveal the book didn’t work. His wife did not want him back.

The island is home to a creepy abandoned hospital home to Typhoid Mary, who was quarantined for a third of her life. Apollo announces himself in his usual cocky way in the courtyard. You see a shadowy figure run in front of the camera before Apollo is taken down by people in hazmat suits. They beat him up and threw him into the fountain.

Unconscious underwater, he remembers his time with his father, promising him: “No matter what happens, you are coming with me.” The hazmat suit-wearing people know who Emma is and don’t have kind words about her. They take him to Cal (Jane Kaczmarek), whom Monique also mentioned in the survivors group.

Cal is a stern Aunt Lydia-type character (Ann Dowd’s character in The Handmaid’s Tale), making puppets for a kid’s show. The puppet show tells the story of a couple longing for a baby. Once pregnant, she gazed longingly at greens next door. So her husband stole some, but an enchantress appeared and threatened to cure. She agreed to spare his life in return for a baby. The husband protects himself; the enchantress is a helicopter parent. No matter what happens, the man finds his way inside.

It’s a long, complicated yarn that parallels Emma and Apollo’s story. This scene should be offering far more answers than it’s giving. It feels like an added overcomplication in an already complicated tale. A little openness would be welcome right now.

Cal gives us some context. A husband broke into their space and killed three women and seven children. That led them to the island, where she admits she has lost count of the men killed by her people. Cal and her followers believe men will protect themselves over their children. The Wise Ones are looking for a way to protect their children. It seems strange that they are presenting men as a danger to children when the mothers in their cult want to kill them.

Cal starts to talk as the enchantress, the puppet, suddenly comes to life. “A monster looks to be a beautiful maiden.” Things aren’t what they seem, but we already know this: it’s time to give us something more. Something clicks for Apollo that maybe they are right. It’s not a baby. If it’s not a baby and it’s an illusion, something must have created it.

Apollo and William (who has been wandering around the island looking for a phone signal) are marched into a cell. The Wise Ones know who William is and know his wife, Gretta, quite well. So William was holding back information about Emma and The Wise Ones. They violently beat William with a hammer with nails sewn in it. It’s a violent, jarring scene in The Changeling Episode 4. For a second, it genuinely looks like William is dead.

Who Is The Real William?

They tell Apollo he needs to eat a large slice of humble pie. Why? We don’t quite know yet. William’s demeanor immediately changes. He is no longer that meek app developer. He stands a little bit taller despite being bloody and beaten. Williams reveals he’s been driving up and down that river for ages. He knew how to navigate the boat the entire time. Was it all a ruse to seem more relatable to Apollo? William spent ages looking for the island, yet Apollo found it so quickly. Was he right when he told Emma he was the Mighty God Apollo?

William reveals he has been following our protagonist for some time, ever since it was published in the paper that his wife gave birth on the A train. He explains that he became obsessed with Apollo’s relationship with Brian. He was jealous of him being able to give his son the life William never could give his daughters. When William warned about posting on social media, he meant this.

William reveals that one of his daughters died because Gretta listened to Cal as Emma did. At this moment, it’s hard to tell whose side William is on. Does he actually care about Apollo and want to help find Emma? Is he part of this cult that forces women to kill their own children? Does he have some other sinister plan? Too many questions are added to the mystery of Emma and The Wise Ones.

“If you don’t help me, everyone on this island is going to die,” William tells Apollo. Is William a positive figure or something more sinister? Samuel T. Herring, better known as a singer and frontman for Future Islands, is outstanding in this episode. Despite being only his second acting credit, he holds his own against Oscar-nominated Stanfield.

The episode ends where it started, with a shot of a suitcase at the bottom of the pier and his mother staring into it. The Changeling Episode 4 answers some mysteries but also presents us with a lot more. Now we know Emma is alive. Where is she? Is Willaim really just a man trying to get his wife back? What do The Wise Ones want?

Catch up with all our The Changeling recaps here.