The Changeling Episode 4 Recap: How Do We Protect Our Children?

“The Wise Ones”

Apollo stands on a pier looking a solemn, a bridge in the background, in The Changeling Episode 4
Screenshot/Apple TV+

The following recap contains spoilers for The Changeling Episode 4 (written by Kelly Marcel and directed by Dana Gonzalez), but not the book by Victor LaValle.

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.

Though I didn’t call attention to it last week, something felt off about how William (Samuel Herring) entered the story of The Changeling. That he wanted to buy the signed copy of To Kill a Mockingbird that Apollo (LaKeith Stanfield) had found was clear enough, but that didn’t explain why he was tracking Apollo down at a support group meeting, particularly since Apollo had by that point given the book to Patrice (Malcolm Barrett) to sell. It’s not clear why William couldn’t have just purchased the book from Patrice, unless Patrice himself wanted to keep Apollo involved in the process to help him with his will to live.

Apollo, Patrice, and William sit on a boat drinking beers
Screenshot/Apple TV+

That is how I read the events of Episode 3 as I originally watched them, but in light of what happens in Episode 4, I think we have to retroactively read everything with the book as part of a play on William’s part to insinuate himself into Apollo’s life. If I began the episode as insufficiently suspicious of William, I leave it as perhaps excessively so.

He lied about not knowing how to pilot a boat. He may not have lied about wanting to give the book to his wife, but he definitely lied about her refusing the gift, since he hasn’t even seen her in months. He knew who Apollo was before they even met, and he knew the details of what he’d been through. It would seem, indeed, that William has gone through something similar, and this was all a matter of enlisting Apollo’s help to find their respective wives.

They end up on North Brother Island, which exists and was in fact home to Typhoid Mary. You could go there, but you’re not allowed to. The location is real, anyway.

Cal talks while holding puppets
Screenshot/Apple TV+

Here, they find Cal (Jane Kaczmarek) and her followers, who attack Apollo on sight, or maybe because he was yelling, “I am the god Apollo!” in their yard.

Cal talks to Apollo about Rapunzel and the puppet show she’s preparing to put on. She seems to be trying to guide him to a revelation, but when she learns that William is with him, it’s back to violence. How do we protect our children?

The group recognizes William and makes clear their intent to kill him. They throw the two men in separate but adjoining cells, and Cal tells Apollo he needs to be ready to eat a big piece of humble pie. William begs him to do so, whether he means it or not, and tells him that everyone on the island will die if he doesn’t.

William looks through the bars of a cell, his face bloody
Screenshot/Apple TV+

I don’t know if that means William has planted a bomb or something, but everything Cal says in Episode 4 should get us thinking about whether these men are somehow the real villains. We have very little to go on that points in that direction, it’s true, but I can’t help but wonder if The Changeling is gearing up towards a critique of the patriarchy that we can only see the fuzzy outlines of at this point.

Episode 4 is bookended with scenes of Lillian Kagwa (Alexis Louder) on a New York pier. In the opening sequence, she’s dragging a heavy suitcase. As the episode ends, we see this suitcase on the riverbed below. We can infer she threw it in the water. Should we also start inferring that she killed Brian West (Jared Abrahamson) and this is how she disposed of his body? I don’t know, but that’s where my mind went.

Throughout Episode 4, Victor LaValle’s narration suggests we’ve crossed over into a fairy tale. Perhaps there are some clues to what’s to come in the story of Rapunzel. Perhaps there are clues in the references to Greek mythology—Cal is short for Callisto, and of course our protagonist is named Apollo. On the other hand, we haven’t actually witnessed anything undeniably supernatural yet.

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

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