The Changeling Episode 6 Recap: There Are Always Two Ways To See Things


Emma lies on the ground with a drawing of a leaf in her hand in The Changeling Episode 6, "Aftermath"
Screenshot/Apple TV+

The following recap contains spoilers for The Changeling Episode 6, “Aftermath” (written by Kelly Marcel and directed by Jonathan van Tulleken).

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

The Changeling Episode 6 gives us Emma’s (Clark Backo) perspective in the aftermath of what she did to her not-baby. We know she poured boiling water from a tea kettle on it, though the series has spared us from seeing this happen. What’s more frustrating is that when Emma arrives to North Brother Island, Cal (Jane Kaczmarek) asks her what she saw after she did it, and Emma simply says that Cal knows what she saw—but we don’t.

While Cal replies that Emma now knows that she was right, it remains the case that the police are after Emma for killing her baby. So, what did they find in that crib if not an infant’s corpse? They aren’t saying that the baby is missing; they’re saying it’s dead. What might Emma have seen to confirm to her that this isn’t the case? The Changeling gives us nothing but her conviction, bolstered by that of the other women on North Brother Island.

Cal stands in a cell, holding a bowl
Screenshot/Apple TV+

As she flees her apartment, Emma receives a couple more text messages. The person on the other end (who I’m guessing is Kinder Garten at this point), insists that only they know what really happened, but she still tosses the phone as instructed.

Emma heads to the Staten Island Ferry, where her sister meets her. Kim (Amirah Vann) is willing to believe Emma, or wants to, or is willing to help even if Emma just killed her baby. Indeed, I think it’s all of those. Their mother lost it and burned the house down. Kim can’t help but hope that Emma hasn’t done something similar, and she’s going to go along with the plan whether or not she fully buys into it.

At the appointed time, Kim makes a signal with the light on her phone and pushes Emma overboard, where she’s swooped up by a rowboat that takes her to North Brother Island. She thinks baby Brian will be there, and she’s really mad when Cal informs her that none of the women have ever found their babies.

Emma wants to leave right away, but she’s forcibly sedated so she can get some much-needed rest and because Cal can’t have her exposing the location of everyone else.

Emma looks at a twig she found in Brian's crib
Screenshot/Apple TV+

Did I mention that Emma found a twig in Brian’s crib? That becomes the basis of her investigation, along with the text of To the Waters and the Wild and a drawing of a leaf provided by another woman on the island. She’s able to identify the type of tree it came from—the Norway Maple, which Victor LaValle informs us via narration is an invasive species: a sneaky little bastard of a tree.

Ultimately, Emma rows a boat into the city (for what is actually the second time in the episode) and meets up with a man called Wheels (Steve Zissis). He’s a mole person and is excited to tell her all about what the mole people have built for themselves under Manhattan. I, for one, did know about Track 61, but that didn’t keep this whole scene from being absolutely delightful. It almost made me want to go live underneath Grand Central with this merry band of ragamuffins.

Wheels drives Emma around underground through the mole people encampment
Screenshot/Apple TV+

What is a little disconcerting is that William (Samuel T. Herring), who revealed himself to be Kinder Garten at the end of Episode 5, has the full name of William Wheeler, and I think he’s even been referred to previously as Wheels. Given that Emma is on her way to meet up with him again as Episode 6 comes to a close, and the fact that I think Wheels is a wonderful person, I don’t like this one bit.

For the time being, though, Wheels seems to be an ally, and he points Emma in the direction of Forest Hills, which used to be called Little Norway. Except… that doesn’t seem to be true. Most of those who came across in 1825 on The Restauration made their way upstate to the Erie Barge Canal, and I can’t find any evidence of Norwegians settling in Queens.

Emma looks back as she walks through an archway of a decrepit building on North Brother Island
Screenshot/Apple TV+

So, OK, I guess we have to be suspicious of good ol’ Wheels even if I like the guy. It’s possible that The Changeling is playing loose with this aspect of historical reality, but it would be the first instance I’ve found of something that didn’t match with factual reality at all. I mean, I doubt that the mole people have that cool of an encampment below Grand Central, but mole people exist. And what we’ve been told about North Brother Island tracks with reality. And so on.

As Episode 6 ends, Emma says her goodbyes to Cal, who wishes her well. As Emma rows across the East River, there is a glow emanating from her. Since I’ve just decided that Wheels is probably playing a trick on her by leading her to Queens, I really wonder what happens next.

Emma, rowing a boat on the river, glowing
Screenshot/Apple TV+

I expect that Episode 7 will take us back to Apollo’s (LaKeith Stanfield) story. It’s worth noting that the timeline there would seem to be months in the future from where Episode 6 leaves off; we see Apollo shooting up the library in this episode (from Emma’s perspective), and we know he spent some months in jail after that. So I suppose it’s possible that Episode 7 will stick with Emma before The Changeling brings everything together in Episode 8.

Either way, I’ll 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

One Comment

Leave a Reply
  1. Number 7 was so boring but it confirmed my initial thoughts about what really happened to Apollos dad. 🙄 I’ll have to watch it again because I skipped through a lot of it. 😂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *