Apple’s The Changeling follows the story of Apollo and his family, who get sucked into a modern-day fairy tale. But there is nothing sparkly in this tale of parenting horrors. LaKeith Stanfield plays Apollo, the young man who loses his family on one fine day, and he may be a good reason to catch this series. Atmospherically, The Changeling is creepy; it has an air of magic, and it truly feels like a horror, even without the supernatural elements present. Episode 3 ended in a very frightening manner, and we have a few sad answers from then. The story shifts quickly in episode 4 as we see Apollo make a new friend and journey out to a new place looking for his wife. There’s a lot to unpack in this episode, so let’s get straight into it.
“To Kill a Mockingbird”
Patrice is a good friend and tells Apollo to sell his discovery. The results are astounding, and there’s a man willing to pay $70,000 for the signed original copy. William, as Patrice puts it, looks like an incel who has never been with a woman and doesn’t have a life (oh, he’s far from that, buddy). While waiting for William, Patrice shows Apollo a Facebook page dedicated to Brian. Apollo sees a lot of terrible things on there and wonders why Patrice would be a “fan” (follower). William’s an app developer, and he takes the guys onto a boat that he has rented for a couple of hours through the app he developed. They hand him the book, and Wiliam tells them that the book is his last effort to get his wife, Gretta, back to him. He says he has two daughters, whom she took and went away with. Now, all alone, William is really hoping this book can help him win them back. William realizes his mistake was being a neglectful father, and so he will do anything to be like the young dads who take their kids to the park now.
Apollo is still having terrible dreams or memory visions of that dreadful night. He pays a visit to Emma’s sister in order to return the money she had given them during the childbirth. Although she wasn’t actually there, she made sure Apollo and Emma could take care of it themselves. They share a heartfelt moment, but as she leaves, Apollo gets a text from an unknown sender saying Emma’s still alive. The unknown sender happens to be William, who sends Apollo a map to follow and meet him. Apollo is furious to see William, but he agrees to join him on a boat to go find Emma on a remote island where the “Wise Women” live with their leader Cal because he’s quite desperate at this point. He even sends proof that Emma is alive, and now Apollo has to find out if she’s really on that island. William tries to gain Apollo’s trust by trashing Patrice on the way there (speed boating). Under the bridge where Apollo and Emma had once been on a boat together, Apollo feels sick and pukes in the boat. He throws his wedding ring into the water and replaces it with the red string that he had cut off Emma’s hand. Apollo finds the island in the middle of nowhere, and William asks if he can follow him there.
They find an abandoned hospital there that was supposed to be a place of quarantine during an infection. Apollo spots a light inside the hospital and runs up to it, reminding himself that he is the god Apollo. William stays behind and observes as some women grab Apollo and beat him up. They try to drown him in a well-like structure, but Apollo survives because of his love for Brian. He pushes back because he needs to know why Emma would do that to their son. Apollo finally gets taken to Cal, the woman behind it all. She tells him a story with some puppets she’s making for the children.
Apollo knows that there’s some kind of witch business going on here. Cal tells the story of the illusion, and Apollo somehow believes the words that it is not a baby, but he still wants to see Emma. Cal states that she knows Emma but nothing more. This island is filled with women and their children, who have all run away from men who didn’t believe them when they spoke about their babies not being babies. Apollo’s big question to Cal is who created the illusion, but before she can answer it, William shows up. Cal beats up William almost to death, but somehow, he manages to stand straight after all of the violence. She tells Apollo that he needs to eat a large piece of the pie and leaves.
William and Gretta
William’s daughter Agnes was murdered by his wife, Gretta, too. He didn’t believe her either, and she came to this island with their other daughter. William’s side of the family is Norwegian, and that’s how he knew how to ride boats. Gretta and Grace are on this island, and although Cal will kill William like she says she will, Apollo has the chance to eat pie (not clear if this is literal just yet), so he can talk to Gretta and convince her that William has changed and believes her now. William has been stalking Apollo for a long time now, and he knew everything about him and Emma right from the start of Brian’s birth. As creepy as it is, Apollo asks William what happens if he denies his request (so to speak). William replies that everyone on that island is going to die, children included.
At the beginning of The Changeling Episode 4, we saw a young Lillian throw a red suitcase into the lake (it seems to be the same one, yes). At the end of the episode, she’s standing in the same place, and the suitcase lies on the lakebed.
Episode 4 Review
The Changeling has a lot going on, and sometimes it feels all over the place, but the pacing is good. Episode 4 lacked the horrors of episodes 1–3 that made them so intriguing. It was more about the drama and finding answers, which is fine, but we’re hoping for some of the promised magical realism in the next episode. There’s something super shady about William, and something tells me that he’s not what he says he is. The puppet scene with the talking puppet looked really cool, and that kind of fancy element really made the show more whimsical. Even the way the island looks from afar and the way the lake ripples as if there is something underneath all add to the fantastical side of the show, which is the most appealing part of it. As usual, LaKeith is a delight to watch, and somehow, he finds humor even in the worst situations. I’m excited to see the new episode!