The Changeling – Season 1 Episode 4 “The Wise Ones” Recap & Review

The Wise Ones

Episode 4 of The Changeling begins with yet another mysterious prologue by LaValle. We see a younger Lillian standing on the bay with a red suitcase and LaValle explaining that it is easy for witches to crawl out of the water and walk the earth.

Apollo and Patrice are waiting for William to show up at the dock. William is the buyer who is willing to pay as much as $70,000 for the first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird. He sees some significant life-saving value in it but we don’t know what, yet. Playing the waiting game, the two friends discuss William and the deal. Patrice calls it “shady” and expects the unexpected when William finally arrives for the exchange.

Apollo is shocked to learn about a “Tribute Page” made for baby Brian online. Patrice is also a follower and that enables Apollo to see some really horrible comments made about the incidents. His blood boils seeing how filthy and insensitive human beings can be. William finally shows up in his car. His clumsy mannerisms and lack of self-confidence invite rude remarks from Patrice. But Apollo asks him to play nice at least until they get paid.

He takes them to his “office” in his car near the docks. During the ride, William mentions that he has two daughters, Agnes and Grace, whom he loves very much. The office turns out to be a boat, which remains docked and the three men enter it. William reveals that he has developed an app that can enable users to seek boats and use them like AirBnbs for their pleasure. He also explains that he is buying this book with all his life savings to win his wife, Gretta, back.

She left him 11 months ago with their daughters. William breaks down holding the book close to him as Patrice sees it as their cue to leave. Apollo still has nightmares about that fateful night. To end all unfinished business with the Valentines, Apollo meets with Kim at a cafe. They are cordial to each other and Apollo hands her a hefty check for her help with Brian’s birth. Kim is surprised by the gesture and ends up accepting it. She offers her support to Apollo but does not reveal what Emma’s third wish was.

Apollo is yet to visit Brian’s grave and the pressure is mounting on him to honor the memory of his fallen angel. All of a sudden, Apollo starts getting messages from an unknown number. The texts say that Emma is alive and invite Apollo to follow the sender. He eventually reaches the spot and realizes it is William who is sending him the message. He has come off as creepy from the second we first met him. Apollo aggressively pins him against a wall and asks about his intentions. William claims he has proof that Emma is still alive and was last seen on an island in the East River.

He even shows him prints from CCTV footage that prove his suspicion. Apollo goes straight to Patrice with this information. He checks out William’s profile online and everything he has claimed about his identity is true. So, why is he behaving so strangely? The information about Emma checks out as well. We see glimpses of her from the CCTV.

Apollo decides to go with William on the boat, unfazed by the prospect of what could happen to him. William and Apollo drive along the coast of the river and the latter immediately spots the mysterious island. They land ashore and William admits he came with Apollo because Gretta rejected his gift. He has no other option to get his family back now. They make their way ahead through a group of abandoned hospital beds. This prompts William to explain that this place was previously used as a place to house the infectious. Apollo marches ahead and starts shouting “I am the God Apollo!” when he sees a fluorescent light in a building up ahead.

All of a sudden, he is attacked by four cloaked women with bats. He is dragged into the fountain and they attempt to drown him. It seems he is in limbo for a while as the memories of the past with Brian jog back life in him. He breaks free and the women bring him up to Cal, or Calisto. So, this isn’t Dr. Calero after all. William stays behind and watches from afar. Cal is surprisingly blase about the meeting. We cannot get much information about her ideals or the context behind this witchcraft. She claims to be preparing a show for the children the following evening. 

During their conversation, she explains that they are cautious of intruders after a previous attack. Cal implies that Apollo’s baby Brian wasn’t real but actually an illusion…which begs the question: what is it all about? William’s screaming catches Cal’s attention before we can make any headway. She ominously takes the two men to their island jail. A woman shows Cal what is on William’s phone and she instantly recognizes Gretta. This prompts Cal to take a bat and beat the life out of William, who gets up the next second and acts like nothing happened. 

William confesses to Apollo that he had been following his story ever since the story was printed about Emma giving birth on a metro train. He wanted to see if the subjects were having a happy life and it is also indicated that he was the stranger sending photos to Emma on her phone. He also admits that Agnes, one of their daughters, was killed by Gretta like Emma killed Brian.

But William has found forgiveness in his heart and wants Gretta and Agnes to come back into his life. He has been looking for this island and his wife for years. He pleads with Apollo to convince Gretta to take William back and ominously declares that failure to do so will kill everyone on the island.

The episode ends with a shot of an older Lillian standing at the edge of the bay and her red suitcase lying on the seafloor.

The Episode Review

If it is an episode’s job to keep us tethered to the show’s plot, episode 4 does a decent job. The creatives exhibit an overwhelming desire and singular focus to follow the Wise Ones’ subplot and unravel the story for the viewers. This episode was almost exclusively set in the fantastical elements of The Changeling. It made affairs quite bleak and the overall tone was defined by uncertainty and mystique. 

Episode 4 is paced well enough to not waste a lot of time and takes us straight to the conceit of witchcraft. Something gave away that it might not be the core of the show. At this point, the burning questions about this cult and everything that happened to Emma in Portugal will keep us glued to the screens.

I feel William’s character has been more of a miss than a hit. I have yet to ascertain if he has been useful to the storytelling in any way. His characterization could have been more generous and thoughtful. In its present shape, it is crude and paints him as a villain. We have a lot to unpack in The Changeling’s chest of mysteries and the show is heading in the right direction.

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You can read our full season 1 review for The Changeling here! 
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1 thought on “The Changeling – Season 1 Episode 4 “The Wise Ones” Recap & Review”

  1. Emma was in Brazil not Portugal 🙂
    Also William is very clearly a villain imo, it’s an intentional portrayal, their reaction to him being greta’s husband was a lot more extreme, implying he did something to her/the family

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