The Changeling – Season 1 Episode 5 “This Woman’s Work” Recap & Review

This Woman’s Work

Episode 5 of The Changeling begins with a flashback of what happened in Brazil. Although we know the substance of what transpired, we now see it for ourselves. Emma stumbled upon the witch by the lagoon but didn’t proceed to meet her, at first. A local vendor told her to go nowhere near that witch. But Emma did exactly the opposite of that and got the red string around her hand. We then see her getting picked up by the Norwegian photographer. They go out to the forest where Emma clicks herself, naked. And as Michelle described, “Looking into the camera like a sorceress.”

The photographer uploaded the photo on his website. He was stunned to see it while developing his reel in the negative room. The proprietor of Knudsen, an art gallery, ordered the portrait as soon as he saw it on the website. We harken back to the present day on the island. Apollo and William live through the night to see sunlight. When Cal walks in, William calls her “Pearl Walker,” which might be her real name. She is a mother of one, a heavy drinker, and often in trouble with the law. She decides to give Apollo a second chance and informs William that she sent a boat to the city to fetch Gretta.

Cal wanted to light him on fire during the night but thought Gretta doing it would be more fitting as he killed their child. Apollo is shocked to hear this accusation and does not know what to make of it…neither do we. And that is with William speaking Norweigian as Apollo and Cal depart the prison. Cal insists that Apollo will learn the truth soon. She also suggests that Emma can’t be brought back from where she is. Not dead, but in a place “out there” that Apollo will soon see for himself.

In a flashback, we see Emma standing on the terrace where she got married to Apollo. Brian is in her arms and Emma expresses her fear of what will happen next with them. It is a lamenting look at what her state has become. She even wishes that Broian knew her when she wasn’t “like this.” What exactly happened to Emma? She contacts Cal through the social group while working in the library. Cal correctly guesses that Emma might be receiving disappearing text messages. Just then, someone sends her a text saying “Don’t talk to witches.” She takes a screenshot but finds it has disappeared from the gallery on her phone.

Emma lets out an exulting scream, taking everyone around her by surprise. From Emma’s point of view, baby Brian was a “changeling,” who cackled ominously at her during nights. She was in constant contact with Cal as she decided to “avail her help.” Emma was fraught with her love for Brian and the unthinkable reality that manifested right in front of her eyes. Remembering Lillian’s words, Emma went to the priest for help. She wanted to get Brian baptized and he agreed to respect Emma’s urgency for the ceremony. 

Cal takes Apollo to their establishment, which doesn’t look so scary in daylight. It looks like an ordinary residential society, which even has a schoolhouse with actual kids in it. While having lunch, Cal tells him that all the women on the island “did what Emma did to Brian.” The kids he saw earlier are the other kids of the women; the ones who survived. Cal reads passages from Apollo’s favourite book, “To the Waters & The Wild.” She expresses her surprise at why Brian read it to him as a child. But she calls whatever is written in the book true. Apollo is still confused but open to the idea of being wrong about Emma…if that is indeed the truth. 

Apollo wants to know more about Gretta but Cal tells him that the time to do it would be at night, before “The Puppet Show.” That is when Gretta will be on the island. Apollo takes the opportunity to read to the children in the schoolhouse from a book. He is enthusiastic and finds happiness in his task. He even sits with a young girl, Gayl, and has food with her. Nightfall finally arrives and Apollo finally meets Gretta. She is visibly disturbed to learn William has found her again. She tells how William mailed her Lee Harper’s book, wrote “Agnes” on every page, and paid for it using all the money in Gretta’s account.

Apollo is stunned and immediately rushes to the prison to talk to William. He starts talking in riddles to Apollo and emerges from the shadow a completely different man. He tells Apollo that his real name isn’t William and that he took William’s face to blend in. His real name is “Kinder Garten.” Is this from the Facebook Group created after baby Brian’s death? Is he a monster, like Cal says?

The episode ends with a shot of William Wheeler with a young girl in his arms, marvelling at Emma’s portrait in Knudsen from the streets. 

The Episode Review

The Changeling picks up pace in this episode to expedite the storytelling. The show has firmly positioned itself in the fantastical territory of LaValle’s literary work and there’s no turning back. I expect the truth will be enchanting, strange, and revelatory when we get to the bottom of this bizarre mystery.

Clark Backo made a stunning comeback in episode 5 after being out of it in the previous one. Seeing the story from her point of view was influential.

Baby Brian’s “changeling” secret still needs some more work. The shades of it in this episode should be developed more sternly to bring out its full impact. William Wheeler’s back story also becomes a fascinating avenue going forward.

The Changeling has everything to make a compelling show. It has done almost everything right until now and hopefully, the decisions going forward have the assuredness of the journey we have been on so far. 

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You can read our full season 1 review for The Changeling here! 
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