The Changeling (Season 1), Episode 4 “The Wise Ones”: Recap & Ending Explained – Why does William threaten Apollo?

The Changeling (Season 1), Episode 4 "The Wise Ones" Ending Explained

Episode 4 of The Changeling (Season 1) takes the show in an intriguing and surprising direction. The mystery thickens since William, the guy we met at the end of episode 3, becomes a central figure in the show’s rambling tone. The episode seeps in metaphors about being a parent in the age of social media bombardment and how the witchiness of the internet affects the entire experience in the modern era. In the following analysis, we will look closely at everything that happened in the episode, including a dissection of that wild and mysterious ending. Additionally, viewers must look closer at the opening credits as cryptic clues are dropped by the creator (almost like the campy novels from the 80s that hid meaningful clues on the cover.) Spoilers ahead!

The Changeling (Season 1), Episode 4 “The Wise Ones” Recap:

The latest episode opens with a brief look at the young Lillian standing at the docks of New York City with a red suitcase in her hand. It then cuts to Apollo, who accompanies Patrice to their meeting with William in order to sell their copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. As they wait, Patrice shows Apollo the Baby Brian fan page on social media, which disturbs him as he goes through the comment section, making Patrice aware that being a part of a page of a dead child is vile.

Just then, William arrives and takes them to a boat that he has apparently rented for their transaction. William comes off as an extremely weird person who keeps rambling about his ex-wife, Gretta, and his daughters and how gifting this book might bring them back to him. Back at his apartment, Apollo has nightmares again, but this time, they are not about his father but all the torture he faced before his son died. He goes through his son’s tribute page when he wakes up, but it only makes matters worse for him. The next day, Apollo meets Kim (Emma’s sister) to give her money for her help through the pregnancy; however, when he bids her goodbye, he receives a message from an unknown number that says that Emma is alive. The sender also sends him a location that Apollo frantically follows. However, when he gets there, he realizes that it was William who had sent him that message.

We had already recognized something off with William, so he kept talking about how the police and other authorities are never thorough about what they do. Apollo is uninterested in his bullshit and asks him about Emma’s whereabouts and how he knows her. William tells him that he had his friends track her down and that she is on an island on the east river and the ‘wise ones’ are keeping her there. He tells him they will need a boat to go there, and he will accompany him. Apollo recognizes something fishy about William’s character and reaches out to Patrice for assurance. Patrice has already run a background check on William and tells him that the guy is legit and has worked for the Air Force and a medical university in South Carolina before he developed an app for booking boats. Apollo hands him a file that William had shared with him, and when they decrypt, they see Emma in the flesh near the fairy-dock.

Apollo decides to go with William, who claims to have learned how to drive a boat off the internet. On the way, William remembers the time before everything went downhill and pukes in despair. The two of them motion through the heavy mist before Apollo finally spots the island where they dock their boat. They slowly move towards a light that they see, and while William hangs back in the bushes, Apollo howls Emma’s name in anger before being attacked by a group of women who drown him in a water body to calm his wits. The women then take Apollo to their group leader, Cal, whose name we heard from the lady at the survivor’s meeting in the previous episode. Cal, short for Calisto, talks in riddles and vague parallels to fairytales and tries to reason with Apollo, who has intruded on her abode. However, Apollo is only interested in knowing about Emma’s whereabouts and does not want to understand that Cal is actually talking about the fears of parents that don’t change despite the age that we are in. In a weird sense, and with the help of a puppet that Cal has been preparing for a performance, she makes him realize the illusions of being a parent. When she ends her little pep talk, Apollo utters, “It’s not a baby,” just like Emma and the woman at the meeting did.

The Changeling (Season 1), Episode 4 "The Wise Ones" Ending Explained
LaKeith Stanfield in “The Changeling,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Just then, William is captured by the women, and a furious Cal takes them to a facility that feels like a prison for men who infiltrate this haven, specially curated for women’s safety.

The Changeling (Season 1), Episode 4 “The Wise Ones” Ending Explained:

Why does William threaten Apollo?

The women who have captured William hand over his phone (which he claimed to have died on him) to Cal, who instantly recognizes him as Gretta’s husband. We now recognize that William is pretty shady and can not be trusted with anything he says. It’s not very clear why William asks Cal to let him meet Gretta, but when she takes a baseball bat and smashes his face to almost death, it is clear to us that Cal doesn’t like him. It is evident that William must’ve done something awful to Gretta to have deserved this. When she is done, she locks William and Apollo in separate cages. William finally reveals that meeting Apollo was not a coincidence but a planned act that he put into motion to make his family whole again. He then proposes that since he could not fix things for his family, he wants to help Apollo if he helps him find his wife.

The end of Episode 4 of The Changeling (Season 1) shows William trying to manipulate Apollo again; however, when he questions his intentions, he threatens him by saying that he will kill everyone on the island if he doesn’t do what he says. The camera then cuts off to a red suitcase underwater, possibly thrown by Lillian because she felt her son was getting too consumed by the stories he read as a child.

Now, we can assume a few directions in which the show can go:

  1. The most likely of them is that William has made a deal with the devil himself, and he has been sacrificing children after the death of one of his daughters. The relentless talking we saw in the earlier episodes might have been one of William’s procedures to lead women into a state of constant despair, losing the idea of their own child being real.
  2. Another wild theory could be that William is not a person but a manifestation of Apollo’s delusional mind. The show’s underlying themes hint towards men putting their struggles over women who actually get diagnosed with postpartum depression. This manifestation could be a way for Apollo to hide his inability to focus on his wife because of being consumed with a linear train of thought, much like his father.
  3. The last two episodes have shown something conjuring out of water bodies, which might hint at some mythical creature, synonyms to the story that Apollo used to read as a child, meaning that their environment in the narrative might be a symbolic possibility.

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The Changeling (Season 1), Episode 4 Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
The Changeling (Season 1), Episode 4 Cast: LaKeith Stanfield, Clark Backo, Adian Porter, Amirah Vann, Jared Abrahamson, Alexis Louder
Where to watch The Changeling
Deepshikha Deb

Quit my job to watch movies with my husband and occasionally write about it. I am also a social media and momo tasting expert, who loves Masala Dosa and Tilda Swinton.