The Changeling Episode 5 Recap and Ending, Explained

The fifth episode of Apple TV+’s horror seriesThe Changeling,’ titled ‘This Woman’s Work,’ revolves around Apollo Kagwa, who learns more about the Wise Ones from Cal. He comes to know that his wife Emma “Emmy” Valentine had been living with the apparent “witches” of the community as a librarian. William Wheeler continues to accuse his wife Gretta of murdering their daughter Agnes. Apollo waits for Gretta’s arrival so that he can find out what really happened to his companion’s daughter. The engrossing episode ends with a startling and ambiguous revelation concerning William. If you are trying to make sense of the same, you are at the right place! SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Changeling Episode 5 Recap

‘This Woman’s Work’ begins with a flashback into Emma’s journey before she gets married to Apollo. After meeting a witch near the waterfalls and getting a red string tied to her hand, she meets a traveling photographer and uses the latter’s camera to take a semi-naked photograph of herself. A foreign art collector buys the photograph. On the North Brother Island, Cal meets Apollo and William. She lets William know that Gretta is coming to the island to kill him. She takes Apollo on a walk to explain the Wise Ones’ activities. She lets him know that the women on the island are mothers who killed their only child or one of their children at some point in their lives.

Cal reveals to Apollo that Emma was living with them for a couple of months before leaving for an unreachable place. She adds to Apollo that his wife is alive but she doesn’t reveal where the “murderer” is for Apollo to find and kill her. He comes across several children on the island and a school where they are given education. Cal tells him that the children ended up on the island with their mothers, who killed another child like Emma did. In flashback sequences, Emma struggles to adapt to the challenges of motherhood, which leads her to the Wise Ones. She talks to Cal, who asks the former about the disappearing messages.

Cal tells Emma that she can help the latter but the librarian should be ready to receive the same. To put an end to her suffering, Emma finally lets Cal know that she is ready. Emma then kills the baby with her but only after saying that she is murdering the child only for the sake of her son Brian, indicating that the baby with her is not really her and Apollo’s child.

The Changeling Episode 5 Ending: Who is William Wheeler? Is He Really a Human Being?

When Gretta arrives on the island, Apollo talks to her about William, only for her to accuse him of killing their daughter Agnes. She also adds that he stole her money and sent her a copy of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ with “Agnes” written in red on every page. To know the truth about William, Apollo runs to him, only to find a beast-like entity in the cage where William is locked up. The entity’s behavior makes it clear that he is not a human being. It can be a cannibalistic creature who has been feeding children. The entity must have stolen William’s appearance to disguise itself as a human being.

If that’s the case, the entity must have killed William and Gretta’s daughter Agnes. Considering the title of the show which refers to the baby-like creatures substituted for real human babies, it is possible that the creature substituted monsters for the Wise Ones’ children, making them eventually kill the monsters, only for the world to believe that they killed their own respective child. If that’s what the creature had been doing, the baby Emma kills is nothing but a changeling and not her real son Brian. The creature must have tracked her down after seeing her semi-naked photograph as the last shot of the episode indicates.

Emma must have disappeared to find her real son, likely upon knowing the truth about her child’s possible survival. The Wise Ones might have learned the truth about these substitutions, which could be the reason why they hid on the island. William must have been looking for them to possibly kill them because the latter group has been exposing his “substitutions” with the truth about the changelings’ existence. Now that Cal and others got the creature locked up, they would want to kill the same and Apollo may try to learn whether Brian is still alive.

What is the Truth Apollo Should Learn?

After releasing Apollo from the makeshift lock-up, Cal takes him to the school on the island and tries to convince him that he should learn the truth about what’s really happening around him. Although Cal doesn’t say what the truth really is explicitly, she has been making it clear that the baby Apollo lost was just an illusion, specifically through a puppet story she performs for him when he arrives on the island. She lets him know that the key to learning the truth is ‘To the Waters and the Wild,’ a children’s book Apollo’s father Brian West read to him.

The children’s book reads, “They bathe it at dusk. They hide it with guile. At home in the forest, forever lost in the wild.” The lines can be referring to the creature who assumed William’s appearance. Cal must be asking Apollo to learn about the existence of such a vicious creature and its actions rather than believing that his wife Emma killed their son, along with all the mothers who ended up on the island, without any reason. Although Apollo doesn’t realize the significance of those lines, carved in wood in his makeshift prison, at first, he must have understood the importance of the same upon confronting a beast-like William. He may start to believe that Emma killed not Brian but a monster who was substituted for their child.

Read More: Is Apple TV+’s The Changeling a True Story? Is it Based on a Real Murder Case?