‘The Changeling’ is an upcoming Apple TV+ series based on a novel written by Victor LaValle under the same name. The show will follow a man named Apollo Kagwa as he tries to figure out what happened to his son following a horrific incident with his wife. One of the characters that we will get to meet in the series is Lillian Kagwa, Apollo’s mother, played by Aldina Porter. As with every show and movie that are based on the book, we don’t have to wait for all the episodes to air to meet the characters, so we decided to analyze Lillian’s character in a bit more detail by checking out the source material. Let’s see who Lillian Kagwa is, why she is so important to the story, and ultimately what happens to her in the book.
Please keep in mind that this post will contain extreme spoilers for both the book and the series. Read at your own risk.
Lillian Kagwa is Apollo’s mother, who emigrated to New York City in the 60′ from Uganda. She met and fell in love with a parole officer named Brian West, with whom she will eventually have Apollo. Lillian Kagwa struggled with the marriage until she decided to divorce Brian West due to his irresponsible nature. Lillian is also the person who killed Brian and kept it a secret from Apollo for more than 30 years. In the books, she was a great support to Apollo following the incident with Emma and Brian.
Now that we’ve given you a short summary of Lillian’s character, it’s time to analyze it in a bit more detail. If you’re interested in more of Lillian’s backstory, stay with us and keep reading!
Lillian Kagwa is a self-made woman who happened to run into the wrong type of man
Lillian Kagwa made her way to New York City back in the 60′ following the civil unrest in Uganda. The USA was a promised land to her, and she was able, due to her proficiency in the English language, to score a job relatively easily as a secretary in a modeling agency.
At the time, she didn’t know that her boss was basically running a scam, this is why Brian West, the parole officer, was regularly visiting the office, and this is where the two of them basically met. Brian was enchanted with Lillian and decided to pursue her, but she wasn’t all that interested.
After her boss was arrested and Lillian lost her job, she partially blamed Brian for it. Eight years later, Brian and Lillian ran into each other again, now 33 Lillian had a better idea of what to expect in a man, and considering the fact that Brian had a stable job, didn’t drink, and treated her nicely, she agreed to a date and by 1977 she was showing and the two of them married.
Why did Lillian ask Brian for a divorce?
Brian was an attentive father and a good husband in some aspects. He adored Apollo and his way, but clearly not enough to change his irresponsible ways. Lillian was a hardworking, ambitious woman. She had to struggle almost her entire life, and she continued her struggle even after she married. Brian refused to do pretty much anything around her house. He was spending his days sitting on the couch watching TV while Lillian was breaking her back.
When he lost his job, he refused to help around the house. All affection that Lillian felt toward him evaporated since she was basically raising two children. She couldn’t keep living like that, and by the time Apollo was 4, Lillian asked for a divorce, and Brian West disappeared off the face of the Earth, as much as Apollo can remember at least.
Both Lillian and Apollo reverted back to her maiden name, and Brian was gone for good, or it seemed. One day Apollo received a shoebox containing the most cherished memories that his father saved of his mother. The movie tickets, the photographs, everything.
Brian West was a romantic fella, but that’s all he was. Apollo started having nightmares about his father, calling him to come with him while steam and fog drained from his mouth.
Lillian was discriminated against and had to make some difficult choices
Lillian eventually found a job at a law firm as a secretary, and one of the lawyers there started making unwanted advances which Lillian politely turned down. This wasn’t enough, and she was soon ordered to work the weekends in order to keep her job.
Lillian accepted, but it was becoming more and more difficult to find someone to babysit Apollo, and she was forced to leave him alone in the apartment by himself while she worked.
Everything was going well because Apollo was a decent kid, potty trained and everything, but he started talking about nightmares that included his father, and one day, Lillian caught Brian West in their apartment, and it’s basically the last time that anyone would see Brian West.
Lillian killed Brian to protect Apollo
One Saturday, Lillian caught Brian West trying to drown Apollo in a tub of boiling water. He then planned on killing her and himself. Lillian lost it. She killed Brian and hid his body at the locations which only she knows.
She manufactured the story about Brian leaving since obviously she couldn’t tell Apollo the truth. She eventually came clean toward the end when Apollo started doubting himself too much. She explained that all she did was to protect him.
Lillian was great support for Apollo while he was going through his toughest moments
Following the incident with Emma, Lillian was the one that cleaned their apartment of all evidence of what horrors took place there. She offered emotional support to his son both while Emma and Brian were present and when they disappeared. Lillian obviously wasn’t a perfect mother, but she was what Apollo needed following his monstrous encounters with his father, and she tried her best for Apollo not to feel abandoned.
She was the one that nursed his love for book selling and the person that created his first business card. The sins of her past were eating her alive, but she knew in the long run she made the right call. Apollo never felt alone.