‘The Changeling’ is an upcoming horror series set to be released on September 8 on Apple TV+. We know that the series was based on Victor LaValle’s novel under the same title and follows a man called Apollo Kagwa as he desperately searches for the truth about what happened to his son following his wife’s horrific act. We know that Apollo was striving to be the best father possible, considering that his own father left him several decades ago. Now, we don’t know how things will play out in the adaptation, but we do have an insight into what happened to his father in the book. Due to that, we decided to explain what really happened to Brian West & why he abandoned Apollo?
Please keep in mind that this post will contain extreme spoilers for both the book and the series. Read at your own risk.
In the book, Brian West never abandoned Apollo and Lillian. Lillian insisted that the two separate and asked for a divorce. Later, she banned Brian from ever seeing or contacting Apollo. Brian eventually tried killing Apollo by drowning him in a tub full of boiling water. After witnessing this, Lillian snapped and killed Brian, refusing to speak about it for almost 30 years.
Now that we’ve covered what happened to Brian, it’s time to analyze it in more detail. How does a happy marriage go so terribly wrong, and how does a devoted father turn on his own son? If you’re interested in answers to these questions, stay with us and keep reading!
Nightmares that Apollo had about his father were actually memories
Apollo has been plagued by nightmares related to his father for the majority of his childhood, and after he was under severe stress related to everything that took place with his wife and son, these nightmares reappeared.
Apollo would often dream about drowning in a bathtub, his father calling to him, standing in the doorway with weird mist or fog coming out of his mouth. It was only later, almost at the end of the book, that we found out that those “nightmares” weren’t actually dreams; there were memories, and Apollo’s father never actually abandoned him.
Brian West was a good man but an immature one
Brian West and Lillian Kagwa met in the 60s, shortly after she emigrated to the USA following the civil unrest in Uganda. She quickly found a job as a secretary at a fake modeling agency (she wasn’t aware of the fake part initially). Her boss was an ex-con who was frequently visited by Brian West, a white parole officer who took a liking to Lillian immediately.
Lillian refused to date Brian at first. It was eight years later that she realized that he was a good man without vices and decided to accept his date proposal.
The two soon got married and had their only child, Apollo West.
Their marriage was fine initially. Brian was a devoted father. He named his son after a sun-god; his family meant everything to him, and he was lucky to be married to Lillian. Lillian was a fighter, ambitious, and hardworking woman. She often had a tendency to exhaust herself to provide everything for her son, and her husband, meanwhile, did nothing.
At first, Brian refused to cook and clean after himself; he almost never contributed to household chores that needed to be done, and things got only worse after he lost his job. Not only was he able to provide for his family equally, and no one blamed him for that, but he also refused to clean around the house and do chores while Lillian was breaking her back.
Lillian realized that she basically had two children to take care of, and no matter how sweet Brian was when the two met, she lost all feelings for him, looking at him as if he was her child instead of an equal partner. Lillian asked for a divorce when Apollo was four years old, and Apollo rarely saw his father after that.
Apollo was unaware that Lillian had instigated the divorce; he blamed himself for his father leaving, and Lillian did nothing to reveal the actual truth to him. It was only 30 years later that she came clean that Brian left because she chased him away.
Apollo, however, knew that his father was somewhere out there when he was a child. One day, he received a box titled ‘Improbabilia’ that contained all the precious memories Brian West made with Lillian while the two were dating, including a copy of the book ‘Outside Over There.’
Lillian was forced to make some difficult choices to make ends meet
Lillian found a job at one of the many law firms in New York, but unfortunately, one of the lawyers in the firm took a liking to her even though she politely rejected the many romantic advances that he made. To get his revenge, he scheduled her to work overtime every weekend, meaning that she had to get in on Saturdays. Initially, Lillian was able to find the babysitters, but her luck had run dry at some point, and she was forced to leave Apollo alone.
Apollo was a good, well-behaved, and responsible child. He never got into trouble, he never hurt himself, he would watch TV and wait for his mom to get home. This worked out for a while until Apollo started having nightmares related to his father. He would wake up screaming. And as it turns out, Brian was truly visiting Apollo while Lillian was at work.
Brian West tried to kill Apollo when he was a child
One day, when Lillian returned from work, she was met by a shocking scene. Brian West attempted to kill their son by drowning Apollo in a tub full of boiling water. This was the source of Apollo’s nightmares all this time.
Unfortunately, it would seem like Brian West attempted to kill his son first and then kill Lillian and himself. Realizing this, Lillian snapped and killed Brian. She hid his body somewhere in an undisclosed location, and she never revealed where to Apollo.
“I know exactly where Brian West is,” Lillian said. “He’s where I left him.”‘The Changeling’ Part 7: Kindegarten, Chapter 96
And this is the story of what happened to Brian West. He never abandoned his son, but he planned on doing a much worse thing, taking him and his family to the grave if he couldn’t have them.