‘The Changeling’: Is Brian Kagwa Dead or Alive? Here’s What Really Happened to Him

Apple TVs The Changeling Who Is Apollo Kagwa What Happens to Him in the Book

The Changeling‘ is an upcoming Apple TV+ mystery horror series that focuses on the journey of one father to find out what happened to his son. The man in question is Apollo Kagwa, who convinced that his wife Emma Valentine is suffering from post-partum depression, witnessed her killing their six-month-old baby in the cruelest manner possible. But things are not so simple, and Apollo soon figures out that an invisible and magical world exists and that his family has unwillingly become a part of it. Due to that, we decided to analyze what really happened to Brian Kagwa, Apollo’s son in the books, and whether he survived the events of 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.

Brina Kagwa was never killed by Emma Valentine. He was kidnapped before he turned six months old by Jorgen Knudsen and taken to the Troll cave. Back home, he was replaced by a glamoured Troll offspring. Brian was saved by his parents four months later. They succeeded in killing the Troll before the beast ultimately either ate or killed Brian through some other means. 

Now that we’ve covered that Brian Kagwa indeed survived the events of the ‘The Changeling,’ it’s time to analyze what took place. If you’re interested in more, stay with us and keep reading!

Brian Kagwa was born in a subway and named after his grandfather, Brian West

Shortly after Apollo and Emma rekindled their relationship, the two got married, and soon a baby followed. Brian, their firstborn son, was born in a subway as the parents were rushing to get back to their Manhattan apartment where Emma’s sister, Kim Valentine was supposed to wait for them and help them out during their home birth. 

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the subway car lost electricity, and the passengers were stuck inside the car, meaning that Apollo delivered the baby. Even though the baby came unexpectedly and under great stress, the boy was perfectly healthy; Apollo named him after his father, Brian West

Both Apollo and Emma were dotting parents until something changed 

Apollo, Emma, and Brian Kagwa were an image of a perfect family. Both were dotting parents, with Apollo going as far as to take Brian to work often. However, soon after birth, Emma started receiving strange “disappearing” images of her son on her phone. 

One of them showed Brian being left on the pavement on a blanket while Apollo unloaded some things from the car. Emma was furious, and even though the event was completely harmless, she started obsessing over their son’s safety. 

Eventually, she started claiming that her child was not her own and disassociating from him. She contacted an online community of women who went through the same thing. They called themselves “the Wise Ones.” Apollo will much later learn they were witches. 


Apple TV’s ‘The Changeling’: What Were Emma Valentine’s Three Wishes? Explained

Around the six-month mark, Emma admitted to her sister Kim that Apollo and she hadn’t slept well in six months, with Apollo being afraid to leave Brian alone with her and Emma obsessing over her fake baby. 

That same day, Emma picked up chains from one of the “Wise Women” she met online, and Kim was horrified as to what to expect from her sister.

Emma wanted to baptize the child, but Apollo became really angry with her. He angrily exploded and accused her of being “the only thing wrong with this family.” After that, Emma leaves the apartment, and the next time Apollo sees her, some monstrous things will occur.

Emma Valentine supposedly killed her own son 

The next time Apollo had contact with Emma, she tried to poison him with rat poison, and she tied him with chains to heating pipes in the apartment while she supposedly murdered their son. Apollo pleaded with her to leave the child alone, as he was convinced that she was suffering from post-partum depression.

Following Emma’s attack, the police got involved, Emma disappeared, Brian was supposedly dead, and Apollo ended up in prison after taking Emma’s former co-workers hostage in a desperate attempt to find out more about her whereabouts. But what really happened to Brian Kagwa?

Brian Kagwa was kidnapped by Jorgen Knudsen with possible help from William Wheeler, aka Kinder Garten 

While the book leads you to believe for the first half that Brian is truly dead and gone, the latter part of the book reveals that Emma wasn’t suffering from post-partum depression. She was merely able to identify a supernatural issue that Apollo completely missed. 

When Apollo figured out that the “Wise Women” were hiding on North Brother Island, he interacted with their leader called, Cal, and she revealed to him that it was possible to “glamour” an object or a person to look like something else, and this is what happened to Brian. 

But the issue of how this happened is even more complicated and goes back to the 1800s when the first Norwegian immigrants set foot on American soil. Nils Knudsen, the leader of the immigrants, made a deal with ancient Norwegian Jotunn, also known as “Troll.” The Knudsen family will provide fresh babies for the Troll in exchange for safe passage across the ocean. 

Since Troll’s offspring was too ugly to love and cherish, the Troll wanted a human baby. Since Troll sucked at caring for human babies, the children were usually eaten or killed through some other means. 

Jorgen Knudsen and his son William Wheeler were descendants of those first immigrants, and even though Nils was long dead, the oath he made to the Troll remained, and members of the Knudsen families were for centuries oath-bound to provide babies for the Troll. 


Victor LaValle’s ‘The Changeling’ Summary & Ending Explained: What Really Happened to Brian Kagwa?

Nils, at first, wanted to break the contract, but Troll went berserk and destroyed half of the town with its supernatural strength. 

Nils sacrificed his own child to the Troll in order to pacify it, and centuries later, we do know that William Wheeler sacrificed his own child, daughter Agnes, in order to pull his family from the struggle. So, while Nils did what he did out of desperation, as well as Jorgen, we do know that William had selfish motivations. William also installed a camera into the Troll’s cave in order to live-stream the moment that Troll eats the child. He planned on monetizing this.  

How did Apollo and Emma save Brian? 

Apollo and Emma saved Brian by killing the Troll that kept him captive, but the journey to get there was nauseating. As soon as Apollo learned that Troll’s offspring was glamoured to look like his son, Brian, and that the two babes were actually switched, he went to dig out the supposed grave of his son, and he saw that in the coffin truly did lie something that wasn’t human at all. 

He held in his arm a being made of sharp hair, something revolting and too monstrous to share the daylight with the rest of the human race. This is why even the Troll wanted to get rid of it. How the baby came to be with only a single Troll parent remains a mystery, as well as how Jorgen and William manage to glamour the baby. 

Soon after discovering the monstrous corpse in his son’s grave, Apollo made his way to the Forest Hills neighborhood, where he found out the truth about who kidnapped his son. Apollo proceeded to kill Jorgen, and later, Emma killed William Wheeler. 

How did Apollo and Emma kill the Troll? 

Apollo and Emma initially planned on killing the Troll by exposing him to bring light via the “Daylight” app on their phones, but it didn’t work. Apollo was forced to try to trick the Troll into staying out in the open forest with him until sunrise, but unfortunately, the Troll swallowed Brian Kagwa whole before he made his way to the forest in order to chase Apollo. 

Before Apollo knew that the Troll swallowed Brian, he managed to pin the Troll beneath a tree, and the beast would most certainly be exposed to dawn’s sunlight and die. Emma told Apollo at the last minute that the Troll still swallowed their son, so Apollo proceeded to slice and rip into the beast’s stomach to retrieve their son.

Brian was ultimately saved, and the Troll was killed once and for all, as well as the rest of the Knudsen family that helped the beast in the past. 

We don’t know much about what happened after Troll’s death 

Now that we’ve covered that Brian was alive and saved by his parents, there have been some consequences considering everything the child went through. Even before the Troll was killed, Emma and Apollo noticed that Brian spent unusually long with the Troll. Most children were killed far earlier than Brian was. 

Brian was extremely resilient and adapted to Troll’s surroundings, and the child started acting like the Troll. He was sensitive to bright lights and, in a way, also bonded to the Troll, screaming and kicking at the same time the Troll noticed the intruders. 

We don’t know what later happened to the Kagwa family and what were the consequences of Brian’s stay with the Troll. He was kidnapped before the six-month mark and spent four months minimum with the beast, meaning that much of his early-life development was stunted because he wasn’t exactly exposed to human behavior. 


Apple TV’s ‘The Changeling’: Who Is Lillian Kagwa & What Happened to Her in the Book?

Luckily, babies are more resilient than we give them credit for, and it’s nothing that Apollo and Emma cannot correct. At the end of the book, Brian is a 10-month-old baby, and there’s still a lot of progress to be made, and nothing is set in stone, most of all, his Troll-ish behavior. 

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments