I saw Crimes of Grindelwald (CoG) this past Sunday. It was an interesting movie. I liked it enough that I couldn’t find a good place to duck out to the bathroom. TMI, I know, but it makes my point. That said, buckle in, grab a snack, because this one’s going to be long.
I left the theater in shock (for lack of a better word) over some of what was revealed. Hence the delay in this post. I kept turning over everything the movie had thrown at me, and I was left with way more questions than answers.
But now, I’ve processed the movie as much as I can for the moment. There’s a lot I won’t understand or know until future installments, but that’s OK. After all, this is only part 2 of 5. But JK has a lot of explaining to do.
There were far less “fantastic beasts” in this one, which was a bit sad for me, but the Kelpie was absolutely gorgeous, the Zouwu was adorable, and the baby Nifflers were too cute for words and didn’t get enough screen time.
I hope at some point we’ll get the whole story behind the Leta Lestrange/Scamander Brothers relationship, as there’s clearly some major backstory there.
That’s just about everything I have to say that’s spoiler free. If you aren’t OK with spoilers, it’s time for you to stop reading. If, however, you’re OK with them, or have already seen CoG, then click the button below to read the rest of this.
Reveal the Spoilers!
Alright, you were warned, but you continued reading. I’ll do my best to provide my thoughts unencumbered by others’ opinions, but I have read two articles so far (I’m staying away from others until I finish this). ScreenRant had an article pre-release about CoG potentially including a retcon. And Vox had an article about Credence’s heritage. I’ll be referring to them below as the ‘retcon’ and ‘plot twist’ articles, respectively.So now for the biggest question.
Is Credence really a Dumbledore? The plot twist article offers some interesting reasons for both sides. After much thought, I fall on the “no” side of the argument. The timelines simply don’t add up.
On top of that, can you really believe that Rita Skeeter wouldn’t have mentioned a third Dumbledore brother in The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore? Especially one who sided with Grindelwald and played as big a part in the war as Credence seems set to play?
I know we don’t get to read the entire book, but with as gossip-happy as Rita is, if there had been another Dumbledore brother to get close to Grindelwald, she would have brought it up in the chapter we do so. Probably questioning if there had ever been a threesome. But I digress. Rita certainly would have discovered it, and she would have mentioned it, unless book canon and movie canon have completely split — more on that later.
I’m inclined to believe that Credence is simply a Muggleborn wizard. We already have plenty of proof that they can be incredibly powerful.
Credence, as an obviously powerful wizard, is a weapon Grindelwald can aim at Dumbledore given that he can’t directly attack the man himself. The best way to do that is to get Credence to believe he’s an abandoned Dumbledore sibling who Albus is trying to kill. Thus far, Credence has only attacked those who have harmed him in some way, so Grindelwald concocts this heritage story.
But what about the Phoenix? Well, we already know that Grindelwald has been manipulating Credence behind the scenes. He’s been affecting Credence’s search for answers, probably since he escaped MACUSA. Who’s to say he didn’t “send” the phoenix chick to Credence.
The ending, where he somehow turns it into an adult Phoenix makes me think he might have enchanted it to look like a chick. Because of course Credence would take care of a helpless chick. There hasn’t been any mention of a Phoenix aging from chick to adult in a burst of flame like this one does in Grindelwald’s hands. But Credence wouldn’t know that. And we know Grindelwald is a master of wandless magic.
And, while I’m on the topic of the Phoenix, I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s Fawkes. Because it has to be, really.
While on the topic of magical creatures, let’s touch on Nagini. I haven’t seen much info about Maledictuses, but, seeing how they start their lives as humans, I would guess that they retain some form of humanity/human intelligence after their change. After all, Nagini clearly retains her ability to think critically and carry out plans when in snake form.
Voldemort speaking to Nagini in English in both the books and movies also lends credence to the idea that Maledictuses can “think” even once their curse forces them into eternal animals.
So I can’t help but wonder what will turn her into the killing machine she becomes in the Harry Potter series. She’s clearly “good” in CoG, spurning Grindelwald’s offer to join him. I have a hard time picturing kind Nagini in this movie as the beast that attacks on Voldemort’s orders. Perhaps it’s simply the influence of his Horcrux. Of course, without knowing precisely when she was turned into a Horcrux, it’s hard to know if her change comes before or after that.
This one’s hard. Queenie was done a huge disservice in this movie. While I may have been seeing what I wanted to see in the first movie, I viewed Queenie as someone who’d learned how to make the Patriarchy work for her as an overtly feminine woman.
Somehow, in CoG, she turns into the “crazy in love” woman, and it’s not a good “look” for her. Yes, she clearly wants a family and children. However, we know that witches (and wizards) live much longer than humans, so her biological clock isn’t exactly ticking just yet. She’s still got time.
Her idea to “kidnap” Jacob and bring him to London to get married was clearly ill thought-out. Obviously Newt would recognize the signs of Jacob’s enchantment. Perhaps the decision to visit Newt was an attempt to sabotage her crazy idea?
Then she runs off to Paris, with no idea how to find her sister, and falls in with Grindelwald (granted, she didn’t know that at first). I get that someone being nice to you is huge when you’ve just had a potentially life-altering fight. But it seems incomprehensible to me that she would immediately join Grindelwald, knowing who and what he is. Perhaps there was something in her tea?
I have to wonder, once the war picks up and the killing starts, will Queenie wake up and defect? The glimpse of her we see at the end of CoG shows that she’s still a kind person, and I doubt she’d be up to real war. Or will her “loss” of Jacob — as she sees it — twist her and set her on the path to revenge?
So, I admit that this one is a bit of a stretch. IMDB does, after all, list the McGonagall in the movie as Minerva. However, I’m inclined to believe the McGonagall in CoG is actually the mother of the Minerva McGonagall we all know and love. After all, unless my memory fails me (which is completely possible), she’s only referred to as Professor McGonagall in the movie.
Now, I know that this isn’t supported by Pottermore canon — Minerva’s mother is listed as Isobel, with her grandmother named Minerva. However, neither is Minerva’s presence in CoG (the timeline is off by about 20 years). And this isn’t the only place where the Fantastic Beasts series clashes with Pottermore canon. Dumbledore should be the Transfiguration professor, and about 46 years old — although since wizards live longer, maybe they age slower? So I’m going to throw Pottermore canon out the window for this bit.
The Professor McGonagall we see in CoG is clearly incredibly biased. She isn’t the “strict but fair” McGonagall we all know and love. Rather, she chases Leta through the school, taking hundreds of points from Slytherin, solely on the word of other students, before completely giving up on finding her. She then ends the jinx that Leta had placed on her fellow student, only to re-apply it in moments. This is all completely unlike the Harry Potter series Minerva McGonagall.
But seeing as we know next to nothing about her mother’s character, it’s possible that this McGonagall could be her mother. After all, how is it any harder to believe that JK Rowling changed her mother’s name than changing when she was born and her personality? Either way, some part of canon has been changed.
The Elder Wand
The retcon article brings up a very good point about the Elder Wand. According to Harry Potter canon, Grindelwald has the wand early, probably soon after he and Dumbledore had their falling out. We don’t see the wand in Fantastic Beasts, although that makes sense. People get to know the appearance of each others’ wands. If Graves suddenly had a different wand, the jig would be up.
However, it is a fair assumption that Grindelwald already owns the Elder Wand during the events of Fantastic Beasts. Especially considering he has the wand right at the beginning of CoG.
So here’s the problem. At the end of the subway scene in Fantastic Beasts, Newt restrains Grindelwald and Tina summons his wand. It’s unclear (to me) if Newt’s restraints disarm Grindelwald and Tina merely summons his wand, or if Tina’s summoning is what actually disarms him. Either way, if we follow Harry Potter book canon, this means Grindelwald is no longer the owner of the Elder Wand.
For those who are rusty on their Harry Potter book canon wand lore, here’s how I came to this conclusion. In Chapter 36 of Deathly Hallows, Harry mentions, “The Elder Wand recognized a new master before Dumbledore died, someone who never even laid a hand on it. The new master removed the wand from Dumbledore against his will…” He’s referring to Draco Malfoy, who disarmed Dumbledore atop the astronomy tower in Half-Blood Prince.
But Harry continues. “I got there first. I overpowered Draco weeks ago. I took this wand from him.” He’s referring to the wand he’s using in the final battle, the wand he took from Draco: “[Harry] leapt over an armchair and wrested the three wands from Draco’s grip… (Deathly Hallows, Ch 23)”
And then Harry drops his bombshell: “Does the wand in your hand know its last master was Disarmed? Because if it does… I am the true master of the Elder Wand.”
Harry disarms Voldemort and the Elder Wand goes flying, “spinning through the air toward the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last.” So JK confirms that Harry is the master of the Elder Wand.
This means, according to book canon, at least, that the Elder Wand changes allegiance instantly upon the defeat of one of its masters.
Back to CoG
So if Newt using the Swooping Evil to restrain Grindelwald caused him to drop his wand, Newt should be the master of the Elder Wand. But, if Tina summoned Grindelwald’s wand from his grasp, then she should be the mast. But, regardless of whether Tina or Newt actually did the disarming, one of them is the master of the Elder Wand, at least at the end of Fantastic Beasts.
I think it’s fair to say that neither had a duel with Grindelwald between Fantastic Beasts and CoG, and I doubt that handing someone a wand would count as a “defeat”. So it’s a logical conclusion that one of them is still the master of the Elder Wand throughout CoG. You would think, though, that Grindelwald would notice a difference in the performance of his wand. Although it’s possible you only notice a “boost” in battle.
Now, it’s possible that JK will address this and Grindelwald will defeat one, or both, in a duel. But it’s also possible that it will get ignored. And if so, it would explain why Dumbledore is able to beat someone wielding an “unbeatable” wand. However, it would also mean that Dumbledore is never truly the master of the Elder Wand, which means Harry is never master, and that messes up Harry Potter canon.
Which brings me to the underlying issue for a lot of what I’ve discussed. Is the Fantastic Beasts series part of Harry Potter book canon, Harry Potter movie canon, both, or something else all together?
The retcon article mentions ways that book canon and movie canon have diverged both with the Harry Potter series and with the Fantastic Beasts series. I’d already considered them to be separate canons. You can’t reconcile book canon with movie canon. There are enough differences that they have to be separate.
But where does Fantastic Beasts fit in? I’m inclined to lump it in with movie canon, simply because they’re all movies. But if that’s the case, perhaps we can’t apply any information from book canon or Pottermore canon, which seems to align more with the books from the bits I’ve read.
But even throwing out book canon, there’s still the problem of the Elder Wand. Harry explains how the Elder Wand changed allegiances in the movies, too. So perhaps Fantastic Beasts falls into an “other” category.
To Wrap It Up
Ultimately, what I have are nothing more than theories and guesses of varying plausibility. Only time will tell what Fantastic Beasts will lead to, and what JK has in store for her characters. If we’re really lucky, maybe we’ll get some Potter family cameos in the later movies. Here’s hoping.