Sorting Hat Saturday: Star Trek Voyager

My latest fictional obsession is Star Trek. I’m actually watching Deep Space Nine right now, but I’m only on season 3 and want to see how things play out before I do a Sorting Hat Saturday for it. So I’m going to start with Voyager and The Next Generation.

Voyager is a starship full of Slytherins and Hufflepuffs, and I mean that in that in the best way possible, because I actually have a huge soft spot for Voyager. The characters are far from home, often in hostile territory, bending and breaking the Prime Directive, using whatever means necessary to survive (but not to the extent that the Equinox does), setting their sights on an incredibly ambitious goal: to travel 70,000 light years within a single lifetime and arrive home in one piece. At the same time, they’re a mismatched crew full of underqualified people, some of whom should by all rights be enemies, who manage to come together to form a tight-knit family, continue giving their best even when things look hopeless, keep on trying diplomacy before resorting to more Slytherin means of negotiation, and try to live up to their own ideals as much as they can given their situation.

Captain Janeway: Ravenclaw/Slytherin. It’s not just her background as a Science Officer or her ability to spout off technobabble as easily as Seven and B’Elanna. Captain Janeway seems to see their situation of being stranded in the Delta Quadrant not just as a difficulty but as an opportunity to learn more about an uncharted part of space as well. She genuinely gets excited about all the new and unusual things they encounter, even when those things are dangerous, and sees the value in exploration even if Starfleet may never know what they’ve achieved. Her Slytherin side is carefully balanced with a set of ethics and rules that she tries to live by – but is not above bending and breaking when necessary. Declaring that she will get Voyager home is incredibly ambitious, given that it means defying the laws of physics. She’s pragmatic and resourceful, makes increasingly risky alliances (Maquis, Kazon, Borg), and will use any combination of diplomacy, creative thinking, aggression, and manipulation to overcome obstacles and protect her crew. I would say that she becomes more Slytherin and less Ravenclaw as the series goes on, from destroying the array in the premiere and embracing the chance to explore a new part of space, to stealing time travel technology and breaking the temporal prime directive in the finale to get her ship, crew, and past self home early.

Chakotay: Hufflepuff. Chakotay is a foil to Janeway. Where she is hyper-focused and driven, he is calm and laid-back, hard-working but not consumed by duty in the way that she is. She never gives up and resorts to some pretty desperate schemes to keep going, whereas he is more cautious and willing to accept that they may not succeed. She’s a natural leader and future Admiral; he has very little personal ambition and is content to follow her lead. He is patient, down-to-earth, and simply wants what’s best for the crew. Hufflepuffs are “just and loyal”, “patient”, hard workers, and value fairness and equality – basically Chakotay in a nutshell. Loyalty might be the only question mark, but then again, his backstory is about conflicting loyalties, not lack of. His loyalty to Voyager and Captain Janeway is one of his defining traits. While he is also courageous and could possibly be a Gryffindor, he seems to be a better fit for Hufflepuff overall.

Tuvok: Slytherin. It would be easy to say that because he’s a Vulcan, Tuvok is obviously a Ravenclaw. However, while he is calm, introverted, and logical, his values are not Ravenclaw values; he has little interest in knowledge or learning beyond what will help him in his work. His brand of logic seems to be mostly about strategy and common sense. He is a very practical person who has chosen a career as a security officer and is devoted to maintaining order. I would almost be tempted to say Hufflepuff, except that Tuvok is also a spy, and a very successful one. Vulcans aren’t supposed to lie, but Tuvok spent months undercover in the Maquis and was able to rationalize his lies as being “true to his mission”. He shows great skill at creating logical arguments to justify his preferred course of action, even when those actions go against his orders or Starfleet rules. Many of the wizards most skilled in occlumency are Slytherins, and while such magic does not exist in the world of Star Trek, Tuvok expertly hides a whirlpool of emotions behind a calm Vulcan exterior and rarely lets on what he is thinking. He’s not particularly ambitious, but he handles authority well and shows a great amount of Slytherin cunning.

Tom Paris: Slytherin/Gryffindor. There’s a fine line between Gryffindor and Slytherin, and Tom seems like the kind of person who could reasonably be put in either house. However, I think he leans a bit more heavily towards Slytherin, even after his character development kicks in and he becomes more heroic. He starts off as a self-described mercenary who will work for anybody as long as he’s paid well, and his intentions when he joins Janeway’s crew are purely selfish. His friendship with Harry and the trust Janeway shows by making him a Lieutenant go a long way toward putting him back on the right path. However, even the reformed Tom Paris can be quite proud and ambitious, not to mention sneaky. His whole part in the plan to catch the spy in season 2 was heroic Slytherin at its finest, and his actions in “Thirty Days” show a willingness to look for loopholes and “use any means to achieve [his] ends”, albeit for a good cause. While he doesn’t have the “rule the world” kind of ambition so common in Slytherin villains, he’s fiercely competitive and proud of his accomplishments, to the point of being a show-off sometimes. I feel as though, if the Star Trek characters went to Hogwarts, he would be an Albus Severus Potter type, a Slytherin from a family of Gryffindors, proud and defensive of his house but at the same time seeing it as one more way he’s disappointed his father.

Harry Kim: Hufflepuff. By far the easiest Voyager character to sort. Harry is just about the nicest person on Voyager and just wants to be everybody’s friend. He seems drawn to people who feel like outcasts – such as Tom, B’Elanna, and Seven – and goes out of his way to make them feel like part of the Voyager family. He is generous, hard-working, and loyal, Hufflepuff through and through.

B’Elanna Torres: Ravenclaw/Gryffindor. On the one hand, she’s one of the smartest characters, and she’s chosen a career in engineering – something that requires her to use her intelligence and creativity – rather than becoming a warrior, as one might expect of a Klingon. She does not seem to care very much about Klingon ideas of honor or glory and has little interest in their traditions. However, she is courageous and outspoken. She never hesitates to say what she thinks or stand up for herself, and while she may not be a warrior, she doesn’t back down from a fight. Klingon honor means little to her, but she is more than capable of devoting herself to a cause and being willing to die for it. She is both very courageous and very intelligent. However, the sorting hat takes your choice into account, and I suspect that eleven-year-old B’Elanna would have been thinking “Not Gryffindor! Not Gryffindor!”, in an attempt to distance herself from her Klingon heritage.

Neelix: Slytherin/Hufflepuff. Neelix looks like a Hufflepuff at first glance, but before he joined the Voyager crew, he was a devious schemer who did whatever it took to survive. He only helped them in the first place when they offered to trade with him, and he double-crossed them before eventually ending up back on their side. He later admits to a woman who has impersonated Captain Janeway as part of a scam that he was once not too different from her. He quickly takes on a Hufflepuff-type role on Voyager, as cook, ambassador, guide, and morale officer, but there’s something very Slytherin about deciding you want to travel on a star ship, spotting exactly what that ship’s greatest need is, and adapting to fill it.

Kes: Ravenclaw. Her kind and caring nature might make her seem like a walking Hufflepuff stereotype, but what stands out most to me about Kes is how inquisitive and open-minded she is. She identifies with Captain Janeway’s urge to explore rather than simply traveling from point A to point B, and she absorbs knowledge about nursing and medicine at a rate that impresses even the Doctor. She is the first to consider the possibility that the Doctor is a person rather than simply a program, which could be a point toward Hufflepuff but also displays a willingness to consider things that never occur to other people – a tendency she also displayed on her home planet, when she challenged the leaders’ orders to remain hidden underground. Kes reminds me a little of Luna Lovegood: open-minded, a bit eccentric, a lot smarter than she seems, and unwilling to be anyone but herself.

The Doctor: Slytherin. What the Doctor wants most is respect and recognition. Once Kes puts the idea in his head of being a person and a crew member rather than simply a piece of technology, he becomes insistent that others recognize him as such and makes it his mission to grow beyond the limits of his programming. He essentially reprograms himself to be a fully-developed individual. In stark contrast to Data, another artificial life form, the Doctor has strong emotions and human-like flaws, the greatest of which is his pride. Fame and appreciation easily go to his head and influence him into making risky choices.  His wide range of interests and creative nature could put him in Ravenclaw, but everything he does to expand his program is, essentially, a statement of defiance and a move towards reaching his full potential. The Voyager crew is just lucky he has all those ethical subroutines, because a machine that’s decided it’s your equal and refuses to let you forget it could be a terrifying villain if he wasn’t also a doctor bound by medical ethics.

Seven of Nine: Hufflepuff. Perhaps the most counterintuitive of my Voyager sortings, but I’ve been over it again and again, and this is what I keep coming back to. Seven is efficient and ruthless, but as a former Borg drone, she has no ambition whatsoever, and she is far too straightforward to be cunning; she’s not a Slytherin. She is very intelligent and knowledgeable, but she has little interest in expanding her knowledge and is endlessly frustrated by Captain Janeway’s desire to explore. She has very little intellectual curiosity, so she is not a Ravenclaw. One could argue that Seven is brave, but on the other hand, she sees herself as an expendable drone and does not value her own life at all, so that’s more the effect of brainwashing than a true personality trait. What she does value more than anything else is being a part of something greater than herself. She is distraught at being separated from the Borg Collective and is not able to recover until she finds a new “collective” on Voyager. She values efficiency, which is another way of saying she has a strong work ethic, and she sees Voyager’s command structure as inferior to the hive mind equality of the Borg. She’s not warm and fuzzy, but her values are Borg values, which are essentially Hufflepuff values taken to their most horrifying extreme. As she becomes more human and less Borg, she retains those values, although the way she pursues them changes.

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Twentieth Century History of Magic

Occasionally, when I go to History of Magic class in Hogwarts Mystery, this bit of dialogue comes up:

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Ismelda wants to learn about the Wizarding War for all the wrong reasons. She idolizes Voldemort and will almost certainly join the Death Eaters when he returns. However, she brings up an interesting point. Professor Binns seems largely unaware of anything that happened after his death. There’s not even any mention of the war against Grindelwald being taught in History of Magic, much less even more recent events. History is added to all the time, and aside from being taught in a boring way, it seems like History of Magic is decades if not centuries out of date.

When will the war against Voldemort be added to the curriculum? Is it being taught nineteen years later? The kids in Cursed Child seem very familiar with recent wizarding history, but then, Scorpius is a history buff who geeks out over seeing Bathilda Bagshot in person, and Albus is Harry Potter’s son. The fact that they know who Cedric Diggory was and all about Voldemort’s attempt to kill baby Harry is not evidence that any 20th century magical history is actually being taught at Hogwarts.

Really, Hogwarts needs a new History of Magic teacher, and I think Scorpius would be a great one. Once he grows up, of course.

Unlike Professor Binns, who gives endless, monotone lectures and has his students memorize lists of names and dates, Scorpius brings an endless amount of enthusiasm to his study of history. He’s also kind and encouraging, the sort of person who, as a teacher, would be truly invested in his students’ success. He’s a shining example of a Slytherin with a moral compass, someone who could become Head of House and guide the next generation of Slytherins in a different direction. And he understands on a very personal level, having been to the alternate timeline where Voldemort won, just how important even the small details of history are, not to mention how relevant it all still is.  Given his obsession with history and his experiences in Cursed Child, he will almost certainly grow up to write history books, but I think he could be a great teacher as well. Maybe his Slytherin ambition, which is just beginning to surface at the end of the play, becomes a determination to replace Professor Binns and inspire an appreciation of history in Hogwarts students.

Evacuating the Castle

Apparently, I have a lot of thoughts about the Battle of Hogwarts. Specifically, the movie version. I actually really like the Deathly Hallows Part II movie, but there are a few things about it – most of them very minor – that get on my nerves.

Yesterday, I wrote about the horde of a thousand Death Eaters, and I’m sure there will be a post coming soon about the weird way Voldemort’s body dissolves when he dies. But one of the things that bothers me the most is that no one attempts to evacuate the castle.

In the book, Professor McGonagall’s first thought upon realizing they’re going to fight Voldemort at Hogwarts is that they have to evacuate the students. She and the other Heads of House agree that anyone under seventeen must leave the castle before Voldemort attacks, although the oldest students will be allowed to stay and fight if they choose to. There’s a whole scene in the book where the students gather in the Great Hall and McGonagall explains everything that’s going on. The movie does things a little differently, but it wouldn’t have been hard to have evacuation brought up and Harry suggest the secret passageway to Hogsmeade.

Instead, what happens is this: after Voldemort’s ultimatum, Professor McGonagall sends the Slytherins to the dungeons, and the rest of the students are left to fend for themselves, even the first and second years who can barely make sparks fly out of their wands. Aside from how hard it is to believe that none of the Hogwarts teachers thought about trying to get their students to safety, and the horror of realizing many of them likely didn’t survive the battle, this takes away their choice as well.

It takes away from the fact that so many of the seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds did stay to fight. It takes away from the fact that younger students, like Ginny and Colin, refused to be told they had to leave and fought in the battle anyway. I wouldn’t say it negates the heroism of those who fought, but it makes their actions more about survival than a conscious decision to do what was right.

It also takes away the choice from the students who left. Those who had not been part of the DA and knew they would be no good in a fight. Those who left to make sure a younger sibling got safely home. Those who left to return with reinforcements. Those who were just plain scared and decided the battle could be won or lost without them. Those who were loyal to the other side. The fact that so many left – all the Slytherins, and some of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs – adds realism to the story and makes those who stayed seem all the more noble for doing so.

For that matter, it takes away the possibility of help from the outside. In the book, Professor Slughorn returns near the end of the battle with a large group of reinforcements to help defend the castle. In the movie, this couldn’t possibly happen, because no one left the castle. The villagers in Hogsmeade might have seen that something was happening, but they wouldn’t have known what they could do or why they should. The families of the students who stayed to fight would have had no idea that a battle was even happening. Someone had to find them and ask for their help, and if no one left the castle, that’s impossible. The reinforcements are more than just numbers to help them win the battle. I see them as a sign that Hogwarts is not alone. The teachers, Dumbledore’s Army, the Order of the Phoenix, the few who are there when the battle starts and who have been fighting all along, are not making their final stand on their own, and there are many others out there who step up when the time comes. This kind of wider support for the heroes is in direct contrast with the movie, where they truly are on their own and up against massive numbers under Voldemort’s command.

It takes away the Slytherin students’ choice as well. In the book, many went straight to Voldemort, while a few went with Professor Slughorn and then returned to help win the battle. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle snuck back into the castle and tried to capture Harry themselves, which didn’t go all that well for them. In the movie, there are no such choices. No one has a chance to leave the castle.

That means it also takes away from the Malfoy parents’ dilemma. In the book, when other Slytherin students start showing up to join the Death Eaters and Draco doesn’t, they have no idea what happened to him. Voldemort seems to suspect disloyalty and makes it clear that he doesn’t care if Draco lives or dies. There’s a battle going on, and they don’t know which side he’s on or whether he’s even still alive. His father begs Voldemort to call off the battle, and when that fails, his mother lies to Voldemort, telling him Harry Potter is dead, in an attempt to end the battle and find Draco. In the movie, though, Snape is the one person from Hogwarts who went to Voldemort at the start of the battle. The students are all still in the castle. Draco’s parents have no reason to suspect that anything unusual happened to him, or that he’s in any more danger than the other Slytherins.

The Harry Potter books are so tightly-woven that even a small change makes a big difference.

How many people fought in the Battle of Hogwarts?

The Deathly Hallows Part II movie makes a big deal of how outnumbered the heroes are, with shots that show Voldemort surrounded by vast numbers of Death Eaters and hordes of Snatchers, quotes about numbers not winning a battle when the Order members see what they’re up against, and a distinct lack of the reinforcements that showed up near the end in the book. But how many people really fought in the Battle of Hogwarts?

Let’s start off by establishing how many wizards there are in Great Britain, since that puts an upper limit on the numbers for the battle. All the witches and wizards in Britain attend the same school, buy their wands from the same wand-maker, and frequent the same few places: Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, Godric’s Hollow, etc. They have one major newspaper, one favorite sport, twenty-eight “pure-blood” families, and one court that handles cases ranging from petty crimes to felonies. There can’t be all that many of them.

There are 40 students in Harry’s year at Hogwarts. 40 students per year x 7 years = about 280 students at Hogwarts. However, J.K. Rowling has said before that about 1,000 students attend Hogwarts. Presumably, either not all of Harry’s classmates are mentioned in the books or the Original Forty list, or his group is unusually small. I prefer the latter assumption, because it would be hard to imagine 25 more Gryffindors in Harry’s year.

According to the 2011 census, 6.2% of Britain’s population was age 0-4, 5.6% was age 5-9, 5.8% was age 10-14, and 6.3% was age 15-19. This is a bit after Harry’s time and includes the years before and after students graduate from Hogwarts, but it’s close enough to use for a general estimate. If about 12% of witches and wizards in the UK attend Hogwarts, and about the same amount are too young to attend, then …

If there are 280 students at Hogwarts, there are about 2,300 wizards in the UK, 560 kids and 1,740 adults.

If there are 1,000 students at Hogwarts, there are about 8,300 wizards in the UK, 2,000 kids and 6,300 adults.

So there are likely somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000 adult wizards in the UK. Are you starting to see why images like this from the Deathly Hallows Part II movie bother me?

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Just how many followers did Voldemort have? I counted a hundred people just in the first few rows and then gave up. The vast horde of Death Eaters extends far beyond the edge of the image. There must be a thousand of them!

Here’s another picture demonstrating just how vast their army was:

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That’s not even counting the Snatchers.

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There are probably what, a hundred people in this picture? It gets hard to tell near the back, and like with the previous picture, the army doesn’t stop where the picture ends. These guys aren’t official Death Eaters, just lower-level followers who do a lot of the dirty work. Their costuming is different, they fight in different parts of the battle, and really, there should be many more of them than the Death Eaters, who are just Voldemort’s elite inner circle.

Meanwhile, here are the defenders of Hogwarts:

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All surviving members of the Order of the Phoneix, many of the Hogwarts teachers, and most of Dumbledore’s Army. The first two overlap a lot, so let’s just make a list. There are literally that few of them:

  • Adults: 5 Weasleys (Molly, Arthur, Bill, Fleur, Percy), Aberforth, Kingsley, Tonks, Lupin, McGonagall, Flitwick, Moody, Hagrid, Sprout, Trelawney
    • Possibly a few more, since it’s not clear whether minor Hogwarts teachers like Sinistra, Vector, Babbling, Hooch, etc. remained to fight or evacuated.
  • DA Alumni: Fred and George, Lee Jordan, Cho Chang, Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinet, Katie Bell, Oliver Wood
  • Hogwarts Students: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville, Ginny, Dean, Seamus, Lavender, Parvati, Padma, Terry Boot, Michael Corner, Anthony Goldstein, Ernie Macmillan, Susan Bones, Hannah Abbot, Colin Creevey
    • Possibly more unnamed students, since “a number of older Ravenclaws … even more Hufflepuffs … and half of Gryffindor” chose to stay and fight. Those who were underage were told to leave, but it’s not clear exactly how many of the seventh-years stayed and how many of the younger students snuck back in to fight, as Colin did.
  • Near the end of the battle, reinforcements arrive, led by Charlie Weasley and Professor Slughorn. They include the centaur herd, the families of students who stayed to fight, villagers from Hogsmeade, and – according to J.K. Rowling later on – a group of Slytherin students.

So, about 40 or 50 people initially stayed to fight for Hogwarts, and maybe another 100 people came to help later. The movie is very realistic in the way it portrays the heroes’ forces – if anything, it makes them too small by not including the reinforcements.

Naturally, it looks impressive to have fifty intrepid heroes taking on an army of a thousand villains, but is it realistic?

No exact numbers are given for the number of Death Eaters, but we can assume they outnumber the heroes, since heroes tend to be portrayed as underdogs fighting a more powerful enemy.

In Goblet of Fire, a small group of Death Eaters arrives to witness Voldemort’s return in the graveyard. This group consists of those who survived the first war and did not go to prison. Only seven named characters are there, but it’s mentioned that he did not speak to them all. In Order of the Phoenix, fifteen Death Eaters escape from Azkaban, including the Lestranges. However, for the most part, it’s not clear which group the Death Eaters introduced in the last two books were part of, and some may have joined later. The only definite conclusion is that the number of people in his inner circle was at least in the mid 20’s, putting it at a similar size to the Order of the Phoenix.

Here’s a list of Death Eaters who are (or might be) still alive when the Battle of Hogwarts begins, as well as prominent supporters who were not in the official inner circle but were definitely at the battle: Bellatrix, Rhodolphus, and Rabastan Lestrange; Lucius, Narcissa, and Draco Malfoy; Severus Snape; Alecto and Amycus Carrow; Fenrir Greyback; Pius Thicknesse; Avery; Dolohov; Crabbe Sr; Goyle Sr; Yaxley; Jugson; MacNair; Mulciber; Nott Sr; Rookwood; Selwyn; Rowle; and Travers.

That’s 24 people, not a long list. Of course, the real numbers are likely higher. The list is just named characters. Mentions of things like a dozen Death Eaters guarding Hogsmeade indicate that Voldemort has grown his following again. Maybe there were as many as 40 or 50 Death Eaters, and they weren’t the only ones working for Voldemort. So let’s look at who else was:

Fenrir Greyback’s werewolves. Let’s assume that about 1% of wizards are werewolves, since it seems like a very rare condition. That would mean about 80 werewolves, and statistically ten of those should be Hogwarts students. As far as we know, Professor Lupin is the only werewolf at Hogwarts in Harry’s time, so even 1% is probably a high estimate. But let’s say there are 80 werewolves, and let’s say half of them are following Fenrir Greyback.

The Snatchers. The Snatchers were not at the Battle of Hogwarts in the books, but they were in the movies, so let’s include them. The Snatchers were bounty hunters who tracked down Voldemort’s enemies: muggle-born wizards, Order members, and so on. The two we know of are Greyback and Scabbior, and presumably some of the other werewolves were also involved. Ron describes them as being “everywhere”, so there have to be a lot of them. However, it’s unlikely they would all be at the Battle of Hogwarts. They were not part of Voldemort’s inner circle or even necessarily operating on his direct orders. They did not have the Dark Mark, so many might not even have known when Voldemort summoned his forces. But let’s say there were 100 Snatchers at the Battle of Hogwarts and Harry simply didn’t notice them in the book.

Ministry employees. Pius Thicknesse was at the battle, and I included him on my first list. I don’t think it’s likely that many others were, even those loyal to Voldemort. They had a government to run, after all, and it’s not as if Voldemort knew this was going to be the final battle.

Imperius victims. We’re told that Voldemort uses the Imperius curse to control people and force them to fight for him, but it’s unclear how many people are actually being controlled this way. The confirmed list of imperius cases is very short: Pius Thicknesse, Stan Shunpike, Viktor Krum in Goblet of Fire, Broderick Bode and Sturgis Podmore in Order of the Phoenix, and a muggle man in Half-Blood Prince. For the most part, it seems to have been a convenient excuse for people like the Malfoys after Voldemort’s first disappearance. However, let’s be generous and say Voldemort has twenty Imperius victims fighting for him at the Battle of Hogwarts.

Slytherin students. Now, this is where it gets tricky. In the movie, the Slytherins are locked in the dungeon, but in the book, they are evacuated to Hogsmeade along with all the underage students and those who chose not to fight. Voldemort tells Lucius Malfoy that Draco did not come to join them “like the rest of the Slytherins”, implying that all of them went straight to Voldemort and presumably fought for him. However, J.K. Rowling has since said that this is not the case, and that some Slytherins who were not loyal to Voldemort actually helped Professor Slughorn gather reinforcements to defend the school. Presumably others, especially the younger ones, simply went home. Voldemort was trying to scare Malfoy by questioning his son’s loyalty, so it’s not hard to believe he exaggerated.

Let’s say Pansy Parkinson and Theodore Nott went to Voldemort; Nott because his father is a Death Eater and Pansy because she made her position quite clear. Let’s also say Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davis help Slughorn gather reinforcements; Daphne because, in Cursed Child, her sister and nephew are among the most unambiguously good Slytherin characters, and Tracey because she’s half-blood and has a normal-sounding name, which indicate she wasn’t raised with the kind of snobbery and prejudice that lead one to support Voldemort. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle went to the Room of Requirement, which leaves Blaise Zabini and Millicent Bulstrode, both unpleasant but not directly linked to the Death Eaters, and one unnamed girl if the 5 students per gender per house per year thing is accurate. However, if there are 1,000 students at Hogwarts, there could be as many as 35 Slytherin seventh-years.

Let’s go with 10. Let’s say that two helped Slughorn, five went to Voldemort, and of course, three went to the Room of Requirement.  Now let’s say there are 20 sixth years. Four helped Slughorn, ten went to Voldemort, and six went home. Let’s say that most of the younger kids went home or didn’t fight, since there’s no mention of Voldemort sending 11-year-olds into battle. That would mean 15 Slytherins, about half of the older students, went directly to Voldemort and fought with the Death Eaters. These numbers are, like the ones for the Snatchers and werewolves, totally arbitrary but hopefully within a reasonable range.

50 Death Eaters + 40 werewolves + 100 Snatchers + 20 Imperius victims + 15 Slytherins = 225

Voldemort’s army should have had numbers in the low to mid 200’s, give or take a little. Maybe even round it up to 300 if you think there’s any category where I’ve estimated low, or down to 200 if you think my estimates are high. His forces would still outnumber the Order’s something like 4, 5, or even 6 to 1 until the reinforcements arrive, and as much as 2 to 1 after that, but it seems like a reasonable number. It’s not a number that makes me fear for the future of the Wizarding World. Because if this many people were Death Eaters …

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… (and, as we’ve already established, the Death Eaters were just the inner circle, not the majority of Voldemort’s supporters) … if about 1/6 of adult British wizards were Death Eaters and maybe twice that many supported or worked for Voldemort in some capacity, then how are we supposed to believe this world was rebuilt and all was well?

The Sorting of Queenie Goldstein

Crimes of Grindelwald spoilers.

Shortly after the first Fantastic Beasts movie, I said that if Queenie went to Hogwarts, she would be a Slytherin. Now that Crimes of Grindelwald is out, all I can say is …

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Becoming an Obscurial

I’ve written before about Ariana as an obscurial, and I still think it’s a strong possibility – but as much as she has in common with Credence, there are also several major differences between them. If an obscurus forms over a long period of time, as a result of repeatedly trying to suppress one’s magic, maybe they’re not as clear-cut as they seem. It seems like there would be some gray area between “well-adjusted magical child” and “angry dark cloud of destruction”, and that someone who becomes an obscurial would first go through that gray area rather than suddenly becoming one overnight. Here are my thoughts on what that might look like:

Normal Childhood Magic

It’s always portrayed as normal that magical children will not have control of their magic until around the age of eleven. Only in rare cases are they able to use it intentionally, and they may or may not even suspect that what they’re doing is magic. However, young children’s magic is generally harmless.

Involuntary Fear/Anger-Based Magic

I’ve noticed that Harry’s childhood magic seems more volatile and defensive than other characters’. When his mother uses magic in Snape’s memories, it’s to do innocent things like floating through the air or making a flower open and close. When Harry’s magic bursts out of him at the beginning of Sorcerer’s Stone, it’s to get away from bullies, save himself from humiliation, or get revenge against his unpleasant cousin, Dudley. Even later on in the series, he continues to produce involuntary magic when he is angry and upset. For instance, without waving a wand or casting a spell, he breaks his Aunt Marge’s glass and causes her to inflate like a balloon. He clearly is not an obscurial, and he wasn’t aware enough to become one, since the Dursleys put so much effort into making sure he doesn’t believe in magic. However, he is punished when strange things happen around him, and those strange things tend to happen only when he is angry or afraid, whereas for other magical children, they seem more spontaneous. He seems like the sort of child who could have easily become an obscurial if the Dursleys had gone a little further in their attempts to keep him from being a wizard.

Dangerous Shadow

Ariana Dumbledore has a lot in common with Credence Barebone. Like him, she actively tries to suppress her magic and wants nothing to do with it, but it escapes from her in violent outbursts. However, she was raised by a loving magical family and had only one negative encounter with muggles who harmed her because of her powers. She was traumatized, but she was not isolated or brainwashed. She lived longer than any obscurial can, according to Grindelwald (who knew her) and Newt Scamander (who knows Dumbledore), and she died when she was caught in the crossfire of a wizards’ duel, not from her obscurial nature. It seems like she may have had a weak form of obscurus, but that it was kept in check and did not consume her. Perhaps instead of an angry dark cloud, her obscurus was more like a dangerous shadow.

Full Obscurial

If Ariana’s loving family and her lack of long-term brainwashing helped her keep her obscurus under control, the opposite would happen for someone like Credence, who was raised by the Second Salemers. The proto-obscurus I described as a “dangerous shadow” would grow and grow, until it becomes the dark cloud of anger we see in Fantastic Beasts, which lashes out violently and eventually destroys the person it’s taken control of. According to both Newt and Grindelwald, no known obscurial has survived past the age of ten. (Since magic usually reveals itself by age seven, this means they only survive about three years after their obscurus forms). My theory is that, up until this point, the damage caused by the obscurus could be managed, if not reversed, and that only the most extreme cases would become full obscurials.

Super-Obscurial

Credence fits the “obscurial” description in almost every way. He was raised by a group dedicated to stamping out magic, abused by his adoptive mother, and must have been terrified when his magic started to reveal itself. He has hidden it so well that even he doesn’t seem to have any idea he’s a wizard. However, he’s the only obscurial known to have survived to adulthood, and he also has the most powerful obscurus Newt Scamander has ever seen. He manages to survive his full transformation and apparent death at the end of Fantastic Beasts. If anything, rather than making him frail and weak like Ariana, his obscurus seems to have made him nearly indestructible. I would guess we will learn more about what makes him so powerful in the next movie.

The Five Stages of Obscurial Grief

In the Crimes of Grindelwald trailers, there are clips of Credence apparently pushing away his obscurus – but as I said before, I don’t buy that it’s going to be that easy. I would guess that in this scene, he’s not permanently getting rid of the obscurus; he might be trying to, but I can’t imagine it will just let him go.

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According to the first Fantastic Beasts movie, an obscurus is formed when a young witch or wizard tries to suppress their magic. Credence was brought up among fanatical witch-hunters, so he must have been terrified by the early signs of his powers. By the time of Fantastic Beasts, he’s bottled up his magic and no longer seems to be aware of it himself, except when it takes control and turns him into a dark cloud of anger. Obscurials become what they are out of self-preservation, but the obscurus is like a parasite that slowly destroys them.

How do you stop being an obscurial? It’s never been done before. Credence is the only one to even survive to adulthood. Clearly it’s not as easy as simply accepting your magic, because Credence spends most of Fantastic Beasts meeting with “Percival Graves” in secret and wanting to join the magical world. He asks “Graves” to teach him magic and doesn’t argue when “Graves” claims he’s “unteachable”. Simply deciding that Mary Lou is wrong about magic being evil does not get rid of the parasitic dark force inside of him. However, self-acceptance would have to be the first step, because if you’re still trying not to have magical powers, there’s no way you’re going to learn to control them.

By the end of Fantastic Beasts, Credence isn’t denying the existence of his powers. He’s embraced them, and he’s letting them control him. He’s overflowing with anger and not trying to reign it in at all – although I think it’s noteworthy that even in his obscurus form, he never harms Modesty and begins his transformation trying to protect her. The obscurus is all Credence’s anger and violent impulses running wild, but it’s not acting blindly or randomly.

Extreme denial followed by violent anger. That seems to be about as far as most obscurials get, but I wonder if we’re dealing with a Five Stages of Grief type of process. Credence, after the end of Fantastic Beasts, is clearly no longer a dark cloud of anger ripping up buildings and killing people, at least not at the moment. That potential is undoubtedly still inside of him, though. The feelings of fear and betrayal that led him to transform at the end of the movie would certainly not go away overnight. I don’t think a lifetime with the Second Salemers would either; he’s probably still not sure exactly how he feels about magic. There’s no one he can really trust or go to for support: Newt wanted to help him but now believes him to be dead, Percival Graves turned out to be Grindelwald, and his family drove him to become an obscurial in the first place. It looks from the trailers like he’s found a friend in Paris, but until they meet, he’s alone. In other words, he still has a lot of emotional trauma to work through.

The remaining stages of grief are bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It makes perfect sense that his storyline in Crimes of Grindelwald would explore these, especially the first two. He’s now aware of his place in the magical world and presumably doesn’t want to explode into an obscurus, but he won’t know how to go about learning to control his powers, and he may very well still have mixed feelings about doing so. “Please, don’t let me transform into that thing again, I’ll do anything to stay human …” “It feels so strange to hold a wand. What would my mother say if she knew?” “Can’t I just be normal? A normal muggle? A normal wizard? Anything but an obscurial?” That creeping realization that he might never be a normal wizard and will certainly never be a muggle, along with his extreme isolation, could make anyone feel depressed and hopeless. I wonder if the emotional struggle for him in this movie will be less about repressed anger lashing out and more about being tempted to just give up. To stop trying to control the obscurus, stop trying to find a place in magical society, and let the dark smoke loose again.

If I were going to come up with a “cure” for being an obscurial, I think I’d have it be casting a patronus. The patronus charm is powerful and difficult to cast, something that is not even usually taught at Hogwarts, so to be able to do it, from a purely technical standpoint, you would have to be in very good control of your magic. It’s rooted in your happiest memories, and one of its functions is as a magical protector. It can ward off dementors, which – much like obscuruses – are physical manifestations of people’s most dangerous and desperate negative emotions. There’s a difference, of course: an obscurus is a part of the person it’s formed in, while a dementor is an outside force. However, it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to say that an obscurial who gained enough control of both their magic and their emotions to cast a patronus would no longer be at risk of letting their obscurus control them, and that such a negative force would slowly fade away in a person who it no longer has power over.