Sorting Hat Saturday: Star Trek – The Next Generation

My latest fictional obsession is Star Trek. I’m actually watching Deep Space Nine right now, but I’m only on season 4 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.

TNG was surprisingly difficult. Nearly all of its characters have the virtues of three different houses (Gryffindor bravery, Hufflepuff loyalty, Ravenclaw intelligence), so it was hard to know exactly which one to put each of them in. Picard in particular was difficult for this reason.

Captain Picard: Ravenclaw. Picard has the virtues of all houses except Slytherin. He has a strong moral compass and does not hesitate to stand up for what he believes is right, although he prefers to do so in non-violent ways when possible. One doesn’t get to be a Starfleet captain without being courageous. He’s incredibly loyal and hard-working, and he cares about fairness and justice rather than blindly following the letter of the law. He also tends to work more collaboratively than other Starfleet captains, asking for input from his senior officers and letting others lead the away missions. However, while it’s not hard to imagine Picard as a Gryffindor or a Hufflepuff, I think he fits best in Ravenclaw. He is a reserved intellectual content to spend his free time with a book of classical literature and a cup of Earl Grey tea. He takes time to think through all the implications of whatever problem they are facing in the episode, and he likes to have all the information before he makes a decision, which is part of why he encourages other characters to share their thoughts and opinions. He has a genuine respect for aliens’ ways of life and seems to embrace the Prime Directive more fully than any other captain. Picard seems to enjoy exploring far-off places and engaging diplomatically with other species and cultures. He is a quiet, thoughtful man who would fit better in Ravenclaw than any other house.

Commander Riker: Gryffindor. Riker is the standard hero figure in every way that Picard isn’t. He’s young, courageous, quick-to-act, and sometimes overconfident. He’s not ambitious or cunning – in fact, he passes up promotions in order to remain on the Enterprise – and while everyone in Starfleet is intelligent, he tends to leave the analysis and philosophical debates to other characters. He does have some Hufflepuff qualities. He is strongly loyal to Starfleet and to Captain Picard, and despite sometimes being overconfident and impulsive, he’s also a hard worker who does his duty to the absolute best of his ability. However, I think overall, Gryffindor is the best fit for him.

Doctor Crusher: Hufflepuff. It’s tempting to put her in Ravenclaw – she’s very smart and wears blue – but I’m not convinced. She seems to care more about helping people than she does about knowledge and information, using the latter as a tool to help her with the former. Doctor Crusher shows a great amount of compassion and kindness in her work as a doctor. Unlike Dr. Bashir and Voyager’s EMH, she has excellent bedside manner and a gentle, calming presence. Much like Helga Hufflepuff, she values fairness and equality, doing her best for her patients whether they are Enterprise crew members, people from pre-warp societies, or even enemies of the Federation. She has little ambition and is content to work behind the scenes in a supporting role.

Data: Ravenclaw. Data’s greatest desire in life is to understand what it means to be human. Despite being a machine and claiming to have no emotions, he is curious about the world around him and about the flesh-and-blood people who make it up. He uses every opportunity available to him to study the human condition and figure out the people around him. He was programmed to not only be intelligent but to be capable of learning and changing over time, and he makes full use of this ability. He is one of the most knowledgeable members of the crew and is constantly acquiring more knowledge.

Worf: Gryffindor. Nearly all Klingons seem to be Gryffindors. Their highest value is honor, but not just any honor: the kind that comes from fighting in battle and having no fear of death. Worf is unusual in that he’s a member of Starfleet and is willing to follow Picard’s lead, and since his captain prefers to try diplomacy first, he does a good deal less fighting than your average Klingon warrior. However, he still cares a great deal about honor and courage and would certainly be a Gryffindor.

Deanna Troi: Hufflepuff. Troi’s Betazoid empathy gives her insight into what others are feeling, which doesn’t necessarily make her a Hufflepuff on its own. A Ravenclaw with similar abilities, for example, might simply observe the emotions of others with curiosity, while a Slytherin would search for ways to exploit and manipulate them. Deanna Troi does neither of those things; she pays careful attention to what others are feeling in order to help them. In her role as the ship’s counselor, she is kind, supportive, and understanding, but not afraid to challenge others when they are not being truthful with her or themselves. She is a warm and caring Hufflepuff.

Geordi LaForge: Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw. On the one hand, Geordi is an incredibly kind and loyal person and a true friend. He has an easygoing, down-to-earth personality and strong work ethic that could easily put him in Hufflepuff. On the other hand, though, he has a sharp mind and a sense of ingenuity that serve him well in his position as Chief Engineer. Episodes which focus on him often have him thinking his way out of a problem and coming up with creative and unconventional solutions. He could easily be either a Hufflepuff or a Ravenclaw.

Guinan: Ravenclaw. A wise, somewhat eccentric woman who is always willing to listen and gives excellent advice, Guinan could be a Hufflepuff or a Ravenclaw, but I would guess she leans more toward Ravenclaw. She has a wealth of experience, having lived for hundreds of years, and she is observant and perceptive while also being tactful.

Ro Laren: Slytherin. “Those cunning folk use any means to achieve their ends” is a pretty good description of Ensign Ro, who seems to exist mostly in order to contrast with the rest of the Enterprise crew. Her heart is in the right place, and her intentions are good, if sometimes self-serving, but her mindset and methods are far different from those of the other characters. She prefers to do things her own way and casually dismisses protocols and regulations as being beneath her. The rest of the crew seem to see her as someone who is not to be trusted or at least has a lot to learn, but she tells Picard that Starfleet could learn a thing or two from her, and she seems determined to make everyone see what she’s capable of.

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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.

What Deathly Hallow Would They Choose?

In the time period when the Fantastic Beasts movies take place, Grindelwald is searching for the Deathly Hallows. He already has the wand and will never obtain the stone or cloak, so I don’t think they will play a large role in the movies, but the symbol has already appeared, and they’re bound to be mentioned at some point. I wonder if at some point the characters will hear the Tale of the Three Brothers, and if they did, which Hallow they would be most drawn to. Here are my thoughts:

The Wand

Gellert Grindelwald. Although he’s actively looking for all three, Dumbledore claims that they both were drawn more to the first two Hallows and mostly interested in the cloak simply because it completed the set; they did not see much practical use for it. However, while Dumbledore longed to bring his parents back from the dead, he admits to Harry that Grindelwald more likely saw the stone as a way to create inferi, which isn’t what it does at all. Inferi are reanimated corpses, basically zombies, that do the bidding of a dark wizard, while the people the stone brings back are more like ghosts. Its only real purpose is to talk to someone who has died. Therefore, if Grindelwald knew what each of the Hallows really does and knew he would only ever obtain one, he would almost certainly choose the one he already has.

Theseus Scamander. As an auror, his first impulse is to fight. He doesn’t seem to be in mourning for any lost loved ones, and he’s too much a man of action to see the value in the cloak, so I don’t think there’s any doubt he would choose the wand.

Tina Goldstein. At least, Tina before she met Newt would definitely have chosen the wand. The Tina from the second movie, who has “gone middle head”, as Newt puts it, might hesitate a moment longer. She might consider that the cloak has value as well (I doubt she’d be too tempted by the stone). In the end, though, she’s still an auror and still the most practical and straightforward of the main four. I would guess she would still choose the wand.

Credence Barebone. Or whatever his true identity is. Credence has been completely powerless for so long – abused by his adoptive mother, forced to suppress his magical abilities, manipulated by Grindelwald – that an unbeatable wand would no doubt appeal to him. I don’t know who he would want to bring back with the resurrection stone, and an invisibility cloak might be useful when he’s on the run in Crimes of Grindelwald, but it wouldn’t compare with what the wand offers (or seems to).

The Stone

Albus Dumbledore. Even as an old man, in Tales of Beedle the Bard, Dumbledore writes that he would have the easiest time turning down the third Hallow, though he seems aware that the third one is the wisest and “right” choice to make. Dumbledore does end up finding all three Deathly Hallows, but the wand is the only one he keeps and uses for a long period of time. However, he does not seem to think it’s the most valuable Hallow and notes that it is far from unbeatable, having been beaten many times and passed from one person to another when its owner is defeated. It is perhaps the stone that is the greatest temptation for Dumbledore; even as an old man, he tried it on and attempted to use it despite knowing that Voldemort had turned it into a horcrux and that it would be dangerous to do so. Having lost so many loved ones at a young age, it’s understandable he would long to bring them back.

Queenie Goldstein. Queenie’s greatest strength is also her greatest weakness: she loves deeply and cannot let go of those she loves. If she would make the choices she makes in Crimes of Grindelwald for the sake of her romance with Jacob, you can bet she would pick the stone, too. In a heartbeat.

Leta Lestrange. She has spent most of her life feeling guilty about Corvus, a situation which is even compared outright to Dumbledore and Ariana. Surely she would jump at the chance to bring him back.

The Cloak

Newt Scamander. Obviously. Newt rarely uses combative magic and would not see the need for an “unbeatable” wand. While he’s a compassionate person who would no doubt grieve if he lost loved ones, he would also be wise enough to understand that no magic can truly bring back the dead. He would find the invisibility cloak extremely useful in all the sneaking around he does, as well as to hide his magical creatures when necessary.

Jacob Kowalski. As a muggle, Jacob would be unable to use the wand and likely couldn’t use the stone either. Anyone can hide under an invisibility cloak. Even if he were a wizard, he’s a pretty humble guy who probably wouldn’t care for the power offered by the wand, and his willingness to step out into the memory potion rain suggests that he can let go and move on after a great loss, so he probably wouldn’t choose the stone.

Understanding Literary Concepts Through Harry Potter: Flat and Round, Static and Dynamic

A flat character is like a pencil sketch of a person. You have some idea of what they look like, what their goals are, even their basic personality, but none of the detail that would make them feel real. A round character is the opposite. They do have those details, and they come across as real people even though the audience knows they are fictional.

There are a lot of round characters in Harry Potter, but there are also many who have only a small part to play and therefore minimal characterization. Pansy Parkinson is Draco Malfoy’s mean-spirited and frivolous girlfriend. Hepzibah Smith was a wealthy and easily-manipulated woman from whom Voldemort stole Slytherin’s locket and Hufflepuff’s cup. Sturgis Podmore is a member of the Order of the Phoenix who Voldemort tries to use to get the prophecy. That’s … pretty much all there is to those characters.

On the other hand, if I said, “Harry Potter is an orphan raised by his aunt and uncle who discovers he has magical powers and is the chosen one of a prophecy”, I have only scratched the surface of who Harry is. I’ve said nothing about his personality, his morals, his friendships, his goals, his hopes, his fears, his doubts, his strengths and weaknesses, or any of the myriad of other things that define who Harry is. And, unlike the characters I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Harry has all those things and more. Flat characters can be summed up in a few words or a sentence, while round characters would require an essay to do them justice.

Another way to classify characters is by their character development. A dynamic character changes over the course of the story, while a static character remains the same. These two concepts are often lumped together, with the assumption that round characters are dynamic and flat characters are static. Most examples fit this pattern. For example, I named Pansy Parkinson as a flat character. Aside from aging seven years over the course of the series, she does not change very much. She does not reconsider her actions, but nor does she go any further down the path that she’s on, (for instance by fighting for Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts). In Deathly Hallows, she’s still the same shallow, unpleasant schoolgirl she’s always been. On the flip side, Draco Malfoy looks very much like a flat/static character early in the series. Around the time of Half-Blood Prince, it becomes evident that he is neither. His development in the final two books both deepens his characterization beyond the one-dimensional playground bully and forces him into a situation where he can’t continue to be just the playground bully.

However, a static character (who does not change) can also be a round character whose personality is well developed but remains constant. For example, Hagrid is a major character with a fully-developed and lifelike personality, but he does not change over the course of the story. The Hagrid who delivers Harry to his aunt and uncle’s house in Sorcerer’s Stone is essentially the same Hagrid who carries him back to Hogwarts castle in Deathly Hallows. If he changes, it’s in very small ways. The same is true of many of the other adults in the series as well.

It’s harder to imagine a dynamic character (who changes) somehow not being a round character. In order to understand why someone would undergo a major change, their character would have to be complex. It’s not impossible, though: one example from Harry Potter that comes to mind is Regulus Black. We know he started out as a loyal Death Eater and later chose to betray Voldemort. We know what he discovered that made him reconsider. But his actual personality is extremely vague and is revealed entirely through other characters’ descriptions. Ariana Dumbledore is another such character, one who goes through a dramatic change but is never fully fleshed out as anything more than a plot device. Both are purely backstory characters and are dead before the main narrative begins, and both are defined almost entirely by the change they went through, with very little personality beyond that change.

However, it is true that the vast majority of round characters are also dynamic, and the vast majority of flat characters are also static. Complex characterization usually leads to character development and change over time, while shallower characters who exist only as a pencil sketch idea typically stay the same.

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.

Hogwarts Mystery: Ravenclaw’s Revenge

Okay, so up until this point I’ve been pretty happy with the Hogwarts Mystery game and the storyline it’s having me follow. But I’m early in year two now and starting to get really annoyed.

First of all, there’s this:

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We needed to get a quill from inside the Gryffindor common room to help find Ben (long story), so Rowan came up with this harebrained plan to get me in there, which involved using reducio and engorgio on myself to sneak in unnoticed while everyone was away at a Quidditch game. The thing is, there was no need to do any of that. It would have made so much more sense to simply hand the first clue over to McGonagall and let her take it from there. She’s his Head of House, she was looking for him, too, and she had already asked us to keep an eye out for anything that might be helpful. I don’t mind having my character break the rules on occasion, but this is just too silly and unnecessary.

But that’s not what’s really bothering me. No, it’s this:

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Are we, now? See, that’s news to me. I didn’t know I, or my character, or Ravenclaw in general, had any particular desire for revenge against Slytherin. In fact, I have yet to see a Ravenclaw character in any part of the Harry Potter world – books, movies, Pottermore, or whatever – spend any considerable amount of time or energy worrying about revenge.

I never got the feeling Ravenclaw as a whole was particularly antagonistic towards Slytherin, either. Their involvement in inter-house rivalries seems limited to Quidditch games and house points and supporting Cedric over Harry in Goblet of Fire. It’s Gryffindor and Slytherin that really hate each other. The Ravenclaw “welcome letter” on Pottermore both criticizes and compliments all three of the other houses. About Slytherin, it says, “They’re not all bad, but you’d do well to be on your guard until you know them well. They’ve got a long house tradition of doing whatever it takes to win”. That’s a far cry from this:

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In fact, this storyline doesn’t seem to fit no matter which house you’re in. Hufflepuffs are probably even less likely to care about revenge than Ravenclaws. Slytherins totally would plot revenge en masse, but they would come up with a better plan than simply using a spell to knock a random … um, Gryffindor, I’m assuming … backwards into a fountain. And I can totally see a Gryffindor doing exactly that if they saw a Slytherin being mean to someone, but they wouldn’t feel the need to have a meeting about it first. They’d just do it.

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Look, my character doesn’t even look happy about this. She doesn’t care about revenge. She doesn’t want to hear “Twenty points from Ravenclaw” when Snape inevitably catches us. And whatever words the game is putting in her mouth, she definitely doesn’t think this plan shows how smart we are in any way.