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.

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Ariana Was an Obscurial: Part 2

Very mild Crimes of Grindelwald spoilers

This is hardly a new idea, but it’s worth revisiting after Crimes of Grindelwald. I think it still works, perhaps even better than before.

First of all, Dumbledore seems to know a lot about obscurials. That could just be his tendency to provide whatever explanation the audience needs, but it could also confirm that he has past experience with them and, perhaps, a personal reason for obtaining that knowledge. Most wizards believe that obscurials no longer exist, but Dumbledore has all kinds of ideas about how their curse works and how it might be cured. He describes the obscurus as a “dark twin” born out of loneliness and says that finding his real family – a real brother or sister – might be enough to save Credence.

Obscurials typically don’t survive childhood, but Ariana was a teenager when she died. She didn’t even die from being an obscurial; she died when she was caught in the crossfire of a duel between the Dumbledore brothers and Grindelwald. You would think if Newt learned about obscurials from Dumbledore, he would have known that ten years old is not a hard limit and been less surprised when Credence turned out to be the obscurial in New York. However, Ariana was the exception. She was afraid of her magic and refused to use it, but she had a family who did their best to protect her, even if they didn’t fully understand what she was going through. Most obscurials don’t escape so easily from the circumstances that made them develop an obscurus in the first place, and most don’t have a loving family to watch over them. If Dumbledore did research after her death and found records that said most obscurials died before a certain age, he might have just assumed his sister was the exception.

Dumbledore does not seem surprised that Credence survived to young adulthood as an obscurial and suggests that he could be saved by the love of a family, which is exactly what kept Ariana alive for so long.

Fantastic Beasts of the Circus Arcanus

In all the Crimes of Grindelwald theories I’ve written about, it seems like I’ve barely mentioned Newt Scamander. His role in the first movie was obvious, since it was focused so much on his magical creatures, but even now, with the focus shifting to the war against Grindelwald, he’s clearly still central to the story.

In Fantastic Beasts, Newt was on good terms with Dumbledore and willing to work against Grindelwald, but his main concern was his magical creatures. In Crimes of Grindelwald, he’s now on a mission for Dumbledore, who is seen recruiting him to help in the fight against Grindelwald in the latest trailer. However, he still has his suitcase full of magical creatures, and presumably they will continue to play a role in the story.

I previously wrote [link] that I thought the Circus Arcanus was following Grindelwald. It’s in New York when he’s in New York and in Paris when he’s in Paris. That seems like too much of a coincidence. A circus can travel anywhere at any time without attracting notice, so it would be a good cover story, and – as I mentioned in my other post – people who have “freakish” talents or enjoy using their magic in flashy ways might very well be drawn to a leader who wants to bring wizards out of hiding.

Newt Scamander has devoted his life to magical creatures. The Circus Arcanus seems to include magical creatures in its performances – they have a kappa advertised on one of their posters, and there’s definitely something in that cage in the trailer – and real-life circuses have not always treated their animals very well. If Newt suspected that the Circus Arcanus was mistreating its magical creatures, he might decide to investigate, especially if he was already in Paris on a mission from Dumbledore. Maybe Dumbledore even suspects the circus is linked to Grindelwald and points him in their direction.

My Thoughts on the New Crimes of Grindelwald Trailer

The Fate of One / The Future of All

This is the tagline for the new poster, and it also shows up in the trailer, so it has to be important. I think it’s about Jacob.

Think about it. Grindelwald’s whole campaign is based on a hatred of muggles, and Jacob is the only muggle in the main cast. He’s been brought back into the wizarding world after having his memory erased at the end of the first movie, and he’s in love with Queenie, a relationship that’s forbidden under America’s strict secrecy laws. Then, just after the words “The Fate of One” and “The Future of All” appear onscreen, we hear, “Muggles are not lesser. Not disposable,” and at the same time we see Jacob.

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And then Queenie crying, looking like she’s trying very hard either to listen for someone’s thoughts or not to hear them.

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That has to be significant, right?

Dumbledore

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Dumbledore seems to be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, not Transfiguration. Newt’s greatest fear as a student was having to work in an office. Based on his “About the Author” page in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the book), he actually did spend two years working in the Office for House Elf Relocation as a young man before he began working with magical beasts.

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This appears as Dumbledore is telling Newt, “I cannot stand against Grindelwald. It has to be you.” Presumably this is the Mirror of Erised, meaning that his deepest desire at this point in his life is to reconcile with Grindelwald. He certainly realizes at this point that Grindelwald is not a good person and that he has to oppose him, but he’s still doing so through other people, such as Newt, and not by fighting Grindelwald himself. I believe J.K. Rowling has previously said that when Dumbledore looks in the mirror, he would see his family reunited, so this Dumbledore is not yet the one we know from the Harry Potter books. If he still misses Grindelwald more than his dead sister and estranged brother, he’s still obviously very conflicted – which makes sense, because this is a five movie series and presumably the famous Dumbledore vs. Grindelwald showdown is in the final one.

Grindelwald

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Here’s Grindelwald making a speech to a huge crowd of his followers. According to Deathly Hallows, Grindelwald avoided Britain because of Dumbledore and was never powerful there, so presumably this is taking place in France, where most of the movie will be set.

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There was a carriage pulled by thestrals in one of the other trailers, and I speculated it was Dumbledore or Newt riding it, since Hogwarts was supposed to have the only tame herd of thestrals in Great Britain. Turns out it’s Grindelwald in the carriage, which raises the question of how he got his hands on a group of Hogwarts thestrals, and why he would go to the trouble to do so.

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Here’s a close-up of the Elder Wand, which belongs to Grindelwald at this point in the story – unless of course they decide to address the fact that Newt disarmed him in the first movie, meaning technically the Elder Wand should be Newt’s now.

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Here’s Grindelwald dueling with Newt and … is that Theseus Scamander? It will be interesting to see what kind of role he plays in all this. It looks like he and Newt are on the same side here, but I have a gut feeling he may not be entirely trustworthy.

Credence

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Credence and the Maledictus appear together multiple times in the trailer. They’re also paired together in most of the posters and promotional materials, so they will probably have a big impact on each other’s stories. How could they not, when he’s an obscurial and she’s under some kind of uncontrollable transformation curse?

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Here they are on the rooftop, and it looks like Credence is getting rid of the obscurus. I believe this was in a previous trailer, too – but I have to think it can’t possibly be so easy. No one has ever stopped being an obscurial, no obscurial has ever survived as long as Credence, and it almost destroyed him in the previous movie, but now he’s able to just push it away? I would guess it comes back to haunt him in some way. Especially given this:

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We catch a glimpse of him, someone (Newt?) shouts out his name, and then we see a building exploding, which looks a lot like the obscurus breaking loose in the first movie. Now, this could take place earlier in the movie than the other scene, but if getting rid of the obscurus is the end of a movie-long character arc, it’s hardly the sort of thing that would make it into the trailers. Especially since it’s something that has never been done before.

Leta Lestrange

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Leta Lestrange says, “You are too good, Newt. You never met a monster you couldn’t love”. Within the trailer, it’s followed by the sequence above with Credence, which brings to mind Newt’s attempt to save him in the first movie. He approaches dangerous people and dangerous creatures in much the same way: with caution, compassion, and a desire to help and understand. Leta looks and sounds upset when she’s saying it, and I can’t help wondering if she’s talking about herself. Maybe she’s gotten involved with Grindelwald and he’s trying to convince her it’s not too late to change her mind, or something along those lines. The way it’s said makes me feel sure it’s not just a comment on his suitcase full of magical creatures, some of which definitely could be described as monsters.

Magical Beasts

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What on earth are these creatures? The only catlike magical creatures listed in Fantastic Beasts are the kneazle and the wampus. A kneazle is supposed to be small (presumably the size of a housecat) with “flecked, speckled or spotted fur, outsize ears, and a tail like a lion’s”, so these clearly don’t fit the bill. A wampus looks like a mountain lion or cougar, “can walk on its hind legs”, and has distinctive yellow eyes, so these don’t look like it either. And yet they’re clearly not ordinary cats. What could they possibly be?

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I’d guess this one is a kelpie. According to Fantastic Beasts, they are aquatic shapeshifters and usually appear in the form of a horse. However, they can take on any form they want. Of all the aquatic creatures in the wizarding world, it seems more likely to be a kelpie than anything else.

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I’m totally at a loss here. At first I thought it might be a clabbert, which is “in appearance something like a cross between a monkey and a frog”, but the clabbert is hairless and small enough to live in trees. It looks a little like the illustration of a quintaped in Fantastic Beasts, but I can’t tell if it has five legs. Anyway, quintapeds live only on one small island north of Scotland, and they sound far too dangerous for even Newt to keep in his suitcase.

The Sorting of Newt Scamander

I’ve talked about the Hogwarts houses I would sort the Fantastic Beasts characters into, but there’s one we know for sure: Newt Scamander is a Hufflepuff. Except … he doesn’t quite fit the stereotype, does he? The stereotypical Hufflepuff is a “people person”, someone who gets along easily with others and enjoys being part of a group, perhaps to the point of being a conformist. Newt, on the other hand, admits, “People tend to find me annoying”. I would also say that Hufflepuffs are thought of as not being very smart, while Newt is a highly intelligent wizard best known for having written a textbook. He seems more like a Ravenclaw at first glance, doesn’t he?

But no, I’m not going to argue that Newt should have been a Ravenclaw. He actually fits the Hufflepuff traits very well, in a bit of a non-traditional way. We’ve only seen a few well-developed Hufflepuff characters, but it stands to reason that there would be as many ways to be a Hufflepuff as there are to be a Gryffindor or Slytherin, and Newt provides a glimpse of what an introverted, intellectual Hufflepuff might look like. Let’s take a look at the Hufflepuff traits as they’re introduced in Sorcerer’s Stone:

You might belong in Hufflepuff
Where they are just and loyal
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil

Newt is not a strict rule-follower, but in the movie’s themes of justice and injustice, he always falls on the side of doing right by others, both humans and magical creatures. The whole point of his trip to America was to release a thunderbird into its natural habitat after finding it, chained and mistreated, on the other side of the world. He attempts to help his fellow wizards understand magical creatures rather than simply being afraid of them, and along with Tina, he is one of the only characters to show compassion for Credence once his obscurial nature is revealed. Furthermore, he views the harsh American laws against interacting with muggles as “backwards” and therefore unjust.

He has few people to be loyal to in the traditional sense, but he’s fiercely loyal to his magical creatures. He genuinely cares for them and goes to great lengths to keep them safe, even seeming to care more about them than himself when he’s arrested by MACUSA officials. He’s patient enough to spend months and even years studying the creatures with few immediate rewards, and “unafraid of toil” certainly applies; collecting and caring for all those creatures can’t possibly be easy. Finally, “true” is difficult to define: if it means “honest”, he’s not always. However, if it means “genuine”, he definitely is. Everything he does is done with good intentions and to the best of his abilities.

Later Harry Potter books emphasize further Helga Hufflepuff’s willingness to teach all young wizards, not just those with the extraordinary qualities the other three founders valued. Newt certainly isn’t a “process of elimination” Hufflepuff; while he has few Slytherin traits, he’s both intelligent and courageous. However, his own attitudes line up well with Hufflepuff’s. Although he claims to struggle to relate to people, he shows genuine kindness to everyone he meets, whether they are witches and wizards, no-majs, obscurials, or fantastic creatures.

Fantastic Beasts and Obscurials: the Price of Ignorance

When Newt Scamander first tells Tina Goldstein he’s writing a book on magical creatures, she asks if it’s an extermination guide. No, he corrects her, he’s writing to help his fellow wizards understand magical creatures and encourage them to protect the creatures rather than killing them. It’s a theme that is present throughout both of the movie’s main storylines and is very important in the real world as well: that ignorance breeds hate and fear, which can only be combatted with understanding.

While Newt struggles to make other wizards understand that his creatures are not dangerous – at least from his perspective – the children of the New Salem Preservation Society stand in the streets handing out flyers as their leader rants against witchcraft. What do they actually know about magic? They certainly know or suspect that it exists, and they’re right that some wizards are dangerous, but their ideas are mostly based on their own fear rather than the truth they claim to know.

This ignorant fear and hatred leads Credence, the son of the New Salem leader, to suppress his magic and pretend it doesn’t exist, probably even denying it to himself. But magic can’t be suppressed easily, and the movie makes it quite clear that the only options are to learn to control it or be controlled by it. The Second Salemers’ hateful views of magic end up creating the greatest magical threat possible as one of their own becomes an obscurial, with powerful and uncontrollable magic literally exploding out of him.

The Second Salemers are aware of magic and determined that it’s evil, while Jacob Kowalski – another muggle who encounters magic – quickly learns to see witches and wizards as not so different from other people. Unlike the Second Salemers, he has actually spent time with magic-users and gotten to know them as people. Rappaport’s Law, the strict separation of the magical and “no-maj” worlds in America, actually does more harm than good in keeping wizards safe, because it means that any “no-maj” who finds out about magic will be kept ignorant.

And finally, near the end of the movie, Credence in his obscurus form is killed by MACUSA officials – although apparently there was a deleted scene that would have shown he survived? Anyway, their intent was to kill him. One gets the feeling in that scene that the other wizards don’t really see him as a person. To MACUSA he’s a dangerous threat, although as far as they know he’s a child less than 10 years old, and to Grindelwald he’s a weapon to be used and discarded. Only Newt, who has worked with and tried to help obscurials in the past, and Tina, who lost her job for trying to protect Credence from his mother, realize he’s human and try to save him. Again, ignorance makes people look at each other in fear, while understanding leads to compassion.