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.

Advertisements

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.

Screenshot (11)

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.

Why I Don’t Trust Theseus Scamander

Names are almost always significant in Harry Potter, especially when they come from mythology. The mythological character Theseus is named for is the kind of classical hero who wasn’t exactly heroic in the modern sense. In his most famous story, he uses a woman who is in love with him to defeat her father’s monster, promises to marry her, but then abandons her on an island and returns home without her. In some versions of the myth, she marries Dionysus and becomes a goddess, but in other versions, she dies. Then he forgets to change the sails on his ship as a signal to his father that he’s still alive, so his father believes he is dead and commits suicide.

Theseus in Fantastic Beasts is a celebrated war hero and an auror who has been tasked with tracking down Grindelwald. It makes sense for him to share the name of a mythological hero, although given that he’s engaged to Leta Lestrange, who at the very least is related to a family of dark wizards, it’s almost impossible not to think of the mythological Theseus and Ariadne.

More importantly, the mythological Theseus was a famous monster-hunter. He’s most famous for fighting and killing the Minotaur, a creature with the body of a human and the head of a bull, but he also killed the Crommyonian Sow (a giant, savage pig), captured the Marathonian bull and sacrificed it to the gods, killed a centaur named Eurytus, and joined the hunt for the Calydonian boar. This is pretty par for the course for an ancient Greek hero, but it seems significant given who Theseus Scamander is: the older brother of Newt Scamander, who “never met a monster [he] couldn’t love”.

The Fate of One, The Future of All

I said in my earlier post that I think “the fate of one will change the future of all” is about Jacob. Here’s my theory.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about Grindelwald’s supporters:

https://hogwartspensieve.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/who-are-grindelwalds-supporters/

In that post, I said that, since most of Grindelwald’s supporters are apparently “unsuspecting of his true agenda”, there might be large numbers of ordinary, well-intentioned-but-misguided people among them, especially those who for one reason or another are forced to live double lives: wizards with muggle relatives, wizards married to muggles, squibs who grew up in the magical world but have no powers of their own, and so on. These people would not fit Grindelwald’s “pure-blood” ideal, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t mislead them and use them for his own purposes. Grindelwald seems to be less of a cold and cruel Voldemort type and more of a charismatic would-be dictator who draws people in with promises, lies, and ideas that look all right at first glance but turn unpleasant under further examination.

Of the main cast, I theorized that Queenie and Jacob would be most vulnerable to Grindelwald’s false promises, especially since the laws in America make it illegal for them to marry and for him to remember magic. They basically have three options. They can accept his memory wipe in the first movie as final, they can have a secret relationship but risk punishment (and his memory being wiped again) if they are ever found out, or they can move to a different country (Britain, for instance) where wizard/muggle relationships are accepted and muggles who marry wizards can be told the truth about the magical world. Wouldn’t anyone in that situation be tempted by a man who talks about bringing wizards out of hiding if he conceals the darker parts of his agenda?  The same synopsis that describes Grindelwald’s followers as ignorant to his true goals goes on to say, “Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family”, which certainly makes it sound as if someone from the main four will question their loyalties, and it would make all the sense in the world for it to be Queenie.

Queenie is a legilimens, but she does best with American English and has trouble reading British people’s minds. How much harder would it be for her to read the mind of Grindelwald, whose thoughts are probably not in English at all? She didn’t notice that he wasn’t really Percival Graves, so she very well might not notice if he’s lying to her about something else. He, of course, would know that she’s a legilimens, because it’s not as if she tries to hide it. Being a legilimens gives her a lot of insight that other people don’t have, but what happens if Grindelwald sets her up to meet with supporters of his who honestly believe they’re creating a better world and don’t know about the worst parts of his plans? In that case, it could be a weakness, because their thoughts would be honest and well-meaning and she would have no way of knowing whether they themselves had been deceived.

Why would Grindelwald want Queenie on his side? Well, she’s a powerful legilimens with direct access to one of Dumbledore’s most trusted allies. Maybe he wants to know what Dumbledore has told Newt, or what their plans are. In that case, she would still be with the other main characters even after her loyalties shift. It would be hard for someone so warm-hearted to betray her loved ones, and especially to remain a part of their group and deceive them about it while she does, but maybe she thinks they’ll all be better off in Grindelwald’s world. Maybe he promises their safety – and remember, she can’t read his mind to know if he’s telling the truth.

Even if all that happened, I don’t believe Queenie would turn to the dark side completely or permanently. I think it’s far more likely she would be tempted for a while, take a few steps down the wrong path, but then come back to the right side by the end of the movie. And what would be most likely to make her change her mind?

Probably if something happened to Jacob.

The new trailer has a voiceover that says, “Muggles are not lesser. Not disposable,” with shots of Jacob onscreen. It’s a man’s voice speaking, but the message is certainly something Queenie would agree with, and it’s clear that Grindelwald believes exactly the opposite. If Grindelwald did something to harm Jacob – if he treated him as “disposable” because he’s a muggle, if he’s hurt or put in danger because of what she helped Grindelwald to do – that would have to change her viewpoint. And if she then caught a glimpse into Grindelwald mind – because that combination of anger and love seems like it could fuel a some powerful magic – she’d be hit hard by what he’s really planning, but maybe it would give her insight into how to thwart him as well. If all that happened because Grindelwald treated Jacob as “lesser” or “disposable”, then … well … “the fate of one will change the future of all”.

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.

Screenshot (12)Screenshot (23)

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

Screenshot (13)

That has to be significant, right?

Dumbledore

Screenshot (3)

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.

Screenshot (8)

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

Screenshot (5)

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.

Screenshot (17)Screenshot (18)

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.

Screenshot (19)

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.

Screenshot (20)Screenshot (21)

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

Screenshot (6)

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?

Screenshot (11)

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:

Screenshot (16)

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

Screenshot (15)

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

Screenshot (7)

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?

Screenshot (10)

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.

Screenshot (14)

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.

Rosier Family Tree

Between Vinda Rosier from Crimes of Grindelwald and Felix from Hogwarts Mystery, the new material in the Wizarding world is making me think we need an official Rosier family tree. But, for lack of an official one, I’m going to do my best to work it out.

Let’s start with the youngest known family member and work backwards. Felix Rosier is about 2 years older than Bill Weasley, meaning he was born in 1968 or 69.  If this bit of dialogue in Hogwarts Mystery is to be believed, his father was “a top Death Eater”.

The past tense makes me think they meant for Evan Rosier, who is dead by this point, to be his father, but that doesn’t actually work.  Evan Rosier was one of Snape’s peers, and Snape was born in 1960, giving them an age difference of only 8 or 9 years. They could be brothers or cousins, but not father and son. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume they’re brothers and that the past tense is because Voldemort is no longer around. (Alternatively, both died during the war).

There are a few other notable members of the family. One is Druella Rosier, who married Cygnus Black. Another was one of Tom Riddle’s school peers who went on to become one of Voldemort’s first followers. To be near Tom Riddle’s age, he would have had to be born in the late 1920’s, around the time of the first Fantastic Beasts movie. I think it makes a lot of sense for the new character of Vinda Rosier in Crimes of Grindelwald to be his mother, although she could also be an aunt. Druella’s age is not given, but her husband was born in 1938; if she is near his age, she could be either a much younger sister or a cousin to the Rosier who was at school with Tom Riddle.

That character could easily be Evan and Felix’s father. He would have been in his mid-30’s when Evan was born and in his early 40’s when Felix was born if that’s the case. He could also be Felix’s grandfather if both he and his son had children in their early 20’s, although in that case Felix and Evan would probably be cousins, rather than brothers. And, of course, it’s also possible that he’s the father of one and the uncle of the other.

Or, in other words …

rosier family tree

 

 

Thoughts on the Circus Arcanus

The Circus Arcanus is – at least according to the Harry Potter Wiki – a circus run by wizards, not by muggles. I’m not 100% sure how we know that, but the new poster that mentions a Kappa certainly seems to reinforce the idea. While Kappas are a part of Japanese folklore, they actually exist in the world of Harry Potter and are one of the creatures mentioned in Fantastic Beasts (the book). According to Newt Scamander, Kappas are dangerous creatures (rated XXXX), so it’s hard to believe that muggles would have been able to capture one.

If the Circus Arcanus is run by wizards, who are its primary visitors – muggles or wizards? If muggles, then the magic displayed there is probably normal by wizard standards. A witch dancing with a snake coiled around her might be perfectly safe, the kappa is of course a magical creature, and the hypnotist? Well, there’s always the Imperius Curse. The only problem with that idea is that they’d be breaking the law – not just if the hypnotist is using an unforgivable curse, but also by violating the Statute of Secrecy. So it’s more likely that the Circus Arcanus performs for wizard audiences and that the magic used there is strange even by their standards, or that the creatures are rare ones they are unlikely to have encountered before.

Wouldn’t it be interesting, though, if most of it was all smoke and mirrors? I mean, what’s more likely: a humanoid amphibian that devours its own tail or an illusion created to make it look like that’s what’s happening? Another creature, the Abarimon (mentioned in the new flyer), is a real group of people from mythology, and along with having their feet on backwards, they were physically unable to live anywhere but their own native homeland. Of all the possible creatures to include, why the one that couldn’t possibly be part of the circus without completely getting rid of one of its defining features? Unless, of course, that’s a clue that there’s no Abarimon at all, just a witch or wizard using human transfiguration to appear as one.

I know the predominant theory is that “enchanting snake girl” = the Maledictus = Nagini, but what if her trick is more than just turning into a snake? Animagi are rare, but not freak-show-worthy, and a cursed transformation into a snake would likely look no different. Parseltongue, on the other hand, is almost unheard-of except in Slytherin’s descendants. Not only is it something the circus-goers would never have seen before, it’s something a little scary and disturbing, a talent usually viewed with suspicion as opposed to the respect shown to animagi. And, of course, she could be both, if the reason she can talk to snakes is because she’s transforming into one.

One final thought about the Circus Arcanus: doesn’t it seem strange that it’s following Newt Scamander around? First it was in New York, now in Paris, at exactly the same time as him. Of course, there’s no real reason a circus would be following him, unless it wanted to get its hands on some of his creatures. That’s a possibility worth considering, but n the other hand, it might have nothing to do with Newt at all. It might be that the circus is in fact following Grindelwald.

Think about it. A circus can travel anywhere and not attract suspicion, because traveling is what they do. If they’re on Dumbledore’s side, maybe they’re keeping tabs on Grindelwald and reporting back. However, I think it’s more likely they’re working for Grindelwald. The circus has a creepy vibe, and for a group of “freaks” who have a hard time concealing their magic or illusionists who enjoy using their talents in bizarre and eye-catching ways, it’s easy to see why his ideas might seem appealing. Get rid of the statute of secrecy, put the muggles in their place, and never hide again. In that case, maybe they’re subtly helping him gain supporters in the places they visit. Since it seems Credence has joined the circus – but clearly wasn’t thrilled with Grindelwald the last time they met – that could set up for a very interesting conflict.