I wasn't going to do a blog post this week because I just put up my spoiler-free review of Fantastic Beasts over the weekend (by the way, I'm also giving away Newt's vintage Hufflepuff scarf, so you might want to head there to enter). But . . . I couldn't stop thinking about the movie, and I have been really wanting to get some thoughts out of my system, most of which are spoilery. Here are some things I can't get out of my head: Queenie and Jacob, Obscurus (did Dumbledore's sister have one?), Grindelwald (what was with that?), Leta Lestrange (BTW we have some official backstory), all the U.S. wizards used silent spells, the MACUSA death sentence adds evidence to an interesting fan theory about the Hallows and three brothers, and Credence is actually still alive.
1. Queenie and Jacob
I'll start off with the "small" one: Queenie and Jacob. This is more of a love and appreciation for a writerly twist on an old stereotype. See, I'm kind of really in love with Queenie and Jacob, which is saying something, because the reality is, there are very few couples in fiction that I feel passionately about. One is Mulder and Scully. But I really, really love Jacob and Queenie. Let me explain why.
First off, the idea of a beautiful and flirty woman being with the "fat" guy character is nothing new. We've seen it in movies and t.v. shows, to the point that I find it annoying, because in Hollywood it seems to function as nothing more than a bizarre wish-fulfillment, saying that overweight guys can get the hottest chick around (who says they can't?), and the relationships depicted never have any depth. They're shallow. But Fantastic Beasts gave us two people. Not only were both characters well-rounded as individuals, but I love the fact Queenie fell in love with Jacob's mind.
Queenie can read minds, and she's probably read hundreds, but Jacob had such a beautiful mind--it's almost like I could actually believe in love at first sight for this couple. And running through the relationship throughout the movie is the discussion that Jacob is very unique--there's "no one else like him." And even when at the end he expresses his real feelings that that's not true, that there are lots of people like him, Queenie reassures him that no, no one is like him. What's beautiful about this ongoing conversation is that behind every exchange is the subtext of Queenie's mind-reading ability, which gives what is often a stereotypical couple and theme (the theme of "being unique") fresh depth.
I ship it.
Then again, I've often loved the idea of falling in love with people's minds.
I never expected Jacob and Queenie to be my favorite Harry Potter universe couple. But there you go.
And what makes things more complex is that their relationship is technically illegal. Also, can we take a second to appreciate that Queenie can see into people's minds, so she's probably seen some of the most awful, dark thoughts that no one will express publicly--and she still manages to be charming, cute, and happy? I think that says a lot about her character. And the fact she finds his mind so beautiful says a lot about Jacob.
2. Obscurus--not as new in the worldbuilding as we thought. Look at Ariana Dumbledore.
One of the main ways the wizarding world is expounded in this story is through the introduction of the obscurus or obscural (plural). But is it new? Surprisingly not.
By the way, this is the thing that I thought for sure was a Lethifold, but I was wrong, which was actually a nice surprise. I'm pulling from sources here, but apparently in an official Fantastic Beast film companion book, it says that "during the witch hunts in centuries past, young witches and wizards sometimes tried to suppress their magic to avoid persecution. The unused energy created an unstable, uncontrollable, dark force inside the child. Like a parasite, it would drain the child’s power and ultimately their life force."
Wow, can you think of any other child that was persecuted for her magic, shut up in a house, and lost full control of her power, eventually killing someone? And Grindelwald was present for?
Yes! Ariana "was attacked by Muggle boys who saw her practicing magic, which left her traumatized to the point of rendering her magical abilities uncontrollable."
Aberforth also explains,
"It destroyed her what they did, she was never right again. She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it. It turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it and at times she was strange and dangerous."
Wow, does that not sound exactly like an obscurus? But WAIT, there's even more!
Tina says that an obscurus is "an unstable, uncontrollable dark force that bursts out and attacks." We know that Ariana accidentally killed her mother--that sounds an awful lot like what Credence did to his mother. But here's another amazing thing--as Screen Crush points out, the word "Obscurus" actually does appear in the 2001 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them book, on the first page.
What's interesting, and pointed out in this Hypable article is that the MACUSA itself could not identify an obscurus; only two people in the movie could: Newt and Grindelwald.
Some are theorizing that Grindelwald recognized an obscurus because he first encountered one (Ariana) through his friend Albus Dumbledore. We know Newt encountered one in Africa, and he was actively trying to save the girl that was its host and at least succeeded in separating them. This has led some to wonder, what if as part of Newt's traveling, Dumbledore (which apparently has a personal connection to Newt) asked Newt to look for ways to help those with an obscurus? We know from the movie that an obscurus is not technically a beast at all--so it's interesting and perhaps telling that Newt has one to study, one he has made an effort to try to keep alive (which is apparently not easy to do), and actually tried to save the girl who suffered from it. It's not like he's a doctor (or in this case, healer). Could Newt be doing this for Albus? Perhaps knowing what Grindelwald wants to do with obscural, could Dumbledore have sent Newt to try to save those who suffer from it before Grindelwald gets to them?
Some argue that Grindelwald may have already known a bit about obscural before he encountered Ariana, and that in addition to wanting to go to Godric's Hallow to find out about the Deathly Hallows, he also went there on rumors of an obscurus, a power/entity/what-do-you-call-it that he already had dreams of controlling. Geez, what if that was one of the reason he befriended Dumbledore? Their friendship seemed sincere, but it could have at least been a contributing factor.
Screen Crush also pointed out that with Ariana, Grindelwald made a speech about her that was very similar to one he made with Credence in the film. He was also very upset that the MACUSA "killed" Credence (there are reasons to believe he didn't die, mentioned below), probably because he'd seen Ariana die, when he believed that in a better world, she wouldn't have had to.
Is all this a coincidence? I think not.
I didn't come up with all this, but I did see some connections. So if you love this idea, show Screen Crush and Hypable and everyone else who already came up with the theory some love.
As for me, the more time goes by, the more convinced I am. Ariana definitely had an obscurus.
As for me, the more time goes by, the more convinced I am. Ariana definitely had an obscurus.
3. Leta Lestrange
One of the things that struck me most in this film was the "Lestrange" name drop. Like other movie-goers, I was like, woah, what? Back up. Newt (a Hufflepuff) being school friends with a Lestrange (probably Slytherin)? And we know quite a bit about the Lestranges. The hurt Newt felt over the fall out of this relationship was kind of adorable and a great addition to the movie, but what do we know about Leta Lestrange? Apparently more than the first film told us. One thing the film did tell us (thanks to Queenie) is that Leta is a "taker" not a "giver," which implies that in Newt and Leta's relationship, she may have taken advantage of him and his kindness or perhaps even used him.
WELL . . . there actually is a hint of that on Leta Lestrange's Wikia page. Remember how Newt was expelled from Hogwarts? A lot of people (myself included) thought that sounded odd because in his bio in the Fantastic Beasts book, it says he graduated from Hogwarts, also, the fact that Dumbledore argued against his expulsion suggests there is more than meets the eye about this. And there is.
According to background info in the Fantastic Beast screenplay (which you can now buy in stores), Leta was the one who endangered human life with an animal, not Newt. But to save Leta from expulsion, Newt took the blame and was expelled in her place. Quite a big sacrifice to make for someone you are now very out of touch with....
Leta will for sure make a bigger appearance in later films--Zoe Kravitz is cast to play her. I can't wait to learn more about that backstory. For now, David Yates, the director, gave us this:
Yes. Leta Lestrange comes into the second movie. She's quite complicated and damaged and confused and Newt is absolutely still in love with her, so she has a kind of power over him, and she, yeah, she's a kind of tragic figure, so we will see a bit more of her in the second movie.
Aach! My poor Newt-baby . . .
Don't forget . . . she's a "taker."
Okay, I'm not the only one who feels that something was off about the Grindelwald reveal at the end of the movie. That was the one thing that didn't quite fit for me. Grindelwald is a very powerful, dark wizard. Sure, not as powerful as Voldemort, but it has been said he may have become that powerful if Dumbledore hadn't defeated him. (I'd argue cautiously against that, since Grindelwald wasn't concerned with making seven Horcruxes. Though, interestingly, he was much more educated and interested in the Deathly Hallows than Voldemort ever was). I just couldn't buy that someone that powerful would come to the U.S., go undercover in the government just to find an obscurus and then have his disguise thwarted by a simple revelio charm--what? Shouldn't he have thought about that? In my theater, when he was revealed, a bunch of people scattered throughout the audience started laughing.
I really wanted Graves to be a follower or associate of Grindelwald, but I wasn't sure I could buy the idea of Graves being Grindelwald himself. Maybe I needed more foreshadowing, or a stronger motive--and maybe if we get this other info with the obscurus, I'll have the solid explanation I need. I realize Voldemort did stuff like this--I mean he freaking lived on the back of Quirrel's head--but he was an eighth of a soul and didn't have a body. Did Grindelwald really need to do something like this? Didn't he have any followers to do it? Or perhaps he thought, because of Ariana, he would know what to do with an obscurus--but until we get that other info, I found that plot twist a bit flimsy, personally. Maybe as this Ariana theory sinks into place, I'll be more comfortable with it.
I wasn't a fan of the make-up either. He looked a little crazy, not enough his youthful image or his elderly image that we saw in Deathly Hallows.
Finally, HE HAS THE ELDER WAND RIGHT NOW--where is it??? I get he had to use Graves's wand to impersonate him, but don't you think he would have had the Elder wand on him too? And what will MACUSA do if they find it? Then again, I guess showing him using it would have been too much a giveaway to the audience...
But what I do like about Grindelwald is that, sure, he's another dark wizard, but he had a different approach to dark magic than Voldemort, so that will be interesting to see.
5. Silent Spells?
This one is short, but someone pointed out . . . somewhere . . . pretty sure it was on Tumblr, that none of the U.S. witches and wizards use verbal spells, but Newt does. Silent spell are supposed to be immensely difficult. But what if the American magic folk learned to use them because there is such a dangerous divide between wizards and no-maj's? I mean, witches have already died. So the Americans had to use silent spells to stay hidden. Cool idea.
6. The Death Chamber in MACUSA adds evidence to a killer theory about the Hallows, the Veil, and the three brothers.
The other day my friend sent me this fan theory video you NEED to watch. No really. It's that good. There is too much for me to recap the whole thing, but basically the theory shows that there is evidence that connects the Veil in the Department of Mysteries, the Pensieve Dumbledore has, and the Mirror of Erised, to the Deathly Hallows and three brothers.
In the 7th book, Dumbledore said he didn't think Death actually gave the brothers the Deathly Hallows, but rather that the brothers were very intelligent and talented and created the Hallows and the legend sprung up around them. What's interesting is that the Veil in the Department of Mysteries is similar to the Resurrection Stone, in fact, it's described in the fairy tale that when you use the Stone, it's as if the dead person is appearing through a veil. The theory suggests that the second brother created the Veil first to see his dead loved one, but it didn't work, since it's a one-way visit. The third brother, who asked for the invisibility cloak, is described as very thoughtful--he may have invented the Pensieve, which interestingly, renders you invisible in the past. The brother who made the Elder wand (which is largely associated with wants. power, maybe even greed) first made the Mirror of Erised, and in it saw what he most desired, the Elder wand.
All of these objects relate to Thestrals too. The core of the Elder wand is a Thestral hair. Thestrals are invisible to most people. Only those who have seen death can see a Thestral, and those same people were the only ones who could hear voices through the Veil. Thestrals are heavily associated with death, therefore that's where the Death theme comes from.
It's important to note that the Veil, Pensieve, and Mirror are very old. The Ministry may not have created the Veil, and Dumbledore did not create the Pensieve.
What's interesting about this theory, is that in Fantastic Beasts, we see a death chamber (which was essentially what the Veil seemed to be) that combines whatever the Veil used (even looks similar) with memories, where it functioned as a sort of Pensieve.
I realize this is just a theory, but it was super interesting to see a gateway to death combined with the Pensieve . . . just saying.
7. Credence is still alive
Yes, it has been confirmed that Credence is still alive. After Grindelwald is defeated, Newt sees a scrap of obscurus leave the scene. We know that it is possible to separate an obscurus from a host (body?), so just because we saw his body doesn't mean he's done. In fact, in the original cut of the movie, there was a scene at the end that showed Credence alive, but ultimately it was deleted. You can read about that straight from the director here.
And those are seven things I keep thinking about. I can't wait to see where Fantastic Beasts goes (well, I know it goes to Paris next, but you know what I mean)! But the next one doesn't come out for two years (cries). Again, don't forget to enter to win Newt's scarf. Do I have more Fantastic Beasts posts in the works? Yup, at least one . . . and a half. . . . so far.