Four “Fantastic Beasts” Threads Lost in “Crimes of Grindelwald”
SPOILERS AHEAD: PROCEED WITH CAUTION
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald introduced a slew of new characters and storylines. In the midst of so much commotion, some compelling mysteries that had been left open-ended in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them did not get the attention or explanation they deserved. Questions introduced in the first film were glossed over in the second installment. Here are four issues that could have used more development.
1. Jacob’s Memory
At the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, No-Maj Jacob Kowalski’s memory is wiped of the magic he witnessed by the rain containing Swooping Evil venom. However, the final scene indicates that he still has some recollection of the beasts he encountered, even if he thinks they are merely fanciful dreams. When Queenie enters his bakery, he seems to experience a flash of recognition as he smiles and raises a hand to the Murtlap bite on his neck. Many fans guessed that the Murtlap essence might have actually counteracted the magical rain. There was potential for an interesting beast-related discovery, but Crimes of Grindelwald jumped ahead to Jacob and Queenie back together, with a brief explanation that the rain only erased bad memories, sparing Jacob’s overwhelmingly positive memories (though the Murtlap bite certainly seemed negative). Even with such a straightforward solution, some glimpse into the process of Jacob’s memory recovery would have been most welcome. The loss of his memory and parting from his new friends was one of the most poignant moments of the first film, and it was brushed aside too quickly.
2. Credence’s Survival and New Mission
Credence Barebone appeared to be killed at the end of the first film, but the second shows him alive and well. There is no explanation of how he survived, found his adoption papers, got to Paris, joined the circus, or became close with Nagini. It seems that we are simply supposed to accept that he is such a powerful Obscurial that he was able to manage it and set his sights on finding his family. Like Jacob’s situation, there could have been an interesting magical phenomenon, and Credence’s invincibility seems rather significant. Big problems were solved immediately in a move that feels like Steven Moffat’s constant killing and resurrecting of certain Doctor Who characters.
3. Newt’s Expulsion
When Percival Graves (Grindelwald in disguise) interrogates Newt in the first film, he mentions that Newt was expelled from Hogwarts but that Dumbledore argued against his expulsion. Crimes of Grindelwald showed us some of Newt’s time at Hogwarts, but it failed to even touch upon the fact that Newt never finished his education there. He interacts with Dumbledore without any acknowledgment of his former teacher defending him as a student and reminisces with Leta Lestrange about getting detention without reflecting on getting into more trouble and receiving a much more severe punishment. What did Newt do, why did Dumbledore step in, was Leta involved, and why does Newt still have a wand?
4. Newt and Leta’s (and Theseus and Leta’s) Relationship
After the allusion to a close childhood relationship between Newt and Leta Lestrange in the first film, the sequel seemed poised to explain what happened between them and how she ended up engaged to Newt’s brother. Crimes of Grindelwald showed us their friendship at Hogwarts, but there was no falling out, rejection of romantic advances, or wooing by Theseus. The brothers are portrayed as polar opposite personalities, so what was it that drew Leta from the shy, awkward Magizoologist Newt to the confident, assertive Auror Theseus? Queenie called Leta “a taker” based on her reading of Newt’s thoughts, but what she took from him was never made clear, and all scenes of their friendship at Hogwarts seemed positive. It’s possible that this will be developed further in later films, but it seems unlikely now that Leta appears to be dead.
Crimes of Grindelwald attempted to pack a lot in, but in doing so, it brushed past a number of items of interest. In rushing to connect to the Harry Potter series and focus on famous figures such as Dumbledore and Grindelwald, it missed the opportunity to develop its original characters. Hopefully, we’ll get to see some of these topics investigated in the upcoming installments, but some seem to be shelved or even forgotten. Do you have any theories for these unexplained, or too easily explained, mysteries?