What Does Leta Lestrange’s Sacrifice Mean?
Before Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Leta Lestrange was a mysterious figure. The relationship between Newt Scamander and the woman with the daunting last name was an ambiguous story that was intriguing to explore. Although their friendship was unlikely, it was an exciting prospect to have a relationship between two misfits. In some ways, their connection alluded to Severus Snape and Lily Potter’s relationship dynamic. Both friendships challenged the social norms of Hogwarts House interaction and weaved two contrasting personalities together. However, although Crimes of Grindelwald gave Leta complexity and depth in a short amount of time, her death was sudden and ended her role in the franchise much earlier than I was anticipating. Her character was a bright flame that burned out as fast as it had ignited.
After all the hype, why did Leta die after a one-movie introduction? Was it for the emotional punch at the end? Was her death intended to give audiences an emotional response at the climax? Was Queenie Goldstein’s betrayal not enough? Queenie’s new allegiance to Grindelwald was already going to move fans to anger, disappointment, or intrigue. One has to wonder if Leta’s death would have been more effective after getting to know her through interactions spanning more than one film. Her storyline was tragic, but I didn’t know her well enough to feel the gut-wrenching devastation that the deaths in the Harry Potter books gave me. Why not keep her around a little while longer?
Leta’s death is noble. She distracts Grindelwald and attacks the skull hookah in a last attempt to buy Newt and Theseus Scamander enough time to escape. Grindelwald’s flames engulf Leta after she tells the brothers she loves them in a heartfelt goodbye. In the Harry Potter world, the act of self-sacrifice for those you love creates a magical protection. Wouldn’t it make sense for her sudden death to leave a mark for the rest of the films? By J.K. Rowling’s own rules, wouldn’t her death qualify as a loving act of sacrifice? It’s the same sacrifice Lily Potter made to protect Harry from Voldemort, and it’s the same sacrifice Harry made to shield his friends during the Battle of Hogwarts. Why shouldn’t the same feat protect Newt and Theseus against Grindelwald? At first, we were led to believe that Lily’s protection was made possible because of the blood that runs through Harry’s veins. If that were true, how did Harry’s protection work for his friends in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
If Newt has this same protection, it will further justify his role in the upcoming war. Newt seems an unlikely candidate to move against Grindelwald. I often wonder why Albus Dumbledore insisted it had to be him. Even though Dumbledore couldn’t have predicted Leta’s actions, maybe he knew Newt’s unique perspective would be a new, upright defense against Grindelwald. Perhaps Leta’s love will give Newt an advantage that might change the game and even out the playing field. How does Dumbledore know about the magic that runs through Harry Potter’s veins immediately after Voldemort’s attack? Is it from his vast knowledge acquired through studying, or has he seen it before?
Even if Grindelwald isn’t able to hurt Newt and Theseus, he could still strike against them indirectly through his followers. Nevertheless, Grindelwald’s discovery of their safeguard could be an interesting cinematic moment and could create a web of problems for the antagonist to solve. Voldemort couldn’t love; therefore, he was incapable of understanding the magnitude of Lily’s final act. Grindelwald doesn’t seem removed from humanity in the same way as Voldemort; he understands love and uses it to manipulate. Could he find a way to use a magical love protection to his advantage? Two questions remain: Would J.K. Rowling use this plot element again? Would fans welcome it or feel that it’s a theme that should stay exclusively in Harry’s story? It will be interesting to see what aspects of Potter make it into the remaining Fantastic Beasts films.
Do you think there’s a reason for Leta’s death that will be revealed in the upcoming films? Let us know in the comments below!