What’s Happening in Jacob’s Bakery?
SPOILER WARNING: This post contains major spoilers from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
“I don’t have the brains to make this up.” That is Jacob Kowalski’s reason for knowing he isn’t dreaming up his adventure inside Newt’s case. However, at the end of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film, he has reimagined many of Newt’s creatures into pastries, even though his memory of them should have been wiped away by the venom-laced rainstorm. Are these pastries born of an imagination he didn’t know he had, or is he really remembering part of his time in the wizarding world? I am assuming it is the latter, but what we need to explore is that lovely three-letter word: why.
The first mention of Swooping Evil venom is in Newt’s workshop inside the suitcase. Jacob has followed Newt into the case, where the Magizoologist uses a concoction to stop the swelling from the Murtlap bite on Jacob’s neck. After tending to Jacob, Newt goes about his business in his workshop. He squeezes some Swooping Evil venom into a vial, explaining that he has been harvesting it and studying its Obliviating properties. Newt says the venom makes a person forget their worst memories.
Worst memories. This is where things get interesting. Newt didn’t say the venom completely wipes memories. If administered, it erases bad memories, keeping the good. Let’s take a look at the things Jacob seems to remember in that closing scene in Kowalski’s Bakery. He remembers the creatures, and his reaction to Queenie seems to suggest she’s familiar to him. These are both positive aspects of his adventure into the wizarding world. Did Jacob forget the horrors of destruction and death, but remember the friendships, magical creatures, and love? We do know that love is the most powerful magic of all.
If the effects of Swooping Evil venom don’t provide a loophole for good memories to remain, there is another possible explanation for Jacob’s seemingly persistent memory. The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them textbook states that the growths on a Murtlap’s back “promote resistance to curses and jinxes” if eaten. This seems like a very coincidental benefit from the very creature whose bite mark Jacob touches when seeing Queenie again post memory-wiping rainstorm. Newt did say Murtlap bites may have different effects on Muggles, due to differences in their physiological make-up.
While the imagery of the rain washing away all memories of magic is heartbreaking to watch, I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Kowalski will continue to stumble into a universe he isn’t supposed to know about.