Salamander Eyes and the Moment I Finally Knew
SPOILERS AHEAD: PROCEED WITH CAUTION
I’m going to have to admit something here. When I watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I was utterly unimpressed with the chemistry between Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein. I didn’t see a tiny fizzle, let alone sparks fly, to put me at ease that these two characters were destined to be together.
Flash forward to Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald and I now need to eat my words! In reality, it came down to a short scene that those who have seen the film will be familiar with: Salamander eyes.
The scene in itself is adorable, the chemistry is palpable, and it seems as though time stands still as they gaze into each other’s eyes, but it represents so much more than that.
Newt is used to having to explain his actions and explain some of the more, shall we say, uncommon phrases he uses. While preparing for his meeting with Tina, Newt turns to his trusty friend Jacob to get some advice on what to say. The natural thing for Newt to do is to use beasts as his frame of reference. After all, they are his whole world! As he tries to explain how magical Tina’s eyes are to him, he uses the description of salamander eyes. Jacob is utterly flummoxed by this and advises Newt against using this analogy when he sees Tina, concerned that she will be just as weirded out by it as he is. But he is wrong.
After struggling to find the right time and words to explain to Tina that it is not he who is getting married to Leta but his brother, it seems as though all is lost. You can see the thought process on Newt’s face – “Shall I risk it? Should I just say it? Do I have anything to lose?” – as he grapples with declaring his love for Tina.
Grabbing the newspaper cutting of Tina from his case, he begins to explain to her how her eyes look in the print, and he stumbles as he desperately tries to tell her they look like salamander eyes, but it is at this moment that Tina knows exactly what he is trying to say and finishes his sentence for him.
— 𝐹𝑒𝓁𝒾𝒸𝒾𝓉𝓎 (@Felicity_2013) November 21, 2018
This is a beautiful scene. You cannot deny that. But for me, it was an awakening to the reality that they are meant to be together. She knows exactly what he is trying to say. Not only that, but she knows what he means by it and she knows it’s affectionate. In that instance, she knows how he really feels about her. Unlike Jacob, she isn’t weirded out by it but she embraces it.
Okay, so what’s the big deal about this, you ask? All through Newt’s life, he has felt like an outsider, hiding away in rooms tending to injured animals and exploring on his own. He was mocked at Hogwarts for being different and known for getting along better with his beasts than with humans. But Tina doesn’t expect Newt to change. She loves his quirks and understands how important they are. Seeing this changed me. I very nearly burst into applause in the movie theater. Instead, I sat there biting my lip (like the true Brit I am).
While I admit that I’m finally on board the Newtina train (imagine me as the Niffler above), I do wonder if I’ve embraced this more because of the hole left from the destruction of Jacob and Queenie.
Did this scene convert anyone else? Or am I just late to the party?