One of my favorite movie quotes is in Angels and Demons; “Religion is flawed, but only because man is flawed.” The same can be applied to the arts. Some art is praised because of its imperfections, while others are ripped to pieces. Criticism and critiques are a handy tool for any artist, and they can help the artist craft their work into something as close to perfection as is humanly possible.
However, there is a, sometimes thin, line between criticism and being cruel. There are artists who react poorly to their work being critiqued, just as there are people whose criticisms are nothing more than insults thinly wrapped in observations. Finding that middle ground, for artists and those who critique alike, isn’t always easy.
That being said, it’s difficult for me to take people seriously when they insult the artist and their work, and even less so when they do it just to garner views. You can be polite and respectful, and still disagree with how they did something. Not to mention, it might just make them take you and your suggestions as helpful instead of rude.
At any rate, now that my PSA is over let’s get to the real reason for this post. I’ve had some time to think more on certain aspects of Crimes of Grindelwald, especially after a few questions were posed in regards to certain parts/concepts in the film. That’s why I decided to make a second post!
First post found here.
You know you’re all terribly excited for more of my rambling, so here we go!
1. Why didn’t they use apparition, the floo, or a portkey to move Grindelwald from America to Britain?
Now, the first two are easy enough to answer. You can’t safely apparate long distances, as the further you try to go the more likely you’ll harm yourself, or Newt would have just popped over to France with Jacob. The fandom wiki for Harry Potter indicates there is a safe range, and that; “According to W.O.M.B.A.T., it is possible that Inter-Country Apparition has been outlawed due to extreme splinching.” Considering all this, and how dangerous they know Grindelwald to be, it wouldn’t be worth the risk to try and side-along apparate him from New York to Britain.
As for the floo network, it’s regulated by the individual countries, and doesn’t seem to connect internationally. Connection to the floo network requires the permission of the Ministry of Magic, but even if America and Britain came to some kind of agreement to connect a fireplace temporarily for transport, they might not be able to. This is where I’m getting more into theory than canon, but how exactly are all things powered in the wizarding world? Magic. Even with magic, there’s a limit to how much you can do based on how much power you have to work with.
Perhaps, like with apparating, there’s a range, and that’s why in America it’s divided into regions. I’d like to think it’s like WiFi, and the farther you get away from the source, the ‘weaker’ the magic gets, and that’s why countries like France and Britain aren’t connected. Or, at least, not that we’ve seen. For Europe it could also just be a control issue. All the countries like to do things their own way, or they wouldn’t have different ministries.
If you go with the WiFi theory, it would make sense that America would be divided into regions, not only for the number of people using the system, but because of sheer distance. I imagine they’d have to jump floos as they move through regions, instead of hopping in a fireplace in California and ending up in Virginia.
This also makes me wonder how individual states’ rights work in regards to the larger central government (MACUSA), but I digress.
Even if it’s a regional autonomy issue versus a WiFi-type issue, there’s nothing to indicate you could cross an ocean with the floo network.
The portkey explanation is a little more involved, and has to do with Grindelwald himself. The fandom page plays out the escape a little differently than what I picture. I believe the switch happened long before the escape, and not right before.
Let’s roll back a little before the escape and look at what’s gone down. We aren’t given an exact timeline within the six months Grindelwald is jailed, but Seraphina Picquery indicated that they’d had to change Grindelwald’s guards three times, because he’s; ‘Quite persuasive.’ This would indicate there are multiple guards willing to join Grindelwald’s cause.
It wouldn’t be terribly complicated for a sympathizer, in this case Abernathy who is an Acolyte, to brew up some Polyjuice for both of them. We don’t know the status of his early imprisonment, but it would indicate the measures they took against him were progressive, getting more severe with each infraction. Therefore, there was likely a period of time prior to his little force field where he could interact with people physically, giving Abernathy the opportunity to make Polyjuice. It was also likely that Abernathy got wind of Grindelwald’s impending de-tonguing, and they planned the switch before this happened, which is why Grindelwald had to re-grow Abernathy’s tongue.
It also stands to reason that, with Grindelwald on the outside as Abernathy, he could ensure that they both had a steady supply of Polyjuice.
Now, this means we don’t know exactly how long the two were swapped, but we know from experience that Grindelwald can play-act as another person quite well. While we also don’t know Abernathy’s exact position in MACUSA, his familiarity and greetings with President Picquery and Mr. Spielman outside of ‘Grindelwald’s’ cell would indicate he had some part in planning the transport.
If this is the case, and with how persuasive Grindelwald could be, it is likely he helped orchestrate how he wanted the transport to happen. He could have made arguments against direct portkey transportation as it would be expected by Grindelwald’s followers, but we also don’t know what enchantments are on the prison that might prevent portkeys. We also don’t know where they were transporting Grindelwald to. It’s unreasonable to think they’d take a thestral-drawn carriage across the Atlantic, flanked by people on broomsticks. The flyers and thestrals would get tired long before they reached their destination in Britain. This would indicate that they were probably taking him to a secret, secondary location, to likely take a portkey.
When is a group most vulnerable? When it’s in transport. It would make sense for Grindelwald to stage his escape between leaving the secure prison and before getting to the(theorized) portkey location. It is also dramatic, which Grindelwald has a penchant for. What better way to stir up his followers than to stage a daredevil escape right under the nose of both the American Ministry and representatives from the British Ministry. It’s a double insult, and undermines both ministries at once. What more could a dark wizard want?
2. So, Credence is alive?
In New York, we basically see Credence explode when he’s attacked. This would lend some skepticism to the status of him being alive, so to see him in the new film was a bit of a curve ball for some people. However, Credence is already touted as being unique among an already rare occurrence, being an Obscurial, so is it such a stretch to believe he also has a greater measure of control due to his age? In fact, we see this later in the film where he utilizes his Obscurial form and then reforms once his attack is over without dying like other Obscurials. Given that we don’t know exactly how Obscurials reform, there’s nothing to say they have to do so right where they lose their form. They could move away from the perceived danger and reform somewhere safer.
3. So, Credence is part of a circus, and Nagini is a side show?
There was some question as to how Credence got from New York and wound up in a circus in France. Now, I might be off base on this one, as I can’t totally recall from the film, but I’m almost certain the lead circus man was American based off his accent. Even if he’s not, (like I said, I can’t recall his accent totally), circuses travel, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he encountered them in New York and followed them to France.
As for why Nagini is in a freak show, she’s a Maledictus. If she were an Animagus it wouldn’t be special, but she’s under a blood curse. This is like the wizarding version of a genetic defect, which a lot of freaks in real world circuses are. The only other ‘defect’ we see among wizards are squibs, but they aren’t very interesting, and they definitely can’t turn into animals. A Maledictus is rare, and therefore more interesting, if not somewhat scandalous. Remember, Skender called her an, ‘Underbeing’. A freak and oddity.
4. Why give Nagini a weird name if you’re not being a racist trying to prove you’re not racist?
Okay, that wasn’t the exact question posed, but people have attacked J.K. about this, stating she’s trying to prove she can be diverse with her characters when she hasn’t been diverse enough up to this point. To be fair, I don’t know what the statistics were like in the 90s in the UK, but right around now they’re sitting at about an 87% white demographic. When you go back to 2001, that number is 92%, and I don’t imagine it would fluctuate to such a degree in the early 90s to fault J.K. for having primarily white characters.
Given that it’s stated in the series that muggles far outnumber wizards, you’re looking at a very small percentage of the population, which makes the numbers of any other race also shrink proportionally. She’s not being racist and exclusive, she’s doing what most writers do: taking the world around them they are familiar with, and using it as a template for their story.
Now, can trying to be more inclusive come off as cringy and pandering, yes, but I don’t think that’s what we see here. People are angry that Nagini and Leta are the only women of color in the film we interact with quite a bit, and they’re both ‘bad’. Personally, that’s not what I got from the film.
Leta is a woman impacted heavily by guilt, tragedy, and a garbage father figure. She’s bullied at school not because she’s black, but because children can be terrible little crotch goblins, and will use any difference to single others out. Leta thinks she’s a monster for something she did as a child, but she’s not. If she’d drowned the kid herself, it’d be a different story. In all, she’s a complex character that goes beyond being black or white, and boiling her down to her skin color does a disservice to the character and the actress.
With Nagini, I covered some of that in the other post, but the same can be said about her. Her story is tragic, not bad. As for the name, wizards don’t exactly have common names in this world. I mean, the main guy’s name is Newt. How many Newts do you know?
Also, the president of MACUSA is a woman of color, and while we don’t interact with her much in the films, I want that to sink in. She’s a WoC, in the 1920s, and president of what’s probably one of the larger magical communities in the world. I’m not saying this to appease anyone, but given the time period you have to give mad props to a woman who must have guts and tenacity in spades.
5. How about that hookah skull, and the visions of WWII?
Beyond the inscriptions on the skull and how he used it, not much is known about this. It’s postulated that Grindelwald is a seer, which would fit with some of the facts we know about him. Some of the bigger ones being Dumbledore, their relationship, and the blood pact. A young, arrogant Grindelwald would surely think he could sway Albus to his side, in more ways than one, and barring that he would make sure he they could never fight. Wouldn’t it be cool if the skull was of another seer, (I mean, not for the seer), and aided in the formation of the visions for others to see? Kind of like a seer’s version of a pensieve?
However, we know his visions are not infallible, as evidenced by what he says to Credence in the first movie, and how he didn’t know that Credence was the Obscurial. Why did it not cross his mind that Credence was the Obscurial, despite what his vision showed him? Because of the perceived nature of Obscurials, therefore, his visions are limited by his interpretations and knowledge.
A question was also posed on why we wouldn’t want to let Grindelwald stop WWII and the Holocaust, and so on? However, he didn’t show his followers these visions to stop the Holocaust. It’s to illustrate how awful muggles are. That they need to be controlled before they destroy the world. Think of the Rocket and Peter quote in Guardians of the Galaxy; “Why do you want to save the universe?” “Because I’m one of the idiots that live here!” Or something like that.
There are repercussions to muggle wars, like nuclear fallout. I don’t know of any shields to keep out radiation poisoning, and not everywhere has wards like Hogwarts. It’s one of the things that makes the school unique: how protected it is versus everywhere else. Just because muggles can’t see Diagon Alley doesn’t mean they are unable to destroy it. They also can’t stop the wars without revealing themselves, which goes against the statute of secrecy. Plus, they want to stay away from muggles and their problems. I point this out in my first post that it’s one of the reasons why Grindelwald was more successful than Voldemort: his unification tactics against the muggles.
Once again, think about Men in Black, where Kay points out that a person is okay, but people are dumb, stupid, and panicky. If people find out about magic, they’ll try to destroy what they fear. We see this in X-Men, too. Nothing good ever comes from people revealing their powers to the normals.
6. Asking Newt to the Ministry to join the Aurors is silly, right?
In that sense, yes, it was silly, and I covered that in the other post. However, the more I thought about it, and the way the ministry operates, the more something else came to mind. Asking Newt to the Ministry only makes sense in the context of his relationship to Dumbledore. They may not know all of his ‘spies’ in the ministry, but they know Newt is connected to him as an unwitting, and somewhat unwilling, participant in what they perceive as Dumbledore’s ‘resistance’ to the ministry.
I think it gave us a look into how Dumbledore’s relationship with the ministry came about in those earlier years, and why it was so easy for them to set themselves against him later on–they’ve done it before. He’s an element they can’t control, and they don’t care for that. In fact, it’s likely that in the eyes of some, Dumbledore and Grindelwald aren’t different. Especially not since the ministry knew about their relationship, in every sense.
Instead of them hearing; “I can’t move against Grindelwald,” they hear; “I won’t.” And in that sense, he’s offering a subtle sort of support to Grindelwald’s movement. “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” They are seeing his unwillingness to move against Grindelwald as him allowing Grindelwald to triumph.
They are seeking to stabilize and control their populace in light of Grindelwald’s upcoming rebellion, but like the mistakes of the Aurors at Grindelwald’s rally, all they’re really doing is alienating everyone.
7. Well, that’s all well and good, but how about those timeline inconsistencies?
Alright, you got me there, Skippy. As far as McGonagall is concerned it’s going to take some major wizardry to explain that one. I don’t buy the Time-Turner theory, because there are far easier ways to get yourself a good transfiguration teacher, and from what we know about Time-Turners, they have a limit to how far back they can go. Given that Albus becomes the Transfiguration teacher after the ministry states he’s no longer allowed to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, what’s she teaching then?
It’s even less likely that someone with the exact same name just happens to be teaching transfiguration, when Minerva gets her last name from her muggle father.
The most likely explanation here is it’s going to be movie-based, canon-divergent fan service. It made me smile to see McGonagall in the movie, and it’s meant to hit all your nostalgia buttons: Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hogwarts.
And Aurelius née Credence being a Dumbledore? My mind goes to the only other two men to ever escape Azkaban: Sirius and Barty Crouch, Jr. Hear me out.
We don’t know the exact date of Percival’s death, as it is stated as being sometime after 1890, and in all we don’t know much about Percival himself. It would be a stretch to assume that Aberforth played a role in his supposed break out in the years following Ariana’s death, since she died in 1899. A ten-year disparity in when he supposedly died in Azkaban is a bit much to accept.
However, think about that murkiness of his supposed death date and what we now know about Dumbledore family lore. Is it possible that we don’t know the exact date of his death, because the Dementors couldn’t give the family one? We also aren’t told anything about a burial of Percival, when we are specifically told that Mrs. Crouch posing as Barty Crouch, Jr. was buried on the grounds of Azkaban. What if we aren’t given a date or details of his burial because the Dementors can’t give us one. There wasn’t a death or a body.
What if Percival, in the last moments of his life, inadvertently summoned a phoenix who helped him escape? Remember, Dementors get muddled senses in regards to animals, and if Percival were close enough to death they could have perceived the flash of the phoenix taking him away as his life expiring. As for them not finding a body, it isn’t beyond the imagination to believe they didn’t care because he was so close to dying, anyway. They could no longer feed from him, so why bother looking? What angered them about Sirius Black escaping was likely that they could still feed from him, and they probably knew he was innocent and didn’t care. Wouldn’t an innocent person in Azkaban make a much better meal? Probably.
As for Percival, maybe the phoenix took him somewhere to heal, and, for whatever reason, the person healing him was a woman and he fell in love. If the woman were a muggle, it could explain a long recovery period, since magic isn’t being used, and more time to convince himself that his family was better off, and safer, without him. What good would it do them having an Azkaban-escapee around?
This could also explain the ship situation with Leta. If the woman he fell in love with was a muggle and they had a child, and after the birth he died and she wanted to start over in America, or even just visit family while he stayed in England (no travel for Azkaban-escapees), she’d be on that ship instead of using a portkey. It would also explain how two magical families just so happened to be traveling right across from one another: one is trying to move incognito, while the other simply has no other means for travel.
Unfortunately, it also means she had no magic to save what she thought was her baby and herself.
Anyway, that’s just my theory on the timeline thing with Credence’s birth.
In closing, just keep my modified quote in mind; “Art is flawed, but only because people are flawed.” Are there disparities in the canon and the new movies? Yes.
Should we vilify J.K., the production team, actors/actresses, and so on? No.
You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and if you want people to take your observations and criticisms seriously, a little politeness goes a long way.