Explainers

‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’, Explained

November 18, 2018
14 min read

With the release of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’, renowned author and screenwriter J. K. Rowling has once again set in motion the magical world of Witchcraft and Wizardry, inciting a very similar feeling of nostalgia, excitement, thrill and plot mysteries. Being the sequel of ‘Fantastic Beast and Where to find them’, the movie picks up from where it left off, following the main lead, Newt Scamander, also throwing light on a young Albus Dumbledore, his rival match Gellert Grindelwald, and the divided world of wizards and witches before the Dark Lord. SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Plot

Gellert Grindelwald has been captured by Magical Congress of the United States of America, aka, the MACUSA, and is held in their prison under exceptional security. However, in 1927, he is to be shifted to British Ministry of Magic to answer for his crimes. As pointed out by Minister of Magic, Madam Picquery, Grindelwald is very persuasive, and we see this power of his many times in the movie. He is taken to a special type of cab which is run by Pegasus’s. Soon after the cab flies off, Abernathy, an employee is shown to possess the Elder Wand, and he teleports himself beneath the flying cargo. In a few minutes, he is revealed to be, in fact, Grindelwald, who used his persuasive power to lure Abernathy to follow him, free him, and take his place in the cargo. Grindelwald kills everyone meant to guard him, except one, who he leaves alive in a dramatic demonstration of his power, and escapes.

Three months later, Newt Scamander is waiting outside the British Ministry of Magic to restore his rights to travel abroad after he lost it due to the events of New York when he is greeted by Leta Lestrange, a friend from Hogwarts, and Newt’s brother, Theseus, who works as an Auror in the Ministry. Leta and Theseus are engaged to each other. Both assure Newt that if he behaves, he will be granted the permission. However, Newt is given a condition. Newt is asked to work for the Ministry along with his brother to locate Credence Barebone, who was revealed to be an Obscurial. He has been known to have survived and is in Paris. There has also been a rumour around that Credence is the last survivor of a long pure-line of wizards.

Another reason for him to be brought in is that Grindelwald wants to use him to kill his one equal rival; a man who is the biggest threat to him and his cause, Albus Dumbledore. He somehow couldn’t do it himself. For Newt, this means that he will have to choose a side, either with or against Grindelwald. He denies the offer and leaves after another Auror, Grimmson is asked to carry out the job. Outside, Theseus tells Newt that the time to choose a side is coming and that the Ministry is watching him.

Outside, Newt meets Dumbledore, who asks him to go to Paris and attend one of his friends. He also says that Newt is the only one who could stop Grindelwald, as he could not move against him. Newt tells him that his rights to travel abroad have been revoked and that if he breaks the law, he will be put into Azkaban. Dumbledore leaves giving him a card which has a ring-like symbol glowing on it.

Newt returns home to find his baby nifflers on the loose. He uses several tricks to catch them all, and asks Bunty, a helper he has appointed to take care of his beasts when he is away, to be more careful. He is unexpectedly visited by Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski, who have followed Tina to Europe. On being asked, Jacob explains that even after being obliviated, he did not lose his memory of magic as the potion only removed ‘dark and bad memories’, and he did not have any of those of magic. Queenie tells Newt that she and Jacob are getting engaged, and Jacob, under the love charm, concurs. However, Jacob says it is not fully agreed by him when Newt pulls off the charm, at which Queenie leaves angrily. Jacob follows her and explains to her that the law does not allow her to marry him, but she appears obsessed and leaves saying she is going to Paris to find Tina. Meanwhile, Newt finds a torn up postcard dropped by Queenie which says that Tina is in Paris, and decides to go to Paris after all.

In Paris, Tina visits the Circus Arcanus in search for Credence. She attends a freak show, where the centre of attraction is a woman named Nagini, a ‘maledictus’ who can transform herself into a snake. She is bound to be soon trapped into the body of the snake forever. Tina sees Credence there, but soon, Credence escapes along with Nagini. The chaos he causes results in the whole circus running away, and a Chinese magical beast ‘Zouwu’ escaping. Tina encounters a man, who introduces himself as Yusuf Kama. Yusuf is also looking for Credence and says that he has something to show Tina. Tina decides to follow him.

Credence, through the name on his adoption paper, finds his nanny, an elderly half house-elf, who says that she was the one appointed to take care of him. Just as Credence is having his desperate for love moment with his nanny, Grimmson arrives and kills her. In a desperate attempt to have his revenge, Credence turns into an Obscurus and attacks him several time, but Grimmson escapes. He later meets up with Grindelwald, who asks him how did Credence take the death of his nanny, signifying that Grimmson did it on orders from Grindelwald.

Queenie goes to the French Ministry of Magic to ask for the whereabouts of Tina but is told that Tina does not work there. With nowhere to go, Queenie wanders the street and suddenly hears voices of Jacob and Newt, who have also reached Paris and through magic, found what had happened last night at the circus, and that Tina was taken by a man who had dropped a feather from his hat, which is leading them to the man. Queenie tries to reach them, but it begins to rain, and the many thoughts she hears overwhelms her. She loses both of them and sits down in the rain, disappointed when a woman, Grindelwald’s close encounter her. She takes Queenie with her to her house, where Queenie meets Grindelwald. Though she knows who Grindelwald is, she is expertly persuaded by him to join his cause when he tells her that if his purpose became successful, she would not be restricted to marry Jacob. Queenie finds sense in his words.

Newt and Jacob are finally able to confront Yusuf, who offers them to take them to Tina. They follow him down to sewers, where Tina is trapped, but get locked. Yusuf reveals that he has made an unbreakable vow to kill Credence, who is believed to be his half-brother and a member of the Lestrange family. He, however, is infected by ‘water dragons’ and goes unconscious. Meanwhile, Newt and others break free with the help of picket, and Newt catches the Zouwu in his case. They take him to the address that Dumbledore gave Newt. Newt and Tina decide they are going to infiltrate the Ministry to find true heritance of Credence, which Newt says is in a box. On the way, they see signs that Grindelwald is asking his followers to gather in the family tomb of the Lestrange’s. They leave Jacob behind to look after Yusuf. Jacob meets the owner of the place, Nicholas Flamel, and immortal alchemist who made (or will make, unsure) the philosopher’s stone.

Credence and Nagini meet Grindelwald, who asks Credence to come to the Lestrange’s family tomb. He assures him that he will find his true heritance there. Meanwhile, Newt and Tina grant access to the Ministry of Magic by faking themselves as Leta and her fiancée. The ministry is planning to go to the rally and capture Grindelwald. Leta asks Theseus to be safe and return to her. Although spotted by Theseus, Newt and Tina enter the lockers room. Leta arrives and looks for her locker, only to find a letter that says the box has been moved to Lestrange’s family tomb. She also finds Newt and Tina but is interrupted when the guard arrives. The three escape after Newt unleashes the Zouwu and uses its teleportation power to reach the family tomb. The three go in and find that Credence, Nagini and Yusuf are already there. Yusuf tells Leta that he is her half-brother, and so is Credence, whose name is Corvus. Leta tells that the facts are wrong and that Credence could not be Corvus as she killed him. She opens the box to show the Lestrange’s family tree, where Corvus’s branch burns off, proving the truth of the fact. Credence is once again without answers about his heritance.

Grindelwald addresses his followers as Jacob arrives for Queenie after he saw her in Flamel’s fortune globe. Queenie asks Jacob to stay only to listen to what Grindelwald had to say. Newt, Tina, Credence, Nagini, and Leta also join. Grindelwald shows his followers pictures of an upcoming war, far more devastating than one that had occurred already. Newt notices a strange small vial like object pinned to Grindelwald. Theseus and other Aurors from Ministry also arrive and are asked to join Grindelwald in the centre, depicting there was no threat. One of them, however, kills one of the audiences by mistake, causing Grindelwald and others to engage. Niffler from Newt’s case escapes and steals the vial without Grindelwald or anyone noticing. Grindelwald sends his followers to preach the message that they do not do violence, but everybody trying to stop them does.

Once his followers leave, Grindelwald lights a fire around him which kills most of the Aurors unwilling to join him. Theseus, Tina and Newt fight back the fire, while Credence joins him inside the fire, with Nagini staying outside as she did not agree with Grindelwald. Queenie also joins Grindelwald, even after many requests from Jacob, saying that Grindelwald’s cause can bring them together. Leta, in an attempt to save Theseus and Newt, tries to fight Grindelwald but is defeated and killed. Grindelwald leaves, leaving behind a fire that turns into a monster. The monster, with a lot of difficulties, is contained and made to vanish. Newt decides that he cannot remain neutral in the war against Grindelwald, and has to choose a side.

Newt travels to Hogwarts to meet with Dumbledore and presents the vial from Grindelwald. The vial was a blood pact made between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, the reason why Dumbledore had been holding back. He says that he might be able to destroy it. At his base Nurmengard in Austria, Grindelwald offers Credence a wand and tells him his true identity. Credence is Aurelius Dumbledore, Albus’ brother, and the only person who can kill him.

The Ending

The ending of the movies has left the whole community of magic-loving Potterheads in confusion and doubt. At Nurmengard in Austria, Grindelwald tries to gain Credence’s trust. He offers him a wand and reveals his true identity. According to Albus, there is a legend in his family that, ‘a phoenix will come to the aid of a Dumbledore in need’. Credence had been taking care of a baby bird – chick. Grindelwald recites the legend of Dumbledore family and transforms the chick into a Phoenix. And finally, in a grand moment, he reveals that Credence is, in fact, a Dumbledore. He gives him a name: Aurelius Dumbledore and tells that he will be the one to fight and kill his brother, Albus. But how? How could Credence be Albus’ brother, and even if he was, how could Grindelwald have known?

There are two theories the fanbase is buzzing with. The first one proposes that Credence is not directly related to Albus but through his Obscurus. In the Deathly Hallows, the seventh book in the Harry Potter series, Albus is revealed to have two siblings: Aberforth and Ariana. We also know that Ariana killed her mother in an accident when she was nine and died in a three-way dual at fourteen. She is also known to have unstable power. When the first instalment of Fantastic Beasts came, and the concept of Obscurus was brought to light, many believed that Ariana was, in fact, an Obscurus. This has stayed around since. Also, we know that a child being Obscurus rarely survives till the age of ten, but Credence is far older. How could he still hold his Obscurus?

The theory goes: Ariana was indeed an Obscurus, and when she died, the Obscurus freed and attached itself to a new host — Credence. This very well explains why Albus and Credence could be related. Their power levels must match, and this is why Grindelwald wants Credence to fight Albus.

Another theory suggests that Grindelwald is lying! We must not forget that he is a master manipulator and very persuasive. He has no way of knowing Credence is Dumbledore or not. In the first instalment of the movie, Grindelwald is looking for an Obscurus. The identity of the Obscurus doesn’t matter to him. He also doesn’t know the identity of Credence and tells him he is a squib. In the second part, Grimmson murders Credence’s nanny, maybe because Grindelwald doesn’t want him to know his real identity. In the end, he is the one to transform the chick into a phoenix, which may very well be a part of his manipulation. He gives Credence what he wants: an identity, and gets what he wants: an Obscurus fighting Albus. However, in J. K. Rowling’s own words, “Everything you think you know at the end of the movie may not be the case.”

The Sequels

Fight between Albus and Aurelius

An inevitable part of the sequels is the fight between Albus and Aurelius aka Credence. Aurelius, with his newly discovered identity and powers, will be used badly by Grindelwald to ger rid of Albus. An amazing wand duel awaits in the very next movie.

Nagini’s corruption

With Credence leaving with Grindelwald, Nagini is left behind in the good team Dumbledore. However, her fate is known to all. Being a maledictus, she is to become a snake forever. It will be interesting to see how Tom Riddle aka Lord Voldemort comes across her, and why she decided to turn into his horcrux, and against Dumbledore.

Aberforth and Ariana

Now that there’s a new brother in the picture, Aberforth and Ariana are bound to make an appearance. What happened the night Ariana died, and why Albus did not mention Aberforth and Ariana is a mystery pending since Deathly Hallows, and Rowling’s tease to the plot in this movie tells us that she has plans.

The Second World War

The five movie series is to end in year 1945, the very same year the Second World War ended. The War’s scenes were teased in the movie during Grindelwald’s rally. Does Rowling plan to alter history and include the wizarding community in the war? We shall find out.

Queenie’s fate

Queenie has turned against Newt, Tina and Jacob, and joined Grindelwald’s cause in her protest against the law that restricts her to marry Jacob. Grindelwald will use her mind-reading powers effectively; he already demonstrated that. With no magic but only love, Jacob will have to win Queenie back. Will she make it to the right side alive? Many think not!

Dumbledore and Grindelwald

With the blood pact vial now in possession of Dumbledore, the only reason why Dumbledore and Grindelwald could not move against each other, is about to be destroyed. In Harry Potter movies, we find that all the three Deathly Hallows are somehow connected to Dumbledore. Did Dumbledore and Grindelwald indeed found the Hallows? We’ll find out.

With Grindelwald already having the Elder Wand, the most anticipated and legendary dual between the world’s two most powerful magic titans is also about to happen in Nurmengard. How will Dumbledore defeat Grindelwald at his best, and how will the divided wizarding world unite? I’ll sign off here.

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