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‘Fantastic Beasts’ Recap: What You Need to Remember Before ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore’

The third installment of the Wizarding World series strikes April 15

“Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” has grown from a companion novella J.K. Rowling wrote for her acclaimed ‘Harry Potter’ series into an entirely new prequel film franchise of its own. Having premiered in 2016, the first film plunges viewers into a world before Harry, Ron and Hermione, when Newt Scamander has started his collection of rare magical species, and Albus Dumbledore is but a young teacher at Hogwarts. 

The second film picks up with a similar cast, but an entirely different plot, begging the question of why Newt Scamander and his magical creatures are even involved, but “The Crimes of Grindelwald” takes a number of twists and turns, leaving viewers slightly disoriented. 

The franchise continues with the third installment in a planned five-film franchise, titled “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” landing in theaters April 15.

Before you watch the third film, you might want to brush up on what happened in the first two. We’ve got your full “Fantastic Beasts” recap below.

Newt’s Arrival in 1920s New York City

With the British roots of Harry Potter and Hogwarts, the “Fantastic Beasts” films start off in America, where Newt Scamandar (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York by ship and barely gets his magical briefcase through customs when his Niffler, who has a nose and eye for all things shiny, tries to escape.

In the process of tracking the creature down, Newt accidentally swaps briefcases with a muggle (or No-Maj as they call them in America), a cannery worker named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). This takes place at a bank (where shiny coins abound), where Jacob, who dreams of being a baker, is trying to get a loan to start his own bakery. When Jacob takes Newt’s briefcase back to his home and opens it, many of the fantastical creatures within escape, and once Jacob and Newt reunite and get up to speed, they team up to track down the magical menagerie so that they don’t wreak havoc on a New York City that is already haunted by an unknown destructive force. Newt has come to New York to learn more about it, in hopes of broadening his knowledge of wild animals with witch and wizardlike powers. 

The Barebones

Led by Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton), the New Salem Philanthropic Society condemns witches and wizards for their dangerous powers. Barebone is a No-Maj who takes in orphaned children, naming them all after virtues and abstract knowns like Credence and Chastity. It is during one of Mary Lou’s speeches that the niffler escapes Newt’s case.

Newt Meets Tina

Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson), an American auror (or kind of wizarding world police officer), arrests Newt for his niffler’s escape which has caused disruption in the No-Maj community. Tina then takes Newt to the Magical Congress of the United States of America (equivalent to The Ministry of Magic in Britain), hoping to reverse her recent demotion by turning Newt in, but when she opens the suitcase and it holds Jacob’s baked goods, the Congress releases Newt. 

Queenie the Mind-Reader

Warner Bros.

Tina and Newt trace the lost suitcase back to Jacob’s apartment, where several magical creatures have escaped and wreaked havoc on the unknowing man. Before starting the quest to track down all of the loose animals, Tina takes Jacob and Newt to her apartment that she shares with her sister Queenie (Allison Sudol), a magical telepath. Queenie and Jacob are mutually attracted to each other, but it is against the law for No-Maj’s and wizards or witches to marry — in America, the line between magical and non-magical folk is strictly drawn.

Creature Collection

At the Goldstein sisters’ apartment, Newt takes Jacob inside his magical suitcase, which houses habitat upon habitat specifically tailored to each creature’s needs. One of the creatures that stands out to Jacob is the Obscurus, which is a type of parasite that can develop inside magically gifted children whose abilities are somehow suppressed or never reach full expression. Newt extracted the creature from a young girl who died, telling Jacob that those who fall host to these parasites rarely live past the age of 10. Newt and Jacob track down two out of three of the missing creatures before Tina turns the suitcase in to Congress, bringing about the arrest of Newt because the Congress thinks one of his magical creatures is responsible for killing senator Henry Shaw and running wild across the city, leaving chaos and damage in its wake. 

The Adventure Is Over?

Percival Graves (Colin Farrel), junior director of magical security, accuses Newt of conspiring with fugitive dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), sentencing Tina and Newt to immediate death in secret. Graves also wants to erase Jacob’s memories of magic. Queenie and Jacob rescue Newt and Tina, retrieve the case and escape. 

Tina’s Tips 

The foursome head to an underground speakeasy where they serve giggle water, and Tina’s old goblin informant Gnarlack (voiced by Ron Perlman) points them toward the last of the magical creatures still on the loose. Sweeping up a wide-eyed sloth and a brilliantly blue dragonlike creature that expands to fill whatever space it is in, they have managed to wrangle the wild beasts back into Newt’s case. 

Percival and Credence

Percival approaches Mary Lou’s adopted son Credence (Ezra Miller) and offers to free him of Mary Lou, who abuses her children if they do not behave, if Credence can track down an obscurus, which Percival believes is actually causing all the disruption in New York City. Credence discovers a wand under his adopted sister Modesty’s bed, and Mary Lou assumes it is Credence’s wand but Modesty says it is hers. When Mary Lou threatens to punish Modesty, the obscurus rages and kills Mary Lou as well as Chastity (Jenn Murray), her eldest daughter. 

Credence’s Secret

Credence leads Graves to Modesty, who is thought to be the host of the obscurus, but when Percival dismisses Credence as a squib and refuses to teach him magic, Credence gets angry and reveals that he is the true host. He has somehow lived longer than any known obscurial because of how strong his magical powers are. In this second fit of rage, Credence takes to the city where he causes quite a bit of destruction. Newt finds Credence hiding in a subway tunnel, but Graves attacks him. Tina knows Credence, and she tries to calm him down while Graves whispers in his ear trying to convince him to listen to him. Aurors arrive as Credence starts to calm down, disintegrating him to get rid of him. A small fragment of the obscurus escapes, though.

Percival’s True Colors

Graves, after admitting to unleashing the obscurus, claims that the aurors protect No-Majs more than they protect their own kind. The Aurors start to attack in effort to detain Graves, but he fights back and defeats several before Newt stops him with one of his beasts. As he struggles to free himself, Graves reveals himself to actually be Gellert Grindelwald, who is taken into custody.

The End, for Now

Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo), president of the American Magical Congress, frets that all the chaos and destruction has revealed the wizarding world to non-magical folk, but Newt comes in handy yet again when he releases Frank the thunderbird, who can influence the weather, to disperse a memory-erasing potion through rain onto all of the No-Majs. Queenie kisses Jacob as his memories fade away. Newt bids Tina farewell when he leaves for Europe, but hints at returning soon. He also leaves Jacob a case of silver egg shells to buy the storefront for his bakery, where his treats subconsciously reflect his recent magical adventures. 

Thus ends the story of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and now we move on to “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” This next chapter takes us to the American Ministry of Magic, New York 1927.

Grindelwald’s Escape

Somehow, while in prison, Grindelwald has swapped places with one of his trusted men Abernathy (Kevin Guthrie), who was hexed to look like Grindelwald. When the Congress of Magic thinks they have everything under control in transferring Gridelwald to Azkaban, it is revealed that they really have Abernathy, and Grindelwald snuck out with them, clinging under the carriage to escape. Grindelwald heads to Paris, France to recoup and establish himself discreetly.

Family Reunion

Back at the British Ministry of Magic three years later, Newt wants his travel ban — which was imposed on him after the first movie — apparently lifted. The ministry agrees to lift it if Newt joins his brother’s department at the Ministry of Magic. Theseus Scamader (Callum Turner) is an auror, but his higher ups want Newt’s help in tracking down Credence the obscurial to shut down the impending threat he poses to the safety of the wizarding world. Newt refuses, and the task falls to another wizard Grimmel. Theseus warns Newt after the meeting that everyone will have to choose a side soon, even Newt.

Dumbledore’s Assignments

When Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) sends Newt after Credence to save him, Newt accepts the task. Dumbledore gives Newt the address of a very old friend. According to Dumbledore, people think Credence is the last of an important French line, and it is crucial that his relations be confirmed because whoever he would be is a big deal. 

Old Friends

Newt reunited with Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski, who ends up remembering everything that happened because the obliviating potion was only supposed to erase bad memories, and he didn’t have any during the magical adventures with his new wizard and witch friends. Queenie informs Newt that due to a misprint in the newspaper claiming that Newt Scamander, rather than his brother Theseus (Callum Turner), was going to marry Leta L’estrange (Zoë Kravitz), her sister Tina has started dating someone else. There was something between Newt and Leta at one point, so not only is it a sore subject, but the fact that Theseus is marrying her makes it even more sensitive for Newt.

Queenie and Jacob seem very in love and excited to be engaged, but Newt starts to notice something funny about Jacob’s agreement with everything. He breaks a love potion or charm of some sort and Jacob realizes he’s been coerced into an engagement. He tells Queenie that he wants to be with her, but if they get married, she’ll get put in jail. Queenie then calls Jacob a coward, to which he almost responds that she is “crazy,” but he doesn’t quite say the word. Still she takes this to heart and disapparates.

Credence’s Soul Search

Warner Bros.

Credence has befriended Nagini (yes, Voldemort’s snake) who is a young circus performer and her “trick” happens to be her ability to transform into a snake. The curse will become permanent one day, as we see in Nagini the snake becoming Voldemort’s constant reptilian companion in the “Harry Potter” films. Credence thinks he has found his birth mother, and he tells Nagini this on site when the circus is set up in Paris. Tina has tracked Credence there, along with another mysterious figure, Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam), who is also seeking to answer questions about Credence’s identity. 

Grindelwald arranges for Credence’s contact to be killed so that he cannot learn anything more about his true identity. He catches the servant woman (who was only that, not his mother) before she dies, but then a wizard shows up and kills her, angering Credence and destroying another lead he had on where he really came from. 

Grindelwald Gains Power

The murderer Grimmson, who was originally sent by the Ministry of Magic, actually changed sides and instead of killing Credence like President Picquery (Carmen Ejogo) requested, “missed” and hit the servant woman instead. Grindelwald wants Credence to come to him willingly, so that he can persuade Credence to defeat Dumbledore. Grindelwald also starts to whisper in Queenie’s ear, trying to get her to join his side with the bribe that she would be free to marry whoever she wanted.

Tracking Down Tina

Jacob and Newt track down Tina through Yusuf with some kind of magical tracking spell through a creature of his. Yusuf lures Jacob and Newt down into a cell holding Tina, trapping them behind bars. 

Dumbledore Can’t Fight Grindelwald

The Ministry of Magic approaches Dumbledore, saying he is the only equal to the dark wizard, and asks him to fight Grindelwald. But Dumbledore says he can’t, and when those who confront him say they were as close as brothers, Dumbledore hints that they were closer than that. The minister of magic attempts to shackle Dumbledore with an enchantment that will tell him all of Dumbledore’s magical moves.

Leta L’estrange’s Past

Leta shows up at Hogwarts, and it immediately brings her back to her childhood there, where Dumbledore taught Defense Against the Dark Arts and she flashes back to confronting a Bogart, which transfigured itself with the trauma of her past. Dumbledore tries to talk to Leta about the death of her younger brother Corvus L’estrange, but she does not want to enter that conversation.

Later, it is theorized that Credence could be the young Corvus, but Leta swears her brother is dead. When Theseus approaches her about the theory, she sticks to her claim.

Dumbledore’s Memories

Dumbledore flashes back to his history with Grindelwald. When the two were students at Hogwarts, they made a Blood vow that prevents either one from moving against the other. 

Back to Yusuf, Newt and Tina

Newt has tamed a beautiful flower-maned cat of some sort from the circus in between finding Yusuf and first setting out to track Credence down. Apparently some sort of parasitic worm (not an obscurus) has fed off of Yusuf, who is unconscious. Newt somehow gets the worm out of Yusuf’s body so that Tina can question him. 

Nicholas Flamel

Jacob goes to track down Nichals Flamel, Dumbledore’s famous French friend, who is the same Nicholas Flamel that invented the Sorcerer’s Stone. He has aged quite a bit. Flamel knows the location of the tomb, and gets Jacob there in time to help Newt, Theseus, Tina and Leta counter Grindelwald’s rally. Apparently there is also some business in a family crypt that has to do with Credence somehow. Yusuf is one of the first to sniff out the scent.

Corvus L’estrange = Credence?

Once everyone meets up at the crypt, including Credence and Nagini, Yusuf starts to tell the family story. His pureblood father, Mustafa Kama, of Senegalese descent, somehow had Yusuf with Leta L’estrange’s mother. A new man, L’estrange, seduced and abducted both Yusuf and Leta’s mother, who died giving birth to Leta. Yusuf’s father charged Yusuf with the revenge scheme of killing the person L’estrange loves the most, which by default would be Leta since her mother was dead. But L’estrange remarried three months after Leta’s mother died in childbirth, and his new wife gave birth to Corvus. 

When Yusuf tries to tell Credence that he is Corvus L’estrange, Leta says it cannot be because she killed Corvus a long time ago. When Leta and her baby brother where on a ship to America, Leta swapped her brother, whose loud cries she could not stand, with a quieter baby across the way. The ship flooded, and while Leta, the servant woman and the new baby survived the flood, Corvus did not because the other baby’s mother lost her grip on him after he was swapped into the adjacent crib, and the baby drowned.

Grindelwald’s Rally

Grindelwald sends dark Death-Eater like smoke black sheets to cover buildings in Paris, advertising a rally, summoning his followers to the meeting place later that night, a French tomb in a cemetery. Newt and Theseus notice Grindelwald’s followers circled around the auditorium where he speaks to everyone gathered, remarking that Queenie and the family tree/lineage has all been bait to lure them to the rally. Grindelwald claims that he doesn’t hate No-Majs — that they aren’t inferior — but that their potential to cause World War II is the actual threat. He believes they will turn the weapons they develop on wizards.

Warner Bros.

Once the aurors move to try and shut the rally down, Grindelwald’s audience start departing to spread the word, and Grindelwald creates a threatening ring of blue fire around the dias where he stands. The fire disintegrates anyone that tries to cross it without pledging themselves to Grindelwald. Queenie becomes hypnotized by Grindelwald’s offer, thinking he wants what she wants, and Jacob tries to stop her from joining him, but she caves. Credence crosses over willingly as well. Leta fakes joining Grindelwald to try and vanquish him while his back is turned, but her curse fails because he deflects it, and his ring of fire engulfs her.

Nicholas Flamel advises Newt, Theseus and Tina on how to reign in the flying blue fiery creatures that have developed out of Grindelwalds spell. They somehow envelope the winged demons and stop them from wreaking more havoc on the world.

Newt’s Niffler finds the silver capsule containing Dumbledore’s and Grindelwald’s blood bond.

Credence’s True Identity

Credence approaches Grindelwald before the rally, Nagini at his side demanding to know his true identity. Credence has also found a baby chick, which he has started to take care of. When Credence commits to Grindelwald, they go hide out at Nuremburg Castle, where Grindelwald asks Queenie to read his mind, and she tells him Credence is uncertain of his choice to join Grindelwald. 

Grindelwald tells Credence that his brother wants to kill him, and that the phoenix has always appeared to any member of the Dumbledore family in dire need. The baby chick that Credence has been nurturing turns into a phoenix, which is a symbol of the Dumbledore family.

The second film ends with Grindelwald calling Credence Aurelius Dumbledore, meaning he is Albus’ brother. He supplies Credence with a wand and Credence casts a very powerful spell that blows up a mountainside.