The third “Fantastic Beasts” film, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” has started casting its spell.
From the first film filling us in on magizoologist Newt Scamander’s (Eddie Redmayne) background to the second film showing us everything we need to know about evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald (at the time played by Johnny Depp), this third film serves as the strongest prequel yet. In muggle history, World War II is approaching, but Gellert Grindelwald (now played by Mads Mikkelsen) has a different focus, becoming President of the Confederation of Magic so that he can see his magical form of fascism through.
At the beginning of the film, Dumbledore (Jude Law) asks Newt to assemble a motley crew who will are given the intimidating task of confusing Grindelwald, who now has access to visions of the future thanks to his brutal slaying of a qilin, an adorable Bambi-like deer creatures which are some of the purest animals in the wizarding world. As if he needed more power!
This plan takes Newt, his brother Theseus (Callum Turner), Muggle baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Newt’s erstwhile assistant Bunty (Victoria Yeates), potentially problematic wizard Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) and new franchise character Professor Eulalie Hicks (Jessica Williams, a breath of fresh air) to all corners of the globe, including Germany, where the current President of the Confederation of Magic resides and the Kingdom of Butan, where the Confederation of Magic presidential elections are held. It’s a wild ride around the Wizarding World.
But what are Dumbledore’s secrets? And how do things end up for Newt and the gang? Read on to find out!
Major spoilers abound from here on out! If you’re wary, apparate elsewhere!
What Are Dumbledore’s Secrets?
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” reminds viewers of Albus Dumbledore’s shrouded family history. For fans of the “Harry Potter” series, some of these secrets are already known or vaguely hinted at. Albus himself reveals bits of information, as does his younger brother Aberforth (Richard Coyle), who also makes an appearance in the third film of the franchise. Aberforth works in a pub in Hogsmeade Village, which is within walking distance of Hogwarts.
Aberforth’s existence is a surprise to several ‘Fantastic Beasts’ characters like Newt and Theseus Scamander. Albus and Aberforth also had a younger sister Ariana (Hebe Beardsall). Ariana tragically died when she was a child, but an animated portrait of her hangs in Aberforth’s pub. All three Dumbledore children were born to father Percival, a wizard, and mother Kendra, a Muggle-born.
At six years old, Ariana was attacked by three Muggle boys when they saw her performing magic, resulting in a traumatic experience that left her unable to control her magical abilities. It is suggested in the film that Ariana could have been an Obscurial like Credence, since from that moment on she didn’t get to fully express her magic. At fourteen years old, one of Ariana’s magical outbursts killed Kendra Dumbledore, and since Percival had been sent to Azkaban (where he later died) for attacking Ariana’s assailants, Albus had to move back home after leaving Hogwarts to take care of his sister.
It was in Godric’s Hollow where the Dumbledores lived, that Albus was able to nurture his friendship and then relationship with Gellert Grindelwald, who also lived there. The two bonded over the idea that muggles weren’t fit to rule the world, and their research into the Deathly Hallows, three tools that, when possessed simultaneously, made a wizard virtually indestructible. Aberforth thought the pair’s fascination with the Deathly Hallows was dangerous, and when he confronted Albus and Grindelwald about it, a three-way duel broke out between them. Ariana tried to stop the duel, but in the process of intervening, she was hit by a killing curse. Grindelwald immediately fled the scene, and the two brothers never figured out whose curse killed Ariana, leaving space for tension to grow between them.
In “The Secrets of Dumbledore,” it’s heavily implied that Dumbledore sent the magical shot that killed his sister, and there’s clearly a lot of resentment/tension between him and his brother about it. That’s the biggest secret of Dumbledore, more-so than his closeted homosexuality or flirtation with the dark arts – that he might have been responsible for killing his sister. Dark!
Why Are the Qilin Important?
The film kicks off with Newt in the middle of the forest, helping a mother qilin (pronounced like “chillin,” as in “like a villain”), whose species is incredibly rare, the night it gives birth. Newt is there to welcome this creature into the world but is ambushed by Credence (Ezra Miller) aka Aurelius Dumbledore, brother of Albus. (That’s a whole other thing.)
Credence manages to take the baby qilin (and kill its big-eyed mother). Credence and some other dark wizard goons chase Newt through the forest, but he gets away! Sadly, Grindelwald has access to the qilin; slicing its throat and looking into the future for clues. (It’s pretty graphic!) Later, Grindelwald reanimates the dead qilin and uses it to try and hijack the Wizarding World’s biggest election.
That night that Newt was in the woods? It turns out that mama gave birth to two magical deer. Newt retrieves the second deer and uses it to expose Grindelwald’s fraud. The magic deer doesn’t choose Grindelwald as the next leader of the Wizarding World and everyone with access to a wand breathes a huge sigh of relief. That was a close one!
What’s Up with the Blood Necklace?
This is a huge thing, from the very first scene of “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” – a magical locket that Dumbledore has wrapped around his wrist that painfully constricts (sometimes drawing blood).
But what’s the deal with this enchanted Wizarding World accessory?
The locket-like charm contains a drop of Dumbledore’s blood and a drop of Grindelwald’s blood. It’s meant to prevents either wizard from attacking the other. They forged this vow of when they were younger in case their relationship (remember that they were lovers once upon a time) dissolved or their conviction in the pure-blood ideology faded.
When Grindelwald makes a move to attack Credence, Dumbledore casts a counterspell to protect him, and this scene was not the only one reminiscent of “Harry Potter,” specifically the instance of Priori Incantatem, when Harry and Voldemort’s wands connect and the ghosts of Voldemort’s most recent victims burst from the wand tip. The opposite intentions of Grindelwald and Dumbledore are strong enough to break the blood vow they forged between themselves. It doesn’t violate the rules of the vow since Grindelwald and Dumbledore weren’t moving directly against each other, but rather towards Credence. The charm cracks and falls off of Dumbledore’s arm. His burden is gone.
How Do Newt and Company End Up Tricking Grindelwald?
Before heading to Butan to stop Grindelwald, Dumbledore comes up with the clever plan of replicating Newt’s battered but trusty leather suitcase, the one where he houses all of the magical creatures he has collected over the years. Dumbledore asked Bunty to visit Otto, a German leather-maker, who made half a dozen copies of Newt’s suitcase, so that they could throw Grindelwald off the scent of whichever one contains the other qilin. Dumbledore and Kowalski take one case, Theseus takes one, Lally takes one, Newt takes one and Bunty takes one. Then they use a pretty cool portkey to transport to the ancient kingdom of Butan. And they’re off!
Newt stresses about not knowing which case is actually his, though presumably Dumbledore knows because he is the mastermind behind most of the planning. In the end, a mysterious figure dressed in native garb to a certain class of women in Butan, who turns out to be Bunty, hands Newt the case containing the qilin, which works out because he has been taken by one of Vogel’s cronies Henrietta Fischer (Valerie Pachner). At the 11th hour Newt swoops in with the living qilin to expose Grindelwald’s attempt to rig the election.
Who Becomes President of the Confederation of Magic?
The living qilin first bows to Dumbledore, who graciously denies the mantle of presidency, saying surely just as there were twin qilin born, there must be another person capable of filling the role. The cute creature then bows to Vicência Santos (Maria Fernanda Cândido), crowning her the next President of the Confederation of Magic. President Dumbledore has a nice ring to it though, huh?
Who Is Credence, Actually?
Dumbledore tells Credence about halfway through the film that — shocker — Grindelwald is lying to him, trying to manipulate him. Dumbledore explains that Credence is not his brother Aurelius, but rather he is Aberforth’s son. (Pretty sure this counts as another one of Dumbledore’s secrets!)
Aberforth fell in love the same summer Dumbledore got with Grindelwald, but he left the woman who had his child. Credence’s separation from his mother caused him to be brought into Mary Lou’s orphanage, where his magical abilities were not given the chance to express themselves, thus making him more prone to the obscurus parasite that can develop in children with similar situations. Aberforth does get time with his son at the end of the film, though it is hinted at that Crednce’s time is dwindling because he is dying. The phoenix that Credence found as a chick continues to fly near him, but it is smoldering in ash, which is a sign that Credence doesn’t have much time left.
Given Ezra Miller’s recent run-in with the law, Warner Bros maybe wishes they had closed out his particular story in this movie. We’ll see if he comes back for the fourth “Fantastic Beasts” feature.
Does Queenie Come Back from the Dark Side?
In “The Crimes of Grindelwald” Queenie is persuaded to join Grindelwald because she thinks his want to ‘equalize’ muggles and wizards, means he supports her wanting to marry Jacob. After reading minds for Grindelwald, Queenie slowly learns the wizard’s true intentions, and after the battle at Butan, she comes to her senses and reunites with Jacob, Newt and company.
At the very end of the film, Queenie and Jacob are married at his bakery in Queens. It’s an oddly emotional note to end the film on and one that is very appreciated. Love wins!
Is Tina Goldstein in the Film?
Tina makes a very short appearance at the end of the film, much to the chagrin of Katherine Waterson superfans everywhere (they’re out there).
Earlier in “The Secrets of Dumbledore,” there’s an offhanded remark about why Tina is being left out of the caper. Apparently, she is now head of the American office of Aurors (sort of the Wizarding World’s police force). This was probably a clever workaround for Waterson’s scheduling difficulties, but we’ll take it.
There is a brief scene of her watching the Wizarding World election take place. She looks on in horror. But the scene is so quick and so obviously green screen-y that it barely even counts as a cameo.
At the very end of the movie, though, Tina shows up for Jacob and Queenie’s wedding. She and Newt have a long overdue reunion outside the bakery, suggesting that while everything might not be right in the larger Wizarding World, maybe their relationship can go forth. And, after all, their relationship has always been defined by misunderstandings and missed connections (remember that in the previous film Tina had suspected that Newt was getting married to another woman).
Whether or not Tina and Newt will continue their relationship (while protecting the Wizarding World) remains to be seen. We’ll see if they wind up making a fourth “Fantastic Beasts” film. But that particular mystery will only be solved by this weekend’s box office receipts.