This post contains spoilers for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
The end of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” — J.K. Rowling’s spinoff “Harry Potter” movie set in 1926 New York — ends in a big twist that ties the two series together.
It turns out that Percival Graves the head American auror (magical law enforcement officer) was actually another wizard, Gellert Grindelwald, in disguise the entire time. Near the end of the movie, Graves, played by Collin Farrell, transforms into Grindelwald, who is played by Johnny Depp.
Grindelwald wants to expose magic to all of humankind so that wizards and witches don’t have to hide anymore, and can instead impose a magical ruling class on non-magical folk.
Graves, throughout the movie, is a mysterious dude. But there are a few clues scattered throughout the film about his true identity.
We got a glimpse of Grindelwald in some newspaper clippings at the start of the film, and Graves has the same haircut.
When Graves arrests Newt Scamander on the charge of wreaking havoc in the city by letting animals loose, he looks into Scamander’s background. He recognises that Scamander was expelled from Hogwarts for endangering the life of another student with a magical beast, though Dumbledore, then a Transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts, argued against his expulsion.
“Now what makes Albus Dumbledore so fond of you, Mr. Scamander?” Graves asks.
Grindelwald was also best friends with Dumbledore during a summer when they were teenagers. Their friendship ended after a fight they had — Grindelwald went down a path of evil, Dumbledore went on to become a scholar and teacher.
Graves also finds an Obscurus in Scamander’s briefcase. An Obscurus is a type of dangerous magical parasite that, if uncontrolled, can create huge amounts of damage on the world.
“So it’s useless without the host?” Graves asks Scamander.
The terminology catches Scamander sideways. “That is a parasitical magical force that killed a child. What on earth would you use it for?” Scamander asks in response. An Obscrurus wouldn’t be “used” unless someone wanted to cause destruction… someone like Grindelwald.
Obscurials — the host body in which an Obscurus develops — are also very rare. They supposedly haven’t been seen by the larger wizarding community in centuries. It would be strange for someone to be considering its “uses” unless they have been thinking about Obscurials a lot and thought about what they were.
Grindelwald, as a brilliant wizard, could have done a lot of research into an Obscurial as a way to cause desctruction. Or he might have recognised that Dumbledore’s sister Ariana was an Obscurial. In any case, it makes sense that he would come to America, where anti-wizard sentiment among the No-Majs was particularly high at the time, ripe conditions to form an Obscurial.
A little later, Graves has a secret meeting with Credence Barebone. Barebone is an orphan whose mother was a witch, and who’s living in the No-Maj community. Graves wants to use him to find an Obscurial.
In the meeting, Graves gives Barebone a pendant with the Deathly Hallows symbol.
t the time, remember, the Deathly Hallows were still, also, an obscure magical concept. It was more widely recognised as Grindelwald’s symbol. Barebone, having grown up among No-Majs, would have never recognised it.
We actually got a hint about the pendant before the movie came out, in a character poster. Graves’s poster featured the pendant hanging by his head, indicating that Graves was associated with Grindelwald.
Since Graves was revealed to be Grindelwald at the end of the movie, we’re definitely going to see Grindelwald again for future installments. He’s supposed to play a bigger role in the next “Fantastic Beasts” movie, and Dumbledore is supposed to show up as well.
But it’s not totally clear what the deal is with Graves. Is the real version locked in a trunk somewhere, like Mad-Eye Moody in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”? Or was there never a Graves to begin with, and Grindelwald was in it for the long con? (His name, Percival, is the same as the father of his former best friend, Albus Dumbledore, so maybe he picked it up.) Will we ever see Graves again?
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