Four Dropped Threads in Beasts Films

I’m a shameless Laurie Beckoff fan-boy. She’s a UChicagwarts alumna, a Jeopardy champion, and a first tier Potter Pundit. If you have any doubts about that, go back and listen to the ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcast in which she was the guest expert on King Arthur and the Medieval aspects of the Hogwarts Saga, the subject of her Master’s thesis. Smart, funny, well-read — did I mention “smart like Hermione”? You can watch her tell her Harry Potter story (with great pictures of her pre-teen Luna Lovegood Halloween costume) here.

Anyway, I stumbled on an article Beckoff wrote for MuggleNet last year — she is a regular contributor to the “#1 Wizarding World Resource since 1999,” not to mention MNet podcast producer and their Campaign Co-ordinator — about The Crimes of Grindelwald. The piece is just what its title says it is, namely, Four “Fantastic Beasts” Threads Lost in “Crimes of Grindelwald.”

We’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink here about the failings of Crimes of Grindelwald (check out the fifty pieces listed on the film’s Pillar Post) but I think this Beckoff post on ‘Lost Threads’ brings up the more obvious and at least as important point not discussed here. The sequel failed to deliver on expectations primarily because it didn’t work as a sequel, i.e., the things we learned in Beasts 1 didn’t mesh with the developments we were given in Beasts 2. Jacob’s obliviated-by-rain memory and his shop? Credence’s death? Newt’s expulsion from Hogwarts? Leta’s relationship with Newt? “All gone!”

Yes, there’s a lot more that’s wrong with Crimes than that. We had the director once again butcher Rowling’s shooting script ring composition, for example. The Leta Lestrange sub-plot was incomprehensible because almost every cut scene was one that included Leta or was about her. Check out the Pillar Post for the full agonizing survey. Having noted all that, though, it pays to remember the first great disappointment with Crimes for fans was that it didn’t work as a Fantastic Beasts follow-up. Beckoff’s list of “lost threads” brings that shock back into sharp focus. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Lorrie Kim on Snape and Dumbledore

Lorrie Kim, author of Snape: A Definitive Reading, gave a talk at this year’s Leaky Con on the relationship of Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore, perhaps the two must idiosyncratic and powerful wizards ever to be Headmasters at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If, like me, you were unable to weekend in Boston this year and missed the talk, Ms Kim has generously posted her notes for this talk at her website. Enjoy ‘And My Soul, Dumbledore? The Dumbledore-Snape Relationship’!

Hat-tip to Kelly for the great find.


Selected Readers’ Comments in Response to the NYTimes Article of 9/23/2019 “Harry Potter and the Poorly-Read Exorcists”

I have chosen not to comment publicly about the controversy in Tennessee about a priest who pulled the Harry Potter novels from the library of his parish’s school. David Martin, though, long time friend of this blog, put together something of interest, I think, that is of ‘Shared Text’ interest, namely, the responses to the priest’s decision in the letters page of the New York Times, America’s ‘paper of record.’ Enjoy!

On September 23rd, the New York Times published an opinion piece entitled “Harry Potter and the Poorly-Read Exorcists.” (The piece can be seen here: ) This piece noted that it was then Banned Books Week (see ) and expended a fair amount of ink criticizing the Catholic priest Fr Reehil in Nashville who in August banned the Harry Potter books from a Catholic school where he worked. (Sigh. To quote a Sunday school lesson of my youth, “Not all the servants of the great King are as wise as the great King Himself.)

The coverage given to this unusual bit of censorship – and the failure to note that such censorship of Harry Potter is unusual (now) – gave the article an anti-Catholic tone. Or perhaps even an anti-religion in general tone. Those of us who find faith both in the Bible and in Harry Potter can be glad that some of the comments by the readers have a different orientation. What follows is a selection of readers’ comments on the original New York Times article. These comments represent an admittedly minority view among the comments, but let us be glad that the other side of the issue is being expressed.

(To see all the comments on the original article, go to and then, when the comments column appears on the right side of the screen, click on the word “All” at the beginning of the comments.)

David Martin of Hufflepuff


From: Andrew Parker
In: Houston

I am an Episcopal priest and a huge Harry Potter fan. I read the books to my children and have three times led a vacation Bible School based on the books (Wizard and Wonders by I also recommend “God and Harry Potter at Yale” by the Rev. Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio. To quote an old Episcopal ad “Jesus died to take away your sins, not your mind.”

More after the jump!

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Guest Post – Bezoar: The Princely Stone

Pratibha Rai is an Oxford University graduate and she has been a Harry Potter partisan since 2001. Her research today mostly concerns the sociology of collecting in early modern Europe. She enjoys finding parallels between Harry Potter and history of art — and you will enjoy reading what she has discovered about that life-saving short-cut antidote, the Bezoar!

Bezoar: the Princely Stone

For today’s lesson, we descend to the shadowy dungeons of Hogwarts to “learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making”. As Philosopher’s Stone describes, it is “colder here than up in the main castle and would have been quite creepy”. Among its steaming cauldrons and apothecary jars, Harry Potter learnt of the power of potions under the watchful eye of Professor Snape. In the first ever Potions class in chapter 8 of Philosopher’s Stone, Snape teaches the class about the unusual Bezoar stone, which has the ability to cure the victim of almost any poison (except Basilisk venom). In order to chastise Harry for not paying attention in class, Snape quizzes Harry: “where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?” Only to answer the question himself: “A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons.” We know that bezoars were stocked in the Potions classroom cupboard and in the hospital wing of Hogwarts (both mentioned in chapter 18, Half-Blood Prince). The Potions textbook Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger also contains a recipe called ‘The Antidote to Common Poisons’, which uses ingredients such as Bezoars, mistletoe berries, and ground unicorn horn. Though Harry had not shrugged off the mysterious antidote in his first Potions class, his life at Hogwarts was to be particularly shaped by it. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Lethal White and Strike5 — Clues to the Harringay Crime Syndicate, Digger Malley, and Securicor (Swans!)

A guest post from Serious Striker, Joanne Gray!

Did Lethal White’s Epilogue Give Hints To Book 5?

The fourth Strike book, Lethal White, starts from where Career of Evil had literally left the reader standing at the alter a moment after Robin’s wedding day “I do.” This cliffhanger gave a logical starting point for the next book, but it didn’t provide the reader with any hint on what the mystery part of Strike 4’s storyline might be.

Now that we’ve had time to read Lethal White, we know that there is no cliffhanger ending that will bridge book 4 to book 5. So it appears that we have an open field of story line possibilities when it comes to what the main mystery plot will be for the fifth book of the series.

Fortunately we do have one real place to comb for clues since Lethal White ended with an epilogue. I confess I didn’t expect to find much but it seems that there are what can be seen as several signposts planted on the last two pages of the epilogue. It will only be clear if they truly are pointing to the Strike 5 story line when the fifth book is published but until then I give for your consideration three incidences of what I believe are deliberate (albeit subjective) signposts that appear in Lethal White’s epilogue.

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