Investigating ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’: Reading, Writing, Rowling Episode #20


Straight from the MuggleNet page announcing the release of the Reading, Writing, Rowling podcast on Crimes of Grindelwald! Read all about it — then tune in for some cutting edge conversation about the second Beasts film.

This month, join us at alchemist Nicolas Flamel’s house, where we’re searching for answers to the profound questions raised by the second film in the Fantastic Beasts series. Spoilers abound!

Crimes of Grindelwald, the second movie in the Fantastic Beasts film series, left a lot of fans and critics scratching their heads. With our guests Elizabeth Baird Hardy (Mayland Community College), Megan Kelly (SpeakBeasty), and Lana Whited (Ferrum College), Katy and John investigate the mythic, literary, and alchemical references in this movie to answer key questions and decipher where the series may be headed next.

Elizabeth points out that Newt’s case – which is bigger on the inside than the outside – is our first clue that this series contains much more than it appears to on the surface. Megan also reminds us that these films give us the opportunity to revisit the “Harry Potter glory days,” when we were waiting for the next installments and weren’t sure what would ultimately happen; we have the excitement of looking for clues to help us predict the series’ trajectory.

We consider the criticisms of the film: in theme, plot, and character. Is this film true to J.K. Rowling’s artistic vision? Fans are frustrated with the way the series retcons certain characters and even undermines the original wizarding world vision from the Harry Potterstories. Despite the flaws (which Elizabeth likens to poisonous fangs) in this beast of a movie, there are important and meaningful ideas that enrich our view of the wizarding universe.

More after the jump!

Lana explains her groundbreaking theory about Grindelwald as a dragon (compared to Dumbledore’s phoenix), the literary and historical tradition of dragons and phoenixes, and what this hidden aspect of Grindelwald may mean for the next episodes in the series. We reflect on the meaning of Dumbledore’s Mirror of Erised scene, specific beasts like the Kelpie and Pickett the Bowtruckle, Dumbledore’s Chocolate Frog card (and the twelve uses of dragon’s blood), Nagini the Maledictus, “Aurelius” Dumbledore, and Rowling’s views of the beastly potential of humanity. We also explore the movie’s alchemical symbolism (water, fire, gold, and Flamel’s role in the film’s climax), ties to King Arthur, humoral theory, and Shakespearean pairings.

Hear what we think about major puzzles: What do we know about the deleted scenes and how they affected both Leta’s and Nagini’s character arcs? What is going on with Queenie? Why is Newt so important to Dumbledore’s mission? Where and when will the next film be set? J.K. Rowling has said that the end of the movie is not all that it seems, and we explore the narrative misdirection at the film’s conclusion. A treasure trove of provocative theories awaits you in this episode!

Please also join the conversation via email (, Twitter (ReadWriteRowl), or our Facebook page! We’d love to hear from you.

Or share your thoughts here by clicking on the ‘Reply’ button up by the post headline! Join in the conversation and let us know what you think about Crimes of Grindelwald.


  1. A. Joy Trimble says

    Great podcast! Really enjoyed the highly intellectual discussion about, “The Crimes of Grindewald”.

    A few thoughts:

    Mirror of Erised: someone has suggested that Dumbledore is the only one who used the mirror to actually hide the Philosopher’s Stone inside. How did he do that? The fact he did this means the mirror, in Dumbledore’s hands, is capable of more than just “showing what your heart most desires.”

    Another thought I’ve had about the mirror is that, it appeared to me in the theater cut that he was studying the scene in the mirror, far more than longing or pining for an unhealthy relationship (though I could be wrong).

    I suspect what he desires most is to destroy the blood pact, but he doesn’t know how. The mirror can’t show this to us – obviously – that would be a major plot spoiler! But, I suspect he is studying how it was created in order to deconstruct it first in his mind, etc…

    Hope this makes sense.

    Many thanks!

  2. Louise Freeman says

    I really enjoyed it! I am particularly interested in Lana’s look at the Salem Witch trials through the lens of the Wizarding World. I think we have to assume there were some real witches involved, and that the memories of Muggle historians were altered. But I think it is fascinating that Tina swears by Deliverance Dane and Mercy Lewis in much the same way british wizard swear by Merlin and Paracelsus. Especially Mercy Lewis, an accuser whose testimony got some “witches” hanged. Did she manage to manipulate the American judicial system into executing some Scourers?

  3. Kim Casper says

    One thing that may support Credence as a Dumbledore is that the woman whose baby was switched on the boat sink; she fits the description of Kendra Dumbledore that Rowling gave over a decade ago -something like: “reminding one of American Indian like”. The actress who played the mother of the switched baby looked First Nation-ish.
    Also, Dumbledore was clearly “inflamed” with Gellert; whether or not they experienced sexuality was not important but that they had a romance was a G rated given. Even in Deathly Hallows it was said that Gellert did not give Dumbledore up to Voldemort and was killed for it in Azkaban. He remained loyal to his memory.

  4. Brian Basore says

    If Dumbledore is the Phoenix, and Grindwald is the dragon, but nobody mentioned Newt Scamander as the creature between. A Newt is a salamander, and salamanders are connected with survival in fire in folk history, so says Wikipedia.

    More of reach, perhaps, is the story Prince Lindworm, in the Norwegian folktales East of the Sun and West of the Moon, translated into English by G. W. Dasent. A lindworm was a most unpleasant kind of dragon. Defeating the lindworm, and transforming it into a proper prince, in the story, involves nine times the sloughing of the lindworm’s skin.

  5. Lana Whited says

    Brian, you first comment is one of those gems I wish I’d discovered myself. Thank you for this very useful feedback on my MuggleNet essays.

  6. Louise Freeman says

    That would certainly make an interesting trio of creatures: one that breathes fire, one that is born and lives in it, and dies when the fire goes out, and one that dies in fire and is reborn from the ashes.

    As for Credence, it seems to me if he is a Dumbledore (complete with Phoenix-guardian) he must be the son of Percival: so far as we have seen, names are passed paternally in the Wizarding world. We know little of Percival after he was sent to Azkaban, except that he isn’t in the grave with Kendra and Arianna. It seems that Albus and Aberforth, knowing the sacrifice their father made for Arianna, would have insisted he at least have a decent burial. The other clue is that Albus, when confronted by the Dawlish et al. squad that Fudge brought to arrest him, was quite confident he would never be taken to Azkaban, or, if he was, it would be an easy matter for him to escape. Who spirited him away? Fawkes.
    Could it be that Percival’s phoenix also helped him escape, and he lived to father another child? Perhaps faking his death in the process? Albus proposed that solution to Draco, after all. Of course, how the baby would up on a boat to America is anyone’s guess… but guessing’s sort of the point of this, right?

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