Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in theaters now. Have you seen it yet? What did you think of Newt’s latest adventure? Let us know in the comments below the article, and keep reading to find out what was going on with that ending.
The ending of Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald was a doozy. At least one prominent character introduced in this sequel was unceremoniously killed, and even more importantly, that twist probably left your jaw on the floor. That’s partially because it was so unexpected, and partially because it doesn’t seem to make a shred of sense.
We’re going to do our best to explain Crimes of Grindelwald’s ending, so naturally, we’re getting into spoilers for the Fantastic Beasts sequel. You’ve been warned.
Let’s get this out of the way: Who is Credence, Ezra Miller’s character? As Grindelwald reveals in the movie’s final scene, Credence is actually Aurelius Dumbledore, a secret Dumbledore sibling. Yes, another secret Dumbledore. I say another because, as Harry Potter fans may recall, the former Hogwarts headmaster was a private, secretive man. It’s unclear whether the general wizarding community was aware of his siblings, Aberforth and the long dead Ariana, but certainly Harry Potter and the other students at Hogwarts–and by extension we readers and fans–knew nothing of Dumbledore’s family. The existence of his siblings toward the end of the series was treated as a reveal.
Now it turns out that Albus had yet another secret brother, and even he might not know about Aurelius. At least, the character (played here by Jude Law) gives no indication in this movie that he knows Credence’s real identity. And once again, the series treats the existence of a Dumbledore sibling as a massive twist.
J.K. Rowling is the sole credited screenwriter on The Crimes of Grindelwald, so you can take what’s in this movie as canon if you like. But it’s a pretty cheap twist either way. For one thing, it was never set up at all throughout these movies, and it goes utterly unexplained–which, granted, makes it incredibly shocking. For another, Rowling already did the “secrets of Dumbledore’s past” thing in the main Harry Potter series. Here, she’s merely repeating herself, and it’s way less interesting the second time around.
But the Aurelius Dumbledore twist raises even more questions beyond simply “why,” like “How can Credence possibly be Albus Dumbledore’s brother?” That isn’t easy to answer, since it doesn’t seem to make sense.
The Baby Switcheroo
First, let’s get into the “how:” How did Aurelius Dumbledore wind up where he is? The movie explains this in the second-to-last scene’s interminable exposition dump, so bear with me while I do my best to untangle it.
Credence’s identity is a huge focus of The Crimes of Grindelwald, and most characters seem to think he’s a lost son of the Lestrange family. Specifically, Credence is thought to be Corvus Lestrange, half brother to Leta Lestrange, Zoe Kravitz’s character. But Leta reveals in the tomb scene that he can’t be Corvus, because she knows Corvus is dead.
There’s yet another new character who features prominently in this story: Yusuf Kama, who we know nothing about until this scene. According to Leta, her father put a spell on Yusuf’s mother, who then died in childbirth having Leta. Leta’s father remarried, producing another baby–Corvus. Yusuf sets out to kill Credence to get revenge against Leta’s father, since he thinks Credence is Corvus Lestrange. However, while on a boat from England to New York, Leta switched Corvus with another baby because she got sick of his crying (solid big sis move). The boat sank, and Leta survived, but with the other child.
The reasons for a lot of this are unclear. Why does anyone think that Corvus is dead, since Leta and a baby that everyone should believe is her brother survived the boat sinking? And if everyone thinks Corvus is dead for some reason, why does anyone, including Yusuf, think Credence is Corvus? Why were Leta and Corvus on that boat to begin with? How could that other baby be a secret Dumbledore? What are the odds of those two babies being on the same boat? Why did Credence end up in foster care with some wizard-hating weirdo?
Some of these questions may be answered in the movie, but it’s impossible to be sure after just one viewing, thanks to the film’s convoluted story, confusing structure, huge cast of poorly developed new characters, and last minute info dump where all this is revealed so quickly it’s hard to keep track. This is where the Fantastic Beasts movies really start to feel like the Star Wars prequels. But if we’re going to try to make sense of it, we have to get into the Dumbledore family history.
Dumbledore Family History
Albus’s parents were Percival and Kendra Dumbledore. The Harry Potter books establish a pretty clear timeline for their tragic story. Kendra Dumbledore died in 1899, the same year as Albus’s younger sister, Ariana. And Percival was imprisoned in the wizard jail Azkaban, where he died some time after 1890. The Crimes of Grindelwald takes place sometime around 1927. Therefore, if Credence–AKA Aurelius–is Albus’s full brother, he must be in his late thirties, which he clearly is not.
There are more possibilities if Aurelius is Albus’s half brother. If Kendra had Aurelius late in her life–toward the end of the 19th century–then he would be in his late twenties during Crimes, which is more possible, although still unlikely, as Credence seems clearly meant to be a teenager in these films.
That leaves one last possibility, and the one that’s most likely: Aurelius is Albus Dumbledore’s half brother by their father, Percival. Percival spent the final years of his life in Azkaban, where the dementors suck all the joy and emotion out of the prisoners. It’s hard to imagine Aurelius fathering a child and somehow smuggling that child out of Azkaban, but then again, who knows what Rowling has in mind?
What’s certain is that it isn’t explained in this movie, so let’s hope we get the full story in the next one. Either way, it seems incredibly strange that Albus Dumbledore has yet another sibling, and that this one was somehow lost to history, despite being the focus of the entire magical world circa 1927. No one remembers any of this by the time Harry Potter starts digging through Dumbledore’s past in the 1990s? Rita Skeeter uncovers no hints of Aurelius’s existence while gathering dirt for her book, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore? No doubt we’ll find out in future Fantastic Beasts films, but it seems for that to make sense, Credence’s true identity will need to stay a secret, which I can’t imagine will prove satisfying from a narrative perspective.
Anyway. By the end of Fantastic Beasts 2, Grindelwald is poised to make his move, with a small army of followers that now includes both Credence/Aurelius and, for reasons that make absolutely no sense, Queenie. Newt, Dumbledore, and the aurors are ready to fight back, which should hopefully make the next Fantastic Beasts movie a little more straightforward.
The Blood Pact
There’s one other facet to Crimes of Grindelwald’s ending that gives us hope for Fantastic Beasts 3 and beyond: Dumbledore is in possession of the blood pact he made with Grindelwald. Oh, by the way, blood pacts are now a thing in Harry Potter I guess. Who needs unbreakable vows when you have blood pacts?
The blood pact between Dumbledore and Grindelwald is a physical, magic McGuffin that Grindelwald has had in his possession all along. It’s the reason why Dumbledore insists several times in this movie that he can’t be the one to confront Grindelwald. As teenagers, the two were close–“closer than brothers,” and in fact, they were most likely romantically entangled. Thus, they made a blood pact that apparently prevents Dumbledore from fighting Grindelwald.
Thanks to Newt’s niffler, Dumbledore is now in possession of that blood pact, and he believes he can destroy it, paving the way for the epic confrontation we know these movies are headed toward. At least that’s something to look forward to.