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Have you had a chance to take in a screening of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore? Are you just as enchanted by the third chapter of the Harry Potter prequel series as we are?
Now that the movie is finally playing on the big screen after a number of pandemic-related delays, let’s talk about the scenes and moments that — dare we say it? — cast a spell over us. There are plenty to choose from, but we settled on seven. After all, seven is the most powerfully magical number, right? The best part is you won’t have to split your soul into different pieces while reading the list below.
***WARNING! The following contains major plot spoilers for The Secrets of Dumbledore!***
Professor Hicks recaps the first two movies
While attempting to convince No-Maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) to rejoin the fight against Gellert Grindelwald, Professor Eulalie “Lally” Hicks (Jessica Williams) of Ilvermorny provides a breezy rundown of what transpired during the first two Fantastic Beasts movies.
In addition to bringing the audience up to speed on everything they might need to know before The Secrets of Dumbledore kicks into high gear, Professor Hicks' verbal recap also serves as a brilliant showcase for Williams as an actor. Her whip-smart take on the character — complete with a well-this-is-a-fine-how-do-you-do Transatlantic accent we’ve come to associate with Hollywood actors of the early 20th century — represents one of the finest new additions to the Wizarding World in a good long while.
Dumbledore's duel with Credence
Recalling to mind the "Mirror Dimension" antics of Doctor Strange over in the MCU, the battle between Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Credence Barebone/Aurelius Dumbledore (Ezra Miller) is one of the biggest action set pieces in the new movie.
Played out on the streets of 1930s Berlin (the location and time period carry a lot of thematic weight here), the duel finds Albus relying on a device that Harry Potter fans know well: the Deluminator. Most likely applying the same principles that allowed Ron to find Harry and Hermione in Deathly Hallows, the magical artifact — which Dumbledore invented himself — seems to transport the two fighters into a reflective universe that can be destroyed without harm or exposure to the surrounding Muggles.
Newt & Theseus escape the manticore
The entire manticore sequence is what the Fantastic Beasts IP is all about: the fantastic beasts!
When Theseus (Callum Turner) is captured by the German Ministry of Magic, he’s sent to a secret underground prison in which inmates are systematically disposed of by way of a manticore.
According to ancient mythology, the creature was said to have the the head of a lion, the body of a human, the wings of a dragon, and the tail of the scorpion. The manticore design for The Secrets of Dumbledore leans more toward insects and crustaceans, but is nevertheless effective, recalling all the creepy crawlies living at the bottom of that ravine of death in Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake.
If they want to get out of the prison with the flesh still on their bones, Theseus and his little brother/rescuer, the magical zoologist Newt (Eddie Redmayne), are forced to keep up a bizarre swiveling dance that keeps the baby manticores distracted.
Teddy grabs the coin
This also happens during the manticore escape and sure, we could have bundled it up with the previous entry on our list, but we think Teddy’s love of shiny objects deserves is own special shoutout.
While Newt and Theseus attempt to swivel their way to safety, Pickett the Bowtruckle and Teddy the Niffler mount their own escape at the check-in desk, where they’ve been locked up by the prison’s gruff caretaker. The mommy manticore wakes up and all hell breaks loose. Pickett, who has Newt’s wand, begins to fall off the shelf of cages. Teddy leaps up and reaches out, making us believe he’s trying to save Pickett. Nope! He’s just spotted a shiny coin. If that misdirect didn’t get a hearty laugh out of you, then you're in desparate need of a Cheering Charm.
Jacob gets pranked by the Slytherins
Mr. Kowalski may be the only Muggle in history to ever step foot inside Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. According to Hermione in Goblet of Fire (the book, not the movie), any Muggle who approaches the school will see a crumbling old ruin and a danger sign. How can Jacob see it? The only explanation that makes sense is that Dumbledore lifted the enchantment for him and him alone.
He eats breakfast in the Great Hall, hangs out with the students, shows off the wand he got “for Christmas,” and happily talks about how a group of Slytherin students gave him a bag of candy. Newt bursts his bubble by informing Jacob that he’s actually eating one of the most unappealing confections known to wizarding kind: Cockroach Clusters. Jacob’s look of disgust and fury is priceless, though based on what we know about Slytherin attitudes toward non-magical peoples, the prank could have been much worse.
Dumbledore’s plan to confuse Grindelwald and his followers with a different suitcases in the run-up to the wizarding election in Bhutan pays off in a big way for longtime Potterheads. Theseus and Lally find themselves cornered and are forced to give up their cases, which, when opened, release destructive Quidditch balls and a library full of belligerent books — including the bite-happy Monster Book of Monsters we first saw in Prisoner of Azkaban. Capping the entire sequence off is a small piece of John Williams’ whimsical score (particularly the swelling section of "Mr. Longbottom Flies") from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Perfection!
Jacob & Queenie's wedding
Grindelwald is still at large, but that doesn’t mean love and happiness shouldn’t be able to flourish. The union between Jacob and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) is Gellert’s worst nightmare: a witch marrying a Muggle and tainting the “purity” of wizarding bloodlines.
To quote Professor McGonagall at the height of the Second Wizarding War against Lord Voldemort: "Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world."
The decision to end the third movie on an upbeat note is a smart one and wraps up a few character arcs in the process. But come on — if two more chapters are still in the cards, there’s no way Jacob and Queenie aren’t coming back for more adventures. In any case, it’s so much fun to see Newt, already sweating in the role of Jacob's best man, reunite with Tina (Katherine Waterston), who’s been absent for most of the runtime. Our only question is this: why didn’t Dumbledore just join in on the festivities instead of watching from afar?
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is now playing in theaters everywhere.
The first two entries in the franchise are currently streaming on Peacock alongside all eight Harry Potter films.