Fantastic Plot Holes and Where to Find Them
JK Rowling knocks it out the park with her screenwriting debut, with her trademark red herrings and unnecessarily complicated villain plots
I’ve remarked before about Rowling’s tendency to drop plot inconsistencies like Harry drops Expelliarmuses, and Fantastic Beasts has proved to be no exception.
The film as a whole was great, bringing us right back to the enchanting Potter universe. Beyond just the thoroughly detailed sets and the incredible special effects, Fantastic Beasts also introduces new ideas and settings, creating again that sense of awe and novelty that we’ve come to expect with Harry Potter.
So it’s without any malevolence that I launch into my newest installment of Rowling-plot Evisceration:
Grindelwald is an Idiot
Grindelwald, the great evil Hitler-wizard, has infiltrated MACUSA’s Auror department in order to track down an Obscurial. His plan is to sway the Obscurial to become evil, and unleash their untamed magical energy on innocents, presumably to fulfill his genocidal agenda.
But if Grindelwald’s goal was to harness the power of an Obscurus, why did he have to go through the trouble of playing the role of Graves? We can assume, given the fact that Grindelwald was only recently on the run, that Graves someone that he’d killed and impersonated, much like how Crouch Jr. took Moody’s identity in Goblet of Fire.
Either way, this amounts to a great deal of work, considering that Grindelwald could’ve just directly approached Credence, disguising himself as literally anyone else. Maybe Imperius’d him just to make things easier.
You might argue that Grindelwald couldn’t have known where to start looking for an Obscurial, so he hijacked the Director of Magical Security position so as to monitor the whole country quickly and conveniently. But if we’re stealing ideas from Goblet of Fire, then why didn’t he just Imperius Graves (and a dozen other MACUSA employees while he was at it), to do his surveillance work? Or, I don’t know, kidnap a kid and torture them into an Obscurus? Any of that beats spending all your time doing a full-time job just so you can spend your limited free time bullying kids for information.
As usual, Rowling villains have to pick the hardest possible path to achieve their goals. In their defense, Voldemort was in his 70’s, and Grindelwald his 80’s, so maybe we can just chalk it up to Wizard Alzheimer’s.
No-Majs are Dispensable, I guess
There’s also the issue of the Magical American President and her staff watching passively as Newt launched an unknown chemical into the rain clouds. “Oh, what’s that thing you’re bombarding millions of non-consenting citizens with? We should probably inspect it, at least. Well, never mind. We trust you.”
To be fair, they probably don’t actually care about No-Majs all that much, since it seems likely that No-Maj rights will play an important role in the unfolding trilogy, what with their ill treatment in Magical America. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, as these films are the pre-cursor to Grindelwald’s reign of terror, which coincides with World War II. His agenda to subjugate Muggles with terror against a backdrop of anti-Muggle sentiment may well reflect the antisemitism and eugenics that were rather popular right here in the US of A.
What’s So Scary About a No-Maj War?
President Picquery’s sole motivation in the film seems to be the protection of Wizard secrecy, harping on about the danger of war with the No-Majs.
It’s safe to say that it’s not war she’s worried about, just international embarrassment. Because let’s be honest: any war between non-Magical people and Magical people ends with just a lot of Avada Kedavras; it’s not even remotely fair. A Wizard could simply Apparate into the Oval Office, directly into the seat of the President and splinch him to death, inside out, and Apparate away, without firing so much as a single Stupefy. Even today, with nuclear weapons, we’d still lose in a literal instant. Wizards could just hide for a few days while unleashing Dementors on Muggles. I mean, Dementors cannot be killed, nuclear bomb or not.
Pottermore lays out a pretty extensive history of Wizarding relations with non-Magical folk, explaining why the International Statute of Secrecy exists to begin with. At worst, Wizards have had their wands taken away from them and killed. But even then, this usually happened because Muggles were being helped by other Wizards, like the Malfoys.
So, yes. The only way Muggles could possibly win a war is to steal wands. With the help of Wizards.
Traveling by Boat Because…?
Newt Scamander is introduced in a charming immigration scene in which he gets past customs and security with his Muggle-proof suitcase. The question is, why? Even if he can’t Apparate across the Atlantic, wouldn’t Wizards have international portkeys in place, like in Goblet of Fire, or an international Floo Network? And even if none of those mechanisms were in place, couldn’t he just have Apparated off the boat to the shore, and then past customs? You’d think it’d be Wizarding policy, seeing as how bypassing officials means you wouldn’t get your name registered.
But don’t take my scathing remarks as a stain on the film. If it weren’t for our suspension of disbelief, I’d never have enjoyed the definitive life and death story of the 90’s that featured talking and singing animals.