WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, in theaters now.
Directed by David Yates from a script by J.K. Rowling, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald is more set-up than climax, but that’s to be expected from the second chapter in a planned five-film series. What’s important, then, is to figure out where everything stands by the climax of the story, and how those events help to shape the future of the franchise.
Johnny Depp's Gellert Grindelwald ends the film on a high note. His ultimate plan is to lure the Ministry of Magic officials sent to arrest him into killing one of his supporters, in an effort to paint him and his magic-supremacy group as "victims" of a violent government. The plan succeeds when one of his followers draws her wand on an Auror, and as a result is shot and killed. The crowd, riled by Grindelwald's words and the murder of the young witch, escape into the night to tell the world of what they saw and, presumably, sway more people to the cause.
Meanwhile, Grindelwald kills many of the assembled Aurors before they can escape, using loyalty-testing blue flames. He convinces Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) to join him, and they step through the fire with no harm. However, one of Grindelwald's followers doesn’t pass the test, and is consumed by the flames. Even the attempt by Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz) to kill Grindelwald fails, and she too is consumed by the fire.
However, Grindelwald falls short in his scheme to kill all of the assembled witches and wizards who stand against him. The Scamander brothers, Tina, Jacob, Yusuf and Nagini survive the attack, and stop the blue fire from spreading to Paris, thanks in part to the timely arrival of Nicolas Flamel.
The Dumbledore Problem
The final moments set the strongest players in the Wizarding World in motion against one another, specifically the Dumbledores. On one side, there's Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), who's finally recruited by the remaining heroes to the war effort. With the help one of his Nifflers, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) was able to grab a precious artifact from Grindelwald during his speech. He finds out that it's a blood pact, created between Dumbledore and Grindelwald in their youth. It keeps them from actively fighting each other, and explains why Grindelwald never attacks Hogwarts, and why Dumbledore has been so hesitant to enter the fray.
With the physical representation of the blood pact now in his possession, Dumbledore reveals to Newt there may yet be a way to break the spell so he can finally join the others, and help to stop his former love. Although the threat hangs heavy over him -- his moment staring into the Mirror of Erisad showing not just the blood oath but the boy he used to love -- Dumbledore isn’t hindered by his mission, and invites Newt into Hogwarts for tea while they discuss their next move.
Meanwhile, Grindelwald grooms Credence by revealing the young man's true name and birthright: He's a Dumbledore. To prove that, Grindelwald reveals the chick Credence had been nurturing, initially believed to be a raven and part of the Lestrange family imagery, is actually a phoenix.
Because of the blood pact, Grindelwald is unable to move against Dumbledore. But throughout the film, he hints that he believes Credence has the power to kill Albus. By recruiting Credence to his side, Grindelwald has greatly improved his chances of bringing down the Wizarding World.
Where That Leaves Us
The heroes aren’t necessarily on the run, but they do have an uphill battle ahead of them. Grindelwald is quickly amassing his forces, and the brutality of the Ministry of Magic isn’t going to exactly going to dampen recruitment. His opposition to Muggles will presumably only grow worse.
This is where the trick to a good prequel comes in. While we know the eventual outcome of the battle (Dumbledore and Grindelwald will face off during World War II, and Grindelwald will be defeated and captured), we still don’t know the fates of our heroes and their loved ones. Who knows how many could fall to Grindelwald and his army? Newt Scamander ends the film telling his brother Theseus that he knows what side he’s on, hinting that in the coming battles, even the pacifist Newt will have to be willing to fight. But will he make it out in one piece?
In theaters now, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is directed by David Yates from a script by J.K. Rowling. Rowling. The film stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Fiona Glascott and Callum Turner.