Our Wizard’s Council convenes to consider the question of the hour: What do we think of the rumored big twist in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?
WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS MAJOR DISCUSSIONS OF CURSED CHILD SPOILERS. READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Welcome to the Wizard’s Council. Back in olden days, before the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy in 1692, the Wizarding world was governed by the Wizard’s Council. This was the longest serving ruling body over the Wizarding World in history, and though it was disbanded in 1707 with the founding of the Ministry of Magic, it was still considering one of the wisest and august bodies to ever rule the UK and Irish Wizarding Worlds. (Sadly, the same cannot be said for the Ministry, which seems to only be as good as it’s current Minister.) Here at Wizards and Whatnot, we come together once again as this august body to think deeply on the issues of our time.
KATIE: Should these rumors prove true rather than some big, orchestrated troll, I’m not sure how Cursed Child has garnered such widely positive reviews. These spoilers are pieced together by some of the biggest and most outrageous fanfiction tropes: Albus is sorted into Slytherin and for some reason it’s a big deal! Astoria is dead due to some unspecified illness! Time travel! There’s an OC (original character)! She’s Voldemort and Bellatrix’s daughter!
Now, here’s why no one asked for a sequel: Because the conflict that drove Harry Potter as we know it no longer exists. And if you have to use time travel in order to reintroduce that conflict, then your narrative is weak; time travel doesn’t tend to work in any genre aside from comedy or sci-fi (there are probably exceptions out there, but as of now I’m not inclined to place Cursed Child among them). And since it was firmly established in Prisoner of Azkaban that the Potterverse operates on a closed time loop, much of what happens within the context of the play doesn’t jive with established canon. In fact, the Time-Turner entry on the old Pottermore that explains all this isn’t included on the relaunched site, but you can still Google “Eloise Mintumble” if you want to know (her story is available on the Pottermore wikia, but not on the actual site). That seems deliberate and in exceptionally bad taste.
Look, I know I’m being harsh, but I feel cheated. I’m leaving my opinion up in the air until we know for sure what happens, but based on my research, this is for sure what happens, and it breaks my heart. I won’t pretend to like it just because it’s more Harry Potter; I’d much rather stick with what we had at the end of Deathly Hallows and leave well enough alone. Perhaps it’s hard to judge Cursed Child on spoilers alone, and I’m sure that the performances, special effects, and staging are done beautifully, but the narrative as we have it here is nothing that I care to acknowledge as canon. Should these rumors come to pass as truths, personally I’ll close my mind to anything that comes after “All was well.”
DAN: Whoa, Cursed Child is a time travel story? I was not expecting that, and I give Rowling and company credit for their ambition. Time travel is a fun concept to play around with (hence why so many writers use it), but it’s notoriously volatile and can easily spin out of control (hence why so few writers use it well). But Rowling has also been very good at keeping her plots airtight, and I’m curious to see if she and playwright Jack Thorne can pull this off.
The other thing that surprised me was how literally the new Harry Potter story engages with the old one. The theme of a new generation inheriting the burdens of the old was present in the original seven books, but having the timelines intermingle takes things to a whole new level. I figured that Albus would be dealing with the metaphorical weight of his father’s legacy, not, y’know, the real thing.
Personally, these bold moves have me excited to hear more, and I’m a little surprised by Katie’s strong negative reaction. The twisty nature of the narrative presents plenty of opportunities for missteps, but it’s hard to gauge whether any are made from the generalized spoilers we have access to. The original Harry Potter books came alive in the details, and hopefully Cursed Child will, too.
Honestly, I dig this. At the least, it does not sound boring, which is over half the battle.
MARNIFER: Without the benefit of context — the full play with its complete plot, costuming, performances, and effects — I am actually pretty hesitant to judge the leaked story details. I do love that Albus and Scorpius are best friends. I’m surprised there isn’t more information about Hermione’s role in the plot.
I had a strong negative reaction to Harry’s fight with Albus. I am really concerned that an adult Harry would be so callous as to wish his son out of existence. Any parent can lose their cool and say something they regret in the heat of the moment. But it’s so much worse coming from Harry. It’s such a departure from his character that it stretches believability.
There are some other odd choices throughout the story. Of everyone, why save Cedric Diggory? I’m not saying he doesn’t merit saving, simply asking what’s the connection? Why would Scorpius and Albus not choose Astoria Malfoy, or Fred Weasley? Hell, why not Dumbledore? Go big or go home. And why would Cedric become a Death Eater?
And the Devil’s Child idea — used twice in this plot — strikes me as silly. I keep wondering when in time Astoria paid Voldemort a back-to-the-future booty call. Or when Bellatrix managed to tear old Volde away from his quest for power long enough to impregnate her. He Who Shall Not Be Named didn’t seem like someone who was interested in sex.
KELLY: The first spoilers I heard for the play made me quite excited, but not shocked. I loved hearing Hermione was the Minister of Magic and that Professor McGonnagall was the Headmistress of Hogwarts. I also wasn’t the least bit surprised that Albus was sorted into Slytherin. This was a possibility all along and even Harry told him he should be proud if so. I agree with Katie as to why this would cause such an issue when it doesn’t seem the least bit surprising, but I suppose there is a lot of context missing that only people who have seen the play will know.
The whole time travel thing, especially to go back in time to save Cedric of all people, is a bit weird. I would prefer a new story rather than going back in time to the old one and I just feel like there is a major piece of information missing as why the boys would go back to save Cedric (I mean really… of ALL people?).
Also, I’m really not a fan of this whole “Voldemort and Bellatrix had a child” business. How? When? *eye roll*
Nevertheless, as Dan said, the details are what made the original Harry Potter series so great, so I’m not going to judge just yet.
AYESHA: I’m with Marnifer on holding back the bulk of my judgement until we get official confirmation on the story. That being said, I still do have plenty of thoughts on the information we’ve been given, even they should be taken with a grain of salt. I was expecting both a Slytherin Albus and a friendship with Scorpius, so neither caught me off-guard. As for the rest of the plot, if it holds true, I’m inclined to agree that it doesn’t seem like strong writing.
I think a major flaw is relying on time to advance the plot. That’s true both in using time travel and in the natural passage of time. It’s a trope I’m not a fan of in general, but especially in the context of making a character change who they are. If you’re going to take a risky move like having Harry, who grew up unloved and unwanted by his aunt and uncle, tell his son he’s unwanted, you need to justify it. If you’re going to create an alternate version of Cedric Diggory, a fair and loyal Hufflepuff, who takes a darker path, you need to justify it. And maybe they do. Without knowing the full details of play, it’s hard to know if they explain why things happen as such. But I have trouble wrapping my head around a lot of their ideas in abstract.
I understand the frustration in finding it comparable to cheesy fanfiction, but I’d argue in many ways, that’s the way in which Cursed Child is designed. J.K. Rowling wrote a story, and Thorne wrote a screenplay based on it. Personally, I don’t see anything not directly written by Rowling as part of the canon, so even though these initial spoilers have seemed strange, there’s not the same strong emotion I’d feel if I thought it was Rowling herself not being faithful to the characters.
I’m used to people interpreting my favourite characters differently than I do. For me, this just feels like another fan-produced work that I can engage with or choose to ignore, depending on how I feel about the final result.
RYAN: I’m going to have to jump on the train with Katie. Time travel? Really? I’m hoping this is huge overblown prank. Let’s be frank here, Harry Potter and time travel just doesn’t work. Mention the Time-Turner Paradox to any Harry Potter fan and they will instantly cringe. Proceeded by a long conversation that the events at the end of Prisoner Of Azkaban could have never taken place. But back to the topic at hand.
As I was reading Katie’s articles, I became overwhelmed. This is way too over all the place, were my thoughts. I must admit though, I thought Albus was going be sorted into Slytherin since the Epilogue in Deathly Hallows. All other things I’m taking with a grain of salt. The crazy details do have me excited though, so I’m on the fence here. I’m curious but skeptical. Harry dead for twenty years, but a Death Eater aligned Cedric? See what I mean? Why would Cedric join up with No-Nose? A Harry Potter-less wizarding world would be an interesting one though.
For now, I’m going to not mull over the details. They seem too much to be real. As Katie said it’s “wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey butterfly effects” stuff. Yet if they are, I’ll gladly accept them with open arms. This is Harry Potter we are talking about after. Weirder has happened in the series, as has the unexplainable.
Our Wizard’s Council meets every other week, unless there is an emergency session. Check out our other entries here.