Harry Potter and WTF is Going On?

Unless you live in a cupboard under the stairs, you probably know that a new Harry Potter story was released last weekend. If you’re a fan, you also probably know that its been nine years since we were blessed with the release of Deathly Hallows – the fastest selling book of all time (for good reason).

Since 2007, J.K. Rowling’s reputation has solidified due to her excellent consistency and fan service in the form of expansive and new content. As fans anticipate all new and original additions to the Potter universe in the form of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film series, theme parks, and revamped editions of The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Quidditch Through the Ages, we were also excited for the eighth Harry Potter story.

‘Were’ is the operative word here because having finished reading the script book all I have to say is: wtf is going on with Cursed Child?!

Now, I understand that reading a play is totally different than seeing it. The previews and opening nights of the actual show have garnered excellent reviews, and I am looking forward to seeing it for myself someday. My gripes here are based solely on my reading the rehearsal edition of the script. In my opinion, the plot and characters are completely out of left field. So far, in fact, that I hesitate to accept play this as a legitimate addition to my favorite series of all time. Cursed Child reads like fanfiction.

Even though nobody asked for it, here is my list of issues, questioning J.K.’s historically and consistently excellent judgement. Some might say I have no right to criticize her creativity, which is true. I just expected better….

Obviously, spoilers are ahead.

Cursed Child Instagram
My thoughts pre-read…
  1. Where is Teddy Lupin??? 

In the epilogue of Deathly Hallows we learn that Lupin and Tonk’s (RIP you beautiful souls) orphaned son is basically a Potter. Of course he is, Harry is his godfather and an orphan himself. The scene at King’s Cross reveals that Teddy is dating a relative of Fleur Delacour’s and that he has inherited his mother’s metamorphmagus abilities.

He sounds like an interesting character right? Well, guess he wasn’t interesting enough because he makes no appearance and there is no mention of him at all in Cursed Child. However, considering how some of the characters were poorly written, this might not be the worst thing in the world.

On another note, it seems Neville and Luna were spared from this fate too….

2. What is UP with this plot?

When you read the synopsis on the book’s jacket, you expect a story about Harry’s son dealing with the fame associated with his parentage while Harry adapts to being a father  whilst handling the baggage that comes when a maniacal dark wizard repeatedly tries to kill you before and during your pubescence.

Therefore, is it so crazy for me not to have expected a random adventure through time using a device repeatedly said to have been eradicated from the universe in book five? Ignoring the fact that this is probably the nerdiest sentence I have ever written, please consider that out of all the events these characters might have wanted to change, nobody ever suggests stopping Voldemort from ever rising to power in the first place? That would’ve saved a lot more trouble and lives than these elaborate plans to save the ‘spare.’

3. On that note, what is up with Albus and Scorpius’s plans to change the past?

It’s obvious neither boy was ever meant to be in the wise house of Ravenclaw, but it should be common sense (considering Albus’s father and aunt have previously used time travel) that changes in the past create ripple effects. These kids repeatedly spout off their knowledge of their parents’ adventures, so there is no excuse for not knowing they shouldn’t meddle with time.

Moving on (past questionable time travel and the choice to save Cedric, of all people), how does Diggory’s alternate timeline make any sense? I admit the first one does: without his wand, Cedric does poorly in the first task, but the rest of the timeline for him is unaffected – fine. My issue is with the second timeline, where he is “humiliated” in the second task, so much so that he is bitter enough to become a Death Eater, ultimately killing Neville Longbottom resulting in Voldemort’s victory at the Battle of Hogwarts.

Just…no. Cedric would never be a Death Eater, let alone just because he was laughed at by school children. Also, Neville was a complete badass by Deathly Hallows, I’m not convinced Cedric could have finished him off.

4. Why are the classic characters so misrepresented/poorly written?

J.K. approved this play after decades of expertly characterizing these figures. Her fans know and love them inside and out. So why does Cursed Child make them into cheesy, bitter caricatures? I get that these characters are 19 years older than when we last saw them, but their maturity was so great due to dark and serious circumstances that its unbelievable how much they seem to have changed in Cursed Child.

To keep it short:

  • Hermione is and always will be a BAMF and would be Minister of Magic even without being married to Ron. She wouldn’t be the new Snape either, especially when you consider how much abuse she suffered from him couple with her compassion for minority groups.
  • Ron and Hermione’s relationship is too deep to have been ruined by mix-ups at the Yule Ball, of all things. Remember the months spent in a tent together, and the emotions of the Battle of Hogwarts? No way a school dance has more impact than these events.
  • Harry would never tell his child he wished he wasn’t his father. Period. After all Harry went through, the power of love, especially a parent’s love, means too much to him to allow this behavior. He has a temper, but as a middle-aged man he would have matured enough to control himself, especially with his own son.
  • HARRY POTTER WOULD NOT THREATEN MINERVA MCGONAGALL, AND SHE WOULD NOT ALLOW HIM TO THREATEN HER – nuff said
  • Sorry y’all, Snape still isn’t a hero. He may have died ‘heroically’ in two different ways, but he was still abusive to children for no reason in every timeline. Sacrificing himself to the dementors does nothing to improve his status. He is questionably good at best.

5. What is up with Delphi?

I have to admit that this piece of the story fits, but I just wish it wasn’t a thing. Bellatrix and Voldemort having a child together sounds too much like fanfiction, not to mention it is ridiculously gross. Not only is Voldemort the very last character one would consider as worried about reproduction, he is exclusively focused on his own immortality in the original books. Would Voldemort really have had the foresight to spawn an heir when he was so convinced he had unlocked the key to immortality? It just doesn’t fit into his characterization.

In addition, Delphi seems like such a shallow character. This is probably a weakness of the script book which is remedied once you see the performance, but I just expected more from Voldemort’s daughter.

6. Who let Rodolphus Lestrange out of Azkaban and how did he tell Delphi of the prophecy?

And who made the prophecy Delphi clings to all her life? At most she would have been 2 years-old when Rodolphus would have been in a position to give her the prophecy, which is ludicrous. The way she speaks of the event proves she had to be older.

Not to mention the fact that there is no way a known Death Eater, let alone a Lestrange, would have been released from Azkaban after the Second Wizarding War. So very many unanswered but important questions here.

7. The Trolley Lady?! WTF was that?

And what is the point of her when two 14 year-olds can just jump off the train? And why does she have “spiky spikes” for hands? Just…no.

8. Last, but not least: Panju. 

I’m weeping bitter tears here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

All of these complaints I feel are legitimate, but that’s not to say there aren’t positives in Cursed Child: Scorpius is a great new character; Albus being a Slytherin provided an interesting twist; and the scene between Harry and Dumbledore’s portrait was something fans have been craving. Lastly, while the climax of Act 4 was heartbreaking, it was one of the few moments that captured the same feel of the original books.

With the expansive source material and foundation created by Ms. Rowling, there is no reason for Cursed Child to suffer from these consistency errors and poor storylines. Considering the amazing universe of fully-realized characters, an original story about our heroes moving forward in life was what fans were looking forward to. Cursed Child is mostly a clumsy remixing of the stories we know and love so well.

I’m grateful to J.K. for all of her fan service and I have nothing but the utmost respect for her and her work, but I feel like Cursed Child just didn’t reach the mark that the first seven stories established.

In the end, if you’re like me and didn’t fully enjoy the eighth story, take comfort knowing we still have the first seven to return to in addition to other promising additions to the Wizarding World we know and love.

Please comment and share your own opinions on the eighth story, I love a good Potter-related discussion.

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