This article is a response to a theory about Credence. In this video Ben from the SuperCarlinBrothers posits a theory about just who Credence may be. Credence, our beloved emo kid with an identity crisis, is the obscurus Albus Dumbledore created from suppressing his magic after his duel with Grindelwald and his brother. It was born as a baby and shipped off to the United States of Magic America because Albus didn’t want that much power. It’s a cool theory and all, but it flies in the face of the themes of Harry Potter.
The theory relies on two major factors. The first thing it relies on is that the phoenix demonstrates that Grindelwald isn’t lying when he said Credence is Aurelius Dumbledore. Albus himself states that a phoenix will always come to aid a Dumbledore and here we have a phoenix doing just that. The second factor is one sentence Albus Dumbledore tells Newt: “I know this: An Obscurus grows in the abscence of love as a dark twin, an only friend. If Credence has a real brother or sister out there who can take its place, he might yet be saved.”
So allow me, humble Maddius, to demonstrate why he is misinterpreting both of these elements. Let’s start with the phoenix, the form of legitimacy that allows the audience to accept that Credence is in fact Aurelius Dumbledore. But here’s a question: why would Grindelwald not bewitch, charm or otherwise persuade the phoenix to do his bidding? The Harry Potter series does not state that phoenices are resistant towards magic. In fact, book five clearly demonstrates that a killing curse affects Fawkes. He doesn’t die as is the case with everyone else, but he devolves into a murdered chick that needs to grow again. It’s also established just why Fawkes survives. Phoenices have a form of immortality that allows them to be reborn every time they die. But the lore doesn’t establish that phoenices can resist mind control, something Queenie demonstrates is used in the 1920’s. Why wouldn’t Grindelwald, being arguably the most powerful dark lord, just cast an Imperius spell on the bird to make it flock to Credence? Slip a potion while giving it a lovely treat? Or even just manipulate the bird into following his commands? That last example would be typical of Grindelwald, who is demonstrated to be a charismatic master manipulator who can casually convince people to follow his words and commands.
Now Ben does point out something in the video: why would Grindelwald do this if Credence himself doesn’t know that Dumbledores and phoenices fit like gloves? Doesn’t that make this act rather pointless if the victim himself doesn’t appreciate the severity of this act? Well no, because everyone else does. The saying Albus gives to Newt is a common saying and therefore Credence presenting a phoenix serves as a form of legitimacy. Our beloved headmaster states in the Harry Potter series that phoenices are rare and extremely loyal creatures. Demonstrating that Credence has the loyalty of such a being, a creature associated with house Dumbledore of birdies, would convince a great many people in the wizarding community. So while it does not mean a lot to Credence, this is just one of the many steps Grindelwald is taking to earn legitimacy for his quest of world domination.
Now for the second part: the interpretation of Dumbledore’s quote. It is interesting that Ben chose to interpret the “dark twin” part so literally, whereas I get the feeling Albus meant it metaphorically. It isn’t an actual dark twin, but the obscurus takes in that place if you allow it to fester in someone. It becomes so close to the victim that the victim gives in to it. Allows him- or herself to be consumed by it.
Therefore I think it’s more meant as foreshadowing in two different ways. It foreshadows Credence’s actions in the movie: he becomes darker as a person due to his obsession for figuring out his identity. The obscurus should be seen as a corrupting force (especially with time) and Credence definitely becomes darker over the course of this movie, to the point where he literally joins forces with Magic Hitler and casually destroys a mountain for shits and giggles. Oh, and to make the audience squeel in their seats.
The second foreshadowing lies in the second sentence: “If Credence has a real brother or sister out there who can take its place, he might yet be saved.” This to me suggests that Credence will be redeemed, when he’s shown love from someone else. This may be Dumbledore himself, who would treat Credence as a brother, even if he’s not related to the suave Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Dumbledore has definitely demonstrated his own capacity for love, especially for the outcasts. Hagrid, Draco and Harry himself come to mind. So it may be that the “dark twin” Albus states may be defeated by Albus himself. But again, family isn’t relevant. Nagini, Newt or various other characters can also show this love and kindness to Credence.
This also ties in to the other reason why I don’t think the theory works. Ben states in the video that this obscurus would be the reason why Dumbledore thinks love is so powerful. He argues that it’s therefore thematically appropriate, but I’d argue that it isn’t. Love in the Harry Potter universe is definitely a force of magic. Lily’s love for Harry creates a magical barrier against Voldemort, which also happens when Harry chooses to sacrifice himself. So while it is possible that Dumbledore is speaking of an actual force of magic when dueling Voldi or at any other point in the book series, I think it’s more meant metaphorically. That it’s a uniting force, something which ultimately brings people together against the obvious bad guy who can’t even fathom what love is. That it prevents socially weak people from going down a dark path. Someone like Credence, mayhaps.
This has always been a very strong element of Rowling’s themes. The Harry Potter series has always tried to present love as a strong, powerful emotion that people should experience more often and that it can bring people together. To therefore devolve Dumbledore’s (endless) speeches about love to “hot diggity damn magic boi” would fly against what Rowling has tried to accomplish in the Harry Potter series, which is why I am very sceptical of this being her intention.
Of course, Rowling is also no stranger to sloppy writing. The Crimes of Grindelwald definitely shows signs of this, so it may be possible that Rowling did choose to make this thematic statement or even just wrote it because it’d captivate the audience. And that Ben is ultimately right in his theory. But being the humble wannabee writer that I am, I hope she will stick to the message she started to make in 1997.
- Will We Die Just a Little? – Deciphering Grindelwald’s Riddle
- Unlimited Power! – A Discussion on How Magical Power Works in the Harry Potter Universe
- The Creeping Voice in Your Mind – Discussion the Indoctrination Theory of Mass Effect 3
Copyright: The images used in this article are screenshots taken from the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them” and “Fantastics Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” We are allowed to use them under section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. The Fantastic Beasts movie series belongs to J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers Studios.