Fortunately, Dumbledore’s retcons from Fantastic Beasts 3 managed to avoid one fatal mistake

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Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore recreates the backstory of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) from Harry Potter, but fortunately does not go too far in this regard. The Fantastic Beasts films are increasingly expanding the story of Dumbledore, both his family, primarily brother Aberforth (Richard Coyle), and his relationship with Gellert Grindelwald (formerly Johnny Depp, now Mads Mikkelsen). “Harry Potter” only superficially touched on the tragedies that occurred in the past of the Hogwarts director, but a series of spin-off prequels reveals more of his secrets, which inevitably means some changes.

The biggest of these was the revelation of Creedens Burbone (Ezra Miller) as Dumbledore’s “brother”, Aurelius. “Fantastic Beasts 3” instead confirmed that he is Albus’ nephew, Aberforth’s son, and concretized the story of the brothers in Godric’s Hollow together with Grindelwald. This, of course, means reviewing the life and death of Ariana Dumbledore (Heba Birdsall), who, as Dumbledore’s Secrets confirms, was an Obscurial, as many expected.

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At the same time, the fatal duel that led to Ariana’s death is also discussed. Earlier, Harry Potter established that this is a three-way fight: Albus vs. Aberforth vs. Grindelwald, and Ariana died in the crossfire of chaos. However, Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets retconates this: according to Albus, only he and Aberforth fought a duel; Grindelwald just stood by, watching and laughing as the two brothers fought. However, while this changes the Dumbledore story, fortunately it doesn’t confirm who exactly killed Ariana, which would be too retcon Harry Potter.

Why “Fantastic Beasts 3” was Right Not to Confirm Who killed Ariana Dumbledore

Although “Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets” increases the likelihood that Albus killed Ariana — if, of course, this version of events is correct — fortunately, it still leaves room for uncertainty, and this is important for his arch. Dumbledore never knows for sure whether he did it or not — which is just as true after Fantastic Beasts 3 as it is after the Harry Potter books and films — and this perhaps increases his sense of guilt. In the absence of facts, he blames himself, and Aberforth blames him. There is no need to confirm that Albus killed Ariana, it’s just cruel; to be sure that Albus didn’t conjure the death blow would be too much of a change in the weight he’s been carrying for almost a century. Uncertainty only exacerbates the grief and suffering that he and Aberforth are experiencing, another layer in their complicated relationship and resentment that accumulates over the years.

In the end, Albus takes responsibility for Ariana’s death anyway: it was his mistaken actions caused by his relationship with Grindelwald that led to the duel that killed her. There’s a clear sense of Albus’ regret for everything he’s done and for Ariana’s fate above all else; after all, that’s what haunts him the most when he tries to get the Slytherin medallion back in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This is both deeper than the question of who directly killed her, and the main thing is that it does not reveal him, both with his guilt and with the attempts at redemption that go through “Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore” and in “Harry Potter”.