So, I've been thinking more on what this circus might look like, and who might be in it, in a new series of videos. Here's one with Suvi Holm of Finland on who that Enchanting Snake Girl might be.
The transcript is below the video, in case it gets removed again. Hope you like it!
Hello. Welcome back to Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts. I’m Susan Şipal. In the recent announcements regarding Fantastic Beasts 2, the filmmakers stated that there would be some “surprising nods” toward Harry Potter. Suvi Holm and I have a theory as to what one of these nods might be, and we'd like to see what you think.
I covered many theories like this in my book, Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts, and hope you’ll check it out.
In my last video on certain time elements that may link Fantastic Beasts 1 to future films, I pointed out an intriguing date on the Circus Arcanus publicity poster. It noted that the circus was leaving for Europe after their final performance on December 13th. With the 5-day crossing possible in the 1920s, that’s just enough time for them to reach England, if that’s their destination, before New Year’s Eve…the night of Voldemort’s birth. A link that provides a lot of tantalizing possibilities, and we’re going to explore one of them now.
First, I’d like to point out that it’s not too far a stretch to imagine that the circus either originated in Europe or has been there before as the owner, Skender, may not be American. The publicity poster shows that the circus has been on tour in New York, not that they are based there.
I also said yesterday in the first part of this series exploring the mysteries of the Circus Arcanus, that I planned on three videos. But the material is growing, and thus I now expect this will be the second of four.
The focus on today’s video is thanks to Suvi Holm of Finland, who shared the key clue and beginning ideas with me. Suvi, if you’ll remember, was also the mastermind behind Dumbledore as a possible Demiguise Animagus theory.
Suvi found a very curious link between Merope Gaunt Riddle, Voldemort’s mother, and a circus. In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore and Harry took a dip into Dumbledore's memory of visiting Tom Riddle's orphanage. Mrs. Cole, the matron, says that when Merope came to them on the night she gave birth to Voldemort, they wondered if Merope had come from a circus. This was purely because of the unusual name, Marvolo, that she gave her son. However, it still provides a link from Merope to a circus.
Suvi thinks that the Snake Girl pictured in the Circus Arcanus poster could be Merope. Together, she and I have pieced together the following evidence to support this theory, and why I think it not only possible, but likely.
We first see Merope in the scene where Harry and Dumbledore dip into a Ministry Official’s memories of visiting the Gaunt home. As part of this scene, Marvolo and Morfin speak to each other, and Merope, in Parseltongue. Though Merope is too cowed to respond, she clearly understands everything they say. If she weren’t being threatened by her father and brother, she would probably speak it. So, she should possess the ability to call snakes to her.
If you look at the image of the Enchanting Snake Girl in the Circus Arcanus poster, you’ll see that the snakes are wrapped around her rather than her transforming into one like an Animagus. This could be the mark of a Parseltongue. And who is the one known female Parseltongue of this time? Merope Gaunt Riddle.
Dumbledore believed that after Tom Riddle left his wife, Merope lost the use of her powers to take care of herself. But Dumbledore also admitted he was speculating. It is not specified exactly when Tom Riddle abandoned his pregnant wife. She may have been alone several months. What was she doing to support herself? Dumbledore also assumed she was staying in London, but is it possible that she used her unusual abilities to join a circus and traveled with them even to New York and back? And that something that happened in that circus injured her health or made her lose the will to live?
Now let’s jump across the pond to Credence. Many have theorized that Credence could be descended from Isolt Sayre, including several of this vlog’s followers, whom I’ve credited in the description below. The key clue seems to be the use of the word Squib. Grindelwald said he could smell Squib on Credence when they first met. Why was this important to have in the script, besides showing Grindelwald’s true colors? Because it could be a possible link to Credence’s heritage.
The most famous Squib established by Rowling in American wizarding history is Martha Steward, Squib daughter of Isolt Sayre and James Steward. Isolt’s mother and aunt were Gaunts. I don’t think Rowling would have made this connection if she didn’t somehow expect to use it in the story, not just the backstory. Through Isolt, Credence would thus be of Slytherin blood. If so, it’s very possible he speaks Parseltongue.
Marvolo Gaunt also called his daughter Merope a Squib. Though we saw through Dumbledore’s guesses about her use of a powerful love potion to bind and hold Tom Riddle that she most definitely was not.
Credence and Merope sure have a few things in common. What if they met during those last two weeks of her life? With her background of abuse and repressed magical power, she would clearly sympathize with Credence. In fact, I think it entirely possible that Merope would be the point of entry for Credence into the circus.
And what if, in witnessing her snake act, Credence discovered he could talk with snakes? Might Merope have recognized him as a distant Slytherin kin and taken him under her wing…or scale?
And might she have entrusted him with the one heirloom she still possessed?
The only thing we know that Merope did to support herself during this time was to sell her Slytherin locket just before Christmas. For a mere 10 galleons. Caractacus Burke said he performed numerous spells on it to ensure it was legitimate. But, remember, the locket had been faked somewhat before, though admittedly only with a substitute. Regulus Black switched Voldemort’s Horcrux locket out with a similar one when he visited Voldemort’s cave with Kreacher. Could the real Slytherin locket have been faked even earlier as an exact duplicate?
A curious thing about the Caractacus Burke Pensieve scene is that it’s the only one of the Voldemort-related memories that’s not presented from within. Harry and Dumbledore do not dip into Burke’s memory of that night Merope came into his shop, or even of Dumbledore interviewing him. No, it’s just of Burke taking shape in the Pensieve and talking about a night long past. It’s possible, therefore, that Rowling is hiding something important here that she could not from within a Pensieve scene that is supposed to reveal the complete truth. Like that Merope slipped Burke a fake locket after he’d examined the real one.
Merope was fully aware of what that locket was worth. She was present when her father talked about its value in front of the Ministry official. Perhaps she’d hoped to pass it on to her child, but, knowing her life was short, determined it would be too risky to leave an article of such extreme value with an infant in an orphanage.
We saw how Merope was careful to give her child a name that she’d obviously thought about in advance. One that someone else might recognize. Maybe she entrusted the real Slytherin locket to someone close to pass on to her child when he left the orphanage. A task that the new owner was unable to complete due to his own death.
Hepzibah Smith, the elderly collector Tom Riddle stole the locket from, said it had special powers. It’s unclear whether we ever saw any of these hidden powers as those that were displayed in Deathly Hallows could have stemmed from its power as Voldy’s Horcrux. But having worn it during a crucial time in her life, maybe Merope discovered some of its original magic.
What would happen if Slytherin’s locket found its way to another of his descendants with unusual powers, Credence Barebone? In Credence’s hands, might Slytherin’s ancient magic find new life? Think about it: how incredible Credence would be if he not only has the massive powers of the only Obscurial known to live past age ten, but is also in command of hidden gifts from Salazar Slytherin.
Remember, it was when Tom Riddle discovered his heritage that he really grew in power.
I freely admit I’ve slipped from fan theory into fan fiction as I have little evidence to back up the possibility of Merope passing off a fake locket and then entrusting the real one to Credence, just conjecture. (And don’t blame Suvi for this part of the theory!) However, if Rowling includes Merope in the story, it will be for a specific purpose. Merope may be just the person uniquely qualified to pass on special knowledge to Credence; whether it comes with a locket is just bonus.
The biggest negative against Merope’s inclusion in Fantastic Beasts 2 is that the recently released details says the film will take place months after the ending of FB1, when she is already dead. However, I could envision a brief prelude to the second film that shows Merope meeting Credence, and perhaps her entrusting him with something hidden, before the main part of the film takes place months later.
This Merope as the Snake Girl theory would definitely fulfill the statement that FB2 would connect with Harry Potter in surprising ways. While many people have anticipated a link to Voldemort, it would be just like Rowling to twist it and instead provide the link to his mother.
I’m not fond of Fantastic Beasts as a Voldemort origin theory, and I don't think that’s where it's going. But, because of the dates of the first film, I do think there must be some sort of connection. I do not think we will see the birth of Voldemort. I believe the connection is going to be more on what Merope might have left that will find its way to Credence rather than explaining more about Voldemort to us. Whose story we already know.
But for my theory to hang together, the timing is crucial. So I circle back to my last video and the dating of Circus Arcanus’ trip to Europe. Rowling knows her timeline. Why construct a timeline that has this magical circus arrive in Europe, probably England, right on the eve of Voldemort’s birth unless there was a connection somehow? To me, Merope seems to be the critical link to explain that purpose.
Yes, Rowling would have to fudge her canon a bit to make this work, but she does have an out. Dumbledore admitted that he was conjecturing about Merope’s whereabouts and magical abilities after Tom left her. He had no way of knowing if she’d gone abroad since she was in London for the birth. That's why the date of the return trip to Europe for Circus Arcanus is so important.
And to those of you who may think it’s ridiculous to look at this level of detail from a book published in 2005 for clues to a film coming out in 2018, think about this:
- The original text book for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was published in 2001. Rowling has said in an interview that ever since writing that book, Newt’s story has been playing in her mind. So ideas for Newt were jostling around in that very crowded brain when Rowling penned these Pensieve scenes.
- Beyond mere ideas, writers can have books in various stages of completion for many, many years. I have one that’s been in progress for over 15.
- And retroactively making something fit is always a possibility. It’s easy enough for Rowling to go back to a prior published manuscript and look for clues that she can now tie into a new story.
Speaking as a writer, if Suvi and I are right about this, it's frightening to think how far out and how much in detail Rowling plots her stories. I just can’t wait to see if any of this is true, and if not, what she has in store for us instead!
What do you think? Could the Snake Girl be Merope Gaunt? Please share your thoughts in the comments. And be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss my next video in this series, which will further explore the mysteries of the magical circus.
Be sure to check the description box below for links to the prior videos I mentioned. Also, don’t forget to check out my Fantastic Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts at Amazon or your local bookseller.