The Blood Network
Hugo Da Costa
I would like to take up, from The Rowling Library Magazine (Issue 64, April 2022), the three encounters that were described in the essay The Mirror Dimension: the meeting of Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) in what appears as a London café, the meeting of Dumbledore and Credence (Ezra Miller) in what looks like a Berlin street, and the meeting of Grindelwald and Dumbledore in Bhutan. I must thus present a complementary and, at times, alternative interpretation of these three encounters, starting only from the state in which they were presented to us on screen (since the script was not yet published) and from some indications given in three commentaries taken from interviews – with director David Yates1 the production visual effects supervisor Christian Manz2 – and from a book – by Jody Revenson3 – the only one related to the film that has been released up to the time of writing this essay. This essay will be divided into three parts; this is the first.
PART 1: LONDON
Dumbledore waits standing inside a London Underground train. Dumbledore walks up the stairs to the outside of the Underground. Dumbledore waits sitting inside a café, mixes the liquid from his cup, closes his eyes, inhales. And as he exhales, his face is lit up by a white flash – then, Grindelwald suddenly appears.
Apparently, Dumbledore walked into the café, and Grindelwald apparated. For this to be the case, this meeting should have been arranged in advance by the two, and Grindelwald should have known this place beforehand, so that he could fulfil at least one of the three D’s required for apparation (according to Willie Twycross): destination. But the unfolding of the scene will suggest otherwise. Grindelwald complains about a “stinch”, and it seems that he would never have visited this place of his own volition before. That might be enough to abandon the hypothesis that Grindelwald apparated there. But extending that hypothesis, and further considering Grindelwald’s racist views, his sudden appearance by apparition would be evidence of his commitment to Dumbledore. Without that commitment, he could never apparate there, for he would lack another of the D’s: determination. The desire to occupy that place should flood from his mind to every particle of his body – including his nose. (I do not consider the distance between Nurmengard and London a problem for a wizard like Grindelwald with a wand like Antioch Peverell’s)
At this point, two comments need to be recalled before continuing. First: it was the director’s wish that this film should include scenes in which Dumbledore and Grindelwald meet before the 1945 duel, “to give the audience a deeper understanding of the relationship between the two.” He consulted Jo, “to avoid contradiction with the canon,” and so, “to respect and reassure Jo, we created a unique world where they meet” and “where no one can see it.” In other words, a secret world that only the two of them would have the experience of and that, because it was apparently not reported by either of them in any form of register but this movie, nothing of that world would have appeared, until then, in canon. Second: we’re told that this opening sequence is “Albus Dumbledore dreaming of a reunion with Gellert Grindelwald,” or, a “dream sequence between Dumbledore and Grindelwald.”
How, then, did they meet there without contradicting canon? If it was Dumbledore’s dream, the “Grindelwald” that appeared in it would only be an image of his unconscious – perhaps it would teach us nothing about the real Grindelwald – and what happened The Rowling Library Magazine – May 2022 14 in Dumbledore’s mind should be treated not as an encounter between the two wizards, but as material for Dumbledore’s divan. Now, if it were only that, it would not help us understand the relationship between the two, but Dumbledore’s unconscious (a secret to himself). All the lines, the whole performance (and the first one we believe we’re seeing Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald) would be of no interest for an understanding of their relationship, but of the unconscious of the greatest wizard of all time.
I believe it to be a dream. But to read only the word “dream” into the script that will be released in July, however, would still leave answers to be given. In anticipation of its release, let’s look at a hypothetical resolution.
Grindelwald is the one who dreams; not Dumbledore. After all, Dumbledore is on his feet when the dream ends; he could be the one who started the dream as its architect. At that moment, he dwells on a dream world, in a dream in which Grindelwald will arrive and live as a lucid dream. How is this “connection” between the two possible? The blood of one runs in the veins of the other, carrying with it a portion of each other’s soul; just as Voldemort inhabited Harry’s dreams, they can inhabit each other’s dreams. It could be, too, that he who has possession of the vial containing the drops of blood has greater power over this connection. Thus, Dumbledore dwells the dream where he will try to convince Grindelwald to undo the pact: “We can free each other of it.” And he thinks he has to convince Grindelwald, that to break the pact it must be consensual. (We are constantly reminded of how little we were informed of the making, the functions and the workings of the blood pact in J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.) Refusing to break up, Grindelwald shuts down the dream. So Dumbledore will tell Newt and Theseus, “It can’t be undone.” Why does he say it can’t when we just heard him telling Grindelwald it was possible to be free of it? For Dumbledore communicated with Grindelwald, who refused to break it up, in a dream world implanted through this sort of “Blood Network.”
 “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore: Movie Magic” (Insight Editions, 2022).