Why did Queenie join Grindelwald at the end of the Fantastic Beasts sequel? Although screen time might have failed Queenie, her character arc is still very logical.
Spoilers below, obviously.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald shocked us with where it took Queenie. From the very beginning, we saw her acting very differently from her kind, upbeat self… and by the end of the movie, she had sided with Grindelwald and joined his dangerous movement.
The Crimes of Grindelwald, as great a movie as it was (because I do think it was amazing), didn’t deal with Queenie’s character development very well. We didn’t see how her relationship with Jacob progressed during the months in between the films to the point that she would be okay putting him under a spell. Considering how love potions and spells that take away free will have been dealt with in Harry Potter in the past, this was a pretty major crime.
Somehow, sometime between the first and the second movie, the illegality of her relationship and the stigma surrounding Legilimency overwhelmed Queenie, and brought about the downfall of a character that previously stood out as the most empathetic and intelligent among all the characters in Fantastic Beasts. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to see exactly how she got there.
The result is that many viewers might have felt blindsided by Queenie’s ultimate decision to join Grindelwald, seemingly without any remorse at all.
But why Queenie joined Grindelwald wasn’t out of character. What we saw was something that happens often in history. Grindelwald is not the same kind of villain we’re used to seeing in Voldemort — he’s clever, manipulative, and extremely persuasive. Even more persuasive is the fact that he wields truth and compassion to rally witches and wizards to a misguided cause.
Like all leaders of racist movements, Grindelwald persuades vast numbers of people to do the unspeakable by oversimplifying the truth: all the problems of the world are because the Magical World hasn’t controlled Muggles… and so wizarding governments must be overthrown and replaced by a more authoritative one.
For Queenie, who has spent so many years living in fear both because of her relationship with Jacob and her Legilimency, a lot of what Grindelwald said rang true. She was against the current government that ruled through injustice, and the prospect of a second World War was absolutely terrifying. She had a hunger for truth, and was desperate to be appreciated for her skills.
In the midst of her inner crisis — which already moved her to do drastic, alarming things, such as cast a spell on Jacob — Grindelwald’s movement was a breath of fresh air; a way for the previously cold, unchanging world she lived in to finally change. And Queenie could not fathom the extent to which things could change for the worse. In her mind, they were already at their worst.
A big injustice done to Queenie in this film, however, was how little her Legilimency really came into play, and how little she used it in combination with her wits to escape slippery situations. How did she not understand the murderous crowd she was standing in, when she could read all of their minds? How did she not understand Grindelwald’s intentions? And if he managed to block her out of his mind, how did she not become suspicious?
It’s frustrating for fans of Queenie. But even more heartbreaking was seeing her fears manipulated to the point that she would join the darkest wizard in magical history. Alongside Grindelwald, she’ll be a dangerous weapon, and Grindelwald knows that.
What happened might seem needlessly dramatic at a first glance — especially without the proper time given to developing Queenie’s arc — but it’s a testament to how people have been manipulated into radical movements for centuries. You didn’t have to be murderous or prejudiced… not at first. You just had to be unhappy enough to feel like you had no other choice. And by the time you realized what you had gotten yourself into, it was too late. It was either change yourself for the worse, or have your own people turn against you.
It was relevant then, in the years right before World War II. And it’s particularly relevant now. Queenie is yet another victim of Grindelwald; not through death or torture, but through a corruption of ideals, and a loss of morality.