There’s no getting around the fact that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — the script of the play that is being advertised as the “eighth story,” despite the fact that Rowling didn’t write it — does not live up to the rest of the story’s standards. It’s filled with holes and improbable turns, throwing characterization and previously established plot points out the window. Even if “character has a secret child!” plots were not soap opera-esque, giving Voldemort a secret kid would not make sense, as he’s telegraphed as asexual and has enough arrogance about horcruxes that he wouldn’t feel the need for a backup plan. But nope, it goes there.
And even if the Ministry of Magic is less corrupt years down the line, and Harry and Hermione both work there as adults, it makes no sense that they’d throw their traumatic fifth-year experience out the window and suddenly be okay with the Ministry interfering at Hogwarts. But nope — apparently if they’re in the ministry, storming into McGonagall’s office and giving her orders is peachy. And don’t even get us started on Ron’s characterization.
Many fans are rightfully in full nerd-rage mode now.
But there is a glimmer of a silver lining. There were a few elements of Cursed Child that were not terrible, and we’ve rounded them up.
1. Bane makes an appearance
Centaurs Bane and Firenze were always among the more fascinating fringe characters, and their culture always danced on the edges of the stories in a tantalizing way. Cursed Child criminally wastes most side characters — we never see Sirius or Remus in a story where time travel is involved and they could easily be featured; Neville and Luna remain off the radar, and events center around Cedric Diggory, of all people. But Bane, at least, is one awesome character who gets to make an appearance. The play would probably have been better all around if it focused on Bane and Firenze.
2. Draco has a ponytail
And Ron makes fun of him for it, saying “Old times with a few unwelcome ponytailes added to the mix” (Cursed Child 272).
3. Scorpius Malfoy briefly has the nickname “Scorpion King”
It’s quite possibly the coolest nickname of the series, far better than The Boy Who Lived, Mad-Eye Moody, Moony or Padfoot — amazing characters, weird nicknames, sorry — or Roonil Wazlib.
4. We learn The Maurauders and the Weasley Twins tried to sneak off the Hogwarts Express
The way we learn is utterly absurd and involves the Hogwarts Express trolley lady revealing that she’s over a hundred years old and can grow spikes and turn her pastries into grenades, for no reason whatsoever. (She picks up a Pumpkin Pasty. She throws it like a grenade. It explodes is an actual stage direction. This is not a drill). But bad fan fiction nature of the scene aside, it’s still fun to know that both generations of troublemakers once tried to sneak off the Hogwarts Express, and the Mauraders are referred to as “Sirius Black and his cronies.”
5. There are Voldemort nose jokes
One of the best parts of the Potter series is its sense of levity. No matter how dire things became, Rowling’s acerbic wit always made an appearance through her characters one liners — like in the epilogue, when the trio’s children notice everyone staring at Harry and Ron says, “It’s me, I’m extremely famous.” Cursed Child dips into this levity too much, at Ron’s expense, but at least it gets in some Voldemort nose jokes.
6. There is closure on Harry and Dudley’s relationship
Harry and Dudley’s relationship was the one unsatisfying part of Deathly Hallows. Although Dudley was a one-dimensional bully throughout most of the story, from Order of the Phoenix and on, he becomes more nuanced. This culminates at their parting in Deathly Hallows, when he tells Harry “I don’t think you’re a waste of space,” and shakes his hand goodbye. In Cursed Child we learn the two cousins remain in contact, as Dudley sends Harry his old blanket.
7. Draco gets closure on his redemption arc
In one of the plays only good dialogue moments, Draco comments about the trio’s dynamic versus his “friendship” with Crabbe and Goyle, “I had two lunks who wouldn’t know one end of a broomstick from another. You — the three of you — you shone, you know? You liked each other. You had fun. I envied you those friendships more than anything else.”
Draco further goes on to convince Harry to stop being an asshole about their sons’ bromance. While the dialogue still doesn’t feel like Rowling’s — because playwright Jack Throne has not nailed her style — the sentiments redeemed Draco in a way that Deathly Hallows gestured at but never quite followed through on.
There is a lot to bemoan about Cursed Child — and a true Potter fan would likely be happier leaving it locked away in the Department of Mysteries — but like everything in the Potter world told us, it isn’t black and white. And if all else fails, and you maintain this reads like bad fan fiction, just consider this: It opens the door for good fan fiction to be considered canon.