The Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them introduced a host of new characters to the Potterverse while killing others, but one character who is seemingly a one-hit wonder just might come up again.
Just as history repeats itself in Harry Potter’s wizarding world, so does identity theft. Although the two events are separated by several decades, you can’t help but draw parallels between Grindelwald’s impersonation of Percival Graves in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Barty Crouch Jr.’s impersonation of Mad-Eye Moody in Harry Potter of the Goblet of Fire. And the two circumstances might have even more in common, if we take a closer look.
Muggles, turn back now if you have yet to see Fantastic Beasts. At the end of the film, it is revealed that Colin Farrell’s Auror Percival Graves is secretly the Dark wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) in disguise. Presumably, Grindelwald was using Polyjuice Potion to assume Graves’s appearance. He could have simply Transfigured his facial features, but that would not account for his place as the American President’s right-hand man. Logically, Graves must have a preexisting identity as a wizard who had already worked his way into that position.
Similarly, Barty Crouch Jr. did not assume a random Transfigured disguise, because he knew posing as Mad-Eye Moody was the only way to get access to Hogwarts and Harry. If we use Harry Potter as a precedent, the real Graves must still be alive. Consider the scene when Dumbledore figures out Crouch’s duplicity:
Dumbledore climbed into the trunk, lowered himself, and fell lightly onto the floor beside the sleeping Moody. He bent over him. “Stunned — controlled by the Imperius Curse — very weak,” he said. “Of course, they would have needed to keep him alive.”
That last line is the most important — according to Dumbledore himself, if you use Polyjuice Potion, the identity you assume must belong to a living person. That means the real Percival Graves is alive if Grindelwald was indeed using a potion. He could be stowed away in a trunk like Moody was or imprisoned somewhere else, but he’s likely out there somewhere.
Although the Fantastic Beasts sequel will shift away from America, this leaves the door open for Colin Farrell to have a future in the franchise after all. And though the Graves we met was rather sinister and slimy, it’s quite probable the real Percival Graves is a more heroic figure.
The sequel to Fantastic Beasts presents us with a lot to look forward to, including a deeper dive into the background of the fascinating Black family and a young Dumbledore, but don’t discount the importance of Percival Graves just yet.