Spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald follow below. If you haven’t seen the film, turn back now.
The sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is full of twists, turns, and shocking reveals. For the second in a planned five-film franchise, screenwriter J.K. Rowling opted to raise the stakes in an interesting way with a few key developments towards the end of the film. The backbone of the story is Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) attempting to lure the very powerful Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) to his side, in an incredibly patient manner. The now-escaped Grindelwald is attempting to amass an legion of followers to fulfill his goal of asserting wizard dominance over muggles, in an effort to make the world a better place—or so he says.
The Fantastic Beasts 2 finale finds Grindelwald hosting a “rally” in which he attempts to rile up and convince his supporters that his is the only way, and that if the world is left to the “others,” there will be great suffering and destruction. If this sounds familiar, well, it’s supposed to. Present in the audience at this point are all the major characters, including Queenie (Alison Sudol). In a bit of a shocking turn, Queenie then decides to join Grindelwald’s cause, leaving behind Jacob (Dan Fogler), Newt (Eddie Redmayne), and Tina (Katherine Waterston).
This Queenie twist came as quite the surprise, and some fans aren’t having it. Now Sudol has spoken to EW about the decision, and why she eventually came around to accepting it:
“I was like, wait, how did this happen?. It took a long time in my imagination to even begin to understand. And throughout the course of the film, to just begin to reconcile who she was in the beginning with the choices that she makes and realize she isn’t a different person she’s just abandoned in a really untenable circumstance.”
Indeed, Sudol says a feeling of abandonment played into Queenie’s decision:
“Jacob doesn’t come with her. It’s not so much about Jacob not coming with her to the dark side, it’s like, ‘Jacob, walk with me, we’re in this together.’ And she doesn’t have those two, so who does she have? Newt’s kind of betrayed her — he called her out, it was embarrassing. What does she have?”
Ultimately, though, Sudol believes Queenie is still a good person:
“I still believe in her heart of hearts she’s going over to fight what she believes in. Grindelwald is saying, ‘we’re creating a different world’ and the world that she is in is broken. I don’t believe she’s turning evil. It’s more like she’s trying to find somebody who is giving her an option. He’s manipulating her but he’s manipulating everybody. He even did that with Dumbledore.”
She’s not wrong. I have a slightly different read on why Queenie makes her decision, but I do agree it makes sense. From the first film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them it’s clear that Queenie is a bit of a follower. Her sister, Tina, is the leader, and Queenie is more flighty and agreeable. This is partly because she can read everyone’s thoughts, which throws her off balance a bit. But it’s clear that she’s very impressionable.
Moreover, at the beginning of The Crimes of Grindelwald, it’s made clear that Queenie’s also not the most practical of beings. She has Jacob under a spell and believes they can be married and live happily ever after. It’s kind of insane, and when Newt calls her out on it, she gets upset. So it’s established that she’s also ever-so-slightly delusional when it comes to reality.
So when Queenie finds herself alone and humiliated, and with her sister Tina still disapproving of her relationship with muggle Jacob, she hears truth in Grindelwald’s speech—that he wants to shape a better world, to Make the Wizarding World Great Again. And so she goes with him.
This sets up a really interesting dynamic for future films in the franchise, as our heroes aren’t just fighting the villain, but are also fighting for the soul of their friend. Stay tuned…