Warning: This post contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
As Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was published in script-book form on Saturday night, J.K. Rowling said she hadn’t intended to write another Harry Potter novel, but that the play would “give the fans something special.” Like the seventh book’s epilogue, this play is meant to be a crowd pleaser, cobbling together many of the series’ most beloved heroes, notorious villains and awesome bits of magic. Yes, the plot centers on new characters—Albus Severus Potter, son of Harry and Ginny, and Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, son of Draco and his wife Astoria—but it also devotes plenty of time to playing the hits. Here are some of the best callbacks in the story:
- Time-Turners. Like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Time-Turners figure in the plot of Cursed Child—and much more heavily than in the third novel. As in Azkaban, the initial use of time travel has mixed motives, but its ultimate use in the play comes from the very best intentions.
- Polyjuice potion. The potion is used repeatedly in the series by characters who wish to temporarily alter their appearance, but Cursed Child most directly recalls Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows here. In the final book of the series, Harry, Ron and Hermione used Polyjuice to impersonate Ministry of Magic personnel and infiltrate the building in search of a Horcrux. Here, Albus, Scorpius and Delphi (the daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange) use it to impersonate Harry, Ron and Hermione to get into the Ministry in search of a Time-Turner.
- Dark-Arts books. Of course the bibliophile Hermione has hidden the Time-Turner inside an enchanted library in her Ministry office, and several of the volumes involved in the book-fight appeared in the original seven books. Hermione found Magick Moste Evile in the library at Hogwarts and used it to research Horcruxes. Harry glimpsed Fifteenth-Century Fiends in the restricted section earlier in his Hogwarts tenure. Sonnets of a Sorcerer is known to cause readers to speak in limericks for the rest of their lives. And of course My Eyes and How to See Past Them reminds us of its author Sybil Trelawney, the Divination professor whose prophecy kicked off the events of the series.
- Magical hospitals. In addition to a trip to the hospital wing, where most of the leading characters spend some time in the series, Cursed Child takes us to St. Oswald’s Home for Old Witches and Wizards. Hospitals play a sobering role in the books—permanent residents at St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries include Neville Longbottom’s parents and Gilderoy Lockhart. But at least on this visit, St. Oswald’s appears to be a decidedly more jolly place.
- The healing power of chocolate. Just as Lupin prescribes chocolate after Harry’s run-in with a Dementor on the Hogwarts Express, Harry and Madam Pomfrey encourage Albus to eat some chocolate after he sustains his Time-Turner injury. Some things really do transcend magic-Muggle boundaries.
- The Triwizard Tournament. Much of the Time-Turning action takes the young trio back to the Triwizard Tournament of 1994-95, a fan favorite event in the series, where they watch and interfere with Cedric Diggory competing in the various stages of the competition.
- Expelliarmus. In Deathly Hallows, Lupin warns Harry not to rely too heavily on the disarming charm—the Death Eaters have come to know it as his signature move and can exploit that knowledge. His son Albus gets pretty handy with the charm in Cursed Child and uses it in his first Time-Turning adventure back to the Triwizard Tournament.
- A very hairy compliment. Ron was surprised at Hermione’s special hairdo for the Yule Ball, and in one of the alternate realities created by the Time-Turner, he’s once again impressed by her locks. In this reality, the pair never got together, but he asks her if she’s done anything special with her hair and repeatedly tells her how great it looks.
- The Marauder’s Map. The enchanted map comes into play again, though not for a very fun purpose: This time, Harry is using it to spy on Albus and keep him apart from his best friend, Scorpius, thinking that Draco’s son is a bad influence. In fact, his friendships is probably the best thing that ever happened to Albus.
- Levicorpus. Draco and Harry are spoiling for a fight during much of the play, and when they finally duel, Draco uses this jinx against Harry. The spell, which lifts its victim in the air by his or her ankle, was invented by Severus Snape and used against him in a bullying incident by James Potter—which Harry witnesses in Snape’s Pensieve memory. Harry himself foolishly tried out the jinx on Ron, and Luna Lovegood used it in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.
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