WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the entire Harry Potter series
In case you missed it, I previously wrote an article all about the things I liked about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the long-awaited (?) continuation of the adventures of the world’s favourite British wizard. But, like I wrote in that article, while Cursed Child is not a bad story, it’s by no means a good one either and is plagued with problems of its own that just make it seem… unimpressive, if you get what I mean.
So, just to be a contrarian to myself (and because it’s fun), let’s go through the things I didn’t like about the eighth Harry Potter story.
1. RonXHermione Feels Forced
OK, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I was pushing for RonXHermione since the end of the second book. In fact, looking back, they might’ve been my first OTP, so you can bet your ass I was ecstatic to finally see them hook up in Deathly Hallows. That being said, while the two are still very much in love in Cursed Child, I couldn’t help but feel their relationship was presented rather… forcefully, I think?
What I mean is that the two were presented as a perfect couple. Every moment they had together felt like the writers had grabbed me by the throat and screamed “THESE TWO ARE IN LOVE! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!” Characters will occasionally state how perfectly in love the two are. Even when Albus and Severus change history so the two never got together, it’s heavily implied that the two pine for each other and are both miserable in their new situations. There’s even a whole scene dedicated to them awkwardly flirting with each other.
This is just speculation, but I feel like this is some sort of attempt to shut down all the fans that are still mad that Hermione didn’t hook up with Harry; like, if they show how perfect of a couple Ron and Hermione are then that will change their minds, right? Well, no. People are fickle and those who still scream “HarryXHermione” from the rooftops are unlikely to abandon it, no matter how well-written the canon pairing is. As a result, I never felt Ron and Hermione’s relationship in this story to be all that genuine and actually found myself being slightly annoyed with how much it was being pushed.
It’s more of a nitpick than anything (it’s not like it completely takes over the story) but it was irritating to say the least, and I imagine even moreso for others.
Also, slightly off-topic, am I the only one that feels Ron’s character as a whole got kind of shafted here? He’s just a funny uncle in this and doesn’t really feel like the same character anymore. Plus, he runs a joke shop? Really? Seems a bit of a downgrade for him considering his role in Deathly Hallows. I thought the plan was that he and Harry became Aurors; I’d take badass wizard cop Ron over bad joke-telling uncle Ron any day.
2. No Neville
This one is more of a personal issue than an actual problem but, seriously, where in Dumbledore’s name was Neville?! You know, the best damn character in the whole series (though Scorpius is admittedly a new contender for that title)! When you get a story that takes place after a massive timeskip, you want to see how all your faves are doing with their lives.
That’s why it’s so frustrating when they don’t even make an appearance. All we really know about Neville is that he’s a Herbology professor at Hogwarts; we never see how he performs his role, how he’s changed as an adult, or even how he’s not changed. He could’ve maybe been the one adult Albus and Scorpius befriended; he could’ve got involved with Harry’s treatment of Albus – I’m just saying, the potential was there.
The only real thing Neville contributes is, ironically, his death in one of the alternate timelines, which would’ve been the tipping point during the war and led to Voldemort’s victory, but that’s it. In fact, Neville gets it better than some of the other characters. I don’t think there was any mention of the likes of George, Luna, or Lupin’s son, Teddy; hell, Harry’s two other kids may as well be non-existant. And Hagrid’s only appearances are just in flashbacks.
Granted, the story is mostly about the new generation of characters; they can’t spend time on giving all of the old favourites screen-time (or in this case, page-time?) And like I said, the lack of Neville is more of a personal gripe. I just loved his whole character arc throughout the series and would’ve loved to get a glimpse into his life. The guy deserved a happy ending, and while I’m sure he got it, I’d have liked to see it for myself.
3. Rose & the Treatment of Slytherins
Another rather minor complaint but it always irked me how in her early appearances in the story, Rose (daughter of Ron and Hermione) was a tad unlikable. She just came across as being really full of herself, and while it is possible to have arrogant characters still be likable, I didn’t get that impression from her.
But, hey, that’s just her characterisation and she certainly isn’t an awful person by any means. However, what really bothered me is the implication that after Albus is put in Slytherin, the two of them instantly stopped being friends. I mean, really?! She’d seperate ties with her own cousin who she’s been good friends with for years over this? After all these years, Slytherin is still being treated as the de facto villain house? You’d think some progression would’ve happened at Hogwarts in those 19 years.
There’s no real explanation as to why the two stop spending time together, so the only possibility I can think of is, as I said, Albus was put in Slytherin. Either it was a mutual decision or one or the other chose to cut the other one off because of this, and I have a hard time believing Albus would do that to his cousin.
Rose, on the other hand, is established early on as having some bias towards Slytherin, and while she claims she doesn’t believe in the rumour of Scorpius being Voldemort’s son, she’s still quick to avoid him – hell, when they first met, she immediately wanted to leave. Albus choosing to befriend Scorpius could’ve been intepreted by her that he was fully embracing being a Slytherin and she felt that meant they couldn’t get along anymore.
I’m just theorising here but I think I’ve nailed why Rose irks me like this. If what I’ve said is true, this means that Rose ultimately has a prejudice. Now, who else was prejudiced against due to circumstances that were completely out of their control? Oh that’s right – her mother, Hermione.
Hermione suffered from prejudice because she was Muggle-born; she was labelled a “filthy mudblood.” So, the idea that Rose would harbour that (though not as extreme) attitude towards Slytherin when her own mother was subjected to something similar really winds me up.
Fortunately, Rose seems to come around by the end if her being on speaking terms with Scorpius is anything to go by, but those early moments really rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe she could’ve benefitted from a bit more focus herself, or at least have her reasoning for ditching Albus fleshed out more.
4. Cedric Becomes a Death Eater
Finally, an actual, legitimate criticism. So, when Albus and Scorpius try to alter time the second time around, they succeed in having Cedric Diggory drop out of the Triwizard Tournament as well as end up embarassing him in front of the entire school. Cut to the present day and Voldemort has taken over and Albus no longer exists.
Why? Well, as Scorpius soon finds out, it was because Neville was killed during the Battle of Hogwarts. Who killed him? Cedric, who had become a Death Eater as a result of his humiliation…. Wait, what?!
Cedric became a Death Eater… because he was humiliated and made fun of? He became the wizard equivalent of a NAZI because of that?! That’d be like me tripping in the street, having people laugh at me and thinking “Well, guess I better discriminate and commit hate crimes against people who aren’t white.” It’s a leap in logic that doesn’t make any sense.
It’s especially jarring since, from what I can remember, Cedric was a decent guy. He was a perfectly nice individual and was friendly enough with Harry. I find it hard to imagine him going full on supervillain just because he got laughed at. Annoyed and upset, maybe, but to go that far?
I’m not saying it’s impossible but you can’t just tell us a once good character became evil and expect us to believe it. A transformation this radical would possibly require a whole book of its own to explain. As is, it’s one of the most unbelievable aspects of the whole series, and that’s saying something.
5. Voldemort Had a Kid?
I’m not the only that finds this out-of-character, right? When I first heard about this plot twist, I was shocked, and not in the good way. It just doesn’t sound right to me. The idea of Voldemort having had a baby in secret with Bellatrix sounds like something you’d hear in a fanfic.
I mean, the idea makes some degree of sense. Voldemort wanted immortality and some people view the concept of having children as becoming immortal; your legacy continues to live on even after you die. Voldemort could’ve seen it as a back-up plan.
But (to me, at least) Voldemort always seemed confident that, upon his return, he would succeed. He came across as someone who felt that they didn’t need a contingency plan because he was so convinced that his plan was flawless. I find it hard to imagine that Voldemort would ever consider the possibility of having a child. Plus, he seems like the kind of guy who’d get rid of his kid the moment they started exhibiting the exact same traits as him, so why even bother?
However, there is always another possibility; a theory I’m actually onboard with, which leads me to my next point.
6. Delphi is Misused
Delphi could’ve been such an amazing character, and I’m kind of annoyed how she basically existed just to be the villain. I mean, they tried to give her depth but I don’t think it really worked.
At first, Delphi was just a straight up bad guy; a manipulative mastermind who planned to change history so Voldemort would ultimately succeed. Granted, someone whose plan was to undo the events of the whole series is a good idea for an antagonist but Delphi didn’t have much of a personality outside of that. Even before when she was pretending to be a good guy, she was just kind of generically nice.
But what probably winds me up the most is how, after she’s ultimately defeated, she reveals that all she ever really wanted was to know her father. I’m sorry, WHAT?! Did she really think that she was robbed of a loving relationship with Lord Voldemort? Did she honestly believe that, once all was said and done, the two of them would go on bike rides across the country or have father/daughter campouts and roast marshmallows? Maybe follow him around on Take Your Daughter to Work Day?!
Okay, that’s all hyperbole. As an orphan, she just wanted her dad back. It’s a natural response some people might have. And she was probably raised in an environment where she wouldn’t understand that Voldemort’s plans were wrong and that he was the villain in this scenario.
Still, I can’t help but find Delphi’s situation as a missed opportunity, especially since there’s no real resolution to her character. She’s beaten, told she’ll be sent to Azkaban and… that’s it. We never see her again.
What I personally would’ve preferred is if she WASN’T Voldemort’s daugher. Instead, what if she was some random orphan that was lied to and convinced into thinking she was? Or maybe she was a Voldemort worshipper who actively took on the identity herself? Or how about she is Voldemort’s daughter but, rather than embrace it, actively resists it. Wouldn’t that be cool? The child of the series’ main villain resisting her destiny, attempting to shake off that legacy and trying to be a decent person? I’d read the shit out of that story.
Another major problem with Delphi is that her backstory is missing a few spots as well. It’s never explained where she was all these years or who raised her. And, apparently, it was Bellatrix’s husband who told her she was Voldemort’s kid after he left Azkaban… implying he was released, which if he was, WHY WOULD YOU EVER RELEASE A DEATH EATER? What, was his sentence lessened due to good behaviour? Did he contribute immensely to community service? Maybe he broke out but since said break-out is never mentioned, it suggests that either he was released or he broke out and nobody knew or just wasn’t talking about it. I’m not sure which is worse.
In the end, Delphi was just a generic villain, whose only purpose was to be the villain.
7. The Inclusion of Time Travel
To be fair to Cursed Child, the time travel used here isn’t the worst instance of it I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s decent at the very least. But I think my problem with the use of time travel isn’t so much its execution; it’s the fact that it’s here in the first place.
The story suddenly becomes all about Harry’s past and his legacy; it becomes all about the threat of Voldemort returning. I get that one of the themes of the book is Albus dealing with that legacy and the past creeping up on both him and Harry, but I guess what I wanted was something that was permantly grounded in the present.
I’d have preferred a story that was literally just about Albus’ school and home-life, his friendship/romance with Scorpius, maybe see him interacting with some of the old cast and learning more about Harry and the events of the original books. And if there had to be a villain, why couldn’t it be someone original? Someone unconnected to Voldemort with their own motivations or something? I’d rather focus on the now than what happened before. I know what happened; I was there!
Ultimately, this is a case of personal taste, but I really do feel that Cursed Child could’ve been a lot stronger if it wasn’t so concerned with the past.
8. Albus and Harry are Unlikable
And here we are. The big one. Easily my biggest criticism with the entire story. I’m all for having somewhat bitter protagonists but I quickly became fed up with Albus’ constant moping. I’m not saying he isn’t allowed to be angry or resentful of his situation considering that he’s constantly mocked for being in Slytherin despite being a Potter, but, God damn, nearly every time he opened his mouth to bitch I was like “God, shut up.”
Ironically, he lost a lot of sympathy with me. To me, it always felt like Albus was deliberately making things even more difficult for himself i.e. cutting ties with Rose and just generally being a dick to his own dad, who’s actively trying to be as supportive as he can. I get he’s a teenager so he’s naturally gonna be moody but there’s only so much I can take before I literally stop caring.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, Harry becomes just as awful later on, possibly even more so. He drops the “I wish you weren’t my son” line, forces Albus to stop being friends with Scorpius (the one person who Albus actually liked and made him happy), threatens McGonagall into basically spying on both Albus and Scorpius and even tells her that she could never understand his actions because she doesn’t have kids. FYI, McGonagall is physically incapable of having kids.
I normally try to keep swearing to a low on this blog but there is no statement stronger than the following to sum up my feelings towards Harry in this book.
F**k you, Harry.
It just baffles me that this is the same Harry Potter. I know people change over time and, given the circumstances of the story, he’s right to be worried about his son and slightly paranoid, but to just become a complete asshole to nearly everyone around him, INCLUDING his own son, frustrates me to no end.
Throughout the majority of the story, we are supposed to be sympathetic to both Albus and Harry. We’re supposed to want to see them resolve their issues and reunite as a family. But they’re both so unlikable in this story that I actually didn’t care. I just wanted to switch focus to literally any other character.
This is what really dragged the story down for me, and combined with all the other minor niggles I’ve written in this article, Cursed Child really suffers and feels less of the long-awaited continuation it’s supposed to be and more of an afterthought.
I still stand by what I wrote at the end of the previous article; Cursed Child is worth a read at the very least. But if you find yourself put off by what you’ve read here, I don’t blame you in the slightest.