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A Harry Potter Theory Solves The Cursed Child's Biggest Problems And Plot Holes

Within the "Harry Potter" fandom, there's one truth that's universally acknowledged: nobody much likes "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." The stage play, adapted from the original books by Jack Thorne, premiered first in London's West End in 2016... and though it won numerous awards for its stunning stage magic and incredible production design, hardcore fans of the "Potter" books and films have a lot of feelings about "Cursed Child," and they largely skew negative. So what purpose do these fans think the story even serves? One Redditor has an intriguing theory.

On a Reddit thread entitled "Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Is Actually An In-Universe Stage Play By Rita Skeeter," u/starfield_pro wrote, "As many have highlighted, the play contradicts established lore in many ways, in addition to embarrassing multiple main characters. However, it is said to be canon to the Harry Potter universe. I think it's canon in the sense that it's a screenplay for a wizard's play in the Wizarding World by Rita Skeeter following a couple years after the end of Deathly Hallows and addresses the question of 'what's next for Harry Potter' in the aftermath of everyone learning the story of Harry's years at Hogwarts, having a little time to reflect on the revelations, and having had enough time to move on.

"The play is meant to be salacious, and in-universe is a huge bomb but moves to Knockturn Alley and survives as a more limited production," they concluded, throwing in a joke for those in the know about Knockturn Alley.

Okay, what's Rita Skeeter's deal and why would she do that?

If we decide to assume that, after the epilogue of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" — where Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) sends his two eldest children James and Albus Severus off to Hogwarts — a play within the universe was written, it would make decent sense that Rita Skeeter would be behind the whole mess. So who exactly is Rita Skeeter? Played by Miranda Richardson, Rita first appears in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" as a reporter for the Daily Prophet, whose enchanted quill spins fanciful stories while she essentially tricks her interview subjects into revealing sensitive information. At first, she likes Harry, writing flattering puff pieces about him being the fourth Hogwarts champion in the Triwizard Tournament... but before long, she turns on him, writing nasty stories about how he's mentally unwell and going after some of his beloved friends like Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) in the process.

At the end of the fourth novel, Hermione figures out that Rita is an unregistered Animagus and has the ability to turn herself into a beetle at will, so Hermione traps her in a jar until further notice. (The ethics of that whole thing won't be debated here.) Ultimately, Hermione unleashes Rita in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" so she can help Harry reveal the truth about Lord Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) return, but the point is, Rita will do just about anything to spread gossip and get a byline. Writing a really convoluted play isn't out of the question for her.

What inconsistencies are there in Cursed Child?

Ultimately, the Redditor has a point; "Cursed Child" is riddled with so many plot holes that the idea that Rita Skeeter wrote the whole thing might make it all a little more bearable. The biggest issue with "Cursed Child," as fans know, is the way it handles Time-Turners, a powerful magical object that can, well, turn back time. That said, Time-Turners have limitations. In the third book, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Hermione uses a Time-Turner for a very innocuous reason — she wants to take multiple classes at once, requiring her to be in two different places at the same moment — and even when she and Harry use it to "save" the life of innocent captive Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), the time loop is such that they see themselves frequently along the way, indicating that this time loop was supposed to happen in some way. 

"Cursed Child," though, presents a fantasy where Harry's son Albus Severus and his best friend Scorpius Malfoy travel way back in time to try and prevent the untimely death of Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson). This, to put it plainly, does not work. Not only do the two create rifts in the space-time continuum, but they change the lives of all their loved ones for the worse in the process... but for reasons that are inscrutably difficult to explain in brief, the way they use a Time-Turner simply isn't how a Time-Turner actually works. (Also, all of them got broken in "Order of the Phoenix.") This actually lends more credence to the Rita Skeeter theory, though... only she would be inane enough to think a Time-Turner could actually do any of the stuff that happens in "Cursed Child."