Although many were skeptical about its story and format, from the moment Potterheads began to read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, one thing was clear: it's a worthy sequel to J.K. Rowling's monumental YA series. It will make you laugh out loud, time and time again, but the most heartbreaking moment in Cursed Child will leave you in need of a tissue and a biscuit.
If you have not read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and do not care to know what happens before you do, you should stop reading at the end of this paragraph. Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! OK, here we go...
The second act of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child closes with a delicious cliffhanger. Scorpius Malfoy is swimming in the Black Lake, being shouted at by an unpleasant woman in pink who tells him he's "upsetting the dementors and entirely ruining Voldemort Day." At this point, every reader knows the story has gone down the worst possible rabbit hole.
Fourth-years Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy have just used an illegal Time-Turner to prevent Cedric Diggory from participating in the second Triwizard Tournament challenge, in the hopes that he will not be killed by Voldemort in the end. The Time-Turner has one huge flaw, however: it can only provide users with five minutes in the past before they're jerked back into the new present they've made. Somehow, preventing Cedric from rescuing his loved one in the Black Lake in 1995 has created a world in which Voldemort reigns supreme — and Harry Potter died in the Battle of Hogwarts. No Harry, no Albus. Scorpius is now alone.
In the third act, it doesn't take long for others to realize just how different Scorpius has become. Dolores Umbridge, now Hogwarts Headmistress, wonders how her enforcer has suddenly come to show an unnatural interest in Harry Potter, of all people. Thankfully, before he's thrown into Hogwarts' dungeons with the witches and wizards of Muggle descent, Scorpius finds out that one member of the Order of the Phoenix is still alive: Severus Snape.
In true Snape fashion, the Potions professor has remained loyal to Dumbledore, even as he teaches Umbridge's students. He's been hiding unmarried freedom fighters Hermione and Ron under the Whomping Willow for God knows how long, and the three adults help Scorpius hatch a plan to use the Time-Turner to prevent his and Albus' meddling in the first place.
Unfortunately, the effects of their fix aren't immediate, and so Ron, Hermione, Snape, and Scorpius wind up exposed, and well in range of the dementors who prowl the Hogwarts grounds. In the end, only Scorpius manages to escape, protected by a doe patronus from the bravest man Harry Potter ever knew. Moments before he meets his horrible fate, Snape gives Scorpius a message: "Tell Albus — tell Albus Severus — I'm proud he carries my name."
As soon as you learn that Snape is still alive, you understand that you're going to have to watch him die in order to set the world back to rights. Snape himself admits it. The question is how. Will it be off-screen, after a haunting goodbye as young Scorpius fixes the problems his well-intentioned meddling caused?
No, of course not. This is J.K. Rowling we're talking about here. This is Harry Potter, and — more importantly — this is Snape. We're going to be forced to watch this, however, terrible it may be.
Snape's final appeared in Cursed Child is quite reminiscent of Dobby's death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I. Although the little free House Elf had played a role in the Harry Potter books since he first appeared in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he'd been left out of the movies. He was brought back for the penultimate film, only to be swiftly dispatched by Bellatrix Lestrange, which, to be honest, made his death all the worse to bear.
Seeing Snape die all over again in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child wasn't something I was prepared to do, but the heart-ripping effect cemented the play as a true successor to the Harry Potter legacy. Horrible death aside, it was good to see my favorite Harry Potter character for one last wizard's duel.
R.I.P. Snape. We love you, now and always.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One & Two (Special Rehearsal Edition Script), $17.99, Amazon
Image: Warner Bros.