Transcript #653

Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #653, Dobby Lobby (GOF Chapter 21, The House-Elf Liberation Front)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Well, everybody, grab your golden eggs and bring them to the Gryffindor common room, because it’s a par-tay, and even the house-elves are invited. This week we’re discussing Goblet of Fire Chapter 21, “The House-Elf Liberation Front.” And Dobby’s back! I know Micah is super excited about it. We have a whole section dedicated to the return of old Dobbs.

Micah: How could you not?

Eric: It’s a real opportunity to pull up that Fudge clip. “He’s back!”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: But yeah, we’re going to get to, obviously, that Chapter by Chapter segment, which, Laura is included in this week’s Seven-Word Summary. Very excited.

Laura: Aw, shucks.

Andrew: [laughs] She’s doing all seven words, right? I believe that was my joke last week?

Eric: Yeah. But first, we of course would like to announce again that Micah and me will be at LeakyCon this year from July 5-7, 2024. It’s located and happening at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, and it’s going to be a blast. They’re announcing guests left and right; Micah and I are among them. We’ll be doing a live MuggleCast; this was a lot of fun last year for those who were able to come out and see our various Harry Potter panels, and we’re going to do it all again. If you are interested, we do have a discount code for listeners of our show. Enter code “Muggle” for a little discount when you get your tickets, so definitely check that out., and follow Leaky on their social media to see what guests are coming.

Andrew: And let them know you’re coming from MuggleCast.

Eric: Absolutely.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: Well, without further ado, let’s get into Goblet of Fire Chapter 21, “The House-Elf Liberation Front.” And we’ll start, like we always do, with our Seven-Word Summary.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Laura: Shrieks…

Eric: … and…

Andrew: … panic…

Micah: … erupt…

Laura: … from…

Micah: … Gryffindor…

Andrew: … base.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: You know, I don’t hate that.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Yeah, it’s not bad. It’s not bad. I’ll admit, I started you out with a hard one. I was between that and “Dobby” as the first word, but I was like, “Eh…”

Andrew and Eric: Ohh.

Micah: Laura was like, “I didn’t get included last week.”

Laura: So yeah, I’m going to make this hard now. [laughs]

Micah: “I’m going to make this as miserable as possible for the rest of you.”

Laura: I was thinking of the egg. That was where my mind was at.

Andrew: Right.

Laura: But certainly, there’s a couple of other important things that happen in the chapter, right, Micah?

Micah: Oh yeah, there’s plenty of other exciting things that happen in this chapter.

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Micah: And the first discussion we’re going to focus on is Blast-Ended Rita. And we’re going to talk about other stuff; I just got a little bit creative with that title and… take with it what you will. But the chapter opens up really with the band being back together, and Ron is all about Harry winning the Triwizard Tournament, and I thought to myself, “Here is Ron advocating for Harry, sure.” He’s excited about the fact that he’s got his best friend back. But he really thinks now Harry’s got a legit shot at winning the Triwizard Tournament, and Ron has a tendency throughout the series to make jokes, to say things tongue in cheek, and they end up coming true. Do we think this could be another example of that?

Eric: Do we think that Ron is joking, though? Because I think he really does think… he’s supporting Harry; he’s definitely elated to be his friend again, but do we think that he’s joking about it? I think he really thinks that Harry could win it.

Andrew: I think he really thinks so too.

Laura: Yeah, I agree.

Andrew: A, he’s reunited with Harry again and friends again. I think the biggest thing impacting what he’s saying here is that he’s just high on Harry’s win, and now they get to celebrate and relax for a little while. So I definitely believe that Ron feels very confident that Harry can pull this out.

Micah: I’ll be honest; I said at the end of the last episode, I’m still not bought fully in on Ron yet. I think he’s blowing a little smoke towards Harry and trying to get back into his good graces a bit.

Andrew: Does he have to? I mean that seriously. I don’t think Harry needs too much winning over.

Eric: Well, yeah, that’s true. I do think, though, that Ron, in lieu of continuing to say how bad he feels, will tend to overcompensate. That’s a very teen boy thing to do, or just anybody who’s not really great at communication will tend to find other ways to compensate for how they feel and make something nice. So I think Ron’s excessive good mood does fall along the lines of he is working to get back in Harry’s good graces, so… but Harry does take the compliment.

Laura: Yeah. And I think to your point, Eric, that’s pretty normal for most people when they mend fences after having a really big blowout argument that went on for a few weeks. There’s a period of time where things are first mended where people are going to be, I think, more predisposed to playing nicey-nicey to keep things on the straight and narrow, and then they slip back into old habits. But this makes sense. [laughs]

Andrew: And Ron is so happy to be back with him that he has a newfound appreciation for Harry probably, and their friendship. He’s really proud of Harry after this win. What you’re describing, Laura, this also sounds like the start of not just a friendship or a new chapter in a friendship, but also a new relationship too. And you’re never nicer to the person you’re in a relationship with than when things start off, and then some years pass and you stop talking to them pretty much all together, even if you still live together. What?

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Laura: Andrew, this isn’t your therapy session.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Micah: What Andrew is talking about is the fact that it takes until Deathly Hallows for Ron to return to his old habits and walk away from Harry, and Hermione, for that matter. But along these lines, though, we do get some conflicting viewpoints about the first task: Ron thinks that after having faced dragons, nothing could be worse. And this could be him playing to Harry a little bit here, but you also have Hermione on the opposite end of the spectrum. She thinks that since the first task was dragons, it can only get worse from here. So I just found it fun to see these two completely opposing viewpoints.

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah.

Eric: It determines… I guess it depends on how terrified you are of girls, which turns out to be the next task, the unexpected task for them. But it’s funny to see Ron’s sort of sweet summer child mood of “Nothing could be worse than dragons.” I’ve got to say, in hindsight, I kind of agree; the dragon close quarters with very minimal protection that we all just read through last week, it’s hard to imagine… if you take the Voldemort component out of the hedge maze, and if you take just what happens in task two to Harry specifically, the danger that he wasn’t really in for most of that, I think the first task is actually maybe the most dangerous.

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, I think of these three tasks, I would certainly be most afraid of the dragon. That sounds the most dangerous. I do think – and again, I guess I chalk this up to Ron just being high on Harry’s win – but for Ron to think that any threat from Karkaroff is now out of harm’s way just because Harry conquered the first task, it’s like, it’s just silly. There’s two more tests to go, and you guys have no idea what’s coming.

Eric: Again, it’s that overcompensating. That “Oh, you got it. We’re done. We won!” [laughs]

Andrew: It is also interesting, too, that Micah, you highlighted the opposing views from Ron and Hermione. I think this also is a little commentary on how they think just in their day to day lives. I think Hermione is more of a long term thinker, and Ron is more short term.

Eric: Wow. Yeah, I love that. I think, Andrew, you’re right on the money there. I think that that definitely speaks to their energies.

Micah: And Andrew, you also had something in here about the anxiety maybe related to the fact that the next task is three months away. That’s a lifetime for these kids.

Andrew: Yeah, I read this, and Harry says that he’s relieved that it’s three months away, and I’m like, “Whoa.” I would not be relieved to know it was three months away. I wish it was a week away, or less. I do not want the wait drawn out, because I’m just going to have three months of sleepless nights. I want it to happen.

Laura: But think about when you were 14; three months felt like an eternity.

Eric: Didn’t it?

Laura: Right? We have the benefit of looking at this from the point of view of people who are adults, right? Three months from now for some kind of big event is no time at all for an adult, but for a teenager, that’s eons.

Eric: Yeah, if you tell me something’s happening in three months, I need to get my energy reserves started.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Exactly.

Eric: The pre-dreading it and figuring out if I can get out of it, that takes three months.

Andrew: And there’s going to be another task after that!

Laura: But I think for someone this age, three months feels like a really long time that you don’t have to think about it.

Andrew: Yeah, worry about it later. Procrastinate.

Laura: And of course, we know what that results in; Harry is in a total panic as this gets closer. But I think it’s really characteristic for the point of life that he’s in right now.

Eric: I’ll say to that point as well about not having to think about it, I think that part of the agreement in hosting the Triwizard Tournament during a school year, as opposed to a summer holiday, is that it is spaced out because they need all of the students – even just the spectators, not the champions – they need all of the students to still do good in their classes. And so if everyone has two months or fewer to just enjoy and live in the Triwizard Tournament, they’re not getting any work done, and so this spreading out the challenges allows people to kind of do more of a business as normal kind of a thing. And then my initial thought was the reason that the tasks are so spread out across the year is because the end of the year, Harry needs to meet Voldemort, just like he does in all the other previous years. It needs to last him that long, so it needs… that was a very…

Micah: That’s his final exam every year.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Micah: It just takes on a different… that’s why Harry really doesn’t have to take his final exams each year, is because Voldemort is really his final test.

Andrew: I think that’s a fair trade-off.

Eric: Yeah. I do think, though, that because there’s enough going between the first… that three months does fill up. It’s just like anytime we’re looking forward to something that’s next year; like, it’ll be here sooner than you know it. Between the Yule Ball we know they’ll have hoisted on them, and having to work out the clue in the egg, which Harry starts in this chapter but has no idea what to do with it, actually, that time will be filled up.

Micah: And that’s a great transition because once we get back to Gryffindor Tower, our Seven-Word Summary, Harry goes and opens the egg in front of his fellow classmates, and we’ll put aside the loud screeching noise that it makes, but wanted to talk about some of the reactions that the students have to the egg being opened. First, we have Seamus, who said that it sounds like a banshee and maybe Harry will have to defeat one, and I thought this was noteworthy because we learned back in Prisoner of Azkaban that Seamus’s boggart is a banshee, so this is really a first example of a student reacting in a way that conveys fear, because we’re going to see it with Neville in just a moment, too. But Laura, you had a point about banshees.

Laura: Yeah, and this is just to add a layer to this whole exchange that happens. Banshees are creatures of Irish folklore, so we’re learning a lot about Seamus in terms of him as a person, but also the culture that he comes from through moments like these, right?

Micah: Absolutely. And it’s clear if it’s his boggart, it’s something that he is deeply afraid of at this moment in time. And then we get to Neville, who responds by saying it sounds like somebody being tortured, and that immediately made me think: Is Neville reliving inside of his mind what happened to his parents at the hands of Bellatrix and Barty Crouch, Jr. and company? And this maybe just has been a lingering thought in his mind since the class with Moody just a couple of chapters ago.

Laura: Yeah, I think especially now that he’s seen the Cruciatus Curse in action, but not been able to really hear it, right? He’s seen it, but think about the spiders, right? Now he’s hearing this screeching, this shrieking, and to him, he’s probably automatically placing that as a stand-in for what happened to his parents.

Eric: It’s sad. It’s sad that these children have this trauma response, or they identify with their trauma. It’s something a little clever in the writing. I think, though, because it is just kind of a high-pitched noise, it makes you think that the next challenge will involve facing fears, like maybe it’s a boggart or something. I seem to recall that that was probably what I was thinking when I was first reading this in 2000. But it definitely turns out not to be that; it’s just that this is a high-pitched squeal, which is what merpeople apparently sound like out of water. And so it’s a little bit of misdirection there that the suggested… and the Weasley twins say, “Maybe it’s Percy in the shower.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: It’s a high-pitched squeal. It makes you think that it’s something that it’s not, which I think is very clever.

Andrew: That is a fun theory about “Oh, it’s just hinting that something scary will be occurring or something frightful because it’s a shriek,” and it clearly is open to interpretation, as we see from Seamus and Neville. I also found it touching that Seamus and Neville were happy to jump in with their own guesses about it. I guess they’re also feeling very proud of Harry, too, and they want to contribute however they can, as quickly as possible. Because if you’re right, that makes you look pretty good. So I also saw this as like a nice teamwork moment where they’re trying to help their fellow student.

Micah: And their fellow flatmate, for lack of a better… right?

Andrew: Yeah. Fellow Gryffindor.

Micah: Neville and Seamus are both roommates of Harry’s, and Neville has kind of been there the whole way. Neville really stuck by Harry’s side. It’s questionable with Dean and Seamus; Ron, we know what direction he went in. But it is nice to see; I agree with that. Some symbolism I just wanted to call attention to about golden eggs, since we’ve been talking about the golden egg. It usually represents something of value, and I thought that this worked on two different fronts: The egg was this cherished prize that had to be captured during the first task, and now the second task, we know that something of great value is going to be taken from each of the champions, so it does work on two different fronts. The other thing, before we leave Gryffindor common room, I wanted to talk about was Fred and George. They are clearly hard at work, despite Mrs. Weasley trying to dampen their efforts. They have been working on probably a number of different items; we see Canary Creams come into play, and I think the twins really have something going here. Neville goes what I call full molt; he turns into a bird.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: And it showcases how talented the twins truly are when they apply their magic in an area of true passion. I think this is true in the real world, too, right? When you’re working on something that you’re really passionate about, it shows. And it’s clear, even this early on – and maybe I didn’t really see this when I read through the series the first time how early on – it’s clear that the twins are destined for other things outside of Hogwarts.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Eric: I mean, I think we have our episode title there. “Full molt.”

[Micah laughs]

Eric: But you’re right, Micah, nothing else compares to the magic that the twins are doing. Specifically, if you look at it, Neville turned into a giant bird, a canary, and he doesn’t change back until he molts, but the way it’s described, it happens probably within minutes. This is an insane transformation. Even the Polyjuice Potion doesn’t work for interspecies transformation, and Hermione gets stuck like that for weeks when she accidentally uses a cat hair supposedly from Millicent Bulstrode’s cloak, whatever, whatever. But I really have to hand it to the twins, just like you did. There’s nothing like this level of magic, whether it’s a potion, and whatever it is that they put into this tiny little chocolate that has that effect is absolutely crazy.

Andrew: I want to run with your Polyjuice point. It’s impressive that they created something that in a way works better than the Polyjuice Potion…

Eric: Right!

Andrew: … and is easier to create, or at least consume. You can buy this from triple W.

Eric: It’s bite-sized.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s bite-sized. You don’t have to do all that crazy stuff you have to do to get the Polyjuice Potion going. So I, too, was very impressed by this, how Neville was able to so quickly and easily transform without him knowing – which is a problem – that he would be.

Micah: But he loved it. He laughed afterwards.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: I agree with y’all. I mean, it’s amazing, but I don’t know that it fully compares to Polyjuice Potion because presumably, you can’t turn into anything or anyone you want with these, right? The options are going to be limited.

Eric: Well, it’s whatever Fred and George make it, which raises the question of how did they get it? Did they have to find a canary?

Laura: Probably.

Eric: Still, though, Fred and George, whatever cool points we just gave Fred and George, we do have to take them away, though, because it wasn’t consensual. Neville may have quietly laughed about it afterwards here, but they had actually given him a false sense of security by saying that the creams were not affected and then he was changed, and I’m sorry, that’s not cool. I don’t care who they do it to. It’s wrong.

Andrew: Way to bring the mood down, Eric. No, you’re right.

Eric: Sorry!

Andrew: They’re pranksters. I mean, that’s what you chalk it up to when you read it. I mean, I agree with you, but also, it’s just Fred and George being pranksters.

Eric: Amazing magic. Tell people that you’re about to put a spell on them. Thank you.

Andrew: Yeah, and some people probably would be up for it, knowing that they were about to be transformed. Like, “Oh, that sounds fun.”

Eric: Yeah! Oh, absolutely.

Micah: Well, I’m going to bring the mood back up, because we’re going to go to Care of Magical Creatures, and we’re going to get a guest appearance from Rita Skeeter, who is just lurking in the shadows there. And she interrupts what, no surprise, is a disaster of a lesson from Professor Hagrid with the Blast-Ended Skrewts. He’s trying to get them to hibernate; we’ll talk about that in a minute. But I just wanted to throw out there: Why do we think Rita is so interested in speaking with Hagrid when she shows up?

Laura: It’s another way to get to Harry. We have to remember the way the last chapter left off; she asked him for a word, and he gave her one word and that was “Goodbye.” She’s trying to worm her way in, and it just so happens that she stumbles across this lesson that he’s a part of and sees “Oh, goody, this lesson is clearly not going very well, so it’ll be another thing for me to publish in the Prophet,” right? Like, “Bad classroom management at Hogwarts,” something like that.

Andrew: There’s a lot of bad to document here.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: And let’s remember that Rita and Dumbledore had a brief encounter a few chapters ago, too, and Rita might be a little salty at Dumbledore, and I think this is just an opportunity to criticize how Dumbledore runs the school.

Eric: Absolutely.

Andrew: He’s clearly not keeping an eye on what happens in these classes, which we already do, but the wizarding public don’t.

Eric: Evidently, Dumbledore has banned Rita. She’s not supposed to show up at lessons; she’s not supposed to be on castle grounds at all during lessons, and the way in which she’s apparently attempting to circumvent that is by starting to write articles that are so shady, that are so devastating to read, that there will be a general need-to-know where she’ll start being dispatched by Fudge to get to the bottom of what’s happening at Hogwarts with the teachers. Everything she’s doing, this smear campaign that she is going into against Hagrid and this knocking down a peg of Dumbledore and Hogwarts, is really setting the stage for Umbridge next year. She’s just got the level of gumption to really force the issue.

Micah: Right, and Dumbledore is not a fool. I’m sure he reads the Daily Prophet; he sees what she’s been writing about Harry, so the last thing that he wants is more of that at his school. But the part that I would actually put back on Dumbledore is he has another unregistered Animagus on the loose on Hogwarts grounds, and he’s none the wiser to it. He also has a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor who’s slurping down Polyjuice Potion, and he’s none the wiser.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: He has absolutely no control over Hogwarts. It’s amazing.

[“It’s starting to sound like a security nightmare!” sound effect plays with sirens]

[Laura laughs]

Micah: Yeah, it had been a while since we played that, so I’m glad that we worked it into this episode.

Andrew: I agree. It’s also great that this sound effect starts with “It’s starting to sound like a security nightmare”; at this point, we are way beyond.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: “Starting.”

Eric: It’s still starting; we’ve only scratched the surface. I will say, we’re talking about this Rita spying. Do we want to up the Rita spy count?

Andrew: Ohh.

Laura: Yes. I think we can.

Micah: What do we make of her tactics? She’s clearly – and I don’t mean this in a sexual way that she’s flirting with him. I think she’s playing to his insecurities, and she does a really good job of it with Hagrid.

Eric: It’s that forced good nature that allows people to feel comfortable in a situation where they otherwise wouldn’t feel comfortable. “Smile and they smile back” kind of a thing. And yeah, I mean, Hagrid is definitely taken to this person for behaving in that manner, and it just gets him to divulge more than he would normally. Turns out, there’s about a million and a half ways to get Hagrid to tell you more than he normally would. I think it’s… at a certain point, we just have to say this is what he would normally tell you. [laughs]

Laura: Agreed. Well, and I think that this is flattery, right? And it’s easy with Hagrid because so few people actually care about the things that Hagrid cares about, so if he comes across a person who is expressing genuine interest in the things he’s interested in, yeah, he’s going to be really vulnerable to falling for that.

Andrew: And I think this is what journalists do pretty often; if they’re interviewing you, they’re trying to make you feel comfortable so that you open up, and then they can get the most out of you as possible.

Micah: Totally. And you know what? Kudos to Harry for being able to read the situation and jumping in to support Hagrid at a couple of different moments during this conversation, but this class, this lesson, is absolutely absurd. It’s horrendous, on a scale from one to ridiculous. And why Hagrid didn’t do any prep to see if the Blast-Ended Skrewts even liked the idea of hibernation before the students showed up… the students are the test subjects. It’s wild. There are students literally hiding in Hagrid’s hut, peering out the window as Rita makes her way into the middle of the classroom.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: That’s right, Draco and them barricade themselves in the hut. And who can blame them? [laughs]

Micah: I mean, when you talked about setting things up for Order of the Phoenix and for Umbridge, I’m sure Umbridge looked at some of these articles that were being written by Rita about Hogwarts, about Dumbledore, about Hagrid. So Hagrid is doing himself no favors here. I love Hagrid, but…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Yeah. No, it’s bad, and the only person who can handle this level of creature is Hagrid. If you notice, when Rita shows up, he jumps in front of the students to protect them and rastles the Screwt, gets the rope around it and pushes it back a bit. He nearly flattens the remaining Screwt as he’s talking to Rita, which must actually look pretty badass, but he’s the only one who can. These 14-year-olds absolutely can’t do it.

Andrew: Well, he made them, too. He bred them. He created these Blast-Ended Skrewts, so only he knows how to handle them. And how long has he even had these things for? So he probably doesn’t know enough to even really be teaching about them. [laughs]

Micah: And that’s a really interesting point, though, Andrew, because it should set off some red flags for us, because it definitely did for Harry, Ron, and Hermione, because they ask themselves a question: Where did Hagrid get these things from?

Eric: Right.

Micah: Let’s think back to Sorcerer’s Stone and think with Fluffy, and think back to Aragog in Chamber of Secrets, right? He has a tendency to end up with things in his hands from people who are manipulating him.

Eric: That’s a great point, Micah, and there’s no reason for him to have done the Skrewt thing, because the Forbidden Forest is loaded with creatures that are well documented, and he’s never had any trouble before getting in there. And he knew all about unicorns, and it just… there are so many creatures that he could know that will be a lot safer to teach. He doesn’t get any passes this year like he did last year for having boring lessons because his life was a mess because Buckbeak was going to be executed. This is his choice to have these ridiculous creatures that are way too dangerous for students to force them to do things they don’t want to do. I mean, just an explanation of “Seamus’s burned fingers” and other students’ scratches should be enough to tell you this is completely inappropriate.

Andrew: I guess in defense of Hagrid, I will just say that clearly he’s passionate about magical creatures; it’s probably a passion of his to crossbreed and see what he can come up with, so I see why he wants to create the Blast-Ended Skrewts and not just go into the forest and pull out a creature and teach them about that. But I also do agree with you that he needs to spend more time with these newfangled creations before teaching them. It is ridiculous. Well, we are going to go crossbreed our own magical creatures, and we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Is that too far?

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: Oof.

[Ad break]

Micah: What did you make during the break, Andrew?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Yeah, yeah, now we all have to say. Now we all have to come up with it.

Laura: Nobody call PETA.

Micah: Well, we’re going to move into the second half of this chapter main discussion: Tea time with Dobby. That’s right; Dobby is back.

Andrew: Woo!

Micah: And I think that is the best thing that has happened so far in Goblet of Fire.

Andrew: Oh, wow.

Micah: Well, what else…? I mean, maybe the Quidditch World Cup.

Andrew: Yeah, that was pretty cool. Sorry, I’m just impressed by… you really love Dobby.

Micah: Well, it sounded like you were judging.

Andrew: No, I’m not judging.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: You’re the guy with a Dobby Lego behind you. I shouldn’t have been surprised at all, actually.

Micah: I know.

Laura: Well, I mean, also, it feels good, right? Because at the Quidditch World Cup when Harry first saw Winky, he thought she was Dobby, and he got genuinely excited, and so now he actually gets to see his friend again.

Eric: Yeah, it wouldn’t be much of a payoff if he had had that “Dobby?” moment at the beginning of the book and then we just didn’t see Dobby this whole book.

Laura: Right, exactly.

Micah: Yeah, that would not have been cool at all. And it comes on the heels of Hermione taking Harry and Ron away from a really fun time, right? They’re partying it up in Gryffindor tower; the last thing that they want to do is to go follow Hermione on her house-elf crusade, but they end up in the kitchens and Harry is greeted around his midriff with a bone-crushing hug. And what better introduction by…? What character is better introduced in this series, or reintroduced, I should say, than Dobby? And Dobby, he’s doing well. He’s been…

Andrew: He’s happy!

Micah: He’s happy, and he’s dressing the part, and I thought we could talk a little bit about that. And since both he and Mr. Weasley like to dress in Muggle clothing, we could do a bit of a comparison here of “Who wore it better?”

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Dobby, when he greets Harry, is wearing a tea cozy for a hat, a tie patterned with horseshoes over a bare chest, Andrew, and children’s football shorts and odd socks.

Andrew: [laughs] “A bare chest, Andrew.”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Andrew, thoughts? Is this making you feel a certain way?

Andrew: Yeah, what the heck? So should we do the poll first and then we can discuss?

Laura: Yeah, so I actually… well, how did you…?

Micah: Do you want to mention what Mr. Weasley is wearing, Laura?

Laura: Yeah, so Mr. Weasley, for this comparison, is wearing a golfing sweater and a very old pair of jeans, slightly too big for him and held up with a thick leather belt. So I wanted to ask y’all if you wanted to guess how patrons voted? So the question that we posed in our Discord was, [laughs] “Who wears Muggle clothes better, Dobby or Mr. Weasley?”

Eric: Listen, I know this is funny. I know this is fun to do. But there’s no way Mr. Weasley doesn’t come away with the gold here, right?

Andrew: What?!

Eric: Because he’s a grown adult man. He understands that you need something on your top, on your bottom, on your shoes. I think it’s Mr. Weasley, far and away.

Laura: Do you?

Eric: Yeah!

Laura: What does everyone else think?

Andrew: I think Dobby. It’s a house-elf in human clothing, which is so cute, the visual there.

Eric: Oh my God.

Andrew: If you think of the character Ted from the movies with Mark Wahlberg and the TV show – which is very good, by the way – sometimes Ted will be wearing human clothes like a suit, and it is the cutest thing ever. Partly because Ted is foul-mouthed and that he’s wearing these adorable outfits, [laughs] but I just love the idea of an animal in human clothing.

Eric: I do like it when Brian does it on Family Guy.

Micah: No, I mean, I would vote Dobby.

Laura: Okay. Well, I think two of you are going to be really pleased: Dobby actually does win this one.

Andrew: Woo!

Eric: God, what?

Laura: So 62% of people who took part in the poll said that Dobby wears Muggle clothes better.

Eric: No, I didn’t vote. Okay, well, now it’s eight and ten, okay.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: I’m on the Discord. I can vote. I don’t understand! Dobby can’t put two items together. Dobby is a walking clash of… he makes wizards look better at dressing.

Andrew: I think Arthur needs a fitting. It sounds like the pants would be falling down if it weren’t for the belt. The pants are also very old. Now, I know jeans last a while, but he’s a working man. He should wear some nice clothing.

Micah: I agree with you, Andrew. The thing that bothers me, and you alluded to this, is that Arthur works in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. He encounters Muggles on a regular basis; he should know how they dress. There’s no excuse for him dressing oddly, and that’s being generous.

Eric: Maybe the Muggles that Mr. Weasley encounters are all misusing their fashion. They’re all misusing their clothes.

Andrew: Oh, oh.

Micah: Maybe.

Andrew: No, I mean, but he’s…

Laura: You know what I love? Dobby is unapologetically himself, and I think somebody who is unapologetically themselves will win a poll like this every time.

Eric: Okay.

Micah: Like I said, he’s got the neck tie over the bare chest, like a rockstar out on stage.

[Laura laughs]

Micah: He’s true to himself.

Eric: It is a bit Keith Richards.

Andrew: And Arthur is a human. He’s not… he should still know how to wear clothes.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: It shouldn’t matter if he’s a wizard or not.

Laura: Well, okay, and let’s be clear; it’s not that he doesn’t know how to wear clothes, right? His outfit, it’s a golfing sweater, old jeans that are too big on him, and a belt. It’s boring, but it’s not that he doesn’t know how to dress. Dobby’s outfit is so much more colorful and interesting.

Micah: Yeah, including the sock that freed him.

Laura: Aw, yeah. That warmed my heart.

Andrew: Yeah, when I read that part, I was like, “Harry should’ve signed that sock for him.” Like, “I did that.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: Sorry, that tickled me.

Micah: So we’re going to shift gears a little bit here and we’re going to start talking about house-elves in terms of their history and their enslavement, and how Dobby, despite being a free elf, is actually a bit of an outcast within his own community. And I wanted to start by asking: What do we all think it is in Dobby’s character that really makes him enjoy being free, unlike the other house-elves? And I think he does have a good understanding of the history of his kind, and in many instances, that informs how he acts and what he says, even though he has a tendency to get carried away when Harry is around. But yeah, what is it that makes him a different spirit amongst the rest of the house-elves?

Laura: I think it has to do with the family that he served, and that’s not to say that other elves didn’t serve similar families to the Malfoys or that they didn’t have similar circumstances, but you’re talking about Lucius Malfoy, who was one of one of the inner circle of Death Eaters, right? And we know from Dobby talking about this to Harry in the past, many house-elves actually really admire and like Harry because he ended one of the darkest points in modern wizard history without even trying, to be honest; it was really his mom that ended it. I imagine that Dobby living through that and seeing the downfall, if you will, of his family’s level of overt prominence when it came to their pure-blood madness and ideology, I imagine watching that come to an end and watching his family grapple with that probably felt satisfying to him, and that explains why he allies himself with Harry so much, even though he’s never met the kid in his life, and why he goes out of his way and puts himself at genuine risk to protect the person that his very owner is trying to take out. So I think it’s that very unique mindset that was bred due to the environment that Dobby was living in.

Micah: And I don’t think it’s fair of us to presume that every single house-elf enjoys their situation, right? I’m sure that there are examples of owners who treat the house-elves with respect and with dignity, but to borrow a phrase, there’s no such thing as a good slave owner, right? So that’s what we’re dealing with here. I think there’s probably other examples of Dobbies out there, but they’re so few and far between that we’re not really going to… in a story that’s really focused on Harry, we’re not going to see all that.

Andrew: And just thinking about this a little further, I mean, it was ingrained in him that this was just his role, and maybe he was just more willing than other house-elves to step outside their comfort zone and give something new a try. He’s not fully accepting of shredding the house-elf life either. I mean, he does insist to Dumbledore that he works more for less, so parts of being a slave are still instilled in him. And I think it just would take time for any house-elf to fully move on from that. I mean, it’s been, what, a year and a half? Two years?

Micah: Yeah, it’s been almost two years. I think that a different way of looking at that now, though, is that Dobby, he’s not necessarily going back to the old way of doing things. He’s free and is willingly choosing to be employed by somebody and to be compensated for that employment, which is a different set of circumstances from before. I mean, Dobby could have asked Dumbledore to put him somewhere else on the grounds, right? Not in the kitchen, or give him another job that he could have easily done for him.

Eric: But to Andrew’s point, he talks Dumbledore down for payment. Dumbledore would have given him ten Galleons a week, and he’s like, “Oh, one is fine. And I don’t want off weekends.”

Andrew: Right. Just one day off a month; is that what the deal is?

Eric: I think it is, yeah. And with Dobby, it’s a constant question for me of were the Malfoys just so bad that his brain just values freedom so much that Dobby is the way he is to the point where every other house-elf thinks he’s absolutely nuts – even Winky, who has been dismissed, thinks Dobby is absolutely nuts – or was Dobby always this way? I mean, if we think back to Chamber of Secrets where Dobby shows up at Privet Drive, yes, the Malfoys were horrible to him, I’m sure, and yes, they were plotting; they were the ones doing the plotting. But I bet there are other house-elves out there who really couldn’t have made it to Privet Drive, who really couldn’t have due to magic, or due to personality. No matter how bad things got, they have to keep their masters’ secrets, which is something that’s talked about in this chapter. And so I think it might be a little bit of both: The Malfoys were uniquely awful in certain ways, but Dobby also was maybe predisposed to this anarchy of being a free elf.

Andrew: “Dobby is a visionary,” as SnailSong said in our Discord. I like that short answer.

Eric: I think SnailSong was talking about his clothing choice again. He’s getting a lot of love ever since I said mean things about Dobby.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Honestly, I don’t understand the Dobby hate because I love Dobby.

Andrew: Who’s hating Dobby?

Laura: I remember when we were doing Chamber of Secrets

Micah: People thought he was annoying.

Laura: … and everybody was talking about how annoying he was. And he’s a visionary! SnailSong is so right. Dobby 2024.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: All visionaries are annoying. Steve Jobs was annoying. Elon Musk is annoying, and maybe not a visionary, but he’s definitely annoying. [laughs]

Eric: Well, Dobby, you’re a real one.

Micah: Eric, I think we’re going to dig in a little bit more to what you were talking about and really the generational trauma that exists here amongst house-elves and their ancestry, really, because it’s multiple generations of families that usually serve a wizarding family.

Andrew: And we will also talk about Winky, but first we’re going to take a quick break, and we’ll Floo right back.

[Ad break]

Micah: Wanted to talk a little bit about Winky because she is the opposite end of the spectrum to Dobby as of right now, and her current situation is a bad one. We saw it all play out at the Quidditch World Cup. What do we make of the state that she is in when we first really get the chance to meet her? And, more importantly, what do we make of her perception of Dobby?

Laura: Her world has been turned upside down. Everything she’s ever known has been ripped away from her. Even generations of ingrained knowledge that were passed down to her, completely useless now, because she’s not in the only situation that she was ever socialized to know. And what I love about getting to see this is that it really shows Hermione, I think, for the first time, that the issue of house-elf liberation is a lot more complicated than she thinks it is. It isn’t as simple as saying, “Hey, 100 people bought my buttons; you have freedom now,” and I think that we see Hermione quietly grapple with this in this chapter.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Eric: I mean, even by the end of the chapter, Hermione is dead on when she says that over time, people like Dobby will convince the other house-elves that maybe there’s more out there. I think that the exposure of Dobby is something that the other house-elves will ultimately benefit from, and Hermione is actually right that that’s something that they don’t need to change that; they don’t need to affect that. They’re just going to leave the kitchens and Dobby’s presence there will hopefully eventually convince some house-elves that they should seek a different arrangement. But you’re exactly right; she tries to, Hermione does, comfort Winky, and it fails miserably, and that forces Hermione to really come to terms with “Why isn’t this working?” And Winky is talking about it, and to be fair, the trio only has half the story of what really is happening with Crouch. That’s not going to come out till the end of the book. But for me, it is interesting seeing Hermione fail and then have to readjust and try something different.

Andrew: And this is one thing that can happen when you’re a kid; you have these rose-colored glasses on and you think, “Oh, it is going to be as simple as handing out the badges,” or I mean, maybe Hermione got this idea of how simple it could be just by seeing Dobby’s transformation. “Oh, here’s the sock. Suddenly everything’s great for Dobby.” As for how Winky perceives Dobby, I think it’s so interesting to see the two at the same time with Dobby so happy to see Harry, and vice versa, but then there’s Winky, who’s clearly been traumatized because of these, as Laura said, generations of being taught that you are working for a master and that’s how it is, and then to have the rug pulled out from under you. I can see why Winky is feeling this way. It’s too bad Dobby can’t maybe try and do something to help. It doesn’t really seem like Dobby does. He’s just happy.

Micah: He does. He brings her to Hogwarts.

Andrew: Well, yeah, okay. But I mean, I don’t know. I’m picturing them sitting down and hugging or something really cute, and Dobby being like, “It’ll be okay, Winky.”

Micah: Yeah. I mean, it does raise the question how they really did come across each other.

Eric: It seems like they knew each other for years, but I don’t know how they would have met. Oh wait, we solved this before, didn’t we? Because Barty Crouch is a big wizard dude, and the Malfoys are big wizard dudes, and they probably go to the same benefits and they probably drink the same punch.

Andrew: Yes, the same parties at the Malfoys’ house.

Eric: So the house-elves would surely have… yeah, yeah. There you go. Okay.

Micah: So they worked together to put the…

Andrew: At an event.

Eric: Like a fundraiser for St. Mungo’s or something, yeah.

Micah: Well, one of the things that does turn Winky around, at least for a brief moment, is the mention of Barty Crouch, Sr. That leads into the mention of Ludo Bagman, and Winky is very clear on how she feels about Ludo Bagman. She says that he is a “bad wizard.” So to deconstruct this, I came up with a couple of different options as to what “bad wizard” can mean: Ludo sucks at magic, Ludo is a bad person, Ludo is bad at his job, or he put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire. Any of these things could be true. All of them could be true. [laughs] But we’ve talked a lot about how suspicion is cast on Ludo throughout many of these chapters so far, and this would be another way for the author to be communicating to the reader that maybe Ludo is the one responsible for Harry’s name going in the Goblet.

Andrew: Yeah, I did some googling on this, too, because I thought maybe there were some theories out there. So I saw on Reddit that in the Pensieve, Harry witnesses a younger Bagman be accused of passing information to the Death Eaters, but he was acquitted with a vote.

Laura: Yep.

Andrew: So it’s not clear whether he did it willingly or not. But Dumbledore states that he has not been accused of any subsequent activity, and Crouch Sr. found him despicable and most likely fumed about it at home, and that’s where Winky heard it.

Laura: Yeah, the impression that we’re given through that is that Ludo is just kind of a goofball, not super competent in a lot of ways, and that he didn’t realize who he was passing information to. And I think there’s probably a reading that you can do of this one way or the other; it’s never explicitly confirmed whether he did it intentionally or not. But he’s clearly, I would say, at best, morally ambiguous. And I really do love this reading of Ludo as a potential suspect because I’ll be honest, when I first read the book – granted, I was like, 11 – that never crossed my mind at all. I just thought this guy was kind of a tool.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: Well, you were right.

Eric: Yeah, yeah. Well, it is interesting to pick up these clues and be like, “This is clearly meant to indicate that Bagman might have been the bad guy,” because definitely, I think… we’ve all shared that we weren’t necessarily super close-searching through this mystery when we were reading this book; there was so much else that this book does. But what I had the thought of as I was reading this chapter was maybe the reason that I never really suspected Bagman, or never got too in on the mystery, is that the trio doesn’t engage with the mystery. They never really sit down and say, “We have to solve this.” They’re picking up the clues. The clues are presented to them. It’s things like this in a scene where Winky is like, “Bagman is a bad wizard,” but at no point does the trio actually say, “We’ve got to get together and actually figure it out,” and as a result of that, I think that’s why the mystery largely just whizzes by, and you’re like, “Okay.” But it’s nice, at least, to see that the clues were here in case anybody was interested in following.

Micah: Well, I would just say that’s because it’s not an ever-present danger in the same way that the Chamber of Secrets is an ever-present danger; trying to figure out who opened it would solve a lot of problems. For the Goblet of Fire spitting out Harry’s name, it’s a done deal, right? Now they need to let the tournament play itself out. It doesn’t really matter in hindsight who put Harry’s name in. His name is already in. He’s already in the tournament.

Andrew: [laughs] Come hell or high water.

Micah: Yeah. Eric, like with what you were saying, I don’t really know that they need to solve that mystery in so much as they need to worry about the competitions that Harry is going to face.

Eric: Well, and they’re getting distracted by them. I will say, too, that’s a good point, Micah; the only thing that could be continually a problem is if whoever put his name in actually did so because they wanted to kill him and they might return to finish him off. That’s exactly what happens. So Harry is still very much under threat; it’s just the kids are distracted with all the glamour and the steps that they have to take to make it through the school year that it’s hidden in a less direct way than the Sorcerer’s Stone being stolen any day now, or the Chamber of Secrets, to your point.

Micah: Though, Laura, I know that you were talking earlier about Hermione, and this is really the first time she’s confronted with the situation that she’s trying to resolve, right? Because she’s literally in the midst of maybe a hundred house-elves, and these are the individuals that she is trying to help, but she’s not doing the things that you would expect maybe an adult to do in order to maybe benefit her cause. She’s not even sitting down and having a conversation with any of them. She’s just trying to free them.

Laura: Well, yeah. And part of it is, too, she’s assuming that she knows what they would want, right? Even when she turns to Winky and says, “How much is Professor Dumbledore paying you?”

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Laura: It’s like, you know what happened to Winky. You were there. You can tell that Winky is distraught. Perhaps now is not the time to try and open that line of discussion, because Winky is clearly struggling with the situation that she’s finding herself in. So if anything, maybe focus on her wellbeing first?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: This reminds me of when Han Solo gets taken by the Ewoks to be cooked for dinner for saying something, just because it’s like, you would never expect it of these cute little creatures, but they don’t want anything to do with what you’re bringing. And Hermione could have been in a lot of danger if the house-elves had a single mean bone in their body.

Laura: No, that doesn’t happen till the seventh book.

Micah: Speaking of Dumbledore and his willingness to pay house-elves, he’s clearly an ally. He clearly is somebody who is willing to stand up for house-elves. Now, Dobby certainly is one to present his case before Dumbledore and ask for what he wants…

[Eric laughs]

Micah: … but it’s clear that if any of the other house-elves decided to do that, he would compensate them and he would give them time off. I think it would be nice of Dumbledore to maybe offer that, but that’s a conversation for another time. They don’t have to come to you; you can be like, “Hey, you’ve been working down in the Hogwarts kitchens for decades…”

Andrew: “It’s time to start paying you something.”

Micah: But the way Dumbledore is painted is as an ally, right? That’s that comes through in Dobby’s story that he tells to Harry.

Andrew: Yeah, it says a lot that Dumbledore is actually willing and happy to pay and give the house-elves weekends off or give them two days off a week. I think it’s great. Dumbledore is a good guy.

Eric: I do think Dumbledore is amused by Dobby…

Andrew: [laughs] Amused.

Eric: … but I do also wonder, if they actually somehow managed to convince 20 house-elves to come up and each ask for ten Galleons a week, I wonder at what point Dumbledore would be like, “Ah, hold on there. Hold on.”

Andrew: Well, that is a whole other discussion that we could probably spend a good hour on, which is how does Hogwarts get money to pay its professors to run the school?

Eric: Yeah, but I mean, Dumbledore for now is very much being… I mean, he offers Dobby well more than Dobby would ever take, and he tells Dobby that he could call him bad names, and Dobby can’t even dream of it.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, and I thought that should be the episode title: “A Barmy Old Codger.”

Laura: I also just love how Dobby giggles when he says this.

Micah: He whispers it to Harry, right?

Laura: Yeah, you can tell he’s a little bit amused by it. He would never do it; it’s too scary to do, but he definitely gets a kick out of it.

Micah: For sure.

Laura: And I wanted to point out, too, some currency conversion rates…

Eric: Oh, God.

Laura: … just so we have an appropriate appreciation for what a Galleon equals. So one Galleon equals just under £5, or just over $7. Ten Galleons, which is originally what Dumbledore offers Dobby, equals a little over £49 and about $73. So that’s a week. Dobby is making $7 a week.

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, for a house-elf, he’s a millionaire. But yes, by normal standards, it’s terrible. However, they do get presumably free lodging at Hogwarts.

Eric: That costs something.

Andrew: I’m sure they’re all packed in like sardines, but they’ve got a place to lay their head down at night.

Eric: It is so funny to look at Dobby and be like, “He’s the 1% at Hogwarts.”

Andrew: [laughs] He’s the 1%.

Eric: Dobby is the 1%. That’s why he’s so fashionable. He is putting on the ritz; he literally has more money than every other house-elf in the world.

Andrew: That’s a good point. He goes to Goodwill and he buys some nice clothes and puts them all together for a look.

Eric: Poppin’ some tags.

Micah: I’m curious, though, why Dobby took so long to come to Hogwarts. Because it’s mentioned that he tried to get work other places, but when he asked for compensation, he’s basically laughed out of the building by whomever he was going to. And maybe I could see that taking up a little bit of his time, but for two years, the fact that he didn’t even think of coming to Hogwarts until Goblet of Fire… I mean, it’s convenient writing, of course, but it does seem strange that he wouldn’t have thought to come to Hogwarts before that.

Eric: I think Dobby has a sense that he’s an outsider, and I think he was more apprehensive about the other house-elves not liking him. Why would you put yourself in a situation where you’re in a room with 100 other house-elves and they all think you’re crazy? If you can just go and be a house-elf for an inn somewhere and the owner treats you well, isn’t that more immediately safe in the short term than going to…? I think maybe Dobby avoided Hogwarts because of all the house-elves that would not accept him.

Laura: Yeah, well, who knows what kind of work he was out there trying to get? I could also see Dobby avoiding a place like Hogwarts because he knows exactly the work that he’ll be doing there, and he’s thinking, “I’m not a servant anymore. I don’t want to do that work.” But unfortunately, at this stage, it’s the only work available for him.

Andrew: Yeah, I also really liked this comment from James, who said, “Dobby knows about the Chamber of Secrets and was scared of the security nightmare that is Hogwarts, but he caved after a year and a half.”

[Micah laughs]

Laura: Probably.

Andrew: I also wonder why Dobby didn’t try to find Harry sooner after he came to Hogwarts. It sounded like Dobby had been there for a week at that point. Given how much Dobby loves Harry and how excited Dobby surely knows Harry would be to see him, why not see him sooner? I find that a little surprising. But it’s okay, Dobbs. It’s okay.

Micah: Or why not make contact at all during the third year, right?

Eric: I still think of Dobby as being so bound by laws. Like, house-elves can’t just reach out to random students that aren’t their masters.

Micah: Well, he can.

Eric: He did under great duress, but something snapped there.

Micah: No, but I’m saying post-Chamber of Secrets, he wouldn’t have had any restrictions. But all that being said, I mean, we do see it even in this chapter where he physically harms himself after saying something bad about the Malfoys, so it still triggers him.

Laura: Yeah, it’s still in there.

Eric: That’s what I’m saying. I think that the concept of a free elf is so rare and so not thought out that Dobby thinks that he can say that, and he’s calling himself a free elf, but we see that it’s still very much not 100% freedom here. And it is interesting to think whether it’s habitual that he punishes himself or whether there’s still some remnant of that extremely strong magic.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, either way, it’s not something that he’s going to snap out of overnight.

Micah: Right.

Laura: It’s going to take a long time.

Micah: So just wrapping up the Dumbledore portion of this, Dobby also mentions that he can keep Dumbledore’s secrets, and I wanted to know what this meant. Are we to believe that Dobby might be doing some additional work for Dumbledore that could make him in the know of certain things that are going on, whether it’s related to Hogwarts or it’s related to some of Dumbledore’s personal business?

Eric: Dumbledore definitely has use for agents in that way. I hate to think Dumbledore beat Harry to the punch of using Dobby as an agent, but it’s certainly possible.

Laura: I also think that given the work that house-elves do, the fact that they live in their owners’ homes, they’re around them a lot in the residence, I feel like there’s probably this expectation of the elves really not creating any kind of distraction or really even being seen. I mean, we even see this in the way elves are portrayed in Hogwarts Legacy, right? You get too close to them and they just disappear. I think there’s an expectation that they make themselves scarce while also attending to their duties, and in order to do both of those things successfully, they’re going to end up overhearing a lot of things that their owners probably don’t want other people knowing about. So I think that is a really big part of it. But I’m sure there have been cases where – in fact, we know there have been – cases where elves have been used as confidants, so I think it goes both ways, actually.

Andrew: Yeah, I like your point. It’s similar to you live with somebody, you are going to be saying things in your home that you might not say out in public or in front of other people, and there’s just basically an unspoken agreement that many things should probably not be repeated outside of the house or in front of other particular people.

Micah: So just wanted to wrap up talking about the conditioning of house-elves. It’s kind of been this theme throughout the conversation; we’ve talked about both Dobby and Winky, but what we’re seeing is that house-elves have been enslaved for so long that they believe that this is all there is for them in life. And it’s generation upon generation of trauma, and when it’s all you or your family has known, the thought of change can be crippling both emotionally and physically, and we see that really come to life with Winky in particular in this chapter.

Laura: Yeah, and I think part of that is we have to remember, too, Winky was kind of… I think she was a lot more prized by Mr. Crouch than Dobby was of the Malfoys. I mean, Barty took her everywhere with him, right? She actually had, I think, more depth of understanding of the goings-on in his life because he used to talk to her about work. I don’t think the Malfoys would ever sit down and talk to Dobby about their personal lives or their work lives, right?

Andrew: No.

Eric: Right.

Laura: So I think to an extent, Winky has lost the only way of life she’s ever known, but she’s also lost the only person who is probably the closest thing to a friend she’s ever had, too, and he’s the one who banished her.

Andrew: Right, and think how much time they’d spent together over the years. And I don’t know if this is just a movie-ism, but to your point about the Malfoys, Lucius kicks Dobby in the movie. Can you see Crouch doing that? I don’t think so.

Eric and Laura: No.

Andrew: That’s not the relationship that they had. Dobby was…

Laura: That was definitely a Jason Isaacs improv moment.

Micah: It was.

Andrew: Okay.

Laura: But it was totally on brand.

Andrew: Yes. [laughs]

Eric: I can 100%… and they wouldn’t even call him by his name; they would say “elf” and he would have to appear. That’s the kind of Malfoy behavior.

Micah: Yeah, and a lot of this we’ve touched on already. Dobby is really an outcast amongst his fellow house-elves. He’s the weird one in the room.

Andrew: But Hagrid already knew that too. Didn’t Hagrid call him the weird one? “There’s always a weird one”?

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Eric: “There’s an odd one in every…” Yeah, yeah.

Laura: Yeah, Hagrid is one to talk, by the way.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Ah, well.

Micah: And Dobby in particular, just to the point that was raised about the movie-ism, he’s had his job physically beaten into him at times. And look, presumably, not all wizarding families with house-elves behave this way, but that’s still not an excuse.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, look at the Blacks. Kreacher and his whole family grow up knowing that the highest that they can ascend to in the household is having their head put on a wooden plaque in the hallway of the stairwell, so that’s great.

Micah: The house-elves, one thing that is worth mentioning that we didn’t talk much about in this episode, is that they do take great pride in their work, and they’re easily offended. And what comes to mind is when the trio are leaving the kitchens and Ron is so willing to take what the house-elves are offering, but Hermione is so standoffish; it never really crosses Hermione’s mind that by not taking something, it could be seen as an offense because of the work that the house-elves put into making the food.

Eric: One of the most telling lines is when Ron says, “Man, this whole time I thought Fred and George were amazing for getting all this food from the kitchens, but now I see that they want you to have it; they hoist it upon you,” and that’s 100% right. And I couldn’t help but be a little saddened and made uncomfortable when I was reading about the house-elves; they’re on their way out and they’re forcing… they’re really offering them additional sweets and everything.

Laura: Well, again, it is ingrained in everything they’ve ever known, and probably the closest they get to people being nice to them is when they’re doing something nice for people, right?

Micah: That’s a great point.

Laura: That’s probably the only time they even get a smidgen of kindness from people, and even then it’s probably not that great.

Micah: Definitely. The clearest example, I’ll say, of the generational trauma that we talked about is with Dobby and the fact that he physically harms himself still to this day, even when speaking poorly about the Malfoys. This idea that old habits die hard, I mean, I would say it’s more than a habit, and this would likely be true of so many of the house-elves were they to be freed, right? They’ve been ingrained with a certain set of practices that… in some cases, it’s been physically instilled in them, not just mentally or emotionally installed in them, but physically instilled in them that if you do or you say something that is against the person who you work for, you need to harm yourself, and that is very disturbing.

Eric: Let’s bring up the mood a little bit; talking about house-elves, I did ask the Discord what other jobs Dobby would be looking for, because we said maybe he doesn’t want to do housework all the time, and people had some really funny ideas. So real quick, TresGatos says, “Minerva’s assistant.” Becky says, “Surfing instructor.” [laughs] That’s totally wild.

Laura: Oh, hell yeah.

Micah: On the Black Lake.

Eric: Yeah. LegalizeGillyweed: “Dobby from accounting.” That could work.

Laura: Oh, I love that.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Oh, James says, “Actually, I want Dobby to be the next Anna Wintour, premiere house-elf fashion designer.”

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Okay. Lisa Litchfield says, “Hostage negotiator.” Carly says, “Headhunter job consultant.” And here’s my favorite – absolutely should have been very obvious – Justin Sharkey says, “Sock model.”

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Oh, yeah.

Micah: That might be the winner.

Laura: I think that’s a winner.

Andrew: I think he should open a shop called Dobby’s Donuts, and he just makes donuts.

Laura: Oh, man.

Micah: Sock donuts?

Andrew: Sure. Yeah, it could be a cream-filled sock – no, that sounds really bad.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: But I was thinking he could hang the donut…

Micah: [laughs] On the doorknob?

Andrew: … on his nose, when selling them. [laughs] Just it hangs on his nose for a second, then he flips up his head and it gets into your hands or something like that. That could be fun.

Laura: [laughs] I think you should stop.

Andrew: [laughs] Oh, James said, “Dobby Lobby,” like Dobby would buy Hobby Lobby, I guess, with all of his Hogwarts income.

Micah: Yeah. We have one last point here about Winky and how she’s worried about how Mr. Crouch is faring without her. We talked a little bit about this earlier, how ashamed she is for having been the one to break the decades of proud service.

Andrew: Yeah, well, this just reminds me of how in the Muggle world some corporations will make you feel guilty for taking a week off, and one example of this is companies will offer unlimited PTO – unlimited paid time off – “You take as much work as you want off; it doesn’t matter to us.” But really, it’s a ploy to make you feel guilty about taking time off, so then you take less time off. [laughs]

Eric: Huh.

Laura: Yeah, it’s a scam.

Eric: More is less.

Andrew: There’s shame built into the Muggle corporate world to keep you working, and Winky, too, is feeling shame because she feels like she should always be working.

Eric: For me, there’s an extra nuance here about Winky, which is obviously the whole stuff with Barty Crouch, Jr. I see it get in the way when Winky is talking about the Crouch thing, because neither she nor Crouch Sr. will ever mention that Crouch Jr. factored into this at all. Winky was sacked because she let Barty Crouch, Jr. go by accident. Barty Crouch, Jr. overpowered her and got away and cast the Dark Mark, leading to this scandal, and so Winky is feeling like a failure because she really did fail to do something. It isn’t because Crouch was mean for no reason, which is what Hermione thinks it is and what Hermione is trying to comfort her for, so they’re just never going to see eye to eye because of this key difference in what really happened versus what Winky is talking about.

Micah: It’s a really great point. And last time we went through this chapter, I don’t know that we would have spent so much time diving deep into the plight of the house-elves. I think we probably would have been more focused on the plot back in 2010, so while I know this is a challenging discussion at times, I really appreciate you all jumping in and contributing the way that you did.

Andrew: Back at you, Micah. No, it’s a good discussion to have. And we’ve said it before, but one reason we love doing Chapter by Chapter today at the present stage of our lives is because it’s really interesting to read this text with the benefit of more lived experiences and seeing what’s going on in the world and whatnot.

Micah: Absolutely. But the most important thing is that Dobby is back, and he will have a role to play in the rest of Goblet of Fire and the rest of the series.

Andrew: Let’s go get donuts after the show to celebrate the big return of Dobby.

Micah: Let’s do it.

Andrew: Woo!

[Micah laughs]

Odds & Ends

Micah: We did have one Odd & End, though, to close us out.

Laura: Yeah, I didn’t want to miss this. So we’re reminded that Dean Thomas is really good at drawing, so he puts together these elaborate banners for the Gryffindor common room party to celebrate Harry’s triumph at the first task. And of course, they depict Harry’s win and getting the dragon egg, but what they also depict is Cedric Diggory with his head on fire, and I’m like, [laughs] “Dean, that’s a little chaotic.”

Micah: Too soon.

Eric: Too soon. Too early.

Laura: For real!

Eric: It’s going to go from being too early to being way too soon forever.

Andrew: Yes.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, honestly, nowadays if you did that, it would automatically be considered a death threat.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: I mean, yeah, it’s probably a cartoony kind of drawing. I don’t know if that makes it better or worse. It’s the school pride thing; it’s Dean’s own personal retort to “Potter stinks” badges, and I think it’s very funny.

Micah: Well, it also kind of completes the crew, right? We talked about Seamus and Neville and Ron earlier; now you have Dean in the fold. It’s like everybody’s Team Harry, right?

Eric: Oh, that’s a great point. Yeah.

Andrew: Would you call this foreshadowing? We’re kind of circling around that.

Eric: It ain’t not.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: It’s foreboding.

Laura: I think it’s a small nod.

Andrew: Foreboding, yeah. Maybe he cursed him with this move. Maybe Dean is…

Eric: It’s not Krum with his head on fire.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: Okay, it’s time for MVP of the Week.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: And I said earlier, Dumbledore sure is a good guy, paying the house-elves. I’m going to give my MVP of the Week to Dumbledore for coughing up some coin for Dobby, and any other house-elf Who will accept it.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: And he even offered more than Dobby wanted! Hermione would have been big mad if she found out Dumbledore refused to pay him.

Eric: Yeah. Speaking of Hermione, she is not smooth ever, nearly ever, but in this chapter she’s extremely smooth. She manages to just coax out of Fred and George, “Oh, yeah, how do you get down to the kitchens, by the way?” And she’s not completely unscathed; they do know what she’s doing, but they tell her first, so good to Hermione.

Micah: I’m going to give it to Dobby’s hug. Best moment of the chapter.

Andrew and Eric: Aww.

Eric: You ever been hugged by shirtless elf?

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: That’s a story for another time.

Laura: Right. [laughs]

Andrew: “Well, one Christmas…”

Micah: Bonus MuggleCast.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: “One Christmas in the Castro, I was hugging a shirtless elf.”

Laura: Ah, yes. Anyway. [laughs] I’m going to give mine to Dobby, mainly because I really respect and admire his character, and I love the move that he pulled here to basically be like, “I know that when they say ‘Those who need help will always find it at Hogwarts,’ they didn’t really mean me – they didn’t really mean house-elves – but I’m going to make it about me and I’m going to go to Hogwarts and get some help.” Good job, Dobby.

Andrew: Listeners, if you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can email or send a voice memo recorded on your phone to, or you can use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. We do prefer the voice memos. And also, whether you send us a voice memo – because it is higher quality; that’s why we prefer it – or if you call us, please try to keep your message about a minute long, so for future Muggle Mail episodes we can fit in as many voicemails as possible. And next week we’ll discuss Goblet of Fire Chapter 22, “The Unexpected Task.”


Andrew: But for now, it’s time for Quizzitch.

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s Quizzitch question: What is the pattern of Dobby’s tie when Harry first encounters him in the Hogwarts kitchens? It’s horseshoes! Last week’s winners included Buff Daddy; All Snapes and Sizes; All that rhymes with Yule is making boys a fool and making death look cruel…

[Laura laughs]

Eric: … Cedric Doggery hates Labradors; Dobby’s chest hair…

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: … Dobby’s LinkedIn account includes fanfic about Harry; Elizabeth K.; Excited Huffie Puffie; Harry’s face when he realizes Voldemort died of old age two years ago; If this were reality TV, Karkaroff would have been kicked off; JennyPenny; LC; The ghosts of MuggleCast hosts past… ooh.

Andrew: They’re all still alive, last time I checked.

Eric: They’re all… yeah. The sad pair of Dobby’s socks that just want as much attention as his tie… aw. And finally, With the first pick in the 1995 NFL Draft the Indianapolis Colts select Dobby the Free House-Elf because of his horseshoe tie!

Andrew: That’s another job for him.

Eric: I guess it’s a sports reference. I don’t really understand it.

Andrew: Yeah, sounds like it.

Micah: I’m assuming: colt is a horse, horseshoes…

Andrew: Ohh.

Eric: Cool. Thanks, Micah, our sports correspondent. Here is next week’s Quizzitch question: How many girls ask Harry to the Yule Ball? This is a fun one and has to do with next week’s chapter, “The Unexpected Task.” Submit your answer to us on the Quizzitch form,, or click on “Quizzitch” from the MuggleCast website on the main nav.

Andrew: I’m going to guess it’s more than the number of girls who asked me to prom.

Eric: Which is?

Andrew: One, I think. [sighs] Anyway.

Eric: Well, I technically asked like 600 girls to prom.

Andrew: What do you mean, “technically”? You made a school-wide announcement or something?

Eric: It was morning announcement, yeah.

Andrew: Really!

Micah: How’d it go?

Eric: I said, “Yeah, I want a prom date.” Well, I said, “And in other news, I’m available for prom.”

Andrew: And how many girls came forward?

Eric: My science teacher came forward and said…

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: No, no, wait! Wait, there’s more to it! My science teacher came forward and said that during the morning announcements in her homeroom when I said that, she noticed a girl giggling, and she gave me the name of that girl, who I then found out and actually took to my prom.

Laura: Oh, that’s cute.

Andrew: That’s beautiful.

Micah: I thought that was going in a whole other direction. [laughs]

Eric: No, no, no. I didn’t see that coming at all when I started that sentence. Yeah, no.

Andrew: I give you credit for doing that. That takes guts to go on the morning announcements and do that. I was doing the morning news thing in my school, too; I never would have done that.

Eric: Well, you see, it’s much easier to look into a lens of a camera than to look into the eyes of a girl. Girls are scary.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: So to me it wasn’t anything.

Andrew: Yeah. Okay. Well, listeners, visit for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. Also, visit our Etsy store where you can buy many cool MuggleCast items, like the Cozy Comfy Combo Pack, which are the beanie and socks at one reduced price. We also have signed album art, really signed by all four of us. We’ve also got wooden cars – the MuggleCast Sweet 16 car. You build it yourself; it’s a really fun project. We’ve got T-shirts, and a lot more, too, so is where you can buy those items. They’re leftovers from various Patreon benefits. This is a while supplies last thing; once these are gone, they are gone. Don’t miss out on these things. They’re really nice; they really are. If you enjoy the show and think other Muggles would, too, tell a friend about the show, and we would also appreciate if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app. And this show is brought to you by Muggles like you. We don’t have any fancy corporate or network funding; we are proudly an independent podcast, just podcasting about our passion for Harry Potter, so we really depend on your support. And to do that, you can go to, or you can tap into the show on Apple Podcasts and subscribe to MuggleCast Gold. You’ll get lots of benefits, including but not limited to ad-free episodes, early access to episodes, bonus MuggleCast installments, a new physical gift every year, and a lot more. So thanks, everybody, so much for your support, and thank you for listening to this week’s episode. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Bye, everybody.

Eric and Micah: Bye.

Transcript #652

Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #652, Accio, Golden Egg (GOF Chapter 20, The First Task)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Brush up on your Summoning Charms and figure out how to transfigure a rock into a dog, because this week we’re hightailing it out of the dragon’s den on our Firebolt [laughs] when we discuss Chapter 20, “The First Task.” And to help us jump back into Chapter by Chapter this week, we are joined by one of our Slug Club patrons, Catherine. Welcome, Catherine, to MuggleCast.

Catherine: Hi, thanks for having me. I’ve been looking looking forward to my day to have my chance to host a podcast with you guys. I’m really excited, and it’s a great honor and pleasure to be here with you all.

Eric: Welcome, welcome.

Andrew: It’s our pleasure to have you here.

Laura: We’re excited to have you.

Andrew: Yeah, and you and Laura bonded over being in Georgia, living in the same state.

Catherine: We did.

Andrew: So that was fun.

Laura: Yeah!

Andrew: We’re already besties here, as if we weren’t already all good Harry Potter friends.

Catherine: Besties from the resties.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Tell us a little bit about yourself. I know you’re a teacher, right?

Catherine: I am. I teach psychology at a college here in town, and yes, it’s a lot of fun. So definitely rereading the Harry Potter books from a more psychological perspective has been interesting for sure, especially this chapter.

Laura: Ooh.

Eric: Cool.

Andrew: And let’s get your fandom ID.

Catherine: All right, so my favorite book is Prisoner of Azkaban. My favorite movie is also Prisoner of Azkaban, but I also like Order of the Phoenix, because as much as I just… I love to hate Umbridge, so I like to watch it and make myself suffer. But I mean, give it up. Imelda Staunton. I mean, come on. Chef’s kiss.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Catherine: For sure. She makes that movie. My Hogwarts House is Ravenclaw, but also sprinkle a little bit of Gryffindor in there because usually when I take the test, it’s either Ravenclaw or Gryffindor, so give it up to my… what, Ravendors? Or Gryffinclaws? My Ilvermorny House is Thunderbird. My Patronus, an aardvark, which I’ve never really heard many people have that one.

Andrew: Ooh. Shout-out Arthur stans.

Catherine: Yeah! I was going to do the “A-A-R-D-V-A-R-K,” the rap from Arthur, but…

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Catherine: Thank you. Thank you. You understand. And then my favorite character, it’s definitely a tough choice because there’s lots of great ones, but I’ve got to go with my gal Luna.

Andrew: Okay. It’s great to have you here, Catherine, and thanks so much for your support on Patreon. We really appreciate your support there.

Catherine: Thank you so much. Absolutely.

Andrew: So before we get into the chapter, a little bit of news. We can call it a news update, I guess. Eric, do you want to tell us the latest comments from an actor?

[Micah laughs]

Eric: Yeah, so this is our actor roundup for the week…

[Laura laughs]

Eric: … because in a recent article published on Bustle, Helena Bonham Carter was asked her thoughts on the Miriam Margolyes situation. So of course, we have commented – it came up on the last two MuggleCast episodes – that Miriam Margolyes recently had some words to say about adult Harry Potter fans, and I guess Bustle took an opportunity to speak with Helena Bonham Carter about her role as Bellatrix in the movies, and also her thoughts on what Miriam had to say. And a quote from the article from Helena Bonham Carter is, “I love that woman, and she’s somebody who has a big inner child. I think however old we are, we’ve got to keep that child alive.” And so that to me speaks to a very calming down of the “Let’s not fan the flame. Let’s be like, ‘It’s good to have an inner child.'”

Andrew: And she’s speaking to us, too, right?

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Andrew: “You can still have that inner…” yeah.

Eric: Because I think there was an implication that we needed to either grow up, or that Harry Potter was for children, I think, in Miriam’s original quote. So I actually found this news to be really satisfying, and it might help dull tensions a little bit.

Andrew: Okay, all right.

Micah: So do we feel like in the next couple of weeks, maybe month or two months, anytime a Harry Potter actor is interviewed, they’re going to get asked a question about Miriam Margolyes? [laughs]

Andrew: Probably.

Eric: It’s so… probably. That’s a good call-out, Micah. And also, I think even Miriam Margolyes realized that it was kind of biting the hand a little bit. She led in her comments by saying, “I’m very grateful to Harry Potter for everything it’s given me.” So this is one of those things where I think the media is having a heyday and they’re sensationalizing comments, and that’s why we get this update of other actors being asked to comment on what Miriam Margolyes has said.

Andrew: Well, thank you, Helena, for standing with us.

Eric: Yeah, and interestingly, that article does talk about the character of Bellatrix, actually, and it was interesting to see that Helena sort of admits that the character of Bellatrix that she played is different than what appears in the books, and she talks about how the Bellatrix character in the movies is a little bit more childish. And I know we definitely got that babying “Neener, neener, neener” kind of personality that really is not a faithful adaptation of the character in the books, who’s just insane, but I think it works.

Laura: I still maintain that Helena Bonham Carter made Bellatrix’s character better, because when we were rereading Order of the Phoenix and reading her character, I was like, “Oh my God, this character does not jump off the page in the same way that Helena Bonham Carter jumped off the screen.”

Eric: Not at all.

Laura: She totally improved Bellatrix.

Andrew: [imitating Bellatrix] “I killed Sirius Black!”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: That was a great line. That one always sticks with me.

Eric: Yeah, really gets under your skin.

Micah: You could probably argue it got her more screen time in future films than maybe she otherwise would have gotten. I’m thinking about the Burrow scene in particular, which was not in the books, but was added.

Eric: That’s right.

Andrew: But they needed to make it darker, right? That’s what they said at the time.

Micah: Of course, yeah. Well, especially as we progress throughout the course of the Harry Potter films, everything was darker. Everything had to be darker.

Eric: So darker. I could barely see!

Andrew: “It’s getting darker. This is the darkest one yet.”

Micah: The thing I will say for Professor Sprout and Miriam Margolyes is just they didn’t have a whole lot of screen time in this series overall, and maybe that contributed a little bit to how she feels, versus somebody like Helena Bonham Carter, who got a fair amount as the series went on. And of course, she has a fantastic relationship with Daniel Radcliffe, which we saw come to life in the reunion.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. Well, we’ll see who comments on this next.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: My money is on one of the trio, probably, and I’m sure they’ll have a nice cordial answer that wins over fans.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: So now it’s time to get into Chapter by Chapter, and this week we are discussing Goblet of Fire Chapter 20, “The First Task.” It’s time for this tournament. And we’ll start as always with our Seven-Word Summary. Here we go.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Micah: Dragons…

Catherine: … are…

Andrew: … afoot…

Eric: … inside…

Micah: … Hogwarts…

Catherine: … grounds…

[Andrew screams]

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: Very good.

Andrew: Yeah, I don’t know how to end that otherwise. [laughs]

[Seven-Word Summary music ends]

Micah: What happened to Laura?

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, where…?

Eric: Oh my God! I forgot… wait, did I not do that right with five people? I just put our names… okay, Laura, if you could change one word, what would it be?

Catherine: Change it, yeah.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Ooh, that’s fun.

Laura: I thought I was getting a break because I did girls MuggleCast last week.

Micah: That’s true.

Eric: Oh my God, that wasn’t my intention at all.

Laura: Trust me, I am aware. I was happy to sit back and watch y’all work the Seven-Word Summary.

Catherine: I have been stressing about this all day. Like, “What is going to happen?” [laughs]

Eric: Oh my gosh.

Laura: No, you did a great job! Honestly, I think we take the risky click and we leave it as is…

Eric: Wow.

Andrew and Catherine: Okay.

Laura: … and we see if this is one of the ones we end up correcting. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes funny ones like this really resonate with people, so…

Andrew: Laura gets to do all seven words next week, so stay tuned, everybody.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: To make up for this.

Laura: Well, that’s not as fun. [laughs]

Andrew: I know, I’m just kidding.

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Eric: So getting into the chapter, of course – Andrew mentioned this – we finally get face to face with a dragon. The tournament is finally begun. I’m hearing the battle music playing.

Micah: God, it only took 20 chapters.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Well, there was some stuff to introduce first. But yeah, so I’ve broken the chapter into two general components. And of course, Harry is still struggling with what is ahead of him throughout this chapter. It’s bearing down upon him, especially now that he knows that it’s dragons that he has to face. So there’s definitely a lot of anxiety going high, and it definitely is really interesting; this chapter is essentially a good character study on Harry, I think, who, for being the main character, we don’t always check in on, or we don’t see him be as versatile or react so differently to different stimuli as we do in this chapter. It’s really a great study for Harry.

Catherine: It’s kind of funny. I think that we are so inside Harry’s head; we’re seeing it from his perspective, but like you said, we don’t check in with what are his emotions going on right now? What are his intentions behind what he does? What is his motivation behind what he does? We don’t check in with that. I fully agree.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, this whole chapter, he’s basically going from “Oh, Hermione can’t help me; I’m not getting what I need,” to navigating telling Cedric and trying to be fair. Everything that really happens is all… Harry is leading it, and we’re following, but it’s just way different from scene to scene. So the big thing that I did want to call out is Harry does find a really clever way to tell Cedric. He unfortunately splits his brand new backpack, or satchel, which hopefully can be Reparo‘d, but this is the moment where Harry really could have taken what he knows to be an advantage just to him, and we see that Harry is very much not that way at all. He finds the way to tell Cedric, “Hey, Cedric, it’s dragons.” And I just wanted to ask, what does that say about Harry’s character that he does this?

Andrew: It’s one of my favorite types of moments from Harry, just to see him come to the aid of a fellow student. And then once you read back on this, the fact that these were unfortunately Cedric’s final months and giving him an assist…

[Micah laughs]

Eric: God. Tear my heart out!

Andrew: Well, no, really. I mean, it’s like, “Aww, somebody tried.” And the Hogwarts students have to stick together. And Harry could have thought, “Oh, you know what? I’m going to get the advantage over the other Hogwarts student by not telling him,” but he decided, “Because Krum knows, because Fleur knows, because I know, I’m going to make sure Cedric knows, so it’s fair for everybody.” And I just… it’s a very heartwarming moment.

Micah: Yeah, he’s determined, and he’s stalking Cedric through the halls to ensure that he can get some alone time with him. And part of it is I think Harry is longing for some kind of positive connection to anyone that isn’t Hermione. For as much as Hermione has been a great help to him over the course of these last couple of chapters – we see it in this chapter with the Summoning Charm – he is really in need of that connection that he normally has with Ron, and I think by telling Cedric about the task, it validates him, at least in his own mind, as not being the bad guy who snuck into the tournament. I think he’s put in this position where he has to almost clear his own name, and by doing something like this, I think it puts him on better footing with Cedric moving forward.

Eric: That’s such a great, yeah, analysis of Harry needing a friend. And I think he… even if he gets Ron back – which he does at the end of this chapter; everything’s fine now between them – but he needs a friend in this tournament. He needs to have some level of human connection with another one of the champions at minimum. Hopefully, all four of them would have a level of respect that I think they do get to as they know each other better, but nobody knows him. These older students don’t really know him, and they don’t know his character, and so this is really the catalyst for first Cedric realizing… because Cedric even asks Harry, “Why are you telling me this?” And Harry is so taken aback by the question; he’s like, “But it’s fair.”

Andrew: It’s the right thing to do.

Eric: He doesn’t even… that’s the coolest thing about Harry, is he does the right thing, and it’s not difficult for him to do the right thing. This is just what Harry always would have done.

Andrew: It also says to Cedric, “I didn’t put my name in the cup, because why would I put my name in the cup and want to win and then give information to you that could help you win?” So maybe one reason why Harry wanted to tell Cedric was so that Cedric could maybe put the good word in if Cedric is seeing Harry get bullied out and about around school. “Hey, you know what, guys? I really don’t think he did put his name in the Goblet. I think he’s telling the truth.”

Eric: Yeah, we know that Cedric eventually tells the other students, his fellow Hufflepuffs, to not wear the “Potter stinks” badges anymore once it becomes clear to… and I think after the first task alone, when the whole school sees all of them up against dragons, I think more students than will ever say it out loud realize that Harry… yeah, they come to the same realization Ron does, that it would be wildly absurd to think that Harry really chose this for himself. So both Harry’s actions interpersonally and in general, I think, work to clear his name because he’s just a good guy.

Catherine: Absolutely. I mean, that was my point. At the end of the day, Harry has a good heart. We don’t talk about that a lot, but he does. He has a good heart. I don’t see him not sharing that information with Cedric. He knew Cedric didn’t have an informant. I mean, Hagrid was Harry’s informant; the other headmasters clearly in some capacity were the informants to their champions. Cedric doesn’t have anybody. And like we said, he knew it wouldn’t be a fair fight. You’re sending three people in who have this prior knowledge, and that’s not fair. And that’s also not a true Gryffindor either. A true Gryffindor is… you have that bravery, and isn’t it brave to stand up and do the right thing? Harry is showing his true Gryffindor characteristics by sharing that information.

Eric: Is it brave to kneecap yourself and give yourself a disadvantage?

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Catherine: I mean, sometimes. [laughs]

Laura: But I mean, I suppose we could argue that a Slytherin probably wouldn’t do this, right? That it wouldn’t be super characteristic, at least in the way that Slytherins are portrayed at this point in the wizarding world. A Slytherin wouldn’t do this. Maybe a Slytherin by 2024 standards would do it, but I tend to agree with Catherine. I also think it just says that he doesn’t want the unfair advantages or special treatment, because people are always trying to foist that upon him and it makes him uncomfortable. He doesn’t like it. He doesn’t want the special attention. We see this theme throughout the series.

Eric: Yeah, later in this chapter Bagman offers again, too, and Harry is just like, “No. No, thank you.” So it’s funny, Micah, because you mentioned Harry stalking Cedric Diggory trying to find him, get him alone and tell him the secret, because somebody is also stalking Harry, it would seem.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: So Barty Crouch, Jr. – oh, sorry, Mad-Eye Fakey – comes out of a less used classroom or something, right as Harry is telling Cedric, and he’s like, “Potter, come with me.” It’s this classic moment of Harry thinks he’s in trouble; he turns out not to be. However, it is funny because it really does seem like Barty Crouch is keeping a very close eye on Harry Potter, and the whole reason why he calls him to his office is to say, “That was a nice thing,” and have an additional experience with Harry.

Micah: So do we find that to be suspicious activity on the part of Moody at this point? Or do we assume that because of Harry’s predicament, that it’s only natural that somebody like Moody would be tailing Harry?

Eric: The genius is in the equal possibilities, right? Especially in hindsight it seems suspicious, or it’s like, “Oh yeah, Moody is here at this scene because he’s following Harry and looking for a chance to, I think, again win his favor a little bit.” And it’s interesting; we’ll talk in a minute about how he goes about doing that. But definitely in the whole sort of stalking Harry, the way it’s written, as a kid when you’re first reading it, you’re like, “Oh, uh-oh, a teacher just happened to see him cheating,” and the book says, “Is he going to go to Dumbledore? What’s going to happen? Am I going to be expelled from Hogwarts?” it almost asks. It’s the classic “Uh-oh, a teacher just witnessed what I did, which might not be 100% aboveboard,” so it gives you that schoolroom drama that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

Laura: Do y’all think that Dumbledore knows that Fakey is tailing Harry, and has he endorsed this? Knowing that something is amiss, somebody entered Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire, there was a Death Eater procession at the Quidditch World Cup, there’s been all kinds of weird stuff going on, and they have one of the best Aurors of all time at Hogwarts, do we think that Dumbledore put Moody up to keeping an eye on Harry?

Micah: I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m trying to remember the movie, and something is sticking out in my mind where Dumbledore asks Moody to keep an eye on Harry. I think it’s after Barty Crouch, Sr. is murdered.

Catherine: I think you’re right, Micah.

Andrew: And then of course, the advantage with Moody is that he can see through walls, it seems. Because in this scene, Moody is not…

Micah: Yeah, what a perv.

[Andrew and Catherine laugh]

Andrew: Yeah, we don’t talk about that, though. In this scene, he’s not standing out in the hall and happens to witness this; he just kind of pops out after seeing it, so yeah, there’s many advantages, I think, to enlisting Moody to keep an extra eye on Harry.

Eric: Ahh, keep an eye on. When he says “Keep an eye on him,” he takes it really literally.

Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “Keep a mad eye on Harry. Get it? Get it?”

Eric: Well, I jump to Dumbledore… doesn’t Dumbledore ask Snape to keep an eye on Draco? Or keep an eye on Quirrell, that’s what it is. He says to Snape, “Can you keep an eye on Quirrell, would you?” And I can easily see that same conversation. Nobody needs to tell Fakey to keep an eye on Harry, believe me. He absolutely will. But I can believe that Dumbledore thinks that he’s solving the problem by asking Moody – who he believes to be Alastor Moody, his old Auror friend – to take a closer look. So I think it works on many levels, which again, for a book that was maybe rushed in printing – we’ve heard it be said before – there’s a lot of really good mystery and things that work on multiple levels. There’s a lot of depth here.

Micah: I want to talk about all of these Dark Detectors that he keeps in his office, and they’re buzzing worse than a beehive during mating season, but it’s not drawing attention to anybody. And in particular, though, I wanted to talk about the Foe-Glass, because Snape being revealed as his true enemy later on in this book really should have been a major clue to his allegiance – and we’ll get there when we get to that chapter – but Moody is doing an introduction to all of these different detectors that are in his office, and they’re all going off, right? The Sneakoscope is going… he said he had to deactivate it, right? If we remember from Prisoner of Azkaban, we all know what the Sneakoscope does. And there was another thing, like a little radio that was doing weird things – I forget the actual name of it – but he’s blaming it on the students! [laughs] He said, “The students are at fault.”

Andrew: Yeah. “Oh, they’re lying about their homework.”

Catherine: The Secrecy Sensor.

Andrew: That’s it.

Eric: Yeah. Well, that’s another thing that works both ways. It works on so many levels. It’s the idea that any of these devices would help you discern where somebody is being tricky or sneaky, when you have a school setting where people are… kids will lie about whether they did their homework or not. I mean, anything.

Micah: It’s the perfect facade. That’s really what it is.

Andrew: Yeah, when I was reading this, it made me think, “Well, can’t you fine tune these to tune out the silly stuff?” Like students lying about their homework, things that ultimately don’t matter, and just fine tune it so it’s only detecting the darkest of magic. You would think Moody would do that, because he doesn’t care, typically, about students lying to each other about who they like and the everyday nonsense that happens in school. And he just… Fakey is a thrill-seeker. Junior is a thrill-seeker, because he also says around this scene, he said, “Oh, these actually could be alerting us to something more than just childhood nonsense.” He’s basically asking Harry to think about it deeper.

Eric: And it’s possible that Fakey did and has fine tuned his Dark Detectors, but if somebody is in his office, he’s going to give the excuse “Oh, this is because of all the students.” So obviously, his Foe-Glass, if we see Snape in there later, that should be that clue, exactly, and it’s a very good clue. But I think what I like the most about these Dark Detectors is they’re non-discriminatory. They’re going off because you have the biggest imposter in the room with you, who has nefarious… the Sneakoscope is almost trying to clue Harry, but the alibi for it is fantastic.

Andrew: Why does he have these in there? Just to sell the Moody image?

Micah: Yeah, sell his persona.

Eric: That’s it.

Andrew: Yeah, “I’m paranoid all the time.”

Eric: Yes.

Micah: I mean, think back to the beginning of the book with the trash cans and everything that happened when he was claiming that somebody was in his yard. He’s on edge all the time. That’s who the real Moody is as a character, right?

Eric: I like to believe that Barty Crouch didn’t have to buy anything to decorate this office; he just scooped up all the Dark Detectors that were around the perimeter of real Moody’s house.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Because I think in the book, it says, “Oh, Harry had been in this office twice, and once there were pictures of Lockhart when Lockhart was in there. When Lupin was in there, it was stuff in tanks.” But for Mad-Eye, it’s this. It’s these Dark Detectors.

Micah: [laughs] It’s a neurotic Auror who thinks there’s something around every corner.

Eric: Well, right. It just fits the character as we think it would be perfectly. Even if real Moody had come back to Hogwarts and taught next year, I doubt he would have changed the office much.

Andrew: Catherine, you saw some foreshadowing happening here, too, right?

Catherine: I did. And I guess I just missed it reading it as a child and then rereading it, but Moody mentions to Harry as he’s talking about the Foe-Glass and he’s talking about the Sneakoscopes, and he was like, “If I see the whites of their eyes, I’m going to head towards my trunk,” and he points over to the trunk. And the thing is, that’s where he’s keeping Moody, OG Moody.

[Laura laughs]

Catherine: So it’s like, “Well, that’s kind of…” and we as readers are not, especially our first time through, we’re not… “Okay, he’s got a trunk. Okay, cool. Maybe it’s an escape hatch, or maybe it’s like Newt Scamander’s in Fantastic Beasts where he’s got corridors in there or something.” But you’re not thinking he’s holding a prisoner there.

Eric: No. It works so well at setting up the most terrifying thing in this room is in this trunk. And Harry is such a good student; he’s not going to ask. He’s just going to be like, “Oh, I’d better stay away from that trunk in case something comes out and bites me.” It’s so perfect at how it… and also it fits with what we know of Barty Crouch, Jr.’s character that he’s drawing attention to it, because he thinks that he is brilliant. And it’s just like when they were in the trophy room and he says, “This is exactly what somebody must have done to Confund the Goblet of Fire.” It’s exactly that where he’s like, “Oh, and this trunk, I would absolutely go straight to it.” It’s like, wow, you can get away with a lot.

Micah: That’s exactly what I was going to say. It’s reminiscent of the conversation that he had in front of some very important people where he revealed exactly what he did, and nobody picked up on it. But let’s also remember, Harry is 14 years old, so if you’re a 14-year-old in your teacher’s office, you’re going to be pretty careful, cautious around all of the things that they have there. You’re not going to go poking in and see what they have in…

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Well, maybe you would, Andrew. I could see you doing that.

Andrew: Well, no, I mean, Justin is bringing up a good point in our Discord. I mean, we’re talking about the same Harry who’s gone into the Forbidden Forest, who’s gone down and faced Fluffy and beaten Fluffy. He’s not afraid to poke around and see what’s going on.

Micah: No, but I think he’s afraid of Moody.

Andrew: Okay.

Micah: I do think there’s something in him that is fearful of Moody, not necessarily in a bad way, but in a cautious way.

Eric: Yeah, we’ll talk more about that in a moment. I did want to bring up, though… I had to look up this quote, because regarding his Foe-Glass, Moody says, “I’m not really in trouble till I see the whites of their eyes.” Something about “the whites of their eyes” rang a bell for me, so I did Google just that phrase, and it was something that was said to the Revolutionary War soldiers in the Battle of Bunker Hill. General Putnam said to the American troops, “Don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes,” meaning the British troops, and so it was truly the closest you could get… also, muskets were very limited, but it was the range that they had to get to for most success. And so I think that this is probably an intentional reference just in general about war time, and to me it just hits all the notes. I find it to be a delicious phrase.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: It’s a good catch.

Andrew: MuggleCast 652: The Battle of Bunker Hill.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “What? A history lesson?”

Eric: Or the Battle of Stoatshead Hill, but I guess that’s when they attack the Burrow.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Also just wanted to throw out: This chest that Moody has has seven locks on it. I like catching those seven and twelve references.

Eric: Interesting.

Laura: Ahh.

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, that seems like a lot, but also I guess that’s paranoid Moody for you. He can’t trust one, two, three, four, five, even six locks. It has to be seven.

Eric: You’re only as strong as the weakest lock.

Andrew: True that. One lock for every Horcrux, if you’re thinking of making those.

Eric: [laughs] Isn’t seven the most magically powerful number of locks to have?

Andrew: I’ve got six on my front door. I think I need to add a seventh.

Eric: Oh my God.

Andrew: This is inspiring me.

Catherine: I also think about it with Moody as well. He’s an Auror; he’s seen some pretty scary things. Would not surprise me if he’s got some PTSD going on, so having those seven locks may make him feel a lot better than having six.

Andrew: Also, lol at Moody saying he told Dumbledore that Karkaroff and Maxime would definitely be cheating when it came to the games. To show that Dumbledore is only human, they want to beat Dumbledore that bad. They really want to show that he’s only human. This made me think, though, maybe this is some evidence that Dumbledore did ask Hagrid to bring Harry into the Forbidden Forest to show him the dragons, because could Dumbledore have thought Harry would then pass this info along to Cedric, because Harry always does the right thing? So here’s an example of Dumbledore being the puppet master – not getting involved himself, keeping his hands somewhat clean – but he suggests to Hagrid that he do it so then Harry would then pass it on to Cedric, and Dumbledore doesn’t have to tell either Harry or Cedric.

Eric: I like it. I will say, it is confirmed later that Moody did tell Hagrid to take Harry out so that he himself wouldn’t have to.

Andrew: Ohh.

Eric: But the interesting thing about this… we understand Moody says to Harry, “Play to your strengths.” But before that, he says, “I’m not going to tell you how to do the first task. I’m not going to tell you.” He says, “I’m just going to give you general advice.”

Laura: Uh-huh. [laughs]

Eric: And it’s this beautiful… right? It’s this wonderful thing where he’s like, “I’m going to tell you exactly how to do it,” and he leads him to the whole thing, like, “Use your broom…”

Micah: They’re breadcrumbs.

Eric: They’re breadcrumbs, yeah. But by saying “I’m not going to tell you,” sets him psychologically… Harry is just like, “Oh, okay, you’re not going to tell me,” and then so he doesn’t suspect anything about where this information is coming from or what Moody’s own personal interest in his success might be.

Micah: The amount of knowledge that fake Moody imparts upon the students could fill up another entire episode of MuggleCast, and we could debate… because I think we’ve gotten feedback from listeners about what’s the true intention behind what Barty Crouch, Jr. is doing here, and does it have a lot to do with how he was raised and how he was treated by his father? But again, another discussion for another time. However, Andrew, I wanted to say, this is a really great catch that you had about Dumbledore being only human, because I actually think it’s a dig by Barty Crouch, Jr. because he’s hiding in plain sight. And he’s saying Dumbledore is only human; he can’t recognize certain things, and this is a perfect example of that.

Catherine: I love that.

Andrew: On a related note, I mean, Dumbledore doesn’t ever go into Moody’s office and see all these Dark Detectors and see them spinning?

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: And he wouldn’t be like, “There’s no way you have these tuned to detect homework lies”? That would be a red flag to me if I was walking into Moody’s office.

Laura: I think we’ve established that there is little to no oversight of the professors at Hogwarts.

Andrew: And Moody can be trusted; he’s an Auror.

Laura: Yeah, and I just don’t think that Dumbledore is dropping in unannounced on these teachers to check out what it is they’re doing. I think everybody is kind of siloed, honestly.

Andrew: All right. Well, on that note, we will go check in on Moody since nobody else is at the school. We’ll be right back after these messages.

[Ad break]

Eric: So returning to the chapter, going a little bit further along, Harry gets with best friend Hermione and says, “You need to help me.” She’s exhausted; she’s been helping him all week, but he says, “We need to practice Summoning Charms,” and they do that. It’s a really wonderful thing for Hermione to do, which I feel like was actually very well covered on the all girls episode last week as well, about what Hermione puts into her relationship with Harry and how she helps him and gives him life in almost a motherly way. Speaking of mothers, though, Minerva McGonagall – who is very matronly toward Harry in the next book – has this moment that I often forget exists, in that she is able to walk Harry down to the actual first task, and it’s an interesting little scene. She says to Harry, “Now, don’t panic… just keep a cool head… we’ve got wizards standing by to control the situation if it gets out of hand… the main thing is just to do your best, and nobody will think any the worst of you… are you all right?” And she says, “You’re to go in here with the other champions,” in a bit of a shaky sort of voice, and she says, “and wait for your turn, Potter. Mr. Bagman is in there… he’ll be telling you the -“ and then she chokes up and says, “the procedure… good luck.” McGonagall cares about Harry, y’all.

Andrew: Yeah, and I think she’s also probably thinking, “My goodness, he does not have any parents to look out for him during this terrifying experience he’s about to go through.” Presumably, she knows about the dragons that they all are about to face. She feels terrible that Harry is going through yet another traumatic experience.

Eric: I do want to correct myself; that first quote is actually from Hermione, but we see the parallel between Hermione and Minerva both just wanting the best of Harry, telling him it’s going to be all right. It’s a very interesting moment we get to see because we know where McGonagall was the day that Harry’s parents died; she was at Privet Drive begging Dumbledore to find better parents for Harry. So it’s just really interesting because pre-the “Have a biscuit, Potter” scene, and pre-Career Advice “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this kid becomes an Auror,” you just don’t get a lot of direct McGonagall/Harry action.

Laura: It makes me wonder how many times behind the scenes she has pleaded and begged with Dumbledore to do something different for Harry. [laughs] We just didn’t get to see it.

Andrew: Yeah, like stopped him from being in the tournament, you mean?

Eric: Well, yeah, knowing that McGonagall is at Hogwarts is the only reason I think that Harry’s case can’t be helped for being in the Goblet, because if there was a way to take him out of it McGonagall would have fought for that, because this is BS. Do we have any more insight into McGonagall’s state of mind here?

Catherine: You can clearly see she’s upset. She is upset that Harry could be hurt or worse. I mean, isn’t that what the Goblet…? The whole thing was like, “You could not be alive anymore,” and there is nothing she can do about it. I went and actually looked it up because I couldn’t remember, but there’s essentially a binding contract when they go into the tournament that’s like, “You can’t get out of it.” And for me, outside of Molly, McGonagall is the only stable motherly figure that Harry really has. I don’t think she would want any of her students hurt by any means, but if you think about it, those that are in the… Cedric is of legal age in the wizarding world; Harry is not, so that adds an extra layer of “He’s only 14, not even a legal adult in the terms of the wizarding world, and there’s nothing I can do to help him other than just walk him down here and just wish him luck. That’s all I can do.” And for a mother… I’m not a mother myself, but I couldn’t even imagine sending my child to do that – or someone I view as my child – off to something I can’t control. I have no control over it. It’s got to tear her up a bit.

Micah: Yeah, there’s no question the bond between Harry and McGonagall is really strong. We see it in Deathly Hallows when Amycus Carrow spits on McGonagall and it causes Harry to use one of the Unforgivable Curses as a result of that, so they are very much connected to each other. And I do think, to the points that were raised, it goes all the way back to Sorcerer’s Stone when Harry was first left on the doorstep and she is one of those motherly, grandmotherly figures for him. Because he doesn’t have anybody else. Somebody brought that up earlier.

Andrew: Trace Gatto said, “Minerva is Mom-erva.”

Everyone: Awww.

Eric: Yeah, I think it says a lot that there aren’t more motherly moments between Minerva and Harry in the books, because it shows actually McGonagall’s restraint. Despite her obvious feelings towards Harry, she is also equally committed to fairness. And she’s also… except for the thing with the Nimbus 2000 in year one. We don’t really talk about that.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: I saw a meme today where it was like, “This wand needs replacing, Weasley,” and Ron is like, “Well, can you get me a new wand like you got Harry a broom?” And she says, “No.”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: And it’s like, “Oh, God, okay.” So yeah, not all Gryffindors are treated equally. But there’s this impression that McGonagall is fair in everything that she does, and just to my point earlier, I think that’s why we don’t get more motherly moments. But it’s nice because the gears are very much still turning.

Catherine: Absolutely.

Eric: Now, this discussion also leads us into talking about the stakes of this first task. McGonagall is obviously very concerned for all the points that were brought up before; Harry is underage. Not only is Harry underage, but he has the most dangerous dragon. They draw lots and he gets, of course, the Hungarian Horntail, the one that Charlie Weasley was like, “Watch out for that one, Hagrid!”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: “Literally, Hagrid, any of these other ones you’d be fine with, but watch out because the Horntail’s particularly dangerous.” I’ve got to ask the question: Why is there a difficulty difference in these dragons? Should they not either be all of the same breed? Just the idea that a 14-year-old could get the most dangerous dragon is absurd.

Andrew: I guess that’s part of the entertainment value that’s happening here. If it’s the same four dragons, it gets a little repetitive. Potentially, the four people competing in the competition could share notes and work together to figure out the best way to defeat the dragon, because we all know they’re all finding out in advance anyway, and apparently, the people running this tournament know that too. So I just think it makes it more exciting. And plus, there’s the element of drawing from the bag and seeing what dragon that you get, and that’s just the luck of the draw.

Micah: With the little number around its neck. That was… I forgot about that.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: I guess if you have the same dragon, though, won’t the dragon get tired? Are you saying having four of the same type of dragon?

Eric: Well, right, so I get the colors are different and that’s exciting visually to the audience…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: … but why is the difficulty level…? The Horntail is at least doubly dangerous. Apart from breathing fire, he’s got the spikes.

Andrew: But that’s just part of the game, I think.

Micah: According to who, though? Because you’d have to assume that there are certain traits that each of these dragons have that could be just as dangerous depending on the circumstance. I think we’re just presuming that the Horntail is the most dangerous of the lot, right? Because it’s Harry’s dragon and because of all the hubbub that was made about it when Harry found in the forest, so I don’t know. I’m sure the Chinese Fireball is pretty damn dangerous. I’m sure the Welsh Green is pretty damn dangerous. I just think, as Andrew was saying earlier, it’s part of the Triwizard Tournament. It’s just part of the excitement, the draw, right? And you know what? Harry’s not supposed to be there anyway; that fourth dragon is not supposed to be there anyway.

Eric: Yeah, which one was the fourth? Which one was the one they brought up?

Laura: Probably the Horntail.

Eric: Well, they’re like, “For extra stakes, oh, a 14-year-old has joined the competition? We need to grab a fourth dragon. Quick, grab the most dangerous one!”

Laura: I don’t think it’s super easy to request a dragon for loan. You know what I mean? They’ve planned this out months in advance, presumably, and they probably had to go about finding a fourth dragon really quickly, and could only take what they could get. I don’t assume that dragons are very easy to get. [laughs]

Andrew: Didn’t we talk about them having a fourth dragon on standby in case one of the dragons was feeling sick that day or something like that?

Eric: That would have been interesting.

Andrew: It would make sense for them to have a backup dragon for any number of reasons.

Laura: The dragon called out sick?

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah.

Eric: No, I feel bad for all of these dragons, side note.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: But also, the dragons are on a reservation, or the dragons are kept in captivity, because otherwise it would be a breaking of the Statute of Secrecy, so they are kept in places like where Charlie Weasley works. And so I do think that they wouldn’t have had to go wrangle one; they would have had to bring a fourth one probably last minute, and that to me makes the argument that one of them is significantly more challenging. Maybe it’s that the other three dragons, whoever they were, were more evenly matched, but then we get this Horntail, which just… I’m sorry, again, Micah, you can’t convince me that the Common Welsh Green, so called, is as scary as even the Chinese FireBall. You can’t.

Micah: All right, you go tickle a sleeping Common Welsh Green and tell me how it goes for you.

Eric: Oh, I think I’ll survive more likely than if it were the Horntail. But Catherine, you have solved this to within an inch of our discussion here. I’m so happy with the solution that you’ve presented as far as points and the dragons’ difficulty; please share.

Catherine: Okay, so I’m a huge video game player, and you know how you have different levels of the difficulty? You’ve got easy, medium, master mode, whatever. And so I was like, “If they wanted to have different dragons, shouldn’t each dragon be worth so many additional points to your score?” So again, like playing on a different level of a video game, so the Horntail being a higher score, seemingly the most dangerous dragon, so you would get four points added to your total score. Versus the Common Welsh Green, maybe in the form that they have, it’s the least difficult, so it’d be more like easy mode, but you get one additional point.

Andrew: Right. I like that.

Catherine: It made sense in my video game brain.

Andrew: That makes a lot of sense.

Laura: That makes total sense.

Catherine: If you’re not wanting to have it where we’re all facing the same dragon, or whether it be the same dragon repeatedly, or there’s four Common Welsh Greens or whatever. That was my thought process.

Laura: I love it. I was thinking similarly to Catherine, although I think Catherine’s approach is a lot more efficient than mine. But I was almost thinking of the way that when you see a lot of different kinds of competitions happening, the judges will rate the competitors based on a number of categories like difficulty, creativity, technique, and they get different individual scores for all of those and the score that they ultimately give them is a composite score. So I was like, “Maybe they’re doing that,” but then I got to the end of the chapter, and I remembered, “Oh, no, that’s not what they’re doing. That’s not it.”

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Eric: It’s funny because we heard Karkaroff in a previous chapter talk about how many months of plannings, all these meetings that they had about how to do this tournament, and he gives Harry a four. And you can just tell that every single judge in this competition has no supervision. There are no rules, there is no repercussions, you can just do whatever you want and show blatant favoritism. I know it’s skipping ahead a little bit, but literally all this planning and no, every judge is their own island. There is no summing up of the total scores at all. It’s a miracle anybody wins with all the other schools behaving the way Karkaroff might.

Andrew: Yeah, I did find it interesting that Bagman… so after the dragons are pulled, nobody’s having a reaction like, “Oh my gosh, we’re facing dragons? Wow, I’m so surprised!”

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: They don’t even try to fake it. Now sure, maybe they were a little… you could argue they were stressed, but we also know that they knew going into this they’d be facing dragons. So I’m surprised Bagman didn’t say, like, “Oh, I’m surprised you guys aren’t reacting, or looking scared,” or something like that. I guess it just speaks to the fact that even Bagman and the people organizing this tournament know that the secret’s been out and the secrets already get out. It just sat weird to me; everything is normal. If I were Bagman, I’d be like, “Eh? So what do you guys think? Huh? Huh?”

[Micah laughs]

Catherine: I’ve always thought Ludo Bagman was a little dense, in my opinion.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Catherine: He was not the most impressive of the Ministry of Magic, in my opinion. But so it might have gone over his head that no one was having a reaction.

Andrew: Okay, okay.

Eric: There is definitely a reason why his character wasn’t adapted into the movies, I think, and it’s maybe due to some of these similar flaws.

Micah: The movie adaptation, though, of this particular scene – to kind of answer that question – I thought it was really well done, because you did get that emotional reaction from the four champions as they were drawing the dragons out of the bag, and you had Barty Crouch, Sr., “Chinese Fireball, oooo.”

Andrew: Oooo.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: And Harry muttering under his breath, “Hungarian Horntail,” and Barty Crouch, Sr. reacting to that almost; “Wait, what did you say, boy?”

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: And so it was much better done. You didn’t need the character of Ludo there. It kind of falls flat in comparison; this moment in the actual book falls flat by comparison, I would say.

Eric: Yeah. And speaking of Bagman, he says to Harry – here’s a direct quote from the book – “Got a plan?” Then he lowers his voice conspiratorially; he says, “Because I don’t mind sharing a few pointers, if you’d like them, you know. I mean, you’re the underdog here, Harry… anything I can do to help…” It’s like, okay. I mean, we see what Bagman gives Harry, but it’s just… cheating is rampant. That’s literally all this is. That’s why he’s not surprised anyone knows about the dragons. It’s literally what Moody says. Fakey tells Harry the other professors absolutely would have told their kids to cheat because that’s just the history of this, or the proud tradition of this tournament. It seems right with Bagman offering to help Harry at the last minute.

Andrew: And I think Harry rejected it because he wants things to stay fair, and for him to get some last minute info from Ludo would make things unfair. Now, that said, they’ve all been preparing in their own ways anyway, so I’m not sure what Ludo could have given him that would have definitely given him a leg up, so maybe it wouldn’t have made things more unfair.

Laura: Ludo is probably placing bets on it as well and trying to rig things in his favor.

Eric: Yeah. He owes the goblins a lot of Galleons.

Andrew: Maybe Ludo… I doubt it, because Charlie was having a hard time controlling the dragons, but maybe he’s got some secret hack that automatically gets the dragon to move off the eggs, like you press the fourth toe on the left leg…

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Yeah!

Andrew: The dragon flies away. Some secret button.

Laura: Like the Whomping Willow?

Andrew: [laughs] Right, the Whomping Willow.

Eric: I honestly love it. It is very Willow-esque. I love that idea, Andrew, though, because it’s like at this point, this late in the game, what advice would Bagman really have been able to give Harry, especially knowing Harry’s got the most dangerous dragon? Sorry, Micah, I’m going to keep saying that. It’s the most dangerous dragon, and I just think what could he possibly have told Harry? It’s not like Harry can go off and learn the Summoning Charm if he hadn’t already prepared for a day and a half straight of spell casting. No advice Bagman gives Harry would be implementable.

Micah: To go back to the comment that was made about betting by Laura, I think there’s actually a comment that Bagman makes while he’s commentating – was it about covering the spread? There’s something at the very end of the first task that he says that would lead you to believe that he’s very much playing the odds on his own. I have to look it up. But the one thing I did want to bring up is pulling Harry aside, trying to give him this advice, trying to give him this edge… does it raise any suspicions on our end? Does it move him up the suspect board a little bit about dropping his name in the Goblet of Fire? Because why else would you want to help Harry?

Andrew: Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, you mentioned the gambling, as did Laura; maybe it’s just as simple as that. And by the way, the line from Bagman was, “Will you look at that! Our youngest champion is quickest to get his egg! Well, this is going to shorten the odds on Mr. Potter!”

Micah: Shorten the odds, there you go.

Laura: Ohh, yeah, there it is.

Andrew: So yeah, I guess that answers your question. [laughs] It’s all about…

Eric: Totally peeing himself. And from one Quidditch player to another, when he sees Harry on his broom, I bet he just loves that as well.

Andrew: All right, well, we’ll get to Harry’s relationship with Ron and that come back in a moment, but first, we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Eric: So coming back off of that lovely ad break, we have another return, and it is Ron coming back to Harry, and it’s a beautiful scene where I think we could have gotten a little bit more out of it. But Harry has really been wanting to have Ron back, and there’s this moment earlier in the chapter in Divination where his and Ron’s eyes meet for the first time in several weeks, and they still can’t look at each other; they still can’t talk to each other. But finally, after Harry succeeds in what I think is the most phenomenal showing of the first task, Ron comes in and actually apologizes, or he would apologize if Harry doesn’t say “It’s nothing” and then he just totally lets it go.

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah, he was ready to jump on him.

Eric: I would have absolutely loved to have seen what Ron would have said, but all he manages to get out is “I think you’d have to be a nutter to really put your name in,” so that’s all that Harry needs to just be like, “Okay, we’re friends. Hermione sucked so badly. It was horrible without you.”

[Catherine laughs]

Andrew: I’m willing to forgive Ron because Ron is riding high on Harry’s win; I think he has a fresh appreciation for Harry.

Eric: That’s a good point.

Andrew: I’m sure Ron was very stressed about Harry being in this task too. Deep down, of course, he was going to get back with Harry at some point; the question was just when, and what better opportunity than when he’s so excited that Harry did phenomenal in the first task?

Eric: I think it really does take a life or death situation, the way… the thing that I thought of this go-around was that Ron’s realization mirrors Molly’s when everyone goes off to the Quidditch World Cup and she has that shouting match at Fred and George about their joke shop or whatever, and they come back to the Burrow and she’s in tears and says, “What if the last thing I ever said to you was…?” whatever it was. And so I think Ron has that moment where he’s like, “If Harry had died -” because it’s very realistic that Harry could have died when he faced his dragon “- I would have not been supporting him as a friend at that time.”

Andrew: Yeah. That’s a great parallel.

Eric: It really drives it home.

Laura: I love that. Yeah, just imagining Ron being in the stands and watching his best friend, who he’s been fighting with for weeks, nearly face his death. I mean, to be a fly in the stands, I guess we could say, [laughs] to actually just see the evolution of Ron in those moments go from still being really pissed at Harry to all of a sudden seeing what he’s actually up against…

Eric: Makes it real.

Laura: … and how jarring it would be. Yeah, that’s something that I would also like to see in a TV show, more of an introspective focus on that kind of thing.

Catherine: To add to that, I love Ron as a character, I do. I think the movies do not do him justice sometimes. But he’s very stubborn, as we’ve seen, and we also know that he wants to be the best.

Andrew: [sings] “Like no one ever was…”

[Catherine and Eric laugh]

Catherine: Exactly. I mean, case in point, harkening back to the first book, what does he see in the Mirror of Erised? “I’ve got the Quidditch cup, and I’m the House boy, and I’m a prefect.” He wants to be the best. While I think he never… he loves Harry; we clearly see it throughout the book. He does. I mean, you don’t put yourself in situations if you don’t love your friends, especially dangerous situations. But we see his jealousy throughout the entire series. Every time you turn around, there’s something he’s mad at. I mean, and if you’re… to use one of my favorite phrases, the connecting with threads, I mean, think about to Deathly Hallows when he’s got the locket. Why does he leave? He’s so jealous that Hermione is with Harry and everything, so I mean, that’s amplifying his jealousy even more. That is a common thread throughout these books. But I also agree; I think it does take seeing Harry compete in this task and realizing, “Oh no, I could’ve not had my best friend anymore” to shake him out of that jealousy and come to the senses.

Micah: Yeah, I think that dragon served up a big piece of humble pie to Ron.

Catherine: Absolutely.

Laura: Agreed.

Micah: He’s got some work to do. I’m not going to lie, I’m not back on the Ron train just yet.

Andrew: Oh, okay. Gotta win Micah over, still.

Eric: Some residual disappointment there. Yeah, well, it’s just… I love that you can, though, see it coming. Ron has been reminded, as Harry has, what makes their friendship special. I’m sure… Harry has been feeling that Hermione couldn’t offer the same thing, and Ron, he catches Harry joking in Divination about “Glad I’m going to die quickly, Trelawney,” and you see that almost smile, or Harry notices the almost smile, and it’s like Ron is being reminded just as Harry is that things are more fun when they’re friends. And so it’s really lovely that you have that Divination scene leading up to the first task, and then the payoff is here.

Andrew: And it’s cool to be friends with Harry. Maybe this reminded him of that as well. I think I was alluding to this a couple weeks ago, too; he should be… I get that Ron is young, so he doesn’t really see the full picture, but he should be really lucky to have Harry, the Chosen One, as his bestie. And when you’re friends with a celebrity, that’s what’s going to happen sometimes. They’re going to be getting a lot of the spotlight, but you know that Harry is a good person, so just learn to roll with it.

Micah: Yeah, I mean, that’s what happens when I hang out with Andrew and everybody comes over and wants pictures and autographs.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: And it’s annoying, but somehow I cope.

Andrew: Yeah. You cope, and then I go and defeat a dragon, and you’re like, “Oh, he’s cool. I can roll with this.” So Ron and Harry are besties now, and Ron fills him in on what happened with the other players?

Eric: Yes, and that’s another great thing: Ron is delivering the play by play, and it’s great to see Ron engaged, but Harry wants to know… this is what they bond over constantly, sport and this kind of… not gossip, but it’s just a perfect fit to have them back together. And I did want to ask – because I gush about how Harry handled this whole situation, it’s just wild – but was there another champion whose performance we also really liked? And here’s a small recap of what everyone did: so Cedric Diggory transformed a rock into a Labrador dog to distract the dragon. It sort of worked, according to Ron, but halfway through the dragon changed its mind and Cedric got burned. Fleur Delacour managed to subdue her dragon somehow, but wasn’t counting on its snores to also emit fire, so she got burned. And Viktor Krum hit the dragon in the eyes with a spell, kind of confusing it, but it went around in a rage and then crushed some of the eggs! So all the champions got their eggs, but none of them, including Harry, were unscathed.

Andrew: Which was your favorite, Catherine?

Catherine: I liked Fleur’s subduing the dragon, and I almost… I was thinking about it today; I was wondering if… because she’s part Veela, and I was like, “I wonder if because she’s another magical being, if her Veela-ness was able to come out and she was able to put it to sleep somehow?” I mean, and that’s pretty powerful. They talk about how dragon hide skin is so tough and that’s why their gloves are made out of it for Herbology and stuff. That’s pretty powerful magic.

Eric: That’s really an interesting point.

Catherine: I would like to see that Maxed, personally. To actually see…

Andrew: She said it! She said the thing!

[“Max that” sound effect plays]

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Andrew is ready with the button!

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Nobody brought the Pokéflute? Come on.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Catherine: I was thinking Pokéflute earlier when you said like, “What would Bagman do?” Like he’d slip him a Pokéflute and be like, “Here, put the dragon to sleep.” But I mean, that would be… I think it’d be cool – if we do get our TV show – to see all of these done, because we are only in Harry’s head. It’d be nice to actually see more.

Laura: Right. Yeah, I love what you said there, Catherine, about Fleur because I think Ron says that she put the dragon in some kind of trance, is that right? And it made me think of the way that Ron reacts when he’s around Fleur and when he’s been around Veela before, so I think you’re right. There’s some kind of crossover of whatever magic that is.

Catherine: And her wand has the Veela hair in it as well.

Eric: That’s interesting.

Laura: Yep, great call.

Catherine: Because I went and looked that up too. I was like, “Doesn’t it…?” And according to the wiki, it’s her grandmother’s hair, so maybe there’s that extra connection on top of that. Not only is she a Veela but it’s that lineage as well. That was my thought. I don’t know what the author was thinking about there.

Eric: And it’s a lady dragon, so that’s interesting.

Micah: Can I ask you a question, though, to Catherine and to Laura? Coming off the heels of last week’s episode got me thinking reading this particular chapter because we know that Cedric gets burned, right, on his actual skin, but Fleur only gets her skirt burned, and I just feel like the way that that was written, is there anything more to read into there? Is there a message that the author is trying to send?

Laura: Oh, that’s a really interesting question.

Micah: Maybe not. Maybe I’m thinking more…

Eric: I like the question too, yeah.

Laura: No, I do like the question. I’m trying to consider it. I guess my first…

Micah: Like Fleur is not tough enough to have burns like Cedric or Krum; it’s got to be her skirt.

Eric: Or it’s not practical, yeah. To wear a flowy skirt to battle is really…

Andrew: It’s a bad decision. “What was she thinking, picking something with a skirt?” That type of thing?

Eric: Could be.

Micah: Both of those things.

Laura: I also wonder, do we get Fleur’s and Cedric scores? Because I know we find out the placement of Harry and Krum, right?

Catherine: I don’t think… I have my book; we could find out!

Andrew: Oh, you have the illustrated edition.

Catherine: Oh, yes.

Laura: What I’m wondering is if Fleur is in fourth place after this, I call BS, because she didn’t get her flesh burned, and she actually had a pretty effective approach for dealing with this dragon. So in my opinion, she should definitely not be dead last, and I’m wondering if we get an indication of where she ranks right now.

Eric: As far as… yeah, I don’t know about right now, but standings-wise we do get an update because Fleur has to sit out the second task; she can’t handle it psychologically, which that’s probably saying something about Fleur, but the explanation… everything to do with points in this book is just leading up to the Harry and Cedric tie. From a plot standpoint, I can’t get too deep into what does the scoring mean? Because I’m just like, at the end, it has to be Harry and Cedric.

Catherine: Quick look is no, we do not get any scores.

Laura: Okay.

Catherine: Other than the fact that… which we’ll get to in a minute in the thing about Karkaroff being unfair towards Harry. But no, there was no score for Fleur. But I agree, Laura, she doesn’t need to be dead last for that, exactly. She didn’t get a single burn at all. If we’re going by that, Cedric should be last; he’s the one that got burned up more. Poor guy. God bless him.

[Everyone laughs]

Catherine: Bless his heart.

Eric: Bless him, he tries.

Andrew: It is interesting to me that everybody had a different way of tackling this, and also everybody kind of sort of hacked it? Nobody fought the dragon except for maybe Krum because he shot the spell at the dragon’s eye, but everybody else… Harry with the Firebolt, Cedric with turning a rock into a dog and having the dog distract…

Laura: That’s the most random one.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah, it’s hacky.

Micah: I like that, though. It’s trying to distract, right? It’s a decoy.

Andrew: I want a fight, though. Fight, fight, fight.

Laura: But also, honestly, that’s real life. Hacking it.

Andrew: Fake it till you make it.

Micah: Hack it.

Laura: Honestly, the older I get, the more situations I find myself in, it’s like, “What can you do to get the thing done efficiently and mostly correctly?” [laughs]

Andrew: So you can get it over with as soon as possible.

Laura: Yes!

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: It would have blown my teenage mind when I was first reading this book to learn that adults don’t have their ish together and aren’t ever… there’s a plan for everything and an escape plan… like, it would have blown my mind. Now being an adult, being mid 30s and being like, “How much of it is just hacking it?”

Laura: Yeah, most of it. [laughs]

Micah: Imagine the… all of these students were supposed to go into this task without prior knowledge of what they were about to face.

Catherine: There’s no way.

Micah: So they were able to hone in on what it was they wanted to do to try and get the egg away from the dragon. Now, this might not be a popular statement here, but I never liked the way that Harry got the egg from the dragon. I thought summoning his broom… for a guy who just learned how to summon days ago, 24 hours ago, whatever it was…

Eric: Right.

Micah: It’s a cop out. And how far away is the Firebolt? It’s up in Gryffindor tower. He’s down in the forest. The distance, the magic that that would require… he was only summoning things from across a room, not from across an entire field all the way out in the school.

Andrew: But he was determined. I think Hermione was driving that home. “You’ve got to be determined.”

Micah: Okay, so how far away can you summon your vibrating broom, Andrew, right now if you wanted to?

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Let me try right now. Hold on. I’ve got my MuggleCast wand right here, actually.

Eric: Andrew is on his broom right now. Joke’s on you.

Andrew: It’s only a few feet away; it won’t be too difficult. I agree with you, but I think that what bothers me most is that he’s bringing in an outside object, like he’s calling it in. You should only be able to fight to complete the task with the things that you have in your possession currently, or that are in the environment, like Cedric turning…

Micah: That’s a good point, yep.

Andrew: That’s what bothered me, I remember, when I first read this book.

Eric: Well, I think that the reason the broom is all the way up in the castle is for the suspense of did it work? Did it not work? Did it work? Did it not work? It makes it very exciting, because very reasonably, Harry’s Firebolt could have been in Hagrid’s broom closet. We know that the gamekeeper… we know that there’s spare brooms and training brooms that are just in a cupboard on the grounds somewhere, and the Firebolt, for all they know… this task could have been done on the Quidditch pitch with that broom closet right there and Harry’s remarkable Summoning Charm wouldn’t have necessarily been that much cooler. It’s just for dramatic effect that the thing was all the way up there. So I don’t know; I give Harry a lot of credit with this. I think that if all you’re given is your wand, you do exactly what Moody says: You play to your strengths. It would have been the same if Harry learned transfiguration and transfigured a rock into a broom instead of a dog. It would have been the same thing of using what you have there. I think it still counts.

Micah: It just falls flat for me, though, because you also have two other participants in this tournament who are exceptional Quidditch players, so the whole idea of playing to your strengths… Cedric doesn’t do it. Krum doesn’t do it. But Harry does it? And you can argue Harry’s strength; I mean, he’s a great Quidditch player, don’t get me wrong, but Defense Against the Dark Arts is probably more of a practical strength than flying is for him.

Eric: I think the issue is, though, again…

Micah: Rushed. It was all rushed. This is what happens when it’s rushed.

[Andrew and Catherine laugh]

Eric: Well, no, the vector is his age again, because what Hermione says is they have never learned to transfigure anything alive yet at this point. By year seven, you absolutely would have done that at Hogwarts, but Harry just… the Summoning Charm represents the maximum possible skill level of magic that Harry at his current age could possibly do and still do well enough that it’s reliable, and that’s why I like it. It’s truly Harry reaching up and touching higher magic, like when he learns the Patronus Charm. Harry is good at this stuff.

Catherine: I mean, would they even have learned Confundus by now?

Eric: Probably not!

Catherine: Right, because I was thinking that maybe that’s what Fleur used to confuse the dragon or whatever. But I mean, that’s a higher level skill, and again, we have to think the age disparity between the three other champions and Harry. But I kind of do agree; I thought the Firebolt thing was kind of a cop-out too.

Eric: Aw, man.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Thank you. I mean, summon the egg! Why are you summoning your broom? Summon the egg. It would have been over in ten seconds.

Andrew: Oh, that’s a good point.

Laura: Ohh, see, now I’m with you, Micah.

Andrew: There must be a charm.

Eric: Well, how you gonna get the dragon off the egg?

Andrew: There was that…

Micah: Summoning it.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: You can’t summon a living thing. This isn’t Fantastic Beasts and the Niffler.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: No, the egg is not living.

Laura: The egg’s not living.

Eric: Well… oh, yeah, “Accio egg.” Well, you know what? It would definitely smash.

Andrew: Summon the dragon and get it off the egg, and then you go grab the egg. [laughs]

Micah: Just move around a little bit.

Laura: You say, “Accio gold egg.”

Andrew: Under dragon butt.

Eric: Wait, since the egg is gold… you could just get a Niffler, since the egg is golden.

Micah: Now you’re thinking.

Eric: Let a Niffler loose, wait five minutes, and then they’ll bring it back to you.

Laura: But then what if the Niffler gets hurt?

Eric: The Niffler won’t get hurt.

Micah: Casualty of war.

[Laura laughs]

Catherine: But that’s when you say, “Accio Niffler,” or “Accio golden egg” and the Niffler will have it in its pouch already.

Andrew: And certainly that wouldn’t stop Cedric. I mean, he’s sacrificing a dog here.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: And I’ll circle back on this in a moment.

Eric: We were going to bring this up at some point in this episode I’m sure anyway, but how do we feel…? Because I like the broom thing. I think it’s an elegant solution; I don’t think it’s a cop-out. But I also am probably alone in liking the adaptation to the movie where they chase each other around Hogwarts.

Catherine: I’m with you, Eric.

Micah: I think you had to. In the movie, I think you absolutely… I didn’t like it, but I think you had to do it. If you were the director, you had to do it, because if you’re just going to do what happens in the book, it’s just not exciting.

Andrew: It’s cinematic.

Catherine: It’s not as visually pleasing. Because I mean, I thought… when I was reading this chapter, I was like, “That’s all he did?” I was like, “What happened? I thought the dragon…” and then because I’ve not read the book for so long, I literally thought the movie-ism was right. I was like, “Doesn’t the dragon chase him or do something?”

Eric: Right.

Catherine: I’m like, “Okay, yeah, it snaps a little bit. Okay.”

Eric: Well, there’s a level of deftness to what Harry has to do, because the dragon is a mother that is going to guard its children, and so Harry is flying at a level that’s neck and neck with the dragon. The dragon is predisposed to not go after him, and so it’s actually very, very skillful for Harry to have to rock back and forth and get it out of its own comfort zone, to make the dragon essentially forget that it’s protecting its eggs, to then dive. I just think Harry is a genius, and this is extremely good for him. Anyway, Harry does not have a friend in Karkaroff. Karkaroff gives him probably a higher score than you would, Micah, but Karkaroff gives him a four.

Micah: I wouldn’t take away points; I just think the way it was written was kind of a cop-out.

Andrew: So yeah, the scoring system, very unfair. I mean, there’s just… for Karkaroff to give him a four, for Karkaroff to be judging… [laughs]

Eric: There’s that.

Andrew: For any of these people to be judging, with the exception of Ludo, is pretty nuts.

Micah: None of them should be. None of the headmasters should be judging. And I honestly think the Goblet of Fire should be the one to determine the score; that would have taken away a lot of the bias that we see from all of these participants.

Eric: That’s interesting.

Micah: Because Ludo is also giving scores based on what he’s betting on the side. [laughs]

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: Oh, this is all so messed up. I initially was like, “The Sorting Hat, Micah, really? Can’t we come up with another object?” But there has been this recurring theme in Goblet of Fire Chapter by Chapter thus far where we’re giving jobs to the Sorting Hat because he’s so bored the rest of the year when he’s not Sorting. By the end of the series, I hope we have a long list of tasks that the Sorting Hat can handle throughout the year.

Micah: No, no, the Goblet. I’m saying the Goblet needs to do it.

Andrew: Ohh, oh.

Micah: The Goblet caused all this to begin with. But the Sorting Hat could, too.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: It would have brought the Goblet to greater prominence throughout the book. And I actually really like that suggestion, because if you think about it, for a book called “The Goblet of Fire,” the Goblet of Fire exists at the beginning of the book and that’s it. After the names are drawn, it goes into its casket. But the idea of an impartial judge, truly that.

Andrew: So the Goblet’s going to spit out its score? Because it doesn’t have a mouth like the Sorting Hat. We need a third or fourth. So the Sorting Hat is a judge. The Goblet is a judge. What are the other two?

Catherine: I say pull out the Mirror of Erised.

[Everyone laughs]

Catherine: Make them walk up and get their scores.

Andrew: Starting to look like Beauty and the Beast.

Eric: Everyone’s going to get a perfect score.

Catherine: But that would be the impartial… everybody gets a perfect score and then you have everything else.

Andrew: And the Pensieve. [laughs] That’s the fourth judge.

Eric: Well, I will say, I think everyone’s pretty much evenly matched. Harry gets hurt by the spike tail. Everyone gets slightly burned or damages the eggs. There’s a flaw in everyone’s behavior, but nobody deserves a four. This is me coming for Karkaroff right now. A four is extremely low, and somebody should have stopped him. That is absolutely unacceptable for that to be… they shouldn’t even have fours. [laughs]

Laura: I wonder what he gave Cedric and Fleur.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Catherine: I’m telling you, the TV show. You make it up. Just saying.

Laura: I know. Give us answers.

Catherine: Exactly. Give us the answers we need.

Eric: So yeah, and Bagman, on the other hand, gives a ten, and it’s just like Andrew said, he’s betting on the return. So it’s so clearly biased and flawed, but it is always fun to just examine all the ways in which this is just bogus.

Andrew: It’s fascinating. It’s fascinating.

Catherine: And I was thinking about it – since I do teach college – is there not some kind of rubric? If they’re going to have the headmasters – as they shouldn’t, and I fully agree, it should be completely no one related to them at all – is there not some kind of rubric they need to follow? Or some standard guide of these are the basics for… you get this many points for the amount of time to complete the task, the difficulty of the magic performed, etc.

Eric: Yep. Your dragon.

Catherine: And I was thinking… yeah, the dragon type, etc. But then I was also taking it back to… throwing it to the Muggle world, we’ve got the Olympics coming up. In gymnastics, there are judges that specifically judge the difficulty of a routine or a maneuver, and then there are judges that specifically talk about the execution of the routine, so there’s, like, 12 judges going on, and then how they score is a combined score of what the score for the difficulty and then their execution of the routine, minus any mistakes. So I’m like, why is that not a thing?

Eric: Yeah, and it’s weighted and it’s fair, and everybody gets the same exact treatment. It essentially rules out judge bias.

Catherine: Exactly.

Micah: You know who’s going to be super pissed after this? Moody.

[Catherine laughs]

Andrew: Moody.

Micah: At Karkaroff.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Oh, that’s funny because Karkaroff directly hinders maybe Harry’s chances of getting to the final. Moody sees that and has to step up his game to either psych Karkaroff out or continue helping Harry along. Pretty interesting.

Odds & Ends

Eric: Well, I believe that may wrap up our main discussion, so let’s move on to the Odds & Ends of the chapter. So something I thought was very fun is it’s easy to forget, with the movie adaptations being fresher in our minds, but in Hogwarts in the books, the wizards years one through seven have pointy wizards caps.

Andrew: Aww.

Eric: I thought that the only pointy wizard’s cap reference was at the end of the first book when everyone’s throwing off… it’s very French Philosopher’s Stone cover, if you’ve seen it; they all have the pointy caps there. But it turns out the opening sentence of this chapter is, “Harry got up on Sunday morning and dressed so inattentively that it was a while before he realized he was trying to pull his hat -“ hello, hello “- onto his foot instead of his sock,” so his hat is still a part of Harry’s uniform in year four.

Laura: I will say, this is one of the movie-isms that I kind of liked, that they got away from the caps.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Because they look goofy. They just look goofy.

Andrew: They’re classic, though.

Laura: Imagine sitting in a classroom trying to see your professor teach but three rows of kids in front of you all are wearing pointy wizard’s caps.

Catherine: You just have this hat doing this, moving back and forth.

Eric: Here’s a catch: Viktor Krum comes into the library. Hermione is devastated; she’s like, “Oh, here he is again.” Apparently, Viktor Krum has been coming to the library, and what Hermione does not like about it is that his whole entourage gaggle of girls comes, and they’re like, “Ahh, Viktor,” whatever. It is said that Viktor comes right in and casts a surly look over at Hermione and Harry, and then goes about with his day, but my question is: Is this an early indicator that Viktor Krum might be coming to the library for Hermione? Is he trying to catch Hermione’s…?

Laura: Yep.

Catherine: Absolutely.

Eric: Okay. I’m glad you guys agree.

Laura: Yeah, that’s I’m pretty sure the only reason he goes.

Andrew: Ayy.

Eric: Look at that, though. He’s smitten.

Micah: I think the look is for Harry specifically.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Micah: I think he’s always surly, so I don’t think that that is…

Eric: Oh, yeah. There’s that. But it’s a clever way of saying that Viktor is looking at Hermione.

Laura: Well, speaking of being in the library, this was just a quick thing – it was a blink and you’ll miss it moment – Harry tosses aside a book called Men Who Love Dragons Too Much.

Andrew: Uh-oh.

[Catherine and Laura laugh]

Andrew: This reminded me of a certain Dumbledore, if you catch my drift, and Micah’s favorite animal.

Laura: Right? [laughs] And I just… what is that book about? And Harry, how do you think that book is going to help you?

Andrew: Hey, he’s looking for any help he can get.

Eric: He’s looking for dragon facts.

Micah: Coming up on bonus MuggleCast…

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: I’m sorry. It just tickled me.

Andrew: What did you catch, Catherine?

Catherine: I had two things. The first, go back to Harry in the tent and everyone else has gone and he’s waiting – Krum has left – and he’s alone in the tent and he’s sitting there waiting. And I forgot exactly what it said in the book, but essentially, he’s almost… he feels out of his body. The crowd is away from him, and the noise in the distance… and I was reading it, and again, from the psychology perspective, I was like, “He’s dissociating. He’s having an out of body experience.” And I’m sure we’ve all had those moments under extreme high stress where you feel out of your own body, out of space. Everything around you is very different. And that’s very common when you’re in a very high stress environment, and I’m like, “Well, yeah, I would be pretty freaked out if I’m having to go fight a dragon.”

Andrew: Yeah, you also experience this feeling when something shocking has happened out of the blue.

Catherine: Exactly, yeah. 100%. Those high moments of stress or anxiety can make us kind of come out of our own selves for a minute. Fortunately, he snaps back in and he’s like, “Okay, I’ve got to do this.”

Andrew: Good catch.

Catherine: But still, I would not have caught that reading it as a teenager, but now as an adult and having stressful moments, experiences, yeah, I know exactly how that feels.

Andrew: It’s a relatable moment.

Catherine: I don’t know how it is to fight a dragon, but I’ve had those moments of stress and anxiety.

Andrew: You’ve been close to that type of situation, fighting a dragon.

Catherine: Yeah, all the time.

Andrew: Fighting a fly. Scary stuff.

Catherine: Exactly. And then I also caught another dragon connection, an interaction dragon connection, since Book 4 is smack dab in the middle of our seven. In Book 1 we’re introduced to dragons through Norbert, and then the fourth book we have the first task is dragons, and then in Book 7, we escape on a dragon from Gringotts.

Laura: Oh, that’s beautiful.

Catherine: And then also, connecting 4 and 7 with flying with a dragon. So Harry is on his Firebolt flying with a dragon, and then they escape flying on a dragon, so that was my connection.

Laura: No, those are really great threads. Good job.

Catherine: Thank you!

Eric: Micah, you had an idea that kind of blew my mind.

Micah: Yeah, so keeping in mind that we now know that Rita is an Animagus, there’s this line for when Harry is in Divination. It says, “He managed to make a fly zoom straight into his hand, though he wasn’t entirely sure that was owing to his prowess at Summoning Charms – perhaps the fly was just stupid.” And we all know Rita is a beetle, but it’s probably very easy to misconstrue fly for beetle. And the way that J.K. Rowling chooses to write this moment just made me think that perhaps this was Rita, saying, “Oh, well, perhaps the fly was just stupid.” Well, no, the fly’s not stupid. The fly’s going right into Harry’s hand. You can make what you want of that, and a smart fly would do that in order to stay with Harry and get a story out of it.

Andrew and Catherine: Yeah.

Eric: I like it.

Laura: Yeah, Max that.

[Catherine and Micah laugh]

Andrew: I just wanted to say plus one to Trelawney for predicting that people in July were going to be in great danger of sudden violent deaths. She’s not exactly wrong here; Harry was in great danger of a sudden violent death. Now, this also was an easy prediction to make, especially if she knew what the first task would entail, but I like seeing her make these predictions that end up being accurate. And also just wanted to say I found Pomfrey’s reaction at the end of the first task interesting. Her quote is, “‘Dragons!’ she said in a disgusted tone, pulling Harry inside.” She seems to be almost shocked that the kids just had to face dragons. Did she not know about this in advance? Which I feel like would be a major issue when you are the school nurse. You have to be ready for these kids when they are inevitably probably attacked by dragons.

Eric: I agree with you. This is absolutely crazy.

Andrew: Or she’s still not over it after she found out weeks ago, but boy does that seem like an oversight.

Micah: Yeah, I think it’s more of her just commentary on the situation. I would hope that she knew in advance, but knowing how much the school is a security nightmare, I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t. But she’s very much… rightly so, but she’s always the one that’s complaining about how awful the school is and how much in danger the students always are.

Eric: I can see Dumbledore coming to her 30 minutes before, like, [imitating Dumbledore] “Hi, Poppy. You doing anything?”

Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “Bee tee dubs, we’re going to have the kids face some dragons.”

Eric: [imitating Madam Pomfrey] “Dragons?!”

Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “Yeah, they don’t know what they’re getting into, allegedly.”

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, just the way she exclaimed “Dragons!” made me feel like… you only say it that way if you just found out, [laughs] I think.

Eric: Yeah. I like to think there’s a whole bunch of Healers straight from St. Mungo’s, because also, a dragon burn is surely worse than just a stovetop burn. Dragon fire, it has to be extra, extra bad.

Micah: Well, not unless it’s from a Hungarian Horntail, right, Eric?

Eric: Right, that’s double. Yeah, that’s double as bad.

Micah: From the other dragons, it’s just nothing.

Eric: Hungarian Horntail fire actually has spikes when it comes out.

Micah: Ohh, okay.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: It’s time for MVP of the Week!

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: I’m going to flip things around for me this week. I’m awarding an un-MVP of the Week, maybe a Worst Valuable Player: Cedric, for sacrificing a rock turned dog in the name of winning the task. Come on, man. I don’t care if that dog was just a rock. That’s not cool.

Eric: I am a fellow dog lover, but the dragon didn’t go for the dog in the end, so the dog rock is fine.

Andrew: Eugh. Too risky.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Yeah, I mean, the dragon could probably sense that it wasn’t a dog. He was like, “That’s a rock.” [laughs]

Eric: Ohh.

Andrew: It fooled the dragon for a minute.

Micah: Maybe he should have tried that in the graveyard. Am I right, Andrew?

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Whoaaa.

Catherine: Wow. Wow.

Laura: Ouch. [laughs]

Eric: All right, I’m giving my MVP to Cedric – just kidding…

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: … to Hermione for taking on the hopeless case of Harry Potter learning to do magic and helping him master Summoning Charms in just one day. It really can’t have been easy, and he cannot possibly as long as he lives thank her enough for what she did.

Laura: And he doesn’t, honestly.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: Instead, yeah.

Micah: So Eric does.

Catherine: Shout-out Hermione.

Micah: I’m going to give it to the Firebolt, traveling long distances across Hogwarts grounds…

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Micah: … to come and save Harry’s ass in the first task.

Andrew: I like that.

Micah: Nobody showed up bigger. Maybe with the exception of Hermione; I do like that, Eric. But I’m going to give it to the Firebolt.

Eric: “Nobody showed up bigger.” [laughs]

Laura: I’m going to give it to Fakey, because ultimately, he’s the one who helped Harry figure out what he even needed to do. So allegiances aside, he did help cousin Harry out.

Catherine: And I’m going to give it to Professor McGonagall. Even though while she was having all the feels about Harry potentially being hurt, she was still trying to keep him calm and in the zone.

[MVP of the Week music ends]

Andrew: Well, listeners, if you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can email or send a voice memo recorded on your phone to, or you can use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. We do have to say, though, we do prefer the voice memos. And if you could keep the message about a minute long, we would appreciate that, so we can fit in as many voicemails as possible. And next week we’ll discuss Chapter 21 of Goblet of Fire, “The House-Elf Liberation Front.”


Andrew: And now it’s time for our weekly trivia game, Quizzitch!

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s Quizzitch question: What color are the Hungarian Horntail’s eyes? The correct answer is that they’re yellow. And I’m hearing Moaning Myrtle’s voice, “those horrible yellow eyes.” But congratulations to all the folks that got that correct, and these are some of the best Quizzitch names of all time. Are you guys ready?

Laura: [gasps] I’m so excited.

Catherine: Let’s go.

Eric: Amazing. Okay, correct answers were submitted by a Pretty Pack of Partly Pink and Purple Polka Dotted Pygmy Puffs Playing Piano…

[Laura laughs]

Eric: … All Snapes and Sizes…

Micah: Oh, that’s a good one.

Eric: … Buff Daddy; Clicking kudos for the girls episodes leaving a comment…

Laura: Aww.

Eric: … Flambéed Harry on a golden egg sandwich à la mode…

[Laura laughs]

Eric: … Everyone wants second helpings; HallowWolf; Harry’s greasiest problem; Hermione the mom friend; Hi to my Ravenclaw husband; JennPenn1013; LC; Petition to stop using dragons for sporting purposes; Swagrid’s got drip…

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: … The egg crushed by Fleur’s dragon; the Last Peruvian Vipertooth in Tibet; the one 11-year-old who is obsessed with MuggleCast… aww… We all love Newt, y’all should salute, put on your suits, and kiss his boots…

Andrew: Fun.

Eric: … and finally, the Swedish Short-Snout that would like to tell Cedric “Good job,” oh wait, he’s dead.

[Laura laughs]

Catherine: Ohh, ouch.

Andrew: There’s a lot of Cedric hate on this show, I think.

Eric: I hope it’s been enough time. We had two weeks off of Chapter by Chapter, and let’s be honest, that was just to give Kierra enough time to read ahead, right? So we didn’t just spoil right now?

Andrew: Yes. True.

Eric: Great. Thank you for the fun names; here is next week’s Quizzitch question. It’s another color question, or similar.

Micah: Ooh.

Eric: What is the pattern of Dobby’s tie when Harry first encounters him in the Hogwarts kitchens? What pattern is Dobby’s tie?

Micah: Dobby’s back.

Eric: Dobby’s back!

Andrew: Wooo!

Micah: That’s a spoiler, isn’t it?

Eric: It’s kind of a… well, foreshadow? I mean, okay, we’re going to see Dobby.

Micah: I’m excited to see Dobby.

Eric: Business Dobby. He’s got a tie.

[Andrew laughs]

Andrew and Micah: Business Dobby.

Eric: Dobby wears a tie to work.

Andrew: Business in the front, pillow in the back.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Submit your Quizzitch answers to us on the MuggleCast website,, or click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav bar.

Andrew: Thanks so much for joining us today, Catherine.

Catherine: Absolutely. It was an absolute pleasure. I’ve had so much fun. Like I said, I’ve been an OG fan since 2005, so this is an absolute dream to meet you all and to hang out for the couple hours we hung out, so I appreciate it. Have me back on; I’d love it.

Andrew: Yeah, we’d love to have you back on! You contributed so much today, and thanks for your support over the years. This show is brought to you, listeners, by Muggles like Catherine and you all. We don’t have any fancy corporate or network funding; we’re just Harry Potter fans trying to be your Harry Potter friends, and we’re very proudly an independent podcast. So you can support us by going to, and you can have the chance to be a co-host on MuggleCast one day like Catherine was today. You get access to our livestreams, our planning docs, a new physical gift every year, and then the MuggleCast Collector’s Club too. And then if you’d prefer to support us through Apple Podcasts, you can do that. You can get ad-free, early access to MuggleCast, plus two bonus MuggleCast installments every month, as do patrons. All you have to do is sign up for MuggleCast Gold; just tap into the show on Apple Podcasts and you’ll see the subscribe button. And whether you subscribe through Patreon or Apple Podcasts, we do have a free trial as well as an annual subscription, and if you do the annual subscription, you will save a little money, and that’s our way of thanking you for pledging for a year upfront. Visit for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and a lot more about the show. And if you enjoy the show and think other Muggles would, too, tell a friend about the show, and we’d also appreciate if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app. All right, that does it for this week’s episode. Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: I’m Laura.

Catherine: And I’m Catherine.

Andrew: Bye, everybody.

Laura: Bye, y’all.

Catherine: Bye.

Transcript #651


MuggleCast 651 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #651, Girls Takeover, Part 2: How Motherhood Is A Core Theme in Harry Potter

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Laura Tee: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. This week, the ladies of MuggleCast are back to round out Women’s History Month with another MuggleCast Girls Takeover. Hello, ladies. It’s so good to have y’all here.

Chloé Laverson: Woo!

Laura: Just to remind everyone, we have Chloé, the one and only, who is the MuggleCast social media manager.

Chloé: Hi, friends.

Laura: We have Meg, who has taken on the enormous task of getting MuggleCast transcribed, so thank you, thank you, thank you so much, Meg.

Meg Scott: You are welcome.

Laura: And we have Pam, who is my Millennial bestie over co-hosting Millennial Podcast with me and Andrew.

Pam Gocobachi: Hello.

Laura: It’s so great to have all of you back.

Pam: It’s nice to be back.

Laura: Thank you for spending your Friday night with me.

Meg: Nowhere we would rather be, honestly.

Chloé: Anytime, babe.

Pam: Thanks to people in the server for coming to hang out with us, too.

Chloé: Yeah, true.

Pam: Y’all could be anywhere, but you’re here with us.

Laura: Aww.

Chloé: It’s because it’s a freaking party, Pam.

Laura: Well, I thought that we could check in a little bit after the first installment of Girls MuggleCast. By the way, just wanted to say we got so much great feedback about that episode.

Chloé: Yes.

Laura: We’re still hearing from people about it, right, Chloé?

Chloé: Yes, we did.

Pam: Oh, really? That’s so nice.

Chloé: Yes, everyone loved it. They were big fans. If you go to our Instagram, you’ll see the comments. People are saying that it was their favorite episode. I think a lot of women felt really seen by this. My favorite comment that really stood out was, “I didn’t know how badly I needed this, and the little teenager in me in 2005 is so happy and this makes my heart happy.” And I was like, “Ah, I’m so glad.”

Laura: I love that.

Chloé: It was just so much fun and the vibes were so good and everything. Our girls’ night that we had with our patrons was amazing, and the episode was so fun.

Laura: For sure. Well, we obviously had a really in-depth but also fun and lighthearted at times conversation about the representation of women in Harry Potter, but I was wondering – before we jump into this part two installment of that discussion – have we had any reflections since we did our last installment together? Or have we noticed anything new about our interpretations on the topic?

Meg: I’ve definitely been aware of it a lot, especially as MuggleCast has been doing Goblet of Fire Chapter by Chapter.

Laura: Same.

[Chloé laughs]

Meg: I feel like we talked a lot about how the author writes about femininity, and it’s so evident in characters like Fleur and Madame Maxime and Rita Skeeter, and so to see all that happen as we’re rereading Goblet of Fire is just like, “Oh, we talked about that. Oh, we talked about that.” Even little things like when McGonagall scolds Parvati for having a butterfly clip in her hair; little things like that where you’re like, “Why the shaming of fun ’90s accessories?”

Chloé: Yeah, one of the only examples of a ’90s accessory, by the way. They should all be wearing baggy pants and grunge clothing.

Meg: Chokers.

Chloé: The butterfly clip was the one thing, yeah.

Meg: Proof that Harry Potter is set in the 90s.

Chloé: Exactly, exactly. I think one thing that has really… actually, since our conversation, which really honestly healed a part of me, I think, finally being able to actually talk about this with women that know Harry Potter in-depth even more than I do, and it just was so special. And one thing I actually realized when I was preparing for this conversation is that there is a lot that I like about the writing of women, and I feel like last time I was really upset and I aired out my grievances especially with Fleur and a few of the other characters, but this time I really thought about it and a lot of these women became role models of mine or at least women I aspired to be like, so I’m excited to really dive into that.

Pam: Yeah, I’m with Meg. I think Goblet of Fire… having the perspective of our all girls episode, it just put a different lens on Goblet of Fire. And you guys had me on a few weeks ago for a Chapter by Chapter, and I’m nothing if not an over-preparer, so I ended up reading all 19 chapters…

Laura: Pam!

[Chloé laughs]

Pam: … and then I kept going because I forgot how much I love…

Chloé: Goblet of Fire is so good.

Meg: It’s so good. Favorite book.

Pam: It’s so easy to get sucked in. And you know what, I’ll tell you, too, Goblet of Fire is not even my favorite book, really, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, which is why I just kept reading. But then also, just what was really put into perspective for me was just how one-dimensional sometimes women are in the sense that… we were talking a lot about how women are only allowed to be one thing at a time, often, in terms of the plot, and I feel like that really gets put into perspective with Hermione when Ron is not talking to Harry, and a lot of Harry’s lament is that Hermione is no fun and all they do is go to the library. And it’s like, I’m sure Hermione can be fun, she’s just got to get stuff done first. But it was interesting that that was the point that just kept getting hammered home, that he missed Ron because Hermione was no fun and all she wanted to do was study.

Meg: Yeah, and someone made some point after that episode about how maybe Harry isn’t having as many laughs with Hermione, but she’s the one kicking his ass into gear and being like, “You’re in a tournament where you might die; let’s go learn some magic.”

Chloé and Pam: Yeah.

Chloé: Again, the reason he survives. And Hermione, absolutely, I think can be fun; I think the issue is that we don’t see that side with the women. Maybe they’re not allowed to be fun, just because they are wrangling the men in the series a lot of the time.

Pam: I feel like that also – not to get too ahead of ourselves – I feel like that transitions really nicely into some of the discussion topics you guys came up with for us today, because Hermione is mothering Harry for a lot of the stint of the Triwizard Tournament, which makes sense because you need somebody to be in his corner, and the way that manifests for her is trying to take care of him. She’s being the mom friend, making sure that he’s prepared and he doesn’t die. She has a vested interest, but the way that that manifests is in such a motherly way.

Laura: And she believes him!

Pam: She does, she believes him.

Chloé: That’s the greater thing.

Pam: She’s like, “Of course you didn’t!” [laughs]

Chloé: And she never doubted him once.

Laura: Right, she is the only student at Hogwarts who believes him at this point in time, and Harry isn’t… not to say that I think he doesn’t value that, but I think he’s not thinking about it because he misses Ron that much. And I also want to just offer a disclaimer here: I don’t think it’s terrible that Harry longed for aspects of his friendship that he could only get with Ron.

Chloé: Agree.

Laura: I think anytime we go through this, you’ll feel something like that really acutely, and the result of it is it can cause you to inadvertently disrespect the person who is there supporting you and giving you what you need in the moment, even if what you need isn’t what you want.

Pam: Yeah, he just wanted an escape, too, I think, and I think that that’s what Ron would have offered if he had been there. He would have been like, “Don’t worry about the task, Harry; let’s just go have fun.”

Chloé: Right. Well, we all need different things from our friends; that’s why we have different friends in our life, and Hermione gives a very different purpose for Harry than Ron does. And Pam, you’re so right; Ron is escapism for him, and Hermione is always the person that brings him back to reality. I also think Hermione is the only person with any reality in Goblet of Fire, at least at the beginning. She’s understanding the weight of this, the fact that he could actually die. Ron is just mad that it’s not him. Meanwhile, Hermione is like, “Our friend could die, so now I need to help him in any way possible,” and meanwhile, Harry is just miserable.

Pam: And talk about foreshadowing, too, for Deathly Hallows because we see the same thing happen again. Ron decides to leave and he’s upset; he doesn’t understand that she’s staying because he could die and he needs help.

Chloé: Yep.

Main Discussion: Roles of women in Harry Potter

Laura: Well, I feel like that is a really good transition for us. It really sets us up to move into the beginning of our discussion, which is looking at the specific thematic roles of women in Harry Potter. And in having this discussion, I think we’re going to talk a little bit more about some characters we didn’t get to focus on very much last time, so I’m pretty excited about that. And Chloé, I think there’s a perspective that you take to this discussion as well.

Chloé: Well, I just love that we’re talking about the older women in this series; I feel like they’re not talked about enough. And we definitely focused, I’d argue, on the younger women in this series during our first discussion, because we see more of that.

Laura: Right.

Chloé: We see more of Hermione and Luna and Ginny, but these older women are not talked about enough. They are so powerful, and they bring so much to the table, and I also know that our listeners were asking for this, so I’m excited that we can talk about it for them as well.

Laura: Well, we were talking about Hermione basically mothering Harry, so let’s first talk about the roles of women as mothers in the Harry Potter series. So think about characters – and this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but I think it’s probably some of the more poignant representations that we didn’t get to spend a ton of time on – so we have Lily, Molly, Narcissa, Bellatrix, Petunia, Andromeda, Merope, and Alice as examples that we can draw from in this conversation. And I thought it would be interesting, instead of speaking specifically about how these women show up as mothers, it could be interesting to focus on what other roles these women serve, or do they serve another role apart from being a mother? And I wanted to focus first on Merope. She was someone who I hadn’t thought about in a while, and I actually went back and read some of the chapters in Half-Blood Prince in preparation for this episode, and I was really struck by how her story is really just tragedy. The other role that she serves is she’s just a very tragic character. There’s obviously no justification for what she does to Tom Riddle, Sr., but it’s easy to see why she was so desperate to find a way out of the poverty, neglect, and abuse that she’d experienced her entire life. And ultimately, when Tom Riddle, Sr. leaves her, she’s without resources, said to be without magic, either by choice or not by choice, and she’s ultimately got this diminished ability to care for her son and care for herself and it ultimately leads to her son being left in an orphanage and she dies.

Chloé: I will say, though, I thought that was an act of almost bravery from Merope.

Laura: Sure.

Chloé: As someone who was adopted and whose birth mother did die, I think that it was her last act of motherhood, and it was the last thing she ever did. She went to that orphanage to give birth because she knew she wasn’t going to survive, she knew she wasn’t going to make it, and she was like, “Okay, well, at least this will give my child a place to stay and food,” and honestly, as miserable as that orphanage is, it was a better way to grow up than the way she did in that horrible hovel with abuse. Obviously, Tom Riddle, Jr. – who becomes Voldemort – is a nasty, nasty kid, but that has nothing to do with Merope leaving him in an orphanage to hopefully be cared for. She didn’t know that he was going to be the monster that he is, so I actually think that in her last moments, she was what she could have been in terms of a good mother.

Pam: I have a question for you all – and I don’t know if I have the right answer for this either – but do you think that if a timeline exists where she would have lived, do you think that she even would have known how to love? Because so much of Voldemort’s trajectory starts because he has no love in his life and he is born out of a loveless coupling, right? And so when you think about Merope’s situation, she didn’t experience love from her family, and she fabricates love for herself but it’s not real, so would she even have been able to love him in some way?

Chloé: I think yes.

Pam: Because when you look at the parallels, too, between what happens with Tom Riddle, Jr. and what happens with Harry, Harry also goes to a loveless house, but he is still enveloped in the love that his parents had for him, and that’s what ends up saving him in the end, right?

Chloé: You’re right. Well, I think that… I mean, I want to believe that Merope could love. Just because she was raised in an abusive household where there was no love, I want to believe that Merope could have the capacity to. She was not conceived under a love potion, to her knowledge, right? So she could still have the capacity to do it. And I wonder with her child if that last act was an act of love, an act of sacrifice and love, or at least, the only type of love that she’s ever showed anyone else in her life.

Meg: Something I’m thinking about is the act of naming her son; specifically, she names him Tom for his father and Marvolo for her father. And so you look at her a product of her circumstances, growing in this house with an abusive father and brother, and not allowed to go to Hogwarts, not allowed to meet other people, but she still has this child and wants to give him a life better than what she had. And it’s something to think about, the fact that she picks a name for him after this man who could not love her without a love potion, and her father who treated her horribly. It’s kind of like she was thinking how things could have been and wanting to just put some sort of idea of any familial love into her child’s future.

Laura: Well, and I think that she probably didn’t think very much of herself, right? I mean, think about the way her father talked to her. And if she grew up with that and had no positive reinforcement or even strong female reinforcement in her life, it would make sense that she would find very little value in herself, and see herself, to your point, Meg, as bestowing upon her child something that might make his life better than hers. And she doesn’t know what a life better than hers looks like, but she knows what her life looks like, so anything different has to be better, probably.

Chloé: I also wonder if naming him after her father and his father is maybe a connection that later he can find back to his family. Naming him Tom gave him that connection back to his father that he could potentially find later, and without her in the picture, maybe his dad would want to spend time with his kid. I think a lot of mothers in desperate situations do try to leave some sort of connection when they’re not around.

Meg: Yeah, she tries to give him some sort of link to the past.

Chloé: To who he is.

Meg: And it’s an interesting “What if?” to think what if she hadn’t given him a name, and the orphanage didn’t know her name, and they said, “Okay, this is just a John Doe kid,” and he went to Hogwarts? He wouldn’t have been able to research his lineage, he wouldn’t have been able to find out that he was the son of a Muggle, which enforced so much of his views on Muggles, and he might have turned out very different.

Chloé: Couldn’t mix up his name to Lord Voldemort.

Meg: [laughs] Exactly.

Pam: But also, a family that she admired, right? She admired the Riddles for their strength and power in the Muggle world. She grew up knowing that even though they were destitute, she came from a great lineage, and it was a source of pride for her family, so she’s literally setting him up to say, “Hey, I’m not here, but you come from great stock,” basically.

Laura: And really, the irony is she’s giving him a trail back to his father so he can go kill him. [laughs]

Pam: Right. Merope’s revenge. [laughs]

Chloé: It sets this entire tumble of “What if?” If he wasn’t named Tom, it would be very, very different.

Laura: All right, we’ll be back in a moment to continue our conversation about the role of women as mothers.

[Ad break]

Laura: Now that we’ve just finished talking about [pronounces it “Mer-oh-pee”] Merope… [pronounces it “Mer-ope”] Merope… I’m second guessing the appropriate pronunciation because me and Chloé are saying it differently.

Pam: Me too. Me too.

[Everyone laughs]

Meg: I’ve always said [pronounces it “Mer-oh-pee”] Merope.

Chloé: I don’t know. I’m sure they’ll let us know in the Discord.

Laura: Yeah, yeah, for sure. [laughs] It’s not trying to call anybody out; I’m just sitting here being like, [pronounces it “Mer-ope”] Merope? [pronounces it “Mer-oh-pee”] Merope?

Chloé: I’m trying to think of the audiobooks and it’s just leaving me.

Pam: Same.

Laura: Well, whatever. We’re all friends here. We get it.

Pam: It’s fine.

[Chloé laughs]

Laura: So I thought it could be interesting to look at Bellatrix for a second on the heels of that discussion because…

Chloé: [gasps] Can I just…?

Laura: Yeah. Please. Go off.

Chloé: Can I just say, when I saw this in the… I was like, “Mother? Bellatrix?” And then it all hit me at once in the face and I was like, “Oh, she is a mother! Oh my God.”

Meg: I know, it took me a minute to be like, “That’s right!”

Chloé: I know, and then that’s Laura admitting that Cursed Child is canon. She’s taking it as canon.

[Laura sighs]

Pam: Yeah, I saw that and I was like, “Oh, y’all accept Cursed Child here around these parts?”

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Yeah, okay, so here’s the thing. It’s not… I don’t consider it pure canon. The original author didn’t write it.

[Chloé and Laura laugh]

Meg: It can be elective canon. For the purpose of this discussion, it’s more interesting if it’s canon.

Pam: For the sake of the plot. [laughs] The plot being this show.

Chloé: She did have a blue-haired daughter, so that’s pretty epic.

Pam: Kindred spirit for Laura, but that’s where it dies.

Laura: Yeah, for sure.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Apparently her daughter had wings, or… honestly, y’all, I still haven’t read Cursed Child, so I don’t know.

Meg: I barely remember it. Does Delphi die?

Laura: She has wings, and I’m like, “What, did she drink a Red Bull or something?”

Chloé: She’s an Augurey. She’s this omen of death, which honestly makes so much sense, being Bellatrix and Voldemort’s child, but… I don’t know. JKR really went off on that fanfic.

Meg: Is Delphi still alive at the end of Cursed Child?

Pam: No, doesn’t she die?

Chloé: I feel like she dies. No?

Meg: I read the script once and then I saw the play once and then it was gone.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: You were like, “I’ve had enough of this.”

Chloé: I have seen it in person twice, and I did enjoy it in person, but reading it is absolute garbage. Garbage, flaming hot trash, yeah.

Laura: No, for sure. But thinking about Bellatrix as a mother, now that we’ve all accepted it…

[Pam laughs]

Laura: I know it’s difficult, because at first I’m just like, “Eugh.” I can’t…

Chloé: But is she a mother? She never sees her daughter. Her daughter is a literal baby-baby when she dies.

Laura: Right.

Chloé: Also, I can’t imagine she’s around a lot. Like, there’s a nanny for sure.

Laura: No. Oh, yeah. I mean, she’s clearly not spending time with her, because she’s in the war and then she dies, so… [laughs]

Chloé: You know what I honestly think is probably what happened? I think Narcissa probably raised Delphi.

Pam: No, she didn’t. They sent her to the Death Eater lady.

Chloé: Oh! So there was a nanny!

Pam: Yeah, they sent her to this huge Death Eater supporter. I can’t remember her name. You guys are going to get so many emails about how we don’t know anything.

[Chloé laughs]

Meg: We don’t know the Cursed Child lore.

Pam: Yeah, we don’t claim Cursed Child. Yeah, because she gets sent to this crazy fanatic Death Eater and that’s where she grows up, so it’s funny because I don’t even…

Meg: Why didn’t Narcissa raise her?

Pam: See, these are all good questions for the writers. [laughs]

Chloé: No, I was thinking before Bellatrix dies, I was thinking that maybe Narcissa takes more of a role until they send her to the fanatic, but maybe they sent her to the fanatic when she was immediately born.

Laura and Pam: Yeah.

Chloé: Who knows?

Laura: Maybe. But I thought it was interesting to think about Delphi as a character and to think about the perpetuation of cycles, like the one that Merope grew up in. Obviously, Merope’s situation was different than Delphi’s – they’re not exactly the same – but growing up in a loveless environment will mess you up, and ultimately, we see how that plays out for both of these characters, so I just thought I could give Cursed Child a little bit of props by making that comparison.

Pam: I think, though, that we hit the nail on the head: It’s safe to say that even if Bellatrix had survived, I just don’t see her as a character that would have chosen motherhood, and so I just don’t think she would have been active. It would have been a very cold relationship one way or another.

Chloé: Oh, yeah. I can’t imagine…

Meg: Yeah, it’s… I was going to say, it feels very much like it was motivated by her wanting to have a physical tie to Voldemort.

Pam: Right, or to give him an heir because that’s what he wanted for some reason. She would have just willingly given the baby up.

Meg: Yeah, her being like, “I can do this for you, my lord.”

Pam: Yeah, exactly.

Chloé: Yeah, I was thinking that. Maybe there was a draw to – for both of them – this idea of combining their power and having an heir that was very magical and very strong, because we know obviously both of them are a very capable wizard and witch, so there could be that element too. I just think Bellatrix, yeah, absolutely never wanted to be a mom. Her mom was definitely not a great mom, given what they went through growing up.

Laura: Yeah. And then I guess they’ll have a three-quarter-blood child?

Chloé: Oh, lord.

Pam: They probably don’t want to advertise that. [laughs]

Laura: I mean, that seems like something that would matter to them.

Chloé: No, here’s the thing, though: Bellatrix never knew that Voldemort was a half-blood, no? So she would think that it’s a completely pure-blood child.

Laura: Oh my God, you’re right. I totally forgot about that!

Chloé: Voldemort kept that on the DL. He kept that on the DL. So Bellatrix had a child that wasn’t pure-blood.

Laura: Wow.

Pam: She’s rolling in her grave, in her dusty grave.

Chloé: Literally. [laughs]

Laura: So I mean, obviously, Bellatrix is not someone we would call a good mother, maybe not even someone we’d be comfortable giving the label “mother” at all on the basis of the conversation we’re having.

Chloé: LegalizeGillyweed said, “Bellatrix might be a mom, but she will never be a mother,” which reminds me of that… I guess it’s usually flipped, right? But just, yeah, she might have had a child, but she never did anything to care for or raise.

Meg: I remember once seeing back in 2006 some Potter fan art comic of like, “What if Bellatrix had a child?” and it was Bellatrix and Narcissa standing there and Bellatrix’s son is playing with a crocodile and Narcissa looks horrified.

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: Sounds about right.

Meg: And Bellatrix is like, “Yeah, he’s a good kid.”

[Chloé laughs]

Meg: And so when I read Cursed Child and she became a mother, I was like… that’s where my mind went, to her letting her kid play with a crocodile and being like, “Yeah, he’s a good kid.”

Pam: I’m also just thinking, didn’t Harry have a vision, too, of her training Draco? Yeah, so if you think about just… he is blood. That’s her sister’s kid. And even though he’s being treated as an adult by the time that happens, I would relate that to what her version of motherhood would be. She’d be like, “You need to toughen up. Crucio. Deal with it.”

Chloé: Oh, definitely. Tough love. Definitely.

Laura: Well, Pam, tell me about good mothers, because we just spent some time talking about bad mothers. What role did good mothers serve in this series?

Pam: I was thinking about mothers a lot when I realized we were going to talk about this, and the conclusion I came to is that at the end of the day, the books really make mothers the unsung heroes of almost the entire story. I think they come in and save the day a little bit more than we maybe think that they do. Obviously, Molly kills Bellatrix, but it’s an act of motherhood; she’s protecting her child when she does that. And then obviously, the story starts with Lily being a prime example of doing this heroic thing; she saves her son, and it’s her last act. So mothers feel like not only the unsung heroes, but there’s so many instances where mothers literally shield or save their children. Even going back to Goblet of Fire – which I know you guys are covering right now – the only reason Barty Crouch, Jr. survives long enough for Harry to meet him is because his mother sacrifices herself. She begs for his life.

Laura: Even though she knows what he did.

Pam: Right, exactly. But it’s the selfless sacrifice of mothers. That’s the… it relates to the real world where sometimes people say, “Motherhood is a blessing, but it’s also a sacrifice.” It’s the ultimate sacrifice you can make. You’re literally giving your life up so that you can…

Chloé: Your body.

Pam: Yeah, everything, to raise your children.

Chloé: Well, a part of me thinks that it’s not unsung because of that, because we start the story off with the example of motherhood and sacrifice, and then the cap with Narcissa lying to Voldemort and saving Harry’s life because of Draco and because of her child. That’s a mother’s love once again starting this series, and essentially, in my opinion, ending the series, or at least the Harry being a Horcrux journey. And for me, I think J.K. puts the most value in motherhood. And I think that every single older woman, especially, but even… we were talking about Hermione, and I’d argue even in Luna and Ginny, they all have these traits that are motherly. They’re all caregivers in some way. And I think that underlying all of this and the subtext of this story is that J.K. Rowling believes that motherhood is the most important thing a woman can do. And I don’t necessarily disagree; I think it’s brave, and I think it’s incredible, but she makes the women that aren’t mothers still mothers, based on the way that they behave. This is maybe a hot take, but even Umbridge, in some cases, shows ways that… maybe a not so great mother, but how someone would mother. So I think that motherhood is just soaked into this series and is in every single woman, no matter who they are. And when you were talking about good mothers, Pam, what came up for me is, okay, well, if it started with Lily, like you were saying, and ends with Narcissa, is Narcissa a good mother? To Draco?

Pam: Well, I think that’s subjective, but I think what it boils down to is the unconditional love. So we’re not here to argue whether… it’s not really an argument whether somebody is inherently good or not, but it’s a reflection of how their love manifests towards their children that really matters. That’s really the one thing that absolves even the bad characters. Like when you look at Draco, he has a bit of a redemption, right? In the end, and you probably could argue that’s completely because Narcissa loved him unconditionally. And then it’s the same even when you look at Dudley. Dudley is a jerk, but he also gets redeemed at the end. And there’s no denying that Petunia’s love for her son is true and is unconditional, so he grows up feeling that love, and I think that kind of is what ultimately leads him to be a little bit more compassionate the last time we see him, and then we also know that as they grow, him and Harry have a cordial relationship as adults.

Chloé: J.K. Rowling was relatively a new mother, right, when she started writing these books? So I wonder if that’s why this theme is just ringing so true through the women. We say write what we know, and I wonder if that sacrifice and that unconditional love was in everything.

Pam: Not to get too much into her origin story, but she struggled a lot, too. She was a poor single mother, and she figured out how to change her situation and how to give her children a better life, and so I think you’re right; I think that’s why we see that manifest in different ways in the plot.

Meg: Yeah, I think there was definitely an influence of writing Harry Potter while also having her baby in a stroller next to her in the cafe.

Pam: Right.

Meg: And also, we know the death of her mother was a huge influence on the story. On the role of mothers, though, I think there’s a difference between being a good person and being a good mother, and I think there’s a difference between being a good mother and a loving mother.

Laura: Ahh.

Chloé: Whoa, that was beautiful, Meg. [laughs]

Laura: That’s deep.

Chloé: It’s so true.

Meg: Well, because Pam, when you mentioned Petunia, it made me think of when Dumbledore visits the Dursleys in the beginning of Book 6, and he says, “You were terrible to Harry, you abused him, treated him awfully, but at least you didn’t do to him what you did to your own son,” and the Dursleys even have a moment where they’re like, “When did we ever mistreat Dudley??” but it’s like, they did, by spoiling him and encouraging his bullying behavior. And I mean, it’s kind of a wonder that he was able to turn around and be like, “Actually, cousin, you’re not a waste of space.”

Chloé: Which like, bare minimum, by the way. Bare, bare minimum to say to your cousin who you grew up with, who you treated horribly, “You know, I don’t think you’re completely worthless.”

Pam: Also, he wants to take him with him.

Meg: Yeah, he’s like, “What about you?”

Chloé: That’s true.

Pam: I think that that is… I mean, obviously, we don’t want to give too much credit to badly behaved people, but I do think that there’s something really sweet about the fact that at the end of the day, he’s like, “What do you mean, he’s not coming? What do you mean, we are going to go and stay safe? What do you mean that he’s not going to be safe?”

Laura: Yeah, and I feel like maturity is realizing that Dudley is not the villain in the Dursley dynamic.

Chloé: No, not even a little.

Laura: It’s his parents. And yes, Dudley definitely owed Harry an apology for everything that happened when they were children, but at the end of the day, his parents were the ones responsible. He was emulating behavior that he saw his parents demonstrating towards his cousin, so he thought it was acceptable, so you actually can’t blame him, to a degree.

Meg: And Dudley is the one who says, “I don’t think you’re a waste of space,” and his parents are the ones who just walk away without saying anything. There’s that beautiful deleted scene in Deathly Hallows where Petunia is like, “You didn’t just lose a mother; I lost a sister,” but in the books, that doesn’t happen. She looks at Harry like she’s going to say something and then she loses the nerve and just leaves.

Chloé: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think we see that in Draco, too, and any of the characters that have parents that are not parents that we would consider great, or in bad situations. It’s like, these kids are learning from somewhere, right? They’re getting this from someone else, and I don’t think you can ever fault the kid. And the fact that Dudley at 17 was able to turn around says a lot.

Laura: Yeah, HallowWolf in our Discord is saying, “I think it’s assumed that the cup of tea Harry steps on outside his bedroom was also an attempted act of kindness by Dudley at the beginning of Deathly Hallows.”

Pam: Stop, why does that make me really emotional? [laughs]

Laura: I know, I know.

Pam: It’s so sweet. Damn.

Chloé: I saw this headcanon that said Dudley and Harry made a considerable effort to have their kids get to know each other, and to get the family together, and even though it was sometimes tense, they still spent time together as a family, and I cried.

Pam: Undoing generational trauma.

Laura: Break those cycles.

Pam: Yeah, I love that.

Chloé: Well, and they both could have family, and Harry could have family that was related to… I just think that’s really beautiful, and I fully accepted it as canon. Where’s that button? Where’s Andrew?

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: Oh, is there a canon sound effect?

Laura: No sound effects this week, unfortunately.

Meg: Eh, he can add them in post.

Chloé: I declare canon! I can make my own.

[thunder sound effect plays]

Meg: There you go, Chloé. You did it.

Laura: So I want us to also talk about the roles of women as teachers. So got some pretty obvious examples here in McGonagall, Sprout, Trelawney, Burbage, Umbridge – that rhymed – Pince, Hooch, and Pomfrey. I’m sure we can find other examples. I think, obviously, Hermione is an example of a teacher too.

Chloé: Ooh.

Laura: But again, I’m interested in thinking about apart from teachers, what other roles do these women characters serve, and how do they intersect with that of being a teacher? I thought Pomfrey was an interesting one to start with, because she’s technically on the staff, right? We would consider her a teacher amongst the Hogwarts staff, but she’s also playing the role of caregiver, right? Which overlaps a lot with the theme of motherhood. And I think it’s really interesting because she, Pince, Hooch, and McGonagall all have in common that they have no time for nonsense. They very much give the energy of a mother who cares and who wants to take care of you and wants to do right by you, but she’s not going to take any of your BS.

Pam: She knows when you’re lying.

Meg: Yeah, Pomfrey especially, she has mama bear energy.

Chloé: Yes, totally.

Meg: She is one of the few characters we see who will step up to Dumbledore, even, and be like, “Get out of here. These children are healing. Go have your plot points somewhere else; let them rest.”

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: I feel like McGonagall does that, too, a few times, stands up to Dumbledore. And I love that. They’re like, “No, these are kids first,” and I feel like a lot of the male teachers forget that often.

Pam: Meg, to your point, I think that whenever we see one of the characters go see Madame Pomfrey, she also is making it vocally clear that behind the scenes in moments that we don’t get to witness, she’s voicing her concern. She’s saying, “I told them that the Triwizard Tournament was a bad idea. Why would you let Gilderoy Lockhart mend your arm? Why would you do this, this, and that?”

Meg: “Whose thought was this?”

Pam: Yeah, exactly.

Chloé: I just wish we had spent more time with all of these women, Pomfrey especially, just because the act of being a healer for the entire school must have been so much, and she must have seen the craziest nonsense given that Hogwarts is…

Meg: In a magic school!

Chloé: Yeah, Hogwarts is a security nightmare.

Pam: And we hear about some of it. She’s like, “Oh, thank God they’re growing Bubotubers, because now kids won’t try to hex their pimples off.” [laughs]

Meg: And remove their nose instead.

Chloé: Me. I’m sorry, that would have been so me.

Meg: Same.

Chloé: The second I got a wand, I would have been like, “Okay, so how do I remove my pimples? How do I dye my own hair?” That would have been my first question.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: I think it’s really interesting to consider Pomfrey through the lens of the only person at Hogwarts who is concerned with public health.

Meg and Pam: Yeah.

Chloé: [laughs] Real. Yeah, maybe Lupin a little bit, but other than the two of them, not at all. Because Pomfrey, the only compliment I feel like that she ever gives another teacher is to Lupin, and she’s like, “Oh, someone who actually knows what they’re doing? Great. Thank God.”

Pam: I’m just imagining her having to address the whole student body like, “There’s an outbreak of dragon pox; please no snogging.” [laughs]

Chloé: Real. Oh my God.

Pam: Just like in the high school movies.

Chloé: Do you wonder did Pomfrey teach sex ed? That would fall under her role, right? Or Hooch, because she’s technically the gym teacher.

Meg: Yeah, I would hope it’s them and not the Heads of Houses.

Laura: Oh no.

Chloé: Oh, lord. Can you imagine Snape? [laughs] No, thank you.

Laura: No, no. That is not permitted. I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules. Dumbledore has, actually, a list of educational decrees from before Umbridge came to Hogwarts, and educational decree number one is that Severus Snape cannot teach sex ed. [laughs]

Chloé: I feel like they don’t teach it at all, if I’m so honest, given how old school Hogwarts is. Just the wizarding world in general, I feel like they have some crazy Tales of Beedle the Bard story about how babies come to be.

[Chloé and Pam laugh]

Laura: Probably. I mean, we never see people shower, really. We see Harry take a bath once the entire series. [laughs]

Chloé: What episode was it…? It was a few episodes ago when someone was like, “Yeah, they don’t shower. They’re just dirty all the time.”

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: And I was cackling because it’s true. We don’t see them shower.

Laura: Eh, it’s not relevant to the plot.

Chloé: Maybe they just Evanesco themselves clean?

Pam: Oh, that’s definitely what boys do at Hogwarts.

Chloé: Oh, nasty.

Pam: Teenage boys are gross.

Meg: The idea of just putting on a fresh coat of deodorant and being like, “That’s a shower.”

Chloé: Do you think that there’s…?

Pam: Oh my God. [laughs]

Chloé: I was about to say, is there wizarding deodorant? Or wizarding perfume?

Pam: There’s got to be a spell for that. They’ve evolved past solids. [laughs]

Laura: Well, what about Heads of Houses?

Pam: Yeah, I think that – sticking with the mother theme – McGonagall and Sprout are Heads of Houses, and that really overlaps with that. They’re literally mothering a group of students and they’re serving as disciplinaries and yeah, so I think it all fits, right? I think that also… I think that you guys are right; McGonagall does present as more stern. I think that Professor Sprout, a lot of times the way she’s written comes off a little bit more nurturing.

Laura: Jovial.

Pam: And maybe it’s the Herbology angle, too.

Meg: Earthy.

Chloé: [laughs] Plants! Plant mom.

Pam: Gardening, you have to… well, if you’re tending and you care for plants, then you’re… yeah, plant mom. I think that’s where it all goes. And then McGonagall also has soft sides to her. I think it’s really sweet that she genuinely cares about Harry; she frets over him, she’s more nervous than he is when she’s walking him down to the first task. She also is force-feeding him biscuits, which is such a grandma thing to do.

Meg: It is.

Chloé: She is grandma vibes, honestly. Maybe that’s more what it is.

Pam: I have so much love for Professor McGonagall. I think she might be my favorite mother, or not mother, but older female character in the series.

Meg: She’s in my top… if not top three, top five, at least.

Chloé: She would be an incredible mother. She doesn’t have a child, but I know that she would love so hard and make sure that that child has such an incredible life and is strong and is magical. I just think she would be an incredible mother. If I’m honest, I think that – like I said earlier – every single woman in this series has some sort of motherly/nurturing tendencies; I think that’s just how they’re written. And I’d argue that a lot of women do have those tendencies. Why do we think that the mom friend is so common throughout all of our friend groups? And we all care deeply for the people… so I think in a way it parallels real life that all these women – even if they’re not mothers – have some sort of caregiving nature, asides from a few, like Bellatrix. Which is also real; there are some women that don’t have any of it, and they don’t want to, and that’s cool, too. But I do think this parallels real life.

Laura: I agree. And I think it’s interesting, thinking about the mom friend example, how we can all show up in multifaceted ways depending on the space that we’re in. So for example, I have definitely been the mom friend before, in a very specific context. In general, though, I don’t think I’m the mom friend.

Chloé: No, I agree with you. I mean…

Laura: [laughs] Chloé is like, “You are not a mom friend.”

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: No, that’s not what I meant, that’s not what I meant. You’re perfect and I love you so much.

Laura: No, I am messing with you. [laughs]

Chloé: But okay, I feel like sometimes you show up that way, but I don’t think that is your overarching trait or where you go.

Laura: No.

Chloé: For example, when I went through a really difficult breakup in October, you actively checked up on me multiple times and was like, “How are you doing?” And that’s such a caring and nurturing thing to do. Obviously, you were doing it as my friend and someone who cares about me, but that would fall under mom friend, I feel like, vibes, but you’re not that. When we went to brunch, you insisted on treating me, which I think is also a way of showing care and nurture in a different way. So I think all of us show up that way, for sure.

Laura: Just in our own ways.

Chloé and Pam: Yeah.

Chloé: Exactly.

Meg: And it is all linked to feminine energy. And there are men who mother, and they exhibit this feminine energy of taking care and making sure that everyone is safe and healthy and happy, too.

Pam: Yeah, it’s the “Text me when you get home” energy.

Laura: Aw, yeah.

Chloé: I love that.

Pam: I think women do that. I think it’s almost a compulsory thing that we all do, because we all know that sometimes people don’t make it home and we just want to make sure everyone’s okay. But I always feel like that’s such a green flag when my guy friends do it. All my guy friends are green flags, because I wouldn’t be friends with them if they weren’t…

[Chloé laughs]

Pam: … but it’s like, “Oh, that’s so sweet. Yes, this is good energy. Text me when you get home, I will do that.”

Chloé: Yeah. I also think that there’s this component of women caring for other women because they know how difficult it is to be a woman and exist in this world. I think a lot of us show up maybe sometimes as the mom friend, because we know that we want someone to care about our wellbeing and we want to be cared for, so we’re doing that in return. And Meg, I’ll give Eric a shout-out; he shows up in that way a lot. I think that he does check in on people a lot and does have a nurturing side to him that I guess we would typically maybe align with more feminine energy, but he has it.

Meg: Absolutely agree.

Laura: So actually, there is a character that I want Meg to make a point about here quickly, who exemplifies just that.

Meg: Yeah, and it’s Remus Lupin. Tying back to where Madam Pomfrey is like, “Finally someone here who actually knows his stuff,” it’s Lupin knowing to give chocolate to everyone after the Dementors. He’s got soft energy. He’s caring.

Chloé: Yes.

Meg: He’s not one to go charging into situations; he’s one to hang back and check on everyone, and it’s a place where we see this stereotype be broken. And there are other male characters we see this with, too; Hagrid and Newt, specifically, I thought of, referring to themselves as mummy when in relation to their beasts, their pets.

Chloé: I love that so much. It’s breaking the toxic masculinity that’s so prevalent in the wizarding world and just fully accepting that they’re being the nurturing and the caregiver. I love that. I love both of those points so much.

Pam: Yeah. And we see that manifest out aside from the creatures that they both care for, right? Hagrid – bless his heart – we all know he’s not the best cook, but he’s still sending Harry rock cakes. He’s trying. Or he brings him the birthday cake, and he’s always checking in on them. Everybody knows he’s… Harry, Ron, and Hermione know that if they need comforting, they can go to Hagrid and he’s always going to be there.

Chloé: Yeah, it’s true. They seek him out.

Pam: And I think that’s so sweet.

Laura: Yeah, and he does things throughout the series to, I think, try and mediate as well when he senses things are off with the trio. I mean, think about Prisoner of Azkaban when Hagrid sits Harry and Ron down and he’s like, “Come on, she’s your friend.” And I think, as a society, we typically wouldn’t expect an adult man to step in and say something like that in defense of a teenage girl, right? So Hagrid really does defy those expectations.

Pam: We also have to believe that it’s not a unique experience to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, because when Rita Skeeter tries to paint him as dangerous because he’s half-giant, Dumbledore says that he got hundreds of letters from parents saying, “If I fire you, we will raise hell,” and so that kind of shows that he’s been filling that role at Hogwarts for longer than the trio have been there.

Meg: I think there’s a line in Chamber of Secrets where he talks about having Ginny round for tea also, without her brother Ron being there.

Pam: He just collects strays. I feel like he probably does pay attention to who is making friends and who’s having a hard time.

Chloé: Also, Neville really tries to stand up for him against Umbridge to the best of his ability in the fifth book. And obviously, Neville was terrified, but he tries to be there for Hagrid, and I think there’s probably examples there. And I definitely think he does it for the Gryffindors, for sure.

Laura: Well, I want to talk about the roles of women in war, as well. This is something we’ve touched on a little bit in the past on the show, but I thought it could be interesting to look at the light side versus the dark side and what roles women on either side of this war, what roles they fill, and maybe what roles can be represented on either side of the war. I think we’ve seen that motherhood is one of those, right?

Chloé: Yeah, I just… while we were talking about this conversation – and I framed this earlier – I was really thinking about how, yes, all of these characters have some sort of motherly trait, but on top of that, a lot of them are warriors. Molly Weasley is a mother. That is her main thing; that’s what we see her do. And she’s a good mother, and she’s goodhearted and kind, and she’s also an incredible badass witch and she fights in that Battle of Hogwarts and she kills one of the most powerful witches on the other side. She is a mother, she’s caring, she’s lovely, she is a warrior. I also think of Fleur, who’s the same thing; she is beautiful and feminine, and also a warrior and fights, and I’d argue she also has motherly traits when the trio is at Shell Cottage and she’s taking care of all of them. So I think that JKR, to her credit, does write these women in a way that makes them just as powerful as the men, in my opinion, and I wish that we saw more of them. That would make me happy. But at the end of the day, they are all very capable to fight as well as to nurture.

Meg: Yeah, this makes me think of Hermione also.

Chloé and Laura: Yeah.

Meg: Hermione is so smart, she’s so talented, so capable, but she also cries a lot, she’s emotional, and it’s nice to see that someone can be both of those things.

Chloé: Oh, that’s so real. That’s so real. [laughs]

Laura: And she can also be wrong. I mean, Hermione is off sometimes.

Meg: Love it when she’s wrong.

Laura: Yeah, and that’s something I actually really do appreciate about the way many characters in the story are written. I mean, you look at characters that you’re really, I think, predisposed to like overall, but they’re still pretty flawed. Dumbledore the biggest among them, since Andrew isn’t here and he can’t defend Dumbledore this week.

Chloé: I even think about… we were talking a lot about how JKR – last time – writes interesting things regarding traditional femininity, but on the opposite token, Lavender and Parvati, they join Dumbledore’s Army. Yes, they’re super girly and giggly and traditionally feminine, and I think unfortunately the author makes them “annoying,” and I’m doing little… what are these called?

Laura and Meg: Air quotes.

Chloé: Air quotations.

[Pam laughs]

Chloé: But they’re also willing to fight, they join Dumbledore’s Army, they want to protect themselves and other people, and that’s pretty awesome.

Meg: Yeah, they fight in the Battle of Hogwarts, and depending on what canon you believe, Lavender even gives her life.

Chloé and Laura: Yep.

Chloé: I’m still in that vague “I don’t know what happened” part of my brain because I love her so much.

Meg: Oh, she’s totally alive. Lavender is alive in my mind.

Chloé: Yeah, she just likes her steaks raw. [laughs] Like Bill.

Meg: Exactly.

Laura: Listen, I feel like the rule of any franchise is unless you see a body – unless it is unequivocally communicated that they are dead – they’re not dead.

Meg: No body, no crime.

Laura: Exactly.

[Chloé and Pam laugh]

Pam: Yes, Meg.

Chloé: Come on, Taylor Swift. She had to pop up.

Laura: Hey, look at Harry. He died and he came back, so…

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: Yeah, that’s true. He did it twice!

Laura: Yep, he pulled a Jesus.

Chloé: Real.

Meg: LegalizeGillyweed says, “Lavender is living in an all women’s werewolf colony. (Heart hands.)”

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: That sounds like my dream, I’m not going to lie. I love that. Where can I sign up?

Laura: That sounds great. I also want to call out Lindsay, who said, “I think the women are seen having the burden of making hard decisions that they believe will impact their children’s future,” and that’s so true, right? Even when we’re talking about – and this is where we can shift to talking about the dark side – but we look at someone like Narcissa, who’s like, “You know what? My son’s future is more important to me than my ideology.”

Chloé: I was about to say, I feel uncomfortable putting her in the dark side because of that.

Laura: Yeah? Tell me about that.

Chloé: I don’t think she has a side except Draco. That is her side. I think that Narcissa, because she met Lucius, ended up being on the bad side. I think she probably could have gone the same way Andromeda went if she hadn’t met him. She followed him, she followed her family, and she does have that unconditional love that Pam was talking about earlier. So for her, it was anything to preserve her family, anything to preserve Draco, and that ended up with her being on the dark side. And I think by the end of it, she realized that being on the dark side was no longer going to save Draco and her family, so she got out and she made that change. I just don’t think she picks a side except self-preservation and her family’s preservation, which is very Slytherin of her, if I’m honest.

Meg: Yeah, you could argue that Narcissa leads with love. She loves her family, and that’s why she finds a nice pure-blood man to settle down with, and then she loves him, and that’s why she is agreeing with him on these political topics, and then she loves her son, and ultimately, she makes her choice based on that.

Laura: Yeah, but I guess if we’re making it… especially in talking about the wizarding war, we know that it heavily parallels to World War II. Unfortunately, there were plenty of people just like Narcissa during World War II, who maybe themselves weren’t necessarily Nazis to their cores, but they sure rubbed shoulders with the Nazis and they broke bread with the Nazis and they were down with the Nazis as long as it was convenient for them and it wasn’t causing any issues in their life. I think that is who Narcissa is, 100%.

Meg: Yeah. I would amend my statement; she leads with her personal love, the people she loves. She does not lead with a love for humanity or what is right.

Laura: I agree with that.

Chloé: I think very few characters lead with that. I think most of them lead with love for their family or their loved ones.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, I feel like within the trio, Hermione is really the one who leads with the most love of the three of them. Even just thinking about her…

Chloé: Love of humanity, love of justice, love of fairness.

Laura: Yeah, exactly. And I mean, just thinking about her approach towards SPEW and house-elves, as we’ve discussed many times, she’s not exactly going about it in the most effective way. But she’s doing what she knows how, and she’s standing up for somebody that she really doesn’t have to stand up for. I mean, her life is probably going to be easier at Hogwarts if she isn’t sticking out like a sore thumb as that weird girl with the SPEW buttons.

Meg: Yeah, shaking the badges under everyone’s nose.

[Laura and Pam laugh]

Chloé: But I love that about her, though. She’s so unapologetically herself, and she believes so fiercely, and it’s so beautiful. A part of me wishes that I was like that when I was growing up and I cared way less about what other people thought and cared way more about what I was doing and what I was trying to accomplish, because it’s brave of Hermione. I mean, honestly, that’s a big part of the Gryffindor in her, to me, is the idea that she just barrels on and she doesn’t care. She does not care what other people think in the way that I think… I mean, I think she cares a little, but she doesn’t care enough about what other people think to stop. She’s going to keep going and she’s going to fight on.

Laura: Yeah, that’s why she’s a warrior, to your point. But I want to keep us focused on the dark side, and I think, Meg, you had put in a really interesting name origin here as we’re talking about these women.

Meg: Yeah, I had a note about Bellatrix because when I saw “Roles of women in war,” including Bellatrix, I remembered that “Bellatrix” literally means “warrior.” And in verifying this, I actually learned that the word “bella” – just “bella” – has two meanings in Latin. It can mean both “beautiful,” and the plural form of “bellum,” meaning war. So “Bella” becomes beautiful warrior, which is really an oxymoron in terms of femininity, taking the word beautiful, which is supposed to be so soft and lovely and glorious, and then warrior, which… war is ugly, it’s harsh, it’s sharp.

Laura: To her it probably is beautiful, though.

Chloé: Yeah, I was about to say, there’s that, and also the idea that she is probably Voldemort’s number two guy, maybe. She is his beautiful warrior, and she’s beautiful – we know that canonically in the story – and she uses that. I mean, I think it’s so fitting of a name.

Laura: So we chatted a little bit about the light side and the dark side, but are there any female characters that we think are left out and really don’t get to pick a side? Apart from Narcissa; we have that on the record that Narcissa is kind of maybe ambiguous.

Chloé: Can I just say, by not picking a side, though, she is picking a side, right? Which is the truth of anything. If you’re not fighting for good, you are complacent in evil, which is with what you were saying about Nazi sympathizers and people that didn’t do anything during World War II. I just think that her story is complicated. And there’s a lot of conversation in the chat happening right now talking about how likely it was that she was also in an abusive marriage, considering how Lucius treated Dobby and how he potentially treated Draco as well. I feel like Narcissa was doing everything she could within her means, and that’s the other thing; I don’t think it would have been possible for her to get out. She went from her father’s house to her husband’s house, and she’s never known anything else, and I think that there’s just a lot more nuance with Narcissa than just putting her in bad, evil side.

Laura: Yeah, I get it.

Meg: I think similar to Narcissa is Merope in that she is a product of her environment, but unlike Narcissa, Merope doesn’t even go to Hogwarts, so she never even gets to see the other side. It’s implied that she just grows up only having interactions with her father and brother, who tell her, “Muggles are scum; you are a worthy person because of your bloodline,” and so she really doesn’t have a chance to ever get to form her own opinion, and it just goes to show how important education really is in getting a good, rounded view of the world.

Laura: All right, well, we are going to be coming back to speak about the role of women in fandom, but first, we need to take a quick break to listen to these messages.

[Ad break]

Main discussion: Women in fandom

Laura: All right, and we are back. Now we want to pivot to talking about the role of women in fandom. Obviously, all of us have been in fandom for quite some time, so we want to talk about our place in the Harry Potter fandom, what it’s looked like, what our contributions look like at this point in time, but we also want to talk about some of the prominent initiatives that are led by women in the Harry Potter fandom, and ultimately, how the wizarding world fandom has created space for all kinds of people. So I thought we could get started by talking about how we currently interact with and contribute to the fandom. Obviously, a big part of that is this podcast, right?

Chloé: Sure. [laughs]

Laura: We all contribute to this podcast in one way or another. And obviously, those are really significant things, but I would wager to guess that there’s a lot of interaction that we have with the Harry Potter fandom that isn’t necessarily always captured on this show, so I’m just curious to hear from y’all: In what ways are you engaging with the Potter fandom outside of podcasting these days?

Meg: Well, I have been a volunteer with MuggleNet for 11 years now.

Chloé: Oh my God, what?

Pam: Wow.

Meg: I know, I know.

Chloé: I didn’t know that.

Meg: Yeah, social media copy editor. I make sure that whenever people have a tweet scheduled about Dame Maggie Smith, that it hasn’t accidentally been autocorrected to “Damn Maggie Smith.” That happened once, and then they brought on me.

[Laura laughs]

Meg: So I make sure that things are just nice and neat over there. But yeah, I spend a lot of time with MuggleNet. It was my homepage in 2005, and that’s how I first heard about MuggleCast. And then I saw they wanted podcast transcribers in 2012, and I applied, and that’s how I got started there, and then they wanted a social media copy editor. But I mean, when I first encountered MuggleNet, I remember it being very much a boys’ club, and listening to MuggleCast, it was just entirely boys plus Laura.

Pam: [laughs] Look at how far we’ve come!

Laura: I know, we really have.

Meg: But also, for over a decade now MuggleNet has been majority women-led, and since 2017, leadership has almost exclusively been women. And we did a demographic survey a couple years ago and we found that about 80% of MuggleNet staff are women, and the other 20% are 10% men and 10% non-binary people, and it’s just such a far cry from what it was back in 2004, 2005.

Laura: Seriously.

Meg: And I just see the discussions that we have there, and we bring ideas, and we’re smart, and we’re funny, and we’re the ones keeping it going.

Laura: Yeah, and I think it’s so interesting, comparing those demographics to the demographics of the fandom. I think it’s fair to say that while Harry Potter fans come in all packages, right? When you think about the fandom, the people who are most active, the people who are showing up at conventions… I’m not discounting men who show up, but you’re talking about an overwhelming majority of women, at least in my experience. I remember this being a little bit of a joke back when I was a teenager and going to Harry Potter conferences, because me and my friends would be like, “Oh, maybe we’ll meet a guy there at the convention. Won’t that be, like, hot and fun?”

[Pam laughs]

Laura: And then it was like, “Okay, well, there’s a ratio of 10 to 1 of men and women at these conventions,” and the guy is probably gay, was the other thing.

Chloé: [laughs] Real.

Meg: It’s just like going to art school.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Yeah, I can imagine!

Chloé: True.

Meg: My college experience was very much like a Harry Potter convention.

Laura: [laughs] That sounds great.

Chloé: I feel like going to a Harry Potter convention with the MuggleCast boys, all the girls were low-key after them, probably.

Laura: Yes.

Chloé: So you were like, “What do I even do? What’s going on?”

Laura: It was actually kind of nice, because I’m introverted and shy, and I…

Chloé: No, I meant there was no other men, so you’re not finding anyone. [laughs]

Laura: Ohh. I see. Well, there were other men for sure, but at least in my experience, it was nice that they were getting all the attention, because they really were.

Chloé: So you could do your own thing?

Pam: You could just hang back and chill.

Laura: Yeah. But I had some really great conversations in small groups with women, again, at these conventions. You tend to just gravitate towards likeminded people in general, and then it’s just a place of community and gathering that I’d never experienced before.

Chloé: I mean, two of my now best friends I met at LeakyCon last year, and they’re women, and it was because we were able to connect on such a deep level. And I think the conversations that we can have as women are very different than the conversations that we have with men, and that’s just the reality.

Laura: Well, what about you, Chloé? What does fandom look like for you?

Chloé: Yeah, I mean, I live in fandom at this point, which is so great. It takes up the majority of my time and life, and I’m so, so endlessly grateful that it’s become actually a big part of my job through MuggleCast and Those Forking Fangirls, the other podcast I work for. I’ve made incredible friendships in the Harry Potter community and then beyond in other fandoms. I read fanfics pretty much daily. [laughs] I meet up with my Harry Potter friends on the regular. I’ve made friends through Harry Potter social media, and I also create content for fandom myself, and I don’t know. It makes me so happy, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. And I think that’s why Miriam Margolyes… I don’t know how to say it.

Laura: Margolyes, yeah.

Chloé: Margolyes. I think that’s why her comments hit me so hard, because it is a lot and a huge part of my life, and without it, I would be a much more sad person. So fandom has given me so much, and I will continue to live in that space because it makes me so happy. And it’s okay if you do, too, by the way.

Laura: Yeah, honestly, I just feel sorry for her if that’s her perspective.

Chloé: Yeah, real.

Laura: Being so real, because she didn’t read the books, right? She was just in the movies?

Chloé: No.

Laura: So yeah, she was just in the movies. She’s had exposure to the early movies, so that’s her interpretation of what Harry Potter is. She’s missing out on like, 85% of it, and that’s her loss. So think whatever you want, Miriam. Love you, though.

Meg: She’s a Charles Dickens fangirl, and that’s good for her. We’re Harry Potter fangirls.

Laura: Yeah!

Chloé: Eric and I were texting about that. [laughs] I was like, “Oh, so she has her own thing; she’s just judging ours.”

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Right. Well, her thing is old and it was written by a white man, so there’s probably some commentary we can draw there about the perceived legitimacy or validity of an artwork depending on where it came from and who it came from. But whatever, like what you like. Still adore her, though. I think she’s hilarious.

Chloé: She’s very funny, yeah.

Laura: But on this one, I was just like, “Eh, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” I’m just… [laughs]

Chloé: Yeah, just don’t steal other people’s joy is my big thing. We won’t steal yours and your Dickens love fest. That’s a weird sentence.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Hey, you know what? We get unhinged here on the girls takeover episodes. Pam, I want to hear about your experience with fandom, because I think all of us here, we still spend a lot of time in Harry Potter, so we can chat about that, but I also want to hear about just what does fandom look like for you in general? Because I know Harry Potter is not the one and only thing that we all love.

Pam: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny because I was… we have a listener – I think she listens to MuggleCast too – Morgan Levy, she has a podcast called That Nerd Thing, and her podcast is all about unpacking this question: What does fandom mean to you? How do you keep fandom in your life? And so I was on her show, and I was basically telling her what I’ll tell you guys now, which is that I just feel like I really owe my career in a lot of ways to fandom, because fandom has always allowed me to dive deep into the things that I am passionate about. And then I was able to go to school for journalism, and coming out of that, too, wanting to write about pop culture, so much of my fandoms and the things that I love overlap with the things that I’ve covered in my career and the things that I still get to talk about. So I think that in that way, fandom is a part of my everyday life to different degrees. But for Harry Potter specifically, I definitely have started consuming in the last few years more Harry Potter content online and I think it’s just because we’ve seen a resurgence in creators creating content around Harry Potter. For a while that was really dormant, but you have TikTok with all these Harry Potter creators that are on there doing really creative things. And also, there are people that start rewatching or rereading the books over on YouTube and so it’s really easy to just tap into these new people and experience the joy that you maybe found the first time around reading the books through their eyes, even if they’re reading them as an adult. So yeah, so anytime I’m consuming content, though, I do try and at least like and interact, because spoilers: People will make more of the things that you want when you do that.

Chloé: Yep. Real. [laughs]

Pam: And I will also tie fanfiction into this because I do still dabble in reading fanfiction here and there, and I always make sure to hit that kudos button.

Chloé: Yes.

Pam: If I don’t have time to leave a comment – because you can leave an unregistered comment on Archive of Our Own – at least hit the kudos button. If you want another chapter, you’d better interact, because these people are doing it for free, so that’s the least you can do.

Chloé: Oh, I have to hit the kudos, because I’m like, “It’s not done?” I rarely, rarely pick up a fic that’s not completed, and when I do, I’m always heartbroken that I can’t read more. So I’m hitting that kudos, I’m sending comments…

Pam: Yeah. Even when it’s done, just interact, even if you’re just commenting to be like, “Hey, I like this.” And that goes for TikToks and stuff like that, too. Encourage people to make more of the things that you like, because that is really what keeps fandom alive.

Chloé: What Pam is saying is comment on our stuff.

[Chloé and Pam laugh]

Chloé: And tell us to keep making it.

Pam: Well, we’re going to be here regardless.

Chloé: True, but also…

Pam: Yes, yes.

Laura: Well, and I think to the overall point about women in fandom, again, we’re not speaking in exclusives here, but so many of these creators are women. And when you think about the fact that oftentimes they’re doing this for free, I mean, it’s people who are doing free work because they care about the thing so much. So yeah, I mean, the least any of us can do is be sure to engage with the content that we like and not just take it for granted like it’s always going to be there, right? So I love that. Well, what are some prominent initiatives led by women in the Harry Potter community? Meg, you brought up MuggleNet and how the demographics of its staff have changed quite a bit. It was so crazy to hear you talking about that, because I remember working on MuggleNet back in the day.

Meg: It’s a lot different.

Laura: Yeah, the staff page looked a lot different. [laughs] It’s wild to see how it’s changed and developed over time. I’m curious, what do you chalk that up to?

Meg: I don’t know; I hesitate to say like, “Oh, women are just more passionate. They care more.” It’s difficult. It is something that I wonder about a lot, like, “Why did this change happen? How did this change happen?” Yeah, I really don’t have an answer to that. I’d love to hear what other people think.

Chloé: I think it’s reflective of the fandom itself, if I’m super honest.

Pam: Well, it is now.

Chloé: I’d argue that… it is now, yeah.

Pam: Because I think women have always been the backbone of the Harry Potter fandom.

Chloé: Well, that’s what I’m saying. That’s what I’m saying. I feel like this fandom has always been majority women, and now MuggleNet reflects that, which I think is wonderful. I think that to reflect the fandom is doing something right.

Pam: Yeah, it’s interesting, though, because thinking back to maybe when we first discovered websites like MuggleNet, or even some of these other bigger Harry Potter websites that were around in the early 2000s, so many of them were spearheaded by men, and so if you just existed online… like Laura, I didn’t even realize that the fandom was majority women until I started going to conventions, and then you get to see the actual demographic and you realize that it’s kind of crazy that men are running these… predominantly men are working on these sites or making these podcasts or whatever because…

Chloé: Tale as old as time, though.

Pam: Yeah, because it’s like, “But there’s so many women.” [laughs] “Where are the women?”

Meg: There’s probably something to be said for back in the early 2000s when websites, fan sites were first becoming a thing, STEM was very much encouraged for boys to do.

Pam: Geared towards men, yeah. That’s true.

Chloé: Ohh.

Meg: And so teenage boys were the ones who were learning coding and how to make fan sites more so than the fans who were girls.

Laura: Meg, I actually think that could be a really big part of it, why we saw the shift happen. That’s nuts. Yeah, y’all activated some core memories for me. Yes.

[Pam laughs]

Chloé: Also, just the confidence of men and them always being able to do what they want, and men I think more often got told “Yes” more.

Pam: Yeah. It’s funny because on the flip side, thinking about fanfiction, I feel like the majority of the people that I interact with on the fanfiction side of fandom – and this has been the case since I started reading fanfiction – are women, or identify as women or non-binary, it’s very rarely that I come across something that was written by a dude, which is not to say there are not men that write fanfiction, but it is interesting how there’s always been that dichotomy there.

Chloé: Even reading fanfic, I’d argue… I don’t really know, and I have quite a few men in the Harry Potter fandom that I’m friends with… that sounded weird. “Quite a few men.” [laughs]

Laura: What I loved was the “I have quite a few men.”

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: Laura, how did you not find these men when you were…?

Laura: I know.

Chloé: I did not mean to say that. Oh my God. I meant to say I have a lot of friends who are men in the Harry Potter fandom, and I feel like they don’t read fanfic at all, and I feel like all the women do, so I wonder if there’s… I don’t know why there’s that discrepancy there, but they’re also not reading it.

Pam: Do we all read fanfiction here? The four of us? Yeah, so that tracks.

Chloé: Send us your recs.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: For sure. I will say that I’m definitely more of a dabbler; I don’t think I read as much fanfiction as Chloé does, but every now and then I’ll read something, and I mean, I used to freakin’ moderate fanfiction and I wrote a ton of it.

Chloé: The things you’ve seen, Laura. The things you’ve seen.

Laura: Unsavory things.

[Laura and Pam laugh]

Chloé: I go through phases. I go through fanfic phases where I’m reading so much for a month and then I’m off it and then I go back. Right now I’m focused on ACOTAR, so I’m not reading fanfic, but I’m sure soon I’ll get back in a fanfic kick.

Meg: Well, I mean, I think a lot of the stereotype of fanfiction being read and written by women is because there’s romance there. Fanfiction is really a place where people can engage in romance. But it makes me think of like, in Jane Austen novels she often writes about how 200 years ago, if you read fiction, that was a womanly thing to do, and men didn’t read fiction. Men read nonfiction, serious books. And just think about how that’s changed over the past couple centuries.

Chloé: Can I do a shameless ask of our listeners? If you have Luna x Harry fanfic, or you want to write that, please hit my line.

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: Because there isn’t enough and I’m begging for it. I really just desperately need more Luna/Harry in my life. Yeah, that’s something I’d like, so slide into my DMs if you have recs. [laughs]

Meg: Slide into the DMs with the Larry.

[Pam laughs]

Chloé: For real. They aren’t written about enough, and I think they’re so freaking cute, and you know how I feel about them.

Pam: What’s also funny; you know, guys, Larry is already a ship, right?

Meg: Oh my God, it is! I wasn’t even thinking of the Directioners!

Pam: For One Direction, yeah, so they can’t be Larry. [laughs]

Chloé: Okay, Huna?

Meg: Huna.

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: Povegood? Lotter?

Laura: There we go.

Chloé: Lotter is maybe the best, but it’s still gross. [laughs]

Pam: We’ll workshop it.

Laura: Yeah, we’ll have to think on that. It’s definitely… honestly, it’s the best ship that never sailed. To this day… I was so convinced. In Order of the Phoenix, I was like, “Yep, end game right here.”

Chloé: So was Daniel Radcliffe and Evanna Lynch. They talk about it in an interview and they’re like, “We thought we were going to get together…”

Pam: Yep, they played it that way.

Chloé: Yeah, which broke my little freakin’ heart, by the way. [laughs]

Meg: My somewhat controversial opinion is that Harry and Luna would be so cute as that early teenage romance…

Chloé: Yeah, totally.

Meg: … but I feel like – feel free to cut this out, Andrew – but I feel like later in life, they just would not be sexually compatible.

[Everyone laughs]

Meg: I feel Luna is either completely asexual, just doing her own thing, or she’s way experimental, and that either way Harry is somewhere just smack in the middle of that and it just wouldn’t work out.

[Pam laughs]

Chloé: Smack in the middle, totally. Meg, I agree with you absolutely.

Meg: That’s my hot take.

Laura: Oh, man. I feel like we can have an entire bonus MuggleCast episode about that, and we probably should. I feel very inspired now. So if y’all ever want to come back for a bonus, let’s do it.

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: Oh, I’m so down to talk about ships in a bonus; y’all have no idea. That’s so real, Meg, though. You popped off with that one.

Meg: Honestly, it’s what I feel.

Laura: I know. It’s a gift, honestly.

[Chloé and Pam laugh]

Laura: Meg, you just have the best takes and the best one-liners.

Meg: My collection of headcanons.

Chloé: Oh, so did anyone else have a Harry Potter Pinterest board where they saved – or your Tumblr; I did it on Tumblr too – where you saved or reblogged your headcanons?

Laura: Not me.

Chloé: I’m sure you can find mine out there. Reblogged a lot of spicy and weird takes, I’m sure.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Well, I wanted to be sure before we get into wrapping up this episode to give some love to Fandom Forward and LeakyCon as organizations that are largely female-led that are doing great work in fandom. So Fandom Forward is actually formerly known as the Harry Potter Alliance. It is not exclusively led by women, it also wasn’t founded by women, but many of its leaders at this point are women and non-binary people. It was initially founded to raise awareness about the genocide happening in in Sudan in 2006, but Fandom Forward now focuses on making activism accessible for everyone, and is committed to LGBTQIA equality, gender equity, youth advocacy, racial justice, education and libraries, media reform, and climate change, so they have really extended the reach of the issues that they focus on. And I love that they have a focus on making advocacy accessible and sustainable for people to be part of, so that they can allow their creativity and their participation in fandom to also have a positive impact in some of these other issue areas. Tell us about LeakyCon, Chloé.

Chloé: Oh, well, I mean, Melissa Anelli obviously started LeakyCon and we know her, but it’s run by a woman and has a majority woman team. And you’re also going to see Meg and I there, so yeah, shout-out LeakyCon. [laughs]

Meg: Looking forward to it. I’ve never been to Portland before.

Chloé: I know. We’re going to be roomies. We’re going to have a sleepover. It’s going to be so much fun.

Meg: It’s going to be great.

Laura: I’m anticipating a lot of really fun TikToks and fun pics for the socials.

Chloé: Whatever Meg is willing to do, I will do it.

[Everyone laughs]

Meg: I’m happy to do it.

Chloé: The content will be good. Absolutely.

Laura: You’re such a good sport, Meg, because I am the bane of Chloé’s existence because…

[Laura and Meg laugh]

Chloé: No, you’re not. No, you’re not. I love you to death.

Laura: The feeling is mutual, for sure. But I’m very much the roomie who would be like, “No, we are not recording a TikTok. I am not doing roomie photos.” [laughs]

Chloé: And then I would be like, “Okay, I’m doing it alone then.”

Laura: Yep.

[Pam laughs]

Chloé: You and Andrew, man. You’re like, “No pictures, please. No paparazzi. Thank you so much, no can do.” Micah and Eric are such good sports about it.

Laura: Yeah, they are.

Chloé: And I really, really, really appreciate it. Especially Eric; he’s like, “Oh, yeah, you want a picture? Absolutely.” I love it, so it’s always fun.

Meg: Last weekend they filmed a little a little LeakyCon teaser. I held the camera. I helped.

Chloé: I know, I love it. Oh, I bet the camera work is impeccable, Meg. I’ll pay very close attention to that. [laughs]

Meg: It’s great. There was one moment where I was not paying attention and I fell off the curb, so it shakes a bit, but other than that, it’s real good.

Chloé: No, that’s good, though. That’s character. That’s character. I was glad they were together, and the second I saw them together, I hit them with a “Send pics.”

Laura: Well, to bring us home on the second installment of Girls Takeover MuggleCast, I wanted to chat briefly about where the Harry Potter fandom has been successful in amplifying the voices of women and other underrepresented groups, and maybe where we think there’s still some work to be done.

Pam: Well, I know you guys aren’t going to toot your own horn here on MuggleCast, so I’ll do it for you.

Chloé: Yes, toot-toot.

Pam: I think that you guys have done a really good job of bringing on women guests, in the last few years specifically.

Laura: Aw, thank you.

Pam: I know that Andrew and I have talked about that privately, because I’ve also said that I think it’s really good that you guys do that. And he’s also mentioned to me privately that if there is an open spot, you guys try to add more female voices then, because everybody is well aware that there are a lot of female voices that are amplified in the fandom, so I think that’s really great. And I also think it’s really great that you guys have been having more BIPOC guests on. That’s always going to be my soapbox, because minorities or BIPOC people are just not really represented in this series, but I feel like those fans have such interesting and unique takes, and a lot of times, whether it’s because of the algorithm or other powers that be, I feel like those voices often don’t get amplified as much as some other voices do in fandom, so yeah, I love hearing from BIPOC fans always, and their perspectives are just so valuable.

Chloé: I’ll extend that a bit further – and I don’t mean to make you blush or anything – but I think, Laura, you’ve been that for a lot of women. You have been that representation in the Harry Potter space and the person that they can look up to and really see themselves in, and you are always so welcoming and kind to guests, and you really make them feel like a part of it, and I think that episodes where guests are on when you’re on as well, I can always tell a big difference because you make people feel just so comfortable. And I think that with a fandom that is majority women and has been, really, since the beginning, you have been a huge part of making people feel comfortable. I also think beyond women, the Harry Potter fandom and fandom space in general has been much more accepting and inclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community before it was mainstream.

Laura: 100%.

Chloé: And I’m now thinking of the fandom offshoots, like the Marauders and House of Black and all these offshoots of Harry Potter that are based in queer and LGBTQIA+ representation. I’m really proud to be a part of this fandom, despite the author and despite a difficult maybe history, because I think that it is so inclusive and so welcoming, and you feel that at in-person events. You feel that listening to MuggleCast. You feel that on Harry Potter TikTok. You feel the heart and soul that this fandom has, and it is a beautiful thing to be a part of and I’m just so grateful for it because it has brought me so much joy since I was little, and I don’t think I would be the person I am today without the Harry Potter fandom and the women who are a part of it, and all of you.

Meg: Yeah, I mean, I got to thinking; I was talking about MuggleNet in 2005, and I was a teenage girl who loved Harry Potter, my friends were teenage girls who loved Harry Potter, and I’d go on MuggleNet and listen to MuggleCast, and it was primarily these boys, but then Laura was there and I was like, “Oh, I see myself there.”

Laura: Y’all are going to make me cry. [laughs]

Chloé: You deserve to hear it, though. So many people feel it too.

Pam: And everyone listening knows, too, that it’s because of you that there is a female voice on the panel. I know you’ve told the story many times that you said, “Why don’t you guys have a girl on?” So I mean, if you’d never done that…

Chloé: Crazy that none of them thought of it before, though.

Meg: [imitating Emma Watson] Boys.

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: Yeah, there was just a lot of boys.

Laura: I loved the Hermione moment there, Meg. “Boys.”

[Pam laughs]

Laura: I mean, in their defense, they were only a few episodes in.

Chloé: Yeah, it’s true.

Laura: They were still getting their footing, and I think they would have gotten there, but I was definitely the abrasive one in the staff forums being like…

Pam: You were like, “Let’s make sure this happens in season one.”

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: I don’t know how abrasive it is to be like, “Hey, maybe get a woman on? I don’t know. Crazy.”

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: Cuckoo bananas idea, but…

Pam: No, but props to them because they could have just been like, “You’re psycho, no.”

Chloé: That’s true.

Pam: So the environment was already welcoming to begin with, to your point.

Laura: Yeah, 100%. They always were. I’m curious, though: What are some areas where y’all think the fandom might still have some work to do?

Pam: I still just think amplifying – I hate to say this again because I feel like I sound like a broken record…

Chloé: No, I agree with you. I was going to say it if you didn’t say it.

Pam: I really just think that we really need to make space for more black creators, more Latino/Latinx creators, more Asian creators, anybody that fits in that BIPOC category. I think that those are the voices that we hardly hear from, and it sucks that a lot of times the algorithm does not favor creators that look like that. And I just love seeing more people pop up on my feed, but I know that it happens because every time I see a creator of color talking about Harry Potter, I’m automatically hitting the like, leaving a comment, so that I see more of that.

Chloé: I feel like the biggest Harry Potter creators right now are BIPOC people, and it makes me really happy. I’m thinking of the people that come up on my For You page all the time, and they are part of minority groups, and I think that is freaking awesome and I think it does show how far we’ve come. Obviously, we have so much more work to do. And you’re right, this fandom was started by white men, in my opinion. Just the big fan sites and the people that we were amplifying in the beginning, and I mean, I think that is true of anything, if I’m honest. So we have a lot of work to do in terms of making sure that women are seen and BIPOC creators are seen and different perspectives are seen too. I feel like it’s really important to also have diversity of thought when it comes to this fandom, and not be in a constant echo chamber.

Laura: Yeah. And that’s true for everything, right? I think people existing in their own personal echo chambers is just a really big problem in general right now, and I think it’s something that as a fandom, we can definitely work to avoid by continuing to be more inclusive and more welcoming, so I totally agree.

Chloé: Also, just different views about Harry Potter. Genuinely, I think that’s important too.

Meg: Yeah, different perspectives! Perspectives that represent the world, because Harry Potter, the fans are from all different backgrounds, races, genders.

Chloé: I was thinking about that because I’m listening to the Harry Potter books in French right now, and just listening to the exact same story in a different language, I get a completely different feeling. And I wonder, Pam, if you felt this with Spanish books. It’s like reading them, you get almost a different layer, and I’m sure that’s true living in different countries reading it. I’m sure it’s a very different experience for my friend Sukanya, who is from London, reading the Harry Potter books; she probably gets a lot more of the nuances that we don’t and understands the schooling system and all this stuff, just like I’m sure it’s different for someone who is in Italy or wherever else.

Pam: Yeah, for me, part of the fun in having read part of the series in Spanish – not all of it because I read a lot slower in Spanish than I do in English – is just seeing how certain words get translated. I think that… like for the title Deathly Hallows, it literally translates to “Relics of Death,” and having that… I don’t know if you guys remember – I’m sure you guys remember – all the theorizing that was happening with what “Deathly Hallows” meant.

Chloé: It was a huge hint.

Pam: It was like, “What the heck does that mean?” And it’s like, but in Spanish, it makes a lot more sense. A relic of death, you can work toward some kind of conclusion. “Deathly Hallows” is almost shrouded in mystery.

Chloé: No, that’s real.

Pam: Yeah, so I think that that is really fun. But also to that point, just seeing the… again, going back to the content that’s being created on spaces like TikTok and the way that that has really added a new layer to exposing you to fans from maybe different parts of the world that you wouldn’t have interacted with or seen had you not been on a platform like that, it’s so much fun for me to see content being made for Harry Potter in Spanish because the jokes are different too. And I’m sure you’ve seen that, too, with French creators, for example.

Chloé: One thing that really cracks me up when I’m listening is wand is “baguette” in French.

Pam: Yes! I read the first book in French.

Chloé: Yeah, there’s a lot of really funny things with French that just crack me up as someone who also speaks English, because Dumbledore is like, “‘Arry, ton baguette!” and he’s like, it’s a very serious moment.

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: I’m just imagining it being an 11 inch baguette; that is the funniest visual. [laughs]

Chloé: No, so funny. And some of the teachers’ names are so crazy. Snape’s name is “Rogue,” which is so…

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: You really feel it, you know? “Rogue.” Even saying it, you’re like, “Eugh.”

Pam: [laughs] That’s so funny.

Meg: I mean, when I think of Harry Potter in French, I think of Voldemort’s name being Tom Elvis.

Chloé: [in a French accent] Voldemort. Oh, yeah. Yeah, that is pretty funny.

Pam: Oh, that’s right.

Laura: [gasps] I forgot about that.

Meg: The things they had to do to make it make sense in different languages.

Chloé: Yeah, they had to make it make sense.

Laura: So the anagram would work. Oh, that’s so funny.

Pam: That’s so funny, yeah.

Laura: I think that had to be a thing in the Spanish edition, too, right? I’m trying to remember…

Pam: Yeah, I’m trying to think…

Chloé: I’m sure for most languages they had to change it.

Pam: Let’s Google it.

Meg: There’s probably compilations online that you could find.

Chloé: Oh, and Hufflepuff, you guys? Poufsouffle.

[Laura laughs]

Pam: Oh, apparently it’s El Señor Oscuro.

Chloé: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Laura: Wait, his acronyms spells El Señor Oscuro? Is that what you’re saying, Pam?

Pam: No, that’s what someone said.

Laura: Okay.

Pam: Just right away, El Señor Oscuro. His Muggle name in French is Tom Elvis Jedusor. That’s the one… yeah.

[Chloé laughs]

Pam: In Spanish it’s Tom Sorvolo Ryddle, but Ryddle is spelled with a y.

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: That’s very 2024 of them. It’s like a baby, they spelled Ryddle with a y.

Chloé: Oh, true.

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: Oh, man. That’s so great.

Chloé: He had Millennial parents in the Spanish book.

Laura: That’s so fun.

Pam: Oh, wow. This is a fun little rabbit hole. [laughs]

Laura: It really is. I will go down any rabbit hole any day, any time with y’all. This has been amazing…

Chloé: So fun.

Laura: … and I really feel like we could go on and on and on, but I think Andrew will murder me if this audio file gets to two hours…

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: … so we’re going to go ahead and wrap this discussion up, but there will be a Girls Takeover part three. Next time, we will actually be doing a Chapter by Chapter episode…

Chloé: Amazing.

Laura: … so keep an eye out for that. We’ll definitely blitz the socials when it’s coming along, and we’ll probably give you some reminders ahead of time, too, because we would love to have you joining us for the livestream and in our Discord. But next week, Chapter by Chapter will continue with our analysis of Goblet of Fire Chapter 20, “The First Task.”


Laura: And now we’re going to be getting into this week’s Quizzitch!

[Quizzitch music plays]

Laura: So last week’s question: What is the first bit of Professor Moody’s advice to Harry about the first task? Last week’s answer: “Play to your strengths.”

Chloé: Profound.

Laura: Correct answers were submitted by All Snapes and Sizes; BuffDaddy; Elizabeth K.; Green River Kelpie; Hagrid and Sirius are in a hardcore biker gang and are best bros duuuuuudes…

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: … HiToMyRavenclawHusband – oh, is that for Micah?

Meg and Pam: Ooh.

Chloé: Heyy.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: … Justice for dragons, they are unfairly maligned and misunderstood; Katie from Hufflepuff; Let me tell you the Pottercularly perfect Harry Potter pun…

Chloé: Yo, that’s hard to say. [laughs]

Laura: That is really difficult. Lloyd the Kiwi; Mad-Eye Fakey’s last bit of sanity; Must Be a Weasley 92; Professor Stumbledore; Proud Ravenclaw; Rita Skeeter’s Probation Officer…

[Everyone laughs]

Chloé: Isn’t that basically Hermione?

Pam: Yeah, I was going to say, isn’t that Hermione?

Laura: And last but not least, Ron can Weasley his way out of anything.

Chloé: Love that.

Laura: Eric makes this look so much easier when he does it every week.

Meg: The way he rattles them off; it’s like “Bam, bam, bam.”

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Because I’m like, stumbling.

Chloé: Does he practice?

Meg: I think every week is practice.

Laura: Okay.

Chloé: True, true.

Laura: I was going to say, we have the inside scoop with Meg here, so it’s like, does he run through them?

Pam: Right, tell us the truth.

Chloé: Tell us all his secrets.

[Laura laughs]

Meg: I think it’s just a talent.

Chloé: I guess when he’s picking them out.

Laura: All right. Well, next week’s question: What color are the Hungarian Horntail’s eyes? Submit your answer to us at, or click on “Quizzitch” on the MuggleCast website from the main nav bar.

Chloé: Visit our Etsy store where you can buy many cool MuggleCast items like the Cozy Comfy Combo Pack, the beanies and socks which are so comfy, and you can see Andrew and I posing in them on our socials and a bunch of our listeners, and that pack is at one reduced price. There’s also signed album art and wooden cars and T-shirts, so make sure to go to, and there’s also info on our socials.

Meg: And you can visit for transcripts – courtesy of me – our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. And if you’re enjoying MuggleCast and you think that other Muggles would, too, please tell a friend about the show. And we would also very much appreciate it if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app.

Pam: This podcast is brought to you by Muggles like you; we don’t have any fancy corporate or network funding. We are proudly an independent podcast, so here’s how you can help us out: If you’re an Apple Podcasts user, you can subscribe to MuggleCast Gold, which gets you ad-free early access to MuggleCast plus two bonus MuggleCast installments every month.

Chloé: There’s also; you’ll get all the benefits of MuggleCast Gold plus livestreams like right now, planning docs, the chance to co-host the show one day, a new physical gift every year, and a video message from one of the four regular MuggleCast hosts.

Laura: And Chloé, you want to take us home with the social plugs? You gotta.

Chloé: Yeah, I mean, just go follow us.

[Laura laughs]

Chloé: Go follow us, y’all, please. Every single time I come on here and if you’re not following us already, you’re missing out on a bunch of fun extra content from all the hosts, a sneak peek on our episodes, and just a lot of goofball fun Harry Potter stuff. So come hang out with us on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and TikTok and Threads.

Laura: And just as a reminder – I know we shared this last time – but where can everyone find all three of y’all if they want to follow you on the socials? Let’s do some plugs.

Meg: I am on Instagram at @Megguss, and my art website is I do art about nature and mental health and the human body and you can check out my stuff there.

Chloé: It’s all so gorgeous. I’ll plug for you.

Meg: Thank you, Chloé.

[Chloé laughs]

Pam: I am at @PamelaGocobachi almost everywhere except for on TikTok, where I am at @_PamelaG because I tried to make it easier for myself. And you can also listen to me every week on Millennial Podcast with Laura and Andrew. 18 plus only, please, because we swear over there and it’s a lot less PG.

[Chloé and Pam laugh]

Chloé: We’re naughty at Millennial.

Pam: Yeah, it’s a lot less PG, a lot more unhinged than MuggleCast is allowed to get, but come hang out with us over there if you’re interested in hearing more from me, and obviously more from Laura and Andrew.

Chloé: You can follow me at @ChloéLaverson on TikTok and Instagram. Also, if you want to hear my voice more, you can check out Those Forking Fangirls. I’m a guest host often; we just published an episode today about Avatar: The Last Airbender, which was so much fun. But yeah, I create fandom content. And then, like I said, follow @MuggleCast. Follow @Millennial. Come hang out with us.

Laura: It’s always a party over here…

Chloé: It’s a party. [laughs]

Laura: … at the Hypable family of podcasts.

Chloé: Yes!

Laura: That’s not actually what we’re called.

Pam: No.

[Chloé and Meg laugh]

Laura: I’m just being obnoxious. Y’all, this has been so much fun. Thank you so much for everyone who tuned in live with us tonight. Thank you so much for everyone who’s listened through to this second installment of Girls Takeover MuggleCast.

Chloé: Woo!

Laura: We will see you in the next installment, where we will be doing a Chapter by Chapter, and we’ll see you back with the regular panel for next week’s episode. I’m Laura.

Chloé: I’m Chloé.

Meg: I’m Meg.

Pam: And I’m Pam.

Laura: Bye.

Transcript #650


MuggleCast 650 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #650, How The Royal Family Influenced Rita Skeeter, and more MuggleMail

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: And I’m Micah.

Andrew: This week we bust open the Muggle Mailbag and listen to your voicemails on all things Goblet of Fire. It’s been a while since we’ve opened up the mailbag, and it was getting quite full. We were looking like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, am I right? [laughs]

Micah: Oh, you’re right. Laura couldn’t handle it; she said, “No mail. The bag is too big. I can’t handle it.”

Andrew: No, Laura decided to follow the advice of Miriam Margolyes and no longer be a Harry Potter fan, so she’s not here this week.

Eric: Ohh!

Micah: [laughs] Oh, is that what it is?

Andrew: That’s what it is, yeah.

Eric: That was the final straw. It convinced Laura. She was like, “Yeah, she’s right.”

Andrew: She was like, “Yeah, she’s got a point.” No, Laura was planning on being here, and at the last minute she had something come up and she couldn’t make it, unfortunately. She’s okay, but it was something she couldn’t get out of, so unfortunately, she’s not here. However, some good news is that a new all girls MuggleCast is taping next week, so there will be a guyless episode in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned for that. [laughs]

Micah: So what you’re really saying is we strategically planned it so it was just the three of us this week, so that the girls could have it next week?

Andrew: No, no, I’m not saying that.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: Laura was planning on being on until 30 minutes ago. [laughs]

Micah: No, I know, I know. Yes. You’re supposed to go along with it, Andrew. You’re supposed to go along with it.

Andrew: Yeah, well… 650 episodes, though; it’s another milestone for us this week. That’s exciting.

Eric: Oh, wow. At this point, they’re ticking by… every couple of weeks, it’s a new 50 episodes, it seems like. [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, it’s flying by. I can’t wait for Episode 700 now, in another year or so.

Eric: Well, 700 is going to be very special.

Micah: We’ll get David Heyman back. He’s not doing anything.

Eric: Yeah! We’ll see if he’s any better at Dueling Club. Wait, he already actually won. We’ll see if you’ve improved at Dueling Club, Micah.

Micah: I mean, we could literally say to him, “David, it’s been 500 episodes since you’ve been on.”

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Micah: Which is wild.

Andrew: Episode 700 in our 20th year; that’s pretty nice timing.

Micah: Yeah, that is pretty magical.

Eric: It is wild to think that we’ve been doing this show for 19 years. 19 entire years. I know that’s a big thing; we’ll be making a thing of it throughout the year, since it’s the distance between the epilogue and Harry’s seventh year at Hogwarts, but that said…

Micah: Well, to your point, though, Andrew, I don’t know if there’s… there may be somebody out there who doesn’t like the fact that we’re still podcasting after all these years, [laughs] and she’s part of the Harry Potter cast.

Andrew: Oh, Miriam Margolyes! Oh, we should get a Cameo from her and see what she does.

Eric: Let’s not and say that we did.

Andrew: No?

Eric: Let’s get another one from Dan Fogler.

Micah: He was great.

Andrew: Okay, so let’s get to the story. This made a lot of headlines, and some people I think were feeling a little hurt over the last week. Miriam Margolyes, who plays Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter movies, she said in an interview that Harry Potter fans who are adults now need to grow up.

[Audio clip plays]

Harry Potter… I worry about Harry Potter fans, because they should be over that by now. I mean, it was 25 years ago, and it’s for children. I think it’s for children, but they get stuck in it. And I do Cameos and people say, ‘Oh, we’re having a Harry Potter-themed wedding,’ and I think, ‘Gosh, what’s their first night of fun going to be?'”

[Andrew laughs]

[Audio clip continues]

“I can’t even think about it, no. Harry Potter is wonderful; I’m very grateful to it. It’s over.”

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: This woman is very hard to get mad at, first. Can I start by saying that?

Andrew: She’s a delight.

Micah: She is. She’s very entertaining across the board. Anything you watch her in, she is highly entertaining, and I wonder if that’s what this is.

Andrew: I saw another interview after this one and she kind of doubled down; she did emphasize that this is her opinion. Look, it’s a fact of our Harry Potter lives that a lot of people see Harry Potter as for children. Most of these people have not read the books, maybe a lot of them have not seen the movies, but some people just perceive Harry Potter as being for kids. It’s unfortunate, because we all know – everybody listening knows – it’s not just for kids. It’s an incredible story. What I really take issue with is, does she realize that adults also watch Disney movies? Watch Bluey, which is a children’s television show that adults love? There are lots of things “made for kids” that adults love too.

Eric: I think, too, that her perspective… we have to understand for her, it’s okay if it was just a job or it was just 25 years ago. She did say in that short clip that she’s grateful to Harry Potter; it obviously was the first time I’d seen her in anything, brought her to my attention. She’s given it its due as far as what it did for her career, but she was already in her 60s when Chamber of Secrets came out. And so to an adult, to a middle-aged to senior adult who had the Harry Potter phenomenon through that lens, I can understand them thinking it should be over by now, because they don’t necessarily understand it the same way that we do. And I was texting Micah earlier in the week, but Miriam Margolyes actually did a one-woman show based on the works of Charles Dickens called “Dickens Women”; she started that in 1989, and it reprised in 2007/2008. And so it’s okay if Charles Dickens is her author, if she thinks that his books are going to live forever, etc., etc., but it’s also okay if we don’t think that that’s it for us and if we take these books instead.

Micah: Yeah, I watched a show she was in called Impossibly Australian, and she does all these little trips, and she’s literally driving an RV, which that in and of itself is worth the watch, I think.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Yeah, where can I see this? I’m going to pay for the subscription right now.

Micah: I think I watched it on Netflix. I don’t know if it’s still on there. You could probably look it up; see what streaming service it’s on. And you interviewed her, didn’t you, Eric, for MuggleNet?

Eric: It was actually for “Dickens Women,” yeah, when it came to Chicago. I met her, and she’s very much… so the full clip that’s on YouTube is a four-minute segment that includes this clip. She talks about how she has been viewed as kind of this provocateur or sassy lady; she’s kind of just being herself. But a lot of people didn’t know that about her until she started doing interviews with people like Graham Norton, who are going to get the funny bits out of you and stuff, so you don’t… now, on Cameo, I think what really made headlines recently is that guy who paid her to roast him, the Harry Potter fan who paid various actors…

Micah: Which she’s very good at, by the way.

Eric: Well, yeah, and she’s incredible at it, so I think that’s what this is. I think a lot of it is jest. It’s okay to say, “I worry about Harry Potter fans.” Like, I worry about global warming; it’s just one of those things.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: What are we going to do about global warming?

Micah: And somebody brought this up – and I apologize if it was one of you or it was somebody who’s a member of our Slug Club – but they said, “Clearly she’s still good to do Cameos. For as much as she thinks that it’s over, she’s still making money off of these fans.”

Andrew: The Harry Potter fans, yeah. We’re getting some good comments in our Discord: LC said, “Why put an expiration date on something you love?” Lydia57 said, “HBO Max isn’t spending $250 million for a show for kids.” And Liza said, “She doesn’t realize that many of us are over here needing to do inner child work because all the adults in her generation failed us.” [laughs]

Micah: Wow.

Eric: That is the biggest clapback of all time. This is the next Miriam Margolyes here who said that.

Micah: And somebody also brought up the fact that she has never read the books. Isn’t that true?

Andrew: I think so.

Eric: As far as we know, yeah.

Micah: I think that’s a huge point to bring up here, because if we’re just talking about the movies, yeah, I can understand where she’s coming from. But so many people grew up reading Harry Potter that it has become such a foundational piece of their childhood, so the fact that she is calling that out here… in terms of how I react to it, honestly, it doesn’t really bother me. I don’t know; maybe it’s because of who she is and the fact that I’ve seen her in other things, and I’ve seen her talk in public. This statement from her just doesn’t rattle me the same way it seems to have rattled other people.

Andrew: It bothers me because it reinforces other people’s views that adults our age should grow out of Harry Potter. That’s the only reason it really bugs me.

Eric: Or Disney, or Star Wars, or…

Andrew: Yeah, anything. I mean, look, listeners, enjoy what you want. We all need an escape. We all need things to help us clear our heads. And to paraphrase one of our friends from Fantasy Fangirls, she said on Millennial a couple of weeks ago, “We always have to use our brains for hard things. How about being able to use our brains for just fun things?” And that’s what Harry Potter and fantasy novels allow us to do, so let us enjoy it.

Micah: Look, as somebody who is immersed in sports, you could easily make the same argument, right? You play sports as a kid growing up; you play soccer, you play basketball, you play baseball, you play football… it’s like, “Well, why don’t you grow out of that? Why are you watching that when you’re in your 20s, in your 30s? It’s a bunch of nonsense.”

Eric: Do you have an answer to that? Because I actually want to know.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: Watching sports is fun…

Micah: It is.

Andrew: … but when I watch the NFL games on Sundays, I see people dressed up in Vikings gear or full-body makeup…

Eric: That’s their cosplay.

Andrew: That’s their cosplay! They’re so into it. They think they’re hypermasculine, but they’re not any different than somebody wearing a cloak to a Harry Potter conference. It’s the same thing.

Eric: I just think it is crucial – and this has been a fun discussion – but it is crucial that we do not take ourselves too seriously as adults in anything.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Yes.

Eric: I can listen to this clip; I can have a laugh. It’s a little bit important that we look at ourselves and go, “Haha.” It has been a while we’ve been doing this show, for 19/20 years. Did I ever think we’d grow out of it? So we’re kids at heart.

Andrew: Yeah. Well, again, we here at MuggleCast support your love for Harry Potter, and that’s one reason the show has been a success. For a lot of people, we feel like their Harry Potter friends, and we’re happy to be there for you. Well, Micah, you’re planning a new bonus MuggleCast for patrons and Apple Podcasts subscribers this week, right?

Micah: Yeah, so we’re going to be talking about the three individuals who are on the shortlist to produce the new Harry Potter TV series, and our thoughts on the release date for this new Harry Potter TV show. It was announced – was it maybe two weeks ago? – that the new show will be out in 2026. Andrew and I did a quick Instagram Live to talk about it, but definitely want to get Eric’s thoughts on this as well, and then talk about the three people who are on this shortlist. Do we know anything about them? How do we feel? So we’re going to be doing that in bonus MuggleCast, and I think we can expect probably a lot of our bonus MuggleCast segments as we get closer and closer to the release date of the TV show to be focused on that.

Andrew: Yeah, agreed. And the three names you mentioned are three people who are in the running to write the Harry Potter television series, so this is a really big deal. And listeners, what else have you missed in bonus MuggleCast? Well, our analysis of an incredible inside look at the relationship between J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros., in which we learned bombshells like other Harry Potter spinoffs that have been in the works. We also had a discussion about a Harry Potter fanfiction that is getting turned into a new book. And we have two bonus MuggleCast installments every month; we’re doing a lot of fun stuff over there, so definitely check out Or again, through the paid Apple Podcasts subscription you can now get bonus MuggleCast installments.

Micah: I will say that the one bonus MuggleCast that we did on the relationship between J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. is almost like another episode with how long…

Andrew: It was like, 45 minutes. [laughs]

Micah: It was very long, but I think a lot of really great conversation. And I know I always say this, but as it relates to Apple Podcasts, I do feel like it is a really good deal. As somebody who listens to a lot of other podcasts, paying… $4.99 a month?

Andrew: That’s right.

Micah: … for all of our episodes, bonus MuggleCast, ad-free, early access… I look at it as you go to your local coffee shop, you pay for a coffee. You go out to a bar, get a drink with friends. Both of those things likely are going to cost you more than $4.99. Put one of those aside for the entire month and you get really great content as a result of it.

Andrew: A cameo from Miriam Margolyes is $170. That’s 34 months of bonus MuggleCast on Patreon.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: How much for Dan Fogler?

Andrew: [laughs] I think he’s cheaper.

Micah: I don’t want to know what you paid for my birthday gift.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Oh, no, no, it has nothing to do with that.

Micah: He did it for free, right?

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: He did that one for free. We actually asked for a refund; he was obviously high when he did yours, so we got a refund on that, actually.

Micah: [laughs] He was super high.

Andrew: [laughs] But no, you bring up a good point, Micah, and listeners are supporting an independent podcast.

Micah: Well, I say that because I want listeners to feel like we’re offering them quality, right? For what they’re paying for.

Muggle Mail: Voicemails

Andrew: Okay, well, it’s time for Muggle Mail now, and we’re going to start with voicemails. We love, love, love when listeners send in feedback. So let’s start with this voicemail from Bekah, and she discusses Gringotts being a security nightmare?

[Voicemail plays]

“Hey, MuggleCast, I have a funny thing I always think about in Goblet of Fire about Molly purchasing Harry’s dress robes. I work at a bank. When someone comes to withdraw funds from their account, we need to see their driver’s license, so I always wonder how the hell Molly Weasley was able to get gold from Harry Potter’s vault? She’s not a legal guardian. She doesn’t have any power of attorney paperwork. She’s just this friend’s mom, coming and getting gold from his vault. Makes no sense. But I guess maybe Gringotts is different? I don’t know. They seem pretty strict, but I guess they’re not because Molly can just get Harry’s gold. Thoughts? Because I don’t get it. Thanks, MuggleCast. Bye.”

[Voicemail ends]

Andrew: [laughs] Could Molly be an authorized user? Like how you can add somebody to a credit card or bank account?

Eric: If she was, Harry would be like, “Please take it all.” [laughs] It is wonky with Gringotts, to agree with Bekah here. And in fact, Sirius Black, a convicted felon, is able to mail-order request his money be removed from his vault somehow without tipping anybody off that Sirius Black is removing money from his vault in order to buy Harry the Firebolt. The whole system of money withdrawals from somebody else, from convicted felon… all of that is just very wonky in the Harry Potter books.

Micah: Yeah, there’s a really great comment in the Discord from Paxton Jamison, who says, “The goblins were scared of receiving one of her Howlers, so that must have kept them in check.”

Andrew: That’ll do it.

Micah: I do like the analysis. I think it’s one of those things you don’t necessarily pay any attention to while you’re reading the series; you just assume, “Okay, Harry is staying with the Weasleys; Molly is going to go take care of everything.” But to your point, Eric, if she can take out for Harry’s robes, I mean, she could take out whatever she wants. [laughs]

Eric: The thing is, it is funny because Bekah says she works at a bank. You do need a driver’s license, or you should have one to withdraw someone’s money, but you know what? Did you know you don’t need any identification to deposit money into somebody’s account? If you have the account number, you can just give them the money and say, “Here,” and they’ll take it.

Andrew: Oh, so I should share my account number on the podcast right now and see if anybody…

[Micah laughs]

Eric: And people will just… you’ll probably get hacked, actually.

Andrew: Maybe I should just share my Venmo; that’ll probably be safer. All right, this next voicemail comes from Brenna, and she has a pretty significant theory about portraits and Horcruxes.

[Voicemail plays]

“Hey, MuggleCast, my name is Brenna. I’m a proud Hufflepuff from Ohio, my Patronus is a weasel, and my favorite book of this series is Goblet of Fire. So I have a theory I’d like to put out to y’all, and I don’t know if it’s one that’s ever been discussed on the podcast before, so let me know what you think and if you feel that my theory is worthy of being declared canon. So my theory surrounds portraits, Horcruxes, and why Dumbledore was able to recognize Riddle’s diary as a Horcrux when others were unable to do so. So my theory is that portraits are not that dissimilar from Horcruxes, the key difference being that Horcruxes are created to contain a living piece of the soul and therefore require use of Dark magic because you have to kill a person to rip apart your own soul, whereas a portrait, it uses magic to create a tether to the portrait, creates a resting place for the soul to remain after a person passes so that person can still continue to contribute to the wizarding world, which… [baby noises in background] sorry, that’s my son, Isaac, my future little Hufflepuff. So my theory is that the portraits, being similar to Horcruxes in that they are a resting place for the soul after a person passes away, this is a way for important wizards and witches in the wizarding world to still contribute to everyday life even after their death, because if you note, the portraits in Dumbledore’s office are of significant people; they’re of past headmasters, headmistresses, and past leaders, significant people in history whom you would want to speak to and problem-solve. If you had something going on in your role as headmaster that you would want assistance with, who better to speak to and get opinions from than past headmasters and headmistresses? So my theory is that the portraits are regulated and monitored by the Ministry, and only certain people who are deemed either significant enough to the wizarding world, or those who are only rich enough – like the Malfoys, the Blacks, the Lestranges – to grease the palms of the Ministry get to have a portrait commissioned of them. So being Dumbledore, and all that he has done for the wizarding world, he’s already had his portrait commissioned. And since he’s already experienced that kind of magic of having his own soul tethered to his portrait, he was able to recognize the diary for what it was: the remnants of a vessel that once held a soul. But he knew that it was different, because obviously, it used Dark magic, and he could feel the difference between the magic used to create the vessel of resting place for his soul in his own portrait, versus the vessel that was created of the diary to store a living piece of the soul. So that’s my theory: portraits and Horcruxes, really not that dissimilar, and that’s why Dumbledore was able to recognize it for what it was. So let me know what you think. I really appreciate you guys and all that you do with the podcast; it has been a tremendous help for me and going through my postpartum, so I appreciate all that you guys do. I listen to you daily. Thanks, MuggleCast.”

[Voicemail ends]

Andrew: Daily!

Eric: Wow.

Andrew: Thank you, Brenna, that was really sweet. We don’t really get much of an explanation about the diary other than that he heard… he didn’t know about the diary prior to the events of Chamber of Secrets, the book, so he starts hearing about it through Harry and Ginny and I think he assumes it aligns with Tom Riddle, so he puts the pieces together that way. But no, I think this is a cool theory and a good alternative. It’s almost like you have two life paths you can choose from: I can aspire to split up my soul into multiple Horcruxes, or I can aspire to be portrait-worthy because I’m so good.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, other people that interacted with Tom Riddle’s diary when it had the part of his soul in it, though, like Lucius Malfoy, also would have interacted with portraits, surely, quite a bit. And Lucius didn’t seem to, that we know of, make any connection as to what the diary really was. And it’s interesting because I would actually argue that probably portraits don’t have anything to do with someone’s soul? It is interesting, though, that Hogwarts headmasters, for instance, they have to die before their painting is created. That does make it seem like the soul is transferring from their body to the portrait, but even photographs in the Daily Prophet of Harry, for instance, have his personality. They have some remnants and similarities to his personality; they move, but he hasn’t necessarily lost his soul at all during that process.

Micah: I think the one point that she was trying to make, though, is that the difference being… if you were to look at a Dumbledore versus a Lucius in their handling of the diary, that Dumbledore had already commissioned for his portrait to be created, so he was already in a way aware of that type of magic that exists. And in this case, with a portrait, it’s more of a positive attachment, whereas in the case of a Horcrux, it’s obviously a negative attachment. I think it’s a interesting way to look at these two things. But the one thing I will say, though, is I don’t know that with a portrait that a portion of the soul necessarily is in that portrait. In the Horcrux, a portion of the soul lives within the Horcrux and can bring you back to life, right? So I don’t know; it’s very…

Andrew: But then what is in the portrait? I mean, it does capture your essence…

Micah: It does. That’s fair.

Andrew: … so a part of the soul could make sense.

Eric: See, and to that extent, I always assumed conversations with past headmasters would be unfulfilling. There’s that moment in Cursed Child where Harry has this meaningful moment with Dumbledore’s portrait; I’m like, “That would never happen because it’s only surface-level Dumbledore.” Any portrait is a poor recreation of the real thing. I think that might be a quote from somewhere too.

Micah: It’s only the information that that person has imparted upon the portrait, right? And clearly they can do other things. Certain portraits can run within frames; we see that happen.

Andrew: Watch out for enemies.

Micah: Yeah, but I think Dumbledore’s portrait only knew in so much as he was willing to provide Harry with, right? Because at the end of Half-Blood Prince, the portrait is asleep, right? The portrait doesn’t even interact with Harry at all; it’s not till Deathly Hallows that we see that happen. So I don’t know. But I do think it’s an interesting thing to think about.

Andrew: I like it. I like the parallels that Brenna was drawing. All right, this next voicemail comes from Catie, about Rita Skeeter.

[Voicemail plays]

“Hi, this is Catie from San Diego, and I just wanted to comment on Episode 648, the interview with Rita Skeeter in the broom closet. Y’all already touched on the fact that this was not appropriate at all, but I also wanted to highlight the fact that even though Harry is a champion, he was still an underage wizard, so there should have been a chaperone of some sort with him in that interview in the broom closet, whether it was McGonagall or Dumbledore who was taking charge of him in that moment. One of them should have been there; it should not have been up to the Dursleys, because when you’re at a school, the people at the school take charge of you and your safety while you’re there, which also brings up an entire argument about the Hogsmeade situation. However, in this sense, where it was with an interviewer, it should have been a situation where someone was with Harry in that moment, and I think the fact that he was by himself and able to be pulled into there just shows how dirty Rita Skeeter was as an author and as a journalist, and how kind of sleazy she was, and also just how the ball was dropped in terms of keeping Harry safe after his name was pulled out of the Goblet of Fire. I mean, he was not really safe through the rest of the tournament, but I think in this sense, his mental health and wellbeing was really put at risk, and it just really shows how nasty Rita Skeeter was to approach a minor in that sense. I also just wanted to say, loved Pam on the episode. Thank you guys so much for what you do, and have a great day.”

[Voicemail ends]

Andrew: Thanks, Catie, and we’ll pass along the nice words to Pam. Harry needed a publicist with him during that interview!

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: McGonagall or Albus could have played publicist; I think that would have solved a lot of issues. And like I said on that episode, by not having anybody else in that room, in that space – calling it a room is generous – Rita could report anything she wanted and then it’s her word against Harry’s. All right, this next voicemail is from Katie about the three tasks.

[Voicemail plays]

“Hey, MuggleCast. It’s Katie from California. I just wanted to have a comment about the most recent episode for Chapter by Chapter. I think the predictions that Harry and Ron make during their Divination homework is what Harry does in the three tasks of the Triwizard Tournament. The first one he makes is get some burns; he gets some burns in the dragon task. The second one is he loses a possession; in the second task, he loses a possession that he must find. And in the third one, he comes off worse in a fight; Voldemort comes back in the third task, and Harry loses that battle but gets home back to Hogwarts safely.”

[Voicemail ends]

Andrew: That’s really cool.

Eric: That’s awesome.

Micah: I know we did some analysis of that homework, right, of those predictions when we were reading through, but I don’t think we connected the threads fully the way that Katie did here, and it’s really cool the way she did it.

Eric: That is.

Andrew: Yeah. All right, next one comes from Maddie about Viktor Krum.

[Voicemail plays]

“Hi, my name is Maddie from Idaho, USA. Okay, I’ve always wondered this about Viktor Krum. He’s supposed to be 17, right? Because that’s how old you’re going to be in the Goblet of Fire to do that thing, and he is this professional Quidditch player. So I wonder two things: one, is he a little young to be a professional Quidditch player? Does that not matter in the wizarding world, how old he is, if he hasn’t finished school yet? And then two, if he is and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, he can be 17 and be a professional Quidditch player,” then why is he still going to school? What does he need to learn? If that’s his career, could he homeschool or do some other kind of… get a personal trainer to teach him the magic he still needs? Why does he still have to go to school at a boarding…? All these wizarding schools are boarding schools; why does he have to go away for so long to school? Shouldn’t he be training for Quidditch, if that’s the thing? I don’t know. I don’t get how he is in both of those things. How is he essentially a high school student, but also a professional Quidditch player, and they haven’t made him pick one or another or given him a way to do both while training for Quidditch all year long? Anyway, that has always confused me, so I hope you guys touch on it. Thanks, bye.”

[Voicemail ends]

Eric: Micah, it’s a sports question.

Micah: [laughs] So it’s mine, is that what you’re saying? I will say, I do think there’s something to be said for playing for your national team, and that’s what I saw this as, right? So we know Quidditch in the sense that there’s all these different teams throughout the UK; we hear about them throughout the course of the Harry Potter series, but presumably, there’s also… and it’s mentioned, I think, during one of the conversations at the Burrow; there’s actually a team for England, there’s a team for Ireland, there’s a team for Scotland, and so presumably, Viktor is good enough – even if he plays at Durmstrang – to play for the Bulgarian national Quidditch team regardless of how old he is, and that’s what I think this is an example of.

Andrew: I think he’s also an overachiever. Maybe it’s a little backup plan, like, “Oh, if Quidditch doesn’t work out, I can go and be an Auror,” or “If I’m not going to be an Auror, I can be a Quidditch player.” It it interesting that at 18/17 he is on a major Quidditch team and able to compete in the Cup.

Micah: But wouldn’t you equate that…? And I see Lydia doing it the Discord; you could compare that to the Olympics. That’s what the Quidditch World Cup essentially is, and you have athletes of all sorts of ages that compete in the Olympics, so…

Andrew: And he’s doing all kinds of training, you would think, for the Quidditch World Cup, and then he has to go and do the Triwizard Tournament?

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Micah: You’re right.

Andrew: What a year for him.

Eric: It’s a big year for Viktor. Yeah, for sure. We do have on Ron’s authority that he is only just 18 or something, so he’s actually 18…

Andrew: [laughs] Or something.

Eric: Well, we know he’s at least 17 because you have to be – unless you’re Harry – to get into the Triwizard Tournament. But yeah, he’s said to be 18 in the Quidditch World Cup chapter. I just think that the reason he has to still go in school is because academics are important. How often do you hear athletes still have to cram for a test because if they fail it, they’re off the team? I feel like it’s very important to keep his education up.

Andrew: Maybe this is why Hermione had a crush on him. It was like, “Oh my gosh, he’s a Quidditch star and he still prioritizes his schoolwork? Dream man.”

Micah: What a dream.

Eric: Yes, smart people are sexy.

Andrew: Yes!

Micah: Speaking of sexy, let’s talk about Voldemort. [laughs]

Andrew: Okay, final voicemail from Nikki.

[Voicemail plays]

“Hi MuggleCast, this is Nikki. I was listening to your podcast about the Quidditch World Cup, and I had a thought: What do you think Voldemort would do if he encountered a Veela?”

[Voicemail ends]

Micah: Is this pre- or post-Bellatrix?

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: I think that Veela inspires lust, and I think Voldemort is capable of having that – not of having love, obviously; that’s his book-stated failing. So I think that a Veela would turn his head just as she would anybody else’s.

Andrew: But then he’d be like, [imitating Voldemort] “I need to resist! I must resist all this sexiness. I’ve got business to take care of.”

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Maybe?

Eric: It turns out your Voldemort impression is as good as your Dumbledore. We don’t hear it as often.

Andrew: [laughs] It’s just inspired by, [imitating Voldemort’s cries] “Nyeh! Avada Kedavra!”

Micah: Ralph Fiennes has nothing on you, let’s just say that.

Andrew: [laughs]Avada DeVeela!”

Micah: I just don’t think Veela would have any effect on Voldemort. Lust, love…

Andrew: He seems above it. [laughs]

Micah: Yeah, his focus is on other things.

Eric: Well, he seems, except the plot of Cursed Child tells us that he’s not above human connection.

Andrew: You’re right. You’re right. You’re right, but we’re not considering that canon, are we? [laughs]

Micah: Right. I’m not.

Eric: It really depends.

Micah: Well, thank you, Nikki.

Eric: Thank you.

Andrew: And thank you to everybody who calls in with voicemails. We love when y’all call in. If you want to, you can call our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE, or you can use the Voice Memo app on your phone. We do prefer the latter since it’s higher quality, and just please keep your message around 60 seconds long so we can fit in as many voicemails and emails as possible. So with that, we’ll move over to some emails, but first we’re going to take a quick break and check in on Voldemort. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Muggle Mail: Emails

Micah: All right, so our first email comes from Old Lady Nerd…

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: … and she’s talking about Rita Skeeter. She says,

“Ahoy, y’all! I’m surprised no one has mentioned that ‘skeeter’ is a slang term for a mosquito, a blood-sucking parasite. A very apt description of Rita, I think!”

Andrew: Blood-sucking. I’m also thinking about the sucking of the pen; maybe there’s something there, because we still don’t really know what’s going on there.

Eric: Ohh.

Micah: Now, in fairness, is “skeeter” British slang? Because I don’t think it’s really American slang, from what I can tell. At least not here the Northeast.

Eric: Well, I pictured, like, Louisiana. Like, “Ooh, a skeeter” kind of thing. It doesn’t need to be British, specifically, for it to work.

Micah: I think of Skeeter from Doug.

Andrew: I think of Skeeter from Nick Jr. Cousin Skeeter.

Micah: Yeah.

Eric: All different Skeeters!

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Micah: We’re connecting the threads.

Eric: Anyway, I think we got schooled by Old Lady Nerd. I think that’s fantastic. I think it has to be intentional.

Micah: It’s really good.

Andrew: Yeah, and we’ll keep that in mind as we continue reading. Thank you, Old Lady Nerd.

Eric: Next email comes from Peggy Ann, also about Rita Skeeter, this time her description.

“Ahoy, y’all! I’m hoping you can discuss the descriptors the author uses for female characters, specifically Rita Skeeter. You’ve previously discussed the way Fleur and Maxime have been described, but this time for my recent reread of Chapter 18 ‘The Weighing of the Wands,’ I was irked by the way Rita is described. I don’t know if it’s from looking at these books with a 2024 lens, or because of how horrific the author is to the trans community on a daily basis on Twitter.”

Eric: It’s that.

“Rita’s hands in this chapter are characterized as ‘large, mannish hands.’ Additionally, when you look at Jim Kay’s drawing of Rita, it is far from the image I had in my head even before seeing Miranda Richardson’s portrayal in 2005. Jim Kay’s representation of Rita is a woman who is, let’s say, not a looker. I don’t know if the author was just trying to portray Rita as an ugly woman or saying she’s more man than woman or what. As I mentioned, Kay’s drawing is definitely not what I had in mind when imagining the character. I love what Miranda Richardson, the costumers, and hair/makeup team brought to the character in the Goblet of Fire film and it is something along those lines to what I always imagined for Rita Skeeter. Interested in hearing your thoughts and continuing the discussion of how female characters are described/portrayed by the author in this series.”

Eric: Thank you, Peggy Ann.

Andrew: Yeah, so I’m looking at Jim Kay’s illustration right now of Rita Skeeter, and I don’t know. It’s giving sleazy gossip journalist to me. Now, as for the manly hands, it could be symbolizing her taking control?

Eric: I think that even before the author was bigoted against trans people, there was a lot of disdain for journalists and… or not journalists; journalist is actually a compliment, but Rita Skeeter, we’ve seen, is not that. Rita Skeeter the mosquito is actually a parasite, and she’s viewed as such, and so any attribute that can be thrown against Rita, even that her hands aren’t feminine, is really meant to illustrate how blood-sucking and inhuman she is viewed, or meant to be viewed, I think, even in the story, and her actions back it up.

Micah: Yeah, I agree with that, and I think comparing it to Miranda Richardson’s portrayal, Rita Skeeter has more of a sex appeal to her in the films. I think that’s really fair to say because there’s even that moment where the quill brushes its end up against Krum’s face…

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Micah: … and so the way that she’s portrayed in the movies is much different than how she’s described in the books. And I know that on the all girls episode that was done several months ago, they dove deep into a lot of these characters and how J.K. Rowling portrays women specifically in the Harry Potter series, and this would be another example of that.

Eric: Yeah, for sure. And I’d say, too, about the difference between the movie… I think the movie and Miranda Richardson’s version is a little bit more believable at somebody who gets to the level that she gets to, in being the only journalist in the wizarding world, the only person who’s able to…

Micah: Right, using her looks. Is that what you were going to say?

Eric: Yeah, yeah, as an explanation. And in the books without that, because she’s described in many ways as unattractive, she just then has to be cutthroat, just very, very, very brutal. Nobody would otherwise take a second look, but because of her horrible reputation that she’s built up, you know when she’s in the room, you have to pay attention, so it’s a much different way of explaining how that character got to where they are.

Andrew: The layer of sex appeal in the movies, interesting. I’m glad they added that layer, but I don’t think we should put too much stock in this adaptation of the character, because it is the movies. They took a lot of liberties when it came to casting and the hair and what people were wearing for all of the characters, so when the point is brought up about the movies, I just can’t put too much stock into it because that’s not canon itself. That was a Hollywood decision, who to cast and how to make her look.

Eric: Well, I think Hollywood realized they missed an opportunity in the characterization of Rita Skeeter in the books.

Andrew: Well, I’ll bet you anything with the TV show they’re going to do the same thing they did with the movie: make it a sexy lady who uses her sex appeal to get an interview.

Eric: There you go.

Micah: All right, so our next email comes from Andrea, on what was the name of Harry’s school? Really good question. She says,

“Ahoy, y’all! After listening to your chapter discussion about the chapter ‘The Goblet of Fire,’ I just wanted to add something that struck me while listening. On the night when Dumbledore explains about the Triwizard Tournament, he asks the students (quote): ‘Anybody wishing to submit themselves as champion must write their names and school upon a slip of parchment.’ When the Goblet gives us the names of the champions, it uses these slips of parchment. Quote 12 pages later, ‘The champion for Durmstrang,’ he read in a strong clear voice, ‘will be Viktor Krum.’ So Dumbledore would have seen under what school Harry’s name was put into the Goblet. What are your thoughts on that? I hope you’re all doing well and want to thank you for being my Harry Potter friends. I love listening to you, laughing along, and more often than not commenting on what you say. Keep up the fantastic work. Greetings from Germany.”

Andrew: Hey, I’m half-German. So, Ilvermorny. The answer is Ilvermorny.

Eric: Could be or Mahoutokoro or any of the others. But I’ll add that Barty Crouch, Jr. disguised as Mad-Eye Fakey actually straight up says that the culprit must have put in a fourth school, so there’s definitely the question…

Andrew: Because the Goblet is only picking one name per school.

Eric: Absolutely. So there’s your confirmation; Dumbledore did see a school, and it has not been mentioned.

Andrew: All right, next email comes from Denise on why didn’t Dumbledore use a tracing spell?

“My name is Denise and I’m from Brazil. I love your podcast. Thank you for your work.”

Andrew: Thank you, Denise.

“Now, I was listening to the episode ‘Professor DUMB-ledore,’ and had an idea. I know that from a creative point of view, the spell that Newt uses to find Tina in Crimes of Grindelwald (the one that is yellowish and shows Tina’s footprint and Yusuf Kama close to her) was created after the Harry Potter series. But can you imagine how the events would have turned out if Dumbledore had used that spell to know who was present in the vicinity the night before the Goblet gave the names of the champions? I guess Moody would have been exposed much sooner. Thank you.”

Andrew: Yeah, probably!

Micah: I really like this.

Eric: Yep.

Andrew: I do too, in part because we were sharing a few different ideas of how this could have been locked down better. Somebody simply watching the Goblet, taking turns, having security people on top of it, security guards on top of it, some wizard camera, or the tracing spell.

Micah: Or handwriting analysis.

Andrew: Fingerprint analysis.

Micah: “Mad-Eye, this handwriting looks very similar to yours, does it not?” [laughs] “I’ve seen this before, Alastor.”

Andrew: [laughs] Well, any good criminal would just use their other hand than their writing hand.

Micah: The next email, also related to Mad-Eye. This is from Maisie, and she wants to know about the Marauder’s Map. She says,

“Ahoy, y’all! I’ve just listened to Goblet of Fire Chapter 15 and thought, could Harry not see Mad-Eye Fakey on the Marauder’s Map? I don’t know if this has come up before; it probably has, but it just came to mind while listening to this episode. Thank you! I love the podcast. Keep up the good work.”

Micah: It’s good question.

Andrew: Are we talking about just Barty Crouch, Jr. on the Marauder’s Map?

Micah: Yeah, I think that’s what she’s saying. I don’t think she’s saying, “Why does it not say Mad-Eye Fakey?” I think she’s saying, “Does it say Barty Crouch, Jr.?” Because in fairness, when Peter Pettigrew was running around as Scabbers, it showed him on the map.

Eric: Well, it does, but it doesn’t say “Jr.” It says “Bartemius Crouch.”

Micah: Ohh.

Eric: And it’s actually a plot point later in the book during “The Egg and the Eye” that Harry… so first of all, for the first half of the book, Harry doesn’t have his Marauder’s Map. It’s a plot hole, because if somebody gives it to him back, or it’s in his trunk, or he’s not using it at all, so that accounts for why Harry isn’t suspecting anything now, like where Crouch, Sr. isn’t supposed to be. But later in the book, he goes to pull it out expecting to see Snape and it’s actually Bartemius Crouch, so then they begin to suspect Barty Crouch, Sr.

Andrew: When he’s in Snape’s office, according to SnailSong. When Harry, I guess, is in…?

Micah: What good is this map, then?

Andrew: [laughs] Well, maybe he’s not consulting it too much.

Eric: If you don’t use it…

Andrew: Right, yeah. But I would probably be obsessed with it. Like we’ve said before, it’s like having all your friends on the Snapchat map or the Find My app on iPhone.

Eric: You can also imagine it gets congested all the time. Even if he’s on there, you’re not necessarily going to see him. It’s like trying to find Waldo.

Andrew: Yeah, imagine how many people are on there. Maybe you can filter by professors, imposters, students, Quidditch players, animals…

Micah: Manipulators.

Eric: Next email comes from Matthew about the Triwizard Tournament’s secrecy. Matthew says,

“If they kept the Triwizard Tournament secret, did they also keep it a secret for the other schools? Did Durmstrang and Beauxbatons parents get a letter? ‘Hey, your kid is going to be away for a while.'”

Andrew: [laughs] And in something quite dangerous, potentially.

Eric: Well, yeah, and also, when did the tryouts happen for…? The top 20 students at each school were selected somehow, so did they need permission forms? And was there a competition to see who gets to enter the competition?

Andrew: I guess it would be considered an exciting extended field trip, so I could see parents being in favor of their kid being away for a while. It’d be like… what’s that called when you go abroad for a semester? Foreign exchange.

Eric and Micah: Study abroad.

Andrew: Study abroad, foreign exchange student, that type of thing.

Eric: Yeah, no, absolutely. I agree with that. But to Matthew’s point, the question of notice is a good one. How much in advance would anybody have had that? So is it really just the kids of Britain, the Hogwarts students that are the host school, that the adult wizards are all able to keep the secret from? Because there’s many more of them than there are of everyone else. So I do like to believe, actually, that it was announced or it was a matter of honor. Remember, too, Draco flaunts that he knows it. A lot of other people know – except the Hogwarts group that we know – about what’s going on.

Micah: The only thing that I can think of, though, is did they communicate the severity, the circumstances under which these students were traveling? Extending off of what you were saying, Eric, right, you have these 20 students that are being chosen from each school. Did they also say, “By the way, your kid can enter a competition and die”?

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: Okay, here’s… I’m going to pay a compliment to the Goblet of Fire movie, and this happens once in like, every ten years, okay? The Goblet of Fire movie, Dumbledore’s line “eternal glory,” that is not in the books, and it dramatically summarizes how you would get the buy-in from parents, or students, in this case, telling the parents that they have a chance for their child to represent their country and also wizards everywhere. If they win that eternal glory at the end of the maze of the third task, that’s going to give… every parent would be proud, especially if they’re like Cedric’s dad. “Oh, you can do it, my boy.” He’s very child-forward; their child is their world, but they want their kid to have that glory because they want to live vicariously through them, so I think there would be plenty of jocks whose parents would absolutely want them in this competition.

Andrew: All right, let’s keep moving along here. This next one is from Lucy on how the first three books mirror the three Triwizard tasks.

Eric: Ooh.

Andrew: Another theory about the Triwizard tasks.

“My name is Lucy and I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I’ve read the books over 60 times since I fell in love with the series five years ago. The reason that I am emailing you is to tell you about this theory that I thought of. I believe that the first three Harry Potter books foreshadow each task in the fourth book. In the first book, Harry is introduced to dragons when Hagrid adopts one illegally, and in the first task of the Triwizard Tournament, he has to go against a dragon. In the second book, Harry meets Moaning Myrtle, who helps Harry figure out the second task. She also mentions that she occasionally gets flushed out into the lake when someone uses the bathroom, and that is where the second task happens. In the third book, we are introduced to Peter Pettigrew and Remus Lupin. Peter was the one who killed Cedric Diggory in the graveyard, and Lupin taught Harry how to produce a Patronus and his class about Boggarts. If Harry hadn’t learned this in his third year, then he wouldn’t have survived the third task. I just randomly thought this theory up a few weeks ago, and I thought you would enjoy hearing it. Love ya, Lucy.”

Andrew: Thank you, Lucy, and that’s great. That’s beautiful. It’s all led to this.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: Yeah, I love the connecting of the threads. It’s very well done. Our next email is from Henni on the teaching degrees in the wizarding world, and they say,

“Ahoy, y’all! I hope you are well. I am listening to Episode 643 and started to think about teaching degrees in the wizarding world. We know that teaching isn’t an easy job that anyone can do, especially without formal education. Do we think the wizarding world has a degree/diploma one has to get before starting to teach at Hogwarts or any other school? Based on the books and some of the teachers we know – Hagrid, Trelawney – I would say no, but what do you think?”

[Andrew laughs]

“Love the pod. Stay healthy. All the best, Henni, your friendly Finnish witch.”

Andrew: Well, to your point, Henni, things at Hogwarts are a little loosey-goosey, and while a degree would put you ahead of the competition, it’s not required.

Eric: Yes, we do not know much of anything about continuing education of any sort in the wizarding world. Even if you learn a trade, there’s not a formal process about it. The only thing I think we ever hear about ever at all is Auror training, which seems to be a bit more like studying additional potions, additional defense, and that kind of a thing. But so for teaching, who’s teaching these classes? Who’s teaching these other Aurors? I think it is very much that the teachers at Hogwarts don’t have teaching degrees; they are just proclaimed experts of their field, either by their peers, or they have experience in their field enough to say, “Yeah, I can do, so I can teach.”

Andrew: I can do so I can teach. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, it’s probably like how teachers… I mean, I know they had universities in the 1800s, but I very much think of it as like you’re in the wild west and a guy comes to town and he says he knows medicine, and it’s like, “Oh, great, we need a doctor. You’re the doctor,” and the next day you’re doing surgery or fixing cholera or whatever. It’s a big deal.

Micah: Right. And I’m just thinking about how much a position like Defense Against the Dark Arts turns over, the likelihood that you’re going to have somebody with a degree or a diploma to fulfill that role. I think there’s certain criteria certainly, that you need certain achievements maybe within the wizarding world that would qualify you for certain positions. That said, I think that Henni brings up a really good point with Hagrid. Hagrid, aside from being a lover of all beasts, has zero qualifications to teach students. [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, I hope that once they are hired for the job, over the summer in advance of starting this job they get some training at school; how to deal with students, how the school runs, take a couple of meetings with Dumbledore or whoever the headmaster is… I hope there’s some training even after they’re hired to get them up to speed, at least a little bit.

Micah: I would hope that at least there’s NEWT-level credentials for most of these positions. I’m thinking of your Snapes, your McGonagalls, your Sprouts, your Flitwicks… they seem like they have pretty legit credentials to do the work that they do.

Eric: We do have a real time correction, which I love. I love, love, love.

Micah: Okay.

Eric: We do hear about another profession that does have some schooling, and it’s a residency at St. Mungo’s. You can be a trainee healer, and that is from JigglyJane, as well as Magizoology 101 that says you can be a trainee healer. So there are some medical professions at Mungo’s that do require additional training, residency schooling, same thing.

Micah: So basically that just reaffirms that Hogwarts is a free-for-all.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Well, the school itself will teach you… we don’t necessarily see a nursing class of sixth and seven years studying under Madam Pomfrey, but that’s not to say it didn’t happen. This next email is pretty interesting because it may offer a retort to the Rita Skeeter stuff we were talking about earlier. Ashley sends in,

“Ahoy, y’all! With the Chapter by Chapter right now focusing on Goblet of Fire and soon Order of the Phoenix again, I’d like to point out something when it comes to the themes in those books. There are many discussions with these two books about media, publishing, and lack of trust in the government. I think a small but significant thing to keep in mind when looking at those themes is that there are less than three years between the death of Princess Diana and Goblet of Fire being published. This means that the book was written in the heat of theories regarding the royal family’s involvement and the ramifications of tabloid stories in the UK and globally. I’d love to hear your thoughts.”

Andrew: That’s some important context, yeah.

Eric: This is incredibly important. Absolutely. The paparazzi and the role of tabloid media in the death of Princess Di and just their role in society, what are they for? It was a hot topic.

Andrew: And they remain in the headlines. Where are you, Kate Middleton? Where are you? I’ve been following all of that. I’m fascinated.

Eric: Now it’s cool investigative individuals on X that are really figuring it out and cracking it.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: But yes, this was an amazing point, so thank you for sending it in, Ashley. And the next one comes from Abby, who says,

“I have had this thought for a while, but I thought this would be a perfect time to tell you. You have talked about how bad the Goblet of Fire is at its job, and that the Sorting Hat has nothing to do for most of the year. Well, I can kill two birds with one stone! Fire the Goblet of Fire and let the Sorting Hat take over! It will remove the chances of someone cheating the Goblet, because the Sorting Hat knows everyone and knows their ages and handwriting. He is also sentient, so no one could find a loophole in the system. It will also give the Sorting Hat something to prepare for in his off-time. He could make a song for the Triwizard Tournament, or maybe even help design the three trials. I really think that this is a good idea, and I want to know what you think about it.”

Andrew: I love it. I love it. I’m very concerned about what the Sorting Hat is doing in between Sorting ceremonies.

Micah: He needs a side hustle.

Andrew: Yeah, I think it’d be fun for him to come up with some trials too. He could think about the students that he studies and think about how to thread the needle in terms of designing the perfect tasks, so I’m all for this.

Micah: He would’ve done a much better job, much better job than the Goblet.

Andrew: I agree. Okay, next email comes from Angie on the domestication of house-elves. Angie said,

“Ahoy, y’all! I was listening to the conversation about house-elves and it made me think about (and go with me on this) the domestication of dogs. Some people say dogs were domesticated by people, but others say they domesticated themselves. There are some dogs who love to be with people, and some, like livestock guardians, who love to be outside with the flock working and protecting. What if house-elves domesticated themselves and enjoy working for wizards? Some wizards are terrible, just like there are terrible dog owners. But what if most wizards understand the nature of the elves and let them do their thing with the relationship like people have with their dogs? Not that the house-elves are dogs by any means, but just reframing the view of the argument.”

Andrew: Interesting, but I think the whole point about house-elves in the Harry Potter books is that they are enslaved; I mean, this is a lesson we are to take from this. So I like the different frame of mind, Angie, but ultimately, eh.

Micah: Yeah, and I think one of the key things to keep in mind here, too – we were just talking about a level of sentience with the Sorting Hat – house-elves are their own… they have a level of sentience themselves, right? Whereas dogs really don’t, so to make that comparison is a tough one.

Eric: It’s problematic, too, potentially. This is all fictional characters.

Micah: No, no, and to Andrew’s point, I do like the fact that Angie is trying to reimagine how we look at the situation, but I think it’s clear from even when Dobby explains to Harry in Chamber of Secrets, the history of house-elves… this wasn’t a choice that they made. They didn’t domesticate themselves; they were enslaved by wizards.

Eric: Your dog would never tell you “I want to be free” the way that Dobby would have had he been given the possibility. I mean, Andrew, how would you feel if Brooklyn was like, “I’m out of here”?

Andrew: [laughs] I’d say, “No! Bad dog!”

Eric: [laughs] So that’s why it’s slavery, because not every house-elf who feels the way Dobby does gets that choice.

Micah: Exactly. Next email is from Sarah, and also talking about house-elves, but specifically related to laundry. And she says,

“I was wondering if anyone had commented on your comments about the house-elves doing laundry. Y’all keep mentioning that they take care of cooking, cleaning, and laundry at Hogwarts, but how can they do the laundry? Wouldn’t that make them free? And in Book 5 or 6 when Hermione knits and leaves hats for the elves, she purposefully puts trash on top to trick them into picking it up. So that begs the question, who does the laundry in Hogwarts? Just something I keep thinking about each time it comes up.”

Micah:I still think they do the laundry. It’s different if somebody is giving them clothing to free them versus just “Here, do the wash.”

Eric: Yes.

Andrew: What’s the intention behind it? The intent to give them laundry is to make them work to clean it, not to wear it.

Eric: 1,000%. I think this would be my answer as well. There is a special magical deed in the gifting of clothing; that’s why it’s such a big… because owners give their house-elves their clothes all the time to wash, but it’s way different when it’s… and so it calls into question the loophole of Lucius freeing Dobby in the end, because he didn’t know he was giving it, but the intention was to free him all the same. I think that house-elves have a sixth sense about that, and so the house-elves that are offended by Hermione are able to sense what she’s doing and that’s why they avoid it. That’s why the Gryffindor dormitory doesn’t get cleaned for a long time, is because they can sense it and they’re repulsed by what she’s doing because they know that if they touch it, they won’t have a job anymore.

Micah: And Pax brings up a good point in the Discord, saying that there is kind of a gray area for how Dobby was freed because Lucius never had the intention of freeing Dobby by handing him that book, right?

Eric: That’s what I’m saying, yeah. That’s why that doesn’t work really anymore, but if Harry put the sock in the book with the intention that that sock sets Dobby free, then the sock is magi-fied with set-you-free energy, and then Lucius doesn’t think about it, passes it on…

Micah: Oh, okay.

Andrew: It’s almost like passing a key along.

Eric: But it still has to count because only Lucius could actually free Dobby, so Lucius did hand Dobby a sock that was charged with set-you-free energy, didn’t revoke the set-you-free energy when he did it… there it is; it’s explained.

Micah: I think the real answer, though, is that Hogwarts students… they don’t go to the bathroom, they don’t shower, they don’t change their clothes.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Andrew: I do feel like there should be a spell to just clean your clothes. That seems like a simple one that could be dreamed up.

Eric: Yeah, especially if it’s only a day old or you only just wore it half the day, so here we go. But our next email is actually one of my favorite emails that we’ve ever gotten. It’s Angie.

“Ahoy, y’all! I was listening to your episode about Mad-Eye Fakey and your discussion how the other students and Hermione didn’t think about who made the food at Hogwarts. As a mom of young kids, I can 100% see how none of the kids noticed. Go with me: Besides being highly self-centered at this age (which is developmentally normal for kids this age to think they are the center of the universe and everyone will notice that pimple on their face), most kids don’t know what their parents/guardians do to make a house run and may not ever notice the extent of the work until they move out on their own. My kids see me cook regularly, but there are days when food ‘magically appears’ and they are genuinely surprised by how a plate of snacks shows up on the table. Usually they don’t ask me how I made or did anything. They know their sheets get changed, but almost assume it’s magic. My running joke is that as soon as they get taller than I am, I’m going to get a shirt that says ‘Dobby’ on it and wear it around the house.”

Andrew: I love that.

Eric: Listen, Angie, you’ve got to take time for yourself if you don’t already. This seems like a tough situation, and you’re doing a great thing which is raising children, but make sure that you’re giving yourself the time.

Micah: I’ll take some pizza rolls first, if that’s okay.

Eric: Oh, man! Micah!

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: That magically appear. That’d be a fun surprise.

Eric: Yeah, it’s hilarious. Thank you for sending that email.

Andrew: And this is the same Angie from two emails ago…

Micah: It is.

Andrew: … and I love how in both emails she used the phrase “Go with me.” [laughs] Don’t worry, Angie. You don’t have to try and hold our attention.

Micah: We’re with you.

Andrew: We’re with you always.

Micah: The next email is from Rebecca on Barty Crouch, Jr., and she says,

“Aloha(mora), MuggleCast! I’ve always thought that fake Moody was one of Harry’s better teachers. While he may have been harsh at times, he treated the students like adults and taught them about real-life spells and horrors in the wizarding world. He gave them the opportunity to practice defending themselves in a controlled environment. During my latest read-through the book, I got to thinking about why he was such a good teacher. Did he just get wrapped up in the acting? Or did he actually have a passion for teaching students and was teaching them things he wished he had learned? Barty Crouch, Jr. spent years suffering under his father’s Imperius Curse. Perhaps he had students practice overcoming the curse so that they don’t ever suffer like he did.”

Andrew: Ooh.

“We don’t know much about Barty Crouch, Jr.’s motivations for becoming a Death Eater. All we really see is a scared boy at a trial, crying for his parents. What if during the first war, he wasn’t even a real Death Eater? What if he was under the Imperius Curse when torturing Neville’s parents? Or maybe he just fell into the wrong crowd, but didn’t care much about Voldemort and his cause and wasn’t a very loyal Death Eater. Maybe he only became a powerful/loyal Death Eater after his father said, ‘You are no son of mine,’ as if to say to his father, ‘If this is who you think I am, this is what I’ll become.’ Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Rebecca.”

Andrew: This is an amazing theory. I love it. I don’t have any notes other than yes.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Micah: Yeah, there’s so much about this that is so thoughtful, and the fact that he is teaching these kids the Imperius Curse so that they can protect themselves in the future from a fate that he himself suffered for a period of his life…

Andrew: And he could enjoy acting, and he could enjoy teaching too.

Micah: Well, yeah, I mean, he loves everything about this primarily because he’s sticking it to his father, right? That is clear. But in terms of his loyalty, though, I wonder a little bit about that, because clearly in Goblet of Fire, he is very loyal to Voldemort.

Eric: Yeah, but it is interesting to think about, too, he doesn’t seem like this mega Death Eater, Voldemort’s most loyal supporter, in the courtroom scene in the Pensieve. In the movie he does. In the movie it’s very clear, but in the book, he seems just like a teenager who got caught up in the action. So this idea that he might have been under the curse himself when he was younger is really interesting. And definitely, I think that Mad-Eye Fakey enjoys teaching period; I think that he is really relishing… there’s room for all of these multiple truths here, but I think that it’s pretty clear from our analysis already of the character that he loves to do what he’s doing, even if just what he’s doing is sticking it to Death Eaters or sticking it to dad. He loves doing it, for sure.

Andrew: All right, this next email comes from Darin on what Arthur did for Ludo.

“My name is Darin, a.k.a. JigglyJane…”

Andrew: … who just came up a few minutes ago…

“… and I’ve been a longtime listener of you all since Day 1!”

Andrew: Thank you, Darin.

Eric: Wow.

“I just want to chime in about the debate about why Ludo gave tickets to the World Cup to Arthur and the gang: In the book, when they are all sitting down to dinner the night before the World Cup, Arthur is speaking to Percy and he does mention that he did Ludo a favor, by helping his brother out with a lawnmower with ‘unnatural powers,’ and then he smoothed the whole thing over. Love you guys.”

Andrew: All right, well, my boat theory was…

Micah: There goes “Ahoy, y’all.”

Andrew: Yeah. Undo “Declare canon.”

Micah: It was fun while it lasted.

Andrew: It was. Thank you, Darin, for catching that.

Micah: All right, next email is from Jason, talking about the Killing Curse, and he says,

“G’day from Tasmania, Australia! I’ve been listening to MuggleCast constantly since around Episode 50 (I went back and listened to the first 50 as well) and would be one of your oldest listeners at 54 years young. Just listened to Episode 644. A couple of things jumped out. In the discussion on Avada Kedavra, Micah mentioned that every time you kill by using Avada Kedavra, it splits your soul. In Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23, we found out from Slughorn’s memory that it splits the soul ‘by an act of evil – the supreme act of evil. By committing murder.’ So from that reading, it would seem if a wizard uses it in self-defense, or an Auror uses it in the line of duty, it wouldn’t split the soul. With the Imperius Curse, I thought back to the Veela in a previous chapter and wondered if they have a ‘built-in’ Imperius Curse, or even a variant Imperius Curse, which makes people do all the strange things they do? Would love to hear your thoughts.”

Andrew: Yeah, it makes sense to me in terms of the Slughorn line “by an act of evil, the supreme act of evil.” So the intent has to be evil?

Micah: It can’t be self-defense, is what we’re saying.

Eric: Well, I think that it’s hard to tell what is Slughorn’s own personal embellishment on this, but I think that a human killing a human is going to split the soul, even if in self-defense. I think that’s why there’s that argument; Dumbledore is like, “Your soul matters more than mine,” the purity of your soul, and then Snape is like, “Okay, screw my soul, then.” I think that no matter what, it’s going to split your soul, because that’s how we weigh humanity against the wild. We are the only sentient species.

Andrew: But Moody is an Auror, as Jason reminds us, too, and he has a free pass almost.

Eric: Well, yeah, that’s a good point.

Andrew: He has a license to use it, let’s say.

Eric: But there’s actually precious few times in which I think having a very split-up soul is going to come into play and affect you. If your soul is distant from yourself, that’s what made Voldemort so unhinged and less human as time went on, is he had actually separated his soul. Wasn’t the actual crack in it like a sprained ankle? But actually, the removal of and storage of his soul in different parts, I think, made him less human than if he just had killed a bunch of people and not done that.

Micah: Right. I liked what you said, Eric, about it’s more of a representation of Slughorn’s character in this moment. The way that he’s talking, it reveals more about him, the fact that he would reference it in this way. But I do think, at the end of the day, the Killing Curse is the Killing Curse, and it does rip the soul. Now, you could argue, is it equal when you kill a spider versus killing a human?

Eric: No.

Andrew: That’s where I’m getting tripped up here. What are we debating right now? Are we debating the spider specifically? Or are we debating it in general? Because the spider… I mean, he’s using the spider to teach a class. On the other hand… what is a supreme act of evil? Is it killing an innocent spider? Some would argue that.

Micah: Well, you could argue the casting of the spell itself is a supreme act of evil, regardless of what it’s being used on.

Andrew: And in what context? Like teaching?

Eric: I’d also like to believe that even though Aurors are the wizarding world’s version of police officers, in many, many, many countries across the world, police officers don’t commit murder.

Andrew: Or don’t have guns.

Eric: Or they’re taught to deescalate at all costs before resorting to that level of force, and so Moody’s own personal AK record might actually be pretty light, or lighter than we’re expecting when we think about cops and murder count.

Micah: But I guess, if we’re to think of it in this context, right, if you’re walking down the halls of Hogwarts and you step on a spider, does that rip the soul? [laughs]

Eric: No.

Micah: Or is it only by using…?

Andrew: No, but that’s an accident, potentially.

Micah: Well, is it?

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Micah: Not if you’re Ron; he’s going to do everything to kill it. It’s an interesting question. The second part of this, though, I feel like we’ve talked a little bit about it before. Eric, I think you made the reference to the Sirens and how in mythology, they’re very much comparable to the Veela in that the sounds that they make… it’s The Odyssey, right?

Eric: Yeah, it’s entrancing. And there’s a difference here between something that is naturally intoxicating – I don’t know if they use pheromones – or like things in nature that occur that take your agency away, like psychotropic drugs, versus a spell that’s doing it. So Incendio – or wow, Imperius Charm – that specifically is designed to take your agency away, make you do the will, make you follow the will of the caster, is not altogether that different than somebody with that natural ability like the Veela have, so I do agree there’s a connection. The next email comes from Ivan, who says,

“Hello, team! I’m slowly catching up with Chapter by Chapter, and I bring a little correction from the Christmas discussion on Book 2.”

Eric: So glad we got to this.

“Laura said that we didn’t know if Harry had even read Ron’s gift, ‘Flying with the Cannons,’ but we do! In Book 4 it is said that he reread it for the ‘tenth time.'”

Andrew: Aww.

Eric: And that comes up in Chapter 22. I love that! Harry loves his present from Ron.

Micah: All these emails tie back to Goblet of Fire in some way. [laughs]

Andrew: All the answers were right here in the middle book.

Eric: Very clever. Very smart.

Andrew: That’s why we’re rereading. And this is from Isabel, on common room/dorm rules: “Ahoy, y’all!” [laughs] I think we’ve got to update it now that we have a new Muggle Mail episode out. It’s time to come up with a new opening line.

Eric: Now that Ludo bagman is a lie.

Andrew: Yeah, right.

“Ahoy, y’all! Hogwarts Houses. It’s kind of sad that non-Housemates aren’t allowed in the common room or dorms, when you think about it. What if your best friend is in another House? Then there can’t ever be the magical equivalent of late night movie watching or hanging out in the dorm swapping secrets. Think of the Patil twins (from the books)!”

Andrew: Yeah, that’s a good point. I mean, Hogwarts is very large, so there’s plenty of places to hang out, but there is something cozy and secluded and private about the common room where a hangout could be good.

Micah: I like to think that it’s course corrected after the series was written that there could be some level of inter-House mingling that went on. Maybe if you’re a prefect, you could go into the other common rooms. I don’t know. It does seem kind of silly.

Andrew: Well, actually, I don’t know. I don’t see a reason for it to be course corrected post-series.

Micah: I mean, you can’t do it in Hogwarts Legacy, right?

Andrew: Well, it’s a crowd control thing, to me.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: I mean, you’ve got to have somewhere you can escape the other students, right? [laughs] But Court said, “Maybe there’s a common common room.” Ooh.

Micah: There’s a Prefects’ bathroom, and presumably…

Andrew: [laughs] Hang out in the Great Hall, I guess. I just… again, there’s so many places in Hogwarts to hang out that I guess that’s their answer, if you want to hang out with other House people.

Micah: Well, Andrew, I feel like we’ve saved the best email for last. This was literally my favorite email of the entire bunch.

Andrew: Wow, okay. So this is from Jake: “Ahoy, y’all!”

Micah: [laughs] Of course.

“Loving Chapter by Chapter. I was just wondering if maybe Percy purposely went along with or maybe even originally introduced himself to Crouch as Weatherby to hide his association with Arthur. His embarrassment then also comes from his family potentially finding this out.”

Andrew: Okay, I like that.

Micah: Yeah, I mean, this is something I don’t think we’ve ever considered, but it’s in Percy’s character to do this. We know how he thinks about his father, and how his father is perceived at the Ministry, and by allowing these names to go on, he’s not associated with the Weasley family.

Andrew: Which he later tries to do further. [laughs]

Micah: Right.

Andrew: Disassociate. Yeah, that’s a really good theory. I still stand by what I had suggested a few episodes ago, which is that he didn’t have the guts to correct him either. He is like, “Yes, sir. Yes, sir. You’re amazing, sir. You’re perfect, sir. Anything you say, sir.” So there’s that to consider. But it’s also very convenient that he also gets to… it works out for him, I should say, that he gets to disassociate from his family. And to his credit, he gets to build a reputation on his own work, his own time, at the Ministry, instead of riding on his father’s coattails, even though those coattails aren’t that great to ride on.

Micah: It would be interesting to see if he’s consistently called Weatherby throughout, because in Half-Blood Prince, Slughorn bungles Ron’s name a million times in a million different ways, but I feel like for Barty Crouch, Sr., he’s consistent with what he calls him, so that would lend itself to this theory that Percy isn’t doing anything to tell Barty Crouch, Sr. otherwise, and maybe it’s because he’s like, “I don’t want to be associated with my father.” He’s constantly…

Eric: It’s brutal to consider. I love the idea that Percy is so unimportant versus how important Percy thinks he is that it’s our more standard understanding of it, which is like, this guy’s not giving Percy the time of day and he’s trying to look great. But if you remember Umbridge’s backstory back from reading Book 5, Umbridge’s backstory on Pottermore is given that she tried to disassociate herself from her father as well, who also worked at the Ministry. And so in this case, it would be a connection between Percy and Umbridge, and they’re both very ambitious characters, so I can see it.

Micah: And they’re on the same page for most of Order of the Phoenix.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: All right, well, that wraps up the Muggle Mailbag. We do have one Chicken Soup for the MuggleCast Soul.

Andrew: Bring us home, Micah. Bring us home.

Micah: It is from Heather, who says,

“Hey guys! I first listened to MuggleCast waaaay back when it first came out in 2005 when I was a senior in high school. I’d listen to the episodes on my long bus rides to and from school. While my relationship to Harry Potter has had its ups and downs since then, I’ve recently found my way back to the comfort and nostalgia of the wizarding world. One of the first things I did was look up MuggleCast and was pleasantly surprised to find that not only are you all still going strong, but your discussions are as interesting as ever. I’ve been listening to the Chapter by Chapter episodes, and it really feels like not a day has passed. It’s like catching up with old friends.”

Micah: Thank you, Heather.

Andrew: Aww. Thank you, Heather. What an appropriate email for our 650th episode, as well. And I agree. I mean, one of the joys that we get from doing the show these days is our discussions on the series and the character motivations and the themes, and all these things have evolved so much as adults – proud, adult readers of the Harry Potter series, Miriam Margolyes…

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: … and I’m very glad that you feel that way, and I think other listeners do as well. There’s so much to discuss. Even today, I get comments from people: “What do you talk about these days?” I’m like, “We can easily do 90 minutes on Harry Potter every week!”

Micah: What don’t we talk about?

Eric: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Andrew: Try us. [laughs]

Micah: We just did.

Andrew: Yeah, we just did. We could go for another 45 minutes tonight easily.

Micah: Easily.

Andrew: And we’re going to, because we’re going to record a bonus MuggleCast. [laughs] Well, thank you, Heather, and thanks to everybody who wrote in. Whether or not we read your email on air, we really, really appreciate that you take the time to send in the voicemails, the emails; we do read and listen to everything that is submitted. If you have any feedback about today’s episode or other Chapter by Chapter installments, you can email or send a voice memo to, or you can use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. If you’re calling us, please keep your message around 60 seconds so we can try to get to as many voicemails as possible. And next week, back to Chapter by Chapter; we’ll be discussing Goblet of Fire Chapter 20, “The First Task.”


Andrew: And now it’s time for our weekly trivia game, Quizzitch!

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s question: What class does Cedric Diggory have next when Harry catches up with him to tell him about the dragons? And the correct answer was Charms class. Correct answers were submitted by a Little Winky Drinky; Amanda; BangEndedScoot18; Becca; Buff Daddy; Draco’s Etsy badge shop; Elizabeth K.; Evil Ringo; Fakey Dakey Makey No Mistakey…

[Micah laughs]

Eric: … Fred and George’s overall mental stability; Harry’s cruel summers; I just got my PhD and wanted to share with you all…

Micah: Oh, congrats.

Eric: … JigglyJane; Katie from Hufflepuff; LC; Megwich; Merlin’s most baggy fronts; Morgue97; My Accio brings all the brooms to the yard… that’s hilarious.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: That is true.

Eric: That’s maybe my favorite.

Micah: That’s what’s happening in the next chapter.

Eric: Yeah. We had a couple of other really long-titled ones; I’m going to try and get through them. The ink spitting all over a guide to Advanced Transfiguration; The marshmallows Harry’s legs are made out of; the Pillsbury Doughboy who is feeling very offended at being compared to Dumbledore because he thinks his laugh is perfect and he perfects it for hours for his commercials, I mostly just wanted to hear you say that.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Well, you got your wish.

Eric: Okay, there you go. We love Cedric, he is so sympathetic, but if he dies again, it is probably genetic.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Okay, and two more: Winky by the fire with the butterbeer – okay – and You’re a Quizzard, Harry.

Andrew: Love it. Love it, love it, love it all.

Eric: So congratulations. That was a big 650 edition of Quizzitch. Here is next week’s question: What is the first bit of Professor Moody’s advice to Harry about the first task? That happens next chapter, to celebrate us getting back to Chapter by Chapter. Submit your answer to us on the Quizzitch form,, or go to the MuggleCast website and click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav.

Andrew: To celebrate this milestone episode of MuggleCast, we recommend hitting up – we’ll have a link in the show notes as well – where you can buy many cool MuggleCast items that we’ve given away over the years, and we have extras and we want to get them into the hands of listeners. And we’re also using it as an opportunity for you all to support the show if you can, so hit up We have signed album art; we’ve got our Cozy Comfy Combo Pack, which is the MuggleCast beanie and the socks at one reduced price; we have wooden cars; we have T-shirts; and other items. Again, that’s You can go to for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. And if you enjoy the show and think your other Harry Potter friends would, too, tell those friends about the show, and we’d also appreciate if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app. And this show is brought to you by Muggles like you. We don’t have any fancy corporate or network funding; it’s just us doing our best to put on this show week to week. We are proudly an independent podcast, and we always want to keep it that way. So not only can you go to our Etsy shop to support us that way, but if you’re an Apple Podcasts user, you can tap into the show and hit that subscribe button, and that’s going to get you two bonus MuggleCast installments every month, plus ad-free and early access to MuggleCast. And then there’s; you get all the benefits that I just mentioned, plus livestreams, planning docs, the chance to co-host the show one day, a new physical gift every year, and more. So check it all out. That does it for the 650th time. Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Eric: Thank you, everyone. I’m Eric.

Micah: And I’m Micah. Thank you.

Andrew: And ahoy. Goodbye!

Transcript #649


MuggleCast 649 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #649, No Rest For Cousin Harry (GOF Chapter 19, The Hungarian Horntail) feat. Kierra Lewis

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Pull out your Invisibility Cloak and get ready to third wheel a date night to see how you’re going to die…

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: … because this week we’re discussing Chapter 19 of Goblet of Fire, “The Hungarian Horntail.” And joining us this week – we are so excited – if you are on Harry Potter TikTok, you know this person: Kierra Lewis, welcome to MuggleCast!

Kierra Lewis: Thank you for having me!

Andrew: Oh my gosh, thank you so much for coming on. Tell our listeners about yourself.

Kierra: I feel like most people just know me for the girl that either throws books or cries all the time.

[Everyone laughs]

Kierra: But I consider myself a BookTokker/Bookstagrammer, so I read and review books; I’ve been doing it for almost two years full time. But around last Christmas of last year… I’ve always been curious about Harry Potter, because my dad, my brothers, everyone in my family was big Potterheads. But I was just one of those girls… I don’t know. I guess I was just obsessed with Hannah Montana, just my own stuff, so I’d never paid it no mind. But I was curious about it and was like, “You know what, I’ll just dabble in it. I’ll just read one book. If I like it, sure, whatever. We’ll decide going forward.” After I read the first book, I just started venting it, and then I decided to document my journey through BookTok and Bookstagram. And yeah, now we’re on a MuggleCast. My mind made it.

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah. I mean, your videos, I think one reason they’ve taken off is because you’re capturing what we were all feeling reading the books for the first time, for many of us 10, 15, 20 years ago, and now here you are reading it for the first time and it just brings back so many great and painful memories.

Kierra: Yeah, which is crazy to me because for me, experiencing it as a 28-year-old, I love that people continue to remind me like, “You’re feeling this now; imagine being 10, 11, 12 years old,” and I’m like, “I could not fathom reading the stuff that happened in this book and being okay, and still having to go to school and take a spelling test afterwards.”

Micah: And having to wait for the next book to come out to learn what was going to happen.

Kierra: Oh, yeah.

Andrew: Years!

Eric: Kierra, I guess your dad and brothers and your whole family were wise to keep it from you for this long.

Kierra: Yeah, they probably knew me. At that time, my dramatic self, I don’t even think I could have handled it.

[Andrew and Kierra laugh]

Andrew: What’s it like knowing that literally hundreds of thousands of people are eagerly awaiting your reactions to every big moment in Harry Potter?

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Do you sit there reading, thinking about your audience? That would be me.

Kierra: Yeah. I would say in the beginning… now I feel like we’ve set good boundaries, but in the beginning as it started to take off, I would have hundreds of thousands of DMS constantly, or people were like, “Hurry up, you’re not reading fast, you’re not reading fast.”

Andrew: [laughs] What?!

Kierra: And I would literally pressure myself and cancel plans with friends just trying to read faster, and finally I realized… I was like, “Just like y’all had y’all’s first time experiencing reading Harry Potter, this is my first time, and even though of course everyone’s doing it with their good intention, I don’t want anyone to pressure me or make me lose the joy and excitement of reading it for the first time.” So I’m like, “If you get one video this week, that’s okay,” because you have to remember the highs, the lows, I’m dealing with that as well as posting the videos and pushing out content as well, so it’s double the work for me.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. Well, good for you for setting those boundaries. I can’t believe people are putting pressure on you to read it faster. [laughs]

Kierra: Yeah, I had to get a little sassy. I was like, “Ooh, the Potterheads, y’all crazy.” But I was like, “I love y’all, though. I love y’all.”

Andrew: [laughs] That’s too funny. So has the remainder of the series been spoiled for you yet? You’re just starting Order of the Phoenix now.

Kierra: Yeah, just starting it. Barely a few pages in. No, I feel like… what I love about the… I don’t know why I call them Potterheads; I don’t know if that’s correct term.

Andrew: No, that’s right.

Eric: That is. I was actually surprised, yeah.

Kierra: Oh, okay, okay. So what I love about the Potterheads is that I feel like since everyone knows I’m going through this for the first time, people are kind of protecting me in the comments, as well as the DMs.

Andrew: Aww.

Laura: Good.

Kierra: And I also had to do better in the sense of I have friends sometimes who’ll use my account and delete if there’s any slim chance of a spoiler.

[Andrew gasps]

Kierra: Yeah, because I like reading the comments; I don’t want to turn them off. But I do want to… if I’ve made it this far, five books into the series with no spoilers, I want to keep it, especially with the last three books.

Eric: Oh, man.

Laura: Seriously.

Eric: I’m going to have to mentally prepare here. Let’s issue a spoiler warning, if anybody hasn’t read Books 5, 6, 7… wait, no, we just won’t spoil her past the beginning of Book 5.

Andrew: No, of course, yeah.

Eric: Okay. I’m going to have to think about that. That’s… okay.

Kierra: Please. I don’t want to take off my earphone and chuck it.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Can you imagine if Kierra agreed kindly to come on MuggleCast, and then we spoil something for her?

[Kierra laughs]

Eric: It would make for a great video, let me tell you.

Andrew: No! No! I would end the show, Kierra. That’s my vow to you. If we spoil you, the show’s over permanently. I couldn’t live with myself.

[Kierra laughs]

Laura: Yeah, then we would be those people that we remember all too well from the early 2000s when these books were coming out who intentionally spoiled it for people. We don’t want to be those people, so we’re going to be good today.

Eric: By shouting, “Redacted…” yes, yes, yes.

Kierra: I was going to ask, how did that go? Because at that time… I’m acting like this is the dinosaur age. I’m kidding.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Thanks, yes, we feel that way as well.

Kierra: No, I was still a kid. I was around that time, but there wasn’t really social media, so how would y’all…? Would you just talk to your friends at school? How would you express yourself?

Laura: And to each other. [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, so we were all working on a Harry Potter fan site together, so we all communicated through that fan site. But we mentioned before we started the show that we started in 2005; one reason our podcast took off is because we were a place for people to discuss Harry Potter or hear discussions about Harry Potter, because that was before social media.

Eric: We were the original Bookstagrammers.

Andrew: [laughs] BookTok. BookPod.

Kierra: Y’all walked so we could run.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: Listeners, if you don’t already follow her on TikTok or Instagram, on TikTok it’s @KierraLewis75, and we’ll have the link in the show notes. Is it the same thing on Instagram or different?

Kierra: No, the Instagram is @Kierra_Lewis1.

Andrew: Okay.

Kierra: As you can tell, I made both accounts before I started doing social media, so that’s why it’s just random numbers.

Andrew: Got it, okay. All good. We’ll have links in the show notes and of course on our social media as well.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: So Kierra, you’re joining us today for Goblet of Fire Chapter 19, “The Hungarian Horntail.” And we’ll start like we always do with our Seven-Word Summary, and we’re going to create a summary of the chapter off the cuff right now.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: Karkaroff…

Laura: … sneaks…

Eric: … around…

Micah: … Hogwarts…

Kierra: … suspicious…

Andrew: Suspiciously?

Kierra: Suspiciously, yeah.

Andrew: … one…

Laura: … night.

Andrew: Yes, yes, we did it! [laughs]

Laura: We did it, y’all.

Eric: Okay!

Andrew: Yeah, it’s stressful.

Laura: Great job.

[MVP of the Week music ends]

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Andrew: So we’ll get to Karkaroff in a little bit. I’m calling the first half of today’s discussion, [sings] “Meet me at midnight.” So Hermione encourages Harry to head to Hogsmeade with her to clear his mind of the goings-on, and while at the Three Broomsticks, Moody’s magical eye catches Harry hiding under the Invisibility Cloak. Harry was trying to be undercover to avoid all the backlash and attention that he’s been getting, especially in light of the Rita Skeeter article. Mad-Eye is there with Hagrid, and Hagrid invites Harry to meet him at his cabin that night for reasons unknown. Harry is a little hesitant, but he’s willing to go. He was a little hesitant because he’s got a busy night; he’s going to go see Sirius as well in the fireplace.

Micah: And one fun nugget that I caught – and I think this is actually on the first page of the chapter – it’s as they’re describing how anxious Harry is feeling about this first task; it says that Harry felt as if the first task was “crouching ahead of him like some horrific monster.” And I’m thinking to myself, as I’m reading this, I’m like, “Damn, J.K. Rowling. You just slid that in there and nobody noticed.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: The task was Barty Crouch-ing ahead of him.

Laura: We also get a little bit of foreshadowing here. This is just another setup to really deliver on the whole Mad-Eye Fakey plot point that we get in this book – Kierra, that’s what we call Mad-Eye Moody in this book, because he’s imposter Moody – but this is set up so that in the future, it’ll come in really handy for Moody to be able to see through Harry’s Invisibility Cloak.

Kierra: Wow.

Laura: There’s a little midnight excursion that’s coming up in a couple of chapters where this comes in really handy.

Eric: Yeah, Moody’s eye, I’d forgotten that it could see directly through the Cloak. That’s more than Dumbledore can do; it’s a really powerful eye. Kierra, I’m very excited for you because there is one more moment in Book 5 that I’m thinking about where Mad-Eye’s eye comes into play, and it’s a tiny little tidbit, low stakes, but it’s one of the coolest moments ever what that eye can do, so look forward to that. It’s coming up.

Kierra: Oh, I’m excited.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: Build the anticipation. [laughs]

Kierra: Oh, yeah.

Eric: So one thing that occurred to me… the joy of rereading this series after X number of years, question mark? Back in the dinosaur age, I wouldn’t have picked this up, but today, I was actually wondering if Moody, who we know is secretly trying to help Harry along, actually would have convinced Hagrid to share this information with Harry. We see that… they’re kind of unlikely pub companions; Mad-Eye Moody, this ex-Auror, and Hagrid, who didn’t even finish school? So I’m wondering what would have been the… what would they have to say to one another?

Andrew: [laughs] An Auror and a dropout walk into a bar…

[Andrew and Kierra laugh]

Eric: Yeah, yeah, so…. Auror is one of the extra schooling that we know about for career wizards. So anyway, I thought it would be interesting because Moody spoke with Neville a few chapters ago. We know that that is set on a path to clue Harry into some things. What if in fact, this isn’t just Hagrid saying hello to his friend and trying to give his friend a leg up? What if he was pushed to by Moody? Because otherwise, I think Hagrid would keep a secret, question mark?

Andrew: Well, I think Harry needs an assist from somebody, and I think Hagrid maybe thought that he could be that person for him. I mean, remember, Hagrid is one of the people who actually believes Harry that he didn’t put his name in the Goblet, and of course, Harry is underage, so that’s not okay either, so somebody has to help them.

Kierra: Well, I can agree with Moody wanting to help, but also, I think Hagrid is just… Hagrid can’t hold water, especially when it comes to the animals he loves. So I think even if he didn’t show Harry at that time, he would have found another way to help Harry out and assist him with the first task or the third task or whenever it was.

Laura: I agree. I think Hagrid is uniquely vulnerable to this precisely because of what Kierra just mentioned, and I think all it would take for Moody to convince him and to act as the tipping point is to say, “Come on, Hagrid, you know Madame Maxime and Karkaroff are doing the same thing for their champions. Why not level the playing field?”

Andrew: And we’ll talk about that, because it’s very interesting how all those dynamics play out.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Eric: But I mean, currently, that argument of “All the other team heads are doing it, the school heads,” that doesn’t actually happen until after the events of tonight, so it’s a very interesting psychology moment there.

Andrew: So despite that midnight timeframe that I mentioned pushing up against his meeting with Sirius in the fireplace, Harry is intrigued by this offer and decides to take Hagrid up on it.

Micah: Yeah, I think Harry is just eager to spend time with somebody who actually believes in him, and so when Hagrid comes over and says, “Meet me tonight,” he’s all about it.

Andrew: [sings] “Meet me at midnight.” I’m just making Taylor Swift references.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: Ohh.

Eric: It does sound romantic.

Micah: Well, and we do get a bit of romance as well.

Andrew and Kierra: Yeah.

Eric: Well, there you go, yeah. He said “Meet me at midnight” to somebody that wasn’t Harry, actually.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: But for me, too, I have to just shout out Hermione in this moment. Two weeks have passed since the end of the last chapter, and this whole time… there’s a moment where Harry is like, “Yeah, Hermione is not the same; I’m spending much more time in the library…” It’s not Ron. He’s missing Ron. That said, Hermione seems to really and uniquely be able to find things to do that are getting Harry out of his shell, that are helping him emotionally deal with all of this stress. And case in point, they’re in Hogsmeade; he probably would have stayed behind in the castle if she hadn’t said, “Come on; let’s go. Be social, even if you’re under the Cloak.” It gets him out of the castle. It’s good for him.

Laura: Kierra, I know that you had a pretty strong reaction to the falling out that Harry and Ron have in this book. Is that something you’d care to expand on here while we’re talking about what Harry’s friendship now looks like with Hermione?

Kierra: Yeah, I think my reaction, which you’ve seen on TikTok… I got emotional at a coffee house when I found out that they weren’t friends anymore, mainly because… I mean, I’ve been there with my own friends, but I joke about cousin Harry and Ron being my cousin, but to see them so young, and to know that from Book 1 to Book 4, they’ve been each other’s support system, they’ve been each other’s backbones through thick and thin, and then to see them have a friendship break up over something so… I wouldn’t say small, but something so miniscule. It just… I don’t know. It tore a piece of my heart. It tore a piece of my heart. But to also go off of the Hermione thing, I think it actually also shows that we always talk about Hermione, she’s always so serious, she’s always so focused on schoolwork, but to see her take the slack off of Ron not being friends with Harry and to make him go get the butterbeer, to make sure he’s doing research for his task, it just shows that… I don’t know how to describe it, but… I don’t know; I just feel like my girl Hermione needs more love. I stan her so much, especially after this friendship, because she had to carry Harry, she had to carry both sides. She would go talk to Harry, then she would run to Ron, and that’s tiring. And plus, that girl is doing God knows how many hours at Hogwarts, so yeah.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Andrew: And SPEW, she’s trying to organize that, and Snape is calling her ugly, and in this chapter somebody calls her ugly; it’s just all these things she…

Kierra: And Rita Skeeter.

Andrew: Rita Skeeter, yeah. It’s a lot.

Laura: Hermione does not get enough credit, and that’s a problem throughout the entire series.

Kierra: No, don’t tell me that.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: It turns out that Harry gets to third wheel Hagrid and Madame Maxime’s date night, and they’re going to go check out a spectacular sight – just a beautiful, wonderful date night in danger – [laughs] and giving Harry a little behind-the-scenes scenes glimpse of what he has to deal with. I really liked this strategy from Hagrid, giving Harry a heads up about what’s coming without really even talking to him. He’s just like, “Follow me under the Cloak, and where we go will tell you all you need to know.”

Micah: And I’m sure we’re going to talk about who’s using who in this situation, but part of me wonders if Hagrid is being utilized and taken advantage of by Dumbledore, knowing that he will get close to Madame Maxime. Is this intel for Dumbledore in terms of what Madame Maxime is up to? Like, he dangles a little carrot in front of her by telling her what the first task is all about, but is he getting more information back from her that he can share with Dumbledore? Does Dumbledore have a board up in his office somewhere of all the possible suspects of who put Harry’s name in the Goblet? Now, after tonight maybe he can cross Madame Maxime’s name off of it?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: I don’t know. Unfortunately, I don’t think Dumbledore cares that much, really, or he would have gotten to this.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Eric: No, but Dumbledore has an army of pawns. We’ve seen it before; we’ll see it again. Vague, vague, vague, spoiler, spoiler, spoiler. So I think that it’s definitely an interesting question. As far as if Hagrid would have been sent to get information on Madame Maxime, we know that he would do it willingly, though. He’s very attracted to her. They have some things in common. And this definitely does make it so that Madame Maxime owes Hagrid one, and the whole school of Beauxbatons is in Hagrid’s debt, I think, twice now, so it’s an interesting strategic position.

Andrew: See, even though Hagrid seems to invite Madame Maxime without her knowing where they’re going, I’m still wondering if Hagrid is being used by Madame Maxime, because she might suspect he knows what’s going on in the tournament since he works at this school.

Eric: If she does, she’s got some point; she’s onto something because inevitably, if you’re going to have these dangerous tasks, odds are you’ll come across a fantastic beast, which are bringing the danger. The beasts are involved in all three tasks, we find out, and Hagrid’s own Skrewts are used in the maze at the end of the year. So the gamekeeper and generally all around competent as far as beasts go guy is going to have the answers you seek, so it works for Madame Maxime as well.

Andrew: So under the Invisibility Cloak, Harry watches as Charlie and his team try to tame the dragons. And Kierra, I don’t know if you’ve caught on to this yet, but Hogwarts: total security nightmare. I mean, the fact that these poor kids are going to be facing these dragons…

[Kierra and Laura laugh]

Andrew: There’s eight wizards handling each dragon, and each of these dragons is very hard to control; one has to get hit by I think up to eight Stupefies in unison in order to knock it out. And Charlie says to Hagrid, he doesn’t know how exactly the dragons will be used in the competition, but they’re obviously extremely dangerous, and it’s just like, how can they put Harry in this situation?

Laura: Yeah, well, Harry also gets to see the dragon he’s going to be up against in the first task, and it’s also just easily the most deadly-sounding of the lot of dragons. It feels pretty clear as a reader, even as a first time reader, probably – Kierra, I don’t know if you can speak to this – but feels pretty obvious that that’s the one Harry is going to get stuck with.

Kierra: Literally.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Charlie is like, “Watch out for that one, Hagrid.”

Kierra: And then Harry trying to be so positive, like, “Well, I’m glad I got to see it now,” and not when he has to face it in the task. Regardless, I probably would have pissed myself.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah!

Andrew: I would have bailed out of the competition. “Hey, you know what? I actually don’t want to be in this anymore, Albus. Sorry. I’m peacing out of here.”

Kierra: “I’ll see you in the Great Hall. I’ll be feasting.”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “I’ll do the exams. It’s fine. I’ll take back my exams that you excused me from.”

Kierra: Honestly!

Eric: I know, it might be worth facing the wrath of the Goblet of Fire rather than facing a dragon. It might be safer.

Micah: So this all made me think, though, was the Horntail always in the mix? Or was it a late addition, given that Harry’s name ended up coming out of the Goblet?

Eric and Kierra: Ohh.

Micah: Because presumably, there would have only been three dragons.

Kierra: I didn’t even think about that.

Eric: [laughs] Do you think they heard Harry’s name came out and they were like, “We need a more dangerous dragon for this 14-year-old”?

Micah: “We need a Horntail.”

[Andrew and Kierra laugh]

Andrew: Or maybe they had the fourth as a backup dragon just in case one of the dragons was sick that day.

Micah: I mean, if that’s the backup, oof.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: I’m just trying to imagine how Crouch justifies this. Again, he’s a stickler for the rules. Is he sitting here thinking, “Eh, the 14-year-old only has a 25% chance of getting this dragon. What are the odds?”

Andrew: Well, if he already took on Voldemort, I mean, a dragon is going to be no big deal. The writing here does lay some groundwork for what’s to come in this first task; they want nesting mothers, so as if they weren’t going to be vicious enough as dragons, you’re also going to be stealing an egg from one of these dragons. It’s just absolutely insane to be asking kids to do this, Harry or an older wizard.

Eric and Micah: Yeah.

Eric: I wouldn’t trust a 17-year-old to be able to do this. I wouldn’t trust a grown adult. I wouldn’t trust the real Man-Eye Moody to be able to survive a dragon. There’s a reason that dragons are kept far away, away from people safely so that… because they’re killers; by nature of what they are, they’re very dangerous.

Andrew: How about just flying on a dragon’s back? How about just petting the dragon’s nose?

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Or standing… get as close to it as possible, to the dragon. There’s so many other competitions they could have had for the first task involving a dragon.

Eric: Getting as close as possible before what? [laughs]

Andrew: Before you’re scared and want to run away.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Kierra: Who can last the longest?

Micah: Yeah, I mean, I think the extra edge to this is you’re trying to steal their unborn children, so they’re going to be even more vicious than they otherwise would.

Andrew: Kierra, you having just finished reading this relatively recently, do you read stuff like this as an adult and wonder how could this be allowed at Hogwarts?

Kierra: Maybe in the beginning. Now at this point, I’m like, Hogwarts, they just make their own rules. They do whatever.

[Andrew laughs]

Kierra: It don’t matter your age. I think someone pointed out… they tagged me in a post and they were like, “I’m reading Harry Potter for the first time, but I’m just now starting to see how many times the kids sneak out after midnight at 3 a.m. like it’s just a normal common thing, even though they’re sneaking out.” But I’m like, Hogwarts world is different, I feel. I wish I was a part of that.

Andrew: [laughs] And there’s no tuition, from what we hear.

Kierra: Oh, yeah.

Laura: Right.

Kierra: Even if there was, the food looks so good, I’d pay whatever, honestly.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: So you won’t be joining SPEW.

Kierra: I feel like I’ve kind of got to. I’ll just be like my cousin here; I’ll be the treasurer or something.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Kierra: I’ll still be back, though, putting something on my plate. Thank you.

Andrew: Can you tell us why you call him cousin Harry? Because you always call him cousin Harry in your videos, too, and it’s great.

Kierra: I do, because I feel like we’re family now.

Andrew: You’re family.

Eric: Aww.

Kierra: We’ve made it so far, yeah. We’re family now, so whenever my cousin hurts, I hurt. Honestly, I would say we’re more like twins, because they say there’s the twin telepathy? I feel whatever cousin Harry is going through, so yeah.

Andrew: Aww, that’s so sweet. [laughs]

Kierra: That’s my bestie.

Laura: Yeah, I mean, it’s just a testament to the stories, too, that even after all this time, people are still resonating with them as strong as they did back when the books were first coming out. So thank you for capturing that, Kierra, because honestly, you’re doing what we endeavor to do here on the show every week, which is tell people why these stories matter and why they resonate so much with everyone, and you’re doing it in this wonderful, bite-sized format.

Kierra: Thank you. And I would also say, it just shows how powerful or impactful these words are, after what, two decades? How someone in her late twenties was able to pick up this and still feel the same feelings that someone that probably read it in 2015, 2017, so kudos to that.

Andrew: So we’re going to talk about the relationship between Charlie and Hagrid, and another person who’s spying on the dragon situation. This whole thing is rigged. We will Floo right back after this break.

[Ad break]

Eric: One thing that I love, as best as I can follow the plot of behind the scenes that happened here, is that Charlie Weasley is in town. He is obviously in some capacity keeping the dragons safe on the grounds of Hogwarts, and he must have invited Hagrid – his old friend and gamekeeper probably inspired the love of dragons in Charlie to begin with – to come and witness and see the dragons. That said, as nice of a gesture as that was, there’s a funny bit which I definitely missed before, where Charlie warns Hagrid that the real eggs are counted, and warns Hagrid not to touch.

[Kierra and Laura laugh]

Eric: Because he trusts Hagrid, but not too well, apparently.

Kierra: Yeah, when I was reading it today, it says something like… I guess when they brought out the eggs, Hagrid did a moan out of awe, and that’s when he said that, and I was like, “Gotta love Hagrid.”

[Andrew laughs]

Kierra: Him and his animals.

Laura: Well, Charlie has to be thinking back to the end of Sorcerer’s Stone, when he and his friends had to come pick up Norbert.

Kierra: He said, “I’m not making another trip.”

Laura: Yeah, that’s a not too distant memory for him, and he’s probably thinking about the sketchy means by which Hagrid obtained his last dragon egg and making sure to put it out there that the eggs are all accounted for, so stay away.

Andrew: Yeah. So Harry has seen enough; he’s delighted that he now knows what’s happening in the first task, let’s say. And as he’s on his way out, he bumps into Karkaroff, who’s going to spy on the scene too, and now he’s going to be relaying this information back to Krum. So now Harry knows, Madame Maxime knows and is going to tell Fleur, of course, and then Krum is going to be finding out as well, so it’s just poor Cedric at this point who does not know. This whole thing is rigged.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Should the Ministry have known that the teachers were going to do this? That three of them were going to be spying? I mean, it’s just ridiculous there weren’t measures in place to prevent them from spying.

Kierra: I guess you can also say it was because… throw the blame on it being their first year, since they said they haven’t done it in a few years or so because it got so dangerous.

Eric: I think the idea is even if it does get out, you have a monumental task in front of you; that’s why it’s so extra challenging. Because the dragons weren’t going to be on the grounds until the week of, or really soon to, it’s still an enthralling challenge, even if the information does leak.

Andrew: Are we to believe that Dumbledore doesn’t know what the tasks are?

Micah: Oh, he knows.

Kierra: He definitely knows.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: He knows due to spying? Or he knows because he’s talking to Ludo and…?

[Eric laughs]

Micah: Andrew.

Kierra: Is he not supposed to know?

Eric: Well, he had to know, because you otherwise… I bet there’s a rule about bringing dragons into the school. I bet you can’t bring dragons onto the school grounds without Dumbledore having to lift a protection or something.

Andrew: “So we’re bringing four dragons on the grounds; we can’t tell you why…”

[Eric and Kierra laugh]

Andrew: “… or we can tell you, I guess, since it’s your school,” but then it’s unfair if Albus knows and Karkaroff and Madame Maxime don’t know, isn’t it?

Micah: Well, I mean, benefits of the host school, maybe.

Andrew: Cheating? [laughs]

Micah: To your point, though, they’re housing dragons, they’re about to set up this huge task in his lake, and they’re going to bring in this maze with all these dangerous creatures. I mean, for security reasons alone… oh, wait, never mind.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Yeah, that’s the end of that sentence.

Micah: Dumbledore loves the drama! You say it all the time, Andrew. He’s just sitting there.

Laura: He’s at it with the Dumble-drama again.

Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “Ooh, this is fun. This is so much fun.”

[Laura laughs]

Eric: This chapter did remind me, though, the heads of their school don’t know what the challenges are, and that does raise this question about Dumbledore because who planned these tasks? Who actually devised “This is what we will be having them do”?

Micah: Ludo, probably.

Eric: But I would have assumed it would have been in consultation with Dumbledore, and if it is in consultation with Dumbledore, then it’s also right for Maxime and Karkaroff to be there.

Laura: I also just wonder if the idea of keeping it secretive but then the headmasters of the various schools finding out what the tasks are going to be is an unspoken tradition at this point. This tournament has happened hundreds of times in the past, and it just seems unrealistic to expect that these things wouldn’t come out. I mean, we see Dumbledore talk about secrets breaking out at Hogwarts as early as Book 1, where he’s like, “Hey, everybody who knew anything about what happened between you and Quirrell down in the third floor corridor has been sworn to secrecy, so naturally, the whole school knows.” He knows that this is the reality of working in a school with adolescents; it’s just really hard to keep the lid on things like this. So I don’t know. I feel like it might be a matter of best intentions to say they keep it secret, but it doesn’t really happen.

Micah: I guess it’s just interesting that Karkaroff and Maxime are actively trying to get the information and support their champions, but in the case of… Harry seems to also be getting that support, through Moody, through Hagrid, and through others, as we’ll see in later chapters, but what about Cedric? He’s just… nobody’s helping this guy out, actively. We don’t see Sprout coming in on his behalf as his Head of House. We don’t see Dumbledore doing anything. I don’t know; that’s kind of messed up.

Andrew: It is messed up.

Micah: [laughs] Poor Hufflepuff.

Andrew: Although, this opens an opportunity for Harry to help him out, of course. But it was raised earlier, could it have been Mad-Eye Fakey who put Hagrid up to it? But maybe Dumbledore could have put Hagrid up to it; insert a middleman there to avoid catching blame for sending Harry over to check out the dragons himself.

Kierra: I can see Dumbledore. He’s always like the wise grandfather looking out for Harry.

Andrew: Yeah, he’s a little trickster. What are your impressions on Dumbledore so far? Because I’m a big fan in general.

Kierra: Yeah, I was going to say, so far I like him. I like his wisdom. I love that he’s always there to comfort Harry or to guide Harry. He’s like his guidance system while navigating Hogwarts and this world.

Andrew: Yes.

Kierra: So I stan him, yeah.

Andrew: So the second half of this discussion I’m calling “Meet me at the fireplace.” So Harry gets back for his rendezvous with Sirius, and he gets to unload on Sirius like he’s a therapist. He’s sharing all the things that have been bugging him. Here’s one of the few people that are actually on his side, will continue to talk to him, that believe him, all of that. And it’s a relatable moment, when a lot has been boiling up inside you and you feel like you don’t have anybody to share it with and then you finally are able to let it all out on somebody, but maybe Sirius is up to something else, too, Micah, besides being a therapist?

Micah: Yeah, I think he’s also, besides being a therapist… or maybe part of his job of being a therapist, as we all know, probably, is he’s taking notes, right? I think we’re going to talk about this in a little bit, but he’s actually really good at putting the pieces of the puzzle together from reading the Daily Prophet. And Harry’s info dump might have important nuggets that right at this moment Harry can’t see for himself, so I think Sirius is intently listening. He’s letting Harry just pour it all out, but with kind of a side quest in mind.

Andrew: And so we also get a bombshell from Sirius: Karkaroff is a former Death Eater who got out of Azkaban after making a deal with the Ministry to give up names of other Death Eaters. And Sirius also suspects that Karkaroff is the one who put Harry’s name in the Goblet, and it doesn’t matter that Karkaroff was feigning outrage at Harry’s name coming out, Sirius says, because Karkaroff is a good actor; he was a good enough actor to cut a deal with the Ministry.

Micah: Yeah, we don’t know it at this point in Goblet of Fire, but this is the deal that also landed Barty Crouch, Jr. in Azkaban, which is…

Eric: And the circles, the truth, the spirals… that’s wonderful.

Micah: And the other thing that I think is important – we’ve talked about this in prior episodes – is that we also get that confirmation from Sirius from his own time in Azkaban saying that the Death Eaters that are there are not very happy with people like Karkaroff, who kind of sold himself for…

Kierra: Snitched.

Micah: Yep, exactly. Snitched. And there’s probably a few others like him we can we can reference here.

Eric: It’s just so wonderful, from a lifelong Sirius Black fan, to not only see Harry’s godfather be able to interact with him, that Harry gets to interact with him. I mean, this is the first real conversation they have since that amazing night when he escaped on Buckbeak. But the ability for Sirius to be able to use the information he has from being in Azkaban, very few people could tell you what it’s like in Azkaban and even fewer people could tell Harry relevant information that pertains to the plot of this year at Hogwarts. So it’s a wonderful and I think really feels organic way for this information to be conveyed to Harry and also for the world-building that’s being done. To have Sirius be able to be in the position where he can help Harry out is fantastic.

Laura: So speaking of helping Harry out and using the knowledge he has to help Harry be aware of how many former Death Eaters he might be around, I find it really curious that he doesn’t share anything about Snape here, because in the same trial that we see Karkaroff having a little bit later in the book, he names Snape as a former Death Eater. He tries to use that as collateral to get himself out of Azkaban; Dumbledore vouches for him in that instance. But I think it’s really interesting that Sirius here says, “Hey, this professor who you’ve only known for 30 seconds, because he’s at your school for the tournament, he used to be a Death Eater,” but “The guy who tried to get me the Dementor’s Kiss last year, and who has tormented you during school, is also a Death Eater.” I just find it really interesting that he doesn’t do that.

Eric: Laura, I think you’ve uncovered the biggest proof that Sirius has emotionally grown since childhood.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: Good for him.

Eric: We always talk about how stunted Sirius is from that time in Azkaban, but given a chance to throw his school rival under the bus, he doesn’t take it, so I don’t know.

Laura: And he could.

Eric: I think for me, Snape has been vetted by Dumbledore. That’s what you said. It works; Sirius can’t…

Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “I trust him. What can I say?”

Eric: Yeah, he might feel like it’s not his place to reveal that sort of thing, but if it were to protect Harry, he absolutely would. But yeah, I think it’s just… given how heated things got between Snape and the Marauders at the end of the last book, I think Sirius is just taking this moment to set it out. If Snape were at all guilty, Sirius surely has the confidence that Dumbledore would be getting to the bottom of it. It has to be an outsider, which it is; it’s just not who we think it is.

Andrew: Kierra, I’m curious. Thinking back to reading this a couple months ago, did you have any prime suspects?

Kierra: I had a whole whiteboard. It’s probably over there.

Micah: Ooh.

[Andrew laughs]

Kierra: I had a whole whiteboard. I’m trying to think… I had Karkaroff. I had Moody. I’m trying to think who else? It was mainly just the new characters that pop into Goblet of Fire, because even though my suspicion, I never thought it was who it turned out to be. I just had a feeling like what you all said that it wasn’t somebody that’s been in the Hogwarts circle in the previous books. It had to be somebody different. Which it was, somebody I cried over.

[Andrew and Kierra laugh]

Andrew: Well, I mean, you were right about Mad-Eye, in a way.

Kierra: In a way? Oh, yeah!

[Andrew laughs]

Kierra: I remember screaming and everything! I said, “I knew it!” Everyone commented, “Just keep reading.”

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Kierra: I said, “Okay.”

Micah: Were you ever suspicious of Ludo?

Kierra: Yeah! Briefly. He was on my list, too, briefly, but in the end, I want to say after a while I just forgot about it.

Andrew: [laughs] Aw, Ludo doesn’t want to hear that he’s forgettable.

Laura: He is, kind of.

Andrew: He is, yeah.

Kierra: Well, wasn’t he the one that kept helping Harry Potter out?

Eric and Micah: It’s Bagman.

Kierra: That’s why he was on my radar.

Andrew: So Sirius also believes that someone attacked Moody the night before, and here’s more evidence that maybe it could be Moody or an imposter. Sirius believes that someone attacked Moody the night before he started at Hogwarts and tried to stop him from getting to Hogwarts, and he talks about Bertha, and Harry and Sirius wonder if she told Voldemort about the Triwizard Tournament after she was lured into a trap. Now, there’s also some foreshadowing here, maybe. The line goes, “Mad-Eye’s heard intruders a bit too often. But that doesn’t mean he can’t still spot the real thing.” And that caught my eye just thinking about Mad-Eye being an imposter, not the real thing.

Micah: I like it. Yeah, and it’s amazing how spot on Sirius is here. It’s just like… it’s kind of similar to Prisoner of Azkaban where he’s telling the truth, but nobody believes him. Now he’s telling the truth, but he’s not in a position to talk to anybody because he’s still on the run. Who is he going to share this theory with, right? He’s actually 100% on the ball, but who is he going to go to? He can’t go to the Ministry. Maybe he can go to Dumbledore.

Andrew: But he’s thinking it’s Karkaroff, or at least he thinks he…

Micah: He is, but all the other stuff he has right. Everything about Bertha Jorkins is on the nose. I don’t know; maybe Dumbledore already has this intel, knowing him, but I don’t know.

Andrew: Yeah. What I find interesting about these… well, I mean, some of it was correct, but he’s blaming Karkaroff. It’s interesting that Sirius is blaming the wrong person when Sirius was blamed as the wrong person previously.

Eric: That’s interesting. Maybe it’s the thing where you’re like, “Well, I know I was in Azkaban prison, and I know I was innocent, but surely there’s not two innocent people in Azkaban.”

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: Everyone else, to Sirius, is an inmate, is a bad person; he’s the only good guy, so it challenges that worldview to picture Karkaroff as anything other than a loyal Death Eater still to this day.

Andrew: We’ve talked a little bit today about if Dumbledore… what were other adults and faculty thinking at this time? Did they also think it was Karkaroff? Did they think it was, I don’t know, Ludo Bagman? I’m wondering what’s going on in Dumbledore’s mind right now.

Laura: I think he’s keeping an eye on him, just like he keeps an eye on everything that happens at Hogwarts. I mean, he remembers… and I have to think that for other members of the faculty who remember the first war, they’re probably a little uneasy being around this person. And honestly, we could look at a number of historical examples of people who “learn the error of their ways” and changed their perspectives, changed their tune, and went over to the light side, as it were. And I mean, some of them are still very much members of society today, which can be a little bit unsettling. But I think, again, that’s another way that these books are taking examples of things that happen in real life and putting them in the story. It makes it so much easier to resonate with.

Andrew: I wonder if there’s a feeling of being stuck between a rock and a hard place because there’s no evidence to convict Karkaroff or anyone else, so it’s sort of just business as usual until the answers are unearthed. But it’s still pretty messed up that it is business as usual, as something very strange is afoot.

Kierra: I also feel like with Dumbledore, he’s like a life teacher or a life coach. He lets the students or people do what they’re doing while also overseeing them, and then when they do need help or when it is time for him to step in, he steps in.

Andrew: Yes.

Kierra: But yeah, just because people might not think he doesn’t know what’s going on. I feel like he’s always observing; he always knows what’s going on, but not every second of every moment does he need to be there or does he need to be telling you his theories. That’s why he is the headmaster.

Andrew: It’s almost like he’s letting them live and learn themselves, instead of…

Kierra: Yeah, until he feels like he needs to step in to help.

Laura: You’re right on the money.

Eric: It’s really interesting how Dumbledore’s strategy mirrors that of previous years; the Chamber of Secrets can be open, people can be nearly dying, and he’s like, [imitating Dumbledore] “Let’s wait it out.”

[Andrew and Kierra laughs]

Eric: It’s interesting.

Micah: You were talking about how Karkaroff was there. I think it allows Dumbledore to watch the moves of a former Death Eater at a time where there’s been significant Death Eater activity, right? Going back to the Quidditch World Cup. What better way than to have a former Death Eater in your own presence? You can monitor all his moves, and this goes back to what we were talking about with Hagrid and Maxime; he’s got somebody on each of these headmasters that are in from foreign schools, because I think we learn later on Snape has been tailing, Moody has been tailing Karkaroff to some extent, so he’s got eyes everywhere, to Kierra’s point. He knows what’s going on in his school; he just lets it happen, which, I mean, that’s a whole other conversation.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Is it better? Is it worse? It’s worse, right? But if he did have any concrete proof, I think he would have requested a different person to represent Durmstrang. They’ve got to have a deputy in charge.

Micah: Or maybe not. I mean, he likes the drama, Eric.

Andrew: He loves mess.

Micah: He does.

Andrew: Loves it. Dumble-drama. It’s like a “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer” type of thing, Micah, the point that you’re making.

Kierra and Micah: Yeah.

Eric: Keep your enemies so close that they could strike their intended target at any point if they wanted to.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: That’s quite close.

Andrew: And if they do, well, you know it was them.

Laura: Well, I think he’s probably thinking if Karkaroff is indeed secretly conspiring to help Voldemort, that at least he can keep an eye on him at Hogwarts. If he’s all the way in Bulgaria or wherever it is that Durmstrang is located, he’s not going to be able to keep a tab on what any underground Death Eaters are up to, so I think this benefits Dumbledore in a few different ways to have Karkaroff here.

Andrew: All right, well, Sirius is about to tell Harry how to defeat the dragon when Ron comes downstairs, boo. He’s been wondering where Harry was, and tensions, as if they weren’t bad enough, now they’re at an all-time high because Harry just lost some good intel on how to defeat this terrifying dragon, and they don’t try to make amends this evening. So yeah, as if Harry didn’t have enough reason to be mad at Ron, now he missed out on dragon-fighting strategizing thanks to him. It’s just a downer of a end to the chapter.

Eric: Yeah. And Harry is very witty in this moment. He’s very upset with Ron, and he even… after two chapters of the book saying that Harry wants to hit Ron in some way or another, he actually chucks one of the “Potter stinks” badges at him, hits his face, and then says, “Oh, maybe it’ll scar. Isn’t that you what you want?”

Laura: Oof.

Eric: But as good of a line as it is, and I think it’s one of the best lines that Harry ever says, you can really sense the pain behind it. You can really sense how Harry is trying to communicate that it is not an honor to have a scar, it is not something anyone would really actually want, and you’re a moron for thinking that. And so Harry is lashing out. Yes, he’s witty about it, but you can see the pain as a reader. I think your heart breaks in this moment.

Andrew: Well, yeah. And I mean, the scar brings him a lot of unwanted attention. People just automatically know who he is when they see that scar. Their eyes go to that scar; it’s just like… he just needs to cover it up with makeup. I think that’s the only way he’ll be able to get past this. But Harry doesn’t get to speak with Sirius again before the first task, but Sirius does later share what he was planning on giving Harry in terms of how to defeat the dragon, and it was going to be a [struggles with pronunciation] Conjunctiviss… I should have practiced this before.

Laura: Conjunctivitis.

Andrew: Conjunctivitis Curse, as a dragon’s eyes are its weakest point. Of course, Harry is able to defeat the dragon himself, however, Krum does use this curse himself, and we learn that in Chapter 23, “The Yule Ball.”

Odds & Ends

Andrew: So one odd and end I just wanted to address: We do get Rita Skeeter’s piece from the Daily Prophet here. It was crazy inaccurate – you can see why Rita brought him into the cupboard to interview him – and just another reminder of how shame should be brought down on the Daily Prophet. Kierra, we’ve been talking about this a lot. She apparently doesn’t have editors at the newspaper; she could publish whatever she wants.

Kierra: Yeah, I mean, she definitely doesn’t care. Even if she did have an editor, she’ll send it to print.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Kierra: It just shows that also… because isn’t there nowadays you have to have proof of what you’re saying, or you have to use the word “alleged”?

Laura: Right.

Kierra: So at that time with her newspaper, you can just say whatever you want. And it’s crazy because everyone will believe it, knowing that it’s Rita Skeeter and she likes to go… her stories are very outrageous. But like they were saying, Ron’s mom read the Prophet and was weary and worried about Harry, even though she knows that Rita Skeeter has told lies and been absurd about everyone in the Hogwarts world.

Andrew: Yeah. She just sucks on that Quick Quotes Quill to get started, and then she gets to say whatever she wants, which is…

Kierra: Somebody needs to take that quill from her.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Kierra: But it’s okay; my cousin Hermione handled business at the end.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: She does.

Laura: Oh, I can’t wait to get there. That must have been so fun, by the way, as a reader, as someone reading it for the first time. Getting to that point in the book, I remember feeling so gratified.

Kierra: Yeah, because it honestly happened, what, the last three, four, or five pages, so I was like, “What’s going to happen with Rita? What’s going to happen?” And then knowing that Hermione did what she did, it just made me so proud too.

Andrew: [laughs] “That’s my cousin right there.”

Kierra: She was like, “Don’t worry.” Yeah, I was like, “That’s my cousin.”

Laura: We’re big Hermione fans here at the show, so you’re in good company.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: All right, well, it’s time for our MVP of the Week awards.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: And I touched on this a little bit earlier: I’m giving mine to Hermione for being able to ignore hurtful insults basically to her face from Pansy Parkinson, and just a chapter after Snape insulted her. And like Kierra brought up, all the other drama that’s going on in her life, she has to deal with these attacks too.

Eric: I’m going to absolutely give my MVP to the makers of these “Potter stinks” badges.

[Andrew gasps]

Eric: The Gryffindors spend real time in this chapter trying to dismantle or get them to say something different, and whoever made those badges seems to only make it worse, so they must have done some real good anti-tamper proof spells. It’s real good.

Micah: I’m going to give it to Charlie Weasley for holding down the first task dragons by himself, and probably not getting paid enough by the Ministry to do it.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: True that. True that. I’m going to give mine to Hagrid. He gets two for the price of one this chapter: He gets to go on a date, and he does Harry a solid.

Kierra: Wow.

Laura: Good for you, Hagrid.

Kierra: Yeah. I mean, I was going to say Hagrid as well, just for putting my boy Harry on, because God knows what would have happened if he would have saw the dragon the day of the task.

Laura: Yes.

Kierra: It would have been over.

Andrew: You said earlier Hagrid couldn’t hold water, so I guess he’s good for something. [laughs]

Kierra: He is good for something, just like my grandma.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: What?! Anything you want to share about your grandma? Never mind.

Kierra: Maybe. How long you got?

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: If you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can contact us by emailing or sending a voice memo recorded on your phone to, or by using our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. Get your feedback in now, because next week’s episode is a Muggle Mail episode; we’ll be reading feedback we have received from listeners about our recent discussions.


Andrew: And now, Kierra, it’s time for our weekly Harry Potter trivia game, Quizzitch!

[Quizzitch music plays]

Kierra: I didn’t know about this.

Andrew: No, no, we’re not we’re not quizzing you. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.

Kierra: Oh, okay.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: You just sit back and enjoy.

Kierra: I was like, it’s only my third day out here…

Eric: You’re in the hot seat. [laughs] Kierra, for $1 million dollars…

Kierra: Oh, now I’m all ears.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Now you’re talking.

Andrew: Grandma is finally going to be proud.

Kierra: [laughs] Literally.

Eric: Oh my God. Okay, last week’s question: In honor of the Hungarian Horntail chapter, we were asking what is the capital of Hungary? Trivia question relating to the chapter title. The correct answer is Budapest, or as some pronounce it, Budapesht. Kierra – be honest – did you know that?

Kierra: Oh, baby, I don’t even know where I’m at, and I’m in the US.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Honestly, same. This is what… I will admit, I didn’t know it when I came up with the question either.

Andrew: Normally, these are more Harry Potter-themed questions, not geography. [laughs]

Eric: Every once in a while, I love to throw a little bit of a curveball, because I do believe that having a well-rounded portfolio of information is good for…

Andrew: We’re educating our listeners, right.

Kierra: That curveball would have smacked me.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: Let’s be honest, we’re educating ourselves too.

Eric: Absolutely.

Andrew: Next week will be a biology-themed lesson.

Eric: Okay, well, anyway, correct answers were in fact submitted by many people, including a Pint of Purple Pygmy Puffs; Buff Daddy; Carter, aged 10, and Margaret, aged mom; Stuck in LA traffic longer than an entire episode of MuggleCast; Colonel Fubster has submitted to Quizzitch – wow – Dobby Wanted Socks, Now Dobby Wants Blood… okay…

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: … Dumbledore’s audacity; Elizabeth K.; George Ezra’s golden grand piano… thank you for that reference. Hagrid’s broken comb; Hannah D.; The Expert Wrackspurt Professor; Hermione Granger or Hermione Danger; Jiggly Jane; the Banana Republic Harry stopped at before the Battle of Hogwarts…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: … Wonky Faints; Tofu Tom; Micah’s newlywed…

Andrew: Oooh.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: … Stu-pee-fy; Gray; and Meer-anda. Miranda. That’s… it was weird how I said Miranda just then. It’s probably Miranda.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Thank you to all who submitted. It was actually a really robust week for Quizzitch; over 50 people entered. And Kierra, if you haven’t caught on yet, people really love making up usernames or fake names to submit.

Kierra: Clearly. Dobby Wants Blood?

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: I’m going to be thinking about that one for a while. So here is next week’s Quizzitch question: What class does Cedric Diggory have next when Harry catches up with him in the school corridor to tell him about the dragons? Submit your answer to us over on the MuggleCast website. Go to and click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav, or you can just type in your handy dandy URL

Andrew: Kierra, thank you so much for joining us on today’s podcast. It was so great having you.

Kierra: Thank you for having me! This was fun. Quite insightful. Love it.

Andrew: Yeah, glad you had a good time. Where can our listeners find you? Can you plug your handles again, please?

Kierra: Baby, you can catch me all over the world. Hello.

[Everyone laughs]

Kierra: Mister Worldwide. [laughs] You can find me on TikTok at @KierraLewis75. Like I said, I’m either screaming, crying, or chucking a book, hello.

[Andrew laughs]

Kierra: And you can find me on Instagram as well; @Kierra_Lewis1. And I’ve actually just started uploading hour-long Harry Potter vlogs on my YouTube channel, so you can find me on there as Kierra Lewis as well.

Andrew: Awesome. We’ll have links in the show notes for listeners. And yeah, you just uploaded the Goblet of Fire one today, I think, right?

Kierra: Yeah, it was 80 minutes long. I was so worried that people would tune out, and people were like, “Why is this show so short? Make it longer.” I was like, “Say less. I’ll make it two hours.”

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: That’s the thing about Potterheads, honestly. We’ve had times where our show, we feel like it’s gone really long, but they’re hungry for more. That’s the really special thing about the Harry Potter community, is there’s always something to talk about. So yeah, keep the 80-minute YouTube videos coming, because I know your audience loves them.

Kierra: Oh, 100%. Yeah.

Micah: Can I ask one more question? So putting aside Harry, Ron, and Hermione, do you have a character that you really like at this point in the series?

Kierra: Well, it’s like a small squad, but I would say one of my favorite side characters, whenever they’re in the book, I really love Fred and George. Just their banter and how they always are shaking it up, whether it be with their mom or just at Hogwarts. And then daddy Snape. Love me a Snape. Even though he hates my cousin, I love him.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: That’s family, right? I mean…

Laura: Eh, true.

Kierra: I really just like his sassiness, because the first book I didn’t like him, and then as he started to point out things, I was like, “It’s kind of true; my cousin does get away with a lot of stuff.”

[Laura laughs]

Kierra: So I can understand that from his POV. And then in this book, he said something to my cousin Harry; it was just like, “Watch your drink,” or “Next time I might slip something in it.” I don’t know what it was, but it just made me laugh because I was like, “This grown man is this bitter with like, a 13-year-old.”

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Right!

Kierra: I like the pettiness. I wouldn’t like it in real life, but it’s just humorous to read about.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, I think he was willing to poison him in that chapter, actually. [laughs]

Kierra: And he was like, “Your bite-sized fame,” when Harry was in the Daily Prophet. I was like, “Dang.”

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: So based on this, I have to ask, Kierra, what’s your House?

Kierra: I’m a big G! I’m a Gryffindor!

Laura: Oh my gosh!

Kierra: Yeah, a lot of people thought I was going to be a Hufflepuff, but yeah, I’m Gryffindor.

Laura: Really?

Andrew: Okay, good for you.

Laura: See, this is perfect; we have a really balanced panel today on the show. It’s pretty rare that we end up having a Gryffindor join us, so…

Kierra: Really! What are y’all? Oh, Slytherins? Hold on, I’ve gotta get out of here.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: I’m a Slytherin!

Micah: Just Andrew.

Andrew: Yeah, Slytherin. Micah and Laura are Ravenclaws, and Eric is a Hufflepuff.

Eric: Recovering Gryffindor.

Andrew: And then we have you.

Kierra: Which is actually funny, because Andrew, I feel like you were giving me Hufflepuff vibes.

Andrew: Oh, really? Okay.

Laura: Ohhh.

Andrew: Well, see, I used to be a Gryffindor, then after a breakup, I converted to Slytherin and I’ve just been here ever since.

Kierra: It makes a lot of sense now.

Andrew: Yeah, right? Right?

[Andrew and Kierra laugh]

Laura: He decided to be a baddie.

Kierra: Literally a baddie. A Slytherin baddie.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Poisoning people, telling them they’ve got gigantic teeth… no, I do none of that.

Kierra: Everything.

Andrew: [laughs] So listeners, visit for transcripts, and our social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. And if you enjoy the show and think other Muggles would, too, tell a friend about the show. And last but not least, the show is brought to you by Muggles like you. We don’t have any fancy corporate or network funding; we’re just proudly an independent podcast. So you can support us by tapping into the show on Apple Podcasts and subscribing there, and you’ll get bonus MuggleCast installments to thank you for your support, or you can go to and you’ll get those bonus MuggleCast installments plus access to our livestreams, our planning docs, a new physical gift every year, a video message from one of the four of us, and more. So that does it for this week’s episode. Thank you again, Kierra, so much for joining us. We were so thrilled to have you on, and we’ll continue watching your Harry Potter journey. I’m more invested than ever now to watch you go through these remaining books.

Laura: Same.

Kierra: Oh, yeah. I’m at the start of Order of the Phoenix; I have it over there. I’m about to start it right after this.

Andrew: Awesome!

Laura: Oh my gosh.

Andrew: That’s my favorite book, so I am so jealous. I’ll live vicariously through you. [laughs]

Kierra: Okay.

Eric: And don’t hesitate just to stop and breathe and talk about where you think it’s going to go, because that’s something that I definitely… we all got to enjoy the speculation part because there were so many years between books, so take your time with it and ask yourself, “How do I think this is going to end?”

Kierra: Will do, will do.

Andrew: Thank you, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: I’m Laura.

Kierra: And I’m Kierra, and you’re watching Disney Channel.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Bye, everyone. [laughs]

Transcript #648


MuggleCast 648 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #648, The Beetle Has Landed (GOF Chapter 18, The Weighing of the Wands)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: This week, get ready to hunker down in the nearest broom cupboard for an uncomfortable interview with Rita Skeeter, because we are covering Chapter 18 of Goblet of Fire, “The Weighing of the Wands.” And to help us with today’s discussion, our longtime friend and fellow podcaster Pam is back. Welcome back to the show, Pam.

Pam Gocobachi: Hi. Thanks for having me back.

Andrew: Of course. You, Laura, and I all do Millennial together…

Pam: We do.

Andrew: … which releases new episodes on Wednesdays. This is almost like an episode of Millennial but with Micah, because Eric is not here.

Pam: That’s right.

Micah: It’s true.

Andrew: One of our listeners said that. Micah said he was going to say that; now I’ve just stolen it as well.

Pam: Man, I’m so slow; I just got that joke.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: And it’s interesting because I don’t remember the last time I was actually on Millennial. I feel like it was just after Biden was elected president.

Andrew: No.

Micah: Is that possible?

Andrew: It’s got to be more recent than that.

Pam: We had you and Eric on last year.

Laura: Yeah, we had both of you on.

Andrew: Yeah, last year.

Micah: Okay, never mind.

Pam: But we’re overdue. [laughs] It’s fine.

Laura: Yeah, we can set a date.

Andrew: Yeah, you can come on in 2024.

Micah: Let’s just do Millennial right now.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Well, yeah, this is kind of like… let’s just release this next week; screw it. Well, it’s nice to have you on, Pam. And Pam has been a longtime Harry Potter fan as well. I mean, nobody we podcast with hasn’t been a longtime Harry Potter fan. I believe Pam actually has more editions of Harry Potter than any of us.

Pam: I think we did count them one time, and I maintain that it’s because I also own the entire series in Spanish too.

Laura: That’ll do it.

Andrew: Okay.

Pam: So that racks up pretty quick. [laughs]

Andrew: That’ll do it. All right, well, before we get to Chapter by Chapter this week, we do have a couple of summer announcements.

Micah: Yeah, so Eric and I will be returning to LeakyCon this summer; it’s going to be taking place in Portland from July 5-7 at the Oregon Convention Center. If you’re interested in attending, you can use code “Muggle” to get $10 off your ticket. It’s still early days, and more details to come on panels and meetups and that sort of thing, but Leaky has been announcing a number of guests. I saw for those who are huge Game of Thrones fans, Isaac Hempstead Wright, who played Bran Stark, and Indira Varma, who played Ellaria Sand, have both been confirmed. So definitely check out their website; I know they have a lot more announcements planned in the coming weeks.

Andrew: So that’s happening on the west coast this summer. And on the east coast, Laura, Micah, Eric, and I – maybe Pam, we haven’t spoken about it with Pam too much yet – we are planning on going to a podcasting conference in the Washington DC area, and that conference will be happening August 19-22. This is a podcast industry conference. There’s not going to be a live podcast for the public; it’s more about wheeling and dealing and talking about how to grow your audience and monetize and stuff like that. But we thought since we all will be together most likely this summer for Podcast Movement, we will hold some sort of meetup for listeners who are in the area. So we don’t have details there yet; it’s still a long ways off, but we can say it definitely will be between August 19-22. So if you’re around the area, maybe mark it down on your calendars and we’ll do some sort of meetup.

Laura: Come hang out with us.

Andrew: Come. Hang. Out. With. Us. Once we give you information on where to hang out with us at.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: I just also wanted to mention that our travel and appearances like at LeakyCon and Washington DC are crowdfunded by listeners like you, and by pledging to our Patreon or subscribing to MuggleCast Gold on Apple Podcasts, you’re helping us run and grow the show and its community. Laura, you planned this week’s bonus MuggleCast. What can we expect there?

Laura: Yeah, so we’re going to revisit the topic of fanfiction, but specifically, we’re going to talk about a very popular adult-themed Draco/Hermione a.k.a. Dramione fanfiction that is actually getting the 50 Shades of Grey treatment. For anyone who isn’t aware of that, 50 Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight fanfiction that was then reimagined to be published as an original work. Same thing is happening for the fanfiction “Manacled,” so we’ll chat a little bit more about that in bonus today, and we have a couple of excerpts that we’re going to read.

Andrew: Ooh.

Micah: Oh boy.

Laura: However, I will just caution, folks, if you’re in the market to look up a new fanfiction, this one is very, very dark. Very, very adult. Proceed with caution.

Andrew: Yeah, actually, Liza is saying they hadn’t heard about this yet. I hadn’t either, so Laura, I’m glad you put it on our radar, and I’m excited to talk about that. So that’ll be available at and Apple Podcasts.

Laura: And sometimes we like to sit back and think about what are some ways that we can have a little more fun here at the show, and we thought, “Why don’t we put fun silly questions in our Discord server ahead of our episode livestreams?” So folks who are able to vote in this poll are people who support us over on, and today’s question ahead of reviewing this chapter is “What is more unhinged this chapter? Rita’s broom cupboard interview, Karkaroff’s mustache twirl for the camera, or Fleur’s wand core being her grandmother’s hair?” Now, I do have some breaking news. We have results in this poll. Believe it or not, not at all a close competition. It is Rita’s broom cupboard interview, which makes a ton of sense, and it’s going to be one of the things we spend quite a bit of time talking about today. So thank you to all of our patrons who are in the Discord listening to us live tonight for taking part in my silly poll.

Andrew: I voted for Karkaroff twirling his mustache for the camera. I thought that was the strangest option myself.

Laura: [laughs] It did make me uncomfortable reading that.

[Andrew laughs]

Pam: It was very cartoon villain.

Andrew: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Laura: Yeah, that’s what I imagined, honestly.

Pam: Me too.

Laura: I imagined, like, Jafar for some reason.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Laura: Because he does that.

Pam: Yeah, or what is it, Rocky and Bullwinkle? The Russian villain in that.

Laura: Yes.

Micah: Rasputin? That’s what he reminds me of.

Pam: Yes, sure. [laughs]

Laura: Yeah. And honestly, I mean, we’ve seen and we’ve talked about in this book, how this story – and honestly, a lot of stories and movies produced during the ’90s – really leaned into that trope of people of vague Eastern European descent being the villains always, so I definitely think that that is what we’re seeing with the way Karkaroff is portrayed here.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: All right, without further ado, it’s time for Chapter by Chapter, and this week we’re discussing Goblet of Fire Chapter 18, “The Weighing of the Wands.” And we’ll start like we always do with our Seven-Word Summary, and since Pam is new to this segment but an experienced podcaster, she’s going first.

Laura: This was so mean. Why do we always do this to the guest?

Micah: It’s actually…

Pam: Honestly, I feel like it’s less pressure…

Laura: Yeah, that’s true.

Pam: … because I don’t have to think on my feet for a sec. [laughs]

Micah: I feel like being the glue is more pressure, right?

Laura: True.

Micah: Which happens to be me this week. That’s okay.

[Laura and Pam laugh]

Andrew: All right. Let’s give it a shot.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Pam: Rita…

Laura: … hijacks…

Andrew: … Harry’s…

Micah: … innocence…

Andrew: Ooh.

[Laura and Pam laugh]

Pam: … by…

Laura: …. broom…

Andrew: Okay, by broom closet, I guess.

Pam: Cupboard. [laughs]

Andrew: Good enough. Good enough.

Laura: That took a turn.

[Everyone laughs]

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Laura: So getting into this week’s chapter, there’s a lot going on here. Still a lot of setting the stage for what’s to come for Harry, between the reactions of his classmates to being chosen as the fourth champion to the way the media and people in government regard him and act around him. But first, we’re going to talk about this widespread bullying that Harry is receiving from his classmates. He’s having a really bad time. In fact, Harry’s only ally right now is Hermione, and it seems like only she, Hagrid, Sirius, and Dumbledore believe Harry at this stage that he did not enter his name into the Goblet of Fire. Harry is even persona non grata with Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, who both seem to believe that Harry stole Hufflepuff’s moment of glory. And something that I thought was a uniquely Ravenclaw take is that the Ravenclaws reportedly believed Harry wanted to earn more fame by being able to say he tricked the Goblet of Fire, because honestly, that’s some projection right there.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Laura: That’s something me or Micah would think.

Micah: It’s true. And to go off the point of the mass scale bullying, nothing is being done about it, right? If we look around, none of the teachers are really stepping in to try and help Harry in this situation, and so it just speaks more to Hogwarts being a security nightmare of a different kind. And putting on my Ravenclaw cap for a moment, too, it makes me wonder: If in fact Cedric was the only name that came out of the Goblet of Fire, right, how would the other Houses react? I feel like Slytherin may have gone more the direction of Durmstrang, perhaps, right?

Pam: Oh, that’s interesting.

Laura: That is really interesting, how their allegiances shift depending on the circumstance, which feels like a very Slytherin trait. No shade, Andrew.

Andrew: [laughs] It’s okay.

Pam: Well, and also, it’s tough because they have a legit celebrity competing. So I mean, yes, maybe Slytherin would be like, “Oh, we hear that at Durmstrang they learn the Dark Arts, so we’re down with whatever champion gets picked from that school,” but on the other hand, we also see a lot of the student body get swept up in the idea of Viktor Krum walking through the halls of Hogwarts, so I mean, maybe some of the other Houses or people in the other Houses would have switched allegiances as well.

Micah: Yeah, definitely. And to me, it was surprising that we don’t really see the Horcrux, at least at this moment, try and manipulate the situation. We’ve talked about how there have been other moments in this book in prior books where you can put some of what’s going on onto the Horcrux that’s within Harry, but it seems like the situation is doing a good enough job of isolating Harry that the Horcrux doesn’t really need to jump in right now.

Laura: True. The Horcrux is like, “That’s rough. Man, I don’t need to do anything. Just let this play out.”

Pam: “He’s already having evil thoughts; it’s fine. Doesn’t need me.”

Andrew: I want to address the bullying that’s going on, this mass scale bullying. I was thinking about this, too, and it’s really upsetting that nobody’s stepping in to be like, “Hey, guys, you shouldn’t bully Harry, because this wasn’t his fault.” Somebody who believes Harry should be saying this; let’s look at Dumbledore. Since Dumbledore believes Harry, and in light of all this bullying, I think Albus should say something at breakfast or dinner. “Harry did not put his name in the Goblet, and you know what? In light of this, we’re actually going to put a pause on the tournament to look into this further.” And actually, by not saying anything to the school, it’s kind of implying that he thinks Harry did put his name in and things should go on as planned; things are normal.

Laura: So what you’re saying is he should have gotten up in front of the whole school and been like, [imitating Michael Gambon] “Harry, you did not put your name in the Goblet of Fire!”

[Andrew and Pam laugh]

Andrew: Very clever. Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Pam: This also just feels like really textbook ’90s school behavior; everybody believed in the ’90s that bullying was just going to toughen you up. But then also, it must be tough when Harry even… I mean, this could also be paranoia, but Harry even mentions that he thinks that Professor Sprout is giving him the cold shoulder. So we expect Snape to bully Harry, right? That’s kind of his MO. But if even Professor Sprout is doing it, [laughs] it’s kind of a lost cause. Like, that’s crazy to me.

Laura: Yeah. I also sometimes wonder, because we’re seeing things from Harry’s point of view, how much he might be projecting or assuming.

Pam: Right.

Laura: Of all these characters, I feel like Professor Sprout is the least likely to be participating in giving Harry the cold shoulder, so maybe it’s a little bit of both. Maybe she’s being a little standoffish towards him, but maybe he’s also reading into it a little bit because he’s insecure.

Micah: Right, yeah. I think the challenge for Harry is that he doesn’t have anybody to ground him, right? He’s lost Ron, and Ron would be the person that would normally do that, so he’s literally seeing boogeyman everywhere, right? To draw it to a football analogy, right, they talk about how you’re seeing ghosts out there if you’re a quarterback, and no matter what you do, you’re constantly doing something wrong because you’re just spooked, and I feel like Harry is like that a little bit.

Laura: Yeah, he’s having his Mad-Eye Moody moment, dialed down a lot, but he’s seeing so much bad behavior around him at school that he’s starting to see it everywhere, probably. It’s a good point. And to the point about Ron, Hermione rightly points out that Ron is jealous of Harry. We did talk about this last episode and how this is really just all related to Ron’s insecurities about being left out or not being good enough, but the one good thing that comes out of this interaction is she does convince him to write to Sirius about the news, which seems like a good move.

Micah: Yeah, I also think she reveals something to Harry that I don’t know that he is very aware of, and that’s the fact that his fame has impact on other people, particularly his friends, and most importantly, Ron. And she’s trying to convey that; I don’t know that he fully gets it in this moment, but it’s an important point for her to raise.

Pam: Yeah, he just thinks that because he doesn’t like it, it’s obsolete, right? He’s not encouraging it, he’s not a fan of it, so he feels like that should be enough. But you’re right; maybe it’s not enough for Ron, and that’s what Hermione is gently trying to show him.

Andrew: Yeah. Of course, we have to remember they’re younger, so Ron doesn’t fully see it yet. But I think we’ve all heard over the years – Pam, you’ve worked in the world of Hollywood – we often hear how celebrities hate being celebrities because there’s so much attention on you at all times. You get no privacy. Fame is terrible! We all want it, the grass is always greener, but it’s actually terrible, and Ron is too young to understand this right now. And Ron is actually in this ideal position, I think, as Harry’s BFF because he gets to have the cool/famous person as his best friend, but then he doesn’t have to deal with being the Chosen One and getting all the attention himself.

Pam: Yeah. He still gets the spotlight sometimes, though, by proxy of all of these adventures. Anytime the trio saves the school, it’s never just Dumbledore only awarding Harry all of the glory. He always includes the other people that were players, right?

Andrew: That’s true. He is getting a taste.

Pam: So it’s not like a “None for Gretchen Wieners.”

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: It’s literally everybody that’s involved gets the spotlight. So yeah, it’s a very interesting take for him to have.

Micah: But for the most part, I think, at least at this stage, Ron feels like he plays second fiddle to Harry. And Hermione even brings up the fact of his brothers and how he’s also dealing with this at home, and now he has to deal with this at school. And this behavior doesn’t just happen in this book; we really see it come to fruition in Deathly Hallows.

Laura: Yeah, this is resonating with the Discord, too; LC is saying, “Ron is the Gail to Harry’s Oprah.”

[Andrew and Pam laugh]

Laura: LegalizeGillyweed said, “Always a bridesmaid,” a.k.a. never a bride. So yeah, I think we’re on to something here. But I do want to call out some of what Harry actually experiences in classes after being selected as the fourth champion. So there’s a connecting the threads moment I wanted to call out in Herbology, because in that lesson Ernie MacMillan and Justin Finch-Fletchley laugh unpleasantly when a bouncing bulb smacks Harry in the face, when two years ago these two actually distrusted Harry, believing that he was the Heir of Slytherin, and ended up having to apologize to him when they realized he wasn’t. So how quickly the tables have turned. [laughs] Again.

Pam: How quickly Harry forgets that they’re fickle, too, right?

[Andrew laughs]

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: And I think the reason this happens is in part because Harry is just so distracted, right? He’s not paying attention to the work that he’s doing and all of a sudden he gets hit in the face, and Ernie and Justin take advantage of the situation to make fun of him.

Laura: Then he’s even struggling in Charms, where they’re very conveniently learning Summoning Charms, and Harry is so distracted by everything going on this chapter that he’s really struggling picking up on Summoning Charms, and he gets assigned extra homework. The only other person in class who gets assigned extra homework is, of course, Neville. I always find it interesting how these two… we know they’re on parallel journeys, and one could have been the other, so it’s just interesting when we get these nods along the way of them experiencing similar story beats in their life, if you will. Even Hedwig is ticked off at Harry; he can’t use her to send owls to Sirius anymore, and when he tells her that… she literally lands, stretches out her leg, and is like, “Here, I’ll take your letter, Dad.” And he was like, “No, I can’t use you,” and she’s ticked off at him. I mean, I get it. It’s not even just this; he’s been kind of a jerk to her for a couple chapters now, so it’s justified, right, Andrew?

Andrew: Yeah, and Harry could’ve just said, “Hey, this is for your safety too. This isn’t just for the security between me and Sirius. We’ve got to protect you; you could be intercepted and killed!”

Laura: Too soon.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: It is not too soon. [laughs]

Laura: And then the real, I think, blow comes with the buttons that the Slytherin students are wearing. Harry encounters them in Double Potions with the Slytherins; it’s those buttons that say “Support Cedric Diggory, the real Hogwarts champion,” and when they press them, the text changes to “Potter stinks.” [laughs] How rude.

Andrew: Again, mass scale bullying that this was allowed to be dispersed amongst the students and not stopped. I’m thinking ahead, too; was this ever stopped? I don’t think so.

Laura: No.

Andrew: It’s sad.

Micah: Cedric is the one who really steps in, right?

Laura: Yeah.

Andrew: But no professor, and that’s disappointing. I mean, we can imagine here in the Muggle world, if this type of thing was going on, faculty would be doing something about it.

Micah: Especially in this day and age. Somebody brought up earlier how this is happening in the ’90s, and certainly… let’s just think about… we’re going to get to Snape’s behavior. That would be written up; Snape would probably be… good chance he gets fired for what he does. So things were much different in the ’90s than they are here in 2024. But the theme that’s running through here, though, is that Harry’s schoolwork is being impacted by how much he is being bullied. So I didn’t know if there’s anything else we wanted to say about that, because we know that you can make comparisons to real life situations where people are going through bullying and it impacts their job, it impacts their school life, and impacts their home life. And these are just two very small examples with Herbology and then with Charms, but it’s clear it’s having an impact on him.

Andrew: Yeah, and it has an impact on you long term, too, right? It could negatively impact your social skills later in life, how secure you are in yourself later in life… this stuff has a lasting impact.

Laura: At least he’s exempt from end of year exams?

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Pam: I was thinking about that too. I wonder if the faculty just doesn’t care because he doesn’t even have to sit for his exams anyway.

Andrew: Aww. But… oh, no.

Pam: That is very sad. I agree with you.

Andrew: Yeah. Well, then why should he be going through these classes at all?

Pam: Yeah, maybe they just think he’s coasting because of that, though. He’s like, “Okay.”

Andrew: Is this what it comes down to for the other students? They want to bully him because they’re jealous they don’t have to deal with final exams?

Pam: Well, Ron says that, right? In the previous chapter.

Andrew: Does he?

Laura: He does.

Pam: He’s like, “Oh, you don’t even have to sit for exams, and you could win money.”

Andrew: So is that the thinking amongst all students? I guess so. I guess that’s one factor.

Micah: Meanwhile, Neville just sucks at Charms. [laughs]

Pam: Poor Neville.

Laura: But see, Neville… see, here’s the thing: Harry right now is experiencing maybe a more mass scale version of what Neville deals with all the time, which explains why Neville does so poorly in a lot of his classes. If you had to live like that, of course it’s going to have an impact, just like you said, Micah. Since we’re in Potions, we have to talk about Harry and Draco trying to start an impromptu dueling club in the Potions classroom. So Draco calls Hermione a Mudblood, and Harry and Draco then proceed to attack each other. Their spells actually end up colliding in midair and they ricochet off each other and end up hitting Goyle and Hermione in the face. So the spell that Harry sent that ended up hitting Goyle in the face was Fernunculus, which is the pimple jinx; Goyle’s face erupts in these boils. And then the hex that Malfoy sent was the Densaugeo hex, which is a teeth enlargement hex. Comes from Latin; “dens” is teeth and then “augeo” is increase. So this is particularly, I think, adding insult to injury for Hermione, who has already been noted several times throughout this series as having larger than average front teeth, so this is just exaggerating something that she’s probably already been teased for before.

Andrew: Yeah, and just the way Snape responds to this is really sickening.

Laura: Yeah, he basically tells Goyle, “Go to the hospital wing,” and when Ron is trying to show… is it Ron or is it Harry? One of them’s trying to show Snape, “Hey, look, he got Hermione, too.” And Snape looks at her – her teeth are down past her collar at this point – and Snape just says, “I don’t see a difference,” and Hermione runs off crying.

Andrew: Unreal.

Laura: I know. This is a 14-year-old girl.

Pam: It’s wild, yeah.

Laura: I would be traumatized.

Pam: The thing is, too, you expect him to say nasty things to Harry because he has… I guess you could argue he has a reason, right? He’s harboring ill intent.

Laura: Right.

Pam: But Hermione shows up to class, answers all of his questions… for all intents and purposes, he should be fine with her. So what is the point of him exacerbating the bullying in this instance? Because everyone’s already laughing at her too.

Micah: Yeah, he seems to have a really nasty spot for Hermione. I’m not sure why. I don’t know. Maybe it is because she’s Muggle-born that he has this… because let’s not forget, he was a Death Eater at one time, right?

Pam: But he’s also a half-blood.

Micah: Well, that didn’t stop Voldemort, either.

Pam: That’s true, but he should have some sympathy as a result. But it’s probably harboring some self-hatred there, right?

Andrew: Yeah, she’s guilty…

Pam: Or maybe she reminds him too much of Lily.

Andrew: That’s what I was just going to say, yeah. Maybe there’s a little bit of that going on. We know that’s why he struggles with being nice to Harry, but also, Hermione is just guilty by association to Harry. She’s Harry’s friend, so that’s enough reason for Snape to get annoyed, unfortunately.

Micah: I mean, in today’s society that would have been recorded on a cell phone, Snape would have probably been suspended pending investigation…

Pam: That’s probably why there’s no cell phones allowed at Hogwarts.

[Andrew and Pam laugh]

Andrew: Well, yeah, and just… with a competent headmaster… sorry. You guys are starting to wear me down on Dumbledore.

Micah: Slowly.

Laura: Finally.

[Pam laughs]

Andrew: Somebody would have reported that, and there would have been some action.

Laura: We only had to get halfway through the series, but we’ve finally done it.

Andrew: That said, does this ever get back to Dumbledore? Probably not. A student needs to take this to McGonagall or Dumbledore. Harry could have done it, Ron, Hermione…

Pam: It’s interesting she doesn’t do it, because she also… I know this is getting ahead, but if you look at even what happens in Order of the Phoenix, she’s encouraging Harry to tell an adult, and she clearly is not taking her own advice at this point, so that to me is interesting as well.

Laura: Oh, I didn’t think about that. That is so interesting.

Micah: In the Discord, Becky said, “I wonder what Dumbledore or McGonagall’s reaction would have been if they had overheard Snape saying that.” We do get a bit of McGonagall in the… was it the previous chapter? When Snape starts throwing shade at Harry, she throws him a look. So I just don’t think Snape would have likely said that if either of those two were present. He knows better.

Laura: Yeah, I think you’re right. He probably would have just said nothing in response to that and tended to Malfoy and Goyle and ignored the Gryffindors and let McGonagall deal with them.

Micah: I’m wondering now too, though, do you think he’s maybe in the back of his mind playing out the whole Malfoy/Mad-Eye situation and saying, “One of mine got taken advantage of, so in this situation I’m just going to be a complete asshat to Hermione”?

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: True. I also just find this – a little bit of a tangent – but I find the choice in attack very interesting here, because you would think that somebody like Malfoy who has these dark allegiances that he claims to have would come up with something a little bit more serious than a teeth enlargement hex. I think it’s really funny that Harry is like, “Pimples!” And then Malfoy is like, “Oh, yeah? Well, I’m going to make your teeth big!”

[Andrew and Pam laugh]

Pam: Well, I don’t know how you all imagined this reading it for the first time, but the idea of this was really terrifying to me because I always thought that the teeth are growing curved, and so it’s like, would they at some point grow big enough to puncture her neck?

Laura: Oh my God.

Andrew: Eww.

Laura: I didn’t think about that. I thought about it like walrus teeth; you know how they grow out really long and straight?

Pam: I mean, that makes so much more sense. I don’t know. I guess had a very colorful imagination as a child, but I always thought that maybe…

Laura: But some animals’ teeth do grow like that.

Pam: I guess it was because they describe them like a beaver, right? And beavers’ teeth are kind of curved, so all I could imagine was the teeth curving towards at least her breastbone.

Laura: That is even scarier.

Andrew: Yeah, this is freaking me out.

[Laura laughs]

Pam: I’m telling you, I was really disturbed reading this as a child.

[Andrew and Pam laugh]

Laura: Well, Harry definitely feels some kind of way about this too. And Pam, earlier on in the episode, you said Harry has some evil thoughts this chapter. We’re about to get into one of those. There’s this part right after the events of this ricochet of hexes and jinxes onto Goyle and Hermione where Harry and Ron both get detention and both get points taken from Gryffindor because they’re yelling very colorful things at Snape in protest of what he’s done. Harry thinks, “If only he knew how to do the Cruciatus Curse… he’d have Snape flat on his back like that spider, jerking and twitching…” And for this, I’ve got to ask a “What if?”

[“What if?” sound effect plays]

Andrew: We have sound effects here, Pam.

[Everyone laughs]

Pam: It’s so exciting. Wow.

Laura: So what if Harry knew how to do the Cruciatus Curse? Is he actually angry enough in this moment to mean it?

Micah: I think he’s angry, but I don’t know that he’s mature enough to cast this spell. And I’m just thinking about Order of the Phoenix as a reference point; Bellatrix only experiences what’s referenced as a brief moment of terrible pain. And this was after she murdered Sirius right in front of Harry, so if in that moment, all Harry can do is give her five seconds of pain, I don’t think Snape’s treatment of Hermione is enough for him to really cast a meaningful Cruciatus Curse against Snape. However, I do think it’s interesting he’s already thinking about using spells that Moody taught him just a couple chapters ago. [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, and I just think he would need the courage and the focus to do this on a professor. And this would be a huge deal if he conducted an Unforgivable Curse on a professor; he could potentially be expelled for this. What’s his line of attack on Snape after the fact? Like, “Oh, he insulted Hermione”? That’s not enough to make the Cruciatus Curse okay.

Pam: Aren’t they illegal too? Does he go to the equivalent of juvie for the wizarding world for this?

Laura: Right, you would think so.

Andrew: And let alone on a professor. Like, oh my God.

Pam: Right.

Laura: But two chapters ago, a professor was teaching these curses openly to fourth year students and nothing happened.

Andrew: Yeah, but that was for educational purposes, so it’s okay.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: I’m sure whatever gets flagged at the Ministry when those curses are used come with notations of what the intent was. Like, “This was purely educational; I only killed a spider. No biggie.”

[Andrew and Pam laugh]

Micah: I also think it can be really bad for Harry in the moment, too. Let’s not forget Snape is a Legilimens and an extremely well-accomplished wizard. If he even senses that that’s coming, his reaction in that moment could be very, very bad for Harry.

Andrew: Yeah, acting in self defense, for sure.

Micah: And he would like nothing better, I’m sure.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. In a way, it’s almost like he’s tempting Harry, like he wants Harry to lash out. He thinks he’s just as irresponsible as James. Well, speaking of major mistakes, we are going to discuss Rita Skeeter in one moment, but first we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll Floo right back.

[Ad break]

Laura: Well, we’re back, and the beetle has landed, which means we are going to talk about Rita Skeeter. But first, just need to give a quick shout-out to Colin Creevey here, because he actually comes and fetches Harry right in the nick of time to get him out of Double Potions and this really contentious encounter with Snape to go off for a champions photoshoot. And I wanted to ask, who remembers Nigel from the Goblet of Fire movie? He was the composite replacement for Colin and Dennis Creevey. Do you remember him? That little blonde kid that was bringing people stuff and taking Harry places?

Micah and Pam: Yeah.

Andrew: Ohh.

Pam: He was like, Ron’s secretary, right? Yes.

Andrew: Ron’s secretary.

[Andrew and Pam laugh]

Andrew: And he’s in Order of the Phoenix.

Laura: Yep. Yeah, I mean, he basically replaces the Creevey brothers. We don’t see Colin Creevey after the second movie.

Andrew: Why is that, I wonder?

Laura: Probably because it was just cleaner from a writing perspective to have one character serve this function. I don’t know why it couldn’t have just been Colin, though.

Andrew: Right.

Laura: They could have left Dennis out entirely.

Andrew: Maybe Hugh Mitchell, the actor, wanted too much money or something.

[Laura and Pam laugh]

Andrew: Did he get himself in trouble? I don’t know. This is surprising.

Pam: They were budget cuts at Hogwarts. [laughs] They couldn’t afford.

Andrew: They managed to hang on to every major actor except for Hugh Mitchell for some reason.

[Pam laughs]

Andrew: Well, I guess they weren’t… they held on to the major actors but couldn’t hang on to Hugh Mitchell for Colin Creevey.

Pam: That’s why, because they had to hold on to the main actors. [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, “We don’t have any more money for you, Hugh. Sorry.”

Laura: Bring in Nigel. Well, Harry arrives at this champions’ gathering for a photoshoot, but he is pretty quickly whisked away by Rita Skeeter, who we’ve heard a lot about in this book, but we’re actually seeing her for the first time now. And she settles in with him for a cozy interview in a broom cupboard. Why?

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Micah: Why not?

Andrew: Well, I think it’s because by taking him away from the others, she gets to interview him in private and write whatever she wants, and then nobody will be able to say, “Hey, Harry didn’t say that. Harry didn’t cry.” There’s no proof other than Harry’s word that her reporting is inaccurate.

Micah: And I would have to assume that a broom cupboard is somewhat traumatic or triggering for Harry to have this kind of conversation in, especially given what they’re about to talk about. I’m sure maybe not in this moment, but later he’s having flashbacks to living under the stairs at Number Four Privet Drive.

Pam: Yeah. And I feel like this is one of the moments when the movie-ism does a really good job of literally telling us this, because the actress that plays Rita Skeeter says, “You should feel right at home” when they get into the broom cupboard.

Laura: [gasps] I forgot about that.

Andrew: Oh, yeah. [laughs]

Laura: Oh my God.

Micah: That’s a really good call-out.

Laura: Well, Pam, you are a journalist, so I’m very curious for your take on Miss Rita Skeeter here.

Pam: [laughs] I mean, I don’t claim her, if that’s what you’re asking.

Laura: [laughs] No, not at all. I’m curious for your view on this brand of journalism, because unfortunately, journalists like this do exist. I mean, we’ve talked before about how Rita Skeeter is really most likely a representation of the British tabloids.

Pam: I think you’re right. And the tabloid culture in the UK specifically is way different than what we experience here in the United States, so I think that’s probably a good reason why this is the particular representation that we get in the books. But it’s interesting because we also don’t hear about a lot of other publications in the wizarding world as part of the series, so we’re led to believe that the Daily Prophet is fairly reputable as a result of the fact that that’s the newspaper that most students get brought in. But then if you have somebody like Rita Skeeter that is contributing, at the very least, to the publication, it sort of ruins the credibility. But I mean, I guess at the end of the day, that sets up things very nicely for how we see the reputability of the Daily Prophet progress as we get further and further into the series, because they slowly start becoming more of a propaganda newspaper than an actual reliable piece of news.

Andrew: And on a related note, isn’t it shocking, Pam, that Rita doesn’t seemingly have an editor at the Prophet to fact check her? I mean, she’s getting names wrong, too, in previous articles in this book.

Pam: Yeah. The name wrong thing, it makes my eye twitch only because back when I was still going to school for journalism, you could fail out of a class for getting names wrong.

Andrew: Oh, wow.

Pam: It was an automatic zero, because they really wanted to drive in the fact that it’s very important to get names right whenever you’re reporting on anything, at the very least.

Andrew: Yeah, because if you can’t get that right, what else is wrong in this article?

Pam: I know someone who failed a midterm because they misspelled Gavin Newsom’s name.

Andrew: Ohh.

Pam: It was a policy in the department, yeah. And that was like a cold shower for everyone that was in school at the time, because yeah, they took that very seriously. So it’s wild to me that she was just like, “Who cares? Let’s just spell the names of the other champions however I want.”

Laura: Not at the Daily Prophet. They don’t care.

Micah: No. Well, Rita sells papers; I think that’s really what it comes down to at the end of the day. We can talk about morality or journalistic integrity, but as Pam just mentioned, we see the Daily Prophet slowly slip into becoming a mouthpiece for the Ministry in later books, so this should give us a taste of what to expect from them moving forward. And I’ve always kind of seen Rita as… I don’t know, is she a freelancer? I don’t really think she’s on staff. She reminds me almost of somebody who would be an op-ed journalist for a major paper, and maybe that’s why she’s not held in check as much.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Andrew: I guess so. But still, the Prophet‘s reputation is on the line, so they have every reason to be editing her or making sure her articles are accurate. But yeah, like you said, she does sell papers, seemingly, and so I guess the Prophet feels stuck. But as we’re also saying here, this is an early warning sign of corruption at the Prophet and the Ministry.

Micah: This might be going a step too far, but I could almost see Rita as somebody who has dirt on somebody high up in the Daily Prophet

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Micah: … just given the type of journalism she is known for, and she uses that to her advantage to continue to write for them.

Andrew: I like that.

Laura: Yeah. She has compromising pictures of someone.

[Andrew and Pam laugh]

Andrew: Ohh, Fudge. Definitely Fudge.

Micah: And it could be Ludo.

Andrew: Oh, Ludo too. Yeah, Ludo is always down for a party.

[Laura and Pam laugh]

Laura: Well, during their broom cupboard interview, Rita tries to goad Harry into admitting he entered his name for the tournament. And all the while, her quill is actively embellishing their conversation, and she’s speaking so fast and changing the subject so much, it’s clearly disorienting for Harry, and that feels intentional. It feels like the choice of setting, the rapid fire questions, the Quick Quotes Quill, all of it is designed to knock Harry off his game.

Pam: She’s asking very leading questions, too. They’re all designed for him to just kind of say, “Yeah, I guess,” and then she can say, “Well, he agreed to my specific phrasing, so now I can quote him as using that phrasing, even if he didn’t say it, so…”

Laura: Yeah. And he’s not in the right frame of mind for this anyway, right, Micah?

Micah: No, I think we saw that earlier on in the chapter just with how he’s not performing up to his usual standards in class. And now he gets called away and thrown into this photoshoot, and there’s Rita; Ludo offers him up no problem. So going off of our conversation from last week, if we’re looking at the suspect list, this is somewhat of a suspect move on the part of Ludo. I know Ludo wants to make this the biggest thing following the Quidditch World Cup, but it seems a little bit suspicious, right? Like, “No problem, you can have the Chosen One, you can sit down and interview him, you can leave the room with him…”

Andrew: Exactly, in private. “Take him away to wherever you want for as long as you want.” Normally, people get media training so they figure out how to handle the press. There’s a limited amount of time that they have with the person so they can’t ask too many questions.

Micah: Yeah, and…

Andrew: But also… go ahead.

Micah: No, I think that also speaks to the maturity level, too, of these contestants, right? We talk about are they prepared from a competition standpoint, but are they also prepared for things like this? Harry is very young, whereas the other three are several years older than him, and I’m not saying they’ve had media training, but they wouldn’t just walk off with Rita into a private broom cupboard to have a conversation, nor would they probably put up with a lot of what she’s throwing out there.

Pam: Well, and technically, they’re of age, too, right? 17 is how old you have to be to enter, and so they’re all 17; that’s the legal age. So I think that this is a prime example of how Harry gets lost in the crossfire of all of that as a result of just not needing to be there in the first place. He shouldn’t have been allowed to enter, and he also, unfortunately, does not have an adult to take care of him. Nobody at home… the Dursleys are not going to object to a smear campaign in the paper.

Micah: They’d love it. [laughs]

Pam: Yeah, they’d be like, “We always knew he was rotten.” I think there’s a couple of different things at play here.

Micah: And I’ll just throw this out there. Maybe it was the way it was written – and it’s not just these two; there’s another pair coming up a little bit later on – but I thought maybe something’s going on between Ludo and Rita.

Andrew: Really.

Laura: What makes you think that?

Micah: It was just the way it was written, the way that they were talking to each other when Harry first comes in and then all of a sudden Ludo is more than game to just offer Harry up to her.

Laura: Interesting. At the very least, there’s a conflict of interest one way or another.

Andrew: Yeah. Or maybe Rita has something on Ludo, so Ludo has to be extra nice to her and she just leans into it for her own personal enjoyment.

Laura: Or both.

Andrew and Pam: Yeah.

Andrew: LegalizeGillyweed said their new ship is Rudo.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: I love that. Well, fortunately for Harry, things don’t go too far before Dumbledore finally comes to the rescue. Thanks for showing up, man. I do wonder how Dumbledore knew exactly where Harry and Rita were. Maybe he has some Dumbledore-esque version of the Marauder’s Map…

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Laura: … where he can detect where people are at all times, and he sees Harry Potter and Rita Skeeter practically on top of each other in this broom cupboard.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: That would be cause for alarm.

Laura: Yeah, he’s like, “I gotta go.”

Pam: He can see through the Invisibility Cloak, right? He can see through the cloak, so maybe he can see through walls. Who knows?

Laura: Right. Well, we get a blast from the past when Harry gets back to the photoshoot event. Mr. Ollivander is there, and it’s because he is going to be performing the weighing of the wands, which is to evaluate the conditions of the champions’ wands to make sure that they’re in proper condition in order for the champions to compete with those wands. Is it a conflict of interest that only a British wandmaker is performing this evaluation? Two out of the four wands are not created in Britain.

Andrew: So I could see why it could be, but two things here: Perhaps this speaks to how Ollivander is respected on the wizarding world stage, and another factor is maybe Ollivander was selected as evaluator in advance of the school signing on to the Triwizard Tournament, so they knew that he would be the one doing the inspections, and so that’s why Maxime and Karkaroff aren’t surprised to see him there. But that said, given the surprise of Harry’s name coming out of the Goblet and accusations being floated that the game was rigged, it’s actually kind of surprising that Karkaroff and Maxime don’t raise any concerns, in light of what happened with the Goblet.

Micah: It is happening at Hogwarts, though, and so that’s where my head went. He is the most renowned British wandmaker. Who else would you have in this situation?

Andrew: Yeah, hosting country gets to have their wandmaker.

Micah: Yeah, exactly. It’s the host school.

Andrew: That makes sense to me.

Laura: But he talks smack about Viktor and Fleur’s wands. He makes a couple of…

Micah: Just a little gamesmanship.

Laura: Yeah, a couple of salty comments.

Andrew: Weren’t Dumbledore and Ollivander talking before Ollivander came down? So Dumbledore was probably encouraging him to [imitating Dumbledore] “Talk a little smack, just a little bit; just get them riled up for me, please?”

[Laura and Pam laugh]

Andrew: “I love when that kind of thing happens.”

Laura: Well, we learn a little bit more about the other three champions through hearing more about their wands, but we do get confirmation that Fleur is part Veela. Her wand core is a single Veela hair, and in fact, it is one of her grandmother’s hairs. So that, I thought, was just an interesting piece of color to put in the story, because I don’t think we ever see anybody else in this series with human hair – or I don’t want to say Veelas aren’t human, but to say humanoid hair – in their wand core, do we? She’s the only one.

Micah: Believe so.

Pam: I’m mostly just curious about how that happens. Do they just custom make a wand?

Laura: I guess so.

Pam: I mean, in their case, then, the wand does not choose them. Right?

Andrew: Oh.

Laura: Yeah. And Ollivander does say that Veela hair as a wand core can make a wand very temperamental, which I think is intended to be a reflection on Fleur’s character, fair or unfair. I mean, we’ve also established that there’s definitely some xenophobia in the characterizations of French characters and Eastern European characters happening in this book. So we also get a little bit of a foreshadowing alert.

[Foreshadowing sound effect plays]

Micah: Pam, do you like it’s like an ice cream truck and then a cuckoo clock?

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: It’s like something you would hear in a Simpsons video game.

Pam: Sounded like I was in Disneyland.

[Andrew and Pam laugh]

Laura: So we get another info dump; I know we’ve been chatting about these as they’ve come up. We got a really detailed description of the night Harry’s parents died and the order in which they died, which becomes really important later on. But we also get an info re-dump reminding us of the relationship between Harry and Voldemort’s wands. Harry thinks that he’s “very fond of his wand, and as far as he was concerned, its relation to Voldemort’s wand was something it couldn’t help,”, just like him. He just doesn’t know that he’s making the connection. He’s connecting the threads and he doesn’t even know it.

Micah: Yeah, I would have never remembered this moment either. But certainly now, reading the chapter again, knowing what’s coming at the end of this book, it’s super important that this is brought up here.

Andrew: Definitely. And it is stated here that Ollivander “spent much longer examining Harry’s wand than anyone else’s,” and I was wondering if maybe this is concern from him or Dumbledore. Remember, I mentioned a few minutes ago that Dumbledore and Ollivander were talking privately. Maybe this is concern from one of them that someone is rigging Harry’s wand in light of what happened with the Goblet, and other concerns, other hijinks that have been afoot around the wizarding world. Or maybe Ollivander is simply just thinking back to his meeting with Harry in Diagon Alley.

Micah: The other thing, too, is Ollivander goes into much more detail on the other three wands, whereas with Harry’s, I’m curious if Dumbledore gave him instructions not to talk loudly about the history of the wand and what’s at its core, because even Harry notes that that would be a story in and of itself. And if you have Rita in the room, and she decides, “Oh, I’m going to run with this story, Harry and Voldemort’s wands share the same core,” can you imagine? That would have been front page news.

Andrew: Yeah. “Is Harry the new Voldemort?”

Micah: Right.

Pam: They might have also just thought that of course this is why Dumbledore is letting Harry compete, because doesn’t the phoenix feather come from Fawkes, right? Who’s owned by Dumbledore, so there’s another connection there.

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Pam: And so I don’t know; maybe he’s just trying to cut Harry some slack.

Micah: That would be another juicy nugget.

Laura: Oh, yeah. That would be another reason for Karkaroff and Madame Maxime to call this whole thing as rigged. Like, “Hogwarts gets two champions, one of the two champions has a wand core that actually came from Dumbledore’s own phoenix… it’s rigged.”

Pam: He’s been planning this for 14 years. [laughs] However old Harry is in Goblet of Fire.

Laura: Yeah. [laughs] Stop the count. Yeah, and the chapter ultimately ends with Harry receiving a reply from Sirius, so we’ll pick up next chapter and see what the results of that communication are going to be.

Andrew: All right, we have some Odds and Ends, including a little more on the Quick Quotes Quill, but first, we’re going to take a quick break, and we’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Odds & Ends

Laura: All right, so I have a question: How does the Quick Quotes Quill work? And I don’t know how to ask this without it sounding suggestive, so I apologize…

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: … but it is noted that every time Rita uses this thing, she has to suck on the tip of the quill before she can use it. And I don’t get it.

Andrew: It is a gross visual. It reminds me of someone dipping a quill in ink; maybe that’s what Rowling was going for here. It’s like what she has to do to activate it, and I’m also wondering if it becomes loyal to whoever sucks it? [makes a disgusted sound]

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: It’s just gross.

Micah: No, I think there’s something to that. It’s almost like it’s taking a part of her into the quill so that it… to your point, it’s a loyalty factor, right? It’s going to then write on her behalf what’s inside of her mind.

Andrew: Yeah, inside of her mind and favorably towards Rita. Case in point, the quill’s reporting calls Rita an attractive blonde. [laughs]

Pam: Well, maybe that’s how she perceives herself, right?

Andrew: Right.

Pam: So to Micah’s point, that’s what I was thinking, too, is that maybe it pulls her own train of thought. Because then if not, it’s basically like the equivalent of AI writing your article for you.

Laura: Oh, she would totally use ChatGPT.

[Andrew laughs]

Pam: Yeah, probably. [laughs] But that would make sense to me.

Laura: Yeah, that makes sense. I feel a little bit better about this now. When it was mentioned twice in the same chapter, I was like, “This makes me uncomfortable,” especially with the broom cupboard and… bleh.

Micah: Well, when you’re relying on me to keep it clean, you know there’s a problem.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Well, yeah, that’s true. And that was the other thing, Micah; I was like, “Not to be too delicate about it, but I don’t know how to ask this question without it turning into a gutter conversation,” so I appreciate everyone for being adults about this. [laughs]

Andrew: I was tempted to try and replicate the sound, what that must sound like when she’s sucking the quill…

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Noo!

Andrew: But yeah, the people who hate ASMR would never listen to the show again, I think.

Micah: Well, I can take it into a slightly more… not dirty, but a more mature direction here with Fleur and Cedric, because it seems like there’s some flirting going on here. And I don’t know if it’s just gamesmanship on the part of Fleur to try and use her looks to maybe falsely lure Cedric into… I don’t know what she’s trying to lure him into, but use your mind.

Andrew: Maybe focusing less on the tournament.

Micah: Less focus, yeah.

Laura: Or maybe she just likes him.

Pam: Yeah, he is described as handsome.

Micah: Yeah, they’re both attractive, so yeah.

Andrew: Who doesn’t love Edward Cullen?

Laura: [laughs] Doesn’t she try to turn on her charm to get him to ask her to the Yule Ball later on in the story?

Pam: Oh, does she? Interesting.

Laura: Yeah, and I think she hits Ron with it, and then, remember, Ron then has his meltdown?

[Pam laughs]

Laura: Because he asks her.

Micah: Ohh.

Laura: So maybe that’s what she’s doing here. But honestly, I couldn’t really pick up any vibes from Cedric. I don’t know if he was picking up on it, if it was one-sided. Did anyone else have any feelings there?

Pam: Hard to tell, because he’s a Hufflepuff. He’s probably just nice to everyone.

Andrew: Aww.

Laura: And he is. Well, we also get a Gregorovitch mention. Gregorovitch is of course the wandmaker who made Viktor Krum’s wand, and this is a really important name when we get into the last book of this series, so stay tuned for that. And who had this Hogwarts Legacy nod?

Micah: So probably the most important thing that happens in the entire chapter…

[Laura laughs]

Micah: … when Harry and Hermione are going for their morning stroll, Harry tosses toast into the Black Lake and the giant squid chows down on it. And I thought that Hogwarts Legacy did a really nice job with this, because I didn’t choose Slytherin, but I believe it’s a Slytherin-specific task. Is that true?

Andrew: Maybe?

Laura: I didn’t get to do this.

Micah: I didn’t either. Or were you Slytherin, Laura?

Laura: No, I was Ravenclaw.

Micah: I was Ravenclaw. I think it’s only a Slytherin task.

Andrew: I was Slytherin. I guess that’s sort of ringing a bell. My clearest memory of the giant squid was when you’re doing the broom training, I guess it is, and you see the squid tentacles pop up, but…

Micah: Yeah, that you do see, but I think you have to leave toast for the giant squid.

Andrew: We’re getting yeses from people. Yeah. That’s fun. Did I do that? I guess I did.

[Andrew and Pam laugh]

Laura: Man, Ravenclaw didn’t get any cool House-specific challenges.

Micah: What did we get? Something in the Owlery, or…?

Laura: Yeah, it was just the Jackdaw mission.

Micah: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Laura: And they changed that mission slightly for each House. But when it came to little nods like this one, we didn’t get any of that, and I’m mad. [laughs]

Micah: No. I mean, Eric got to go to Azkaban with Hufflepuff.

Andrew: I watched that on YouTube. I was so curious.

Laura: Was it worth it? Should I replay as a Hufflepuff so I can experience it, or…?

Andrew: Eh, it’s okay. It wasn’t as detailed as you might think.

Micah: Don’t make yourself a Hufflepuff.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: I’ve been actually wanting to replay the game. I kind of miss it. Just replay from the start, but maybe a different House.

Laura and Micah: Me too.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: All right, well, that does it for the chapter, and now it’s time for MVP of the Week.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: I’m going to give it to Dumbledore for stepping into the Rita interview and being honest about how terrible her profile on him was in a previous piece. He says that piece was “enchantingly nasty… I particularly enjoyed your description of me as an obsolete dingbat.” [laughs]

Laura: These are the best Dumbledore moments, when he gets to be so charming, but also…

Andrew: Savage?

[Pam laughs]

Laura: … call somebody out, yeah. I’m going to give it to Krum, mainly because I see a lot of myself in him in the way he’s characterized as being surly, not wanting to be there, because frequently when I find myself at any kind of function like the one that they’re in this chapter, I don’t want to be there, so I identified with this, so Krum all the way.

Micah: I’m going to give it to Ollivander for his field work, and this is when he’s talking about Cedric’s wand. He mentions that he had to pluck a hair from the tail of a male unicorn, and he lived to tell the tale.

Laura: Good job.

Pam: And I’m going to give it to Hermione for being a good friend and also dealing with stupid boys, because that must have been really exhausting.

Laura: She’s not an owl.

[Andrew and Pam laugh]

[MVP of the Week music ends]

Micah: I’m wondering, now that I just said that, can we connect the threads between Cedric having a unicorn tail core of his wand and the unicorn that was killed in Sorcerer’s Stone?

Andrew: Oh, wow.

Laura: Aw, yeah, because they’re so pure.

Andrew: Yeah, we can connect that. Stitch that up.

Micah: We need a connecting the threads sound effect.

[Pam laughs]

Laura: We don’t have one. It needs to be like, a stringed instrument.

Pam: Like a little harp.

Andrew: Just somebody knitting.

[Laura and Pam laugh]

Andrew: Listeners, if you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can contact us by emailing or sending a voice memo recorded on your phone to, or you can contact us by using our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. Next week, we’ll have Chapter 19, “The Hungarian Horntail,” and then after that will be our Muggle Mail episode, Episode 650. Another landmark episode will be a mailbag episode. And we have a couple of guests we’re hoping to bring on in the next couple weeks as well, so stay tuned for some additional appearances.


Andrew: Now it’s time for Quizzitch!

[Quizzitch music plays]

Micah: Last week’s Quizzitch question: Rita Skeeter’s Quick Quotes Quill first describes her by using which adjective? And I think we mentioned this earlier; the correct answer is attractive. Andrew, would you like to do the honors for the first of last week’s winners?

Andrew: Yes, and the note here says “Must be read in Andrew’s Dumbledore impressionist voice.” And this winner was “Welcome, everyone, to the Die-Wizard Tournament!”

[Micah and Pam laugh]

Micah: How do I follow that? The rest of the winners included Insert attractive blonde joke here; Colonel Fubster; Call Me Neville; Elizabeth K.; Attractive brunette; Buff Daddy; Drarryfan1; Harry’s fourth year head lice; Jenn Penn; Katie from Hufflepuff; LC; MegaNerd Sarah; One of the ghosts of Harry’s past that caused his eyes to glisten…

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: … Professional Skrewt Walker… yeah, we didn’t talk about that in this chapter, but they do take the Blast-Ended Skrewts for a walk. Rita Rifle Skeeter; Robbie; Sir Kngofkngs; Snape’s best memory; That one scene of Voldemort’s foot caressing Cedric’s face…

[Laura and Pam laugh]

Micah: … The spiders in the broom cupboard embarrassed for Harry as they eavesdrop on the interview; and TofuTomTV. Next week’s Quizzitch question: This is a geography question, in no way shape or form really related to Harry Potter. In honor of next week’s “Hungarian Horntail” chapter, what is the capital of Hungary? And you can submit your answers by going to

Andrew: Pam, thanks for joining us. We can hear you with Laura and myself on Millennial every Wednesday. Anything else you want to plug?

Pam: I don’t think so. Come hang out with us on Millennial if you’re okay with listening to an explicit podcast – not for the kids – but we have a good time over there.

Andrew: We talk about politics, pop culture, the Millennial lifestyle, and yeah, it was great having you on today.

Pam: Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s always a good time.

Laura: And if you want to hang out with Pam again, she will be back a little bit later this month. Myself, Pam, Chloé, and Meg are going to come together again to do another installment of Girls’ Takeover MuggleCast in honor of Women’s History Month, so keep an eye on our social channels for scheduling around that. It’s going to be super fun. We had a lot of fun last time and we got a lot of really great feedback, so we wanted to do it again.

Andrew: Couple other reminders, visit for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. And if you enjoy MuggleCast and think other Muggle friends would, too, tell your friends about the show, and we’d also appreciate if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app. Also, we have our overstock store; we’ve got goods from MuggleCast and Millennial at You can get the Comfy Cozy Combo Pack, which are our beanie and socks at one reduced price. We have signed album art, we have adulting planners, we have wooden cars inspired by MuggleCast’s 16th birthday, we’ve got T-shirts, and more. Check it all out at And last but not least, this show is brought to you by Muggles like you; we don’t have any fancy corporate or network funding. We aren’t celebrities; we’re just proudly independent podcasters, so you can help us out. If you’re an Apple Podcasts user, you can tap into the show and then you can subscribe to MuggleCast Gold, which gets you ad-free early access to MuggleCast, plus two bonus MuggleCast installments every month, including the one that we’re recording shortly after this episode. And then there’s also, and you’ll get all the benefits of MuggleCast Gold, plus livestreams, our planning docs, the chance to co-host the show one day, a new physical gift every year, the MuggleCast Collector’s Club, a video message from one of the four of us… so many benefits at So that does it for this week’s episode. Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: I’m Laura.

Pam: And I’m Pamela.

Andrew: Bye, everybody.

Laura, Micah, and Pam: Bye.

Transcript #647


MuggleCast 647 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #647, Professor DUMB-ledore (GOF Chapter 17, The Four Champions)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: And this week, your Harry Potter friends are putting on their detective caps and trying to figure out who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire. And while we’re at it, can somebody please call Ron a wambulance, please? Today’s intro written by Micah; his opinions are not the… [laughs] blah, blah, blah.

Eric: The exclusive opinions of the rest of us.

Andrew: Do not represent. [laughs]

Eric: No, no, actually, I think this might be a unified front. Don’t we all agree Ron needs the wambulance?

Micah: That’s a hell of a welcome back, Andrew. I thought you would be a little bit nicer upon my return.

[Andrew makes exasperated noises]

Eric: Micah, do you need the wambulance?

Andrew: [laughs] Okay.

Eric: Wahhh…

Andrew: I’m just telling people who wrote the intro. Well, listeners, you’re all excited that Micah is back, right? We love hearing your feedback, especially when one of the hosts returns. Clearly, we all need a pat on the back when we take a week off and come back.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: But I saw this comment on Spotify this week. Potterhobbit wrote on our latest episode, “By far one of the funniest, most laugh out loud episodes I’ve heard in a good while. I may have to listen again because I laughed through parts of the discussion. Also, James Durbin’s single is FIRE!” So thanks, Potterhobbit, for sharing that feedback.

Eric: This was the feedback for the episode that Micah was not on.

Andrew: Right. [laughs]

Eric: Excellent.

Micah: Well, look, only the best can sit in my shoes when I’m not here.

Andrew: There you go. Micah always brings the lols.

Micah: James was great.

Laura: Yeah.

Andrew: He was.

Micah: I really enjoyed him on the show.

Andrew: Spotify users, you can tap into an episode and you’ll see a box asking “What did you think of this episode?”, and then we’ll get that feedback. And we can actually publish it to the episode page, which is really cool, so I published that comment from Potterhobbit. So if you use Spotify, please do drop us some feedback that way. If you’re not on Spotify, or if you are and you want to reach out to us a different way, you can always record a voice memo on your phone and send that to Or you can write to the same email address, and then there’s also a feedback form on Or you can use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. 1-920-368-4453. And speaking of feedback, it’s been quite a few minutes, but we will finally have a Muggle Mail episode on March 19. We will be recording it March 14, so if you have any feedback about anything, send it on in now and we might include it on that Muggle Mail episode.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: All right, without further ado, it’s time for Chapter by Chapter, and we’re discussing Chapter 17 of Goblet of Fire, “The Four Champions.” And we’ll start with our Seven-Word Summary.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Eric: Cedric…

Micah: … fails…

Andrew: … to…

Micah: … be… oh, sorry, I cut off Laura.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: We can go with “be.” That’s fine.

Micah: … the…

Laura: … only…

Andrew: … champion!

Eric: Oh, Cedric fails? I was setting it up so high.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: Cedric fails to live by the end of the book.

Eric: Aww.

[Laura laughs]

Micah: Yeah, I wasn’t going in that direction. That’s a little dark.

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Micah: We wanted to start off with a little bit of fun here, the first discussion being, “Who put your name in the Goblet of Fire, Harry?” And we know that this is really one of the moments from the films that grinds fans’ gears to no end…

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: … because Dumbledore rushes into the trophy room, throws Harry up against the trophy case, and screams like Dumbledore has never screamed before.

[Andrew yells an incomprehensible imitation of Michael Gambon’s “Did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?”]

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: And I don’t… are people actually mad? It’s just turned into a meme at this point, and it’s a very good meme.

Eric: Well, no, I’m still mad, Andrew. I would call this moment divisive, but I’ve actually never met anybody that actually thinks it’s a good decision that was… it was certainly a decision that was made for the film adaptation.

Andrew: True.

Eric: But who thinks that this is okay, honestly?

Andrew: No, it’s not. And I think one reason it’s not okay is because… I’ll quote the book now.

“Dumbledore was now looking down at Harry, who looked right back at him, trying to discern the expression of the eyes behind the half-moon spectacles.

‘Did you put your name into the Goblet of Fire, Harry?’ He asked calmly.”

And I think this can be read in a way that suggests that Dumbledore is reading his mind, and this is why he trusts Harry’s answer when Harry says no. But in the film, if Dumbledore is raging, can he really read Harry’s mind in that moment? It’s probably more difficult to when you’re having a panic attack.

Eric: No, the way that the movie Dumbledore gets results is by physically demanding and threatening and being a threatening presence. It’s the exact opposite of Dumbledore in this book.

Andrew: Right.

Micah: I will say that I always felt the reason behind it was to convey the severity of what had just happened.

Laura: Yeah.

Eric: You don’t need to tell Harry that. Harry thinks he’s going to get creamed.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Yeah, but… look, first off, this may be the one and only time we don’t throw shade in the direction of David Yates, because he did not direct this film, so we can’t blame him for Dumbledore’s actions here.

Eric: Oh, Yates gets the reprieve.

Micah: But it’s a very intense moment. And Andrew, I think you wanted us all to do our best Michael Gambon impersonations. How did we interpret this moment?

Andrew: So we’re all going to take turns doing our best reading of this line as it should be in, let’s say, the TV show. Does anybody want to go first?

Laura: Oh, so we’re not doing wrong answers only? Because I was prepared for wrong answers only.

Andrew: Do a wrong answer. I’m preparing a goofy answer, of course, so…

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: So I’m imagining chaos-loving Dumbledore. [said like a gossiping American teenage girl] “Did you put your name into the Goblet of Fire, Harry?”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Gossip queen Dumbledore. [laughs]

Laura: And then he’s like, “XOXO.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: A big ol’ wink. I’m going to try and do it the way that I think Gambon should have delivered the line, okay? [said calmly but seriously] “Harry, did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire? Did you ask another student to do it for you?”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: “No, sir.” “I see. Thank you, Harry. Go stand over there with the others.”

Andrew: Eric just turned on the acting. That was good. Damn.

Eric: I feel like that’s calmly!

Andrew: That’s calmly, yes.

Micah: Yeah, that was very good.

Eric: It’s not like he’s not present in the moment. He’s absolutely… you can be present in the moment without throwing a student against a damn bookcase.

Andrew: Yes, right. Exactly. I can go next. And I actually have Dumbledore’s half-moon spectacles here, so to assume the role fully, I’ll put them on.

Laura: Oh, man.

Eric: Oh, it’s perfect.

Andrew: Yeah, I bought these months ago and I’ve yet to actually use them.

Eric: You know when Andrew brings props to a MuggleCast recording, it’s about to get lit.

Andrew: [laughs] I have this and the Trelawney glasses on standby for any moment.

Eric: Oh, it’s perfect.

Andrew: Okay, so this is what I’m sort of thinking. [laughs] Like, [said in a grown-up friendly way] “So uh, look, Harry, I got a little Q for you. A little question. I’m kinda a bit goblet-curious right now. I was wondering, buddy boy, did you maybe put your name in the ol’ gob-gob over there when no one was looking? Huh? What do you think? Huh?”

Laura: That was very good.

Eric: The ol’ gob-gob?

Micah: The gob-gob.

Eric: Harry, buddy boy.

Andrew: The gob-gob. He’s trying to be friendly and cool.

Laura: Yeah, no, it definitely is giving, like, “Hello, fellow kids.”

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: That’s Dumbledore trying to be like the cool youth pastor talking to Harry right now. [laughs]

Andrew: “Just let me know. We’re buds, we’re buds. You can be honest.”

Eric: “You know who else had an important cup, Harry? The Lord.”

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: Lord Voldemort.

Andrew: Like, “Jesus?” Oh.

Eric: Jesus had an important cup. Anyway.

Andrew: Micah, what do you got for us?

Micah: I almost see it as Dumbledore coming down and staring at Harry, but then all of a sudden, in walks Hagrid…

[Andrew gasps]

Micah: … and brushes Dumbledore aside, and says, [in a southern accent] “Harry, did you go put your name in the Goblet of Fire? I was just drinking out of that earlier and I didn’t see no paper in there.”

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Oh, you brought it back out.

Andrew: Hagrid is doing all of Dumbledore’s dirty work.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: So funny.

Eric: Who…? Does anybody else know… besides, obviously, those who’ve listened to southern Hagrid, but do we know that Micah has all these good accents in him?

Andrew: No. When they come out, it sure is a treat, though.

Micah: So which one do we think is most likely to happen on the TV show?

Andrew: Well, Eric’s for sure.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Well, thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ll accept my Emmy Award next coming season. No, I just think it’s the most likely. In fact, they’d better have a serious, calm version, because I need to see, before I die…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: … a live action Dumbledore who is not… this is on my bucket list. Number one item: see a Dumbledore who is collected, and everything is happening to him, but he’s taking it all in. And that’s the nature of Dumbledore in this chapter, is he’s collected. He may not be in control, but he’s just ruling out everything. “Harry, did you do this? No? Okay. Moving on.”

Andrew: Yeah. And trying to read his mind. Now I’m imagining visiting Eric on his deathbed in 50 years, and he’s like, “Andrew, it was so great doing MuggleCast with you for… for… for decades,” [laughs] “but we never got that calm Dumbledore, did we?”

Eric: “We never got it.”

Andrew: I’ll be like, “Eric, I brought my half-moon spectacles for this moment. I’ll do it for you in person one more time.”

Eric: Ohh!

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: And with his last breath, he hears me do my crappy Dumbledore impression. [laughs]

Eric: Oh, I love your Dumbledore. Your Dumbledore impression is probably my favorite thing, Andrew. It really is.

Micah: I thought you were going to say to him, Andrew, that he can debate it with Michael Gambon in just a couple of hours.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Wow. I will say, Andrew, for future half-moon glasses-wearing, I’ve learned that you actually don’t put them up on the top of your nose; you hang them off the bridge and look above them.

Andrew: Ohhh.

Laura: Right.

Andrew: Yeah, that changes everything.

Eric: Yeah, it’s kind of the surmise-y… yeah.

Andrew: Okay. Okay, I got you. Now I can actually wear these the whole episode and not be interrupted.

Eric: Are they blue light filtering?

Andrew: [laughs] Unfortunately not.

Eric: They should be.

Micah: Well, that was a lot of fun. We’re going to have some more fun right now, because the way I wanted to go about talking about this chapter was I thought we could analyze the suspects. Let’s take a look at how guilty we think some of these characters are that are in the room with Harry, and we could do this on a scale from one to ten after we go through each character. A scale of one to ten Fakeys? Is that the criteria we’re judging against here? [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, I put that in. One to ten Fakeys.

Micah: Okay. All right. Well, let’s start with suspect number one: Ludo Bagman. He is over the moon that Harry’s name has come out of the Goblet of Fire. He says it is “absolutely extraordinary,” it’s “amazing,” and there “can’t be any ducking out at this stage.” It’s “down to the rules,” and Harry is “obliged.” Now, there are a couple interesting moments with Bagman. He wipes his round, boyish face with his handkerchief; to me, this would imply that he was sweating during this whole exchange that’s going on. He defers to Barty Crouch, Sr. for the official decision, and the reason I think he does this is because he knows full well that his own word really doesn’t mean a damn thing, and that Crouch, his word, though, will be respected and accepted. Now, this other moment where things start to get a little bit suspicious is when Moody starts talking. Ludo starts looking very anxious; he’s bouncing nervously up and down on his feet. So he’s displaying a lot of actions and attributes of somebody who is hiding something, or somebody who is very nervous, very on edge, and his character changes throughout the course of this chapter, right? He’s super excited to start when it’s just him and Harry and he’s talking with Harry, but then when the adults come into the room, he gets a little bit on edge.

Eric: I think it’s clear that he’s probably the least likely to care if real danger comes to Harry. He does not see Harry as a person, or… he doesn’t think that it’s dangerous at all that this has occurred to a 14-year-old. He’s just seeing, I think, dollar signs, because he knows that Harry’s character is such that Harry will follow through on making it count. Being the champion, Harry is going to try. And I think Bagman knows that he can bet on Harry to be winning this thing, and then in that case, he gets to make some of the money back that… he’s very in the hole to the goblins.

Andrew: I was also thinking he’s thinking of it from a kind of circus perspective. By having a fourth champion, this is going to bring a lot more attention to the Triwizard Tournament, so that’s why he’s very excited about what’s going on. You described him having this excitement about him and him being impressed with what just happened, like he’s living through history right now.

Laura: I don’t know; maybe he views it as a positive distraction from the other issues that may come up in relation to how deep in the hole he is with the goblins. We know that he’s in a school right now with two students who he owes a lot of money to. He just came from standing in front of all of those students in the Great Hall and probably saw them. I think the Great Hall is described as being small enough that Dumbledore is able to directly make eye contact with certain students to impress a point upon them, so…

Eric: Actually, Laura, he just has his eye trained on the Weasley twins at all times.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: He knows where they’re seated.

Laura: At all times, that’s right. That’s right. And those half-moon spectacles just make it so much clearer.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: But anyway, I think it could be a combination of things. I think he probably is excited about it, but it could also serve as a nice distraction from the other drama that he has simmering beneath the surface.

Eric: Bagman is genuinely excited about this. He is a showman. He’s an ex-Quidditch player. He loves the attention and he loves just the showmanship of this, the razzmatazz, the razzle-dazzle that Harry is this cog in the works that nobody expected to be part of this tournament, and it’s just going to blow everybody’s mind, and that’s why he’s excited. So he’s really vamping, but he has the least amount of concern for Harry’s safety or what might be a cheating attempt. He’s just thrilled for Harry. So I would say his Fakey count of being a high suspect is pretty high.

Micah: Yeah. I think some of it may just have to do with the fact that in terms of his behavior, whether it’s the sweating or the bouncing up and down, is he really wants this to happen. And so with all these other adults around him talking about the possibility that maybe Harry doesn’t have to compete, he wants it to happen. And I feel like we’ve probably all been in those types of situations where it’s like, “Oh, I may not get what I want. I may not get what I want.” But he doesn’t want it because he wants Harry to die; he just wants Harry to compete, to your point, because it’s dollar signs. It’s media attention. This is the greatest thing that could have ever happened to the Triwizard Tournament, to your point, Andrew.

Andrew: Yeah. But on the scale of everybody we’re talking about today, the suspects, I’m going to put him around the five to six Fakeys, because others are going to score higher.

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: I’ve got to imagine for most people who would be reading this book for the first time, he would be pretty high on the suspect list because of his behavior.

Laura: Well, and also because he’s a new character, right? I think naturally, people’s attention tends to be drawn to newer characters. I think we see that with Karkaroff as well. But what I think is so interesting about this scene, no matter which way you slice it, is all the people who are in this room are people who have ties back to the first wizarding war, and it’s just extremely interesting to me to see all of these personalities in the same room, including Fakey, Professor Fakey, and the fact that he’s really the pinnacle of evil in this book, apart from Voldemort.

Micah: And before we move on to Karkaroff, let’s also not forget that Bagman was kind of at the scene of the crime for the Quidditch World Cup.

Laura: That’s right.

Micah: So you can make some connection of threads there that, well, he was the main guy there and look at what happened, and now he’s the main guy here and look at what’s happening. Trouble just seems to follow him everywhere that he goes.

Andrew: True.

Eric: That’s a great point. And he keeps on wanting to help Harry through the tournament as well, Bagmen in particular, and that could be shady. If we already don’t trust him, that can be pretty shady.

Andrew: And we are always suspicious of somebody who uses “Ahoy.”

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: Main suspect number two: Igor Karkaroff. He really does make the biggest stink out of everybody, and it’s said that he has a “steely smile,” but his eyes were “colder than ever.” And he addresses Dumbledore by saying, “We were under the impression that your age line would keep out younger contestants.” Now, we’ll get back to the age line in a minute because I think there’s a major loophole here that needs addressing. But Karkaroff throws out this resubmission proposal, and I thought, “What better way to mask your own guilt than by appearing to be fair and balanced?” He throws out this idea of having two champions, right? Hogwarts now has Cedric and Harry; it’s important that Beauxbatons and Durmstrang also have two now. And I think he’s trying to cast some suspicion away from himself. We know he’s a former Death Eater from having read through the series. With that in mind, who better to put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire than a former Death Eater?

Andrew: Is he almost calling Dumbledore’s bluff by saying, “Let’s go; let’s do this resubmission idea”? And he knows Dumbledore is going to say no, and then he’s deflecting by suggesting we do this to begin with.

Laura: I almost feel like Karkaroff is too obvious. If you watch a murder mystery movie, there’ll be that character that’s the red herring that they’re really trying to distract you with. I feel like that’s Karkaroff’s purpose here. So in terms of his purpose, I would definitely give him a high number of Fakeys, probably seven to eight. But in terms of being a critical reader, and a critical interpreter of any kind of media – I really like murder mystery as a genre – the character that seems the most likely to be guilty is never the one who did it, so I would remove him. But I will just add here, I had no idea who it was when I first read the book. I was 11, so I didn’t know.

Eric: I don’t recall really thinking through this this way, the way in which we’re doing it in this chapter. It’s very fun and very exciting. I just think I was like, “Wow, something’s happening.”

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: “Something sure is strange.”

Eric: “Something sure is amiss!” I was definitely not weighing the pros and cons and rating people on their Fakeys.

Andrew: If we only knew where we would be 24 years later. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, let’s go with that. Let’s go with that. I definitely also think that so much of what makes Karkaroff a likely culprit is not being discussed directly here. And we don’t know yet about his Dark Mark and his past history as a Death Eater. At this time, he is just the person who is the most butt-hurt that this occurred.

Andrew: Yeah, if we did know that at this point, we would probably be much more suspicious. The only other point I could bring up in terms of why we would suspect Karkaroff is because Moody and him had a bit of a riff the last chapter, which I think was trying to set us up being doubtful of Karkaroff. He’s blocking the door; Moody tells him to move. Moody clearly doesn’t like him, and if our boy Moody has a problem with him, then maybe we shouldn’t like him either.

Eric: That is exactly it. And Moody poisons the waters even further by coming in and talking to Karkaroff. He says that it’s convenient that this happened, don’t you think so, Karkaroff? I’m like, oh, so here we learn that it can’t just be that another student, as a prank, or that Harry himself, or somebody thought he could win it. Somebody could actually want him dead. And so the way that Moody phrases it and lobs that grenade at Karkaroff specifically and says, “Don’t you think it’s convenient that this happened?” is meant to convey that there is more to the story and that Karkaroff can have some evil intent, which we know, I mean, on paper, he certainly could want Harry dead.

Micah: It’s also very cool that we have this ex-Auror/ex-Death Eater exchange happening in this moment when these two things were relatively unknowns to us prior to this book.

Eric: Absolutely.

Micah: So that’s going on a little bit below the surface. But one thing Karkaroff does do, one thing he brings up is the age line, and this prompts Dumbledore to ask Harry if he had another student put his name in on his behalf. And I’m just wondering, is this actually possible?

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Because if it is, it is the single easiest way to break the rules. Fred and George could have just gone to a bunch of seventh years and said, “Hey, drop our names in the Goblet, please.”

Andrew: Paid them off.

Micah: Yeah, I mean, this can’t be possible, can it?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: It has to be possible, because that’s what Dumbledore is asking. I mean…

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, Dumbledore is basically confirming it’s possible.

Eric: Yeah, yeah. It’s the most easy way around it that Dumbledore, who drew up this age line using who knows what advanced magic, didn’t think about. It was too close. It was too obvious and too simple that Dumbledore didn’t think about it.

Andrew: Well, I guess maybe you would think, “Okay, if somebody does put in a name of another student who’s underage, we will find out who did it because we’ll ask that person whose name came out of the Goblet.” Also, what are the chances that somebody’s name is going to get pulled out of the Goblet? There’s a one in, what, hundred chance? I don’t know how many Hogwarts students enter. So there’s a thin chance that that person will even come out of the Goblet, but then once it does, you can interrogate that person and find out who put their name in. And then I guess maybe the students would hesitate from doing this because then they could potentially get in trouble at the school, so there’s unspoken reasons why you wouldn’t want to ask somebody to put your name in.

Micah: And you make a great point, Andrew, in terms of just how would it even be possible that Harry’s name would come out of the Goblet of Fire given all the other Hogwarts students names that likely would have been in there as well? But we’re going to talk about that with Mad-Eye Moody.

Andrew: Yes. And first, we are going to take a quick break, and then we’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Micah: All right, so our third and final main suspect – we’re going to talk about a few honorable mentions – is Mad-Eye Moody, and Moody essentially lays out how he did it right in front of everybody, including Dumbledore. Emphasis on the “Dumb” in Dumbledore…

[Laura laughs]

Micah: … because he doesn’t even pick up on it.

Andrew: Wow. You know what? Go miss another week of the show.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: We’ve finally reached that point where Micah and Andrew fight to the death over Dumbledore’s honor. Which, by the way, Dumbledore does not care.

Micah: I’m honestly surprised nobody has said that in the almost 20 year history of this show.

Andrew: Yeah, that is a good line. I’ll give that to you.

Micah: Now, he goes on to say someone put Potter’s name in knowing he would have to compete. A “skilled witch or wizard” put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire. It would take an “exceptionally strong Confundus Charm to bamboozle the Goblet into forgetting that only three schools compete in the tournament.” Potter’s name was submitted “under a fourth school, to make sure he was the only one in the category.” [laughs] He’s like, “Here. I’m going to tell you how I did it, but don’t look my way.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: He cannot help himself. He cannot help himself. This is so delicious to be in this room, rub it in everyone’s face while simultaneously pointing the blame at ex-Death Eaters that he has beef with, pretty much everyone in the room that has a legitimate grudge against Harry, like Snape. Deflecting the blame on himself while telling them exactly how he did it is top Barty Crouch, Jr. This is a top, top, top moment for me. It’s so cool.

Andrew: And just hiding in plain sight. Dumbledore trusts who he thinks is Moody; he sees no reason to suspect him. I think it’s kind of just as simple as that. He’s not necessarily “Dumb”-ledore.

Laura: No, but it is a very funny contrast, because I think we see Dumbledore quite a bit throughout the series being proud of his own cleverness, and we’re seeing Barty Crouch, Jr. do the exact same thing here. It’s just what he’s doing is malevolent. Dumbledore is a little bit more on the chess game of the greater good vibe, as we know.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, I guess if you were clever over in the woods over there but you don’t tell anybody about it, were you really clever? He’s got to tell everyone, right?

Laura: He’s leaving breadcrumbs all year, basically.

Eric: I mean, and a Confundus Charm; he actually names the bit of magic that he uses to do it. It’s just unbelievable. For his troubles – and I know we’ve been praising Barty Crouch, Jr. a lot this book so far – we finally have a sound effect that I think we should play when we give Barty a plus one, thumbs up, “Nice job, man.”

[Barty Crouch, Jr. appreciation sound effect plays: “You know what this means, don’t you? I’ll be welcomed back like a hero.”]

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: Good ol’ Fakey.

Micah: Yeah. It was also brought up about why Harry would do this; there’s a chance that he could die. And Moody responds by saying, “Well, maybe somebody is hoping Harry will die in this tournament.” So it’s just such a amazing bit of writing, but just also the character of Barty Crouch, Jr. here. We talked about it; his feelings towards Karkaroff are masked in a way, but they’re also real, right? It’s this split personality, almost. Do we label him a psychopath? Do we think that’s a fair way to look at Barty Crouch, Jr.?

Andrew: I think so, based on everything we’ve discussed so far.

Eric: Yeah, he has those tendencies. We don’t know his specific trauma. We do know he’s been in Azkaban, so that’ll make anybody a little crazy, a little unhinged.

Micah: The last thing with Moody I just wanted to talk about was, Karkaroff tells him that he seems to have given how all this happened a great deal of thought, and this is delivered in a way in the movie when you couple it with him swigging the flask every five seconds that you know something is up with with Mad-Eye, but here, I don’t know. I don’t find it as suspicious as it came across in the films. I was curious what you guys thought.

Laura: Yeah, I mean, they definitely tried to deflect using Karkaroff in the films. I mean, you even have that scene where you see him go into the Great Hall and close the doors at night, right?

Andrew: Right.

Laura: So I think they’re really trying to lean into stereotypical portrayals of what villains look like and sound like in movies oftentimes. So yeah, I think they were playing with that, absolutely. He’s also low-hanging fruit, too. When you think, who’s the most obvious person? It’s Karkaroff, which is why it’s not him. It’s never the most obvious person.

Eric: Well, sometimes if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, I like to believe that the duck did it…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: … but not on the media that you read, Laura.

Laura: No, not in any kind of mystery setting.

Eric: Yeah, that’s just in other circles. Well, my thing is, it’s such a weak retort for Karkaroff. He’s like, “Oh, sounds like you’ve given this a lot of thought.” He’s an Auror! That’s what he’s supposed to do. There’s a mystery, he’s a detective, he detects. It’s just such a weak retort that it… actually, I think Karkaroff saying that makes Karkaroff look guiltier than if he had not said it.

Andrew: I will just also add, on the Moody point, in terms of him being a suspect, Snape has also not been happy with Moody’s presence at Hogwarts, and Harry notes that, so I think that’s just further evidence that maybe we should not be trusting Moody. And Snape doesn’t suspect, I don’t think. I hope not because then he would report it to Dumbledore. But yeah, Snape is not happy with him either. So I put him higher than Ludo. I just see Ludo as such an innocent happy fellow; I can’t point the finger at him.

Micah: He’s a goofball.

Andrew: I’d put Moody at seven to eight Fakeys. Somewhere around there.

Micah: So right now it’s Karkaroff, Moody, and Bagman, in that order.

Andrew: For me, I’d say so.

Micah: Well, we do have some honorable mentions, Laura, that you pulled together.

Laura: Yeah, just because I, again, really love the genre of mystery and true crime, so I really hyper read into things. First want to start with Barty Crouch, Sr. This man is standing in the shadows all creepy-like; Harry talks about how gaunt and skull-like his face looks. But he’s also strictly adhering to the rules of this tournament. Even though he definitely knows that something sketchy is up, there is not a single attempt on his part to try and figure out a way around this to spare this underage child from participating in a death tournament. That could be reason for detecting some sketch; I don’t think it’s as sketchy as some of the other characters we talked about. But someone else would be Snape; Snape is also in the room.

Andrew: Well, hold on.

Laura: What?

Andrew: Let me add something to Barty Crouch, Sr.: He didn’t want to stay at Hogwarts, right? Towards the end of this chapter, he was ready to get out of there, which also adds to his guilt, I think.

Laura: Right. Oh yeah, that’s a great call-out. Thank you for mentioning that.

Eric: He’s trying to run from the scene of his crime.

Laura: Right.

Andrew: Yes.

Eric: No, that’s great.

Laura: Of course, we know why he’s actually anxious.

Eric: He’s got a lot else going on.

Laura: Yeah. [laughs]

Micah: He’s a little stressed.

Eric: Yeah. Well, and…

Andrew: And old Weatherby is driving him nuts!

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Micah: I mean, we can also think of this as not just being one person. There could be multiple parties involved here.

Laura: Right.

Andrew: Oh, that’s true.

Micah: Especially for something the likes of getting Harry into this tournament.

Eric: Now I’m picturing a basketball move where there’s a layup with his name on a piece of paper.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: Somebody goes over the age line, somebody else dips it in…

Micah: Yeah, certainly possible.

Laura: Well, and as an additional point that maybe adds to the suspicion for Crouch Sr. and Bagman, where does the Goblet of Fire reside when it’s not in use? It has to be at the Ministry. I’m imagining Bagman’s office maintains that, so it’s possible you could say that perhaps either Bagman, Crouch Sr., or both tampered with the cup before it even arrived at Hogwarts. We’ve got to throw Snape in here because Harry is always ready to accuse Snape of something.

Andrew: [laughs] And vice versa.

Laura: Yeah, and vice versa, which we see in this scene. He’s always looking for a way to get Harry in trouble. He’s like, “This kid is always doing something to get attention. I guarantee he did it.” Is this a case where…? As readers, do we remember if at the time we suspected Snape at all? Or had Snape been suspected too many times in the series by this point for us to think it could’ve been him?

Eric: Yeah, I think it’s probably the latter. But for me, I suspect him more now, knowing just how vicious it got between Harry and Snape at the end of Book 3. We knew that it was a huge one-up on Snape when Sirius Black gets away and the students with the Time-Turner and that they just… Snape really lost out on his Order of Merlin and a bunch of other stuff there, so I think that if there were ever a book for Snape to actually break bad and put Harry in active danger, it would be in retribution for the events of the most recent book. So I actually do like Snape for this at least as a contender for the whodunnit, because he’s right out the gate again blaming Harry, and it is suspicious.

Micah: Yeah, though I will ask the question now: What is Snape doing in the room to begin with? He has no business there. And the reason why I say this is because if you look at who’s in the room, there’s somebody there for each of the champions, right? McGonagall is there for Harry. You have Maxime there for Fleur. You have Karkaroff there for Krum. By that logic, Sprout should be there for Cedric, not Snape.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Snape is subbing for Sprout. She’s not feeling well.

Micah: And then you have the other officials who are running the tournament, right? Again, by that logic you could also ask why is Mad-Eye there, right? Those two just don’t belong in the room at this moment.

Eric: Here’s the thing about that: I think Snape is just a guy that you want around when some bad shit is going down. Snape is actually a really accomplished wizard in so many ways. He can do nonverbal magic, he has the fierceness and the fire, he’s a skilled Legilimens… I would want him by my side if my school was about to crumble to the ground despite the personal differences, and you can kind of see it in Dumbledore’s voice and actions in this chapter. Same with how he deals with Moody; he’s like, “Okay, Alastor.” He’s like, “Okay, Severus, sit back down. You’re here because of what you can do to help, not what you can do to hinder or raise tensions.”

Laura: And then I have one wildcard I want to throw out here: Madame Maxime. Hear me out.

Eric: Who would suspect?

Laura: She really flies under the radar in this scene, but there’s another area earlier on in this book where she also flies under the radar, and that’s at the Quidditch World Cup. So you’ll remember that the trio was in the forest in the midst of all the panic and confusion. They run into a group of girls who are speaking French, and one of them says, “Where’s Madame Maxime?” So they apparently could not find their headmistress while there was a Death Eater Klansmen march happening. So if the author had really wanted to pull a fast one here and really pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, this would have been the move. So understated, too.

Eric: It’s always the French.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “It’s always the French.”

Micah: Always the French, nice.

Eric: I love, Laura, that you’ve taken it – again, you said this – but from a very murder mystery aspect of who was… we don’t know that the person who cast the Dark Mark at the Quidditch World Cup and the person who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire are actually the same person. That doesn’t have to have been the case, but it absolutely is the case. But knowing that, we reverse backwards, and just figuring out who’s at the Quidditch World Cup and who’s right here in this room right now, I love that you’re pooling your suspects from that criteria.

Micah: So while we’re at it, why not add Dumbledore to the list?

Andrew: No.

Eric: Dumbledore wasn’t at the Quidditch World Cup.

Micah: No, no, no, I don’t care if he was at the Quidditch World Cup. Putting Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire. He loves the drama.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: “He loves the drama.” He’s getting excited for reasons similar to Ludo. He’s like, “Oh boy, this is history.”

Laura: Dumble-drama.

Andrew: Living history. No, I don’t accept that.

Eric: No. I think given as an honest option, no, because Dumbledore in this chapter is forced to be very diplomatic, and he’s… I think Dumbledore takes seriously that he’s being accused of cheating right here. The way he handles the other – I want to say foreign dignitaries…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: … the way he handles the other headmasters and is really working on seeing if there is an alternative.

Micah: [laughs] He’s just trying to get them to have a nightcap. He’s really trying hard at the end of the chapter.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: He does, kind of, yeah.

Andrew: “Who wants a drink? Somebody wants to drink, right? Come on.”

Micah: Yep. All right, well, that was a lot of fun, talking about the usual suspects. But let’s move on and talk about this magical contract that comes up and is referenced multiple times in this chapter. And I know we’ve talked a little bit about it in prior episodes, but now that the moment is actually here, do we think that it’s fair Harry has to compete?

Andrew and Eric: No.

Laura: No, of course not.

Andrew: This is so unfair. They keep talking about these rules, like, “Oh, that’s the rules. That’s the rules. No going back now.” He didn’t put his name in the Goblet. As we later learn, of course, somebody did it for nefarious reasons. There should only be one champion per school. He was the last name to come out. He’s underage. There’s so many reasons why he should not be forced, really, to compete in this tournament.

Laura: Yeah, but the rules say no takesie-backsies.

Andrew: Yeah, I know, this mystery rulebook that we never really learn the details of. But this old darn goblet coughs up his name and suddenly, “Sorry, Harry, you have to sacrifice yourself. Yeah, sure, you’re number four. Yeah, sure, maybe the Goblet just had the hiccups that day, and maybe they didn’t even intend for you to come out of this cup, but that’s it. You’re done for.” It’s so unfair. It’s so unfair. [laughs]

Eric: It’s ridiculous.

Andrew: This is when I really feel for Harry not having parents. But even then, like, where’s Molly? If I were Molly or Arthur or Sirius, I’d be like, “Guys. Dumbledore. Come on. We’re pals, right? What are you thinking with this?” “Oh, that’s the rules, that’s the rules.”

Eric: “We’re un-enrolling Harry from Hogwarts.”

Andrew: Yeah, pull him out of school.

Eric: For me, this is definitely something I thought about while doing this reread – I never would have thought of this 22 years ago – but the level to which the adults in the room are all out of their depth when it comes to this is shocking to me. If Dumbledore and Barty Crouch, Sr. and Ludo Bagman can’t change the rules or can’t get out of Harry’s name being drawn, and the reason they can’t get more champions involved as they say the Goblet has gone cold… they don’t control the Goblet at all. They have dug… where did they find this thing? It was in its casket probably in a tomb somewhere, Bill Weasley found it, was like, “This is fun; let’s do it…” They’re like, “Yeah, what a great idea.”

Andrew: [laughs] “It coughs up paper. What an incredible magical object.”

Eric: They have no control over it at all whatsoever. And it’s got to be humbling to them, because these adult wizards… we know Dumbledore… think about what Dumbledore does in Book 6, right, to get into Voldemort’s cave. He’s feeling the wall and he’s doing this advanced level of magic to figure out what it is you’re supposed to do. And he can’t figure out a way to get the Goblet of Fire’s magical rules to be unbinding on somebody who didn’t even put his own name in? Wow, that just shows that you’re never too old to completely be in over your head when it comes to just old magic artifacts.

Micah: Right.

Andrew: It’s a good lesson for us Muggles, too. It never gets easier, y’all. [laughs]

Micah: I would put more of the blame less on Dumbledore – I know Andrew is going to be shocked here…

[Andrew gasps]

Eric: I’m very shocked.

Micah: … more on the Ministry, in that… and I know Barty Crouch, Sr. is very much preoccupied here with a lot of things that are going on in his life, and he just wants to get home, but this is his responsibility. And presumably, he could reach out to some of the best there are to figure out how to rectify the situation, and he just hightails it. He doesn’t even seem to care. He’s like, “Oh, what’s another kid in the tournament?”

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: I’m serious.

Andrew: No, I know. I know. I’m laughing in agreement with you.

Laura: I feel like someone… I’m trying to find it. Someone in the Discord pointed out that Crouch Sr. may actually be under the Imperius Curse at this point in the book.

Eric: He is. Yeah, he’s under his son’s Imperius Curse, which, Barty Crouch, Jr. is doing a lot this chapter. But yeah, I…

Micah: Well, Ludo isn’t… okay, so let’s… I can shift some of it onto Ludo, then, the responsibility.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: No, no, you’re right. Ludo is just happy to be there and happy to have controversy, and it’s going to sell a lot of papers or make him rich in the gambling room. But yeah, I mean, Crouch… it’s just again… and the movie even one-upped it by being like, “The rules are absolute.”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: It’s just like, who thought of this crap? This is so dangerous. This is just absolutely insane.

Micah: Well, it’s fine if the rules are absolute, but from a person who actually had the intention of putting their name in, not from somebody who had their name put in…

Andrew and Micah: … unwillingly.

Eric: Even by another student. Yeah, unwillingly. That’s exactly why the Unbreakable Vow is so much better than this garbage.

Micah: Are there not fingerprints in the wizarding world?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Fingerprints. Actually, Meg and I were talking about this; she had the idea that what if the Goblet of Fire actually judged or graded the person that put in a name, not the person whose name is on the slip of paper?

Andrew: Oh, yeah. By reading the fingerprints.

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: But what if Barty Crouch, Jr. was wearing gloves? Yeah, why not cameras? Why not…? I mean, there’s so many answers here.

Eric: Because what if what if somebody has…? If I put my name in, and I really wanted to win, I have such [censored] handwriting.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: There’s no guarantee that the Goblet of Fire could actually read my name. And then am I disqualified?

Andrew: But let me ask you all this: If Harry wasn’t in the tournament, would we have had this book?

Laura and Micah: No.

Andrew: Well, exactly. So why are we all complaining?

Eric: Wait, we would have had this book, though. It’s not like she would have jumped to year five. For me, again, it’s just what do the adults learn from this? We love pointing out that Hogwarts is a security nightmare, but there is a hope that they make changes and fix it.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: They don’t.

Andrew: We have a hope. We have a dream.

Eric: It’s consistently getting worse. Like, whose idea was it to unearth an ancient artifact that sends four students to their deaths, pretty much?

Laura: Well, only one, this time.

Andrew: Ouch. Ouch.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: I have an idea… go ahead, Laura.

Laura: I was just going to say, Eric, kind of related to the point you mentioned about Meg’s interpretation of the Goblet, I’m also wondering… the Goblet is, I guess, somehow in possession of some kind of power that allows it to determine, based off of a scrap of paper with a person’s name on it, whether or not they’re worthy to compete in the tournament. But it can’t tell that that person didn’t actually write their own name?

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Eric: Or in the… well, this is where the Confundus Charm comes in that it was a fourth school. Harry was listed as a fourth school.

Laura: Right.

Eric: So he was the only one on the list of the pool of…

Laura: Yeah, no, I guess. But also, it couldn’t tell that Harry didn’t write his own name.

Micah: Well, and by that logic, Fred or George could have just written their name under a fourth school and been selected.

Laura: Right. We criticize because we love.

Micah: Yeah. Laura, I think you’re getting at something I wanted to ask, which was, do we assume some level of sentience for the Goblet similar to the Sorting Hat, right? And is the Goblet actively tracking each of the tasks somehow? This comes up a little bit later in – I don’t want to take your point, Laura – but what if Harry just says, “I’m sitting on the bench”? [laughs] Does the Goblet shoot sparks at him?

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: What happens?

Laura: Right, well, and we definitely see at least one example of a champion not being able to complete a task, and the cup doesn’t smite her.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: So I don’t know. The rules are very confusing here.

Andrew: We want more answers. We have a lot of questions about the Goblet.

Laura: [laughs] I love how SnailSong in our Discord was like, “The Goblet pulls out a gun.”

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Andrew: I wanted to also put a new twist on our “Max that” segment around the discussion that we’re having here.

[“Max that” sound effect plays]

Andrew: I’m calling this “Enhanced Max that,” or “Max enhance.”

Micah: Ooh.

Andrew: So I think the TV adaptation should just call what’s happening with the Goblet an Unbreakable Vow. We’ve spoken about this a few times now. I think, Eric, you’ve raised the point: Maybe what’s actually happening here is an Unbreakable Vow before Rowling came up with the idea of an Unbreakable Vow.

Eric: That was my thought, yeah.

Andrew: So the TV show should maybe just lean into calling this an Unbreakable Vow. You have to explain it somehow, I think. That’d be a nice update to the core story, one that we would accept, I think.

Laura: Yeah, I agree.

Micah: But doesn’t there have to be some level of willingness, though, on the part of the two participants? Harry is not willingly doing anything here. He’s kind of getting screwed over.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, that’s what makes the Unbreakable Vow so powerful. The reason that you die if you don’t do it is because you volunteered. You committed – you consented – to do it.

Micah: So I think that raises the question, what is the penalty? Let’s put the Unbreakable Vow piece of it aside for a second. If Harry said, “No, I’m not competing,” what happens to Harry? Is the series over?

[Andrew imitates Voldemort’s “Avada Kadavra” yell]

Micah: Bang!

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Voldemort comes out of the Goblet. It would be funny if Dumbledore said to Harry, like, “Harry, you have two choices. You can compete, or we have to put you back with your aunt and uncle, because only then will you be safe.”

Andrew: Oh my God.

Eric: Only then will he be safe from the Goblet of Fire’s evil retribution. He has to hide under the cloak for a year.

Andrew: And then Harry should be like, “I want a paternity test.” [laughs] “Please check who wrote my name on that piece of paper.”

Eric: That’s true. They have the paper; they could get…

Andrew: “I am not the father of that piece of paper.” [laughs]

Eric: They could forensic science the piece of paper.

Micah: Can we get Maury Povich reading his name coming out of the Goblet of Fire?

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: What’s going on today?

Micah: All right, we need a break.

Laura: This is going off the rails.

Andrew: All right, we will move on to the backlash, but first, a quick break so we can catch our breath.

[Ad break]

Micah: All right, so let’s talk a little bit about the backlash from Harry’s name coming out of the Goblet of Fire. Karkaroff, Maxime are pissed, to say the least. But should they really fear Harry’s inclusion in the tournament? He has three years less experience than Krum, Fleur, and Cedric. He should be an easy out.

Andrew: That’s a question I wanted to raise to you guys when you were talking about Ludo getting excited to bet. He would bet on Harry winning, right? Why are you all so confident that he’s going to win?

Eric: For me, I think it’s less that Harry would win and more that there’s an increased chance that Hogwarts wins.

Andrew: Oh, okay.

Eric: Because with two champions for Hogwarts and one champion for Durmstrang and Beauxbatons, there is now a 50% chance that it’s a Hogwarts victory. And the whole reason these schools agreed to this is because it’s a great chance at eternal glory, so I think they feel shortchanged, and I think that they have a right to just from a statistic standpoint.

Micah: Yeah, I think that’s a really great point, because you want a level playing field in something like this, right? And I think also taking into account what this tournament is supposed to represent, right, in terms of the relationships being formed with international wizarding schools, you’re already putting them at a disadvantage by having two champions coming from Hogwarts.

Eric: It is so funny to think of this as a tournament where these champions compete, and yet we’re trying to garner international cooperation, but now this distrust from the get-go has really sown the seeds even further for people to not get along.

Micah: Oh, great point. So when Harry first enters the trophy room, he feels really small, both literally and figuratively, in comparison to the other three champions, and it’s even noted they seem taller than him. Fleur at one point refers to him as a “little boy.” So I think for Harry, he’s feeling the gravity of the situation. He’s feeling the intensity of the moment as soon as he walks into this room, before Dumbledore throws him against the trophy case. [laughs]

Andrew: And I will also say, Mary GrandPré did an amazing job conveying this in the chapter artwork. You’re looking at Harry from above, so he looks smaller. He’s staring at his long shadow to kind of suggest that he’s just by himself. He’s got his hands in his pockets. This might be one of my favorite pieces of chapter art across the series, because you just feel for Harry in this little illustration that she came up with.

Eric: That’s a good call-out. Yeah, I’m just looking at it again, and you’re exactly right. There’s a few times she’s spot on.

Andrew: But yeah, you really feel for Harry here. I mean, you know he didn’t do it. At least Dumbledore is going to trust him. But it must be really hard to have all these headmasters and the teachers at Hogwarts doubting what actually happened, and you’re to blame, even though you’re not really. It’s just all this attention is on you and you didn’t cause it.

Eric: So much of this has given me flashbacks to being a freshman. You finally make it to high school and you’ve come so far; you’re in high school now. But then you see a senior, and he’s so much taller, and it’s like, “Oh, I’m still small. I’m still a literal child compared to a senior. And then you meet a college kid and they’re even older… so I love that Harry is feeling basically vulnerable here.

Micah: Yeah, he’s out of his league. I mean, that’s what…

Eric: He’s not in control of his future.

Micah: No, but I think if you look back at the other three books and the things that he’s faced, you could argue that he is well prepared for something like this. But I look at the Triwizard Tournament as something on a completely different level, right? He’s in big boy territory now, and he’s finally starting to grasp the reality of the situation. This isn’t the same.

Andrew: I think he is just yet to actually process what actually is going to be happening during this tournament. I mean, they haven’t shared any details yet. They don’t truly know what they’re getting into. Harry kind of sees just this blank slate before him. But he also does recall in this chapter that somebody does want him dead, so this isn’t good news for him. Cornflakes, who’s listening live on our Patreon, said, “I don’t think he actually appreciates how out of his depth he will be in the tasks. He thinks about it a little, but then just turns up to each task.” So he’s built some confidence up, I think, because of his battles so far in the series, but I don’t think he’s too concerned, because he just does not know what he’s getting into, because nobody does.

Eric: I think a lot of that, too, is if you think about it long enough, you’ll just break down and cry. And Harry is very much a good, go to “Got to do what I can.” I don’t think it’s confidence. But I do think that you just can’t hold up a mirror to some of these things that are happening to Harry. Micah, to your point, where you just said it’s totally different this year, what I compare that to is every year prior, Voldemort wanted to kill Harry. This year, the universe itself is going to kill Harry if he doesn’t compete, and Voldemort wants to kill Harry, so that’s how it’s different.

Micah: Well, and he’s also on display for the entire school, which I don’t think… I mean, you could argue he’s been on display for the entire school his entire time at Hogwarts thus far because of who he is, but in the battles that he’s fought, he hasn’t been on display in this way, right? Year one, year two, year three, it’s all kind of been going on behind the scenes. It’s just him, Ron, and Hermione. It’s not him in front of, not just Hogwarts, but the other two schools that are there. It’s a lot different.

Laura: And for the first time, the impression that everyone has of Harry is that he chose this.

Micah: Right. So some of the other backlash that we see is from Snape. We talked a little bit about Snape already, but he just… any chance he has to take a shot, he does it.

[Andrew laughs]

[Eric imitates Snape’s laugh]

Micah: And McGonagall… was it Dumbledore who shuts him down? I know McGonagall throws him a look.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Eric: It’s Dumbledore again.

Micah: Come on, Severus. Just… again, I don’t even know why you’re in the room.

Andrew: Severus, please.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: That’s the whole thing, too, about the possibility that another student would have put Harry’s name in. The only student who would have tried that in order to get Harry in danger would be Malfoy, and he’s also not 17. So I feel like that’s a lack of potential candidates, unless it’s Snape himself who put Harry’s name in, which we already talked about.

Andrew: I’m also wondering why Snape is not trying to read his mind, because that would solve that question for him.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, Snape has Veritaserum handy too. Pulls it out later.

Andrew: Well, yeah. I mean, shoving that down his throat in front of all these people might not be the best approach.

Eric: Well, if you want the truth…

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: You want answers? We’re getting answers! “Severus, please.”

Micah: So just to wrap up the chapter, when Harry finally gets out of the trophy room and is making his way back to Gryffindor tower… well, I guess one thing to note is… I think we all do this from time to time. It’s pre-set in us, right? We drive somewhere; sometimes we don’t remember how we got from point A to point B. We just… it’s a sign of… what’s the word, innate to us? Or like we learn it over time. Harry, he does the same thing, but his mind is just going so many miles an hour that he doesn’t even realize he’s made his way back to Gryffindor tower; that’s how overwhelmed he is with everything that’s going on. But he does make it back and he’s received by his fellow Gryffindors with a lot of cheers and celebrations and everyone wants a piece of Harry, and it couldn’t be more of a contrast to when he gets up to his dormitory and Ron is waiting for him. And it ain’t good, bro. It ain’t good.

Andrew: It bums me out that Ron is feeling this way. I guess Ron is shocked, but if Ron can’t believe him, I think that really calls into question their friendship. Why should Ron doubt what Harry is telling him? He thinks Harry pulled a fast one on him.

Eric: Yeah, yeah. I mean, he starts the sentence with “Congratulations,” like he’s just assuming that Harry…

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Sarcastically.

Eric: Yeah, Harry figured it out, and he didn’t share it with him.

Andrew: I could see why that would hurt, but it’s not true. And Ron should believe him.

Laura: Yeah, but it’s also not… not to say Harry did anything wrong here, but it wouldn’t be the first time that Harry withheld information from Ron.

Eric: That’s true.

Laura: Again, not to say that any of the prior incidents were super high stakes. But Ron is a character who really stews on things, areas where he feels like he’s been wronged, and then eventually when the straw breaks the camel’s back, he kind of explodes; he goes nuclear, and that’s what’s happening here. And while I don’t agree with Ron’s reaction, I can kind of understand his initial annoyance. If my best friend did something, or if I thought they did something they swore up and down they would never do, that would annoy me as one of the people that I am closest to in the world. If for whatever reason I felt like they lied to me, I would be annoyed. I might be wrong to be annoyed, so I think Ron’s error here is staying mad as long as he does; I don’t think it’s so much the in-moment reaction.

Eric: Yeah. I mean, he says to Harry, he’s like, “Well, did you use your cloak?” He’s like, “What?” He’s like, “Because then it would have fit both of us, wouldn’t it have? But, guess not.” And it’s just like, oh, he wanted to be included, or he wanted a fair shot, or yeah, he’s just convinced that Harry found the secret and left him out.

Laura: Yeah. And right, Ron is so triggered by feeling left out. That, I think, is the crux of all of this.

Eric: I mean, think back to his Mirror of Erised. What he sees is him on top.

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: Laura, I agree with you. I don’t begrudge him how he’s feeling in this moment, but I think, to your point, the amount of time he feels it and he just won’t let it go, that’s the issue. And it’s really tough to watch in the movies. I almost forget how it plays out in the books because it’s been such a long time since I’ve read this, but that whole exchange of who told who to tell who what… but yeah, so Harry has had a rough night to say the least, between the Goblet of Fire and his best friend now being on the outs with him.

Eric: It’s particularly devastating that… I think the line is like, “Harry knew most people wouldn’t believe him, but he at least thought Ron would,” and then Ron is not there.

Andrew and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: I mean, Ron isn’t even interested in hearing anything other than what I think he wants to hear in this moment.

Andrew: Yeah, his mind is made up.

Odds & Ends

Micah: All right, a couple of Odds & Ends to get to. I believe, Andrew, you mentioned this briefly, but Crouch is still calling Percy by the wrong name.

Andrew: Yep.

Eric: Justice for Weathersby.

Micah: Do we think that’s the Imperius Curse, versus…? Because Crouch Sr. seems like a sharp guy to me.

Andrew: Yeah, well, I think the last time we spoke about this, we were just talking about the respect that Percy actually gets from Crouch, and sometimes a name just sticks with you and that’s that. [laughs] I don’t know. He clearly hasn’t gained more respect.

Eric: Maybe Percy gave him… he’s like, “You can call me Weatherby, Sir. You can call me anything you like, Mr. Crouch.”

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, has he corrected him yet? I mean, I think that’s a valid question. [laughs]

Micah: Probably not. Knowing Percy, he probably hasn’t.

Eric: Maybe he legitimately thinks that he’s Weatherby. [laughs]

Andrew: He’s probably trying to get his name legally changed to Weatherby. Write a fanfiction about that, somebody, and Molly is resisting.

Laura: And he’s been doing that, I mean, as long as we’ve known that Percy worked for him, right? So I don’t know if it means that he’s been under the Imperius Curse since Chapter 1 of this book or if he’s just not paying Percy very much mind.

Eric: He’s clearly just distracted. He’s got so much else to worry about.

Laura: He has more important things to do than know his direct report’s name.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Yeah, but presumably he would know Arthur, and this is Arthur’s son and he would know Arthur’s last name, so that’s where I don’t give him a pass. We also learn that the first task will test your daring, so that’s kind of ominous, and that if Harry wins the whole thing, he’s going to get a thousand Galleon prize. And just for competing, no tests at the end of the year. He is exempt.

Andrew: Woo!

Eric: Now, of course I remember about the Galleons, but I forgot about this test thing. I would put my name in if it meant I didn’t have to do tests all year.

Andrew: You just have to fight a dragon instead.

Eric: Oh, yeah, maybe not.

Micah: Here’s a question, though: Ron mentions this at the end of the chapter. How does Ron know? Is it because Violet is a hot goss and relayed all this information back to the Fat Lady who then told all the students?

Eric: Yeah, within this chapter it just looks like everything, every single thing that was said in the room with the trophies, was repeated by Violet who was apparently talking announcement-style with the Fat Lady to just a horde of Gryffindors that were just trying to get to their common room. [laughs]

Micah: All right, well, that was my last point. Violet is a hot goss.

Andrew: Excellent.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: And now it’s time for our MVP of the Week awards.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: I’m going to give it to two people, actually, this week…

Micah: Oooh.

Andrew: … Karkaroff and Madame Maxime for calling out how unfair it is that Hogwarts gets…

Micah: How very Goblet of Fire of you, Andrew.

Andrew: [laughs] Two bites of the apple. Hogwarts is getting two bites of the apple by having two champions.

Eric: You know who doesn’t give Harry any grief at all whatsoever about how unfair it is that there’s two Hogwarts champions? The other Hogwarts champion, Cedric Diggory! Pour one out for my man the Hufflepuff, who’s just a good boy, and he might not believe that Harry got there on merit or whatever, that he didn’t really put his name in, but he’s not whining about it like everyone else.

Laura: I’m going to give it to Dumbledore for being calm.

Eric: What?

Andrew: Aww.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: Yeah, we know now that there are multiple options of how to react if you’re Dumbledore, and Dumbledore chose calmness.

Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “Thank you very, very much, dear Laura.”

Micah: And I am going to give it to Barty Crouch, Jr. for bamboozling everyone, not just the Goblet of Fire, and putting the “Dumb” in Dumbledore.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Putting the “Dumb” in Dumbledore.

Laura: Can we make that a shirt?

[Barty Crouch, Jr. appreciation sound effect plays: “You know what this means, don’t you? I’ll be welcomed back like a hero.”]

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Yeah, you will. You keep racking up MVPs, Mr. Barty, sir.

Micah: We should look at the most MVPs over time.

Andrew: That’d be fun.

Micah: I just think Barty Crouch, Jr. is going to be pretty high on the list. [laughs]

Eric: I’m picturing baseball cards for our favorite characters.

Andrew: There you go.

Eric: We’ll have Umbridge suck count, Dumbledore lie count, Barty Crouch, Jr.’s awesome count… all that.

Laura: And honestly, I have to think that Harry will have the least number of MVPs.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Well, because that’s a rule, though, isn’t it?

Laura: I don’t think that… I think the rule is we can’t say “Harry” in the Seven-Word Summary.

Andrew: Yeah, at the start, I think.

Eric: Well, the rule is that it’s uncool if you say “Harry” in the Seven-Word Summary. It’s too easy because the chapter already says what he does.

Andrew: Next week, we’ll discuss Chapter 18, “The Weighing of the Wands.” And like I said, we have a Muggle Mail episode coming up in a few weeks, so if you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can email or send a voice memo to, or you can use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. And then of course, you can go to, where there is a contact form.


Andrew: And now it’s time for Quizzitch!

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s question: What was the birthday present that Mad-Eye Moody received and smashed, thinking it was a Basilisk egg? This is a line from Karkaroff in this past chapter. The correct answer is a carriage clock, which if you don’t know what that is, you’d be forgiven. I think it’s like Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast; it’s the clock with the little house and little dresser drawers in it. Correct answers were submitted by Artemis Fido Jr.; Somewhat conflicted about the possible extinction of the Basilisk; Higgory Diggory Dock, Fakey destroyed his clock (and Cedric); Madame Maxime cheated on Hagrid with Grawp…

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: … The candle chandelier that Madame Maxime’s head hit; Last Name Homora, First Name Al; LunieandNeviearethebestcoupleyoucantsayno; The dark shadows under Crouch’s eyes screaming “HELP ME”; The Kid Who Worked So Hard To Decorate The Gryffindor Common Room; The ripple of anger somewhere underneath Harry’s numb disbelief; Jiggly Jane; Buff Daddy; Daisy Skye; Elizabeth K.; FleurDeLol; Fumbledore (CJ); Hannah.D; Victoria; Katie from Hufflepuff; JennPenn; Robbie; Sienna; Lydia/the snargaluff pod that loves Ginny; My boggart is MuggleCast ending…

Andrew: Aww.

Eric: Yeah. And Rita’s coming, so you better Skeeter.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Believe it or not, that wasn’t everybody, but these are getting really long, so thank you to all who submit.

Laura: I love Fumbledore.

Eric: That’s a good one. Putting the “Fum” in Fumbledore. Thank you to all who submitted. Here is next week’s Quizzitch question: Rita Skeeter’s Quick Quotes Quill first describes her by using which adjective? Those with command of the English language are encouraged to respond to next week’s Quizzitch via the form over on the MuggleCast website. Go to, or go to the MuggleCast website – which you should set as your homepage – and click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav.

Andrew: You can also visit for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and, like I said, to contact us. If you enjoy the show and think other Muggle friends of yours might too, we would love if you told your friends about the show. We have a lot of fun here. Spread the fun around; we would really appreciate that. We’d also appreciate if you left us a review on your favorite podcast app. Also, we have this Etsy store,; this is where you can buy some of our patron gifts from years past while supplies last. We have the Cozy Comfy Combo Pack, which is the MuggleCast beanie and MuggleCast socks at one reduced price. You can also buy those two items separately. We also have our signed album art, we have our build your own wooden car sets, we have T-shirts, and more. is where you can buy all these things and support the show by doing so. And the show is brought to you by Muggles like you; we don’t have any fancy corporate or network funding, and we’re very proud of being an independent podcast. So to support us, you can tap into the show on Apple Podcasts and subscribe to MuggleCast Gold, which gets you ad-free and early access to MuggleCast, plus two bonus MuggleCast installments every month. And you can also go to, and that’s where you’ll get the benefits that I just mentioned, plus livestreams, planning docs, the chance to co-host the show one day, a new physical gift every year, plus the MuggleCast Collector’s Club, and a video message from one of the four of us, a personalized video message from one of the four of us thanking you for your support. So we have a lot of benefits; we hope you enjoy them. Your support goes to running this show. All right, well, that does it for this week’s episode. Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew, I said calmly.

Eric: I’m Eric, I said calmly.

Micah: I’m Micah, I always say calmly.

Laura: Man, that’s so true.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: I’m Laura. I think I’m just calm in general.

Andrew: [aggressively] Goodbye!

Micah: Get out of here.

[Laura laughs]

Transcript #646


MuggleCast 646 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #646, For the Love of Chicken Tendies (GOF Chapter 16, The Goblet of Fire)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: And this week, we are tiptoeing across this poorly planned age line from Dumbledore in the hopes of achieving eternal glory. Micah isn’t here this week, but to help us with today’s discussion, we’re very excited about this week’s guest, James Durbin. Hi, James! Welcome to MuggleCast.

James Durbin: Hi, everybody. Longtime listener, second time caller.

Eric: Ooh.

Andrew: Second time?

James: I think I left an awkward message once on the answering machine.

Andrew: Oh, okay, cool.

Eric: We can check that. [laughs] We have ways of verifying.

James: I cannot confirm if I was sober or not.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Well…

Andrew: Okay, now we have to find it.

Eric: Now we have to listen to this, yeah.

Laura: We have to.

[Andrew laughs]

James: There may or may not have been crying.

Andrew: Aww.

Laura: You wouldn’t be the first.

James: Okay. [laughs] I believe that.

Eric: What Laura is referencing, and she’s too polite to say, is I have called the hotline a number of times and cried.

Laura: Yep.

Andrew: [fake cries] “I love us so much!”

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: And I think Eric’s voice is on the voicemail phone line, so you just…

Eric: Oh my… we recorded that like, 15 years ago. [laughs]

Andrew: So you call to listen to yourself and then cry to tell yourself how amazing you are.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Listen, we all gotta get our affirmations somehow.

Andrew: Well, James, tell us about yourself. You’re actually a musician, right?

James: Yeah, I’m a musician, artist, singer, voice actor… I’ve done voice work with Disney and Amazon. I’m the voice inside of the Jingle All the Way Turbo Man reissue from Funko.

Laura: What!

James: “It’s turbo time.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Oh my God!

Laura: That is so cool.

James: I was on American Idol in 2011, Season 10 on Fox, and for the past 13 years, I’ve been just doing music and personal endeavors, too, as a career. Support my wife and our three kids and all that. And I’ve been a lifelong Harry Potter fan and been listening to MuggleCast for the last six years.

Andrew: That’s awesome. We’re so glad you found us. And I was like, “Whoa, wait, James Durbin?” Because I used to watch American Idol, and I probably watched the season that you were on. So when you started DMing us on Instagram, I was like, “Well, that’s really cool.” But congrats on all your success. You clearly have a lot going on, and your sixth studio album is actually out now. It just came out, right?

James: It just came out.

Andrew: Tell us about it. What’s it called?

James: The album is called Screaming Steel. As an artist, I… I’ll put it this way: My last James Durbin solo album was an Americana album. So I just love music, and especially get on these kicks where I want to just try something new, I want to do something different, I want to challenge myself and do something I’ve always wanted to do. So at the start of the… just before the pandemic, I wrote 100% of an album called The Beast Awakens, which was kind of classic traditional heavy metal in the style of Judas Priest and Ronnie James Dio, Iron Maiden… so my record label that I’m with, Frontiers Records, they wanted a second. So pretty much over the past year I’ve been writing this, and it’s just a great way… traditional heavy metal… heavy metal in general is just such the avenue for singing about all of your nerdy fandoms and subcultures that you love. I’ve got all this Star Wars and wrestling and The Lost Boys and Stranger Things and all this… this is my nerd cave.

[Andrew laughs]

James: … and Harry Potter, especially. Harry Potter is up here, and then I also have an entire cupboard under the stairs full of my Harry Potter stuff.

[Andrew laughs]

James: But I’ve got the books and the LEGO sets and all the things. And of course, the Elder Wand.

Eric: Nice.

Andrew: Very cool.

Laura: You came prepared.

Andrew: Well, speaking of this…

James: It’s a segue.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, speaking of these passions, so one of the songs on your new album is called “Hallows,” inspired by Harry Potter. So tell us about that.

James: Yeah, “Hallows” is kind of a… it’s like a montage song, like if you had an ’80s action movie and it’s a training montage. But imagine it’s just Harry going from the cupboard to Dumbledore’s Army, to dying, and then resurrecting and defeating Voldemort.

[Laura laughs]

James: It’s just kind of… you could play it during that montage. So there’s a lot of easter eggs, and the author’s works are just so varied and so beautiful and it’s amazing. It’s just this… and you guys know; I mean, you’ve been doing this for so long, and still find things to love and appreciate and to dig into and to dive into and dissect. And it’s so inspiring listening to MuggleCast also for that. As a songwriter, you think about different things, especially a songwriter trying to write wizard metal, which is the… this little part of me just wishes it was 2004 again and I was a little older and I had the resources and the name and the visibility to actually be performing wizard metal for a bunch of nerds in a robe, so… [laughs]

Eric and Laura: You still can!

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: There’s still groups, there’s still conventions, there’s still things that you can get behind and do that.

Andrew: Especially ten years ago, wizard rock was pretty popular. And there’s still some wizard rock artists. I actually have two wizard rock singles; I’ll have to send them to you after the show.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: They’re not good, but maybe I can get some feedback on how to improve.

James: Okay, definitely.

Eric: “Don’t Let It Be July,” I’m thinking of, yes.

Andrew: Your lyrics in this song “Hallows” are beautiful.

James: Thank you.

Andrew: And they’re really fun. Not only is the song great to listen to, but also just very fun to read the lyrics as a Harry Potter fan and being like, “Oh, I get what he’s referencing there.”

James: Thank you, I appreciate it. They were fun to write. And it’s not the only Harry Potter-inspired song on the album; the other one is track number three, which is called “Where They Stand,” which is about Death Eaters hiding.

Andrew: Ah, cool.

James: Basically hiding and leaving Voldemort’s side and how where they stand is only where they ran for cover.

Andrew and Laura: Ooh.

Eric: Man, when I was listening to “Hallows” the only thing I could say afterwards was like, “It’s so metal!”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Which is such an easy catch-all, but it is so hardcore metal, man. I am blown away. I mean, between the song “Hallows,” which appeals to everything that we do on this show, and your being the voice of Turbo Man, I am really, really, really fanboying hard, I’ve got to say.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: You’ve won me completely over.

James: Thank you.

Andrew: Listeners, we’ll have a link to the album and the song “Hallows.” There’s a music video for it in the show notes, so definitely check that out. James, last but not least, let’s get your fandom ID like we do for all guests of MuggleCast.

James: Favorite book and movie are Sorcerer’s Stone. I can just… I literally can close my eyes – I can do with my eyes open, too, but I prefer to close my eyes – and I can remember being that 11-year-old kid. I don’t know. I got out of a different movie and there was something going on at the bookstore right next to the movie theater, and realize that it was a Harry Potter book release. And I think it would have been… when the first movie was out, it would have been… Prisoner of Azkaban would have been out by that point.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

James: So I ran home, I put on a bathrobe and grabbed a stick off the tree, and rode my bike back over to the bookstore and was like, “Here I am. Here are all my people.”

Andrew: Aww.

James: So definitely the first one.

Laura: Oh, that’s beautiful.

James: And then Hogwarts House, I was a Hatstall between Ravenclaw and Slytherin.

Laura: Hell yeah!

James: I chose to be Ravenclaw – or I accepted Ravenclaw – for a minute just because it seemed like that’s what all the cool kids were doing, and then it was like, “Oh, these… no thank you.” So I’m green light. I am a Slytherin.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: In order to succeed at metal, you were like, “I need to embrace the darkness.”

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Right.

James: I needed to be ambitious…

Laura: That’s it.

James: … and realize my intentions. I got my intentions in order and have been manifesting my intentions and that requires ambition. And then, let’s see… Ilvermorny House, when that was a thing, I think it was Pukwudgie. Wand I don’t remember; alder, maybe? And then my Patronus is a raven.

Andrew: Okay. Ooh, a raven and almost Ravenclaw.

Eric: That’s very metal.

Andrew: All right. Well, thanks again, James.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: And now let’s get to Chapter by Chapter. And like I said, this week we’re discussing Goblet of Fire Chapter 16, “The Goblet of Fire.” And we’ll start like we always do, with our Seven-Word Summary. James has been a listener, so he knows what he’s gotten himself into here. And you get the first word, James, so here we go.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

James: Poliakoff…

Andrew: Oh God, I don’t even know how to spell that.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: Oh, shoot. Uh, wants…

Andrew: … eternal…

Eric: … wine…

James: … because…

Andrew: … Krum… [laughs]

Laura: … is better.

Eric: That’s eight-word summary.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: But you know what, didn’t we do a five-word summary the other day? So this is fine.

Andrew: “Because Krum’s better.” [laughs]

Eric: Oh, okay. There we do.

Laura: Or just “because Krum.”

Andrew: I was hoping for “because Krum thirsty.”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Good times.

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Eric: Well, this is basically… so this is the eponymous chapter title that has the same title of the book; there’s one in most Harry Potter books. But as a matter of fact, in reviewing the events that happen, there’s no really big two main things. Essentially, this chapter is building up to Harry’s name being pulled from the Goblet of Fire, which is obviously a really huge moment. So I thought I’d break it down and talk about some of the smaller things that do happen in this chapter, and the first one that comes to mind – because at the end of last chapter, there was Durmstrang and Beauxbatons coming to Hogwarts – is really just about the cultural differences that we see. And Hogwarts is playing host to these foreign schools; we see it in a change of cuisine, what’s available in the Great Hall, because they go straight up to dinner. And the first matter of business – apparently something that has not been figured out prior to this moment – is where the Beauxbatons students and the Durmstrang students are going to sit in the Great Hall. They are not given their own table, even though there would probably be room for them. And Ron has this moment where he’s trying to like, “Harry, move aside,” and he’s trying to get Viktor Krum to sit next to him because he’s fanboying really hard. But in the end, the Durmstrang students all seem to go with Slytherin, and the Beauxbatons students all seem to go with Ravenclaw.

Laura: Yeah, I was wondering if any of the Slytherin and Durmstrang students might actually know each other. I mean, given the fact… especially at this point in storytelling in the wizarding world where the vibe is very much “Slytherin bad. Gryffindor good. All Slytherins are evil.” We know a lot of these kids’ parents were Death Eaters involved with Voldemort. The same has to be true for the Durmstrang students. So I would imagine their parents have maintained touch over time, and a lot of these kids have maybe met each other before.

Eric: There is that.

Andrew: Yeah, how often could they see each other, though? Probably not often at all, right? Because they’re over in Bulgaria. And I’m consulting Google Maps right now; it looks quite far away from Scotland.

Eric: Not for wizards! Not when you have a ship!

[James laughs]

Andrew: That’s true.

Laura: Yeah, that’s not really an object. They can use the Floo Network, they can use side-along Apparition…

James: A face in the fire.

Laura: Yeah, exactly.

Eric: Maybe they only go halfway.

Laura: They can do the uninvited FaceTime Floo Network. [laughs]

Andrew: I would say at the least they’re aware of the types of vibes that Slytherin gives off, and they might feel most attracted to them, especially to your point thinking about Death Eaters and Karkaroff.

Eric: Yeah, there’s definitely that Dark association between those schools. And then for Beauxbatons, it’s not necessarily like those students aren’t Ravenclaw-ish; they seem to me to be pretty, I would say, reserved, in a generous way. So I think that does fit the qualities of Ravenclaw, which, as stated, are that they value learning. And there are other cultural things we’ll get to about the Beauxbatons kids that we see in this chapter, but for the most part, I think that that’s actually also pretty much a fit. If I had to put all the students from this other school at another table, it would probably be Beauxbatons to Ravenclaw and Durmstrang to Slytherin. But it doesn’t seem well thought out, planned in advance, so why is that?

Andrew: Yeah, well, I feel like they should have made the students sit at all four tables as a way to get the students meeting everybody, kind of like an icebreaker.

Eric: That’s such a great idea.

Andrew: Because otherwise, they’re just going to be clique-y the rest of the time that they’re at Hogwarts. Now they’re going to… Durmstrang is going to just hang with the Slytherins the rest of the time, and Beauxbatons are just going to hang with the Ravenclaws the rest of the time. They connected with people over dinner. That’s it. If you disperse them all, then they’d all intermingle through the rest of the Triwizard Tournament.

Laura: Nah, these are teenagers that are experiencing a lot of culture shock of each other. It’s not just Beauxbatons and Durmstrang; the Hogwarts students are experiencing culture shock too. And they’re competing against each other, and there really hasn’t been space made for the visiting students in the school at all. The Durmstrang students are sleeping on their boat and the Beauxbatons students are sleeping in their freaking carriage all year, by the way.

Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “Welcome to Hogwarts, but don’t sleep at Hogwarts.”

Eric: With respect, you don’t know how comfy it is in that carriage. It could be like the Weasleys’ tent.

Laura: Right. It’s like the TARDIS.

Eric: The lap of luxury.

[James and Laura laugh]

Eric: Swimming pools and squash courts.

James: It seems like they would integrate them or give them their own table. I know space is limited in the Great Hall… unless you play Hogwarts Legacy; then there’s plenty of frickin’ room in there.

Andrew: See?

James: Slide in another table. Just get Filch on it.

[Laura laughs]

James: I just love the image of Filch just pushing tables.

Andrew: [laughs] All by himself?

James: You can just imagine the sound. It’s just like, [makes a sound like a large wood table being dragged across a stone floor]

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “Norris, get over here and help me out.”

James: … recreate it. Yeah, yeah. But yeah, you’d think that they would integrate. But I mean, thinking a little bit forward, even Fleur gets up and goes and tries to grab whatever food it is from Ron.

Andrew: Which is so funny.

James: So I think they’re doing stuff. They’re not super static. But yeah, there should have been a little bit more integration, maybe.

Eric: Yeah, I just think to the value that was added… we had a few foreign exchange students in high school throughout the years, and it couldn’t have been easy for them being the… everyone’s attention went on them, because they’re from a different country. But I know that we all seemed to be a little bit slightly more culturally well-rounded after having gotten to know the people. And it seems like if they are stuck at the Slytherin table or the Ravenclaw table… we already know that the Houses pretty much keep to their own House in the Great Hall, so it just seems like there’s not a lot of good opportunity. And to this point, moving on to the food – you mentioned this, James – bouillabaisse is served, and Ron is just looking at it. The quote from the book is “There was a greater variety of dishes in front of them than Harry had ever seen, including several that were definitely foreign. ‘What’s that?’ said Ron, pointing at a large dish of some sort of shellfish stew that stood beside a large steak-and-kidney pudding.” And then Hermione tells him what it is, and he says, “Bless you.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: And she says, “It’s French. I had it on holiday. It’s very nice.” And Ron said, “‘I’ll take your word for it,’ helping himself instead to black pudding.” Which, by the way, black pudding if you look at what’s in it, it is worse than bouillabaisse.

Laura: Uh, yeah. [laughs]

Eric: But! What is this whole experience where…? On the one hand, I think the elves… it’s said they outdid themselves; they want to make the foreign visitors feel at home. But there was not an attempt… I think this was a missed opportunity to also diversify the Hogwarts students’ cultural palettes, encouraging them to try these foreign dishes. I know it’s still night one. But for me, I grew up very sheltered. I would go to the China buffet with my family and get the chicken wings every time.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: That’s basically me too.

Eric: And not one of my family members was like, “You’re not culturally…” I know Micah’s story on the recent bonus really resonated, because I never tried Pad See Ew or any kind of noodle thing, nothing, nothing foreign at all until I was like, 22. And I just feel like, especially Europe being the huge melting pot that it is – before this year, but especially now – Hogwarts should really be trying to educate these kids culturally, because some of these dishes are fabulous.

Andrew: Well, and you also think about how many meals they’ll be eating over the course of their time at Hogwarts because of the Triwizard Tournament. There’s plenty of time to shake up the menu and keep it focused on particular countries. Have something from Bulgaria, have something from France, have something from Scotland to introduce to Durmstrang and Beauxbatons. Yeah, I don’t see why it had to be this hodgepodge on night one; it should have just been a specific theme.

Laura: When you said, Andrew, introducing Scottish cuisine, I immediately thought of haggis. I was like, “Yes, introduce the foreign exchange students to haggis.” [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, maybe not the best options. With peace and love.

Eric: Force them to have all this fatty British food that comes from animal parts.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Well, and I’m glad you bring that up, Eric, because I seem to recall that later on in the book Fleur is like, “I’m not going to fit into my dress robes; all zis Hogwarts food is so heavy.” And I’m like, so do they fall off the routine after night one?

Eric: Oh my gosh.

Laura: They’re like, “Okay, we did the niceties of serving dishes that you’d be familiar with, and we’re not going to do that ever again.”

Eric: Man, we’re not paying the house-elves enough to keep doing special dishes for the extra 40 students, I’m telling you.

James: Well, we’re not paying them at all!

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Yeah, honestly, to this end, I wanted to ask… because it’s nice to make the students feel at home. But because I’ve at least once grown into a lover of foreign cuisines; I’ve tried Ethiopian and I’ve tried… I mean, I’m not going to list. But what are some of our favorite foods that we definitely wouldn’t have tried as children? But I know we’ve traveled as we’ve grown up. Do we all have something that we really love or is our go-to that we just never would have dreamed of when we were school children?

Andrew: Well, even today, my palate is still that of an eight-year-old, so I can’t say I’ve expanded too much.

[James laughs]

Eric: Chicken fingers?

Andrew: But I also haven’t traveled abroad too much. But in England, I’ll eat fish and chips. That counts for something, right? [laughs]

Laura: No, it doesn’t.

Andrew: No?

Laura: No, Andrew.

Andrew: Well, I don’t eat fish over here, so it’s a big deal when I eat it over there. [laughs]

Laura: Oh dear.

Eric: Oh, Andrew. Sweet summer child.

[Andrew and James laugh]

Eric: I have had a number of… just this week, Indian food. Chicken tikka masala.

Laura: Oh, yeah.

Eric: And it’s just different ways of doing chicken or curries or different spices with the same foods that I know and love. It’s still chicken; it’s just different. And pho, if you guys have ever had pho…

Laura: Oh, yeah, I love pho.

Eric: It’s so delicious. And on a cold night it’s the most perfect tonic for however which way you’re feeling, and I just ended up loving… and Pad Thai. There’s so many other wonderful dishes that I just never tried.

Laura: Okay, I’m so excited now because when we go to Podcast Movement in DC in August, we have to go out for a ton of different amazing foreign foods, because DC has an amazing food scene. Eric, I would love to introduce you to some other varieties like Ethiopian food, just based on what you’re describing here. I feel like you would really like it, so let’s do it.

Andrew: You guys have fun; I’ll be at Taco Bell trying out their new menu. Did you hear about their new menu?

Eric: Oh, Andrew!

Laura: Boring.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: I did hear about the new menu with their Baja Blast pie. No.

Eric and James: Ew.

Andrew: Yeah, and they’re doing their own Choco Taco now.

James: Well, that I accept.

[Andrew laughs]

James: I totally ship a chocolate taco.

Eric: James, what are some of your favorite non-American dishes?

James: Well, I’ve always been very much… I mean, like you, Eric – and you, Andrew, as well – just first off reserved, to a scary degree. [laughs] And so the first thing I could think of when Laura was saying about taking you guys somewhere in DC, I was like, “Yeah, we’ll swing by the drive-thru, get Andrew a nice Happy Meal, some nuggies…”

Andrew: Yeah!

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Yeah, some nuggies!

James: Some tendies.

Andrew: In defense of Ron going with the pudding, sometimes you just want to stick with what’s familiar. Maybe you don’t want to think too hard about it. You don’t want to try something new, so you stick with the pudding. But it was also setting up when Fleur comes over and asks about the dish, the… the bouillabaisse? [pronounces it incorrectly]

[Laura laughs]

Eric: I honestly respect you for not trying.

Andrew: [laughs] The way you said it was very good.

Eric: Yeah, bouillabaisse.

Andrew: It’s funny when Ron pretends that he did end up eating it and he really didn’t, but he wants to impress her.

Eric: I just… I think we could all benefit from our mind being opened a little bit more, especially because food tells a story and the experience of… this is why such a culture has come up around food to begin with. If you think about it, food is just something we do because we have to eat because we have to live, but the culture and the way in which we all talk about it and think about it is so worldly. All they need is a good dish that everyone could agree on that’s not pizza, and I think you’ll have it in one year. You’ll have solved the Death Eaters by being like, “No, we’re going to get together and just chat over food.”

Laura: Break bread together.

James: [laughs] All our problems are solved. Sushi for everyone.

[Andrew laughs]

James: Sushi is mine.

Eric: Except I don’t really do sushi. Okay, sushi is yours. There you go. Okay.

James: Yeah, last night I had a nice large, [laughs] unfortunately expensive sushi dinner for my album pre-release party.

Andrew: Oh!

Laura: I think that’s merited.

James: Sushi is the way to go. And that’s only four rolls and some pho.

Eric: Did you say, [like Turbo Man] “It’s egg roll time”?

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: But yeah, that’s awesome.

James: It’s tempura time!

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: There you go! There you go. There it is.

Laura: I love that. I was really fortunate in that I grew up in a pretty diverse community, and my parents are also adventurous eaters, so I grew up eating all kinds of different foods. And one that I did try as a kid – that I don’t think I would have tried when I was older – was lengua de vaca, which is cow tongue. And I think I only tried it as a kid because one, I didn’t quite know what it was, and I didn’t speak Spanish at the time, so I really didn’t understand. And it just looked like stew or some kind of beef, right? Which I guess technically it is.

Eric: It looks like pot roast.

Laura: Yeah, it definitely does. And it was actually really good, but I think if somebody had presented that to me when I was 15 and told me what it was, I don’t think I would have been adventurous enough to try it. It is good, but I’ve been pescatarian for almost ten years at this point, so it’s been a while. But I remember it being really good.

Eric: I will say, anytime I go to an authentic Mexican place, I get the lingua burrito. It’s absolutely, absolutely delicious.

Laura: Oh, so good.

Eric: So I’m 100% on board with what you’re saying.

James: Really! Huh.

Eric: Yeah, lingua. Try it. It’s just amazing.

Laura: It’s fantastic.

Andrew: We’ll talk about the respect that Madame Maxime receives from students and how it compares to how things at Hogwarts are run, but first we have a quick break. We’ll Floo right back.

[Ad break]

Eric: So I mentioned other cultural differences or other signs of cultural differences. Namely, the biggest one I can think of in addition to the food is that the Beauxbatons students, when Madame Maxime enters and sits at the head table, they rise. They stand up.

Andrew: [in a deep voice] All rise.

Eric: They all rise. They’re not prompted; they stand up. Madame Maxime comes in, she chats with Hagrid a little bit, she sits down, they sit down. And I think that this is… not culty…

[Andrew and James laugh]

Eric: I think it’s discipline. It shows respect. I think the Hogwarts students who are laughing think it’s culty, but for me, it represents a sort of formal education that I think is something to be aspired to, to me, that level of self-control that those students show representing their school. They get laughed at for it.

Andrew: Yeah, I also think it just speaks to how you see this dichotomy between the loosey-goosey-ness of Hogwarts, how it’s just a circus at the school every day. But this just seems to tell me right off the bat that things are run a lot more strictly at that school. Would you catch a Peeves running around Beauxbatons? I don’t think so. I think she garners a lot of respect and rules with an iron fist. And that’s how it should be at Hogwarts!

Laura: It definitely feels reminiscent of a classical education and the kinds of behavior you’d see and expect there. Back when I used to teach – and this is in a completely other life – I worked at a grade school for a period of time. It was a private school and the founder was French, so she really modeled the school after the French curriculum that she recognized from her own upbringing and from raising her own children in French schools. And I will say, the vibe in that kind of environment is quite a bit more formal, so at least based on that experience, this makes sense to me.

Eric: Moving on, one thing in particular that struck me while reading this chapter is Igor Karkaroff, and specifically, his very apparent, very transparent love and preference for Viktor Krum. They are shown walking side by side, huddled together most of the time, and following dinner, Igor Karkaroff goes over to Viktor and says, [imitating Karkaroff] “Have you eaten enough? Have you had some wine? I can have the house-elves…”

Andrew: “You sweet boy.”

[James laughs]

Eric: Yes, he just really lays it on thick. And here’s my question: The champions were not chosen prior to this moment. Both of these other European schools have brought 20 of their best students. 20. It is very clear to me who Karkaroff wants to be the Durmstrang champion.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: And is that fair to the other 20 students, including Poliakoff?

Andrew: No!

Eric: No.

Laura: Of course not.

James: That disgusting boy?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: No, and it makes me wonder if Karkaroff feels that by giving Krum a boost of confidence by paying a lot of attention to him, checking in on him, etc., on the grounds of Hogwarts near the Goblet, I’m wondering if this is his way of trying to motivate the Goblet in some way to select Krum as Durmstrang’s champion.

Eric: That’s interesting.

Andrew: We don’t know how the Goblet works, so I’m completely taking a guess here. But the only thing that makes me excited about this idea is that it’s mentioned at one point in this chapter that the Goblet sits exactly where the Sorting Hat normally does, and that just put in my head how the Sorting Hat pays attention to your thoughts and needs. And so I’m just thinking maybe there’s something there with the Goblet detecting who’s most confident who can take this on best from Durmstrang.

Eric: So if the Goblet of Fire sees that Krum has friends in Karkaroff, it’s going to be like, “Oh, I want to choose him!”

Andrew: [laughs] Friends and wine.

James: Have we considered that maybe the item with the magical properties… because if it activates the Sorting Hat, and it activates the Goblet of Fire, it has to be the default wooden stool.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

James: It’s the stool.

Andrew: It all comes back to the stool!

Eric: It’s the stool. It’s had so many butts on it that it’s really warmed to everyone. All the butts.

Andrew: All rise for the stool. That should get people standing up when it enters; forget Dumbledore. It’s the Madame Maxime of Hogwarts, the stool.

[Laura laughs]

James: Well, Karkaroff kind of reminds me of a hype man for a rapper.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

James: “Yo, yo, get my man some wine. My man hasn’t had enough wine.”

[Everyone laughs]

James: Lil Jon comes out with his chalice.

Andrew: Giving him a neck massage. I’m thinking of like, a wrestler’s coach. [laughs]

Eric: It’s just funny because he’s not offering any of the other students wine, and when Poliakoff says, “Professor, I would like some wine,” he’s like, “No! And I see you’ve dribbled food down your front, you disgusting boy.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: And it’s like, that was way extra! That was so absolutely, utterly uncalled for and extra. That’s why it made the Quizzitch question; it’s like, he’s still your charge. And in fact, if we’re led to believe that you’ve brought your best, he’s one of the 20 best in this school that probably has a thousand students, and you’re calling him a disgusting boy. He repulses you. Unbelievable.

James: What if Poliakoff is his own son?

Andrew: Ooh.

Eric: That explains everything.

Laura: Ohhh.

James: It’s kind of a Draco/Lucius sort of thing. It’s interesting. Going back to the Madame Maxime thing, it’s like she… we just see how they treat their own. Their flock, in a way, so it’s…

Eric: Reverence or… yeah.

James: Disdain.

Eric: Yeah. I mean, do we think also that Karkaroff could have been starstruck by Viktor? The idea that maybe Karkaroff doesn’t want to be an educator the rest of his career, so if he’s nice to Krum…

James: It’s his meal ticket.

Eric: Yes.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s interesting. I mean, certainly the fact that Krum is a very talented Quidditch player probably goes a long way as well. I’m just thinking about how teachers can sometimes pick favorite students, too, if they see a lot of potential in them. Or at least they kind of try to push them further to see them further excel. Maybe that’s what’s happening here between Karkaroff and Krum.

Laura: What I love about this is it really highlights the kind of character that Viktor Krum carries. And I say that because at this point, we don’t know a ton about him. But we see everyone fawning over him all the time, including students; Hermione is scoffing at them. And we later come to learn that Viktor is actually kind of shy, doesn’t really like the attention, doesn’t really want the favoritism. And I had included this as an odd and end, but because we’re really focusing on this right now, I think there’s an interesting distinction to be made between the way Krum is treated here and the way he reacts to it, and the way that Ludo Bagman was treated back after the first wizarding war ended and the favoritism that he was afforded. He essentially was acquitted of charges for passing information to Death Eaters, and the only reason he got off those charges was because the jury was starstruck by him and he played dumb, and was like, “Well, I mean, Rookwood just promised me a job in the Ministry; I can’t spend the rest of my life getting hit by Bludgers.” And here we have Krum, who is also an international Quidditch star, being very humble and demure and just not really wanting the attention and not wanting the fanfare, and I think it’s so cool that they’re both in this space together.

Andrew: That’s a really great point.

Eric: That’s incredible.

James: It’s a great observation, yeah. That’s why I love this show.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: That right there. Laura.

Andrew: No theory is safe.

James: Soundbite. Yeah, that was great.

Eric: The question that I have next is that Karkaroff has this moment where everybody’s about to leave from the feast. And Harry, Ron, and Hermione get up, they’re walking out, Harry decides “I’m going to let them go first,” Karkaroff is like, “Thank you,” then he walks a few steps, turns back, it’s Harry Potter. And we know of Karkaroff’s backstory here. We know that he was a Death Eater for Voldemort; he does have a Dark Mark which has been paining him lately. But how weird must it be when you’re going to Hogwarts, you realize you’re taking your students on this field trip to Hogwarts where the Boy Who Lived is… I bet he didn’t expect to run into Harry so soon. Night one. But here he is, staring him in the face. What must be going through Karkaroff’s head right now?

Andrew: “What if I just did it right here? Right now?”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “What if I just do it? Voldemort will like me again. The followers will like me again.”

James: “No one’s going to know.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Every former Death Eater that bumps into Harry, like Lucius in year two. Everybody is like, “What if I killed this little child right now?”

Andrew: “Let’s get it done with.”

James: “What if I wasn’t in a bookstore? What if I wasn’t in a school right now?”

Andrew: [laughs] “It’s not as bad as Voldemort trying to kill him as a baby. Now he’s practically an adult; it’s okay to do it now.”

Eric: “He’s fair game.”

Laura: Oh, that’s funny.

James: Something just dawned on me; I was like, in my head, “Can you use Avada Kedavra in Hogwarts?” And you can, because Fakey does it during his lesson, so it is possible.

Andrew: Well, yeah. I mean, he’d get caught very quickly, and there actually wouldn’t be much doubt about who killed him, and he probably wouldn’t be able to get away, so there’d be that issue. But I’m thinking in this moment, on a more serious note, Karkaroff might be having flashbacks to his time with Voldemort. Like you said, Eric, he was probably surprised that… he didn’t expect to see Harry so soon. And he’s thinking back to betraying Voldemort and his followers, which he’s later killed for in the series. And he might also be looking at Harry and thinking about his Dark Mark on his arm, and how it’s been burning, tingling, and putting the pieces together about his future. There’s probably a lot running through his mind right now.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

James: He seems pretty stunned.

Laura: And also, he’s looking at this kid who ended it all for him in a way, in terms of being able to live out those darkest fantasies that he had of being a Death Eater and serving Voldemort. Karkaroff is an opportunist; he didn’t come to the side of light because he saw the error in his ways. He gave Crouch Sr. information because he was locked up in Azkaban for being a Death Eater, so he was desperate. So that doesn’t suggest that any of his ideologies have shifted; he’s just an opportunist and a coward.

Eric: I mean, fair enough. But you know who doesn’t like people who get out of Azkaban early? Barty Crouch, Jr., who also got out of Azkaban early.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: So we’ll talk about that, like, 20 chapters from now. But yeah, the confrontation is cut short because who should come to Harry’s rescue but Mad-Eye Fakey, who’s like, “You got something to say to Potter? If not, you’re holding us up, holding up the door, man.”

Andrew: In charge of crowd control at Hogwarts.

Eric: Honestly, yeah.

Andrew: “Hey, stop blocking the door. Let the kids out.”

Eric: It’s good that Barty is there, or Fakey. It’s good that Fakey is there. But the only person who could possibly have enraged Karkaroff more than Harry, internally or not, is Moody, who is this well-known Auror, a Dark wizard catcher, and Barty Crouch, who hates him personally. So it’s a really delicious confrontation that we know absolutely nothing about when we’re reading for the first time.

Andrew: Well, and then you also think about how we learn in a few pages that somebody put Harry’s name into the Goblet of Fire. And I think we’re led to believe that it probably was Karkaroff who did it, because of… I mean, if you read back this chapter after just seeing somebody put his name in there, you might be very suspicious of Karkaroff at this point.

Laura: Ooh.

Eric: Karkaroff is a red herring or a misdirect.

James: I was just about to say red herring, exactly.

Laura: Right.

Eric: [imitating Tim Curry in Clue] “Karkaroff was only a red herring.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: It’s got many layers.

Andrew: Coming up, we’ll talk about how flawed the Goblet of Fire itself is, but first, a quick break.

[Ad break]

Eric: We do get to the next morning. It’s a very exciting night; everybody goes back to their dorms and they basically can’t sleep.

Andrew: Just filled with pudding.

[James laughs]

Andrew: Just all hyped up.

Eric: Spoilers, Andrew: I don’t know if you’ve looked up black pudding yet, but it’s not actually pudding.

Andrew: Okay.

Eric: It’s not dessert pudding, I’ll say.

Laura: No.

Andrew: Oh.

Eric: It’s not delicious.

Andrew: Oh, I’m looking at it now. It does not look pleasant. I’d rather eat Taco Bell.

[Eric and James laugh]

Eric: But it’s funny because they do manage to catch just a few people throughout the next day. It’s Saturday; it’s October 31. They do catch a few people actually putting their names in the Goblet of Fire. The most famous example of this is, of course, Fred and George Weasley. So we mentioned on opening night… [laughs] “Opening night.” On September 1, the start of school, that Fred and George even then were devising a plan to hoodwink this “impartial judge.” They didn’t know it was going to be the Goblet of Fire. Sure enough, again, once Dumbledore had told them last night that the age line would be drawn up, they again decided to pursue this plan of aging themselves up only slightly. They only need a few more months; their birthday is April 1. And crossing the age line… because if you can get past the age line, presumably the Goblet of Fire will weigh you based on your merits, completely not knowing your age.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: So this is a new development. But it’s funny because Fred and George’s antics here do correctly predict/lead into/explain how the entire plot happens with Barty Crouch, basically what he does to get Harry’s name in there.

Andrew: I just… and what cracks me up, too, is that they’re speaking about their plan pretty openly as well. It’s not like it’s exactly a secret.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: They’re proud of it. They almost don’t mind getting caught by faculty. And then of course, the age line kicks them away, and Dumbledore is even amused by…

Eric: Well, Dumbledore was there. He was hiding behind a wall or a column or something just waiting for the plan…

Andrew: “Ooh, I got you, hoo-hoo!”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Pretty much!

Andrew: It’s fun and games for Dumbledore, too; he’s just having a ball setting up this age line with this beard trick. It’s just so flawed, this whole thing, especially with Harry, his name being in there, and then is being forced to compete anyway. And Dumbledore even says something when he’s warning the students, something like “If your name comes out, there’s no take-backsies.” But it’s like, how about for people who didn’t put their name in?

Eric: Yeah, it’s really, really bad. And Dumbledore, meanwhile, I think is too occupied with how smart he is.

Andrew: [laughs] What do you mean? Because of his age line?

Eric: Because of his age line. So he just loves… two other students before Fred and George also went in and they’re in the hospital wing, and he tells them about it. He’s like, “This is so fun.” But it’s a very glaring error on his part that literally if anybody puts in a name that is not their own, it’s a problem.

Laura: It feels like a huge miss when you zoom out to the whole series so far and realize… wouldn’t be uncharacteristic for Voldemort to try to come to Hogwarts where Harry is; he’s already done it twice. [laughs] And now there’s this major international event happening at Hogwarts on the heels of the giant Death Eater march at the Quidditch World Cup, and Bertha Jorkins’s disappearance, and all the other signs that we know Dumbledore is aware of at this point, so it does feel like a miss that he wasn’t like, “Hmm. Could I see Voldemort trying to use the events of the Triwizard Tournament to get into Hogwarts? Maybe.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: You know why Dumbledore doesn’t spot Voldemort’s method of turning the Triwizard Tournament into a weapon against students? Because it already is a weapon against students. [laughs]

Laura: True. Ultimate cover.

Andrew: It was just as simple as setting up round the clock security. The Goblet was only taking submissions for 24 hours. How hard would it have been to have four 6-hour shifts or something like that?

Eric: Oh my God.

Andrew: One professor every six hours watching over it. This would not have been difficult to do.

Eric: I mean, Moody presumably would have been one of the four teachers put in charge of that.

James: [laughs] Yeah.

Andrew: All right, all right, so just Snape. He’s watching for 24 hours. You just give him a lot of coffee or the Celsius energy drinks and he’ll be good to go.

Eric: Or Dumbledore himself! At the end of the day, where are the other people making sure that this is safe? And you’re right, Andrew, it’s only 24 hours.

Andrew: Or how about a Hogwarts House portrait? I mean, a lot of them sleep; maybe that’s not a good idea.

James: Well, I don’t understand how there was no restriction put on the Goblet to where only students could put their names in. It makes me think of the movie when Karkaroff closes the doors and goes in to where the Goblet is. They show a scene where he’s just going in to lead your mind in the opposite direction, but it doesn’t necessarily say that Karkaroff was the one to put the name in. I believe Krum put it in of his own accord in the book.

Andrew: Or program the Goblet of Fire to not accept any entries that aren’t from students, and anybody’s name who’s underage, they don’t get accepted period. They don’t get drawn. They don’t get spit out when it’s selection time.

Eric: Yeah, it’s weird how simultaneously the Goblet of Fire could know enough about you to make you the champion, that it knows enough about your character and presumably whatever it’s looking for to choose you, but then also can’t be taught to ignore the fact… the people who started the Goblet of Fire wanted to kill 14-year-olds. They were fine with it. [laughs] Pretty much.

Laura: It makes me wonder what the Goblet of Fire was used for before they started using it for the Triwizard Tournament.

James: It was speed dating.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: The pieces came out and you’d be like, “Okay, so-and-so, you get to meet each other.”

Andrew: I was going to say just drinking Firewhisky, but that’s a more fun answer.

Eric: I mean, that’s pretty much what they use the Stanley Cup for after the hockey tournaments.

[Andrew and James laugh]

Laura: But yeah, I mean… I don’t know; it just seems like the Goblet of Fire is a one trick pony. To the question about, “Well, why couldn’t it cross reference with, say, the Sorting Hat or the book in the Headmaster’s office to see, ‘Okay, these are all underage…'” It can’t. One trick pony. It can only determine if you have the grit and the soul to fight to the death, and that’s all it can do.

James: It’s old tech.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Well, and it’s interesting… yeah, old tech. But from what we know, it’s only ever been the Triwizard Tournament, meaning there never, ever should be a fourth champion, no matter… it should just know that it shuts off. Because we all think it goes to sleep when it’s pulled its third name or whatever, and the addition of a fourth is surprising, but it looks like nobody throughout the years protected against a fourth name being drawn. And we’ll get into this next chapter when we discuss it, but what ended up happening was somebody put Harry’s name in under a fourth school.

James: That’s right.

Eric: So even then…

Andrew: Ilvermorny was the fourth school, by the way. This was the first mention of Ilvermorny.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Do you think it was? Yeah, do you think it’s Ilvermorny? Because Harry doesn’t even go there, so I don’t know what the deal is with that. But my point is the Goblet of Fire then didn’t know… it was like, “Oh, it’s another school.” Did they make up a school? If it was a real school still, that school isn’t competing this year. There has to have been a way to block out.

Andrew: Right. Well, and from Dumbledore’s view, the fact that he came out fourth should be grounds to not include him, period. End of story. “Oops, the Goblet just had a little hiccup. It happens. Some of us… we don’t know where it’s coming.”

Eric: It had a senior moment.

Andrew: Yeah, a senior moment. [laughs]

James: What is the binding contract? Has the author said anything about that?

Laura: We never find out.

Eric: That’s the other thing, where my personal suspicion is that this is before Unbreakable Vows were a thing, and I think that it’s probably some of the same magic that goes into an Unbreakable Vow. But the crux of this is that Harry did not submit his own name, and so you cannot be… if the intention was never there… the closest Harry gets to entering is somebody asks him – I think it’s Dean or Seamus or somebody across the table – “Hey, if you found out how to do it, would you?” And Harry is like, “Ah, that’d be nice, because Cho would love me then.”

[James laughs]

Eric: But he doesn’t. That’s way different than actually going up and consenting and putting your thing… and if you didn’t do that, even with the Unbreakable Vow you have to hold the other person’s wrist and do the spell. The magic, to me… this seems like an early progenitor of the Unbreakable Vow, which we eventually learn about, but it’s not well explained because the plot has to happen. And I’ve said it before, but the author was rushed on this book, so maybe… there’s just a lot even in this chapter that goes on, and I’m just like, “Wow, I wish this had another year of buildup in the writing.”

Andrew: To play devil’s advocate, though, maybe there is no Unbreakable Vow or something adjacent to that for the cup, and in a sick way they’re almost making an example out of Harry. By not giving him a pass, this is telling people, “Hey, we don’t care that Harry is number four. We don’t care that he didn’t actually enter his name. Don’t y’all forget, if your name comes out of that Goblet for future Triwizard Tournaments, you are competing.”

[James and Laura laugh]

James: “Warn your grandchildren.”

Andrew: [laughs] Yes.

Eric: Dumbledore’s voice, “It serves you right,” or whatever.

Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “No take-backsies. That’s what I said.”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “Once it hiccups your name, you’re in. You’re facing a dragon. That’s it.”

Eric: Oh my God.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: So because all of that is very heavy to think about, there’s one light point that I’d love to discuss here during our chapter, and it is we learn that Rubeus Hagrid has a crush, and apparently a suit of some kind, and a bottle of cologne that somebody should have taken from him and confiscated years ago.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: The trio is bored because it’s Saturday, they don’t have class, and the Goblet of Fire thing is happening tonight, so they decide to visit Hagrid. And during this time, they basically spend the afternoon chatting. “Who’s it going to be?” and all this kind of stuff. And it just reminded me of a simpler time, when we were all excited about a cultural event, or maybe something even school-related; who’s going to be prom king, who’s going to be… that kind of thing. What kind of moments get sparked by this kind of discussion that they’re having?

Andrew: Also reminds me of the selection of a new pope, where there’s a lot of anticipation.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Waiting for the pope signal. The pope chimney.

James: Wow.

Andrew: Or James, you might appreciate this one: waiting for Ryan Seacrest to announce the winner of American Idol, or who won that week’s competition.

James: Yeah, or who got voted off.

[Andrew and James laugh]

James: Fourth place. Hey, we’re on the fourth book. It’s okay. Perfect timing.

Andrew: Hey, fourth place is pretty damn good.

Eric: That’s really good.

James: Fourth place out of a country full of hopefuls is pretty sweet. Or like Halloween; it is Halloween time, also, so there’s that spirit in the air, although they’re not dressing up and trick or treating. But it still is a… the Great Hall is going to be filled with live bats and pumpkins and everything, so it is a festive time of year. And they haven’t visited Hagrid yet! So that’s also… I could imagine visiting Hagrid, you never know what you’re going to get. But it seems like when they go, they definitely stay.

Eric: That’s true. Even despite his beef stew.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Yeah, it’s really nice to see because apparently, when Hagrid was volun-told to take care of Madame Maxime’s horses, and he found out he was up to the challenge, he apparently struck up a conversation with this woman that he dodges out of the hut to meet. And who knows? Good for them. He’s sweet on Madame Maxime, and given that it’s just Valentine’s Day the other day, I’m feeling the love for these two.

Andrew: Aww. Well, yeah, and you think about how some students – namely Slytherins – will make fun of Hagrid. We’ve always seen him alone, basically, setting aside Fang. It’s nice to see that Hagrid actually can catch feelings for somebody. And that person feels the same way, as we come to learn.

Eric: Absolutely.

James: It’s got to be tough being a giant fish in a small pond, with a giant crush.

Andrew: [laughs] Or a half-giant.

James: A half-giant, yes.

Eric: He’s got a big heart. More to love. Except for house-elves; he will not join their cause, unfortunately. Well, to be clear, it’s not their cause.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Hagrid refuses flat-out to join. They’re going down to Hagrid’s, and Hermione is like, “We can’t go yet; I need to get my badges so that Hagrid can join SPEW,” and then he doesn’t. And he presents the most compelling argument so far that we have yet seen against SPEW being a thing. What do we think about…? What does it mean that Hagrid doesn’t join?

Andrew: Which part of his argument did you find compelling? Because at one point he says, [laughs] “There’s always a weirdo like Dobby, who enjoys being free.”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: I just laugh that he said “weirdo.”

Eric: Yeah, okay, he does blanket erase the possibility that house-elves could want to be free. I don’t know. I just feel like, if you’re at Hogwarts for 60 years or 50 years that Hagrid has been, you probably do see some house-elves every once in a while and… I don’t know. I just think that when he tells Hermione – again, plenty of people have said this, but it doesn’t count because Ron is 14 – but when Hagrid says they are happy serving wizards, I feel like he has the authority to tell Hermione that more than anybody who’s done it before.

Laura: I think he’s doing the same thing that Hermione is doing, just to the opposite extreme. Where Hermione is assuming that she knows what exactly freedom would mean to house-elves and how they would want it to look, I think he’s also assuming just based on his socialization that this is what they want. I doubt that Hagrid has ever talked to a house-elf and been like, “Hey, so do you actually like being a slave?” [laughs] I don’t think that conversation has happened. I think Hagrid has been socialized like everyone else in the wizarding world to just feel like this is normal, so he doesn’t question it. But the funny thing about that is people do the exact same stereotyping and broad generalizing about giants, which Hagrid is, and he suffers the consequences of that in this book, so it’s just funny.

Andrew: Yeah. On one hand, I appreciate Hagrid just being straightforward and speaking his mind telling Hermione no, but on the other hand, Hermione is a student only in her fourth year, barely halfway through her career at Hogwarts. Why not support this effort and just sign up just to placate her? I don’t understand why he wouldn’t just do that just to be a good role model, a good supportive teacher to Hermione, who clearly cares about this topic.

Eric: Hagrid takes his politics very seriously. He never signs a petition unless he 100% believes in it.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: The only petition that he’s ever signed was for baby dragons for everybody that Quirrell floated around a few years ago.

[James laughs]

Eric: So he takes it all very seriously. All right, well, I think that those were the main elements of this chapter, “The Goblet of Fire.”

Odds & Ends

Eric: Let’s get into some Odds & Ends now. There is one moment where I mentioned earlier, but Harry’s adoration of Cho Chang. And I have to say, for setting the basis for Ron and Harry’s eventual – well, actually quite soon – falling out, I just don’t think that there is enough grounds for Ron to think that Harry is at all really, really wanting the cup. There’s no way Ron can know that Harry is fantasizing about Cho, and he never says it out loud that he would want to put his own name in, so I think Ron’s insecurity is about to get the best of him in a big way. It’d be a big deal if Harry on the other hand had answered Dean or Seamus or somebody and been like, “Yeah, I’d love to; this rule sucks!” That would be a way for you to be like, “Oh, Harry found a way,” but it very much isn’t that.

Andrew: Yeah.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: All right, well, with that, let’s move on to MVP of the week.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: And I have to give it to Ron – he’s been really cracking me up lately – for yelling “NO!” when Cedric’s name came out of the Goblet.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Bro, support your school! It doesn’t matter who! It doesn’t matter if it’s… I mean, if it was Draco, then you scream “No,” but otherwise, you don’t say that. You’ve got to support him. You are jelly.

Eric: Oh my God. I love it. I’m going to give mine to Hagrid for shooting his shot. You go, Hagrid.

Laura: I’m going to give mine to Fleur. I’m trying to get my pronunciations better on this. I’ve got to give it to her, girl power champion, and Hermione needs to chill. Hermione is being a little extra in this chapter, being super prickly towards the foreign exchange students. She needs to calm down.

James: I was going to give my MVP to the Goblet of Fire itself, as it is the name of the book and the name of the chapter, because in the movie, it’s portrayed as this glorious chalice, but it’s actually just a wooden cup.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

James: So because of that, I am disqualifying it, and I’m giving it to my MVP, the one true champion, Poliakoff.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

James: Get that boy some mead. Get that boy some mead.

Andrew: You really like that guy.

James: That disgusting boy. Get that disgusting boy some mead.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

James: I want to shake his hand.

[MVP of the Week music ends]

Andrew: You’re right about the cup, by the way. The movie had poisoned my memory; I had forgotten that it’s not as sexy in the book as it is in the movie. And what also has changed my memory of it is I got a Goblet of Fire from the Noble Collection – I think it was sent to me at one point – and I have it somewhere, but it’s beautiful. And then I read in the book it’s this wooden piece of kind of crap, and I’m just like, “Oh, that’s not what mine looks like.”

[James and Laura laugh]

James: No.

Andrew: Anyway.

James: But you know what? It goes to show: Fake it till you make it, and you, too, could be sitting on the magical stool.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: That’s the real MVP of this week, the stool that seems to invoke a lot of magical power to inanimate objects. But anyway…

James: Evanesco. Wrong stool.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

James: Poof.

Andrew: Listeners, if you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can email You can also send a voice memo there – just like James did many years ago – or you can use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. We will get to a Muggle Mail episode in the weeks ahead. We have not had one in a while and we were talking about it the other day. Stay tuned for a Muggle Mail episode, but next week we will have Goblet of Fire Chapter 17, “The Four Champions.”


Andrew: And now it’s time for our weekly trivia game, Quizzitch.

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s Quizzitch question: Which Durmstrang student asks Igor Karkaroff to have some wine? Everybody, let’s say it out loud. The correct answer was…

Everyone: Poliakoff!

Eric: There we go.

James: Yay. Disgusting boy.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Yay, that disgusting boy, and newly crowned MVP of the week. Thank you, James.

James: Unanimously.

Andrew: Sure.

Eric: Oh, yeah, we all did it.

[James and Laura laugh]

Eric: Correct answers were submitted to us by – oh boy, here we go – Binge McCrinkle Harry; Bully a bass, the new French Veela special; Cameron; Cho Chang’s defense attorney; Crookshanks is a Flerken…

[Laura laughs]

Eric: … Elizabeth K.; Forrest the 11-year-old; I’d date a guy of any height, match me, MuggleCast…

Andrew: Okay.

Eric: … Jiggly Jane; Jen Pen; Katie; Elsie; Lloyd the Kiwi; Nymphagonagall…

Andrew: Ooh.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: … which is a ship name. See last week’s bonus. Raven White Claw; Robbie; The dribbled food down Poliakoff’s robes; The old cardigan under someone’s bed that Taylor Swift felt like; The sad rejected mulled wine Krum was offered…

[Laura laughs]

Eric: … The scissors that the hairdresser lost on the set of the fourth movie; The Wandering Wheatbelt Warlock; and finally, You do the Poliakoff Poliakoff and dribble food down your fur coat, that’s what it’s all about.

[James and Laura laugh]

Eric: Here is next week’s Quizzitch question: What was the birthday present that Mad-Eye Moody received and smashed thinking that it was a Basilisk egg?

Andrew: Ooh, sounds like James knows.

Eric: I know. That’s next chapter it gets mentioned, as always during our read-throughs.

James: I’m going to be working on my name.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Yeah, you’ve got to figure it out. How about just James Durbin, whose awesome single “Hallows” is out from his new album? That’s friggin’ metal, man. That’s so cool.

James: I submitted as Lord Durbin, but it didn’t make it, so I’ve got to be more creative.

Andrew, Eric, and Laura: Aww.

Eric: It wasn’t one of the top 15 creative names this week, and I’m trying to balance.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: I’m very sorry. But you’re here in person, and that is the real treat.

James: Yes. Amen. Thank you.

Eric: Yeah, so submit your Quizzitch answers to us on the Quizzitch form on the MuggleCast website,, or click on “Quizzitch” if you’re already on our website. Maybe you set it as your homepage. Click on “Quizzitch” on the main nav.

Andrew: James, congrats on the release of your new studio album, Screaming Steel, and the wizard rock single. What did you…? Wizard…? You called it wizard metal.

James: Wizard metal, yeah.

Andrew: “Hallows,” and plus you’ve got the other Harry Potter theme song on there. Where else can people find you online? Where can they follow you, your website… plug it all.

James: I am on Instagram, @JamesDurbinOfficial, verified. On, verified. Twitter was verified, but it’s @DurbinRock, and I ain’t paying for that.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

James: I’m in like, eight different bands and projects. I just played the Sphere two days ago in Vegas…

Laura: Oh!

James: … for Salesforce, which was crazy, with one of the bands I play with. And I play a lot in the San Francisco Bay area, so check out my socials if you’re nearby there. And if not, the music is streaming everywhere. Durbin Screaming Steel; it’s my latest album. I’ve got… like I said, it’s my sixth solo album. So I’ve done rock, I’ve done pop, I’ve done Americana, I’ve done kind of punky classic rock, and now classic new wave of traditional heavy metal, so…

Andrew: Amazing.

James: I just love music. I love making music and enjoy doing it and have fans that enjoy all sorts, so I keep doing it.

Andrew: Well, we’re fans of you as well, and your work, and I’m definitely going to be spending my day tomorrow listening to your full discography, because you’re speaking my language here with some of these genres you’re describing. So thanks again, and listeners, we’ll have links in the show notes so you can check out James online and his music. Couple other reminders before we wrap up the show: Check out my wizard rock single – no, I’m kidding.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Visit for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. And if you enjoy MuggleCast and think other Muggle friends would, too, tell your friends about the show, and we’d also appreciate if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app. And of course, we couldn’t do this show without support from listeners like you, so if you’re an Apple Podcasts user, you can subscribe to MuggleCast Gold, where you’ll get two bonus MuggleCast installments every month, plus ad-free and early access to the show. And then on Patreon you get those things as well, plus our livestreams, our planning docs, a new physical gift every year… all kinds of things. So is where you can find all of that. All right, that does it for this week’s episode. Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Laura: I’m Laura.

James: And I’m Lord Durbin.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

James: [in a different voice] And I’m Poliakoff.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: That one character. [laughs] Does he get mentioned again in the entire series?

Eric: Never, no.

Andrew: He’s getting a lot of attention tonight.

Eric: Justice for – justice and mulled wine – for Poliakoff.

Transcript #645


MuggleCast 645 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #645, Dumbledore the Matchmaker (GOF Chapter 15, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: And I’m Micah.

Andrew: Unfortunately, Laura is sick this week, but luckily we have one of our Slug Club patrons on – in the Laura chair, let’s call it – Katie. Hi, Katie. Welcome to MuggleCast!

Katie: Hi, guys. Happy to be here.

Andrew: We’re excited to have you. Thank you so much for your longtime support. You’ve contributed some great thoughts to today’s discussion, too, so we’re so excited to have you part of our discussion. I hope all of our listeners pull out their single-malt whiskey, because students from two foreign wizarding schools are pulling into Hogwarts in this week’s installment of Chapter by Chapter.

Micah: Choo-choo.

Andrew: Katie, before we go any further, can we get your fandom ID?

Katie: Yes. So my favorite book is Order of the Phoenix because it’s thick and that’s what I wanted at the time, lots of pages.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: “More! Give me more!”

Katie: Favorite movie: Goblet of Fire, because to Eric’s longtime point, it’s full of color. It’s the last film that’s just bursting with color. They did a lot of stuff wrong, but what they did right, they did great. And they gave us some banger songs from the Yule Ball, which I definitely listen to.

Andrew: [sings] “Can you dance like a hippogriff?”

Andrew, Eric, and Katie: “Ma-ma-ma, ma-ma-ma, ma-ma-ma.”

Katie: Yeah, yeah. Hogwarts House: Slytherin.

Andrew: Ooh.

Katie: I thought I was a Gryffindor my whole life; Pottermore told me otherwise.

Eric: Wow. How are you, Katie? How are you? Have to check in on that.

[Andrew laughs]

Katie: I’m still not… I grew up a jock, so I must be in Gryffindor, but then if I stack the tests to get in Gryffindor, then that’s a very Slytherin thing to do. So it’s an ongoing…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Yes. Yes, it is.

Katie: Yeah, so just accepting it. Slytherin. Ilvermorny House: Pukwudgie. And my Patronus is a heron…

Eric: Ooh.

Katie: … which I used to be very excited about because that was the author’s Patronus, and now…

Andrew: You’re less excited. [laughs]

Eric: Now you’re like, “Can we just not? Let that be the only thing we share.”

Katie: Yeah, now it’s just… I shouldn’t have even said that.

Micah: Now it’s just yours. It’s just yours.

Katie: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: Thank you for sharing your fandom ID, Katie, and thank you for your support on Patreon. And thanks to everybody who supports us; we really appreciate your financial support through Patreon or Apple Podcasts. So before we go any further, last week, inspired by Harry and Ron’s approach to their Divination homework, we took turns making predictions about one another’s futures, so I thought we should revisit these and see if any of them came true. First of all – and this actually might explain why Laura isn’t here this week – I predicted that Laura will encounter a great fortune, the likes of which she has never seen…

[Eric and Katie laugh]

Andrew: … but it’ll be just out of her grasp, due to an unspeakable law of resistance. So maybe she’s still trying to get that money. Or maybe she got the money.

Micah: She just doesn’t want to tell us the truth, right?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: I think she had to… yeah, she had to not be on the show in order to claim it.

Micah: She’s going to break it to us softly.

Andrew: Micah, you predicted that I would get offended when someone doesn’t want to chit-chat, [laughs] but it’s not an affront to me; they are processing something I wouldn’t want to talk about anyway.

Katie: This is so personal. [laughs]

Andrew: Should I be speaking to my therapist about this one or what? Because I’m not sure if this came true.

Micah: Yeah, you might just want to check in with them to see. You might be bearing it on a subconscious level.

Andrew: Whoa. Okay. Micah, Eric predicted that you would learn about a new restaurant in Indianapolis that’s too good to pass up. Did that happen?

Micah: I believe it did.

Andrew: Oh!

Micah: So Eric must have some Trelawney blood in him, so… see, this one is tough, because I know Eric knew – or maybe he didn’t know – that I was going to Indianapolis next week.

Andrew: He did.

Eric: I did or didn’t I know? I don’t know.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: [imitating Trelawney] “The staaars have told me…”

Micah: But I have learned actually about several restaurants in Indianapolis that seem too good to pass up.

Andrew: Wow.

Micah: So Eric leading the charge here.

Eric: All right.

Andrew: Bon appétit. And then lastly, Laura predicted that Eric would get a lead on something new, exciting, and unexpected in the coming weeks that would transform his day to day.

Eric: I’m going to take it that Laura’s absence is here, so it didn’t come true, so something must be a complication of that.

Andrew: Okay.

Eric: So I’m still waiting on that one.

Andrew: She did say in the coming weeks, so…

Micah: Yeah, Eric has some time here.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah, you’ve got some time.

Eric: Okay.

Andrew: Safe to say those predictions could have gone a little bit better, but I guess we all have a little Trelawney in us.

Eric: I’m still waiting for our Tycho Dodonus predictions to really hit home.

Micah: Ooh.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: The Fantastic Beasts prophecies that we made.

Andrew: It is Valentine’s Day week, and we have a Valentine’s-themed edition of bonus MuggleCast coming up today, right, Eric?

Eric: That’s right. We are going to be playing [laughs] a wonderful take on the old beloved MuggleCast segment the Dueling Club, but we’re reworking it to make it the Snogging Club!

[Katie laughs]

Andrew: We’re going to be spinning a wheel, and then it’s going to give us two random characters, and then we’re going to have to argue why these two characters should be paired together.

Eric: Yep.

Katie: I can’t wait. Oh my God.

Eric: This takes shipping… and Katie, you are welcome to join us and play.

Katie: I cannot wait. Sign me up. Put me in, Coach. I’m so ready.

[Andrew and Katie laugh]

Eric: All right. Katie is at bat.

Micah: So this is like spin the bottle.

Eric: That’s exciting. Something to look forward to in the bonus on Patreon, and thanks to everyone who subscribes to us on Patreon and gets cool features like the bonus MuggleCast things.

Andrew: This is also a new benefit of MuggleCast Gold on Apple Podcasts. So yeah, going to be a lot of fun. And hey, Spotify listeners, did you know you can easily submit feedback each week? Just tap into an episode and you’ll see a box that says, “What did you think of this episode?” We might even feature your feedback on that episode’s page in Spotify, like we did for this piece of feedback. This was left by Josie on Episode 643 a few days ago; she said, “I love MuggleCats! And yes, I did that on purpose. (cat emoji) I am a diehard Swiftie and I love this reference.” The reference being that episode’s title, which was “Karma Is Crookshanks Purring in My Lap. “Thank you. Love you, besties, Josie.” Thank you, Josie.

Eric: You know what? I will say I’m glad that it wasn’t a reference to Quizzitch getting rid of fun usernames.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: I’m glad that the vitriol has not gone that far. So we’re back, by the way, everybody, to hybrid names on Quizzitch.

Andrew: I guess we need to launch a spinoff podcast called “MuggleCats.” And Eric is a cat owner, a cat father, so you could lead that show for us, Eric.

Eric: I would love to lead that show, Andrew. Please, put me in, Coach.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Andrew: Katie, do you have any cats?

Katie: I sure do. Oh, yes.

Micah: You already have an apparel line, too, Eric, that you can start with.

Eric: That’s right. I have an apparel line that says “Martha can do no wrong,” or “Martha’s way is the right way”?

Micah: Something like that.

Andrew: Awesome. Well, no matter where you listen, no matter how you support us, thank you, everybody. We really appreciate it.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: And now it’s time for Chapter by Chapter, and this week we’re going to discuss Goblet of Fire Chapter 15, “Beauxbatons and Durmstrang,” and we’ll start, as always, with our Seven-Word Summary. [intensely] Katie, are you ready?

Katie: Oh, boy. Yes.

Andrew: Put me in, Coach. She’s going to play. Okay, here we go.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Katie: Foreigners…

Micah: … arrive…

Andrew: … at…

Eric: … the…

Katie: … clean…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: … squeaky…

Andrew: … school. Perfect. I think we just need to add a little comma right here: “clean, squeaky school.”

[Seven-Word Summary music ends]

Eric: Yeah, or “clean-squeaky.”

Andrew: But then is that one less word?

Eric: Oh, wait. Yeah. Separate. Comma! Comma!

Micah: Comma.

Andrew: [chanting] Comma, comma…

[Katie laughs]

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Andrew: Okay, so for this first part of this discussion, I want to talk about the Imperius Curse and Moody’s DADA class. I was chuckling as I was reading this chapter because last week, we were debating whether or not Dumbledore knew that Fakey was teaching the Imperius Curse. I am now confident Dumbledore did not know that these curses were being taught in Moody’s class, because in this class in this chapter, Moody claims Dumbledore wants the Imperius Curse taught on all of them, and there is no way. There is no way! So I am now convinced Dumbledore does not know. And this also makes me think that these Unforgivable Curses are only being taught in Harry’s class, because if he was teaching this to all the students that he had and doing the Imperius Curse on all the students, it would have a much higher chance of getting out, of somebody finding out what he was up to.

Eric: I mean, this really represents the biggest secret kept from Dumbledore that’s right under his nose. I mean, if this is true, Andrew, it means Dumbledore does absolutely not know what’s going on in the school. It’s kind of like an own, a little bit. I mean, are you prepared to say that Dumbledore is that clueless?

Andrew: [exhales] Well, it’s a big school.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: And I just can’t compute why Dumbledore would see this going on and be like, [imitating Dumbledore] “Whatever, it’s fine.” It would be cruel. It would be a fireable offense at the Ministry level.

Katie: He probably trusts Moody, who he believes to be Moody so much that he doesn’t even audit the class.

Andrew: Ooh.

Katie: Because he’s like, “It’s Moody. It’s Alastor. There’s just no way that he would do anything like this.” And Fakey makes up stuff like “The big guys don’t want you to know” to make the kids… to give them some agency and confidence that they’re allowed to participate in this very exciting Auror-type training.

Andrew and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: And to the question about whether or not this is only Harry’s class, I’m not so sure of that. Because we’re told that they’re not supposed to learn the Unforgivable Curses until sixth year, so presumably, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be teaching this in fourth year, fifth year, sixth year. And to expand on that – someone raised this in the last episode; I can’t remember if it was Laura or it was you, Eric – but this is very much a playing with your food moment for Barty Crouch, Jr. He is literally able to perform Unforgivable Curses on 14-year-olds with zero repercussions. And it reminds me of McGonagall’s comments from earlier in the book that surely Dumbledore would have mentioned something to Moody about using transfiguration as a punishment, so if Dumbledore doesn’t allow transfiguration as a punishment, he surely doesn’t allow his professors to perform Unforgivable Curses on his students. [laughs]

Andrew: Yes. 100%.

Micah: So I agree with Andrew; he does not know about this. There’s no way.

Eric: Well, going back to… again, I just really have always thought that Dumbledore is omniscient about everything. Every time Harry sneaks out, I’m like, “Dumbledore somewhere has a gizmo that went off in his office and knows about this.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: I just always pictured that, and this…

Andrew: He got a little Air Tag alert. “Your Harry has left you. He has left the school boundaries.”

Eric: He’s checking his Snap map. He’s checking Harry Potter Snap map.

[Andrew and Katie laugh]

Eric: Well, anyway, however… this is well-reasoned, Andrew. Lately, this really stumps me, and the only way I can reconcile that Dumbledore wouldn’t actually know is if Moody is putting – or sorry – Fakey is putting a secret Imperius Curse on the students to where they’re not allowed to tell an adult what’s going on. Maybe the curse has not been lifted after they leave class.

Andrew: I want to also address, Eric, the point about Dumbledore knowing everything that’s going on, being omniscient. I agree with you. I have agreed with you before on that take; I feel like it makes sense that he really does know, or knows let’s say 99%, of what’s going on. But then moments like this happen and I’m like… I feel like this is proof he doesn’t.

Katie: He is attending events coordination meetings about the Goblet of Fire. Inspecting the Goblet…

Andrew: Oh yeah, maybe he’s just busy.

Eric: How many meetings could they have had, given how badly it goes?

[Eric and Katie laugh]

Andrew: He’s cleaning the trophies. He’s helping cleaning the school as well.

Katie: He’s like nesting mothers. “It’s probably fine. Perhaps a little too dangerous, but if that’s the only one we got, gotta do it, I guess.”

Andrew: So then there’s the question of the trio and why they would just go with it. Did it cross their minds that Dumbledore would actually not want them to be Imperiused? And I see Court who’s listening live right now on our Patreon bring this up too: Why didn’t Hermione rat him out? I’m wondering if they didn’t question it because they went into their first DADA class being very excited about Moody. They had heard good things about him; their guard was down when it came to Moody.

Eric: This and the events of the Quidditch Cup with the resurgence of the Death Eaters really does sell that it’s darker times. Darker times call for darker lessons. I think that it’s funny to see, if that is a reason why people’s guard was a little bit more down, they’re used to getting into a little bit more… or they’re amenable to the idea of getting into harder lessons or deeper, darker magic, it’s because of something that Fakey actually did earlier in the year in casting the Dark Mark, so that’s kind of fun.

Micah: But presumably this is a fireable offense, right? If word got out… if any student wrote home to their parents and said, “Oh, yeah, what did I do in school today? I got Imperiused and did cartwheels around the room or almost jumped out the window.” If you’re a wizarding world parent, you have to be very concerned about this. And there’s even a through line to Order of the Phoenix because there’s now a track record for students not going to Dumbledore or their Head of House to basically tell on what their professors are doing, right? Think about with Umbridge. Harry is in detention, and he’s got this scar now that’s showing up on his hand because literally what he’s writing is burning into his skin, and he doesn’t go to anybody about that. Presumably, that would have gotten Umbridge tossed out right away. And I think it’s the same thing here for Moody. If anybody would have said something about this, Moody would have been gone.

Katie: You just reminded me, too, that I think Umbridge – speaking of Order of the Phoenix – I’m pretty sure when she’s dissing every single DADA professor and Harry gets all offended, the last thing she says is she comments on Moody doing this stuff with mirth, and then Harry is like, “Oh, because it was a Death Eater,” and then that’s one of his detentions. So it does come out at some point, the details of this.

Micah: That’s a great point.

Andrew: Also, I mean, this could be cause to fire Dumbledore too. I mean, the buck has to stop with somebody, and it should probably be the person who hired Moody, or Fakey.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Why wasn’t he vetted more? Look, I know it’s bizarre to hear me say this because I tend to be the guy defending Dumbledore, but it’s very upsetting that this Death Eater was working undercover at Hogwarts, Imperiusing the students, lying about Dumbledore… somebody has to take the fall here, and not just Fakey. Let’s talk about the Imperius Curse and what happens. We actually get an inside look at how it feels to be put under the Imperius Curse: Harry experiences “the most wonderful feeling… a floating sensation as every thought and worry in his head was wiped gently away, leaving nothing but a vague, untraceable happiness… he stood there feeling immensely relaxed, only dimly aware of everyone watching him.” I thought this was a very interesting description. I don’t think it’s what I would have expected, especially because this is an illegal curse and very, very dangerous. But on the other hand, reading it, I do understand it because it’s almost wiping out your brain to control you. You don’t have any other feelings because you shouldn’t. You’re being controlled.

Eric: Right, right. All of the suffering that we have all of the… if you have anxiety, if you have intrusive thoughts, all of that is gone because your only thought is what you’re being told to do. It’s sad, actually, that Harry goes to this place of relief and happiness, because he’s been so traumatized that he’s probably never felt calmer [laughs] than when he’s under the Imperius Curse. I think that’s what we’re meant to take away from it, that it’s actually a tragic thing that Harry is relieved to be in this state.

Micah: Sure.

Katie: Yeah, some people might feel… I suppose everybody would feel this relief so that they would do the thing, but I would imagine maybe some people feel discomfort, not relief, but nothingness or unconcern. But yeah, the word “relief” is interesting there when you call it out like that. What could it be, to be 14 and needing relief from something?

Andrew and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: There’s seemingly this false sense of security that exists in being under the Imperius Curse, and thinking about it, these two… well, if you look at Imperio and Crucio, they’re really at the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of what they do to you, right? Because Imperio makes you feel – at least, because we’ve only seen it experienced through Harry’s eyes – safe, right? Comfortable. The Cruciatus Curse inflicts severe pain. So it was just interesting to me that these are at different ends of the spectrum in terms of what they do to you, even though they’re Unforgivable.

Eric: Yeah, well, yes and no on that, because Fakey is ultimately doing relatively safe things to them with the Imperius Curse. I think that the issue that comes is once you are experiencing harm or pain, the curse forces you to do that too. So like, he says that the Imperius Curse can be used to make the spider drown itself, right? That wouldn’t be a blissful feeling while it’s doing it.

Micah: But maybe, because the agency is completely removed, so you don’t in that moment…

Eric: The agency is, yeah, but your body would be protesting. Your lungs would be wanting to. It would be a… it’s already a horrible thing to think about.

Micah: But would they? That’s the question. That’s what makes this, I think – probably outside of the Killing Curse – the most dangerous of any of the Unforgivable Curses, because you’re literally going to do anything without any kind of resistance, unless you’re somebody like Harry or somebody who’s practiced in being able to resist this type of curse.

Katie: I mean, you’ll be a Death Eater for years, right, and then claim that you were Imperiused. Lucius Malfoy, I think, was the most…

Eric: There has to be a test… but yeah, you’re right, Katie.

Andrew: Well, and doesn’t Moody say the Ministry was really – well, Fakey says – around this area of the book that the Ministry was having a hard time figuring out who was Imperiused and who wasn’t? So to your point, Eric, about a test, unfortunately… you’re saying a test to detect if somebody was Imperiused or not?

Eric: Yeah, like, everyone who claims that they were Imperiused should have their drawing room floors searched for trapdoors to a cellar full of evil and Dark objects, and then be given the benefit of the doubt only after a thorough search has been completed.

Andrew: Right.

Katie: Or very personal questions, right.

Eric: Right.

Katie: Nicknames. “Mollywobbles” and all that.

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah.

Eric: That kind of stuff.

Andrew: I was wondering if there’s a Muggle equivalent to these sensations that Harry is describing, or certain adult vices.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: If you’re sedated on some level, or you’re drugged on some level, I think, where you lose control of your abilities, that could certainly be comparable.

Katie: There’s the big difference between the motor control in the Muggle world. Any kind of sedation usually compromises physical ability, and Moody is having people do somersaults and dancing and all of this stuff, which requires very detailed motor control, which… I fail to find, because of that, anything close to that in our world.

Eric: Yeah, it’s a good point. It’s like somebody’s inhabiting your body; it’s just not you.

Katie: Puppet master.

Eric: I think that the personal detachment that one feels to one’s own body could be maybe achieved or similarly by meditation, but you’re entering a very slow moving – to your point, Katie – state, and your body’s not active during this time. You’re freeing your mind, depersonalizing, finding a higher plane of enlightenment. It has nothing to do with cartwheels and somersaults.

Katie: All the positive things of letting go and finding relief from within.

Eric: Right.

Micah: I think Laura had a pretty good suggestion here, too, which was hypnosis. That might be the closest comparison.

Andrew and Katie: Yes.

Katie: I think there’s plenty of examples in culture and psychology, history of psychology, of people doing things, but I’ve never tried it myself.

Andrew: Me neither. I’m afraid to.

Katie: I’m a bit skeptical.

Andrew: Yeah, that too.

Katie: You’re afraid to?

Andrew: Well, yeah, I don’t want to be controlled.

Katie: If it actually works? [laughs]

Andrew: Well, because in high school, we had these… after the dance, there’d be this event at the school to keep you away from partying and whatnot later into the night after prom or whatever. And they would bring in a hypnotist and they’d have ten students up on stage, and they would do it. And I was present for these; I wasn’t on the stage. But these people… “When I snap my fingers, you will fall asleep. When I snap my fingers, you’ll wake up. When I snap my fingers again, you’ll do a dance.” Stuff like that. And it seemed pretty convincing to me. I didn’t hear…

Katie: Everybody fell in line?

Andrew: Yes!

Katie: It wasn’t just like, the theater kids that all signed up and then did it?

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: “Oh, you know what? Coincidentally, all the volunteers were from the theater department.”

[Andrew and Katie laugh]

Eric: No, Andrew, I’m with you 100%. Anytime I see that and it’s supposedly real and it’s in front of me, I’m terrified. What if it were me? I don’t like the idea of not being in control of my own body.

Andrew: Amen to that. Well, let’s keep moving along here. Somebody mentioned a few minutes ago that Harry was able to resist the curse to an extent; part of him didn’t understand why he should have to jump on the desk, which is showing his resistance. Fakey is actually very impressed by this, and Harry is the only student that can resist. But I was also thinking, so Fakey is enjoying himself, but is he secretly mad? Because he’s learning here that Harry is a pretty good fighter in a way he didn’t necessarily know.

Katie: Yeah, so I had this thought that… because he not only teaches the kids Imperius Curse, but he makes Harry do it four times until Harry can throw it off completely. And later in this book, I’m pretty sure Voldemort tries to use it on him in the graveyard with the bow thing. I think Lucius tries it again. So he’s equipping Harry with the very skills that Harry will use against the Death Eaters. And whereas surely a guy of this much power, if he’s inside Harry’s mind, could probably do a nonverbal hex to weaken Harry or mess him up, plant some kind of seed there, he could easily sabotage Harry in some way. And it made me think about Polyjuice Potion, and if somebody takes it for long enough, is there a risk for Dissociative Identity Disorder where you actually start to believe the person that you are? Is it possible that Barty Crouch is just getting so into Moody’s character that he’s just excited, feeding off of these kids, and leaning into his role as the zany professor…

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Katie: … just knowing that the stronger Harry is… in the back of his mind he’s justifying it like, the stronger Harry is, the more Voldemort will appreciate the fight or something. He could be making up all kinds of lies to himself.

Andrew: Ooh. Right.

Eric: Maybe. I do think there’s… in the LARP community we call it character bleed.

Katie: Oh, sure, okay.

Eric: I do think that Crouch has some character bleed here.

Katie: There it goes, yeah.

Eric: “Professor Moody! Professor Moody!” He loves being called that.

Andrew: So fascinating.

Katie: And he was in Azkaban; he could be really enjoying his time here.

Andrew: Yeah. I keep coming back to Eric, too, complimenting Barty Crouch, Jr. a few weeks ago, being like, “I’m impressed by you.” And at first I was like, “Wait, what?”, but as we continue to read and as we continue to analyze, I get it. These points being brought up… what a fascinating character!

[Andrew and Katie laugh]

Katie: Seriously.

Eric: Really interesting, yeah. And it’s like… he likes Voldemort, or he is at one point… he’s on Voldemort’s side. He’s willing to be part of this plot to get Harry to go to meet Voldemort and die. But he also really wants to train Harry a little bit, to kind of give the Death Eaters a run for their money, and there is something pretty sick about it. It’s the playing with your food before you’re eating it. But actually, Harry is thankful, and I think in the future, Harry really credits Fakey for even just… he’s the one who tells him to become an Auror. That is a life path that Harry does go down, so it definitely… we can’t discredit the impact that this Death Eater disguised teacher has on Harry’s development. It’s really interesting.

Katie: Nor can we forget that he does sleep next to a body in the trunk every night…

[Andrew makes a disgusted, shuddering noise]

Eric: What a creep.

Katie: … so layer upon layer of complexity there, to the point where Harry asks about it, and he’s like, “Yeah, it’s got some cool stuff. Ha ha.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: ZN in the Discord says that Fakey is love bombing Harry. [laughs]

Andrew: Oh my gosh.

Katie: Yes.

Micah: For Valentine’s Day, of course.

Eric: Yay.

Micah: I think he just really enjoys it, though. I think there’s something about him that loves the fact that Harry is resisting this…

Eric: Yes.

Micah: … and it presents a bit of a challenge that he maybe wasn’t expecting. So I also think that there’s a connecting the threads bit here to Lupin, because with Expecto Patronum, how many times does Lupin push Harry till he finally gets it right? Much like Moody does the same thing here, until he’s finally able to resist the Imperius Curse. So there’s definitely connections. I know we talked about Umbridge earlier, but there’s a bit of a connection here with Lupin as well.

Andrew: We are going to discuss whether or not Harry’s Horcrux could be in play in this scene, but first, we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Micah: One thing I wanted to call out – because we are pretty good at identifying moments throughout the series now that we know that Harry is part Horcrux – and this is a moment I feel like…

Eric: Wait, what?

[Andrew and Katie laugh]

Micah: Oh, sorry. Did you not finish Book 7? I know you didn’t like it.

Eric: Spoilers! When did this happen?

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: I wanted to ask, is Harry resisting in this moment the Imperius Curse? Or is the Horcrux resisting?

Eric: I love this question.

Micah: Because one would assume Voldemort is extremely good at resisting the Imperius Curse, and we hear a voice talking back to Harry inside of his head. Now, I don’t want to take anything away from Harry. We know he’s good at Defense Against the Dark Arts; it’s his best subject. But I also feel like… we often throw out the question, is it his best subject because it was one of Tom Riddle’s best subjects? Harry is not really good at anything.

Katie: I don’t think we ever hear Harry have an internal argument with himself ever except for this one moment, so it is probably a coincidence, though. But interesting that it’s also in the centerpiece book of the seven.

Eric: Could be hinting at what’s to come. Yeah, I like the idea that he hears this other voice when he’s in a trance-like state, so he’s able to connect on a totally deep level with another persona, or another personality is here. I do think it… I love this theory. And normally when we ask the question “Is Harry’s Horcrux giving him an advantage here?”, I would usually say no, in the earlier books especially. But in this case, I’m prepared to endorse that, Micah. I’m prepared to say this is the first real time where the Horcrux really shines; it’s because Harry has something that the other students don’t. No other student is as good or fails to be completely controlled the first time, but Harry is, and I think it’s because when Harry’s mind is wiped with the Imperius Curse, there’s still someone else there.

Andrew: Also, just want to throw out a little foreshadow alert, because Harry says, “The way [Moody] talks, you’d think we were all going to be attacked any second.”

[Foreshadowing sound effect plays]

Andrew: I’d say that’s foreshadowing what’s going to be happening at the end of this book. So now let’s move on to the other half of this discussion, the excitement around the Triwizard Tournament. So the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students are arriving on Halloween Eve, and the students are very excited. Though Ron’s mood is a little dampered because we learn that Hufflepuff’s Cedric Diggory will be putting his name in the Goblet, and Ron clearly does not like him. [laughs] He said, “That idiot, Hogwarts champion?” And Hermione thinks Ron doesn’t like him because he beat Gryffindor at Quidditch, and then Ron retorts that Hermione just likes him because he’s handsome.

Eric: The first thing I think of when I hear Ron saying, “Cedric, that idiot?” is you don’t even know him! When would Ron and Cedric have interacted? At least Harry and Cedric have actually played on the same team; they played a game together. Ron is just bandwagoning, and I think he’s doing it because he was probably next to Harry when Amos Diggory at the beginning of the year was like, “Oh, my son beat Harry in Quidditch,” and “Isn’t he awesome,” and stuff. But the thing is, that was Cedric’s dad. Cedric himself is a class act. Cedric is such a class act that that the Goblet of Fire picks him to be Hogwarts champion. So I just think it’s unfair for Ron to…

Micah: Remember, he wanted a rematch. He offered Harry a rematch, right? At the end Prisoner of Azkaban or in the book somewhere.

Eric: That’s exactly it. Yeah, well, he had requested when he found out why Harry fell off his broom.

Andrew: So it just comes down to looks, then, right? Ron knows Cedric is a good-looking guy…

Katie: He’s a Chad and Ron’s not, and Ron’s being mad about it.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: I mean, Ron basically admits it comes down to looks. He says to Hermione, “You like him just because he’s handsome.” That’s a classic thing that happens in school. You’re jealous…

Micah: This is a lovers’ quarrel, though.

Andrew: Yes, yes. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Katie: Mhmm. Beginning.

Eric: This is Ron’s character flaw; we know this. And he’s pre-attacking and he’s getting pre-defensive for no reason against any potential threats in his pursuit of Hermione.

Micah: Totally. I also thought it could be fun to talk about Ron from the standpoint of… for all we’ve seen through these first couple books, he’s very much Team Gryffindor. He hasn’t expanded to be anything more than that yet. And that obviously changes very quickly once Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet of Fire and he’s all about Cedric, as opposed to being about Harry, but it’s also just a maturity thing, I think, for Ron, where he’s grown up knowing Gryffindor, but he’s not grown enough yet to see how… kind of being Team Hogwarts. He’s like, “If Cedric’s name does come out of the Goblet of Fire,” which it obviously does, he’s not willing at this time to be accepting of that. He wouldn’t get behind somebody who is representing his entire school, not just Hufflepuff. So I think, as we talked about in the previous chapter with Ron related to SPEW, he’s got a lot of growing up to do.

Katie: This is a tough book for Ron. A lot of growing pains.

Andrew: No, it is a good point, Micah. And it is a bummer that Ron isn’t in a position where he could be Team Hogwarts instead of Team… Myself.

[Andrew and Katie laugh]

Andrew: So the faculty is very excited about today as well, and the school wants to put its best foot forward; the school is undergoing an extra thorough cleaning. And this reminded me of when big events happen in the Muggle world in cities. I’ll always remember growing up in South Jersey, the Democratic or Republican National Convention was coming to Philadelphia, just over the river from me, and oh boy was Philadelphia cleaning itself up!

[Katie laughs]

Andrew: You know those dividers in the road? Those cement dividers in the middle of the road to separate opposing traffic? They were painting bricks on the cement dividers to make it look classier.

[Katie laughs]

Andrew: Stuff like that. When a head of state comes into the country, a city cleans up. We were hearing about that happening in San Francisco a few months ago. It’s time to go undergo an extra thorough cleaning. [laughs]

Katie: Oh my God.

Eric: That’s a great example. I just think, yeah, it’s funny because growing up, somebody coming over – who’s not normally over and used to your level of cleanliness, let’s just say – was the main impetus to actually do cleaning. It’s like no matter who it is, you really want to put your best foot forward, and so it’s fun to see… I guess I would say cooperation, but it all just seems like it’s just mostly Filch who’s going around and having to clean up Hogwarts. Also, the funnier thing about this to me is it’s a medieval castle. There’s no way you can get super… unless they start painting the bricks.

[Eric and Katie laugh]

Katie: Paint a coat of gloss on everything.

Eric: Yeah, yeah, there’s no way to really get it to look nicer. And what does nicer even mean? More modern, necessarily?

Katie: Yeah. This just occurred to me that it’s almost a bit of foreshadowing for the Yule Ball, too, because in a few chapters, we’ll hear about how all the people are doing this to their own hair and looks the same way in anticipation of showing up. We get a similar thing with how Sprout and Hagrid, how everyone’s taming themselves, and it’s fun. There’s a lot of makeovers in this book.

Eric: It’s kind of a meme behavior, these trends that are coming out of this event, in the original meaning of meme.

Micah: Eric just brought up Filch, but I really do hope they give him some assistance. I don’t think it’s fair that they would make him clean the entire castle with no magical help at all from any of the other professors, or students for that matter.

Eric: This is the book where it’s all about house-elves. House-elves are probably helping…

Micah: They probably are.

Eric: … which doesn’t necessarily make us feel better. But I know that in the Jim Kay illustrated version, there’s a house-elf cleaning, so pick your poison.

Katie: Yeah. And it’s funny how cleaning is reserved for detention. It’s kind of troubling that none of these students are learning the self-care of cleanliness in a way.

Eric: Oh my gosh. That’s a great point, Katie. [laughs]

Katie: It just came to me, like…

Andrew: Well, and honestly, that happens in the Muggle world too. Your parent might punish you by being like, “Go mow the lawn,” or “Go clean your room,” or stuff like that.

Katie: Sure.

Andrew: But you’re so right.

Eric: Yeah, but what about pride?

Katie: Pride, yes!

Eric: What about the school pride and…?

Andrew: “Let’s all chip in together.”

Eric: Yeah, like, “Let’s all volunteer.” “We’re taking volunteers to go mow the Quidditch pitch,” or something that never happens.

Katie: You’re 16/17; make your own bed!

[Andrew laughs]

Katie: How are you getting ready for the real world? I should hope.

Eric: They’re coddled in their beds by the house-elves.

Katie: So coddled.

Eric: It’s funny that nobody at Hogwarts has learned the everyday magic of tidying up.

Andrew: Yes, ah, you’re making a reference to the Marie Kondo book of the same name. I love cleaning. I’ve always been somebody who really enjoys cleaning.

Eric: It’s good, yeah.

Andrew: Kids, if your parents are punishing you with cleaning things when you’ve been bad, enjoy it. Listen to MuggleCast – or MuggleCats – while you’re cleaning up, or maybe…

Katie: Right.

Eric: Dear Forrest, dear Luke, surprise your parents; tell them MuggleCast has recommended that you clean something, and ask your parents where they would like the help.

Andrew: “I’ll do my chores, and you don’t even have to pay me a dollar. I’ll do it for free, because I hear cleaning is a cool thing to do.”

Eric: Well, don’t do that, because your labor has value.

[Everyone laughs]

Katie: I love cooking and folding laundry to MuggleCast, so it all works. That’s my thing.

Andrew, Eric, and Micah: Aww.

Andrew: Basically, what we’re saying is it can feel good to step away from a screen. It could feel therapeutic.

Eric: I’d be folding laundry right now; I just don’t have clean laundry right now.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: I need to wash it first.

Micah: Unless you’re playing Luigi’s Mansion; then you could be staring at a screen and feeling good about cleaning things up at the same time.

Eric: It’s so satisfying when the ghosts go [makes wubbly sound]

Andrew: Oh, yeah, that sound is so satisfying. I so agree. All right, so the other schools do arrive, and it’s very different than the movie.

Katie: Oh, boy. Yeah.

Micah: So I think there’s a huge opportunity for the TV show to Max this…

[“Max that” sound effect plays]

Micah: … because we get it at the end of the movie, right? When both Beauxbatons and Durmstrang are leaving, but their entrances are so freaking cool and all we get in the movie is just the doors of the Great Hall busting open, some cartwheels and butterflies, and that’s it. [laughs]

Katie: Blown kisses for the pretty French girls and then extreme physical Cossack dancing for all of the big burly guys.

Eric: At least we do get to see the vehicles fly away at the end of the movie.

Micah: Yeah, but…

Eric: But it definitely, I think, suffered in the adaptation from over condensation here.

Katie: Yeah, these are epic arrivals.

Andrew: So in terms of how the movie does it, of course, Durmstrang is all men. Beauxbatons… [pronounces it “Bow-battens”] Beauxbatons… [pronounces it in French] I always say it differently – all women.

Eric: That’s okay, Andrew, we’re working on it. We have all the book to get it right.

[Andrew and Katie laugh]

Eric: By Chapter 38, you’re going to be like, “Beauxbatons. Why did I ever say it any different?”

Micah: In fairness to Andrew, Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore also says “Bow-battens.”

Andrew: Oh, maybe that’s where it’s coming from.

Katie: [laughs] Of course he does.

Andrew: Because I’m one of the only five people on Earth who liked Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledore.

Eric: It’s true.

Andrew: Anyway, this whole movie portrayal of an all-guys school and all-girls school, it doesn’t really make sense, because if these schools are boys only or girls only, where do the other students who aren’t boys or girls, respectively, go to school? And why aren’t they competing in the Triwizard Tournament? It doesn’t make sense. [laughs]

Katie: No.

Eric: Didn’t you know that there are no French men, Andrew?

[Katie laughs]

Andrew: Oh, that’s it. Okay. Micah, you were just over in Paris. Can you confirm that?

Micah: That is a lie.

Andrew: Oh, okay. So the Beauxbatons arrive via a powder blue giant horse-drawn carriage, and Harry notes Madame Maxime’s height, and we get a sense of her accent in the writing as well, which is honestly very fun to read, I think, similar to how Hagrid’s manner of speaking is very fun to read. And reading this area and knowing that they later will be in a relationship, Hagrid and Maxime, it almost feels like Dumbledore is being a wingman for Hagrid, because Dumbledore says that “Hagrid will take excellent care of your horses; don’t worry about it.” And she also says that her horses only drink single-malt whiskey, which I think will be music to Hagrid’s ears.

[Andrew and Katie laugh]

Eric: Only the finest single-malt whiskey.

Katie: He’s got barrels of it. He’s been waiting for this moment.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Micah: I can get some AI of Dumbledore being Hagrid’s wingman, if you’d like. No?

Eric: No.

Micah: Maybe?

Andrew: I like it.

Katie: I’m not sure what that would look like. I guess he’d be at a bar, an establishment with Hagrid perhaps, or looking at Tinder together.

Eric: The thing for me – I think we’re just not used to seeing it through Harry’s eyes or whatever – but this is perfectly on the dot stately behavior. The delegations are arriving; they’re welcoming each other. Dumbledore has his kiss of her hand, Maxime’s hand, and the “Yes, I assure you, your horses will be well taken care of. Our gamekeeper will take care of… our Care of Magical Creatures teacher…” so he is doing Hagrid a solid, but at the same time, I think that it’s just very… it just is Hagrid’s lucky day, really…

Katie: Right.

Eric: … that he’s the one who’s going to be able to handle these massive horses. Also, I don’t think we ever get a real explanation as to why they are the way that they are.

Katie: Like, why they drink whiskey? What’s part of their gastro-intestinal…? [laughs]

Eric: I mean, they drink whiskey because they’re badass, and that’s what I keep telling myself.

Katie: Do they eat? [laughs] They only drink whiskey.

Eric: Well, whiskey is a meal, actually. I think it’s three of the seven on the food pyramid, yeah.

[Andrew laughs]

Katie: Okay. Got it.

Eric: It’s sugar because of alcohol… anyway, I’m not going to… yeah.

Katie: [laughs] Right, yeah. I do headcanon that Dumbledore is a matchmaker and that that’s how he puts his powers of manipulation and love for drama to good use, is just by setting people up with little concern. Although, to your point, Eric, this is just a diplomatic gesture.

Andrew: Amazing. No, I love it.

Katie: A little bit of both, perhaps.

Andrew: I think I’ve said on the show before that Dumbledore being so old and having been at Hogwarts for so long, he needs ways to keep himself entertained, and here’s a great way: playing matchmaker for some homies.

Micah: Because clearly, he’s not paying attention to what’s going on his classes, so he might as well just be a wingman.

[Katie laughs]

Andrew: Yeah. And I mean, sorry to bring the mood down, but what if he’s…? If he has to also conceal his sexuality, or he feels like he has to stay in the closet, then he’s also playing matchmaker to kind of distract himself.

Katie: I’ve written some fanfiction with this premise, but I won’t talk about it here.

Andrew: Ooh!

Katie: We don’t have to include this in the show, but I’ll tell you about it later. [laughs]

Andrew: Oh, this sounds interesting.

Katie: Maybe for the bonus.

Andrew: No, tell us.

Katie: The premise is Arthur and Molly’s time at Hogwarts, and Madame Pomfrey is like a Meredith Grey type of young healer coming to the school, and Dumbledore… this was before Potter-no-more released the background on Minerva McGonagall, but Dumbledore and McGonagall are on the same team, and he positions them together. He sends Minerva to Pomfrey’s room before the feast, where she’s very nervous, with a little bit of Scotch, too, to just calm her nerves, and things happen.

Andrew: Wow. Oh, interesting.

Katie: And Dumbledore is pulling the strings the whole time.

Andrew: Wow!

Micah: Before we move on to Durmstrang, I did just want to ask about Madame Maxime. I know we touched a little bit on her appearance and how she’s introduced in this book, but this is certainly something we could talk more about in terms of how the French are represented in Goblet of Fire and beyond, as we spend more time with Fleur. But it’s definitely coming from a certain… perspective, is probably the best way to frame it for right now. And I’m sure Chloé could provide some more insight here – and I’m pretty sure they talked about it on the all girls episode as well – but they don’t do Madame Maxime many favors here, and I’m wondering if it’s coming from a certain perspective that the author has or maybe others have of…

Eric: Oh, yeah. I mean, it’s like, “She’s a handsome woman.”

Katie: I actually think she’s one of the few women that the author describes that’s not either her typical archetypes of the smart Hermione or a pretty, annoying person. She’s a very strong, handsome, empowered… I think it’s the French. All of the English perspective on French people is like, “They’re all snobby.” Why, I don’t know. That comes across a little. She is written to have a little bit of her nose in the air. Is that what you’re talking about, Micah? That, sort of?

Micah: Yeah, and I guess just kind of the shock value that Ron and others have upon seeing her for the first time as she gets out of the carriage.

Andrew: Because of her height.

Katie: The giant thing.

Eric: It’s just too… well, yeah. And I don’t know necessarily, to your point, Micah, that the explanation is ever really given for why Madame Maxime looks the way she does, or why the students are arriving on giant horses. I’m sure there’s a very culturally interesting reason for all of it that just isn’t included in this book. And before we go and say that the author didn’t want to spend time on it or whatever, the author was very rushed with this book, and so I think that there were some things that might have been in the book, including greater backstory or understanding of why these things are happening, or why each of the schools are the way they are. Like, I don’t know why Durmstrang – which I thought we were just talking about being way up north, and I was thinking mountains, but maybe not – have a sinkable ship. Why? What’s the deal with that? There’re some interesting choices that I’d love to know more about.

Micah: Yeah, I mean, there are phrases used as her being “unnaturally large,” “Harry had only seen one other person as large as this woman…” But then to your point, she is referred to be handsome, olive-skinned…. so yeah, it could be a conversation for another time.

Andrew: Also, in terms of the height, I mean, we have to remember that Hagrid does enter a relationship with her for some time. We don’t know if it lasts forever. So maybe it could just be as simple as that, trying to pair them up.

Katie: Yeah, it’s the foreshadowing to the whole Rita Skeeter giant/giantess blow-up that they have down the line, I think.

Eric: Also, it’s just hard to date when you’re tall, right? I mean…

Katie: Hell yeah. I’m 5’11”.

Eric: You’re 5’11”?

Katie: I’m 5’11”. My wife is 5’2″.

Andrew: Oh, wow!

Katie: We’re really cute together.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: I bet you’re really cute together.

[Katie laughs]

Eric: I was going to say, because it’s hard to date when you’re tall. So Hagrid and Madame Maxime? I mean, they had to give it a shot.

Micah: I guess what I was trying to get at, whether we’re talking about Beauxbatons or Durmstrang with Madame Maxime and Karkaroff, is just the first impressions that we’re receiving of these foreign dignitaries, right? They’re not overly flattering, and that goes back to the author, in my opinion.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah, that’s fair.

Micah: I mean, Karkaroff is like this greasy, oily salesman with dirty teeth.

[Katie laughs]

Eric: Well, hang on. The movie does him much worse.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Well…

Eric: The description in the book of Karkaroff is savage but fun.

[Andrew and Katie laugh]

Eric: He is described… Harry’s perspective is that he has a weak chin, and I think that is the best insult of a dignitary you could ever say, is a guy has a weak chin.

Andrew: He also is describing him as having a fruity, unctuous voice, and I look up that word, “unctuous.” It means excessively flattering or ingratiating…

Eric: False.

Andrew: … oily, or having a greasy or soapy feel.

Micah: So he’s a sleazebag.

Andrew: Greasy. It’s not necessarily a flattering portrayal in the books either, but I see what you’re saying, Eric. But yeah, we can talk about that more as we learn about these characters in the chapters ahead. The chapter does end with a big surprise for Ron. His fav Quizzitch – Quidditch player…

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: We all do it. We all do it.

Andrew: His fav Quizzitch player – put in your favorite here – is still a student and he’s part of Durmstrang’s envoy. I of course am referring to Krum. Oh, man, so much competition for Ron this chapter. Cedric, Krum… he’s got his work cut out for him. So we will move on to some odds and ends, but first, we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Odds & Ends

Andrew: So with Sirius on his way to England, Harry made a last ditch effort to try and keep him out of the country and away from potentially being captured. Harry seemed really proud when he wrote his letter at the top of this chapter to Sirius, like, “Okay, that solves that!” And then later Sirius says, “Nice try. I’m still coming. In fact, I’m already here in hiding.” A, where’s he hiding? Anybody know? Do we find out later?

Eric: Well, we know he eventually moves to the cave in Hogsmeade.

Andrew: Could that be where he is now, though? That seems too close for an initial arrival.

Eric: Yeah, I don’t know. It’s an interesting question.

Katie: He’s at a Muggle motel.

Andrew: Ooh, okay. Maybe a Red Roof Inn. Okay.

Katie: Yeah, something like that.

Andrew: Sounds good.

Eric: He’s at a Motel Six. They left the light on for him.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: There’s something there. “We left the Lumos for you.” “We let you Lumos.” Something like that.

Eric: “We Lumos the light on for you.”

Andrew: [laughs] But it still seems really risky to me that he’s coming back into the country. Laura, who isn’t here this week, put in a great point as well: He’s still signing his letter “Sirius.” Come on, my guy.

Micah: [laughs] Yeah, he’s yelling at Harry for Hedwig, but…

Andrew: He’s yelling at Harry; he says, “Change owls when you want to talk more, because I don’t want people noticing that Hedwig is coming to a certain place again and again.” But it also seems in this crazy magical world, it wouldn’t be difficult to A, know when Harry was writing to Sirius specifically just to be able to detect that somehow, and B, track where an owl is going. [laughs] We’ve got the Marauder’s Map to follow human wizards.

Eric: I’m convinced the owls as a mystery is not going to be solved in our lifetimes. How they work, how it is that they find you…

[Katie laughs]

Eric: It’s not something that can be figured out. It works, but we don’t know how, because you would just… presumably, you could just chase an owl and find Sirius Black. And somebody in the government could have done this day one: Get any bird to send Sirius Black a letter and it would find him, but it mustn’t work, because nobody’s done it.

Katie: I guess people’s eyes aren’t necessarily on this yet, so no one really cares too much about Harry the way that they will in the next book, in that sense.

Eric: I mean, although, they were looking for Sirius Black all of last year is the thing, so…

Katie: Right. But then he flew away; he’s gone.

[Eric and Katie laugh]

Micah: And there’s no reason to think that Harry would be corresponding with him, so why track Hedwig at this point?

Andrew: Also, this is a chapter with some brief glimpses of other school lessons, and the Snape one alarmed me. Snape wanted them to research antidotes, and he had hinted that he might be poisoning one of them before Christmas to see if their antidote worked. Like, come on. Oh my gosh. [laughs]

Micah: So I just think he’s trying to one-up Moody. He hears that Moody is putting Unforgivable Curses on students; what’s some poison?

Andrew: [imitating Snape] “You think that’s bad; I’m going to poison the students.”

Micah: He wants to have some fun too.

Andrew: Final odd and end: Hermione again voices her concerns over the house-elves, and she’s been trying to get people to sign up for SPEW, but it’s not going well. Neville joins just so she’d stopped bothering him. But it makes me wonder, would there have been a better way to approach kids about this and convince them of the severity of the issue and her concerns? There must have been a better way. I was thinking maybe Hermione could hold some sort of presentation in the Gryffindor common room to start. Like, “Hey, guys, I have something serious to talk to you about.” I assume she just kind of… I mean, part of the issue, she probably approached it wrong.

Katie: She’s just rattling the tin in people’s faces while they’re trying to study.

Micah: Yeah, I think it’s an example of a situation where Hermione is being overbearing, and that really hinders her ability to deliver the message that she wants. She needs a good PR person. She needs people like Fred and George, really, to sell her product to get people interested. I just don’t think… she’s so passionate about it, she’s so overtaken by it, that it’s clouding her ability to get people to come on board. Like you were saying with Neville, she wouldn’t stop pestering him. That’s the only reason why he agreed.

Eric: I will say, there’s something that’s just so school about this, that totally goes back to anytime my classmates were selling something or trying to get people to sign up for interest in… I’m thinking of Student Council, and it’s like, “Oh, I need a petition to…” and they get kind of in your face about it. It’s like, “You don’t care about the issue, because I think you’re too young to really pitch your tent on any side of the fence.” But I think that the dynamic between students is really fun, and we don’t often get that talked about in the books, and here’s an example of it and it’s that Hermione is failing.

Andrew: Katie, you want to bring up your justice for Hermione point?

Katie: Yes, justice for Hermione. I do think… I’m not wrong here to think that there was a conversation about how Hermione could have missed house-elves, or like, “Come on, how could you be surprised? You read so much.”

Eric: Right.

Katie: Well, we find out why: They’re not mentioned in all the books, and holy cow.

Andrew: Not in Hogwarts: A History. She was coming up with some alternative titles for Hogwarts: A History, too, which was really funny.

Katie: Yes. What a good moment.

Eric: “What a conspiracy. What a conspiracy.” She still never asked the question herself. She still never asked, “How does the bed get made?”

Katie: Okay, she’s not making it.

Micah: Well, to that point, I mean, she’s missing a big piece of the puzzle here, right? She’s relying solely on what’s inside – or not inside – the books that she’s reading. And I think Fred and George… there’s a teaching moment for her here, and it’s the same thing we talked about with Ron in the last episode. No one’s ever been down to actually have a conversation with the house-elves to talk to them about what their life is like, and I think for both Ron and Hermione, it’s something that they really need to do. And I think for Hermione, until she does it, she’s not going to have a full picture of what’s going on here. It’s interesting that it’s Fred and George that deliver this to her.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: All right, it’s time for MVP of the Week.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: Once again, I’m Team Eric over here. I’m giving mine to Barty Crouch, Jr. for pulling off this lie about Dumbledore suggesting he Imperius the kids. He’s been such a cool, convincing Mad-Eye that he can convince the kids this is a real thing that happened. [laughs] My hat’s off to you, sir.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Man, we’re praising Barty so much, we might have to get a special sound effect.

Andrew: No!

Katie: [laughs] Oh no.

Andrew: I won’t go that far.

Eric: I’m going to give my MVP of the Week to Filch for figuring out – I assume it was him – how to make the suits of armor not squeak when they move. It was either him or some house-elves, but I like to think it was Filch.

Andrew: I’m going to say it was…

Eric: Filch just discovered WD-40.

Andrew: That’s what I was going to say, yeah.

Katie: Hardware store.

Eric: Wizard Dad 40.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: Well, Laura gave it to the horses. “Respect for their livers.”

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: Absolutely.

Andrew: Good point.

Micah: Maybe they have fully fortified livers where just… I don’t know.

Eric: They’re twice as thick as any other liver.

Micah: Maybe they just process single-malt whiskey like water, so it’s just…

Andrew: I hope so.

Micah: In one end, out the other. [laughs] I’m giving my MVPs to Fred and George, just talked about it, but dropping some knowledge on Hermione and actually giving her some advice that she could follow in future chapters.

Katie: And I’m giving mine to Madame Maxime for her entrance, for her black satin, her opals, and her energy.

Andrew: Hell yeah. Listeners, if you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can contact us by emailing or sending a voice memo recorded on your phone to, or by using our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. Spotify users, don’t forget you can just tap into an episode and send us some feedback right within the episode page, and like I said earlier, we might feature it on the episode page. It’s a pretty cool feature Spotify’s got. And next week we’ll discuss Chapter 16 of Goblet of Fire, “The Goblet of Fire.”


Andrew: And now it’s time for Quizzitch!

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s question: What are the first two words of Sirius’s second letter back to Harry this year? I am including the greeting of the letter, which some people got tripped up on. But remember how Harry wrote Sirius saying, “My scar’s hurting”? Sirius said, “I’m on my way.” Harry said, “Never mind.” Sirius’s reply is “Nice try, Harry.” So I was looking for “Nice try,” was the correct answer. Correct answers were submitted by Robbie; Sarah Clarkias; Elizabeth K.; Crystal; Molly; Nobby-Dobby; Wink Wink it’s Winky; Must Be a Weasley 1992; The Single-Malt Whiskey that Madame Maxime’s Horses Drink…

[Katie laughs]

Eric: … It’s a dragon, it’s a flying house, it’s an Abraxan-drawn carriage…

[Katie and Micah laugh]

Eric: … Kaladin storm blast; Hermione do be spewing facts sometimes; Professor Stumble More; Sup Figgy; Hallow Wolf; and If this name gets read out, then remember, kids, peer pressure works.

Katie: Oh.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Micah: Wow.

Eric: All right, thank you to all who submitted, and here is next week’s Quizzitch question: Which Durmstrang student asks Igor Karkaroff to have some wine? Submit your correct answer to us over on the Quizzitch form,, or go to MuggleCast’s website and click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav.

Andrew: Katie, thanks so much for joining us today. You were an amazing co-host, and we extra appreciate you for filling in, in a way, for Laura this week.

Katie: It was a blast. Thank you for having me.

Andrew: And listeners, if you want to co-host MuggleCast one day, you can become a Patreon at the Slug Club level and fill out the co-host form. We have this Patreon because tuition at Hogwarts might be free, but running the show is not, so we really appreciate your financial support. If you’re an Apple Podcasts user, you can subscribe to MuggleCast Gold, which gets you ad-free, early access to MuggleCast, plus two bonus MuggleCast installments every month, and a new bonus MuggleCast coming out very soon. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’ll be spinning a character wheel and trying to explain why the two characters the wheel lands on should totally be dating. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m very nervous.

[Andrew and Katie laugh]

Andrew: And then of course…

Micah: Mostly because of what I’ll say, I’m sure, right?

Andrew: Definitely, yes.

Micah: You’re afraid of it.

Andrew: And just being put under pressure with two characters.

Micah: Oh.

Andrew: We don’t know what we’re going into right now. It’s terrifying. [laughs] Should be a Halloween special.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: But like I mentioned, we have as well. You’ll get all the benefits of MuggleCast Gold, plus livestreams, planning docs, the chance to co-host the show one day, a new physical gift every year, the MuggleCast Collector’s Club, and more. And then lastly, we do have our Etsy store, which is at You can buy one of our Sweet 16 wooden cars, our Cozy Comfy Combo Pack, signed album art – really signed by the four MuggleCasters – we’ve got T-shirts, and some other things over there too.; these are all gifts that we created for patrons we still have some extras of, so we’re selling them now while supplies last. Visit for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. That does it for this week’s episode. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Katie: And I’m Katie.

Andrew: Bye, everyone.

Eric, Katie, and Micah: Bye.

Transcript #644


MuggleCast 644 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #644, Constant, Never-Ceasing Vigilance (GOF Chapter 14, The Unforgivable Curses)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: This week, [shouts] CONSTANT VIGILANCE is needed…

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: … as we discuss Chapter 14 of Goblet of Fire, “The Unforgivable Curses.” But first of all, what is this, 2008? There’s two pretty significant news items to discuss in the world of Harry Potter. First of all, Universal Orlando shared a few new details about the third wizarding world land coming to their new park – which is opening in 2025 – Epic Universe. The name of the land, this new Harry Potter land, is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Ministry of Magic!

Micah: Motorbike Adventure. Oh, sorry.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: And in this land, guests will discover a different era of the wizarding world in an all new land that blends 1920s wizarding world Paris, from Warner Bros. Pictures’ Fantastic Beasts films, with the iconic British Ministry of Magic from the Harry Potter series. So this is basically what has been rumored, and now it’s official; they really are going to put two separate Ministries of Magic into one land somehow. Those are basically all the details they’ve announced. We did do a bonus MuggleCast on our Patreon back in May, in which we spoke about the major ride that we can expect in this new land. It’s rumored to star Umbridge in this British Ministry of Magic. What do you guys think of the name of that land? “Ministry of Magic”?

Eric: Well, they chose an indoor location for the first time, right? The first one was Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade, then Diagon Alley, and now Ministry of Magic. So it sounds like there’ll be a lot of air conditioning.

Micah: From a marketing standpoint, I don’t know that this really does it. You’re using a government name in the title of the land?

Andrew: [laughs] That’s what I was thinking.

Micah: Who wants to go to the Ministry of Magic? You’re taking your kids to the Ministry of Magic?

Andrew: I have a more positive take on this, actually.

Micah: Okay.

Andrew: I think Harry Potter is the only franchise that can get away with theming a land around the government. [laughs] Because of course, everybody is going to want to go to this. But I agree with you; it’s a little surprising that they’re calling it Ministry of Magic. For the record – in case people don’t know – the first one is called Hogsmeade, the second one is called Diagon Alley, now this third one, Ministry of Magic. But yeah, only Harry Potter could get away with this.

Eric: Yeah, I agree. I wonder if that really limits the theming that they can do, and limits what else they can bring to the land. I know we saw aerial footage of a building, a pretty massive building being created, and I was expecting that to be the ride experience just like it is with Forbidden Journey hidden inside Hogwarts Castle. But I wasn’t expecting it to be… are there any outdoor areas? And if there are outdoor areas, then calling it Ministry of Magic seems limiting.

Laura: Something I wonder about in terms of the branding here: Is it actually called the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Ministry of Magic? Is that the official name?

Andrew: Yeah. There’s a graphic.

Laura: I’m wondering if we’re going to start seeing more doubling down on the brand of continuing to remind us, “It’s Harry Potter, it’s Hogwarts,” because we’ve really seen how badly it’s hurt them to try and stray away from that.

Micah: Yeah. Well, that’s where my head was going. Was this initially named maybe something related to the Fantastic Beasts franchise, and given its lack of success, they had to rebrand it and rename it the Ministry of Magic?

Andrew: I think ultimately what happened – and I think it’s basically right in this description of the land – they were going to go all in on Fantastic Beasts for this third land, and then Fantastic Beasts sputtered out. But at that point, they were already far along with creating this land, so maybe they decided to redo just the main ride and that’s where the British side of this land is going to come in. I don’t know. This is just speculation, but it seems odd that they would do both France and Britain in the same land. The transition is going to be very interesting to see how they do that physically.

Eric: Yeah. Well, the other thing about it being named after a government building is it’s inside Universal’s Epic Worlds. Epic, Epic Worlds’ government building. Epic Worlds!

Andrew: Universe, but yeah. [laughs] Right, nothing’s more epic than a government building.

Eric: Yeah, yeah. Or Epic Universe; sorry. Thank you for the correction.

Micah: That said, though, I think we can all agree that it will be done extremely well.

Andrew: Yes.

Micah: We can nitpick at the name. The experience will be amazing.

Laura: Oh, 100%.

Andrew: For sure.

Eric: I would honestly love if it were like the Star Wars immersive experience where you go and you’re part of the galaxy. If you go and you’re just a desk file clerk at the Ministry of Magic, and so you get to eat in the officers’ mess – or not the officers, but the peasants’ mess – and go to work. I would love it if that were just your experience in that park.

Laura: Eric, haven’t you already gotten your casting call to be Eric?

Eric: To be the wand weigher?

Laura: Yeah.

Eric: Listen, I’m under a really big NDA, Laura.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: I can’t actually talk about how perfect that was, the day I got that phone call. But I might be moving to Florida.

Andrew: Epic Universe will also have Dark Universe, which is a Universal monster theme. There’s going to be Super Nintendo World, which will be excellent. There’s also going to be a land themed around How to Train Your Dragon, that series. The one final point I’ll make is the outdoor areas, the facade, it all seems to be set in France, so Eric, I don’t think you’ll be able to eat in a mess hall amongst government employees. I assume the food is going to be themed around Paris, let’s say. You’ll feel like you’re eating in Paris.

Eric: We’ll have some bouillabaisse? Is that what it was that Fleur was asking about?

Micah: Fish stew?

Eric: Yeah.

Micah: Well, they didn’t have much of a choice, right? I mean, there’s not anything that you can really do around the British Ministry of Magic, because all we’ve seen is the phone booth and the toilet entrance, so…

Andrew: They’d better have toilet entries.

Micah: Oh, maybe.

Andrew: Maybe that’s how you transition to the Britain ride. [laughs]

Eric: Get into the park? Oh, I would love if we flushed ourselves in, civil servants and all.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: The experience we had in Paris was was much better in the Fantastic Beasts films in terms of the exterior environment than we did in London.

Andrew: Universal is still keeping under wraps exactly what we can expect in this land. Maybe it’ll be announced later this year; we’ll see. And when they do make those announcements, we will of course discuss them here on MuggleCast. So that other news item I shared – this was a shock, honestly – Hogwarts Legacy, the big latest Harry Potter video game that we have been raving about for the last year, they are about to hit their one-year anniversary and they’re teasing new features coming this year. They shared a tweet the other day; it reads, “As we near the one-year anniversary of Hogwarts Legacy, we wanted to let our community know that the Hogwarts Legacy PlayStation exclusive content will be available on other platforms later this summer, along with additional updates and features for the game. Stay tuned in the coming months for more details on what’s coming to Hogwarts Legacy this year.” There have not been any significant updates to this game since it was released. I think we’ve speculated that they were probably very focused on getting it out on the various consoles, including on Nintendo Switch. It just came out on Switch in November. Now that that’s done, maybe it’s time to focus finally on adding features. I’m pumped.

Laura: Yeah. I will say, “features” is a very broad term.

Andrew: [laughs] Uh-oh.

Laura: So I’m just curious to know what the features are. Are we talking about enhancements to game play? Are we talking about bug fixes? Are we talking about maybe introducing a better loot system? For all the things that we’ve talked about wanting that are a little more complicated, like a karma system, for example, or for there to be just general… this is the same thing, but general consequences for your actions.

Micah: Who wants those?

Laura: That would be too big of an update, right?

Andrew: That’s too big, yeah.

Micah: Right.

Andrew: But I think this is going to be bigger than bug fixes. I’m thinking like, a camera mode, which is what we’ve been asking for since our initial review.

Eric: Oh, camera mode seems like it would be low hanging fruit, yeah. Or the ability to sit down.

Micah: Kevin Steck wanted that. Didn’t he ask for that when he did the review episode with us?

Eric: I think so, because you’ve got it in Skyrim.

Micah: [laughs] We learned a lot about Skyrim in that episode.

Laura: We did. I don’t think we said “Skyrim” enough on that episode.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Well, actually, Justin brings up a really good point in the Discord: being able to change the seasons. That’s not something that you can do once you’ve completed the game.

Laura: Yes.

Micah: And I think so many of us enjoyed wandering the Hogwarts crowds and Hogsmeade and all the villages in the different seasons.

Andrew: Yeah, that would be very cool.

Laura: Yeah, I want it to be Halloween all the time.

Andrew: So we’ll have to see what they have in store. I think it’s… of course, just like with the theme park news, we will discuss this more as we learn more information. But we also did a bonus MuggleCast last month in which we shared what we want to see Hogwarts Legacy add to the game, so check it out as we await official word on what they are going to add. Both of those can be found at All right, we’re going to take a quick break before we jump into Chapter by Chapter. And by the way, beginning with last week’s episode, you’ll now be hearing us take these quick ad breaks. In the short term, these ads will not be read by us, but in the months ahead, you’ll start sometimes hearing us as well. Just wanted to establish that as we get started with these new advertisers here on MuggleCast. So with that said, we’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: All right, it is time for Chapter by Chapter, and this week we’re discussing Goblet of Fire Chapter 14, “The Unforgivable Curses.” And we’ll start with our Seven-Word Summary.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Eric: Neville…

Micah: … reacts…

Laura: … in…

Andrew: … a…

Laura: … panic…

[long pause]

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Micah: That’s it.

Andrew: That’s it! You know what? And that’s good. Neville reacts in a panic.

Laura: [laughs] No, Neville reacts in a panic, ahhhh! That can be the last two words.

Micah: I thought of a couple different words, and it just didn’t feel right to me, you know?

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: It’s okay. I mean, that is a pretty good summary to come out of this chapter.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Laura: Of course, this chapter sets up quite a few things. Quite a lot happens in this chapter, and I think we could take it so many different ways, but where we’re going to start is with this discussion around Mad-Eye Fakey’s first day of school. So the chapter does pick up with the Gryffindor fourth years brimming with excitement for their first Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson of the year. And I wanted to ask the panel first, before we really dig in, do we ever remember feeling this way, feeling so excited for a class because the professor’s reputation preceded them?

Eric: Certainly not a year-long standard kind of class, but there have been electives I’ve been excited to take, like if I didn’t get it the first time I applied for it and then I knew the teacher to do it. So there was a class in visual arts and theater that I just loved; I took it twice. It was great.

Micah: That’s awesome. Yes, I did have that both in high school and in college. In high school, I was lucky enough to have the same French teacher for four years. I think, Eric, we actually talked about this on your podcast.

Eric: [laughs] That’s right.

Micah: But what was so cool about him was that he let us be adults, and he probably taught us some words and some phrases in French that other teachers wouldn’t allow. And we created just a really great relationship with him beyond – most of the class did – our high school years. And then in college, there was a really great political science professor that I looked forward to taking his classes, so I would always look to see if he was teaching. I minored in political science. So yeah, I know that feeling where the reputation precedes the professor. Hopefully they live up to those expectations. [laughs]

Laura: Yeah, I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum of feeling really gratified by the professor really living up to the hype, and then feeling really disappointed because they didn’t. But the person I’m thinking of was actually my advisor. I was an English major in undergrad, and my advisor was one of those professors. He was just someone who all the students would talk about, universally liked, could still be a really challenging professor. His classes weren’t just easy A’s, but you always walked out of them feeling like you learned a lot and like you were really respected, so shout-out, Dr. Kocher. Yeah, it’s always a really good feeling, heading into a class like that and feeling that level of excitement. I don’t know that we get that for any other teacher in the series, do we?

Eric: Not that I can think of.

Micah: Not really.

Andrew: Certainly not in a positive way. I mean, I think there’s probably rumors about Trelawney, there’s rumors about Snape… but yeah, certainly nobody is like, “Oh, I’m excited to go” to anyone else besides Mad-Eye’s class.

Micah: I don’t think you have the same kind of collective excitement for a professor like you do for Moody. I think there are certain students that are excited to go to Trelawney’s class, right? Like Lavender and Parvati. You have Draco, who I’m sure is interested in going to Snape’s class, mostly because he picks on Harry. But there’s not… the collective excitement certainly is not there for any other teacher like it is for Moody.

Eric: Yeah. In our Discord, LegalizeGillyweed suggests maybe Lupin, and I do agree with that, depending on when in the week the various years got to have Lupin. I think definitely word would have spread last year about his fun lessons. And in general, maybe there is a little bit more excitement around the DADA professors, because everyone knows that every year, it’s a real ride.

Andrew: “Who are we getting this year?”

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Andrew: “What’s in the grab bag?”

Laura: I think the thing that’s so interesting about Moody – or Fakey – is that he’s provocative, right? So there’s something really exciting about being a kid and having this teacher who’s kind of breaking the rules and stepping outside of the norm and treating you like an adult in a way that you wouldn’t normally expect a teacher to treat you. And I think it’s a little bit ironic when you think about who he really is.

Micah: Sure.

Laura: And you layer that with these students being so excited to learn from him; they just don’t know who they’re learning from. And we get to see Fakey buck tradition early on in his teaching tenure. In direct contrast with what we’re going to see in Order of the Phoenix coming up, Moody tells the students to put their textbooks away and that they’re not going to need them for the lesson. And I can see as a student that feeling really cool, too, like, “Oh, my professor told me to put away this textbook.” And now, this is in American college terms, but, “Oh, they told me I’m not going to need this $200 textbook I had to buy for this class.”

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: Time to return it.

Eric: I was going to say, I paid a lot of money for this book; I hope we use it!

Laura: Right.

Andrew: Another equivalent is when you see the teacher wheeling in the television and VCR for that day’s class, so it’s like, “Oh yeah, I get to watch a video, but I’ll probably just zone out.”

Micah: We’re really dating ourselves if we’re talking about a TV and VCR.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: I was going to say, some of our listeners don’t know what a VCR is.

Laura: Right. When you saw the Bill Nye the Science Guy tape go in…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Oh, it was beautiful.

Laura: … and you were like, “Man, this is the best day ever.”

Andrew: Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!

[Laura laughs]

Eric: [sings] “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

Micah: I’m really glad that you brought this up, though, Laura, because when I was rereading this chapter… I never made the connection, initially, between the teaching styles of Moody and the teaching styles of Umbridge, but this is such a contrast to Order of the Phoenix because Moody wants nothing to do with textbooks and he believes in preparing these kids for what’s out there. Umbridge is all about these Ministry-approved texts, and is in serious denial about anything wanting to potentially harm Harry and his friends, right? So it’s cool to look at the two contrasting styles of teaching.

Eric: Yeah. I mean, we’ll have plenty in this chapter to talk about as far as his methods and his motives as well as we go on. But Barty Crouch, Jr. in taking this role this year didn’t quite have to go so hard. You get the impression he likes teaching or that he’s taken to it in such a cool way. He could have been the kind of teacher that just says, “Chapter 1, we’re going to read. We’re going to take turns assigned reading, etc, etc.” It seems like, to your point, Micah, he does want to prepare these kids for some form of practical attack, and that’s…

Micah: Well, who better to teach them Defense Against the Dark Arts?

Eric: What’s that?

Micah: Who better to teach them Defense Against the Dark Arts than a Death Eater?

Andrew: That’s what Dumbledore thought too. “Who better than Fakey?”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Dumbledore knew from day one. He’s like, “I’ll let this guy keep teaching, as long as they don’t make me teach,” because Dumbledore could do it. He used to teach that.

Andrew: Yeah. And we’re going to talk about if Dumbledore made this decision or not in a little bit, too, because there’s a big question mark on that as well, whether or not this lesson was sanctioned by Dumbledore himself. It sounds like it was, but why would Dumbledore sanction it? So we’ll talk about that in a little bit.

Laura: Well, early in the lesson, something else peculiar happens. Moody references having just one year to get them up to speed on curses, which immediately causes Ron to sort of blurt out, “You’re only staying one year?”

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: And I mean, these kids are primed to notice that kind of thing, right? They haven’t had the same DADA teacher so far for more than a year. And Moody says that he’s only staying for a year as a special favor to Dumbledore, and that after that he’s planning on returning to his quiet retirement. And I wanted to pose a question here about the Defense Against the Dark Arts curse: Do we think that the real Moody knows or suspects the curse that is on the post? And if so, do we think Barty Crouch, Jr. might have found out about it via taking over Moody’s whole persona?

Andrew: Barty Crouch, Jr. I’m a little less certain on, but I would think that Dumbledore is morally obligated to inform the real Mad-Eye that this role is cursed; he’s only going to be there for one year for some reason. He can’t say why. “It could be death. It could be a broken ankle. It could be a variety of issues that pop up, but something is going to happen and you will only be in this role for one year.” You have to tell him that.

Laura: I mean, you should tell them that, but do you think he tells every candidate that there’s a curse on this position?

Eric: I doubt it.

Laura: “You’re only going to last a year and you might die”?

Eric: No, it would make them really nervous about it even more than they already are. It would make Dumbledore’s job harder.

Andrew: I think it… so we all know Dumbledore likes to withhold information until the time is right, but I think it’s very important for him to tell a fellow adult who’s going to be teaching at his school about this. Dumbledore is a good man. I refuse to believe otherwise.

Eric: Oh my God.

Laura: Yeah, because he’s so forthcoming. That is definitely a characteristic I would assign to him.

Andrew: [laughs] When the time is right.

Eric: But maybe if Dumbledore and Moody are friends, are colleagues or have a… if Moody was in the Order of the Phoenix the first time, I feel like Dumbledore would tell him. But regardless, this whole plan that he has, this excuse of “I came out of retirement for this, I’m only giving it one year as a personal favor to Dumbledore…” That works so well. It works on multiple levels, because on the one hand, it’s Moody giving a reason why he’s there, but it’s also Barty Crouch, Jr. realizing that he only needs to be undercover for a year. He only needs one year to complete his mission from Voldemort, to deliver Harry Potter into Voldemort’s hands. And so Barty Crouch, Jr. is like, “You can only expect me to be here a year.” That’s all the time he needs, and so I think it just works on multiple levels.

Laura: Yeah, no, and it’s so interesting, too, because ultimately Barty Crouch, Jr. is impacted by the curse on the role, right? He goes back to Azkaban at the end of the year. You can argue that that is his demise, if you will, and if for some reason he knows about that, or suspects that might happen, he’s unhinged enough that I could see him thinking it’s all for a greater good, right? To help the Dark Lord rise again.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah, that’s a really good point.

Laura: Well, when Moody is talking about only having one year to get these kids up to speed, he specifically brings up getting them up to speed on curses. And we know during today’s lesson they’re going to be focusing on the Unforgivable Curses, which feels premature, and that’s because it is.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Apparently, Dark curses aren’t supposed to be taught until the sixth year, but Moody alleges that Dumbledore is in agreement on this lesson plan and believes that these students have nerves of steel and that they can take it at the fourth year. And I thought this felt very targeted to Harry being in the room, and it makes me wonder if Fakey does this with all the other years and Houses’ lessons. Is he doing Dark curses across the board for this first lesson?

Micah: Well, not only is it targeted, it’s a lot for the first lesson of your whatever year you might be. To be learning the Unforgivable Curses? That seems like a heavy load.

Andrew: Do you think that Dumbledore may have given him an A-OK? Assuming he’s being truthful, Dumbledore gave him the A-OK, just for Harry’s class? Because I guess that would make sense to me, like, “Harry needs to be prepared for this, so I give you permission to teach them about the curses and show them what happens.”

Laura: I don’t see Dumbledore saying only for Harry’s class.

Eric: Right.

Laura: I feel like if it was just for Harry’s class, that would be targeted because of Barty Crouch, Jr. specifically targeting the class that Harry is in. I’m not even totally convinced that Fakey has permission to be doing this lesson, certainly not leading it in the way that he does, right? It’s one thing to talk about the theoretical application of these curses as a primer, especially for students who have literally never seen them happen before. It’s quite another to demonstrate them in gory detail, and it’s hard for me to believe that Dumbledore would have been okay with that.

Eric: Just looking ahead at all the other risks he puts students’ lives in this year makes me think it’s probably fine.

Micah: [laughs] Look who’s talking the Dumbledore smack now.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: It’s not me. I’m taking the episode off.

Eric: No, I think we all have a healthy understanding that the Triwizard Tournament is very dangerous for people.

Micah: The other thing that came to mind here, too, was – and honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve reread Goblet of Fire – knowing that we’re getting the Triwizard Tournament, we don’t get as much class time. Was it important to front load this lesson so that Harry and company learn the Unforgivable Curses? Knowing what role they play throughout the rest of this book.

Andrew: Interesting.

Laura: Oh, yeah.

Eric: I think, too, as a very important note here, multiple hosts have said we’re learning the curses. We’re learning about the curses, but the only one I think we’re going to really get face time with is the Imperius Curse. I don’t think there’s any point where any of them will be casting the Unforgivable Curses, and the only one they’re getting close to is the Imperius, but we did get this introduction. I just think it’s an important distinction that it’s not like they’re going to be casting it on the fellow students the way that happens in Hogwarts Legacy.

Laura: No, no, I mean, at least the guise that Fakey is leading with is that he wants to expose them to how brutal these are so that they know what they’re up against, right? It’s not so much about teaching them how to do it; it’s teaching them how dangerous they are.

Eric: Yeah. But then what really is the point in teaching them about the death curse if there’s no known counter-curse and no way to shield from it? Apart from whatever Harry did.

Micah: Duck.

Eric: What is the goal? Is it to get a healthy respect of just how dangerous the world is? Because that’s a sobering moment that I can see being useful from an educational standpoint. But to me, I also have to ask the question – as somebody who really enjoys Barty Crouch, Jr. as a character – is he playing with his food in this moment? Is he teaching Harry throughout the year how to defend against things like the Imperius Curse, just with the knowledge that eventually he may need to fight Voldemort under it, and he’ll present a more interesting chase to the Dark Lord? Is there some element of playing with his food in arming Harry against these curses?

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, to also answer this question about why he may want to now, just looking at his own words in this book, “You’re behind – very behind – on dealing with curses… I’m here to bring you up to scratch on what wizards can do to each other,” I have to say in Moody’s defense, this is year four of Defense Against the Dark Arts and they still don’t have a sense of the worst curses you can toss at another wizard. That does seem a little surprising, actually, if I’ve gone through school for four years and I’m just learning about these now. That seems kind of late.

Eric: Not only that; it’s going to be another year at least before we learn about the Bat-Bogey Hex, and that sounds like the worst of them all.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: The one thing that came to mind for me, too, was just if you’re teaching the worst case scenario, if you’re teaching the hardest curses first, then everything should be easy after that, and so I think that’s where my mind went a little bit with Mad-Eye in this situation. He’s laying out some of the most difficult curses that there are to cast, right? He talks about how you really have to mean it and that “if any of you fired the Avada Kedavra curse at me right now, I wouldn’t get as much as a bloody nose.” He’s laying the groundwork here so that anything that follows should be pretty easy.

Andrew: I’ll say one more thing to defend my boy Dumbledore in support of this idea that he actually approves of Mad-Eye teaching them the curses. Later in this chapter, Harry gets this letter back from Sirius finally, and Sirius is rushing back in light of Harry’s letter towards the beginning of this book. Sirius said that Dumbledore might be reading the signs and Harry wonders what signs he’s referring to; we’ll actually try to answer this question later in the discussion. If Dumbledore is reading the signs, he might also want to get these kids “up to speed,” in Mad-Eye’s words, when it comes to these curses. So I don’t know. I don’t have any reason not to believe Mad-Eye when he says Dumbledore agreed with this. Couldn’t one of the students go to Dumbledore or go to their Head of House, who would then report this to Dumbledore? It seems like a pretty big claim to make.

Micah: But who’s going to report it, though? I feel like these kids all think it’s so cool.

Andrew: Not necessarily reporting it in a “Oh my God, I can’t believe he just did this” type of way. I mean, Neville doesn’t find it cool. Neville could… maybe Mad-Eye was afraid Neville was going to report it and that’s why he tried to comfort him after.

Laura: Actually, I think that’s a really good thought.

Micah: I will say, I do think that Mad-Eye would have been better served to break these curses out into different lessons, as opposed to throwing them all together. It feels like a lot for this group of students to have to digest. But one question I did have for this group was, do we think that if this was the real Mad-Eye Moody, he would have been able to cast these curses so seamlessly? It actually makes sense that Barty Crouch, Jr. can so easily perform the Unforgivable Curses, because he’s a Death Eater.

Andrew: Yeah, I think that’s a pretty good point.

Micah: Could you see Mad-Eye actually standing up there and using Avada Kedavra on that spider?

Laura: I don’t think of it so much as a question of “Could he?”; it’s “Would he?” And I think Barty Crouch, Jr. is genuinely unhinged and that’s a big part of the reason that we get this massive trauma dump on these students on their first day of his class. Moody might have used the Unforgivable Curses as a starting point for his course to set the tone for what they were going to cover, but would he have demonstrated them on day one? I don’t know. And I have to think, by the way – I was having this thought earlier – Harry is able to learn Expecto Patronum and practice on it with a boggart, right? So he doesn’t have to interact with a real Dementor. And I’m just wondering, is there some way that the Unforgivable Curses can be demonstrated on something that is not actually sentient? Because what we see with these spiders in this lesson is just straight up cruelty. I mean, these are living beings, and they are being tortured.

Eric: Yeah, but that’s why the curses are unforgivable. You wouldn’t be able to practice the Imperius Curse on something that wasn’t really alive, because you’re not taking its agency away. It needs to have sentience for you to be able to control it, to be casting the Imperius Curse. And same with the Cruciatus; it needs to feel pain, and so the cruelty is the reason these are unforgivable. You couldn’t cast Crucio on something that can’t feel it.

Laura: Yeah, that’s true.

Eric: There’s no way to practice it without making something suffer, which is why they’re so heinous. And yeah, wild first lesson.

Andrew: Would he have been able to cast these, the real Moody, Micah? I think so. I mean, we’re talking about a fantastic Auror. We’re talking about a member of the Order of the Phoenix.

Eric: It might be that as an Auror, you’re given permission to cast one or more of these Unforgivables in the line of duty, and specifically and only then. I can see there being a real issue where if one side is going to be casting the death curse, Killing Curse at you, and you can’t retort back because you have to arrest them, that’s what should be done. But in practicality, what does that actually look like? So I can see Aurors being given the same leeway that we give police officers, where there’s certain instances where shooting to kill is “legal.”

Micah: Right, but let’s also keep in mind that killing rips the soul, right? And even though it’s a spider, it’s still a living creature. And so I think, Laura, the way you framed it was the right way, right? Not necessarily “Could he do it?”, but “Would he do it?” I think he certainly could. Would he is definitely up for debate.

Andrew: Fair enough. Laura, I’m sad because you said trauma dump a few minutes ago, and now I’m just thinking about poor Elmo being trauma dumped on last week.

Laura: [laughs] Oh, I know.

Andrew: I’m still feeling for that little three-year-old. All right, well, we will discuss the three curses individually in a moment, but first, we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Laura: All right, well, we’re going to get a little bit deeper into each of the Unforgivable Curses here. So first Fakey uses the Imperius Curse on one of the spiders, and initially it inspires laughter because he has the spider doing cartwheels and somersaults and all kinds of gymnastics on the desk and everyone thinks it’s really funny. This is actually a scene that I thought was so well-adapted in the movie. Do y’all remember when we did our Goblet of Fire commentary and we were marveling about how well done that was? Because it really struck that sobering note that I think we get here in the book.

Eric: I do agree. There is one element of it I don’t like, though, which is specifically with Imperius when the spider is somersaulting. I think the movie makes it seem like Moody is also casting some kind of levitation charm, or he raises it up in front of the class before even casting the spell. That’s not the case. What’s actually happening… Imperius is he’s making the spider choose to do the somersault, and that’s a lot more sinister than just using your wand to lift it in the air. The spider is willing itself to propel itself, and that’s just a lot. I know it might sound like splitting hairs, but for me, the way it’s written is more terrifying, and I have a lot less love now for, I think, the movie scene, because it seems like it’s a lot more magical and whimsical when it is such dark subject matter.

Laura: Well, until it turns dark. And it’s a very stark moment when he says, “Do you want me to have him throw himself out the window? Should we have him drown himself?” I mean, I think that they capture at least that element of it, and Brendan Gleeson is just fantastic in the role.

Eric: He’s so good. He’s so, so, so good.

Laura: So we’ve talked about this a little bit, but I just wanted to close the loop on it. What are the limits of propriety for applied teaching of the Unforgivable Curses? I think we’re all in agreement that this type of practical demonstration isn’t the best way – at least for this age of students – to teach about the curses, but if not this, what other way could there be? I know I’ve seen a suggestion in the Discord, actually. Lisa says, “I think there could be a way to teach it with agency, like I could volunteer to assist the class and allow myself to be Imperiused or Crucioed but at a lower level, kind of like how you practice with a taser in the academy, in the police academy, so that you know what you’re subjecting someone to.”

Andrew: Interesting.

Eric: I don’t think there’s a way to do a light Crucio. One of the reasons that Moody says a single casting of this on another person will give you a lifelong sentence in Azkaban prison… it goes so hard because it is so hard. Crucio isn’t just painful; it makes every nerve center, every nerve react in fire, basically. And so I don’t think there’s a light way to do it. Hogwarts Legacy gets away with a light way of doing some of these things, but it’s really… you should stay away from it. So I even have an issue with, one, the fact that he calls the Killing Curse throughout this chapter “Avada Kedavra.” He’s basically giving them the incantation for it, and he lets them hear the incantation of the other two. Now, I know Moody says, “You can cast it at me and all I’ll get is a nosebleed at best, if the entire class tries to cast it at me,” but that’s kind of not the point, right? Giving them the incantation is, I think, a step too far, even.

Andrew: When it comes to AK, I think Hermione says it first. Because he was asking what’s the third and she says it, and it actually makes me uncomfortable hearing Hermione say it. I’m like, [gasps] “She’s going to accidentally do it.”

Micah: But isn’t that…?

Eric: Yeah, why does anybody know the name? Why is the actual incantation even shared with anybody? It should be restricted knowledge.

Laura: I don’t know. To that I would argue you might be insulating people too much from the ugly realities of the world, because there are people who absolutely will use it.

Micah: Right.

Eric: You can just call it the Killing Curse, though. I’m just saying, why arm new people? You did the curse that causes pain, the curse that causes you to lose your agency, and the Killing Curse. It’s called the Killing Curse, like, twice, but most of the time, they’re just talking about Avada Kedavra, and that’s the worst one, arguably.

Micah: Isn’t that the point of magic, that there has to be intention behind it? You could just walk around saying “Avada Kedavra.” It’s not going to do anything. You have to really have deep-seated malice and evil inside of you to cast that curse and inflict death upon somebody else.

Eric: I’m just… Laura asked where the line is, and I think it’s way back last Tuesday, for as far as what Moody is teaching.

Laura: Yeah, and I think we all might draw that line in different places. But at the end of the day, I think we can all agree what we see in this chapter is a bridge too far. So moving on, Neville is actually the one who’s able to correctly identify the second Unforgivable Curse, the Cruciatus Curse, which he knows about because it’s the curse that his parents were tortured to insanity with by Bellatrix, Rodolphus, Rabastan Lestrange, and – drumroll, please – Barty Crouch, Jr. himself. The guy teaching the damn class.

Eric: You don’t say.

Laura: Ouch.

Andrew: “Who, me? Blame Dumbledore. I didn’t want to teach this.”

Laura: But it’s a major red flag right here. He knows that he has two students in the class whose parents were victims of Unforgivable Curses, and one whose parents were his own victims.

Andrew: And a major flag of what here?

Laura: It’s a red flag.

Andrew: A red flag of what?

Laura: I mean, a red flag of… I mean, I guess you could say a lot of things. Of how unhinged he is, how psychotic he is…

Andrew: That it’s an imposter?

Laura: I mean, I don’t know if it’s a red flag that he’s an imposter, but just a red flag for him as a person, because he knows who he’s talking to.

Eric: I do think that he can’t resist, right? Performing the Cruciatus Curse in front of Neville Longbottom probably gave him a sick rise of some sort. And there’s so much work that’s being done to show how much Moody cares about Neville or feels bad about his mental state, the way he comes after class and presumably comforts him and gives him the book. But all of it has multiple purposes because it allows Moody to get closer to Harry, and so it’s impossible to know if any bit of Barty Crouch, Jr. feels remorse for his involvement. And we’re going to get, throughout this whole book, more pieces to the puzzle there. I always pictured Barty Crouch, Jr. as being a teen who was carried away by the fury of it all and may himself might not have participated as much as somebody like Bellatrix, who even Dumbledore says likes to play with her food. He might not have participated that much, but once he was arrested or convicted for it, named by Karkaroff, and all this other stuff, Barty is the kind of guy who probably doubled down and was like, “No, I do support the Dark Lord; I would have done it again if you gave me the chance.” That kind of thing would mean maybe he didn’t sickeningly go after Neville’s parents, but if he did, it’s even worse.

Andrew: Yeah, the gift of the Herbology book got me thinking, what was going on here? Like you’re saying, Eric, did he feel remorse? Maybe after seeing how Neville was reacting, but that seems extremely out of character. So I’m just wondering if… and Harry even notes that this was a Lupin quality move to cheer up Neville. A Lupin quality move! So I’m wondering, was this an intentional misdirect by either the author for the reader, or is it a misdirect from the character themselves?

Micah: Sure.

Andrew: Because if you’re suspecting this isn’t who we think it is, then you definitely won’t suspect it after seeing him give this book to Neville.

Eric: Right.

Micah: It’s the second consecutive big move by Crouch to endear himself to Harry, right? So you had the last chapter where he comes and he turns Draco into a ferret, and now you have this chapter where he’s being extremely kind to Neville in a very bad moment for him.

Andrew: It’s almost like that magical eye of his is telling him what to do to keep Harry convinced that he’s not a fakey.

Eric: Well, maybe he’s also dosing himself with Felix Felicis. “I feel like I should be on the west stair right now,” and he goes up. But I think his eye did see Neville leave and go and stare at a wall, and I think his eye did see down the hall Harry go to comfort him. And then he grabbed the book and quickly as he could ran to go help Neville, because the thing is, that book is what teaches Neville about Gillyweed, which is what makes Neville think about telling Harry about Gillyweed, which is his advantage in the second task, and so this whole time Moody is trying to get somebody in Harry’s dorm to know that that is an option, presuming he will confide in Neville or ask Neville what to do, and Neville will be able to help.

Micah: Right.

Laura: Yeah, and I think bare minimum, it’s like y’all are saying; it’s really all just to get close to Harry because he’s going to be guiding Harry throughout the year whether Harry knows it or not. So he’s trying to build trust with very strategic students, specific members of the student body, so that he can get closer to Harry.

Micah: Now, don’t call me crazy: In an alternative universe, it is possible that Barty Crouch, Jr. feels some level of guilt or remorse for what he did to Neville’s parents and he’s trying to make it up to their son.

Andrew: I’d call that a headcanon.

Laura: I think people are complicated, even psychopaths. I think you see this with real-life examples of these kinds of sadistic, violent criminals; there will be these odd moments where they do have these moments of clarity, you could call it these moments of remorse for what they’ve done. But it’s never anything significant enough to make them actually regret what they did. So I think it’s possible that Barty Crouch could feel bad for Neville in this moment because of what he’s been through as a result of losing his parents in this way, but it doesn’t mean that he wishes he could take it all back, right?

Micah: True.

Laura: I don’t think he would do anything different.

Micah: I do think it’s much more likely that, as I was saying earlier with the Draco transformation, this is a currency-building moment with Harry, when he treats Neville this way.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Micah: So one other thing that just popped into my mind as we’re talking about Neville – and I know we’re going to talk about Harry in a second – is this is another Neville/Harry moment where they’re the only two in the room that we know of that have been impacted by the Unforgivable Curses, and either of them could have been the Chosen One. So this is another one of those examples that we can point to where they’ve had similar experiences growing up.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Eric: And they’re the only two that are shown to lose sleep after this lesson, too, tonight.

Laura: And his big finale here in the class is to perform the Killing Curse. I won’t say the word.

Andrew: Thank you. Unless you do it in the Voldemort voice. [imitate’s Voldemort’s “Avada Kedavra“]

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Andrew, you’re so good.

Andrew: It’s just too much fun.

Laura: I know.

Andrew: Which is sick, but…

Laura: Listen, every time I played Hogwarts Legacy and I AK’ed somebody, I 100% yelled that out. [laughs]

Andrew: Oh, I should have done that. Next time I play.

Laura: Oh, I can’t believe you didn’t.

Andrew: With the new features, I’ll start doing that. Yeah, no, I didn’t.

Laura: There you go. There you go. But he performs the Killing Curse on the final spider, and it fills Harry with this thrill of foreboding, like he knows what he’s about to see, because in a way, he recalls some level of that experience of his mother being killed right in front of him. And of course, Fakey has to observe in front of the whole class that the only known person to have ever survived the Killing Curse is sitting right in front of him. And I just thought it was really interesting that this particular sequence of events was used to remind us of the order in which the Potters died. It was very specific about first his father died, then his mother died trying to protect him, then he survived. And that, I would argue, is actually a foreshadowing alert for something we’re going to see much later in the book with Priori Incantatem.

[Foreshadowing sound effect plays]

Andrew: [says in tandem with sound effect] Coming up, coming up.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: The editors could have taken another look at this chapter if they needed to know the backwards…

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Yeah, yeah, I know.

Eric: There was that famous typo originally. Yeah, first editions.

Laura: The editors didn’t know that they needed to be connecting the threads within books as well.

Eric: Yeah, that’s going to be extra.

Andrew: That’s what we’re here for.

Laura: They just weren’t there. And then finally here, last point on this… I know we’ve already observed it, but I just had to call out the line very specifically saying the use of any one Unforgivable Curse on a fellow human being is enough to earn a life sentence in Azkaban, to which the developers at Avalanche said, “Not in Hogwarts Legacy, it’s not.”

Micah: [laughs] Not yet.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: If they followed through with this, the developers in Hogwarts Legacy could have actually made an Azkaban level for everybody because after you cast it, you’re sent there.

Laura: Yes!

Micah: I’ve envisioning kind of a Grand Theft Auto type of scenario playing out where you start to do really bad things and then Aurors or Dark wizard catchers show up and take you off to Azkaban.

Andrew: That’d be great, yeah.

Laura: Yes. That is what should happen.

Andrew: Or you can run from them.

Micah: Yeah, or you could use some Unforgivable Curses on them and run away. [laughs]

Laura: That is literally what my headcanon was for what the game was going to be. It was like, “I’m going to be a baddie, I’m going to be killing people, and the Aurors are just going to descend on my 15-year-old self being like, ‘Why is this teenager killing people on the grounds of Hogwarts?'” [laughs] Never happened.

Eric: That may be a little bit too much for them to patch into the game, unfortunately.

Laura: Oh, 100%. They’re not going to patch that.

Micah: One thing I just wanted to call out is that it was worth noting that Harry himself will use two of these three Unforgivable Curses by the end of the series.

Laura: Doesn’t use Avada Kedavra, though. Coward.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Well, he only has eyes for Expelliarmus. We know this.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: But does it count? Well, I guess it does count, Micah, that he… are we talking about when he casts Crucio at Bellatrix, and it doesn’t work but he still did cast it, or are you thinking of another?

Micah: Well, he doesn’t just use it on Bellatrix. He uses it on the Carrows, or one of the Carrows, in Deathly Hallows when they spit at McGonagall.

Eric: Oh, that’s right. There you go.

Laura: Well, after the lesson, everyone seems to be in awe of Moody, except for Harry, Neville, and Hermione. I will definitely give Hermione some kudos here because her emotional intelligence is just on point. She completely understands why Harry is in somewhat of a state of shock. And she doesn’t really know Neville’s history, but she can tell there’s something similar going through his head with having seen what he just saw. And they do find Neville staring wide-eyed at that wall, and as we mentioned, Moody does eventually come along and invite him for tea. I thought this actually read a little bit sinister because the trio are standing there, Neville kind of looks horrified when Moody suggests they go off for tea and he kind of puts an arm around him and just takes him, and Neville is looking desperately at the trio like, “Save me.”

Andrew: “Save me!” [laughs]

Laura: And they don’t do anything! [laughs]

Eric: Yeah. “Sorry, Neville, you’re on your own.”

Andrew: But I mean, he’s a professor. They can’t intervene. Their hands are tied here. That was my takeaway.

Laura: Oh, for sure. But they could have been like, “Can we come, too, Professor? You traumatized Harry too.” [laughs]

Andrew: I guess, sure, they could have tried, but I think Fakey would have said no. So maybe they assumed that they were just going to get a “no” no matter what happened, no matter what they said.

Laura: Probably. And of course, we know that all lays the groundwork for Neville getting the Herbology book, and so Moody is able to kill two birds with one stone here. I think he’s able to keep Neville from saying anything about what happened in the class by making Neville feel special, because professors never really recognize him for any level of academic prowess, so I think Neville is vulnerable to being flattered in that way here because he just never hears it. Well, after the fact, Harry and Ron go back up to the common room. Hermione goes to the library; we’ll get to that in a minute. But they are completing their Divination homework, and they have to make predictions for themselves in the coming week. And they’re having a really hard time interpreting all of these astrological patterns, and how the confluence between those and the runes will dictate the series of events that are going to come to pass for them the next week. And I thought that we could look at some of these predictions and just keep an eye out for them. I think a couple of them may end up being true, which is always a funny moment coming out of these BS predictions that we get, especially from Ron; when he’s joking, we know that he’s often right. So Ron says he’s likely to develop a cough. Next Monday, Harry says that he’s in danger of burns, which Ron points out is probably true because they’ve got Care of Magical Creatures on Monday, so they’re going to be hanging out with the Blast-Ended Skrewts again.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: On Tuesday, Ron thinks he’s going to lose a treasured possession, so that’s interesting and I think you could argue that when it comes to the second task, Ron does temporarily lose a treasured possession. I hate the idea of Hermione as a possession of Ron’s, but he does treasure her. So I don’t know if that’s a loose interpretation of what this could be predicting.

Andrew: Can I make up the phrase backshadowing? When I think a treasured possession, I’m thinking of Scabbers.

Laura: Ah, yeah.

Andrew: So maybe it’s just still in his head about losing a treasured possession…

Eric: Aw, I love that.

Andrew: … and it’s coming out in this random prediction he’s making.

Eric: That’s really sweet.

Laura: And then this next one I think is funny. “Why don’t you get stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a friend?”

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Because that’s definitely about to happen, at least from Harry’s perspective. Ron is not going to take Harry being a Triwizard champion very well, and they’re going to have a really big falling out. Ron says he’ll lose a fight on Wednesday. Harry says he’ll lose a bet. So I thought these were just things that we could keep an eye on, and I didn’t know if anyone had read ahead and noted any correlations between these predictions and things that come in the next couple of chapters?

Eric: A few of them seem true. And it’s just funny that they have to compare notes and it’s like, “No, you’ve got drowning.” “Okay, I’ve got to change mine so that we don’t both say this.” It’s crazy.

Laura: [laughs] Yeah.

Eric: Have you ever bullshitted homework before? [laughs]

Laura: Yes! Oh my God, yes.

Micah: Oh yeah. But no, Forrest. No.

Andrew: [laughs] The 12-year-old.

Laura: Yeah, don’t… Forrest, we are not endorsing that. You should not do that.

Micah: The funny thing about all this is that despite Hermione’s view on Divination, even she is not cool with the idea of Ron and Harry making this all up. Which, I mean, I found that kind of comical, but that’s who she is, right? That’s part of her character.

Andrew: Right, exactly. Her general stance on the world of education is you don’t make stuff up for homework, no matter the subject.

Eric: Well, I like that she still checks Ron’s work anyway, and tells him he’s got himself down for drowning twice, so she tells him to change it.

Andrew: So I thought it would be fun if we all take turns making a prediction about one of the other four panelists’ upcoming weeks right now…

Eric: Wow. Wow.

Andrew: … just like what Harry and Ron were doing. And yes, of course, I grabbed some music for this, and we can use this when we make other predictions on the show in the future. Okay, I even have my Trelawney glasses here to let me get in the full zone.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Oh my God.

Andrew: Okay, here we go. Oh, yeah.

[Ethereal music plays]

Andrew: Thank you, patrons. Thanks to you, we can buy music. All right, something’s coming to me. Laura, I’m feeling an energy in your direction.

Laura: Uh-huh?

Andrew: You will encounter a great fortune in the next week.

Laura: Ooh.

Andrew: The likes of which you have never seen. But, but, but, it will be just out of your grasp, due to an unspeakable wall of resistance.

Laura: Is the unspeakable wall of resistance the IRS?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Always.

Andrew: Yes, always.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: Andrew, I’m starting to feel something in that box of yours over there, that little quadrant.

Andrew: Yes?

Micah: Andrew will get offended when someone doesn’t want to chit chat, but don’t worry, Andrew, it’s not an affront to you. They’re processing something that you wouldn’t want to talk about anyway.

Andrew: That is so specific. Do you have something to say to me?

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Micah: It’s actually Laura, but we’re not going to get into it right now.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Laura: Oh, snap.

Andrew: Wow.

Eric: Revealing more than he’s saying.

Laura: Man.

Eric: All right, I’ve got to try these Divination glasses.

Laura: Well, this is definitely really awkward because Andrew tried to fire me on Millennial the other night and I was going to have a conversation about it with him behind the scenes, but…

Eric: Every time I put on my real glasses and not my Divination ones, I’m remarkable how much I can see.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: But here we go. My prediction… let’s say I’m feeling something for Micah. Yes, yes, yes. Micah Tannenbaum will learn about a new – to him – restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana that is simply too good to pass up.

Andrew: Whoa.

Micah: That’s so specific.

Laura: Have you ever been to Indianapolis, Micah?

Micah: I have been to Indianapolis once before.

Eric: I sense that you will return to Indianapolis.

Micah: Oh.

Eric: That’s in the calendar. That’s in the show calendar.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: But I sense you will be returning!

Micah: I will.

Laura: Eric, I’m getting a sense of something shiny coming into your future. I think you’re going to be getting a lead on something new, something exciting, and also unexpected. It’s not something that you’re going to see coming, but it is going to come in the next few weeks and it’s going to transform your day to day.

Eric: Wow.

Andrew: Bro, you’d better play the lottery, because I think that’s what’s supposed to be happening.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: All right. I’mma try.

Laura: Eric, I’m manifesting for you.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Thank you.

Andrew: All right, well, we will revisit these next week.

[Ethereal music ends]

Laura: It’s so funny to me that we just got done bullshitting our own predictions for each other, Harry and Ron just got through BS-ing their way through Divination homework, but Hermione is finally going to reveal the results of her many, many hours of work in the library, which is for a cause that is decidedly not BS, but Ron definitely treats it like it is, and that is the formation of the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, also known as “Spew,” which is an unfortunate name.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Yeah, I’m with you on that one. J.K. Rowling did her no favors.

Andrew: Just call it S.P.E.W. Isn’t that how you’re supposed to say it?

Eric: That is how you’re supposed to say it.

Laura: Yeah, but everybody calls it “Spew.” It even starts here in this chapter.

Eric: I think Hermione in settling on this… I know that the joke is there was a much longer name that she couldn’t go with, but the fact that she even settled for this or thought herself not creative and just went with it and made all these badges… she invites all of the criticism, I think.

Laura: Yeah. Well, and I think it goes to show that Hermione is young. I remember… and I think we can all think back to a time when we were young, where we were first gaining an awareness of the world and the unfairness that can exist in the world, and we wanted to do something altruistic, and we thought we knew what the right thing to do was, we thought we knew how to be impactful, but we didn’t. And that’s where Hermione is right now. Her heart’s in the right place; she is absolutely right, but she doesn’t know how to tackle such a large societal issue as someone with relatively little life experience just being that she’s only 14 years old. But there is a big “Oof” moment from Ron here where he literally talks to Hermione like she’s stupid and says, “Hermione, they like it. They like being enslaved.” And I just found myself… and of course, I’m looking at this through a 2024 lens, and I cannot imagine anyone, even someone as young as Ron, trying to justify this take nowadays. We know that Ron grows up and he grows a conscience on this issue, so we’ll give him that acknowledgement, I guess, but I’m wondering if we ever remember being this young and having a bad take or being uninformed about something?

Eric: Oh, yeah. I’m sure 70% of me was probably bad takes as a kid.

Laura: [laughs] Yeah.

Eric: But I think the thing that Ron has is the lack of information or experience. House-elves… you don’t see a house-elf. He has literally only seen a house-elf within the last month, or week. And for Ron, he might be trying to do Hermione a favor and warn her off against something that is a time-consuming project that’s not worth her time. It turns out she does spend a lot of time on this, and it doesn’t really yield results except for her personal character growth. But the reasons why it doesn’t work aren’t her fault, really, necessarily. It’s just that for Ron, his understanding of the world is one way and it’s limited. But we don’t exactly have house-elves out there or the house-elves in the kitchen striking. We don’t have them advocating for themselves…

Micah: That we know of.

Eric: … and that, I think, is the difference. That’s the point where, yes, what Ron says, “They like to be enslaved,” is absolutely wrong, and you should never, ever try and make that argument. But there’s an absence of, I think, within the house-elf community an outspoken contingent that feels that they should be entitled to these other things.

Laura: Just Dobby.

Micah: I think part of it for Ron, too, is there’s something in the Ron/Hermione relationship here, right? Ron is very much trying to be like, “Come on, Hermione, are you really going to spend your time on this?” And that’s maybe more so the mindset of a 14-year-old looking at this and saying, “I’d rather focus my time on the Triwizard Tournament and Unforgivable Curses and playing Quidditch.” Hermione is spending her time focused on house-elf liberation. Like, “Hermione, you don’t get it; they like this.” That’s the mindset I see him being in. And also, yeah, this is very much informed by the way that he was brought up. There’s no question about it, right? Living in the wizarding world. It doesn’t make it right. It just means that how he was raised… or maybe he just wasn’t properly educated on house-elves. So I’m actually, in a way – because I’ve thought about this a lot – I’m bothered that J.K. Rowling wrote this line for Ron and his character. And we can certainly dissect it on multiple levels. I think Ron is trying to show Hermione he knows more about the wizarding world than she does, hence him saying they like being treated this way, but at the same time, he comes across as being extremely ignorant. And this is a line you would expect from Draco, but I think coming from Ron, it shows that we all carry unconscious bias and we regurgitate things maybe that our parents say or they taught us when we were younger, and we didn’t know any better. So I think there is a lesson in Ron saying it; I’m still just bothered that he was the one that was given this line, because I do think it’s kind of out of character for him.

Andrew: To your point about an unconscious bias, I think back to a comment I think I made on the show a few weeks ago, which is that they were raised thinking this is just how house-elves operated. They were never taught anything different. They never had the opportunity to even think anything different because this is just what they were raised to think.

Micah: The other part of this, too – and I’m sure we’ll discuss this more as we get into SPEW – is that Hermione is coming from the Muggle world where slavery is a real thing, and this is the wizarding world version of it. So I think she’s coming into it with a much different perspective than Ron is.

Andrew: Right, yeah.

Laura: Well, I think it’s such an interesting contrast that we get between these two characters, because while I agree that in her heart of hearts Hermione is right – she is right about everything that she says about the way house-elves are treated and all of it being wrong and there needs to be justice, right – but I think Hermione is also falling into that youthful, idealistic trap of thinking that she knows what exactly the house-elves want. Ron is doing the same thing by saying, “Well, they like being enslaved,” but Hermione is also assuming that every house-elf is going to want the same thing.

Eric: Right, because why wouldn’t you? But neither of them are talking to house-elves, crucially.

Laura: Exactly. Well, after this, Hedwig finally makes her return. Harry has been waiting for…

Eric: Well, it’s about time! I was starting to worry about her.

Laura: Yeah, Harry has been waiting a long time. So she has word from Sirius, who says that he is on his way north because of Harry’s scar hurting and “the signs.” What signs is he referring to? Is there anything maybe that we aren’t already aware of?

Andrew: All I could think of was the events of the Cup, somebody reportedly approaching Mad-Eye’s house… I’m sure there’s some other things that Dumbledore is aware of. Maybe he heard Trelawney murmuring something one afternoon.

Eric: [laughs] She’s always murmuring. I feel like that’s exactly it, Andrew, and I think there’s a line somewhere where they’re like, “This is how it started last time, strange disappearances, unconnected or seemingly…”

Andrew: Bertha went missing.

Eric: Yeah, yeah. So I think that those are the signs, but also, there’s probably a sixth sense that you get from living through this the first time, Voldemort’s reign the first time.

Andrew: Oh, yeah. [imitating Dumbledore] “I’ve seen this song and dance before.”

Eric: Exactly, exactly. And so I think even in a non-quantifiable way, there’s probably a feeling in the air, something in the breeze that tells Dumbledore to act or tells Sirius that he’s got to keep a closer eye on Harry. And apart from that, the Death Eater thing that you brought up, Andrew, is exactly right, because that’s the boldest demonstration of solidarity that they felt since Voldemort was defeated. So even if there’s not about to be a Voldemort uprising, that alone is the most concerning thing you can imagine following Voldemort’s demise.

Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “This isn’t my first rodeo.”

Eric: [laughs] Exactly! Exactly, he says that and he straps his boots on and his little cowboy hat, and he goes to town.

Laura: Oh no, we’re going to get more AI art.

Andrew: [imitating Dumbledore] “To quote the Ace of Base hit, I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes. I saw the sign.”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: So perfect. I don’t know how you do it, Andrew.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: I think there’s something to be said for… Sirius is Harry’s godfather. He’s the closest thing he has to a parent; he’s essentially his guardian now. Isn’t that the proper behavior of the person who’s responsible for a child? If your parents were to get a letter like that, wouldn’t they come running to Hogwarts?

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: The only other thing I could think of in terms of signs was maybe Snape has some intel that he’s shared with Dumbledore.

Andrew: Yeah, well, and I wanted to get into this, but we’re running out of time. Snape is not happy with Mad-Eye being at the school, and Harry surmises it’s because, “Oh, Snape has always wanted the DADA post,” but maybe it’s actually Snape senses something is up with Mad-Eye, to your point about catching another sign from Snape.

Eric: It’s a clever misdirect. I think the only sign that Snape knows is that his Dark Mark is getting stronger, because I think that’s said to have started around the time of the World Cup.

Andrew: [imitating Snape] “Something’s tickling on my arm.”

[Eric laughs]

Eric: [imitating Snape] “A mysterious tickling.”

Andrew: [imitating Snape] “I see the sign too.”

Laura: [laughs] He feels the sign.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: But I feel like Snape would say something to Dumbledore if he started feeling his Dark Mark getting stronger again, even if it was really slight. I think Snape would know exactly what it means, especially when you put together the really broad public presence of the Death Eaters at the World Cup. I think he would have said something to Dumbledore.

Odds & Ends

Laura: Anywho, let’s get into some odds and ends for the chapter. While Harry and Ron are BS-ing their way through Divination homework, it is noted that Fred and George are being unusually quiet and studious in the common room. Of course, we know that they’re trying to think of ways to get Ludo Bagman to pay them their money after he paid them in leprechaun gold.

Andrew: They need that money because they’re putting together a new shop for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley.

Laura: Yes.

Andrew: And the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Ministry of Magic, opening in 2025.

Laura: Yeah. I thought there was an interesting… there was a curious line here, though, where Fred wanted to say something that was a little more mean, honestly.

Eric: Well, more direct.

Laura: Yeah, more direct. And George cut him off and was like, “No, no, no, let’s not do that. He’s going to think we’re blackmailing him.” And I just thought that was another great example of the difference between the twins. We’ve definitely talked about Fred being the more, I guess you could say, aggressive of the two twins, so I like that we still see it in these small ways.

Eric: It’s beautiful.

Laura: And then just wanted to call out Harry is being a real jerk to Hedwig when she gets back. He’s so mean to her.

Eric: Well, if he wanted her to come back this whole time, he should have been stuffing his pockets with extra biscuits or something, instead of being like, “I don’t like the contents of my letter, so I don’t have anything for you. Just go away. Go to the owlery.”

Andrew: Yeah, poor girl’s hungry. She earned a little treat after that journey from somewhere down south.

Laura: Yeah. Right.

Andrew: And Hedwig was probably like, “Damn, Sirius has a nice vacation going on right now. I don’t want to leave this place and go back to rainy, cloudy Hogwarts.”

Eric: That’s why she took so long; she was hanging out and taking in some of the rays for a little bit.

Andrew: [laughs] Tanning.

Micah: I would.

Laura: Just wings splayed out.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Yeah, cocktail in one wing. Mmm. Tropical butterbeer.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: All right, it’s time for MVP of the week.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: On a related note, I’m going to give it to Sirius for breaking his southern vacation to come home. I’m sorry, buddy. You’ll be able to go back, maybe. You have some time…

Laura: [tearfully] No, you won’t.

Andrew: … I think.

Eric: Oh, too soon. I’m going to give my MVP to Professor Lupin, who wrote Moody a long letter explaining about all the various classes, and Harry’s class in particular. I just think that’s a really sweet extra thing that he didn’t have to do from wherever he is now.

Laura: I’m going to give mine to Neville, because I think, actually, in this chapter we see Neville being brave, and I don’t think that we often think of Neville as brave, apart from the ends of Books 1 and 7. But I think it was really brave of him in this chapter to volunteer information in a lesson that was clearly so traumatic for him to witness and talk about, but he still did it because he knew the answer. So I’m proud of him.

Micah: I second that as a fellow Ravenclaw, Laura. Just the bravery that Neville shows in this moment to talk about his parents – but not directly talk about his parents – in front of the entire classroom, I think shows why he is a Gryffindor, to your point.

[MVP of the Week music ends]

Andrew: If you have any feedback about today’s discussion, send us an owl by emailing, or you can send a voice memo to that same address, or you can use our phone number and you can give Hedwig a break. Just call 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. And next week we’ll discuss Chapter 15 of Goblet of Fire, “Beauxbatons and Durmstrang.” Time for our weekly trivia game, Quizzitch.


[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s question: What is Lavender showing Parvati in DADA that gets her scolded by Mad-Eye Fakey? Correct answer is her completed horoscope. Congratulations, for this first Quizzitch question in the month of February, to the winners who submitted the correct answer, including Isobel; Henry; Bev; LC; Elizabeth; Zach Brennan; Jenn Penn; Lizzie; Xaden; Ollie Tabooger; Eddie; Meaghan C.; and Katie from Hufflepuff. And, okay, you wore me down…

Laura: Yay!

Eric: … also Daniel government ID 007-31-1980; Jiggly Jane Luff; Better than Potter’s Broomstick; Samwise Potterhobbit; Quizzitch scratches my quiz itch; The band member who kept playing because they didn’t realize Cedric was dead in Harry’s arms.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Laura: Thank you.

Eric: Welcome back to all zany Quizzitch names. Here’s next week’s Quizzitch question: What are the first two words of Sirius’s second letter that he sends Harry in this school year? They’re really good words. Submit your answer to us on the Quizzitch form located on the MuggleCast website,, or go to the MuggleCast website – maybe you’re checking out transcripts, something else – and click on “Quizzitch” from the main nav.

Andrew: That’s right, there are transcripts on! And our social media links, and our full episode archive, and our favorite episodes, and the contact form. Also, tuition at Hogwarts might be free – and boy, are we jealous of that – but tuition here in the Muggle world wasn’t free, and we still have student loans to pay…

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: … so we’d appreciate your support at Your support goes to running the show so we can spend more time on the show and less time in the scary Muggle world. If you’re an Apple Podcasts user, you can subscribe to MuggleCast Gold, which gets you ad-free, early access to MuggleCast, plus two bonus MuggleCast installments every month. We’ve got some great bonus MuggleCast installments up right now, including a recap of Micah’s trip to the UK, in which he had very American food at the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I’m still chuckling about that.

Micah: Look, I read you the menu. The menu was actually very American, to be fair.

Andrew: [laughs] And you were like, “I’m home. Thank goodness.”

Eric: Listen, this is how you promo the bonus.

Micah: I had butterbeer.

Eric: “You won’t believe how American Micah’s food was at the Studio Tour!”

Andrew: Don’t say another word about it, Micah. Everybody has to listen on our Patreon or on Apple Podcasts.

Micah: Which is a great deal, by the way.

Andrew: It is a very good deal.

Micah: I don’t know if I’ve talked about this before…

[Laura laughs]

Micah: But I will just do another pitch really quick here because I really feel strongly about this, and I do it myself with podcasts that I support. $4.99 a month. Most of our listeners, I’m going to assume, enjoy a nice cup of coffee, and you go to a Starbucks. What do you pay for that cup of coffee? It’s probably more than $4.99. So you get early access to the show, ad-free, and bonus MuggleCast for $5 a month. That’s why it’s a great deal.

Andrew: You’re right.

Eric: Also, cup of coffee lasts a couple hours, and these features last you all month long.

Andrew: And plus, you’re supporting indie podcasters and not a coffee conglomerate, so we really appreciate you putting…

Micah: [laughs] Starbucks will not be a sponsor of MuggleCast anytime in the future.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: It’d be great if there was a Starbucks ad in this.

Eric: It would be funny if by happenstance they are the sponsors this week.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: But yeah, you’re supporting your friends in your earholes.

Andrew: Your Harry Potter friends, yeah. We really appreciate you. Another way to support us is through our store on Etsy; is where you can buy MuggleCast T-shirts, the Cozy Comfy Combo Pack, which is our beanie and socks at one reduced price. We got our wooden cars that you can build. We’ve got signed album art, really signed by the four of us, and some other gifts that are from Patreon years past. Eric also warns us that only 30 wooden cars remain, so act fast if you want to grab one of those MuggleCast Sweet 16 cars.

Eric: Yeah, we got a couple orders this week. Man, we started with over 600 and we’re down to 30.

Andrew: If you enjoy the show and think other Muggles would too, tell a friend about the show. We want to be their Harry Potter friends as well. And we’d also appreciate if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app. So that does it for this week’s episode. Remember, CONSTANT VIGILANCE! I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Constant, never-ceasing vigilance!