Transcript #433


MuggleCast 433 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #433, Gettin’ Figgy (OOTP Chapter 1, Dudley Demented)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, Episode 433. I’m Andrew.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: I’m Laura.

Andrew: And Eric is not here this week, but we do have a substitute, somebody we actually met at Podcast Movement: Sequoia from the Harry Potter podcast Fanatical Fics and Where to Find Them. Hi, Sequoia.

Sequoia Simone: Hello!

Andrew: It’s nice to have you on.

Sequoia: I’m so happy to be here.

Andrew: Good! Tell us about your podcast. What do you do on yours?

Sequoia: So I have a comedy Harry Potter fanfiction podcast where we find the most insane Harry Potter fanfiction we can, and we read and react to it.

Laura: Oh, man.

Andrew: I was listening to some episodes recently. You guys have a party over there.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: I was really enjoying it. I felt like I needed a drink too.

[Andrew and Sequoia laugh]

Laura: Have you ever read the McGonagall and the giant squid fanfiction?

Sequoia: It’s funny that you say that, because we just finished up Squid Month.

Laura: Oh!

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Squid Month.

Micah: You didn’t know there was a whole month, did you, Laura?

Laura: I did not. You learn something new every day.

Sequoia: [laughs] Yeah, my co-host actually… I was the victim in this scenario. She read me three squid fics, and none of them were the McGonagall/squid fic that you’re talking about.

Laura: Oh, man. You’ve got to get the McGonagall/squid, and you’ve got to get the McGonagall and the turkey leg one that we…

Andrew: [laughs] Oh, God.

Sequoia: Oh my gosh. What?

Laura: We actually had that submitted to us over at MuggleNet FanFiction. It was horrifying. [laughs]

Sequoia: That sounds amazing.

Andrew: And Laura approved it very quickly.

Laura: I did not.

Andrew: Did it ever see the light of day?

Laura: No! Absolutely not.

[Sequoia laughs]

Andrew: Why not? Don’t people come to MuggleNet FanFiction for that type of content?

Laura: Because at least at that time – I can’t speak for it now; I don’t work there anymore – it was a family site?

Andrew: Oh. Sequoia, how long have you dabbled in Harry Potter fan fiction? How did you get the idea to do that podcast?

Sequoia: So actually, I’ve been writing Harry Potter fan fiction for 19 years.

Andrew: Appropriate.

Sequoia: Yeah. [laughs] So actually, my co-host that I do it with is one of my best friends, and it started because we used to sit… we made a blanket fort in our living room when we lived together, and we used to sit in this blanket fort with all of our friends and read Harry Potter fanfiction aloud. And it all started with them reading aloud one of my fanfictions – one of my early, very silly fan fictions – and then it just snowballed from there, and then we decided one day, “This would make a great podcast,” so we did it.

Andrew: Awesome. Well, yeah, it’s great to have you on the show, and today we are kicking off our Chapter by Chapter series for Order of the Phoenix. We actually started Order of the Phoenix – I was looking earlier today – back in 2011, and then we stopped it for some reason, maybe because of the seventh or eighth movie. I don’t know. Micah, do you have any recollection of why we stopped?

Micah: I don’t. But one thing I did notice, too, in looking back at previous Chapter by Chapter segments is we actually did two or three chapters in an episode, which I can’t even imagine doing that now with the amount of detail that we go into, the amount of conversation that gets generated.

Andrew: Exactly.

Micah: But something must have come up that just derailed us off of Chapter by Chapter.

Andrew: Yeah. And now we’re a little older, and we’ve got to move a little slower, and that’s why we take it one chapter at a time. No, but we’re really excited to finally finish our Chapter by Chapter series. Once we finish Order of the Phoenix, that’s it. We’re done. We’ll finally have completed all of them.

Laura: Yep, and then once we’re done with that, we’re going to go to paragraph by paragraph.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: And then sentence fragment by sentence fragment.

Sequoia: There is actually a podcast that goes through Harry Potter page by page. That’s a real thing.

Laura: Oof!

Andrew: Well, at least they’ll never run out of content.

[Sequoia laughs]

Laura: You know what, I think you could definitely do that. But hats off to whoever has the chops to be able to put that much granular reading to work.

Andrew: Yeah. Once we finish Chapter by Chapter, we’re going to start going into squid fanfiction.

Sequoia: [laughs] It’s a whole genre.

Andrew: Yeah, we’ll do some deep dives. It’ll be a lot of fun. We’ll have Sequoia back; it’ll be a big party. But before we get to Chapter by Chapter, a couple of news items. This one went viral last week: Harry Potter books have been removed from St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville due to the curses and spells. This is shocking to see in 2019. The series was removed from the library because of their content. A pastor at the Roman Catholic parish school wrote in an email; he said, “These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception. The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells, which when read by a human being risk injuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.”

Laura: Well, the four of us are screwed, then.

[Andrew and Sequoia laugh]

Andrew: He went on to say that he consulted several exorcists in the United States and Rome, who recommended removing the books.

Laura: I wonder what that’s like, to go in your phone and be like, “Hang on, I have to call my exorcist friend real quick, for reference.”

[Andrew laughs]

Sequoia: My several exorcist friends.

Andrew: Yeah, in the US and Rome. Just all over the world.

Micah: I mean, when you’re talking about things that are real, it makes sense that you would consult something like an exorcist, right?

Andrew: The big scandal back in the day was Laura Mallory, and she was in Georgia, wasn’t she?

Laura: She was. Not too far from me, actually. And we actually on this show called her back in the day; she did not answer.

Andrew: That’s funny, because I had an idea for today’s episode. We need to call the school.

[Phone dial sound plays]

Pre-recorded voice: Thank you for calling St. Edward School…

Andrew: Now, of course they’re not going to answer, because it’s a Sunday night.

Pre-recorded voice: … to leave a message, wait for the tone. When finished recording, press pound for more options. Record at the tone.

Andrew: Hi, my name is Andrew Sims. I’ve been a longtime Harry Potter podcaster, and for two decades, we’ve been trying to get these darn spells to work in J.K. Rowling’s books. According to a pastor at your school, it sounds like you’ve been able to get these spells and curses to work. I’d love to know how; Accio would be so helpful. Please call us, 1-920-3-MUGGLE. A Muggle is a nonmagical being, so it is safe for you to call. Unless you’re a witch or wizard, in which case it might not be safe. But thank you. And PS, please put the books back in your library. Okay, bye.

[Sequoia laughs]

Andrew: All right.

Laura: Ahh, that was great.

Micah: That was awesome.

Andrew: [laughs] I was glad we were doing this call at night, because I did not want to actually talk to these lunatics.

[Andrew and Sequoia laugh]

Laura: I mean, I would. I don’t care.

Micah: Laura would just… I don’t know what you would do, Laura, but I would pay to see it.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Well, you may have your chance. Maybe we can do it for something behind the paywall. Patreon bonus content.

Micah: There you go. Laura is going to drive to Nashville and…

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Actually, Nashville is a great town. It’s unfortunate this is happening there.

Andrew: Yeah, it is a real bummer. I wonder if it’ll be overturned; I assume not. But yeah, oh well.

Laura: It’s worth noting that per this article, the Catholic Church does not have an official stance on Harry Potter, and this is just one, I guess, archdiocese who’s made this decision for this school, and other schools are not doing the same thing.

Andrew: Well, I wonder if they’ll get feedback from parents or something, because actually, at my school there was a brief ban on Harry Potter because some of the teachers didn’t like the magic element to it. This wasn’t a Catholic school; it was just a normal public school.

Laura: It was a public school, geez.

Sequoia: What?

Micah: What surprises me about this, though… and maybe they want to test the mental competency of this reverend because he thinks the spells actually work?

Andrew: Yeah, I don’t get that.

Micah: I mean, to your point, normally they’re banned because of the content within the books and somebody has an issue with the magic itself. This guy is actually saying after talking to several exorcists that the spells actually… if somebody walks down the hall and goes “Crucio,” it’s going to affect the…

[Andrew screams]

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Laura: So do you think the exorcists all got together and were like, “Yeah, so when he calls, tell him they work”?

Andrew: Oh, it’s one big prank. [laughs]

Micah: How do you even come across an exorcist? How does that work? Are they in the yellow pages?

Andrew: Yelp?

Micah: [laughs] Yelp.

Andrew: [laughs] If they’re out there, and somebody’s willing to talk to us, we should totally talk to one of these people who believes that these spells are real. Anyway, one other story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has a new marketing campaign; it’s got some new branding. It’s not a huge deal. I don’t really want to get into it, but they changed their logo and it now matches the American books and the movies. It has that Harry Potter logo. J.K. Rowling notably returned to Twitter after a 173 day absence; she teased this 11:00 p.m. New York City Times Square reveal. Everybody got really excited because it was like, “Oh, if J.K. Rowling is coming back to Twitter, there must be big news related to Cursed Child.” It wasn’t, really.

Sequoia: Well, didn’t she just tweet the logo? Which was like, that’s the announcement. That’s the whole announcement.

Andrew: Right, that was it.

[Andrew and Sequoia laugh]

Andrew: And they gave away 934 tickets the following day, and now they’ve got a poster with Harry on it and it’s got the Dark Mark/Voldemort Day logo and it’s got a big lightning bolt. It’s cool, to be sure; the new poster is beautiful. And it’s nice to see, I think, the original Harry Potter logo being associated with Cursed Child finally, but other than that, it’s like, “Meh.”

Laura: Why do you think they felt the need to bring in the original Potter logo?

Andrew: I think to tie it all together, right?

Laura: Yeah, but shouldn’t it tie itself together anyway?

Andrew: Yeah, I’m just…

Laura: Is it a marketing and branding push?

Andrew: Exactly.

Laura: Okay.

Andrew: Think about Star Wars. You always see that one Star Wars logo. You know what I mean?

Laura: Yeah, I guess it would be weird if Rey had a kid and they had a completely new logo for that kid’s movie.

Andrew: Right.

Laura: So that’s fair.

Andrew: Sequoia, have you seen Cursed Child?

Sequoia: I have not seen Cursed Child. I’ve heard that the stage magic is beautiful, but we did recently do an episode where we roasted it as the worst fanfiction of all time.

Andrew: Ohh.

Laura: Oh, that’s perfect. I need to listen to this.

[Andrew and Sequoia laugh]

Sequoia: So we’re not huge fans of the script itself, but I would love to see the stage magic, honestly.

Andrew: And a lot of people actually thought that maybe this announcement was going to be they’re going to be streaming the play into theaters, or it will be released as a movie or something to that effect. Unfortunately, that’s probably still a few years away. And I say unfortunately because, like you, Sequoia, a lot of people read the script and they’re just like, “Wait, what?” But if you see it, it really all comes together.

Sequoia: I almost am like, I’d rather see it as the stage play, though. Because that’s a more immersive experience, I would think, than it coming out as a movie.

Andrew: Right. But ultimately, not everybody is going to be able to see it on stage because of traveling…

Sequoia: Money.

Andrew: … and the price of tickets and all that. So I think… and it is kind of surreal to think the majority of Harry Potter fans in the world will not see this until they do, let’s say, stream it through something like Fathom Events where you can watch it live in a movie theater. I think that would be the best way to do it. Don’t do some sort of movie adaptation; just film the actual play. And yeah, I agree with you, you wouldn’t be as immersed, but it’s better than just reading the script.

Micah: Definitely.

Laura: I’m hoping that they filmed the original cast performance.

Andrew: I think they did.

Laura: Okay, so yeah, that’s got to be a possibility, then.

Andrew: One day, coming soon to HBO Max, the new streaming service to compete with Netflix.

Micah: Andrew, my boss actually went to go see Cursed Child last Wednesday and had not read Cursed Child going into it. Huge Potter fan, loves the books, loves the movies, and was just so impressed by the play, and I think it just goes to what you were just saying and what we’ve talked about on the show: It’s one thing to read the story and to really not like it, but it’s a completely different experience to be in the theater. He talked about just how much money must have been spent on converting that theater, all the different… he said he would hate to be one of their understudies because you’d have to learn all of those lines…

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Micah: … and be able to be on stage for five hours and learn all the different choreography. They do so much stuff throughout the course of that play where they’re moving around, they’re carrying suitcases… it’s just really, really impressive. So I highly recommend – despite this nothingburger of a announcement – if you’re in New York, or you’re in any other city where this is being put on, go and see it if you’re a Potter fan. It’s well, well worth it.

Laura: Well, it’s definitely understandable for an artist to launch new branding to support their work. And speaking of support, we wanted to hear a word from one of our sponsors.

[Ad break]

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: All right, it’s time to start Chapter by Chapter for Order of the Phoenix. Today’s chapter is “Dudley Demented.” And just for context, I want to point out Order of the Phoenix was published June 21, 2003. To hear our midnight release party stories, listen to Episode 431, just a couple of weeks old. As always, we are going to start with our Seven-Word Summary. Sequoia, I don’t think I prepped you for this one, just the things at the end. What we do here, we just take turns adding words to a sentence to create a summary. It could be great or it could be awful. We’re just going to do it on the fly and see how it goes.

Sequoia: Great. I’m ready.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Don’t worry; I can see they gave me the last word, and that’s always the worst.

Andrew: Harry…

Micah: … Potter…

[Andrew groans]

Laura: Oh man, Micah.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: I wasted a word.

Laura: … fights…

Sequoia: … with…

Andrew: … Dudley…

Micah: … and…

Laura: … Dementors!

Andrew: Yay, it worked!

Micah: Look at that.

Laura: We did it. We didn’t end this sentence with “Yay.”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: That happened once. Just once.

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Andrew: So Micah, you’re going to lead us through today’s installment, I believe.

Micah: Yes, and hopefully I do half a good job as Laura did last week with the Order of the Phoenix/Prisoner of Azkaban comparisons and connecting the threads.

Andrew: You two love to flatter each other.

Laura: I know. What’s going on here, Micah?

Micah: I don’t know.

Andrew: What…? Yeah.

[Laura laughs]

Micah: All right, so Order of the Phoenix opens up, and the introduction of Harry is very much that of a neglected child. And I know we’ve talked about this a lot, probably, throughout the course of our show, but this really stood out to me just in terms of how much neglect there is going on with him, how the Dursleys treat him. And the quote that I first pulled from this chapter was, “His jeans were torn and dirty, his T-shirt baggy and faded, and the soles of his trainers were peeling away from the uppers.” He could have easily been mistaken for a homeless person sleeping in the Dursleys’ hydrangea bushes, and this is our introduction to a soon-to-be… or I guess now, a 15-year-old Harry, and the neglect is just pretty outstanding.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, I guess it’s a step up from sleeping in the cupboard under the stairs.

Andrew: Yeah, at least he’s outside.

Laura: But yeah, this is always one of the things that I reflect on the most, especially rereading these as an adult, is the fact that as I was reading these as a child, I knew that the Dursleys were mean and they were terrible to Harry, but I never applied the label “child abuse” to it. And now when I read it, I’m like, “Oh my God. How?” Even if you didn’t care for a child on a personal level, how could you treat them this way?

Sequoia: The Dursleys care so much about what everyone around them thinks all the time, about what they’re doing, about what Dudley is doing, about what Harry is doing, and you would think that even them being high-key terrible people, they would care enough about what people around them think to clothe Harry. Just give him some clothes so that the people around them aren’t saying things like, “Oh, yeah, look at that; they’re abusing that child.” You know?

Micah: Exactly.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great point.

Micah: Yeah, that’s exactly what I was going to allude to with just appearances, right? You would think that they would want Harry to look halfway decent and not have torn clothes and baggy clothes and his shoes are falling apart, just given how much they care about what other people think of them and their family.

Laura: I wonder if they’ve been pretty successful at spreading the narrative that Harry is just a degenerate, so maybe their neighbors just accept this.

Andrew: Yes.

Sequoia: Yeah, but he could be a well-clothed degenerate.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: He might be a degenerate, but at least the Dursleys are keeping him well-clothed, washing his clothes, nothing torn… I think J.K. Rowling might also just be setting up a juxtaposition in that last book. He’s witnessing Voldemort return, and now he’s just shaggy old Harry hiding behind the bushes, doing anything he can to catch a glimpse of what’s going on in the world.

Micah: Yeah, and that’s in complete contrast to Dudley. And he kind of gets into it, Harry does, with Petunia and with Vernon, and they’re arguing after the big crack that happens, and the Dursleys almost take pride in the fact that Dudley doesn’t watch the news, that he probably has absolutely no clue who the Prime Minister is, and what does it say about them as parents?

Andrew: It says they’re really bad parents.

[Andrew and Sequoia laugh]

Andrew: Vernon seems to take it as a source of pride that Dudley doesn’t even know who the Prime Minister is. I mean, that’s embarrassing.

Sequoia: Well, they’re not very smart people. They think Dudley is at tea every single night.

Laura: Yeah, and just for a real world connection here, there are a lot of people like this out there, who are anti-intellectualism and wear their ignorance as a badge of pride. So I think the Dursleys, they’re not just a literary trope; I think they’re actually representative of real world people, sometimes.

Andrew: But don’t you want the best for your kid? I mean, where do they think this is going to lead to if he just doesn’t have any basic knowledge? I was thinking earlier, when did I learn who the President was of the United States in school? When would we talk about that? Third grade, fourth grade… I don’t think it was middle school; it must have been elementary school. That seems like very basic knowledge for anybody to know, so that was definitely one of the most jarring statements thus far. [laughs]

Micah: I also think they’re looking for anything that is counter to what Harry is doing, so if Harry is interested in watching the news, then it says so much about the fact that Dudley doesn’t watch the news. And if Harry knew who the Prime Minister was, “Oh, well, it’s great, then, that Dudley…” It’s almost like there’s this complete contrast between the two of them, but it’s just shocking to me, though. What would it be for the Dursleys to allow Harry to sit in the back corner and watch the TV instead of laying in the bushes outside? I mean, he gets in trouble anytime he tries to get some kind of news about what’s going on. Vernon doesn’t even think that it’s possible that his kind would show up on the Muggle news.

Andrew: And to your point, Micah, maybe this is why they want him wearing crappy clothes. They want Dudley to look better than Harry does.

Sequoia: This news portion is a good sassy Harry moment, where he’s like, “The news changes every day, you see,” which, I totally love that line.

Andrew: It’s the first of many angry moments from Harry in this chapter.

Micah: Yes.

Sequoia: It’s very much a precursor to capslock Harry, for sure.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Well, one other piece of information that we got about what’s been going on during the summer when Harry is just sitting there monologuing is that Mrs. Figg has been asking him over quite a bit for tea, and what do we make of this? We know what’s going to happen, but maybe when we were first reading the book, did we think anything odd about this? He tries and hide from her a little bit when he sees her walking past.

Laura: Didn’t she used to babysit him when the Dursleys would go places without him?

Micah and Sequoia: Yes.

Andrew: Okay.

Sequoia: And that’s the only interaction that you get between those two characters. And then, yeah, it absolutely piques your interest when all of a sudden she’s showing up and asking him for tea frequently, when originally reading the book, it was a little bit suspect because we hadn’t heard from her in a while. Why is she showing back up?

Andrew: Yeah. So what does Mrs. Figg – Miss Figg? – Mrs. Figg want to do here? Does she want to talk to Harry to make sure he’s being treated right and then maybe pass that on to Dumbledore?

Laura: I was wondering about that too. Or maybe she’s trying to… maybe this was her attempt to introduce herself as actually a member of the wizarding world, because we see she does that at the end of the chapter anyway.

Andrew and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: Cover was blown a little bit there, though.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Yes, so maybe she was hoping to do it in a less stressful environment.

Sequoia: Well, she was definitely being kept in the loop as far as Harry’s guard duties and stuff like that, because she knew that Mundungus Fletcher was supposed to be watching him at that time of day specifically.

Andrew: I’m going to say that Mrs. Figg did not want to come out to Harry, because if she did, then Harry would always be going to her and badgering her for news, and I don’t think Dumbledore would want that to be going on. As we find out later, Dumbledore is trying to keep him isolated right now, and if he suddenly realizes that his neighbor actually is a connection to the wizarding world, that’s potentially a problem, at least in Dumbledore’s mind. Of course, she’s forced out by the end of this chapter, but I don’t think that was the plan anytime soon for her to come out.

Micah: I think Dumbledore at this point should have a pretty good idea of what the Dursleys are like, even going all the way back to Sorcerer’s Stone. I’m sure Hagrid gave him a little bit of insight into how Harry has been taken care of, because doesn’t he go off on them in Half-Blood Prince?

Andrew: Right.

Micah: Well, speaking of going off, there’s this loud crack that happens outside, and Vernon and Petunia go absolutely bonkers. And I wanted to ask, do you think that they’re overreacting to what happened? Now, keep in mind, pretty much the entire neighborhood heard this; I don’t think it’s necessarily unfair of them to suspect that Harry would be responsible. I’m almost in a way comparing it to a Fred and George situation. Would Molly not immediately think, if it’s at the Burrow and there’s this loud crack, that Fred and George were the ones responsible for it?

Laura: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think it’s too far out of the realm of possibility. I think the difference is Mrs. Weasley’s overall treatment of the twins is…

Micah: Like a mother? [laughs]

Laura: … different. Yeah, very motherly, you would say, as compared to the Dursleys. And I think the Dursleys would use this against Harry for a period of time, too, right? I don’t think Mrs. Weasley would do that. So I think it’s not necessarily unfair that they jumped to the conclusion, but I think the fact that they continue to try and hold it against him and continue trying to blame him for this when he communicated “No, it wasn’t me,” is further indicative of the kind of people they are.

Micah: Right.

Sequoia: I think the overreaction actually comes in the way that they’re whispering “his lot,” and they don’t want any of the neighbors to hear them say “his lot” or to see him holding a wand, which to a regular person would just look like a stick. I think they’re overreacting to what the neighbors are going to think of hearing a crack and then seeing their homeless-looking nephew holding a stick in the front yard.

Laura: Can you imagine being the Dursleys’ neighbor, hearing this crack, turning around, and just seeing Harry brandishing a stick?

Andrew: “What are you doing with that twig, you degenerate? Get some fresh clothes on!”

[Sequoia laughs]

Laura: Right, they’re like, “Oh, here’s their nephew again. He’s… special.”

Andrew: “Crazy old Harry.”

Sequoia: “Back at it with the making loud noises, I guess.”

Andrew: “Knowing who the Prime Minister is, wanting to know what’s going on on the news… what a loser.” I think it just speaks to their paranoia. Because you have to think – we all live in neighborhoods, of course – you hear sounds from time to time and you’re like, [gasps] “What’s that?” And I mean, at least in my case, I know there are ghosts in my place…

Laura: What?

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: … but in most people’s cases, I think that it’s just normal to have noises on your street.

Laura: Yeah, here in Georgia, we have a fun game that we play called “Fireworks or gunshots?”

Andrew: Ooh, fun. Hopefully usually fireworks.

Laura: This is an open carry state, so… anyway.

[Andrew and Sequoia laugh]

Andrew: I was thinking of throwing Chicago into this, too, and I was like, “Meh, never mind.” Anyway, this is also a very rare instance of wandless magic. J.K. Rowling says, “Uncle Vernon yelped and released Harry as if he had received an electric shock – some invisible force seemed to have surged through his nephew.” I think this might be the only time that we see this, and I wonder if all wizards might have this, or could this be related to Horcruxes? Or maybe this is in all wizards and it just illustrates Harry’s anger, where his anxiety is at the moment, where he’ll lash out this way without even meaning to.

Laura: Well, I mean, this is a good parallel to the beginning of Prisoner of Azkaban where he accidentally blows up Aunt Marge, right? Also unintentional; he was really upset towards her, but I don’t think he intended to actually blow her up. Same here; I don’t think he actually intended to shock Vernon, but it’s just an emotional response, and I think these are particularly common with young wizards too.

Andrew: Because they’re less able to manage their emotions.

Laura: Right.

Micah: Also, going back to what we were talking about at the top of the chapter, Vernon really shouldn’t have his hands on Harry to begin with, and the fact that there’s this physical interaction taking place between the two of them, that’s just something else to consider. But I agree with Laura; I think it’s just a natural reaction that this magic is just flowing through him and shocking Vernon as a result.

Andrew: Pikachu Harry.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: That’s what I thought when I read it.

Micah: Now, Harry begins to question whether or not the crack he heard was even due to a witch or wizard Apparating, and this is after the fight takes place between Harry and the Dursleys and Harry storms off. And we really get the sense that he’s yearning for a connection to the magical world; his friends have been vague at best in their communication throughout the summer so far, and he’s becoming isolated, and so I wanted to officially let the conversation begin about Dumbledore’s approach to Harry in this book and how he has instructed Harry be treated, because we’re seeing the effects even in his interaction towards his aunt and uncle. He’s rude, he’s nasty, he says things he knows he shouldn’t have, and it’s just not the way that we’re accustomed to seeing Harry.

Andrew: Right. And then as we’ll talk about in a little bit, he is really brutal towards Dudley in a way I don’t think we’ve seen Harry before. It is rough to see Harry this way, but it’s also completely understandable. But Dumbledore, I think, is right to keep Harry separate right now. As Hermione says in one of her letters, they don’t want any communication being intercepted, and then the Death Eaters can learn what the Order of the Phoenix might be up to, so I actually don’t really blame Dumbledore in this moment. But I also feel bad for Harry; it’s just the way it’s got to be right now.

Sequoia: I think that Dumbledore is a very, very clever man, and he could probably dream up a way to get Harry information that is not by owl and isn’t something that can be easily detected or something like that by the Ministry or any baddies. So I think that there was a certain – and I think we do get more information of this later that supports that – there was a certain amount of him kind of wanting to isolate Harry from the problem, and not really trying very hard to find a solution to that.

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Laura: That does definitely get touched on towards the end of the book as to why Dumbledore was sort of neglecting to keep Harry in the loop and his fears that Harry would inadvertently let Voldemort in.

Micah: Well, his plan backfired much like that car muffler.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: But I just think it’s neglect on Dumbledore’s part, especially given what Harry went through at the end of the prior term: He saw somebody very close to him get murdered. And Dumbledore’s solution to that is to completely isolate Harry for the summertime, or at least keep him out of the know of what’s going on, and we see what continues to develop as a result of that in this book.

Andrew: So what should Dumbledore have done? You can’t let Ron and Hermione come over; the Dursleys would hate that.

Micah: But he could have left early to go to the Burrow.

Laura: Or why didn’t Dumbledore pay a visit to the Dursleys? He does it at the beginning of Half-Blood Prince.

Andrew: I just feel like Harry would just be annoying wherever he was.

[Sequoia laughs]

Andrew: The Dursleys’ was the one place Dumbledore could put Harry where he’d be out of the way. Considering everything that happened in Goblet of Fire – Voldemort is back, Cedric is dead – Harry would be insufferable. [laughs] And Dumbledore doesn’t want to deal with that right now, which sounds really mean to say, but he just needed some time to get some things worked out, I guess. Imagine if he was at the Burrow or at Grimmauld Place. Harry would want to be out there trying to track down Voldemort, trying to help Dumbledore, and Dumbledore just does not want that right now. And perhaps most importantly, the less that Harry knew, the less Voldemort would be able to extract.

Sequoia: Yeah, that’s very much a parallel to Sirius as well, when you’re thinking about Sirius being all cooped up and not being allowed to go out and fight the good fight or whatever. But also, like you guys were saying in your connections to Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry could just up and leave at any point as well, which is probably why he’s being followed. But leaving him there creates a situation where you don’t have very much control over what Harry is doing, or I don’t know, he could fly off the handle and you wouldn’t be able to control that situation as much, right?

Andrew and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: Definitely.

Andrew: I do wonder if Dumbledore expected this, if Dumbledore expected Harry to treat the Dursleys like he does in this chapter. I also thought it was interesting that J.K. Rowling says that Harry threw out the chocolate Ron and Hermione had sent. That’s interesting, because chocolate is a Dementor remedy. He’s been rejecting the kindness that Ron and Hermione are giving him, that chocolate, for example, as he continues to be treated like crap by the Dursleys. But it just speaks to how Harry is lashing out in all ways; he doesn’t want anybody’s kindness delivered through the mail. He wants to see these people. He wants to help. He wants to be up on what’s going on.

Laura: Well, and it’s understandable, given everything that he’s gone through, and the fact that he rightly… of course, at this point, he doesn’t recognize himself as the Chosen One, but there’s some level of that that’s implicit at this point, so I totally get why he’s pissed off here. It’s just like what, Micah and Andrew, both of you were saying; Dumbledore, I think, goes too far on the non-communication spectrum. Way to one extreme, to the point where closing Harry off completely causes these outbursts that are very out of character for him. And I’m glad that we got to see this with the Dursleys because it was a bit jarring to see Harry like this, but at the same time, getting eased into that by seeing him do it towards the Dursleys felt a little more understandable because the Dursleys are already reprehensible people anyway.

Micah: Right.

Laura: So I was okay with Harry sassing them, and then when you got to see him exploding at other characters, it made a little more sense.

Micah: Yeah. He is downright nasty to Dudley, though. I know we’re going to talk about it, but that even surprised me.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s cringeworthy.

Micah: Yeah, reading it back, it actually surprised me because, as I think is often the case for a lot of us, our reference point can oftentimes end up being the movies, and the interaction between Harry and Dudley is so different from the movie to the book. In the movie, he just gets hot on the playground at Dudley and Dementors show up and he saves Dudley, but this interaction, which we’re going to talk about, is pretty intense.

Laura: Yeah. I kind of liked it, though. I feel like this was really the first time that we get to see Harry clapping back at Dudley, and it was pretty delicious because he clapped back at him with all of the embarrassing things that we’ve read about Dudley over the years.

Micah: Well, our first connecting the threads to Prisoner of Azkaban – or at least, the first one that we’ll touch on – is when Harry enters Magnolia Crescent. The book says, “Halfway along he passed the narrow alleyway down the side of a garage where he had first laid eyes on his godfather,” and I thought this was just a nice Chapter 1 of Order of the Phoenix to Chapter 1 of Prisoner of Azkaban connection. And we learn that Sirius has been corresponding with Harry; he gave him a bit of advice, telling him to keep his nose clean and “don’t do anything rash,” to which Harry notes it’s quite ironic that this is coming from a man who spent 12 years locked up in Azkaban.

Andrew: Yes, and I can see why Harry feels that way. But while I’m not a parent, I know that parents want their children to not repeat the mistakes that they made and to make their own mistakes, because the parent – in this case, Sirius – knows what happens when you do these things. So it’s painful to watch somebody you’re trying to raise repeat the same mistakes that you did, so I don’t know. Can you blame Sirius for this?

Laura: Do we think that Sirius actually meant that? Of course, I totally believe that he said that because he wants the best for Harry, but we definitely see later on in the book that Sirius encourages Harry to take part in certain risk-taking and almost shames Harry for not doing it at one point. And we also see that Mrs. Weasley really tries to peer pressure Sirius into being a responsible adult around Harry, so do we imagine that when Sirius wrote this letter that Mrs. Weasley was leaning over his shoulder and being like, “And you’d better tell him to keep his nose clean”?

[Andrew and Sequoia laugh]

Andrew and Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: Probably.

Micah: Or Dumbledore.

Andrew: But I think Sirius meant it to some extent.

Sequoia: Also, Sirius gets more and more angry about being left in the house to his own devices throughout the book, so he gets more and more of wanting Harry to go out there and fight the good fight for him as he gets more frustrated, I think.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: And Sequoia, while you’re drawing that connection, I think it’s so interesting to look at how this chapter mirrors the rest of the book, in that Harry finally takes off when he gets so frustrated, and when he does, he literally encounters death. And Sirius does the same thing at the end of this book, and he encounters it in a much more real way.

Micah: That’s a great point. One of the other things that we learn about as Harry is making his way to this playground is that he’s having nightmares about what happened to Cedric at the end of Goblet of Fire, and he’s also experiencing these visions of long dark corridors all finishing in dead ends and locked doors. Now, Harry wisely compares this to how he’s feeling trapped at Privet Drive, but we know there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Andrew: He hasn’t seen the cover yet of this book, I guess. Otherwise, he would realize we’re not talking about Privet Drive.

[Sequoia laughs]

Laura: Yep. Does not realize that 12 divided by… what did we do? We counted like, 15 candles…

Andrew: 15 candles, fifth book, equals three… ring theory.

Laura: Yeah, Book 5 to Book 3.

Andrew: Yes. [laughs] It’s cool. Also, frustrating for readers because we keep hearing about this Department of Mysteries, and then we don’t get to see much of it.

Micah: So we talked about how Harry is itching for a fight, and he even tries to provoke Dudley with some name-calling, going the Petunia route, calling all of the names at Dudley that Petunia calls him, and it was just interesting to see Harry in this light. What do we make of him in this moment with Dudley?

Andrew: Well, like I said before, I was cringing. It wasn’t just the name calling; it was, “Oh, you’re such a weak person that you need four guys behind you to beat up a 12-year-old,” and then of course, he starts brandishing his wand. This is the worst that we’ve seen Harry with the Dursleys. You know that Harry is better than this, but he’s in such a crappy situation right now that he needs to let it out on somebody, and who better than the person who’s always treated him like garbage?

Sequoia: He’s just so used to going out and putting himself in harm’s way for his friends and to fight Voldemort and everything, and he’s being put in this situation where he’s not allowed to do anything, so he’s throwing himself in harm’s way by trying to get Dudley to fight him because it’s kind of like that’s the only way that he understands how to get things done, I guess.

Micah: And not thinking about the consequences either, because if he thought he was going to be in trouble for what he did prior to leaving the Dursleys, imagine if he gets into a huge fight or does some sort of magic on Dudley; it’s going to be even worse. Now, the Dementors end up showing up anyway, but the point being is he’s just not thinking. I think a lot of it is probably just years and years of pent-up rage and the situation that he’s going through right now where he’s not hearing from his friends, he’s not hearing from Dumbledore, he’s cut off and isolated… it’s just all adding up, and he’s looking for a way to take out that stress.

Andrew: I think he’s also thinking, what does he have to lose at this point? He just lost Cedric. He doesn’t know what the heck is going on. He’s in this terrible living situation right now. Why not pick a fight with Dudley? It might actually feel good by the end of it. “At least I get to interact with somebody around my age.”

Micah: And do you think there’s any part of Dudley that is holding back because of…? Not because of the magic; I know that Dudley in a way fears Harry, but he also knows that Harry is not allowed to use magic outside of school, and it seemed like Dudley, for the most part, kept his cool. Is there any credit to be given to Dudley here, or no?

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Not really, because the only reason he does is because he knows Harry can do magic, because he knows Harry could beat him if he really wanted to so. He’s the ultimate bully.

Micah: He is.

Laura: Speaking of Dudley, and of the 10-year-old you were talking about, Mark Evans, did we ever get an answer to this?

Micah: Yes.

Laura: Are Harry and Dudley related to Mark Evans?

Micah: No. Yeah, I was going to mention that, too, because that set off… back in the day, that caused a whirlwind of speculation about who Mark Evans actually is, and J.K. Rowling eventually debunked it. But I know people had a lot of theories as to whether or not he was related to Harry and Dudley.

Laura: Why choose that name, though?

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah, we need to link to this in the show notes, Micah. She wrote a whole blog post on her old website answering this question. It’s like, eight paragraphs long, and she’s very tongue in cheek about it. Maybe she just didn’t think that fans would react that way. After that, maybe she realized, “Wow, fans will truly dissect everything.”

Laura: Well, you have to give us a little credit, okay? The lady who used to babysit Harry in Book 1 turns up to help save him from Dementors in this one, so give us a little credit.

Andrew: She said, “Believe me, you can’t regret it more than I do right now. ‘Evans’ is a common name. I didn’t give it much thought. I wasn’t even trying to set up another red herring. I could just as easily have called him ‘Smith’ or ‘Jones.'”

Sequoia: [laughs] Then why didn’t you call it Smith or Jones?

Andrew: Because she was feeling Evans that day.

[Sequoia laughs]

Micah: Why didn’t your editor catch that?

Andrew: Oh, you know why she answered this question? Because she had a poll on her website and it said, “Which of these questions do you want me to answer?” And the Mark Evans question got the most votes. [laughs]

Sequoia: Oh my God.

Andrew: She said, “If you knew how often I’ve checked the FAQ poll hoping that one of the other questions might edge into the lead…” And it didn’t. Everybody wanted to know, what is the connection? Nothing.

Micah: Did she not want to answer that question just because it didn’t really have that cool of an answer?

Andrew: Right, exactly.

Micah: Okay.

Andrew: She said she didn’t think it through. [laughs] Quote: “I didn’t give it much thought.”

Micah: Well, Harry and Dudley get into it, and all of a sudden, something starts to happen. And I pulled this quote because I forgot how just terrible Dementors are, and this really gives us a sense for how sinister Umbridge is for sending them. It says, “Something had happened to the night. The star-strewn indigo sky was suddenly pitch black and lightless – the stars, the moon, the misty streetlamps at either end of the alley had vanished. The distant grumbles of cars and the whisper of trees had gone. The balmy evening was suddenly piercingly, bitingly cold. They were surrounded by total, impenetrable, silent darkness, as though some gaunt – “ emphasis on gaunt “- hand had dropped a thick, icy mantle over the entire alleyway, blinding them.”

Andrew: This is how I feel at night without a nightlight on. Always need a little bit of light.

[Laura laughs]

Micah: Or if the AC is too high.

Andrew: Micah, you pointed out the “gaunt” usage, the “gaunt” hand.

Micah: Had we even heard of any of the Gaunts prior to Half-Blood Prince?

Sequoia: I don’t think so.

Laura: Don’t believe so, no.

Micah: I just… yeah, I mean, I just highlighted the word. I don’t think … maybe there’s something there, maybe not.

Andrew: Vote for it on J.K. Rowling’s FAQ poll. Maybe she’ll answer that one next.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: “No, Micah, I didn’t put any thought into that either. Stop reading into my books!”

Laura: No, I mean, I think that it’s an interesting point, because even if she’s not trying to set up red herrings, J.K. Rowling does a really good job of weaving common threads throughout all of her subplots. So given what we know about the Gaunts, it does not… I mean, first of all, she called them the Gaunts; that should tell you enough. I think maybe it’s probably more telling that she chose to call that family the Gaunts than it is that maybe she used the word “gaunt” in this description here. But I think it is a really interesting point to consider that she does do a really good job of connecting a lot of these elements to each other, even if it’s more of an implicit thing, and not necessarily something that has a huge major impact on the outcome of the story.

Andrew: I also noticed right before this that Harry is ready to inflict great harm on Dudley. The quote is “He pointed his wand straight at Dudley’s heart,” and then the Dementors attack and reality set in and Harry has to save Dudley. Does this say anything about Harry? One minute he’s ready to – symbolically, at least – kill Dudley, and then the Dementors show up, and suddenly, it’s time to save him.

Sequoia: I don’t think it says anything about Harry really at all, because what has just happened to Harry… Harry experienced some very real, very intense trauma, and then was dropped off at his abusive family’s house with no kind of therapy or anything, which is going to make it so that he lashes out, so I don’t think that he even meant to lash out to that degree, or had really the malicious intent to do great harm. He was just so frustrated with his situation that he couldn’t help himself but to try to do something, I guess.

Laura: I agree. And I think also, he’s maybe somewhat banking on the idea that Dudley doesn’t understand the extent of his magical abilities, and brandishing a weapon, any kind of weapon, at somebody’s heart is something that’s very understandable, even if you don’t understand what that weapon does.

Micah and Sequoia: Yeah.

Andrew: For sure.

Sequoia: He’s hoping Dudley doesn’t know that he only knows two spells.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: And it’s also interesting that at the beginning of the chapter you have the Dursleys accusing Harry of using magic, when in fact he didn’t, and then Dudley is accusing Harry of using magic again, when in fact, he didn’t. He’s not causing what’s happening with the Dementors. But Dudley reacts by hitting Harry, and that’s probably the worst thing that he could have done in that situation, and now the Dementors are on top of both of them. And again, these descriptions: “The Dementor’s icy fingers were closing on his throat – the high pitched laughter was growing louder, and a voice spoke inside his head – ‘Bow to death, Harry… it might even be painless… I would not know… I have never died…'” And I wondered, is this Voldemort getting inside of Harry’s mind, or is this the Horcrux that’s speaking to him?

Laura: Ooh, that’s a good question. Because didn’t we establish in Prisoner of Azkaban that when Harry was hearing Lily’s screams and pleading, that what he was hearing was what he imagined that interaction to look like, because he couldn’t possibly remember it? So I mean, this could also be his imagination playing into his worst fears of what Voldemort might say?

Micah: Well, I mean, to kind of flip that around, what if the Horcrux remembers it because the Horcrux was there?

Laura: Ooh, that’s a good point. Ooh, I just got chills.

[Andrew and Sequoia laugh]

Micah: Your cold is cured.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: And the reason why I don’t necessarily think it’s Voldemort is because have we ever heard Voldemort speak that way inside of Harry’s head before? I mean, they obviously connect a lot throughout the course of this book through different visions, that some are real, some are obviously not, but the speaking portion almost lends me to believe that it could be the Horcrux.

Sequoia: It seems strange that the Horcrux would be encouraging its container to die.

Micah: That’s also a good point.

[Andrew laughs]

Sequoia: This is a really good question because it seems like it’s supposed to be Voldemort in some way, shape, or form, but not in any way that we have seen thus far in the books or see till the end of the books.

Micah: So Harry casts the Patronus Charm and he’s able to cast away the first Dementor, but then he does something that I don’t remember him doing before: He directs the stag towards the Dementor that is on top of Dudley at the other end of the alleyway. And I was just wondering, have we seen him do this before where it’s almost wandless magic where he’s directing the stag to go in another direction?

Laura: Yeah, I think this is the first time we see it, and it makes me wonder if he’s been practicing offscreen?

Andrew: Or maybe because he is in such a desperate moment that he just wanted to try it anyway, in hopes of it actually working. [laughs] This is the second Pokémon parallel I can bring up today. The Harry is a Pikachu, and this just reminds me of some Pokémon action, just being able to tell your Patronus to go in the direction that you want. “Attack that Dementor over there.” I agree with you, though; I do think it’s the first time we’re seeing it from Harry.

Sequoia: We know that later in the books, Dumbledore is the one who comes up with the way that you can send a message using the Patronus, so I always see this as a little bit of a kindred thing between Dumbledore and Harry, where they have this very intuitive use of their Patronus.

Micah: I like that.

Andrew: It’s helpful because you think, what’s the alternative? You send it out once, it goes in one direction, and then you’ve got to do it again? That sounds exhausting. Probably faster, too, in battle.

Laura: Yeah, if you couldn’t do that, how would Snape be able to lead Harry to the Sword of Gryffindor in Book 7?

Micah and Sequoia: True.

Micah: The chapter wraps up with a surprise guest appearance at the end of the alleyway.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Micah: There is more to Mrs. Figg than meets the eye. She shows up after Harry has sent off the Dementors and tells him to keep his wand out, and are we surprised now that Mrs. Figg is some sort of something? We learn more about her, obviously, in the next chapter.

Andrew: Well, as readers, yeah, because you don’t think that another wizard is going to be hanging out. But of course, I guess in hindsight, it’s like, “Oh, yeah, of course Dumbledore would put somebody there.” In addition to… and not just her, but Mundungus, as well.

Micah: Yeah, that’s true. We learn that Mundungus was supposed to be keeping an eye on Harry, but clearly Apparated away earlier on in the chapter. But see, here’s another thing that I would argue is a knock against Dumbledore: Why are you having somebody who is a Squib keep tabs on Harry, who can do absolutely no magic to help defend him should something happen?

Andrew: She can get a message back to Dumbledore; I’m sure that type of plan is already in place. And do you want to waste a witch or wizard…? Waste their lives living across the street from the Dursleys? They don’t want to live in Little Whinging. They want to go live in the wizarding world.

Laura: Also, don’t we have it confirmed later, just a few chapters in, that the Ministry doesn’t keep a Squib registry? So with her being there, they wouldn’t be able to see that there’s actually a connection to the wizarding world living close to Harry. So to them, they would think he’s totally isolated.

Micah: I still think it proves, much like Hogwarts, that he knows nothing about security.

[Sequoia laughs]

Andrew: Little Whinging is a security nightmare!

[Laura laughs]

Micah: Clearly, it is.

Laura: Basically, Harry Potter is just a living security nightmare of a human being.

Andrew: Even if Mrs. Figg was a witch, those Dementors were still coming to town, so I mean, that wouldn’t have made any difference. James, who’s listening live on Patreon right now, he says, “It seems like neglect on Dumbledore’s part to trust Mundungus Fletcher to watch out for Harry.”

Micah: Him too.

Andrew: I think that’s the better argument.

Micah: Well, both of them. I mean, I guess Figg has…

Andrew: Leave Mrs. Figg alone.

Sequoia: Mrs. Figg is more like a backup. She’s not there to do the magic; she’s the secondary watchman.

Andrew: Right.

Micah: And she’s got a decent track record, right? I mean, she’s kept him alive for 15 years.

Andrew: Yeah, exactly. Trying to give him some tea from time to time… keeping the cats over there…

Laura: Do we think Dumbledore actually picked Mundungus, or that he was just someone the Order had available? Because at this point in the story, the Order is pretty limited in numbers. And most of the people in the Order are people Harry knows, so they can’t really have people Harry knows too close to him right now or else he would, like Andrew said, be really pestering and annoying if he happened to spot them. You know what I mean?

Micah: Yep.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s a great point. And again, I just think about from a life perspective, who wants to waste their time in Little Whinging? Who wants to be monitoring Harry at all times? These people got better things to do. Mundungus and Figg do not.

Micah: All right.

Andrew: No offense to them, of course.

Micah: No, none.

Andrew: I’m just pointing out the obvious. So I thought in light of a new Chapter by Chapter series, we could also add a new segment. We do the Seven-Word Summary, we do the Connecting the Threads, MVP of the Week, and Rename the Chapter. We’re going to continue doing those with Order of the Phoenix, but I want to add a new one, in which we just keep track of every time Umbridge was an awful person. And today, we can add one to the tally, and that would be because she sent the Dementors to Little Whinging.

[bell clanging sound effect]

Andrew: Umbridge, you suck.

Laura: I was saying that we can see if the Umbridge Sucks count could outpace the Educational Decree count.

[Micah laughs]

Sequoia: Ooh.

Andrew: Probably.

Micah: I like that.

Sequoia: I don’t know. Does every Educational Degree also count as a time that Umbridge sucked?

Andrew and Micah: Yes.

Laura: Yeah, I guess so, so then yeah.

Connecting the Threads

Andrew: So let’s connect some threads now.

Micah: Yeah, and I think we mentioned most of these when we did our Order of the Phoenix/Prisoner of Azkaban comparison episode last week. But Harry runs away from the Dursleys after blowing up Aunt Marge in Prisoner of Azkaban, and runs away from the Dursleys after arguing with Vernon and Petunia in Order of the Phoenix. In Book 3, Harry encounters the Grim; in Order of the Phoenix, he encounters Dementors, both associated with death in one way or the other. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is rescued by the Knight Bus; in Order of the Phoenix, he is – in quotation marks – “rescued” by Mrs. Figg. And then somebody put in a good point here that both Arabella Figg and Argus Filch share their initials, and they love cats. What does it all mean?

Andrew: [laughs] That was me.

Laura: And it’s interesting, because now we’re learning…

Micah: Star-crossed lovers.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: But we’re also learning now that Harry has had a Squib with a love of cats watching over him both at school and at home.

Andrew: Ah. Maybe Dumbledore believes these…

Sequoia: Don’t search for that pairing; I’m telling you guys.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Can we really give Mrs. Figg credit for rescuing Harry? I think that’s a little bit of a stretch. We might need to delete that one.

Laura: I thought about it as like a retrieval.

Andrew: A retrieval. Okay.

Laura: Yes.

Andrew: Harry could have gotten himself back to Privet Drive, but okay.

Laura: Yeah, but also, she was able to contact the Order and let them know what was happening, which is what prevents Harry from being flat-out expelled from Hogwarts.

Andrew: Ah. Yeah. And then of course…

Micah: How about picked up by the Knight Bus, and then picked up by Mrs. Figg?

Laura: Yeah, there we go.

Andrew: [laughs] Sure.

Micah: Not rescued.

Andrew: I just wanted to challenge it for debate’s sake.

Micah: Okay.

Andrew: I think it can count.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: It’s time for MVP of the Week. I’m going to give it to Mundungus for challenging Harry, giving him a good battle right at the start of the book. Welcome to a new year, Harry. Time to face Dementors.

Micah: I will give it to Harry’s Patronus for saving the day.

Laura: I’m going to give it to Harry’s wand for being a funny recurring literary device in this chapter. I don’t know if you guys noticed this, but throughout reading it, he takes his wand out several times and every time either one of the Dursleys or Dudley will be like, “Put that thing away!” or “Point that thing somewhere else!” and I just thought it was funny.

Andrew: [laughs] You mean the twig that he was holding?

Laura: Right, right, the twig.

Sequoia: Yeah, it’s a stick.

Andrew: Got it.

[Laura laughs]

Sequoia: I’m going to give it to Mark Evans, the 10-year-old who was cheeky to Dudley, the boxing champion, because that kid is really going for it.

Andrew: [laughs] I would give it to Mark Evans because he drove the fandom crazy.

[Andrew and Sequoia laugh]

Sequoia: Also that.

Rename the Chapter

Andrew: All right, and let’s rename the chapter: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Chapter 1, “Call Him Hangry Potter.”

[Micah and Sequoia laugh]

Micah: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Chapter 1, “Gettin’ Figgy With It.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: [sings] Na-na-na-na-na… figgy with it.

[Laura and Sequoia laugh]

Laura: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Chapter 1, “Magic Drought.”

Sequoia: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Chapter 1, “Dinky Diddydums and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: I love that.

Andrew: Where you almost lost your soul.

[Sequoia laughs]

Andrew: All right, well, that is Chapter 1 of Order of the Phoenix. If you have any feedback, feel free to email, or give us a call; 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. Hopefully, that Nashville school will also be calling us this week with their thoughts on Chapter 1 of Order of the Phoenix.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: And if you have any feedback about Chapter 2, we would love to hear that as well, and we could potentially incorporate it into next week’s episode.

Listener Feedback

Andrew: All right, time now for an email. This is from Olivia. Laura, I’m sorry; we’re going to have to issue a correction. Can you believe this? I was shocked.

Laura: It’s okay. It’s happened before.

Andrew: She just wrote in to say,

“I love the show. Sorry to write with a critique. A frame narrative is not the same thing as ring composition. A frame narrative is a story within a story; my personal favorite example is The Princess Bride, where the main story is framed by the story of the grandpa reading to the little boy because he’s sick. Ring composition, as typified in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, is the thing where details, characters, and events cycle back around at specific points in the story – basically, what a couple of you have been describing as a frame narrative.”

Andrew: Laura, you’re so good at this. How could you have confused this?

Laura: Well, I’m glad Olivia wrote in because I think she does raise a good point in that something like The Princess Bride does serve as a traditional frame narrative, and I think ring composition probably does better describe what we’re talking about here when we’re talking about connecting the threads on the show. But in thinking about the composition of Harry Potter, I’ve often thought about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which is also a well-known frame narrative, wherein the story begins with Robert Walton and he subsequently moves on to Victor Frankenstein, then the monster, a few others are thrown in, and then it goes back to the monster, back to Victor Frankenstein, and then back to Walton. I think Frankenstein is probably more complicated because it’s also a bit of an embedded narrative, which is, I think, what allows the same set of characters to reappear in the same order in which they appeared previously, kind of like we see in Harry Potter, and that’s where I was feeling the frame narrative angle, but I think it’s a point well taken, and I’m on board with thinking about connecting the threads specifically as a ring composition device.

Andrew: Okay. So are we going to call it ring composition from now on? Okay. [laughs]

Laura: I’m fine with that. I’m trying to explain where I’m coming from, because on a personal level, I don’t think it’s as simple as to say a frame narrative is only this one thing.

Andrew: I see. Okay.

Laura: I also understand that it’s maybe a bit easier to focus… sorry, because of my illness, I’m having a hard time breathing and talking at the same time. But I think it’s probably easier to focus on developing and building out that segment if we think about it from the ring composition angle, if that makes sense. I don’t know. I’m high on Benadryl right now, so…

Andrew: [laughs] No, that’s fine. A couple people had mentioned that, so we just wanted to air that on the show in case anybody was getting confused or something. We also have one voicemail today; this is super cute, so we had to play it.

[Voicemail plays]

“Hi, MuggleCast. My name is Kelsey, and I’m calling because I am the mother of a kindergartener who is absolutely obsessed with your guys’ show. And don’t worry, I’m not chiding you for the very occasional curse word that you guys throw out there. He had an interesting theory or question for me; we were listening to your episode about midnight release parties, and he said, ‘Mama, why don’t I get a midnight release party every time that we start a new book?’ So I just wanted to let you know that the next generation of kindergarten people who are listening to the books being read aloud to them will henceforth have Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, and every book thereafter, midnight release partied released to him in our house thanks to you guys getting him all hyped up about the idea of Harry Potter books being released with these crazy parties, because he feels very left out. So thanks for that. Okay, thanks for everything you do. Bye.”

[Voicemail ends]

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Aww.

Andrew: Kelsey, that is so sweet that you’re going to throw a little midnight release party every time you start a new book. That’s incredible.

Laura: I love that.

Micah: Send us photos.

Laura: Yeah, please do.

Andrew: Oh, yeah. Oh my God, where do you live? We should attend a midnight release party.

[Micah laughs]

Laura: Okay, that’s maybe getting a little creepy, Andrew.

Andrew: But thank you for sharing that. That is super sweet. And you sound a little annoyed that we talked about them and put them into his head, [laughs] so also, sorry, kind of?

Laura: No, I’m not sorry at all. I hope he enjoys it. Did she mention his name?

Andrew: I don’t think so, no.

Laura: Well, I really hope that you enjoy your midnight release parties. I look back on them as some of my favorite memories when I was younger, and I think you will too.

Andrew: Absolutely.


Andrew: All right, time now for Quizzitch. Even though Eric isn’t here, we’re going to pull through. I prepared a question. [laughs] I’ve never done that for Quizzitch.

Micah: And he provided the names of the people who got last week’s question correct.

Andrew: Thanks. So Micah, last week’s question was what type of flowerbed does Harry find himself laying in as the book opens? What is the answer and who were the winners?

Micah: The answer is that Harry is laying among the begonias next to a large hydrangea bush. Both begonias and hydrangea were acceptable answers, according to Eric.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: I think only one of them is correct, but okay, Eric. You’re in control here.

Andrew: Yeah, I think it’s hydrangea, but that’s okay.

Micah: The winners are Megan Clavie-Parker, Jeniffler, J.K. Not Rowling, Retta Gamboe, Erika, William Walton, Bekah in Louisville, Marlena, Robbie Stillman, Moonstar is the Freaking Best, Megan, Savannah Fisher, Mr. Squeaky, Asim, Nicole Loom, Tyler Humphrey’s, Yung Susie Blood, Amanda L., Samwise Jean-Baptiste, Patronus Seeker, Issy Marcantonio, Meg Scott, Sarah Davis, and Sarah a.k.a. Weensie. Also, listener Karin replied, “Hi MuggleCast, this week’s Quizzitch Answer is hydrangea bush, or as in Swedish, ‘hortensia.'” I think I said that right.

Andrew: All right, and this week’s question is: J.K. Rowling once said on her old website that Mrs. Figg deals in the roaring trade of crossbreeding cats and what? This is not answered in Chapter 2, but since it relates to Figg, I thought we could bring this one up. So if you want to answer it, tweet us @MuggleCast on Twitter, and include the hashtag “Quizzitch” and of course the answer.

Micah: So before we wrap up this week’s show, wanted to let you all know that Eric and I will be at LeakyCon in Boston from October 11-13. It is taking place at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, and we are close to finalizing the panels that we will be speaking on, but expect that we will be doing a live MuggleCast at some point during the weekend, and we will also be planning a MuggleCast meetup, and more details to come once we finalize a few other things, but I know both Eric and I are really excited to be heading up to Boston. It is ten years that LeakyCon is celebrating; they started ten years ago back in Boston, so they are returning there this year. They have a lot of cool stuff planned. I know Chris Rankin, Dan Fogler, Stanislav Ianevski – hopefully I pronounced that right – was just confirmed, and they are actually planning a trip the Thursday before to Salem, so that should be a lot of fun for con-goers as well. And if you’re listening to the show and you plan on going, let them know that we sent you at checkout; all you have to do after registering is use code “Muggle.” That gets you $10 off your registration, so head on over to now, and we look forward to seeing you in Boston.

Andrew: All right. Sequoia, thank you so much for joining us today. It was great having you on. Tell us where we can find Fanatical Fics and Where to Find Them.

Sequoia: Thanks so much for having me on. You can find the podcast on wherever you listen to podcasts. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @FanaticalFics, and we will also be at LeakyCon Boston doing a humorous lecture on the merits of crack fanfiction.

Andrew: Awesome.

Micah: Squids?

Sequoia: Always squids.

[Andrew and Sequoia laugh]

Micah: All right.

Andrew: And we’d love to come on your show. One of us can come on your show one day, hopefully in…

Sequoia: Absolutely. You’re all invited.

Andrew: Aw, yay. Thank you, everybody, for listening. If you want to follow us on social media, it’s @MuggleCast on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. God, Micah, I feel so awkward saying follow us on LinkedIn.

[Micah laughs]

Laura: Yeah, why are we on…? Who’s on LinkedIn anymore?

Andrew: Everybody’s on LinkedIn.

Laura: Eh, just because you have a profile doesn’t mean you’re on LinkedIn.

Micah: Laura, we’re trying to promote it.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: We’re trying to get people to follow us.

Laura: Sorry. [laughs]

Andrew: We’re on LinkedIn as well, if you would like to follow us there.

Micah: Have another Benadryl.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: I probably will.

Andrew: We would also love your support on Patreon, You’ll receive instant access to installments of bonus MuggleCast, early access to our show via our weekly livestreams, MuggleCast throwbacks, and a whole lot more. Pledge today at Thank you so much, if you do so. All right, thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: I’m Laura.

Sequoia: And I’m Sequoia.

Andrew: Bye, everybody.

Laura and Micah: Bye.