Transcript #434

Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #434, His Last (OOTP Chapter 2, A Peck of Owls)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast Episode 434. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: On today’s episode we’ll continue with our Chapter by Chapter series, diving into Order of the Phoenix Chapter 2. We do have a couple of items to get to before that, though: First of all, just want to let everybody know there’s been no call back from that Nashville school…

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: … so if anybody was looking forward to a message, none yet. Sorry.

Eric: I don’t know why; you left such a good voicemail for them to read, asking for help, and they won’t even help you conjure your spells.

Andrew: Yeah, so I continue to try to conjure those spells, and no luck still. Oh, well.

Micah: Let’s call them again.

Andrew: [laughs] Okay, here we go. Just call them every week until they answer. We’d have to record during the weekday for them to actually pick up, I think.

Eric: I will say, I thought last week’s episode on the whole was one of our best episodes. I couldn’t stop laughing the entire time while listening, so…

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: It was a fun time.

Eric: Yeah, glad you guys took care of that, and it’s good to be back.

Andrew: Yeah, we missed you.

Micah: How was your trip from one Washington to the other? Are we allowed to say that? That’s very generic.

Eric: [laughs] It’s very generic. I did do it in one day. There was a layover in Newark, and they lost my luggage. Ugh. I wish I had just been able to cast Accio; that would have saved me.

Andrew: Did you get your luggage back?

Eric: I did; it came the next day and was delivered to my hotel. I was there for work training and I didn’t have any nice button-downs or anything, so I just looked like a schlub the first day. Had to go to Walmart and buy a pullover.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: That’s he second time Eric has brought up Walmart on this show in the past month.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Getting Micah his birthday cake at Walmart, going to get clothes at Walmart…

Eric: Oh, yeah, I didn’t even think of Publix at all; nobody was there to advocate for Publix. I’m sorry, Laura, that we disappointed you.

Laura: Yeah, I have to say that was a fail, that you chose the Walmart bakery over the Publix bakery. Oof.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Yeah, I’m sorry. I just didn’t know. I don’t know what I don’t know, you know?

Laura: [laughs] Well anyway, Walmart, official sponsor of MuggleCast.

Andrew: They’re about to be, it sounds like.

Eric: Yeah, hit us up with those ad dollars, everybody.

Andrew: Quick little plug for our Instagram: We’re closing in on 4,000 followers, so please follow us there if you haven’t already. We would love to hit that milestone. You’ll get to see previews of the show and what we’re up to in fandom, and we’ll share some good memes that we come across from time to time. And when we’re out at Harry Potter events, we post to there as well, like Wizards Unite Indianapolis a few weeks ago. So please do follow us; our username is just @MuggleCast on Instagram. One news item as well: Eddie Redmayne was at TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival, and somebody asked him, “Hey, what the heck’s going on with Fantastic Beasts?” Are you all ready for the big update?

Eric and Laura: Yes.

Andrew: Okay, here we go.

[Audio clip plays]

Interviewer: Now, before I let you go, do you have a Fantastic Beasts 3 update for us?

Eddie Redmayne: Well, we’re meant to start shooting at the beginning of next year. The script is still being worked on. [laughs] That’s nothing. I’m literally giving you nothing.

Interviewer: At least it’s happening.

Eddie Redmayne: I’m trying to do that thing of talking about it and saying nothing because of the fear of being told off.

[Audio clip ends]

Andrew: That’s it. That’s the big update. [laughs]

Laura: So really, nothing we didn’t already know.

Andrew: Well, I actually… I guess I’m surprised that the script is still being worked on, assuming that’s accurate. They’ve been working on that script for a long time, it sounds like, which I guess is good.

Laura: Well, I’m assuming they had to go back and fix a lot of stuff, because I think they were probably closer to being done late last year when they announced that the next Fantastic Beasts is going to be pushed back, so there’s probably rewrites happening, and those tend to take a long time.

Eric: Yeah, yeah. Definitely I think fan reaction to Crimes of Grindelwald, the questions everybody had made them go back into the writing room, but apparently they weren’t easy fixes to… I don’t know. It worries me that it’s taking this long, but it also gives me some comfort that they’re just taking the time to do what they need to do.

Andrew: Yeah, Fantastic Beasts 3 is going to be released November 2021. [laughs] So far away.

Micah: That’s a while.

Andrew: My gosh.

Micah: It also would help to explain J.K. Rowling’s absence on Twitter, if in fact they are still spending this much time working on the script.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Eric: I definitely don’t think that was her that came back last week. I think that was an intern or somebody.

Micah: No, it was promotional.

Andrew: It was me. I run her Twitter account.

Eric: Oh, cool.

Andrew: Wouldn’t that be a fun twist? I complain about where she is, but I’ve known all along.

Eric: [laughs] Andrew, can you do me a favor? Can you just like one of my tweets so I can print it out at home and die happy?

Andrew: [laughs] Definitely. If they do start filming at the beginning of next year, hopefully we will get a title around then. I feel like we got the title for Crimes of Grindelwald and an initial promo shot of the whole cast as soon as they started filming that movie, so hopefully we will get some news when they actually start filming. But even then, we’re still going to have close to two years until this movie is released. That’s such a bummer. I’m actually kind of hoping that they still push the movie up, make it summer 2021/spring 2021. Why does it have to be the end of 2021?

Eric: I agree. They had Harry Potter films that have released in the summer months; I’m thinking of Movie 5, which was the summer of Potter in 2007, and definitely Movie 3, which did pretty well box office-wise, I think. So yeah, not unheard of.

Andrew: I wonder if summer would also help them in that they’re invoking the memories of midnight release parties gone by. Fans get to look forward to a big Harry Potter summer release again. Fall just isn’t as fun.

Eric: I tend to agree with you.

Laura: Yeah, same here.

Micah: Yeah. Well, one other thing I noticed – and it may be that it happened a couple weekends ago – but Crimes of Grindelwald is now on HBO.

Andrew: Okay.

Micah: So if people are interested in going and watching that masterpiece, they can log on to HBO. But it’s the first time I had seen it on TV.

Eric: Oh, cool.

Andrew: I don’t need that. I pre-ordered the digital copy, you might remember, so I got it at midnight.

Micah: Yeah, but for some of our listeners, maybe, that didn’t get a chance to do that.

Laura: And Andrew, I know you watch that probably every weekend, right?

Andrew: Yes, I load it up. I ask Siri to start playing it for me. Yep, every Saturday night.

Listener Feedback

Andrew: Let’s move on to some feedback now concerning Episode 433. This first one is from Jenna, and actually, a bunch of others too.

“Just wanted to jump in and comment on your discussion about Harry hearing Voldemort in his head when him and Dudley are about to be attacked by Dementors. I just finished rereading Goblet of Fire, and the line ‘I wouldn’t know, I have never died’ is a direct line that Harry is remembering from Goblet of Fire when Voldemort is toying with him in the graveyard. Though it would be cool if it was the Horcrux messing with Harry’s kind, this is simply a memory resurfacing from the trauma of last year.”

Andrew: So thank you to Jenna, Amanda, Becky, Diana, and others who brought that up.

Laura: Good catch.

Andrew: We were all stumped. We were like, “Did Voldemort say that? Is this a Voldemort quote? Is this the Horcrux? What is it?” But turns out it was from Goblet of Fire.

Micah: Yeah, great catch there. As you mentioned, a number of people emailed in with that, so thanks for picking up on that.

Andrew: Clearly we have not read Goblet of Fire in preparation for our Order of the Phoenix Chapter by Chapter.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Shame.

Andrew: But we’ll do our best.

Micah: You know what that means, Andrew: We’re just going to have to do Chapter by Chapter of Goblet of Fire sometime in the not too distant future.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: Starting now. Everybody grab your books.

Laura: Maybe once we finish Chapter by Chapter for the entire series, we can just do reverse Chapter by Chapter, in which we start with the final chapter of Book 7 and work our way all the way back to the first chapter of Book 1.

Andrew: [laughs] That would be mentally strenuous, I feel.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Gosh. But we’ll need a new twist to get us through to November 2021, so…

Laura: Yep, Harry Potter backwards. Exclusively here on MuggleCast.

Andrew: [laughs] All right, somebody else want to read this next email?

Micah: Sure. This next email comes from Esther, who wrote in to say,

“I enjoyed your discussion on the first chapter of Order of the Phoenix, but was also quite disappointed that you did not mention mental illness, which, in my opinion, is an essential component in understanding Harry’s character arc in Order of the Phoenix. It is impossible to discuss Harry’s frustration and outbursts of anger in this chapter without considering the impacts of depression and PTSD. The Dementors are representative of trauma, and it is significant that they cause Harry to relive part of Voldemort’s speech in Goblet of Fire, forcing Harry to confront that traumatic memory. I hope you guys discuss mental illness more in your Chapter by Chapter read, not only for Harry, but also for other characters like Sirius, who also suffer from depression in the book.

On another note, I always thought Harry was able to shock Vernon because of Lily’s blood magic protecting him from harm, rather than of his own magic. Love the show and thanks so much.”

Laura: Really good point, especially about the connection between Harry and Sirius experiencing this because we see – I think Sequoia was the one who brought this up last week – this parallel between Harry and Sirius both kind of being prisoners in their own homes, and having these outbursts. And Esther is totally right. As somebody who has suffered from depression in the past, I can tell you that having outbursts of frustration or anger is actually really normal when you’re going through this, so this was also a really good catch.

Eric: Yeah. I mean, I listened to last week’s episode, and I think that you guys were very right to focus, too, on the abuse Harry has suffered at the hand of the Dursleys and the neglect from Dumbledore. I wouldn’t want to completely focus just on Harry suffering from PTSD and depression, because I think that that, in some ways, might scapegoat the very real people that are making very real choices that negatively impact Harry in his condition. So I didn’t think there was anything wrong or missing from last week’s discussion, but I think moving forward, keeping an eye on mental illness and… I know that I myself suffer from anxiety, and several of us have a lot of things in common on that front. But if there is somebody who’s medically licensed to talk about mental illness and they want to reach out, I’m sure we’d love to have them discuss a chapter of this book with us, just to make sure that we get something right. So if there’s a chapter that stands out, I’d really request somebody write in, or if you’re part of our Slug Club and just come on and talk about it more at length. I know we can only speak anecdotally about that sort of thing, so if you want more mental health discussion, I think we should probably have somebody on.

Andrew: But I think that’s what we also try to do in our Chapter by Chapters, is just use our own real world experiences to… we apply our real world experiences to what we read in these books, which makes it interesting for us.

Eric: Regarding the shock, I prefer your description, Andrew, that Harry is just Pikachu.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Thank you.

Eric: Yeah, I thought that was hilarious.

Micah: Pikachu Potter?

Eric: Pikachu Potter.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: All right, it’s time now for Chapter by Chapter, Order of the Phoenix Chapter 2, “A Peck of Owls,” and we’ll talk about that chapter title at the end of today’s discussion. Eric, since you were off last week, why don’t you start our seven-word summary?

Eric: Okay, a lot of pressure here. Going to say… many…

Laura: … owls…

Micah: … arrive…

Andrew: … at…

Eric: … Harry’s…

Laura: I wish we had said “to” instead of “at.” [laughs] Um… home? Sorry, Micah.

Micah: That’s okay.

Andrew: Don’t say “hooray.”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Avoid the easy way out, Micah. Don’t say it.

Micah: … tonight.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Many owls arrive at Harry’s home tonight.

Laura: We’re not wrong.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: No, but if I read that chapter summary, I would just skip to the next chapter.

Laura: [laughs] I was thinking, if we could have said “Many owls arrive to Harry’s rescue.” That’s where I was hoping it was going to go that way.

Eric: I said “Harry’s” because I was like, “There’s two words left… uncle’s house?” Like, what’s going on?

Andrew: “Harry’s uncle’s house.” Yeah, that would have been good too.

Eric: Just knew it was possible.

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Micah: All right, so I guess I’m up, right, Andrew?

Andrew: Yep, you’re up.

Micah: All right, so Mr. Tibbles.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: What can we say about Mr. Tibbles? All right, well, we left off at the end of Chapter 1 finding out that Mrs. Figg is more than she appeared to be for pretty much the entire series up until this point. And as they’re heading back to the Dursleys’ home, we learn that Mr. Tibbles was on the case; he was watching Harry as he was lying in the hydrangea bushes. And I’m just… I don’t know if this is the right way to start off the chapter, because I’m going to rail on Dumbledore a lot in this discussion…

Andrew: Uh-oh.

Micah: … but it’s good to know that he’s being watched by cats. I mean, what better security measure?

[Eric laughs]

Laura: I mean, that’s the same thing that happens at Hogwarts, though. Mrs. Norris does the same thing.

Micah: That is true.

Eric: Yeah, at least at Privet Drive, it’s Kneazles. They’re kind of magical and special.

Andrew: I wonder how much J.K. Rowling likes cats, because of course, McGonagall being a cat at the beginning, this cat, Mrs. Norris – and yet she has a dog, according to her Twitter. I’ve never seen her own a cat.

Micah: Crookshanks. Don’t forget about him.

Andrew: Crookshanks, right.

Laura: Yeah. Is it that cats are just more synonymous with magic and wizardry in our culture?

Andrew: And staring at you silently, creeping around in the dark…

Laura: Yeah, it’s kind of freaky.

Eric: As if they knew things, yeah.

Micah: And clearly, Mr. Tibbles is better security than Mundungus.

Andrew: Yeah, unfortunately.

Eric: [laughs] Well, Tibbles at least shows up.

Micah: And a little bit more disconcerting as, again, they’re walking back to Privet Drive, is Mrs. Figg keeps reiterating how she’s not in any way capable of doing magic. She says, “I’ve never so much as transfigured a teabag.” So I’ll ask the question yet again: Is this a good security plan for Harry, given that he’s being watched over by somebody who cannot perform magic?

Andrew: It is pretty bizarre. And we had said in the last chapter discussion, I think I may have said, “Oh, well, surely Figg can get a message to Dumbledore.” Well, she even says in this chapter that she doesn’t know how to get in touch with Dumbledore! So that makes her pretty darn useless.

Eric: Yeah. I mean…

Laura: But she knows how to get in touch with the Order.

Eric: Well, I assume that she knows how to send owls, and can receive and send owls, but the problem is in this chapter, it’s too… she needs to act faster than that. So without having somebody who can Apparate, without having Dung there, she is helpless. She cannot act as fast as they need to to prevent Harry from being expelled for using magic.

Micah: Right, she’s relying upon Harry should anything happen in this moment, and there’s already been Dementors that have shown up. She can do absolutely nothing. And we can assume that Harry is probably pretty exhausted at this point; he’s carrying Dudley, which is a feat in and of itself.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: They’re not necessarily in a good position here. They’re pretty exposed and open to attack, and the person who has come to his rescue has absolutely no ability to protect him should Dementors show back up, should Death Eaters show up, should Voldemort show up…

Andrew: It’s a really terrible situation.

Eric: Yeah, it’s incredibly unfortunate. It’s not like Mrs. Figg is going to help him carry Dudley. She really… I get your frustration, Micah; she really can’t do anything, and I know she was just a backup. We all will have a lot to say, I’m sure, about Mundungus Fletcher as the book goes on, but he’s really shown his true colors here, the same exact colors that he shows two books from now on Privet Drive when he panics and Disapparates and it leads directly to the death of Mad-Eye Moody. Unfortunately, Mundungus is this character; he does not take Harry’s security seriously. And I think maybe in Dumbledore’s head, because Mundungus is technically in the Order, that it’s like having your front line of defense, your first line of people guarding and protecting Harry, but the reality is that Dung’s heart isn’t in it. He leaves to go check out some stolen cauldrons, and Harry is completely and utterly unprotected with just Figg here.

Micah: 100%.

Laura: It does make me wonder if the others who were watching over Harry over the course of the summer would be watching closely enough to know if Harry was thinking about bolting and to do something to make him change his mind, because it does seem awfully convenient that it just so happens that all of this Dementor stuff, Harry leaving the Dursleys’, happens when Mundungus is watching Harry, right? It makes me wonder if the others who are watching him would have… I don’t know; I don’t want to say Imperiused him, but done something to change his mind so that he wouldn’t walk away. The unfortunate part of this is that Harry doesn’t understand why it’s important for him to stay at Privet Drive.

Eric: Right.

Laura: And if he understood that, he probably wouldn’t leave.

Eric: Do you think that the Dementors having been sent…? We know from the end of the book that Umbridge has sent them. Do you think they would have not been able to get at him if he had stayed on Privet Drive and not wandered over to Magnolia Crescent or Wisteria Walk?

Andrew: I think so, yeah.

Laura: Yeah, I don’t think they would have been able to.

Eric: So it is…

Andrew: In the house. He’d have to be in the house. I do wonder where that border ends; is it right on the doorstep? Like, he can’t go out and collect the paper, right? In safety?

Eric: No news for you, Harry.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Or is it the property line?

Andrew: Right, right.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Andrew: But I also wonder why this wasn’t the end for Mundungus. This should have been a fireable offense, right?

Eric: Yeah.

Micah: Definitely.

Laura: But he knows too much for them to fire him. That’s the problem.

Andrew: [sighs] Okay, well…

Micah: So you’re thinking he could be easily persuaded or maybe even put under some sort of spell to tell the truth.

Laura: Oh, yeah. Look at all of the shenanigans he gets them into in Deathly Hallows, not even just getting Mad-Eye killed, but giving one of the Horcruxes to Umbridge.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: I wonder if it also had to do with just the size of the Order? Maybe Dumbledore thought it would be better just to keep him around because they need as many people as possible, and they don’t have a particularly large group in facing Voldemort and company.

Eric: Yeah, and I think it’s also his knowledge of the black market that keeps him, or his access to the black market, because as much as Dumbledore has used Aberforth, at this point… we mentioned it… well, mostly in Book 6 he uses Aberforth as the prime source of information everywhere to do with dirty deeds, but Dung fulfills that gap in this book, I think.

Andrew: Every time you say “Dung,” it grosses me out. [laughs]

Eric: I’m sorry. That’s, you know, his nickname.

Micah: That’s his name.

Andrew: Oh, please, yeah. I’m just throwing that out there.

Micah: Intentional, too, I’m sure.

Eric: Well, there’s a lot of shitty references in this book. Even if you abbreviate… well, like Fred and George’s U-No-Poo, for instance. I think that’s this book. Or is that Book 6?

Micah: It would probably be the next book, because they leave at the end of this one. So in this conversation, we also learn about Harry violating the Statute of Secrecy, the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery, and Mrs. Figg is muttering to herself, “Exactly what Dumbledore was afraid of…”

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: So again, if Dumbledore was so afraid of this happening, why did he not institute a better plan for protecting Harry this summer?

Andrew: I mean…

Micah: Exactly.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: Well, I do wonder if Dumbledore – kind of how we know he’s willing to risk people in order to make a larger point or achieve a larger victory – I wonder if he was thinking that maybe not keeping Harry in the loop would cause Harry to go out and do something like this, and give the Ministry a chance to show their true colors? Because Dumbledore knows that the Ministry is corrupt at this point, so he knows that the second that Harry is outside of surveillance, the Ministry is probably going to try something. They did, and that gives Dumbledore everything he needs to be able to show up at the Ministry and call them out on their BS. It is reckless, it’s super reckless, but Dumbledore does stuff like this all the time.

Andrew: He gets to call them out, but to what end? What does he have to gain from that? Because now Harry is going through this awful trial. I guess it just gives him more ammo as the books progress?

Laura: I guess so.

Andrew: I don’t know if I really see the benefit.

Eric: Yeah. I mean, a plan is only as strong as the weakest link, seeing as how we know how weak Mundungus is, that he can be tempted by an offer of stolen cauldrons… unfortunately, there’s your weak spot. So I think that maybe if Dumbledore had more magic people involved, as long as Mundungus was involved, he still would’ve ruined it.

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Laura: And the problem is he’s too much of a liability to cut loose, so he has to be involved in some way.

Andrew: Wipe his brain. Wipe his brain.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Would Dumbledore do that? Is he above that? Maybe he is.

Eric: I think he’s certainly capable, and that turns out… I mean, hindsight being what it is, I think that that’s what they should have done. We’re just beginning with… the Dung problem is just beginning.

Laura: The Dung problem.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: I do wonder, though – and maybe this is an area where some of our eagle-eyed listeners can help us out – if you wipe somebody’s memory, does that completely prevent them from being vulnerable to things like Occlumency? It seems a little too easy to say, “Oh, I wiped your memory; nobody will ever be able to access this.” It seems like even if you wipe somebody’s memory, it’s a bit like the Internet; you can erase something, but it’s still there.

Eric: [laughs] Thanks, Wayback Machine.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: No, Bertha Jorkins is the example of… she had a memory thing put on her by the Ministry because she knew about Barty Crouch, Jr.’s whereabouts, and Voldemort, through essentially torture, was able to get that out of her. And that’s actually one of the things that I knew if we were doing Goblet of Fire Chapter by Chapter, we would probably talk about a lot how everyone around Bertha Jorkins at the Ministry was just, “Oh, she’s absent-minded and clumsy,” but she was a victim of a Memory Charm, a pretty substantial… it probably wasn’t performed correctly. I think Barty Crouch, Sr. probably put it on her, if I’m remembering correctly.

Andrew: Right.

Eric: And everyone was able to just write her off. But it’s just a tragic tale. But yeah, Voldemort got under that, and so somebody would be able to get under Dung’s… figure out what he was hiding. You need, basically, to have an Unbreakable Vow, and if the Unbreakable Vow worked, he would die, and then that would be the end of it.

Andrew: Right.

Micah: Yeah, but just to recap at this point what we’ve learned, so to speak, from the start of this chapter, is that Dumbledore has placed a Squib basically in a position to be responsible for protecting Harry. He’s also placed somebody there who is essentially a crook and has no real interest in protecting Harry at all. And he was afraid that Harry was going to end up using magic at some point this summer, and really didn’t put the best plan in place possible to prevent him from doing that.

Eric: It’s a mess. I’ll agree with you there. Dumbledore’s plan is a mess, and what’s even more maddening is that when they actually get to the trial – which isn’t until Chapter 8, by the way; we’ve got a long way to go before the actual hearing – but Mrs. Figg is not able to really be a useful witness either, because it’s questioned whether or not she can even see Dementors, and I do not think that she satisfactorily says that she even can.

Laura: No, she does not.

Eric: So not only is she useless to Harry in the moment, she’s useless to everyone in the Order later because she can’t really definitively… I don’t know why J.K. Rowling did this, to be honest; why she made it so that Figg is such a questionable witness later, because it’s just so frustrating. It does really make you angry at Dumbledore for doing this.

Laura: Well, I think that that goes back to the idea that it wasn’t really supposed to come down to Figg to protect Harry. I think she’s there because the Ministry doesn’t have a registry on Squibs…

Eric: Right.

Laura: … so they wouldn’t be able to see that somebody else with a connection to the wizarding world was in Privet Drive, and that gives Dumbledore a really convenient way to keep an eye on Harry without the Ministry knowing about it. So I think she’s there to be more of an informant, and Mundungus is the one who screwed up the plan, which, to y’all’s point, does go back to Dumbledore. The buck stops with him, and it’s unfortunate because the Order is so small in numbers at this point that I would imagine it’s difficult to coordinate their schedules so that they always have somebody watching. Because how many people is it at this point? Like, nine-ish? That’s how many people came to get Harry, so with Mundungus, ten. And when you think about needing 24/7 surveillance, and these people all have jobs and homes and lives to maintain…

Andrew: Right.

Eric: Yeah. You also mentioned last week that it would probably need to be people that Harry didn’t know, otherwise he’d go up to them and start annoying them.

Laura: Oh, yeah. True.

Andrew: Exactly.

Eric: So you pretty much have Tonks, Emmeline Vance, and Dung are the three that he doesn’t currently know.

Andrew: And Mr. Tibbles.

Eric: And Mr… well, that’s the thing, is Figg has a legion of Kneazles that we are not…

Andrew: [laughs] A legion.

Eric: A whole army of Kneazles that we are not taking into account.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Maybe they do guard duty. But it’s kind of funny; Figg, I know we’re kind of saying she’s useless, great, and it’s true for the most part, but she does have her cat stationed to watch Dung. She doesn’t trust Mundungus, so she has her cat, Mr. Tibbles, watching him while he’s watching Harry.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: And so when he disappears, she is able to get there pretty quick.

Micah: Right. Well, not that quickly, but also, good thing that she doesn’t get there sooner because she wouldn’t have been of any use against the Dementors anyway. Though you made me think about another connection to Prisoner of Azkaban when you mentioned Kneazles, because let’s remember how integral Crookshanks was to the storyline in helping out Sirius in Prisoner of Azkaban. So Mrs. Figg continues to reiterate, as they’re making their way to Privet Drive, that she is of no use, and that she’s going to kill Mundungus. And one other bit of information we learn from her is that – and she apologizes to Harry for this – she had to make coming to her house miserable so that the Dursleys allowed it to continue.

Andrew: [laughs] How would the Dursley even find out? Harry comes back all in a mood, and they’re like, “Good, glad she treated you like crap”?

Micah: Yeah. He starts dancing to “Gettin’ Figgy With It.”

Andrew: [laughs] “Wow, you had a great time over there, Harry. You’re banned.”

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Laura: I mean, I think in her defense, though, we definitely see later on, to Eric’s point, that she’s not a very good liar, and she’s definitely not somebody who performs well when she’s under any kind of scrutiny, so probably she felt only comfortable treating Harry in a certain way. And I don’t think that she abused him when he was there or disrespected him; I just think it was really boring and awkward.

Eric: Yeah. I mean, from what I recall of the early books, she just showed him pictures of her cats.

Andrew: It’s like going over your grandparents’ house. It’s just boring. I mean, I speak from personal experience, those were some of the most boring times in my life, and they’re my grandparents. So to go over a stranger’s house and just sit there and sip tea and be spoken down to apparently, not a good time.

Eric: Yeah. They never have the food you like. They don’t have your favorite cereal. They’ve never heard of your favorite cereal. They don’t have TV.

Andrew: They don’t have Smart TVs, no Netflix, no Wi-Fi…

Micah: Well, especially back then, none of that stuff existed.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Right.

Eric: Not even 56K.

Laura: [laughs] I was going to say, my grandparents have Wi-Fi.

Andrew: Ah, mine don’t. Ask your grandparents to adopt me, Laura.

Laura: Okay.

Eric: So I have a point here to bring up, which is I know we were kind of hating on Figg, but I actually like Mrs. Figg as a character. And this chapter is actually pretty action-packed, I think. It’s at least fast-paced, if not action-packed. But Harry is dragging Dudley along, and there’s a very short window before they get back to Privet Drive where J.K. Rowling has to convey a lot of information. And I think that Mrs. Figg in her conversation with Harry lets slip some phrases, some choice phrases that I just love, and which I think from a writing standpoint, really sell the fact that she is a person with connections to the wizarding world. The first quote is that she says Mundungus “left to see someone about a batch of cauldrons that fell off the back of a broom.” There’s a Muggle saying where we live called “fell off the back of a truck.” You guys heard that before?

Laura: Oh, yeah.

Eric: Yeah, it means stolen. It’s the same thing, but she says, “fell off the back of a broom.” And then she also says something is “no use crying over spilt potion,” which we know is no use crying over spilt milk. I just think it’s really clever of J.K. Rowling to have her use this and just show that she is a member of the wizarding world, because she uses all these fun sayings that wizards have.

Andrew: Yeah, she suddenly comes to life with a bubbly personality.

Eric: Exactly.

Andrew: So it’s like, “Whoa, where’d this come from?”

Micah: Definitely. Yeah, I felt the same way when I was reading the chapter. I thought it was really good writing on the part of J.K. Rowling, just in terms of all the different things she’s saying as they’re walking along, all these different sayings. To your point, Eric, it definitely made her seem to be part of the wizarding community. So on the way back, they run into Mundungus, and she lays into him and tells him what has just happened, and Dung Apparates fairly quickly back, presumably to go inform the Order and to inform Dumbledore about what has just happened. And I had the question here – and I think we already talked about this a bit in terms of Mundungus being the best option to watch Harry – it seems like another mistake on Dumbledore’s part, just because of reliability. If nothing else, Mrs. Figg is reliable, right? She’s proven that over the years that Harry has lived at Privet Drive. But Mundungus is a borderline criminal, and it doesn’t seem like is a good option here. And I know we talked about, “Well, who else is really available?” But I’m sure just given Dumbledore’s ability and the people that he knows within the wizarding community, that going to somebody like Mundungus is just not acceptable.

Eric: I wonder where somebody like Dedalus Diggle is, or Tom the barman. People who really love Harry Potter, like Doris Crockford; what’s she up to? There have to be people who, admittedly, aren’t in the full Order of the Phoenix, but who wouldn’t mind some guard duty? I wonder how many people Dumbledore really interviewed to do this job. I just… there have to be other people who are more qualified than Dung.

Micah: Yeah, definitely. And I do like the point that you made; you kind of touched on it earlier, but then you also have it here. Mundungus Apparating away at a very important moment is very much foreshadowing to when he does it in Deathly Hallows when he bolts as soon as he sees Voldemort, and that results in Mad-Eye’s death.

Eric: I’m just glad that Figg slaps him with her purse that has cat food in it. [laughs] Canned cat food; it makes a clinking sound and Harry is like, “Yeah, she’s got cat food in there.” That’s what he deserves, and he deserves that all day, every day, for a month.

Micah: Yeah. They should have showed that in the movie, but they did not.

Eric: Right.

Micah: Would have won Best Comedy Moment at the Oscars.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: But okay, now we get back to the house, and this is when things really get to be intense, and I quite honestly forgot about just how nasty the interaction is between the Dursleys and Harry, particularly Vernon. But when they first arrive, Vernon comments, based upon how Dudley looks, that perhaps Mrs. Polkiss gave him a bit of “foreign tea,” and that’s why he doesn’t feel well. And I feel like this is just… not that we don’t know who Vernon is, but this is already… this is to set the stage for what’s about to happen, because a lot of the things that Vernon says we can compare to probably some experiences that people go through in the real world when they’re dealing with parents or relatives. And I just feel like this is a very xenophobic thing to say, that, “Oh, it’s foreign tea. It wasn’t English tea; it was foreign tea that did this to his poor son,” right?

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: Also, the irony here is that tea is not indigenous to England.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: The English got tea because they colonized parts of the world that had tea. This would be a bit like somebody here in the states saying, “Somebody must have given him a foreign tortilla!”

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: It’s just so ignorant. And I think it’s interesting to hear this, especially after what we heard in the last chapter, where he’s boasting and proud about how, “Oh, Dudley probably doesn’t even know who the Prime Minister is; he has no sense about our state in the world or foreign affairs or anything like that. Must be so proud of my son.”

Andrew: Yeah, the way Vernon just jumps to the conclusion that it must have been the foreign tea is pretty sickening.

Eric: Yeah, and I don’t know if there’s a precedent, like maybe Mrs. Polkiss did this before, or gave them a tea they didn’t like or whatever. But I looked up the surname, and honestly, “Piers” is Scottish; I think it’s as close to England as you can get. And unless the wife is a different… it just doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but shows Vernon’s character, as we are saying. So it’s just weird because they’re also neighbors, though. They live in this community together, they all value the same clean, kempt lawns, and it’s a weird accusation to throw at somebody who is your neighbor that you made sick. But Vernon just doesn’t know.

Andrew: I think he’s probably also shocked to see Dudley in this state, so he’s immediately jumping to any conclusion he can come up with, no matter how outlandish that it is.

Laura: I mean, the Dursleys are clearly nationalists, and nationalism is irrational. So when you’re that afraid of things and people and concepts that are not what you know in your little bubble, you say outlandish things like this.

Eric: Well, and within this chapter we’re kind of shown that the Dursleys are altogether separate from Harry’s wizarding world, but maybe not as much as we thought, so that’s a cool parallel.

Micah: It also speaks to the ignorance of the fact that Vernon believed that his son was out getting tea with his best friends, right? We know that is obviously not the case, but again, it just speaks to the mindset of Vernon, which, again, we will speak about a little bit later on in this chapter. But Harry receives his first letter from the peck of owls, and he learns some pretty crappy news, to continue on, Eric, with your Dung theme throughout the chapter.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: He learns that his wand is to be destroyed, that Ministry officials are on their way, and that he is expelled from Hogwarts, and I just wanted to throw out to the group: Why is it that he wouldn’t be innocent until proven guilty? And snapping his wand before hearing his side of the story seems to be a bit extreme here.

Andrew: Well, he’s gotten in trouble before, right? With his magic usage. They might have less patience for him. The Ministry seems to act very quickly; that’s the impression you get throughout this chapter, because the decision suddenly gets reversed only a few minutes later. And I think just out of an abundance of caution, they decide that these things will be happening to prevent Harry from lashing out further, or any wizard who violates their rules.

Laura: Well, also, the Ministry is trying to discredit Harry at this point, so it doesn’t surprise me that they would try to retroactively hold the events of Prisoner of Azkaban against him and then use it as an excuse to say, “Oh, well, you’re done. We’re going to come snap your wand; that way you are completely discredited, and you will be completely ostracized from the wizarding world and stop telling everybody that Voldemort is back.”

Eric: Yeah. I mean, it’s just kind of nuts because in one letter, he’s expelled from Hogwarts, he is going to get his wand snapped, and then after that, there’s supposedly this disciplinary hearing to figure out further steps. Well, what are they going to do to Harry after they’ve already expelled him from Hogwarts and snapped his wand? What is even the point there? It doesn’t… it’s internally contradictory to me.

Micah: Send him to Azkaban.

Eric: I mean, that’s about all you could do, right?

Laura: Well, what I thought was that Dumbledore intervened and that’s where the disciplinary hearing came from, as opposed to snapping Harry’s wand and expelling him outright.

Eric: Well, Dumbledore is not there yet, but he’s about to be, and then that’s why Dumbledore is able to finagle things so that it revolves around the hearing.

Micah: Right.

Eric: But I think initially the hearing is to send him off to Azkaban.

Laura: I got the impression that with all of the owls that Harry was getting throughout this – he’s getting letters from Arthur and from Sirius – and I think Arthur’s letter says, “Hey, Dumbledore knows what’s going on. Stay where you are.”

Eric: Yeah, that comes second. That’s the second letter.

Laura: Yeah, so that’s my thought, is that Dumbledore intervenes at this moment to overturn the expulsion, and the Ministry agrees to give him this hearing.

Micah: Yeah, I’m trying to remember back – and we can pull up the first letter – but I thought it was just they were going to destroy his wand, the Ministry was on their way, and that he is expelled from Hogwarts. But to your point, Laura, Dumbledore shows up at the Ministry, and being the headmaster, can obviously intervene and say, “No, Harry is not expelled from my school, and that’s my decision, not yours.” So one question I did have about that is how quickly is Mundungus able to relay this information over to the Order and to Dumbledore, and then for Dumbledore to be able to get to the Ministry to really sort this whole thing out before it gets out of control?

Eric: Yeah, no, the Ministry sent the letter before Dumbledore got there, and the hearing was actually in regards to… I’m reading the letter from Mafalda Hopkirk: “As you have already received an official warning for a previous offense under Section 13 of the International Confederation of Wizards’ Statute of Secrecy, we regret to inform you that your presence is required at a disciplinary hearing.” So the hearing originally is because he broke the Statute of Secrecy and had done it before, so really they’re not taking anybody else’s opinion into consideration at first. They’re going to snap his wand, and he’s expelled from Hogwarts, and there’s a hearing to discuss further steps because he broke the Statute of Secrecy. Dumbledore is later able to finagle it, so that everything hinges on the meeting.

Micah: And do they know what spell he performed? Because you would think if they see that he performed the Patronus Charm…

Andrew: Yes.

Micah: … that it’s not like he was doing an Unforgivable Curse, in which case that may warrant Ministry interference.

Andrew: In the letter they cite the Patronus.

Eric: Yeah, exactly. But that’s the interesting thing for me, too, is when they get to the hearing, it’s such a surprise to everybody that the reason Harry cast a Patronus was because there were Dementors. That’s the function of a Patronus Charm. So clearly, nobody at the Ministry right now is thinking that he would have any reason to cast that, and they must think he’s showing off or something in front…

Andrew: Well, and they have it out for Harry, so maybe they’re not trying to look too far into this. You would think that if they can see the Patronus Charm, they might also be able to see Dementors, like a weather radar or something scanning for them. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah. Well, that makes me wonder how Umbridge covered her tracks? Maybe we yet can award an Umbridge Sucks count thing to this chapter, because maybe she did some backend stuff to make it off the books that they were sent here because they have orders to come…

Andrew: Probably.

Micah: Well, and also, let’s not forget about these letters; it almost seems to me that they would have had to have been pre-planned in some way. Mafalda Hopkirk is very nice woman. The letters are very proper, and she’s very nice to Harry in them, but it seems like maybe they do have a bit of Umbridge behind them.

Andrew: I also feel like these letters might be auto-generated. Obviously, there’s not technology in the Ministry, but the speed at which these letters come out… like, this Mafalda Hopkirk is just sitting there waiting for people to violate the rules and they can get a letter out so quick? It just all seems very automated to me.

Laura: Oh, yeah, I think there’s definitely automation. When you think about how Hogwarts acceptance letters go out, and how every time a magical person is born, there’s a book that writes down their name…

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: So maybe that could be it too. Maybe this letter just came in because the spell was detected. It was a Patronus Charm, they don’t have weather radars to sense Dementors for some stupid reason, so it just automatically went out. And then the next page, practically, if not two, three pages later, Arthur is saying, “Hey, Dumbledore is trying to figure this out.” We don’t know the exact timing of all this, though. I mean, we’re saying that Dumbledore runs off as soon as this occurs, but maybe Dumbledore started a little sooner, because we don’t know how long these owls take to get to where they need to go. The timing is just a little mysterious.

Eric: Yeah. I mean, I think you just either have to believe that the owls came in the order they were sent, or maybe you believe they don’t, but…

Andrew: I guess that is what J.K. Rowling wants us to believe.

Micah: Yep. Well, during all of this, Harry starts to tell the Dursleys exactly what has happened, and a few interesting things occur. Harry basically tells Petunia and Vernon what happened to Dudley in great detail, and Petunia surprisingly knows about Dementors. She says that she heard “that awful boy telling her,” meaning Lily, “about them years ago.” And I know this is confirmed later on in Deathly Hallows, but we don’t know at the time that she’s, in fact, referring to Snape as that awful boy, not James.

Eric: Right.

Micah: We presume it’s James and that James was there as part of the history between the two of them, but it is, in fact, Snape. And the other thing is – and we brought this up as a question on last week’s episode – is what exactly did Dudley experience when he was attacked by the Dementors? And I know we’re going to talk about this in bonus MuggleCast, but I think it’s important to mention what J.K. Rowling said about this moment, and she said, “My feeling is that he saw himself, exactly for what he was, and for a boy that spoiled, it would be terrifying. So he was jolted out of it. Dementor attacks aren’t usually good for people, but this one was.” So it’s a really interesting quote from her, and we’re going to talk more about that in bonus MuggleCast.

Andrew: Yes. The Petunia moment was particularly shocking because as a reader, we’re used to seeing this very tall wall between Petunia – or the Dursleys on a whole – the Dursleys’ world, the Dursleys’ Muggle world, and Harry’s world. And suddenly that wall seems to come down, and Petunia knows something; she is knowledgeable about the wizarding world. And I still remember reading this chapter and just how shocking it was that Petunia chimed in here.

Eric: Definitely. I have the quote because I think it’s great: “Harry was stunned. Except for one outburst years ago, in the course of which Aunt Petunia had screamed that Harry’s mother had been a freak, he had never heard her mention her sister. He was astounded that she had remembered this scrap of information about the magical world for so long, when she usually put all her energies into pretending it didn’t exist.”

Andrew: Yeah, and Snape and Lily were about to turn 11 at that point, so this is a long time ago, and this has stuck with Petunia [imitating Dumbledore] after all this time.

Eric: [laughs] Yeah, I mean, I think it goes to what we find out in Deathly Hallows, too, that Petunia really wanted to be part of that world that she now blatantly ignores, and her connections with Dumbledore are only starting to be revealed. It’s pretty cool. And considering how Vernon is about to throw Harry out of the house and she has to stop him, it’s a really good arc for Petunia in this chapter.

Micah: Yeah. And we should also mention, though, the interaction that takes place between Petunia and Vernon when she says this, right? She puts her hand up to her mouth like she’s said a curse word, and I think it just starts off the reaction chain that Vernon has throughout the rest of this chapter, particularly after Harry receives his third letter. Harry learns, after Dumbledore has shown up at the Ministry, that his wand is now safe, he’s not expelled from Hogwarts, but he still must face trial, and Vernon responds by saying, “Does your lot not have the death penalty?” And I mean, dude, this is your nephew.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: I know there’s a comedic side to this almost, in a way, but he’s serious, and he only gets more serious throughout the course of this chapter.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Laura: And what’s funny about that is there’s this moment earlier where Vernon learns that the wizarding world has a Ministry of Magic, and he just sort of explodes and is like, “What? You guys have government? No wonder this country is going to the dogs.”

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: It’s like, “Yeah, most societies that exist in a modern world do have government, sir.”

Eric: And then he jumps, “Do you have the death penalty?” Fantastic Beasts answered that question; they have worse things than the death penalty.

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Eric: That chamber. Weird. Yeah, I did want to just mention the second letter because we skipped over it briefly, but Arthur Weasley… I don’t think we give Arthur a lot of credit; we don’t have a lot of opportunity to love on Arthur, but he’s the one who sends Harry his second letter, and it’s full of just useful information. He says, “Do not leave your aunt and uncle’s house. Do not do any more magic. Do not surrender your wand.” It’s good advice. Usually, Sirius is the one who gives Harry fatherly advice, but Arthur knows that if Harry uses any more magic, it’ll only be used to further discredit him, and he knows what Harry doesn’t know, that Privet Drive has special protections. And I don’t know. I just think it’s a good letter to get.

Micah: Definitely. And so if you’re tracking the letters at this point, it’s Mafalda, Arthur, Mafalda, and then he receives a letter from Sirius, also telling him to stay put.

Andrew: Did you guys also find all this funny? Just the fact that these letters are coming in so quickly and furiously?

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: I thought this was a classic J.K. Rowling scene…

Laura: Oh, yeah.

Andrew: … where it’s just really smart, clever, effective, funny writing.

Eric: I think the cleverest part of it is that it’s summer and it’s super hot, so the window is open, because if the window wasn’t open, none of this would be able to happen. [laughs]

Andrew: Well, they’d come in through the fireplace, wouldn’t they?

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Laura: Well, the very last one does that and comes in with such force that it hits the ground and then bounces back up into the air, so yeah, this is definitely some good comedic timing on J.K. Rowling’s part in order to convey some pretty serious information in a way that feels relatively lighthearted from a reading perspective.

Andrew: Right.

Laura: Given that we are only in Chapter 2 of this tome.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s a roller coaster of emotions. I still remember feeling sick when reading that Harry was expelled from Hogwarts, but it’s framed in this funny scene with all these owls flying in and, of course, driving the Dursleys crazy.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: Yeah. Well, that’s what I was going to add as well, is this is meant to really raise the stress level of Vernon, and it does that, and it just leads to an explosion that happens at the end of this chapter. But everyone is trying to figure out why there are Dementors in Little Whinging, and the question comes up: Did Voldemort send them? And do we have some good theories here as to who’s responsible? We know it’s Umbridge, right? But when we’re reading this, we don’t have any idea as to how they got there. We only know that Voldemort has come back at the end of Goblet of Fire, that they were allies of his the first time around, and somehow they show up and attack Harry in the first chapter of this book. Voldemort seems like the natural person to point the finger at right now.

Eric: Definitely.

Andrew: I agree.

Eric: And the chapter asks that question because that is exactly what we know, that the Dementors were sympathetic to Voldemort the first time, or fully under his control the first time. Harry asks – and it’s very hidden in here, which is good writing from J.K. Rowling – but it’s asked, “Were they sent, or were they not?” And that becomes the question that gets asked later. But even at the hearing, Dumbledore is like, “Well, you say -” you being the Ministry of Magic, “- you say they’re under your control. So since there were Dementors here, were they sent by a Ministry official, or are they in fact rogue, like I’ve been saying since Voldemort came back over the summer?” And it presents a really sticky situation, but I think we’re led to believe at this point it’s Voldemort. Because the Umbridge thing does not come out until way in the last… in the later chapters.

Andrew: Well, we’re still early in terms of what we know about the Ministry’s feelings towards Harry and Dumbledore’s thinking, their belief, their correct belief that Voldemort is back. But I guess if you sat there and thought about this for a moment not knowing it was Umbridge, you could maybe assume the Ministry. But yeah, like you were saying, Micah, I think it is that the obvious answer and the understandable answer would be Voldemort.

Micah: Yeah, definitely. And it’s really created this situation at the Dursleys’ home, and one where really two worlds are colliding with each other. And I wanted to put this out there to the group: Have we ever experienced something similar to this? Obviously not with Dementors, but just the nature of what happens here. Harry describes it as, “The arrival of the Dementors in Little Whinging seemed to have caused a breach in the great, invisible wall that divided the relentlessly non-magical world of Privet Drive and the world beyond. Harry’s two lives had somehow become fused and everything had been turned upside down: The Dursleys were asking for details about the magical world and Mrs. Figg knew Albus Dumbledore; Dementors were soaring around Little Whinging and he might never go back to Hogwarts.” So basically, it’s just a shitstorm of things that are happening to him. And I think we’re meant… going back to what that one listener – I think it was Esther – wrote in about early in the episode, this is all going on inside of Harry’s head, and I think it’s a lot for him to be able to process.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: It’s obviously a very extreme example of worlds colliding, but I think we’ve all had something similar like this happen to us. For me, it’s usually been when people from two different parts of my life meet. It’s a little bit mind-blowing. Like, y’all are my Internet friends, my podcasting friends, and on the occasions where some of you have met my school friends or my work friends, it feels a little weird at first. You’re like, “Whoa, this is very bizarre.”

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, definitely.

Laura: Yeah, my brain very much established a separation between these two lives, and now here these people are interacting.

Andrew: Right.

Laura: It’s a very odd feeling.

Andrew: Yeah, you can have certain groups of friends. I’m probably in the same boat as Laura; I have the Internet friends, and then I have – a couple – real world friends…

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: … or people I actually interact with in person more than I do online, whereas you guys, it’s almost all online.

Eric: I’m still hoping for that promotion, Andrew, to real life friend.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Real life friend. No, I definitely had this. So when I was in college, Andrew, you came and visited me a couple of times at college, and I remember the first time it was… because you were in my dorm, you were in my dorm room, and my college friends were there, and I was like, “This is so bizarre.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Or it’s like long distance dating when you finally maybe start to move in; one moves to the other city. It’s like, “Whoa, this is crazy. Normally we’ve been dating at a distance online, and now this person is actually at my home, actually at the bars I go to, living a life with me.” It’s surreal.

Eric: I met a bunch of Micah’s coworkers in the past, all cool people. Was that weird for you, Micah?

Micah: No.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: But I agree, I think there is a lot of that, though. Or even a wedding, right?

Eric: Oh, yeah.

Micah: You think about you go to somebody’s wedding and you’re meeting all these different people that these two individuals have known maybe for a short period of time, maybe they went to college with them, maybe they grew up with them, or they’re just casual acquaintances from work. But it’s so many different groups of people coming together, and you get the opportunity to meet them or to spend time with them. It’s something like that that Harry is experiencing, but it’s almost like Harry is… it’s another instance in this chapter where Harry has been in the dark, especially with Petunia. He’s in the dark with Figg, right? Because all of a sudden, he learns that this woman who’s been keeping an eye on him for his entire life is part of the magical community, and now he’s learning that the woman that he’s been living with for his entire life actually knows more about the magical community than she’s let on, and it’s no more apparent than when they are talking about Voldemort and the fact that he tells her that Voldemort has returned. Her response is, “She was looking at Harry as she had never looked at him before. And all of a sudden, for the very first time in his life, Harry fully appreciated that Aunt Petunia was his mother’s sister.” Because she understands what this means.

Eric: She gets it.

Micah: Yeah, and there’s a lot About Petunia that’s revealed in this chapter that I think makes her a little bit more of a sympathetic character. Maybe not that much, but it’s clear that Harry and her form some kind of bond in this chapter. Would you agree with that?

Andrew: Yeah, sympathetic because Petunia wants what we want as readers, to be [sings] a part of that world.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Andrew: And she didn’t get it, and she’s always felt bad about it. She’s always been jealous of her sister.

Eric: Yeah, and when she clasps her hand over her mouth as if she had said a swear word, it’s because she’s ashamed of having to admit to her husband that she’s part of that world, or she’s linked to it. And she had spent most of Harry’s life pretending that she wasn’t linked, or wanted nothing to do with it, but these things are coming to the surface, and it ultimately enables her to make the choice. I mean, that’s why I think there’s a connection here, is because Petunia asserts the connection, and that’s what allows Harry his protection and allows him to stay, is she makes that decision. And if she didn’t do that, the protection would fall apart. It would be gone.

Laura: What I also love about this is that up until this moment, at Privet Drive Harry has very much been the outsider, but in this moment, Harry, Petunia, and Dudley have all established connections in some way to the wizarding world, and now Vernon is the outsider, so he’s getting kind of a taste of his own medicine.

Andrew and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: And boy, does he respond to that.

[Laura laughs]

Micah: This is what I really enjoy about reading the books over again, because I think when I first read Order of the Phoenix, I didn’t pick up on any of this in terms of it being basically child abuse. And what he does to Harry next once he weighs all the options inside of his head, when he in his own way processes Dementors and learns about Voldemort being back, his reaction, I don’t necessarily think, is the wrong one, in the sense that I believe it’s to protect his family. He now sees Harry being there more so than ever as a major threat to Dudley and to Petunia, and so I don’t necessarily fault him for reacting in this way, but what he says to Harry is just so unbelievably crude that… I’ll read it, and then we can talk about it. He says, “Get out and never darken our doorstep again! Why we ever kept you in the first place I don’t know. Marge was right, it should have been the orphanage, we were too damn soft for our own good, thought we could squash it out of you, thought we could turn you normal, but you’ve been rotten from the beginning.”

Laura: I mean, that’s his sister talking.

Eric: Yeah. Well, I mean, there’s your connection to Book 3, too; I think she says that in front of Harry, that he should have gone to an orphanage.

Laura: Yeah, and she also says… she compares Lily to a female dog, and literally says, “If there’s something wrong with the bitch, there’s something wrong with the pup,” implying that there’s something just inherently wrong with him.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s really terrible.

Eric: Vernon also mentions the blow-up incident, that Marge was bobbing around on the ceiling, and all the harm that Harry has caused his family, which I blame the Ministry for because they clearly did not wipe Vernon’s memory of the incident. In Book 4 with the Ton-Tongue Toffee, they apparently wipe all of the Dursleys’ memories of further abuse of Dudley. But Vernon kind of has a point here; Harry has been bad for his family. I don’t think it necessarily justifies the depths of what he says, but the Ministry has not really done a full job at making it easy for Harry to live with his aunt and uncle.

Micah: And I’m sure that there are probably some real world implications we can make here, especially when he starts talking about “squashing it out of you” and “turning you normal” and being “rotten from the beginning.” There’s plenty of examples if you don’t conform to family norms, or what have been family norms previously, that you may have this sort of reaction from parents or relatives or other people, and I thought this was just J.K. Rowling’s way of including it in series.

Andrew: Erica, who’s listening live on Patreon right now, she does have a little defense of the Dursleys. She says, “While I don’t like what Vernon says, I thought about what it could be like in their position. Their son was attacked by something he couldn’t see, and it appeared as if Harry was attacking him. It’s hard in these kind of situations.” I agree with that. I think we should be keeping that in mind as we attack the Dursleys; something terrible just happened to their kid.

Eric: Yeah, that reminds me of this Muggle Mail from Dani, who said,

“I was just reading the chapter, and something really stood out to me: At the end of the chapter, the Dursleys are told that Voldemort is back, and it is reiterated that he is the evil wizard that killed Harry’s parents. Also, they come to the conclusion that it’s probably Voldemort who sent the Dementors to attack Harry. After all this, Vernon yells at Harry to get out. I just… I am baffled by this. I know Vernon hates Harry. I understand it’s because he’s abnormal and the Dursleys hate even the slightest abnormalities. But no matter how much he hates him, how could he be totally okay to send him out to die? I don’t care how much he hates Harry or his parents or wizards in general. You should not wish anyone to die, much less your own nephew, who you have raised. Even with Vernon’s ignorance, he is aware Voldemort wanted to kill Harry, and that should have been more than enough to want to protect him. Vernon once again amazes me by how ruthless he is. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.”

Andrew: Again, though, he thinks his son may have just died, he just had a brush with death, and he did, really. So I don’t know. I guess I will take the defense of the Dursleys on this one, and just say I think they have a right to be as angry as they are.

Laura: But at the same time, the reason they’re so angry is because Petunia actually understands what’s at play here. She’s understood the whole time, but she’s spent the entirety of the series pretending not to know; that way she can exist in Vernon’s good graces, I’m guessing, because didn’t we find out at some point that Petunia didn’t tell Vernon about Lily until after they were married, or until they were very well established in their relationship? She’s clearly afraid of him seeing that she has any kind of connection to something that’s “not normal,” so her willful ignorance is part of what’s going on here, too.

Eric: Yeah, I agree.

Micah: Definitely.

Laura: So they do bear some responsibility here.

Micah: We also asked this question over on Patreon as our Patreon question of the week about just the general reaction to the Dursleys’ response to what’s going on with both the Dementors and with Voldemort, and Kyle said,

“Vernon’s motivation is to protect Dudley and Petunia and himself. From that perspective, I can understand why he would want Harry gone, since it seems that Harry attracts dangerous situations to himself. The Dursleys don’t care about Harry; they see him as a nuisance they are forced to put up with. It breaks my heart to think of a 2- or 3-year-old Harry reaching out for affection to the only adults in his life and being rejected. It’s a wonder Harry doesn’t have more mental health struggles given the trauma he has faced. I can understand where Vernon is coming from, but the methods he uses throughout all the books to get Harry to comply with what he wants of him, and in this chapter to banish him to a likely death, are completely unacceptable. He is the adult in the situation, and he is unloading a whole lot of hatred onto a kid.”

Andrew: There should be a therapist at Hogwarts.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Andrew: It’s too bad there isn’t one.

Eric: There really should be.

Andrew: After everything that happens at the school every year, you’d think that… when you hear about these awful things that happen at schools, they bring in extra counselors, right?

Eric: Yep.

Andrew: To help the students. There’s nothing like that at Hogwarts. [laughs]

Micah: True.

Laura: Well, you can go to Dumbledore’s office and destroy all of his belongings.

Eric: [laughs] He’ll let you, because it’s just a Reparo away from being fixed.

Andrew: Maybe drink a couple phoenix tears. You’ll start to feel better.

Eric: Oh, yeah.

Micah: Heather brought up an interesting point, though, here. She said,

“I’m definitely not surprised with the reaction to the whole situation by Harry’s uncle, but I wonder what the difference would have been if Harry was his blood relative and not Petunia’s? Is the fact that she’s a mother purely the only thing that is saving him? Is that the only reason she takes Dumbledore’s warning seriously, or was it purely fear? Personally, I don’t even think she loves Harry. I think she loves a distant memory of the woman who bore him and is scared of the repercussions from Dumbledore; that’s all. Otherwise she would have remained quiet and done nothing when her husband sent Harry to his death.”

Andrew: Right. I mean, look, she knew that if Harry were to go outside – right, exactly like what that person just said – Harry was going to die if he was pushed out of the house. It’s just that simple. And Petunia is not somebody who wants to put her blood relative, sentence him to death, by making him leave the house. It’s just that simple. And I think it also has to do a little bit with Petunia wishing she was a witch. And remember, she wrote to Dumbledore all those years ago asking if she could join Hogwarts, and while we never saw the letter, our understanding is that Dumbledore was actually very nice to her in explaining that she cannot become a witch. So maybe she holds Dumbledore in high regard for that moment, too, letting her down gently when he had to say no to her all those years ago.

Laura: I think she’s also very clearly aware of what Voldemort being back means, and I think she knows that if she puts Harry out on the street and Harry dies, that her whole world is in danger. It’s not just the wizarding world. So there’re far reaching repercussions of her pushing Harry out outside of Harry just dying, which of course is horrible in and of itself, but she knows that her whole family would be at risk, her whole community would be at risk, if Voldemort was able to wipe Harry out.

Eric: Yeah. She’ll whack him with a frying pan, but she won’t put him out on the doorstep.

Micah: Right.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: It’s kind of a perfect intro into Dumbledore’s letter with Petunia, what we were just talking about. But I wanted to mention Sirius’s letter again, which is letter number four, because Harry expects this letter to be from Dumbledore explaining everything. There’s been so much confusion: Stay in your home, do this, Dumbledore is going, he’ll fix it, he was expelled, then he was unexpelled… Harry is expecting the fourth letter to be from Dumbledore, and in fact, it’s from Sirius, and there’s just a… I wrote… it’s really heartbreaking here, because J.K. Rowling writes “for the first time in his life, Harry was disappointed to see Sirius’s handwriting.” The fact that it wasn’t Dumbledore. Harry yearns for this connection between Dumbledore and him, and this is something that we know he cannot have in this book. Dumbledore is actively avoiding Harry, and that’s why he sends a Howler instead of a letter, and to get the point across. Next is he’s masking his identity from Harry; he’s not directly involving himself, and he takes pains to not do that. And it’s so heartbreaking to see Harry want this connection with Dumbledore, who he trusts, and who he thinks is the person that can fix all of his problems, and Dumbledore is, and to see him only cause pain and to make him regret that Sirius is writing him is just… that took it a step too far for me.

Micah: Well, let’s talk about that letter that Petunia receives. Vernon has told Harry to get out of the house, and then all of a sudden, as you mentioned, that last owl comes in through the chimney, kind of does a somersault, and then bounces back up into the air.

[Eric laughs]

Micah: And it’s a Howler, and Petunia tries to not open it, and Harry tells her that “It’s no use; I’m going to hear it no matter what, so you might as well just get it over with.” And it’s just a very cryptic “Remember my last, Petunia.” And what do we all make of it? And my question is how is this triggered, right? And how did it get there that quickly? Is it just something that was lying in wait to be delivered for all these years on the off chance that the Dursleys finally decided to kick Harry out?

Eric: Was it in the chimney? Was that owl just in the chimney this whole time?

Micah: That’s why it was drunk when it got out of the fireplace.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Eric: It does seem kind of Big Brother-y, right? Like Dumbledore was listening in.

Andrew: Well, Dumbledore knows that the Dementors attacked Harry and Dudley, so I don’t think it’s a big leap to assume that the Dursleys, particularly Vernon, were going to want to kick Harry out of their house after that happened, because of course they’re going to blame Harry for the attack. They don’t know anything about the wizarding world, they don’t know how these Dementors could have ended up there, so I think it makes sense as to why Dumbledore would send this. And kind of funny that he wrote it in all caps, kept it so short, and this was one of those iconic lines from J.K. Rowling because a lot of people wondered, “What? What last? Last letter? What was in that last letter?” We went on to learn that the last letter was that letter he left on the doorstep with Harry all those years ago. This was actually one of those FAQ questions that she answered on her old website right after that Mark Evans question, funnily enough…

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Andrew: … and she started the answer about the “Remember my last” letter, saying, “I’m relieved to have moved on from the Mark Evans question.”

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Andrew: But anyway, what’s so cool about it is that it’s so short and it immediately makes Petunia force Vernon to keep Harry in their house.

Eric: Yeah, it is… she’s intimidated in that moment, I think. She’s definitely… she might have made that decision without the Howler, but she definitely made it now. This is when she’s like, “He stays,” because she’s reminded of… she knows who’s speaking to her. I think the thing is that at one point, J.K. Rowling’s answer doesn’t work for me, because she knows who’s speaking. It makes sense to me that she would have spoken face to face with Dumbledore, that Dumbledore would have at some point talked to her in her life, so it doesn’t need to be that the last time they had any contact was when there was a letter at the doorstep next to the milk jugs. It just doesn’t work for me. For Petunia to have this kind of visceral reaction, I would think that she would have met Dumbledore at some point. What do you guys think?

Andrew: I don’t think so. After this original letter?

Eric: Yeah. I mean, it’s just the language doesn’t work for me. “Remember my last.” Last what? Like you said. It’s kind of like she wrote “I open at the close” and it’s the Snitch, and you’re just supposed to know what that means. Like, “Oh, I open at the end of the book.”

Andrew: Well, that’s the fun of it, figuring out what it means as a reader.

Eric: Yeah. Definitely a big mystery throughout the book, I think.

Andrew: I think the more striking part about it is we don’t even know it’s from Dumbledore, necessarily. It’s just assumed.

Eric: Right. And Harry has no clue who it is.

Micah: All right, so that’s pretty much the end of the chapter. Harry will stay at Privet Drive, and we’re left wondering who sent the Howler, to your point, Andrew. Now, are we going to add a Umbridge Sucks count to the tracker this week? We don’t really have much to reference with her here.

Eric: Yeah, I’d say we should, because she forces Dumbledore to go…

Micah: Why not?

Eric: [laughs] We’re going to end this with like, 100 Umbridge Sucks counts. But yeah, she forces everyone to act so quickly, just to allow Harry the tiniest smidgen of due process.

Andrew: True.

Eric: So I think Umbridge definitely sucks in this chapter.

Andrew: All right, we’re up to two.

[bell clanging sound effect plays]

Andrew: I added that in post last week too. You guys didn’t hear it.

[Eric laughs]

Connecting the Threads

Micah: All right, well, there’s a few threads to connect here with Prisoner of Azkaban, and most of them I think we hit on during the Chapter by Chapter discussion, the first being underage magic, Harry using it in both chapters, or at least the effects of him… or the consequences of him using underage magic. Marge and Vernon’s treatment of Harry, very similar, the way that she treats him particularly in the second chapter of Prisoner of Azkaban, and the way Vernon treats Harry in this chapter of Order of the Phoenix: extremely, extremely similar. And then, of course, just the general theme of Dementor attacks being so prominent in the beginning of Order of the Phoenix and then throughout the course of Prisoner of Azkaban.

Eric: Yeah, how weird is it to have gone all of Goblet of Fire without…? I mean, I’m not sure they’re never mentioned, but I’m pretty… Dementors were definitely gone for a book, and now they’re back all of a sudden in a huge way.

Laura: Yeah, Harry definitely doesn’t encounter them, I don’t believe. And what I also love about this particular Connecting the Threads is that in Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry’s underage magic is very much unintentional, whereas in Order of the Phoenix, it is very intentional, in order to protect himself. And in Prisoner of Azkaban, we see Harry completely unable to defend himself against Dementors when he first comes across them, and here he produces this perfect Patronus.

Andrew: That he can control.

Laura: So it is a really arc.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: I would have been like, “Yep, still got it…”

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: … after pulling that off so well. Because yeah, if you don’t do that for a while, you might be surprised that you could pull it off so flawlessly.

Eric: Well, it bursts from him when he thinks of Ron and Hermione. Isn’t that sweet?

Andrew: Yeah, that’s love. And his back was against the wall, metaphorically speaking. So when you gotta do it, you gotta do it.

Eric: Still got it.

Andrew: Still got it, baby.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: Time now for MVP of the week. I’m going to give it to letter number two. That was Harry hearing from Arthur that Dumbledore is taking care of the situation. I think that really gave Harry some motivation in that moment to keep his cool as much as possible, and it was nice to hear that Dumbledore was taking care of the situation, even though, arguably, Dumbledore put Harry in the situation to begin with. So letter number two, you’re the MVP of the week.

Eric: [laughs] Nice.

Micah: Yep. I gave mine to Petunia for her revelation that she knows more than meets the eye about the wizarding world, and of course, for saving Harry at the end of the chapter. Otherwise it would have only been a five book series.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: A five chapter fifth book, too.

Andrew: “Harry walks outside. Harry dies.”

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: “All was not well. The end.”

Laura: [laughs] “Scar.”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “A scar faded. The end.”

Laura: Mine is somewhat a piggyback off of… well, not even somewhat; it is a piggyback off Andrew’s. I have to give it to Arthur Weasley for actually being…

Andrew: Give it up for Arthur Weasley, am I right?

Laura: I know. He’s the only person who provided Harry with any kind of substantial information.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Eric: And again, “Don’t go outside. Don’t use your magic again. Stay in home. Don’t surrender your wand.” He knows that it can be fixed, if only…

Andrew: All caps, too.

Eric: Yeah, he knows that it can be fixed if only given the right amount of time. Kind of a mild piggyback: I’m going to give it to the owls, because how many owls arrive in this chapter? Five of them? These are the carrier pigeons of the wizarding world. They’re just doing their job. They’re flying all the way from London to Little Whinging; I’m sure it’s over an hour’s drive. And they’re flying within… I think it’s said 22 minutes eclipse between letter one and letter three, according to the book, and that that’s some fast flying.

Andrew: That’s impressive. Give it up for the owls.

Eric: The owls, everybody. Owls.

Andrew: Fantastic.

Micah: Wow.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Rename the Chapter

Eric: Before we do Rename the Chapter, I actually looked up the… I had to look at the meaning for the chapter. I know it’s kind of a joke because Vernon, in his frustration, accidentally says “peck” instead of “pack” to refer to owls, this chapter being “A Peck of Owls.” But according to the HP Lexicon, one of the meanings of the word “peck” is a unit of measurement for capacity, and so it’s sometimes used to mean a large amount of or number of something. “A peck of trouble”; that’s kind of a British saying. So Vernon wasn’t so far off in saying a “peck” to refer to a large number of owls. I don’t know. It’s a weird chapter title, but I think this explains that J.K. Rowling is being very clever about it.

Micah: Of course she is.

Laura: You know what? Even a broken clock is right twice a day, right?

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: That’s right. And don’t owls peck?

Eric: They do.

Andrew: Right.

Eric: Particularly Hedwig. She’s kind of rowdy.

Laura: She’s feisty.

Andrew: You can argue they’re pecking with all their arrivals at the Dursleys’ home. So Rename the Chapter: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Chapter 2, “Order of the Petunia.”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Petunia’s orders. “He stays, Vernon.”

Micah: Order of the Phoenix Chapter 2, “Vicious Vernon.”

Eric and Laura: Nice.

Laura: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Chapter 2, “And When Vernon Realized Most People Have a Government.”

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Eric: I went with Order of the Phoenix Chapter 2, “A Bit of Foreign Tea.”

Andrew: All right, if you have any feedback about today’s discussion, send it on in,, or you can call us, 1-920-3-MUGGLE. Also, feel free to hit us up on social media. @MuggleCast is our username on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We love getting feedback no matter how you send it, so thank you. Send it those ways, though; we don’t like making those owls work too hard. Eric was making us really appreciate just how much effort they put into it; give them a break. Contact us digitally, thank you. And feel free to send in feedback about Chapter 3 as well, because we will be discussing it next week.


Andrew: It’s time now for Quizzitch.

Eric: Andrew, you had the question last week.

Andrew: Oh, yeah! I guess I should intro it. So last week’s question was: J.K. Rowling once said on her old website that Figg deals in the roaring trade of cross-bred cats and what? The answer was Kneazles, which we brought up multiple times in today’s episode. I didn’t collect the winners, though. Did you? [laughs]

Eric: I did, yeah. I got you.

Andrew: Okay, great. [laughs]

Eric: So we’re doing something different this week. Isn’t that right, Andrew? We are going to… because it’s a lot of names, and especially on MuggleCast, it’s a lot of the same names that we’re reading every week, we thought that we would actually just feature a couple of names, mostly fresh faces, names we don’t hear too often on the actual show, and then we’ll actually just tweet with at replies to everybody who submitted the correct answer. So that’s what we’re going to do for Quizzitch moving forward. And the people who got the correct answer right this week include Tory Flying Ford Anglia; Erica; Megan Clavey Parker; William Walton; literally just “Quizzitch” – somebody set up a Twitter account just to answer us…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: … and Liam. So many others as well. But we’ll at reply you on Twitter; we’ll say, “Congratulations, you’ve won.” And next week’s question is: What is the make and model of Nymphadora Tonks’s broom? This is something that’s revealed in Chapter 3 of Order of the Phoenix. So submit your answer to us over on Twitter, hashtag Quizzitch.

Micah: Cool. And just a quick reminder that we will be at LeakyCon in Boston from October 10-13 at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center. Eric and myself will be there. It is the 10th anniversary of LeakyCon, so they are returning back to Boston. We’re close to finalizing some details on our panel. We’ll definitely be doing a live MuggleCast as well as a MuggleCast meetup – more details to follow – and we’ll be on some other panels throughout the course of the weekend in Boston. But we’re really looking forward to it as always; they have a great weekend planned for everybody. If you haven’t registered yet, and you plan to, be sure to use code “Muggle” when checking out. It gets you $10 off your registration. So all you have to do is head on over to and register today; we look forward to seeing you in Boston.

Eric: Definitely.

Andrew: We will have a new bonus MuggleCast this week at; we would love your support. We’ll be talking about what Dudley heard and felt when the Dementors attacked – remember that quote that we read earlier from the book – so it’s going to be an interesting discussion. And again, that’ll be available at You can actually get bonus MuggleCast and ad-free MuggleCast right within your favorite podcasting app. Once you pledge, you will be given a custom RSS feed, and you can copy and paste that right into your favorite podcasting app so you can get all the bonus material, and again, ad-free MuggleCast delivered without having to load up Patreon every week. It’s super easy; it’s a great feature for podcasters like us. You will also get access to other benefits, including show notes, our livestream, our exclusive Facebook group, the links line where we ask you a question once a month and we might read your answer on the air, and, of course, a physical gift every year. And quick update, by the way: More tote bags are going to be going out to existing patrons in the next one to two weeks. We have the remainder of our stock, and they’re going to be sent out. Please send in a picture when you receive it. Tag us on social media; we might share it. It’s great seeing everybody receive their bag.

Eric: Definitely.

Andrew: All right, so that does it for this week’s episode. Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: We’ll see you next time. Goodbye.

Eric, Laura, and Micah: Bye.